Ted’s essays

how I spent my vacation

In no particular order, but that in which the photos uploaded… Spring motorcycling weather arrived very early in the Bitterroot this year. I am not counting on winter being truly done with us, but am grabbing these delightful riding days as they come my way. On the left is nearby Lake Como completely covered in ice, though the snow on the ground has all melted. On the right is a stop atop “Almosta Road” which is dirt/gravel all the way, graced with almost no traffic whatsoever and pleasant scenery. No photos, but much of my time is spent on what I call “estate management”. That can include plowing snow, fabricating shelves, welding, woodworking, communing with my shop tools, managing […]

ice dancing

Occasionally the winter snowfalls conspire to make walking around our yard treacherous. My wife responds by putting ice cleats on a pair of snow boots and switching to them to walk on ice and from them to climb into her van, enter her destination or go back into the house. I walk very carefully. For the most part, her plan is a lot smarter than mine. Old brittle bones break easier than what we grew up with and heal a lot slower. Being a gambling man is not very clever. On the other hand, I am also a solution man. Here is the harrowing solution. On a sunny afternoon with temperatures well above freezing, I connected a “blanket harrow” […]

pictures from our cold snap

I suppose if you grew up in Wisconsin, Michigan or North Dakota, this wouldn’t be all that impressive. But I grew up in coastal northern California and haven’t lived anyplace that touched yesterday’s minus 41 low, let alone today’s minus 28/29. Dang, that bites… Literally… chews on, stings whatever skin you offer up to it. Storm doors, double-pane windows … yeah, they all grow frost coats. My foresight to install wood heat and stock up on both free kindling and moderately affordable local forest BTUs is looking rather clever today… wait until the electricity shuts off for a bit. Wow! Genius!!! We took yesterday off from wood heat. It was just too darn cold to go across the yard […]

Sundews

Thanks to California Carnivores from my old neighborhood, I picked up a variety of insect eating plants. Expecting to enjoy their beauties and appreciate the insect population reduction for one summer, I have been pleasantly surprised to get several years from them. This particular bog that lives next to a south facing window in my studio is far exceeding expectations, surviving, growing and even reproducing well. Another bog garden is in its dormant stage now, but will likely be a fine pitcher plant in our laundry room again next spring. A third did not come back last year and will likely need to be refreshed with new purchases next spring. Sundews (Drosera) If an insect ever evolved the brains […]

cold snap

Now THAT’s COLD. At Sunrise (8:17), I threw on a wool coat, insulated gloves and boots for a one-minute outdoor job of opening the chicken door so my flock could get out to their heated water reservoir and food supply. Whoops. My young back-saving helper yesterday did not close the double gate into / out of the chicken yard after blowing a foot of snow off their scratching yard. So I did that while I was out there – to keep them in and predators out. By the time I was back inside, my legs were cold through their double layers, my back was cold through its triple layers and my cheeks were genuinely frosty in the non-bearded areas. (Interesting […]

simple pleasures in the workshop

Once in a while I simply get lucky as a photographer. I suppose as a modestly inspired amateur, that will be the only way I get a photo that really tickles me. Below is one of them. At my skill level, getting the lighting just right to comfortably light the background while focusing attention, and projecting a welcoming feeling has to be totally a lucky shot, but this one speaks volumes for the shop guy, and the car guy in me. I briefly opened the bay doors to admit the Honda for its overdue wheel swap from summer to winter. The woodburner in the far corner got the shop heat back up to a workspace comfortable 45-60 in no time. […]

shop heat

One of the real treats in my life is a heated shop. I have a lovely collection of tools and workspaces enabling me to putter with woodwork, metalwork and a bit of mechanical maintenance. I am not great at any of it, but pretty darn good at solving the little challenges and opportunities life sends my way. I have spent some time turning my Jack-of-all-Trades persona into a way to make an honest living, but only at the wrong place at the wrong time. The Fixer business did not blossom, but my website The Fixer.biz is still kicking around as a place where I document some of my creations and share ideas I have come up with. I wish I […]

settled in to my domain

A main driver of my life is gaining control of my homestead, estate, working spaces and equipment. After each move from one to another, the list of urgent/critical projects is immediately followed by the crucial, then important and so on until I reach the settled in phase. In each case there is some marker that gives me the feeling I have arrived. Seven years into our Bunkhouse occupancy, I finally hit what I think is that marker. I am comfortable that I know what spaces I want to irrigate, have them relatively easy to wet and no longer have to disconnect hoses, move pipes and reconnect to run my mower around the yard. This evolved irrigation system will be reasonably […]

appreciating pretty flowers

My choices are a little limited because our growing season is so short, but there are plenty of pretty flowers decorating our yard. I don’t pay much attention to what they are officially called. I simply appreciate them for who they are. I’m sure you can guess why I call this first one “hippo”. Most of my other names for them are just as made up and equally irreverent. […]

Easter Egg Chicken Ranch

That is one of my favorite names for our homestead … once I get most of it in order, that is. The Leghorn chicken breed is the most egg productive. A prime-age hen will come very close to one white egg per day. Most chickens are closer to one every other day. Thus, commercial egg farms will exclusively use Leghorns and, therefore produce white eggs. That is why the least expensive and most common eggs are white. For me, feeding an extra bird or two is inconsequential. It amuses me to have a variety of birds and a variety of colored eggs in every day’s harvest. You see what I mean. What my mix loses in practicality it more […]

bargain basement boot rack

We have muck boots for ourselves, family, friends and guests – anyone who happens by to work or play in our chicken yard, creek, snow or mud. Mostly the collection has been standing in the alley between our house and garage. One such friend recently discovered a mouse nest in one of the boots we were loaning out. Turns out more than one boot was thusly violated. Fortunately this particular guest is an earthy guy who was not put off by this violation, but the ICK-factor was something we could not tolerate. My wife sent me links to several boot rack models she wanted so the boots would be unwelcome to mice, keep them dry, visible and ready for […]

Darby Blizzard of ’21

Epic snowfall for the Darby area with 15 inches on Sunday followed by 6 inches on Monday. A bit much for the equipment we have here to deal with normal snowfalls. In the video at the bottom I show how to read the weather satellite clips and what they tell us. […]