Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Year 12, Week 2, Day One (week 629)

Year 12, Week 2, Day One (week 629)

(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)

07-28-12 Sunday

90 degrees at nine O'clock, 92 at ten, 95 at noon and 96 at three. Blue skies, lightened by dust from Africa, some puffs over the Everglades in the morning and I don't remember seeing them in the afternoon. There was a good breeze off the ocean and that was what likely drove the Everglades clouds out of sight. I did sit in front of the fan quite a bit during the day, though. I am not as heat tolerant as I used to be. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano department of Tourism.

Last week, one of Mom's preachers said he finally got permission to open a church in a store front. I told him "I cannot make any promises, but I will see about making some crosses. No promises though." My first project today was to see what it would take to make some crosses.

I first had to find appropriate wood. I looked in the shed and the only stick long enough was some black walnut. While it might be good wood for such a project. It was too valuable for me to use. I had no source for more. My next choice was a stick of two by two whitewood that I purchased for making Christmas ornaments. I decided it was perfect for the project. I measured it half way and sawed it with a handsaw designed for cutting small trees down. It did the job. I then measured for the arms. I decided that a third the length (14 inches) might look good. I marked it on one and placed it over the other and decided it was right. I went to the bandsaw and noticed that the throat could only handle a little over twelve inches and went with it.

I then measured half way on the arms and a third of the way down on the uprights, and CAREFULLY measured for the thickness of the wood. I also measured down CAREFULLY half the depth of the wood between those marks. I then CAREFULLY cut the waste wood away so I would have a half-lap joint, which is SUPPOSED to be like the two pieces are one, with CAREFUL measuring and careful cutting, the surfaces should end up flush with no excess gaps on each side of the wood. Between the main cuts, I sawed in some relief cuts and then used a chisel to break out the waste wood. I hit all surfaces with a disk sander to clean up the surfaces a little. With the knots and such in the wood, they were not going to be perfect.

I had never done this before in my life and in spite of my care, I ended up with nice gaps when I was done. I first glued the cross members together to make my assembly project easier, having them stay in place while I put in screws. It did help, though I did not let it set long enough.

In searching for screws, The ones in the shed came in two sizes, too short and too long. I went with the too long screws and they went all the way through. I put two screws on the cross-members and then used a Dremmel cutting disk to remove the ends.

Now I needed to deal with the gaps. I went to my disk sander and filled a baggy with the dust. I then took a cap and added water and white glue, mixed them up, then added a whole bunch of the sawdust to make a paste. I then pressed it into the gaps like a filler putty. After the crosses dried for a couple hours, I took a orbiting sander to my filler to smooth it and to knock down some edges,

I then grabbed some black paint and started painting the crosses. I finished a second coat before it ran out of paint. It needed more. I then found some brown paint and sprayed with that. On the second coat, I ran out of gas while the can still had lots of paint in it. I gave up and set the crosses out to dry. I was giving them away in whatever condition they were in.

That night, I delivered the crosses. The preacher was really happy to get them, saying I saved him $170. I apologized that they were not as good as I intended. He said that they were absolutely perfect, since what they were supposed to represent was not made perfectly.

 My second project involved an aluminum tool rest for my machine lathe. My brother gave me a block of aluminum that he had melted down. I cut some blocks of wood exactly to the size and shape of the metal block. I then cut the two blocks in half, one length way and the other across the middle. There is a good reason to make wooden prototypes before one deals with the "expensive" metal. I saw that the pieces cut length wise was not going to work. They were too narrow for everything they needed to have.

I had made a model- a prototype last year out of wood just to see if my design was even possible. I found that the block cut across, was the exact size as the model. There are a number of changes I am making based on that model's experience. I drew lines showing where material will be removed and what will stay. I had set up my machine lathe as a milling machine, thinking I might remove some wood, but realized I did not have the time or gumption by then. I packed up the back yard and called it a day.

I was on my feet quite a bit Saturday, visiting yard sales including another community one, and running around at various places. In the evening, I had danced a jig, showing off. while I did not feel anything wrong when I did it, about ten minutes later, I learned it was a big mistake. My knee did not like it.

Sunday, I was on my feet for a good portion of the morning. By evening, Tylonal was not enough to handle the discomfort.

I have flat feet and wore orthotics, Medical shoe inserts to correct for the flat feet. I am missing one boot from the accident, but the one I do have is for my good foot, which was bothering me. I slipped the orthotic into my shoe and it helped greatly. I will have to try out the over-the-counter ones and see if they will help me, otherwise I will have to pay $400 for a new pair of medical ones.

I do sometimes forget the cane when I am moving around and will get a distance away before I notice I did not take it with me. Most of the time though, I have to use the cane as My balance is not the greatest or my leg does not want to work right.

All in all, it was a very good weekend for wood working.

I will see what I do next week.

Some yard sale finds
hand powered grinder


drill set

Year 12, Week 1, Day One (week 628)

Year 12, Week 1, Day One (week 628)(skipped the missing weeks)

(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)

07-22-12 Sunday

85 degrees, mostly cloudy in the morning, 88 degrees in the afternoon just before some heavy liquid sunshine passed by. This weather report is brought to you by the city of Pompano beach department of tourism.


Back on Easter, I was involved in a "supposed to be" fatal accident. I spent a month in the hospital, and then nearly two months in rehabilitation. I since have stayed in my mom's house for 24 hour care. week before last, I was allowed to give up the walker and go with a cane and full weight on my right leg (I have a plate at the top of the shin).

My leg is my main problem and that is improving. I do have some internal problems but they fall under "nagging or ignorable" at least for the time being. Hopefully, those things will be gone when my leg is back to normal.

My truck was totaled and my brother unloaded my truck at the towing agency. They were shocked when they saw seven saws pulled out of the truck.


I have not done much in wood working until this weekend. One weekend while on the walker, I litterally dragged my carving basket to under the awning. That was all I did that weekend.

I had a whole lot of stuff in there in my truck. a bunch of it went flying. I remember looking at the passenger seat and wondering how my tool box got into the front. I now realize the lid came off and the contents of the tool box had gone flying.

I dug through the bags of what my brother collected from my truck, mainly looking for a few key items. I found a few but others were not visible.

The first weekend after I could put my full weight on my leg, I dragged out my machine lathe box. I removed a bag of truck stuff from on top the box, which was lighter than the box. That told me I could handle the weight. I then carefully positioned myself, lifted the box and set it on the wagon in one move. I then towed the wagon through the garden mulch to under the awning, cleared where I was going to put it and, after some planning, lifted the box onto the cart. That was all I did on that day.

On another day, I cut a piece of two by two for a "tall cool drink of a man" carving. I did not do anything else that day.


This weekend I decided I had to do some work. Saturday was a failure as we did a whole bunch of running around and I had to rest when we got home to have some recovery for an evening meeting. Working outsdide was out of the question.

Sunday, I had time and got outside quickly. After feeding and petting Scarface (Beggar, the beast of the back yard disappeared earlier this year and has never returned), I opened the machine lathe box.

I decided to machine some wooden rods for crochet hooks. I started with a piece of Mahogany and used my knife to rough round one end to fit in the chuck of the lathe. I started machining the tailstock end of the stick. As the cutting tool worked down the length of the wood, knocking off the corners, I got a catch and the rod hopped off the lathe, landed behind it and then dissappeared. I have no idea where it went, but it sounded like it landed on concrete.

I took out a stick of oak that I had cut from a wine cask, and started machining it. I rough rounded one end with the disk sander since I was standing there after I cut it to length (lathe has a limited length that it can handle). I then started machining it from the tail stock toward the chuck.

Once I had the rod rounded, I swapped ends and machined the end that was once in the chuck. I did not quite get it centered and while I got it really close, I used sandpaper to remove the mating edge.

After I finished the rod, the sky looked threatening so I put the lathe away. I dug the dremmel box out of the shed.

I cut the hook into the new rod and two others I had on hand to make them croche hooks. One really thin rod got a handle to make holding it easier.

As the sky looked even more threatening, I put the dremmel away and grabbed some carving stuff. I started on the top of the hat of the cool drink figure. I stopped for a moment and was relocating some stuff. My knife rolled in my hand carving hand and kicked my thumb, my number one kind of cut I get. cuts on my holding hand are more rear nowadays.

I took care of a few other things after stucking a Band-Aid on the cut just to make sure little else is painted red from the very shallow knick, I saw that my mom got home from a meeting. I also felt a few driplets from the sky. I put the carving stuff out of range of any weather and went inside. Three minutes later, we had a good squall line going through.

Based on the way scheduals are going, I don't expect to do any woodworking until Sunday.

Next weekend, I do plan to do something more in wood working, maybe some machining or some carving, I don't feel I am ready to use the big lathe yet. My balance is not the best and it is hard to work the lathe while holding a cane. The little lathe is used sitting down.

Will see what I do next week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh Deer, It's Summer On The Farm

Thought you might enjoy a whole bunch more brand new pictures. Sure has been hot lately, we've had several little heatwaves of several days in the 90s. Humidity has been an off and on thing, but you sure do sweat out there. I spent a good chunk of June and July so far in the garden, trying to get things planted. Man what a rock pile that is! It will take me a good five years to tame it.

This year we took the fencing off the untended garden at the former homestead and moved it here. It will only fence part of this garden, but that helps. It's not pinned down properly, but it seems to be helping. Having Ariel on the property does too, she barks at anything that moves. We walk her around the perimeter of the garden at least once a day so she can leave her scent in the area.

Not much is going on inside at this point. We had some equipment failures and lots of interruptions that got us behind outdoors. 

Blogger is throwing my pictures in at random, so these are far from in order. But ok, here we go...

Yes, we have deer, and see them regularly. A lot of times they come at dusk, so the pictures aren't that clear. They are so quiet, you look up and spot one, and never new it was there. 

A lovely blue sky over the barn and I caught a barn swallow in flight. Hard not to get one of them in a picture, they are perpetual motion machines. Very chatty too.

A catbird on the garden fence. They are regular visitors. We brought over the old fencing and posts from my other garden, as (sadly) no one is using it and it had grown up to weeds. It's plastic on the inside and chickenwire without. Doesn't quite meet the ground but so far nothing has noticed. About 3/5 of the garden here is now fenced.

The catbird's more talented cousin, the Northern Mockingbird. This fellow sings off and on all day from several perches, one of which is the old TV antenna on the pole by the office, which is full of vines. We didn't have mockingbirds at our other home, though I would often hear them in the city. I think they like the more open habitat here. I sometimes hear them at night.

Cottontails in clover is a very familiar sight. We've seen baby bunnies this year too. So far they have stayed out of the garden. Here's hoping they continue to do so. I enjoy watching them.

It's not a very clear shot but there were a bunch of turkey vultures circling around up the hillside. Not sure if they were onto something or just playing with the updrafts. Lots of predators around here, and carcasses are a big draw for these avian scavengers.

I believe this is a female or juvenile cowbird. Not sure why this one looks so bloated, maybe it's just a 'bad feather' day. You can see that the fence and any posts are a great resting place for the field hunters like these birds, who used to follow the buffalo herds way back when. They are now adapted to pasture life, and don't mind if the grazing is done by deer, cows, sheep, or lawn tractors. They all expose insects that can be exploited.

The doe is leaving for the evening. They generally go as silently as they come.

Plenty of redwinged blackbirds and common grackles this year. They nest in and around the pond, and grab a bite to eat at the birdfeeders, and then hunt the fields for insects to feed their brooding mates and nestlings. There's generally always a robin or three out there too. Robins are strictly insect and sometimes fruit eaters, but seem to be social with other bird species.

A male common grackle displaying his light eye and iridescent plumage. They are big and aggressive birds and squeak and squawk a lot. Fun to watch them bobbing along though.

Everyone seems to get along OK. I believe this is a male redwing hunting and the bunny seems to just be ignoring it. The rabbits will take a cue from the birds though. If they panic and fly off, the bunnies scamper away to safety.

A goldfinch checks out my newly installed poles for paste tomatoes. Lots of perches are good, they give the birds a safe place to hunt from, where they can see prey as well as predators.

There's a feeling of safety when you can graze not too far from heavy cover. Some Queen Anne's Lace and Daisy Fleabane flowering together in this shot.

The mockingbird in the foreground is joined by two bunnies and a robin. They all know where I am, but they don't consider me a threat.

An Eastern Kingbird in the pines along the road. I see him now and then. He landed on the garden fence but flew off before I could get the camera up. I was lucky to catch this shot.

I actually have two catbirds now hunting the garden. I see them quite often in the evenings. The enclosure of the fence seems to make a lot of the birds feel safe in there, and they are keeping the bugs under control. I have seen them fly off with beaks full.

This doe slipped out of the brush around that corner about mid afternoon and headed back in and down to the pond. The lower end there is marshy and the deer can walk out there. We have bushes and trees growing in it.

I believe this is a female house sparrow sitting on the barn roof on an overcast day. Unremarkable except that it looks like she has a #7 on her chest. They play all over that roof, I can hear their little feet tromping on it even out in the garden.

This is the little bunny we call 'Foo Foo' after the obnoxious one in the nursery rhyme song. He or she seems to have an attitude, and chases the birds away if they get too close. A very independent youngster too.

This cardinal sat in those weeds for quite a while, affording me several nice shots. I have several pairs on the property.

I'll admit I do have a soft spot for the mockingbirds. This one is just getting tame enough that I can get regular pictures of it hunting.

Twin bloom stalks of mullien poking up out of the weeds and stuff stored behind the office trailer and garage. First I've seen on the property. It's just a fuzzy weed to most people, but I love the butter yellow blossoms. That's pokeweed to its right, also in bloom. The poke will have poisonous purple berries that colonial people mashed to use as ink, and shoots in the spring that can be boiled and eaten. I know a lot of my wild weeds, they are like old friends whose names and natures I still can recall.

This robin seems oblivious to the flycatcher perched behind it. That little bird seems to like that perch, I see it there often.

One of my fawns out for a stroll. This is one of a set of twins. Look at all the blackbirds hunting!

A male redwing stalking a bug. You can really see those wing patches. They come to the feeders often, mostly just the males.

Everybody has something they want out there in the field. It's a wildlife haven, with the brush, trees, and pond surrounding it.

Little Bunny Foo Foo's mom seems to have shown up for once.

My twins. They are getting bold now. Mom had already melted into the brush and they were reluctant to join her. They are grazing now, but still have some of their baby dapples.

Another set of twins, I believe these are house sparrows. They are not native birds and very aggressive and prolific, and can be bullies. Still I love to watch them because they are comical and entertaining. These little fuzzy guys are learning to hunt for themselves.


I got an action shot of Foo Foo, in mid hop. He or she does the most unexpected things. All of a sudden, it was time to move out. Everyone else out there is now on alert, thinking the baby bunny saw a predator. No, Foo Foo was just being weird.

This pile of old metal frame windows and conduit in the weeds behind the garage is like a birdie jungle gym for all these youngsters. Just goes to show you, kids of all species love to climb and explore.

"Pardon me ma'am, but no interviews while I've got my mouth full!" A male grackle with several bugs in its beak pauses to see if it can grab one more. They are doing their part to rid my field of grasshoppers, cutworms, and anything else that skitters by.

Now and then, a bunny has to check in with mom. She is in the middle of dinner in this shot.

This little guy turned out to be a Least Flycatcher. He likes perching on this bit of brush behind the office and garage. I see him there often.

This male Red Bellied Woodpecker on top of the telephone pole by the house started drumming and calling out it was his territory. Then the Downy Woodpecker male showed up and hustled up to make his claim. It was a standoff for a while.

The male mockingbird would display like this every now and then if other birds or the bunnies got to close. I believe he has a nesting spot up above the office, because he sings up there often.

Yeah, the bigger woodpecker won the contest.

Following mom around, learning to be a big bunny.

These little guys really blend in. Can you see all three of them?

A closeup of that Cardinal.

I just missed these bunnies smooching by seconds.

We had a visitor one midday under the birdfeeders by the house. That is a male Ringneck Pheasant. He was there for around half an hour, scratching and pecking like a chicken.

We were able to sneak outside by the car for closer shots.

They are beautiful birds. First one I've ever seen here.

The Least Flycatcher, up close on my fence.

No more pictures today folks!

This is 6 of the 15 five gallon buckets of rocks I filled this year—all from the garden.

This is my landing, where I now have a hummingbird feeder and a hanging basket of Million Bells/Calibricoa. Yes I know the dye in the red nectar is not supposed to be good for them. Someone gave it to me, and I am using it up. The hummers look healthy so far, and visit it all day long.

I love those big flowered marigolds. These are now in the garden.

A male Cardinal hidden in the white pines by the road.

It's a big garden, 32' x 190'. The upper fenced portion is not all of it, beyond that is an open mulched area for running vines like winter squash and melons. Yeah, I get help, but all the planting is my job.

A catbird on the cucumber trellis. Creative use of zip ties.

We had another unexpected visitor one evening. It ambled out of the pond trail and headed up back. At first I couldn't tell what it was...

This is a bobcat. Kind of unusual to see one in the open. We heard the blackbirds by the pond kicking up a fuss a few minutes before it strolled out. It knew we were there but was totally unconcerned.

Ariel was indoors at the time the bobcat came prowling by. She didn't see it. But she often joins me out at the garden, and sits on the swing with me in the shade. We keep her on the leash or tied nearby when we are outdoors. She doesn't get to roam, too many predators, too close to the highway, and too many things to chase. She gets several walks a day, and plenty of chances to sniff, bark, and dig.

This woodchuck is up by where the bobcat disappeared, but this was a week or so earlier. It's standing up because Ariel is barking at it.

"Get lost woodchuck, Mom doesn't want you near the garden!" A farm dog's job is never done...

This male oriole has been hunting the garden quite often. I believe he's coming in from a nest somewhere across the road. We have a quiet yard and he seems to like the fenced in part of the garden. Many birds hunt in there, all the posts and fencing makes them feel safe.

My snowman feeder was a holiday gift to myself. It is still getting a good workout. The blackbirds here seem to love the sunflower seed. Since they also hunt the fields for grubs, grasshoppers and so on, I really don't mind the expense. It is entertaining to watch them, I can see them from the kitchen and dining room windows. 

Life here on the farm is slower paced and rather laid back, and I love it for that. There's always something to see and do, but no rush to get things accomplished. My child raising years are over, and I'm done volunteering and taking on all sorts of outside projects. Writing holds the majority of my deadlines, and I pick and choose there too. The quiet hours I spend outdoors are invaluable for the years of stress and challenges they are making up for. So, yes, I have time to notice the little things around me. That's what makes life worth living folks.

Have a great week!