Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pulling Out One More Stump

While we were muddy from garden work, we lit into the last stump to pull from last year.

We're going to put a lean-too for the mower over hear, and the stump has gotta go.

The nice thing is that it is more than a year old. These pines are a real bugger when they are first cut - very tough to get out.

No problem on this one - the boy did all the work.

And he got all the credit.

"this was the best thing I've done all day!"

Yep - good work, boy.

His brother got into the action splitting the rootwad.

Not as glamorous, but still fun.

Garden 2010 - The Assault and The Redo

Here is 'Tigger Woods', the faithful garden sentry we carved from a stump a few years ago when we were clearing out all the trees for the garden.

He's supposed to chase the deer and crows away, but has been doing a poor job of it. Oh well, life's been tough on Tigger...

Its pretty crazy all the pollen we've had dumped on us from the trees lately.

Alot of it is gathering on the roof, and everywhere else.

The peas and beans are up strong - all the rain and sunshine over the last two weeks has been very good for the garden.

It is still pretty cold, though.

We've been waiting anxiously for the corn to come up, too.

We got a total of 5 corn plants up in the 7 rows we planted... those crows moved in over a day or two and cleaned them out!

It is crazy how quickly those birds can take out a row of seedlings...

And it isn't just the crows... we had to chase these deer away 2 times yesterday!

You can see the small pea plants at the edge of the battleground there.

So we called in the Night Watchman.

One of the boys and the dog kept sentry duty overnight last night, to keep the deer out.

The canopy was a big help - it poured rain all night, but he stayed nice and dry.

We let him sleep in alittle this AM too.

No problem with deer during the night... he did have a BIG pheasant sneak in on him and wake him up, though.

In between rain pouring down, we replanted much of the corn.

We also planted the other half of the garden. More beans, onions, potatoes... and corn.

The best deterant for the crows last year was shiny, thin wrapping ribbon strung up along EVERY row planted.

It works pretty good, and makes crazy noises in the breeze.

So long as it keeps the black buzzards out, we don't mind the noise.

The canopy was a fun retreat when the rain poured down!

The kids were a big help. The garden gets planted so fast with so many helpers, that it is ok when we have to redo it sometimes...

its a good lesson for the kids, too.

Carburator Cleaning for the Boat

Last weekend on our campout, the kicker motor on the boat was running rough.

It was hard to start, and chugged along - it wouldn't speed up when we hit the throttle - it just chugged at the same low RPMs.

Its a newer Merc 9.9 motor, so we suspected either bad gas, a fuel filter, or a dirty carburator.

The carb came off really easy - just two long bolts holding most of the assembly together.

A pretty small, efficient piece of equipment.

Four more screws and it was apart. The carb looked pretty clean, but there are so many small ports and nozzles to it that it could have been gunked up.

We blasted off the carb with cleaner, and let it sit.

We also took a moment to replace the fuel filter. It was easy, and only about $6.

After going through the carb then reassembling it, we were ready for a test run.

These smaller jobs are fun with the boys - they are eager to learn more about motors, and the 2nd or 3rd set of hands is a real help.

It is great when everything goes back together, too. No left over hardware, either!

The motor ran STRONG! It really made a huge difference - alot more power than we ever remember.

I think it was the fuel filter, but its hard to say.

Easing the Cabin Fever in the Office

All the outside work, camping, and fishing makes it tough sometimes to sit in a cubical...

If you recall the recent software app to watch Bonneville Salmon go by the fish ladder's window... we've modified the application to get images from any of the thousands of webcams out on the internet.

Now, we can watch traffic along a scenic stretch of Wyoming highway...

Or I can watch baby owls on one of Washington's 'critter cams'.

It is a great way to put the 2nd monitor to use when it isn't needed, and it gives a fun distraction.

It is incredible how many Webcams are out there!

Fruit is Poppin' All Around

It is exciting lately to see all the blossoms, and fruit developing.

Here is one of the new Peach Trees we planted a month or so ago... it seems to be taking root and going strong.

Pretty tree.

We had pretty good wind the other day, and a few of the new grape vines snapped off.

Only a few were lost.

This time of year the vines make great new starts - so we put them in a bucket of water for a few days.

Here are the baby grapes.

Now they just need alot of sugar added to plump-em-up.

The new blueberry bushes we planted last month are taking well, too.

Look at all them berries!

The first round of strawberries are on their way, too

After a few days of soaking in the bucket, we trimmed most of the bigger leaves off the broken grapevines, and trimmed them down.

Another few days to soak in the bucket, and we'll start them in soil.

The blackberries and raspberries are also beginning to blossom.

All of this rain is good for something - a great start to the berry and fruit season.

Burning in the Rain

A few good days of sun dried the old pile out well enough to burn... but we waited until rain started again to light it.

It was a BIG pile, and the rain would help keep it 'under control'.

Not much of it left here... just misc to push together.

The girls fired up the backhoe, and helped push the rest of the branches together.

They are a good crew, except they made Dad work the ground outside of the cab...

Even after 2 days of burning, when we got it all pushed together, it was still HOT and willing to burn.

It spent another 2 days (in the rain) smoldering and burning.

It is good to get the pile out of the way.

Too bad about so much rain - we didn't get to roast hotdogs.

Next time...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Huck Finn Trip - Boat Camping on Coon Island

This weekend we took our annual campout for May - this time on the river. Years past we always circumnavigated Sauvies Island - this year we launched at the top of Multnomah Channel at Hayden's Landing.

A very nice (but small) launch. No traffic.

We had hoped to camp at the Hayden Landing campground, but found it full of yachters. Rude ones at that - we got flipped off twice (same guy) as we looked for a spot to park.

Oh well, its a big river and plenty of other options.

We did some trolling for Spring Salmon for an hour or so with a few other boats at the top of Multnomah Channel... but no love for anyone.

As the sun went down, we slowly trolled downhill on the channel.

We decided to camp for the night with some other friends on Coon Island, about mid-way in the channel in the Scappoose area.

It was a looonnng troll down through Rocky Point Marina - there are so many houses on the channel it is slow going.

The slower pace was nice - the weather was warm, the KFC chicken was good, and the trip was great with the boys.

They did all the driving too, so Dad had it easy tending to the fishing poles.

We finally made it to Coon Island, and there was plenty of moorage on the western side of the island.

Camp was setup and a fire going. We had the island to ourselves.

We were all stuffed from dinner, but still managed to eat all the cookies and oversized marshmellows we could find.

There was no noise from the highway (Hwy 30), nor was there train, boat, or airplane noise. It was quite peaceful and enjoyable.

No bugs either. Later in the summer they will be bad, but for now, it was warm, quiet, and great.

Most of us slept in camp, but the two older boys opted for sleeping on the nice padded benches in the boat.

We didn't even bother to put up the top for the night - Saturday was hot so we left it all bundled up.

Everyone slept well, even with some older boys who lit off firecrackers...

Coon Island is really a great place to camp. There are nice trails and many camping spots. Even a covered Pavillion. It seems that most yachters stay on the docks, except to walk their little dogs.

We spotted a couple deer in the early morning.

After breakfast, one of the boys had found a goose egg floating down the channel the day before, so we cracked it open.

The chick was only a few days from hatching. It was very cool to see it.

We did some fishing off and on during the morning, and only saw 1 fish caught. Fortunately it was our friends we'd camped with who caught it!

Alot of boats and boat traffic - especially early in the AM on Saturday.

We spent the day fishing, hiking, laughing at the dog chasing sticks, and one of the boys even went swimming.

We buried another treasure, too.

He said the water was cold, but jumped in several times.

The dog didn't seem to mind, either.

Finally, we started the long downhill troll to St Helens. We had 2 good takedowns - and one fish on briefly before it came off.

Alot of boats down in the Santosh area, but didn't seem like alot of action.

It was a great trip and a great start of the summertime season. Coon Island was a big hit, and definitely worth visiting again.

We were all disappointed that sturgeon fishing is closed, because that is always our favorite fishing this time of year. Oh well, we'll get to it soon I'm sure.

Rebuking the Devourer - Getting Ready for the Crows

We are still eagerly awaiting the first immergence of life from the garden.

The good news is that the weeds are slow to immerge as well...

While we wait, the crows have also been circling and waiting. Time to fortify.

We took the netting off the meat chicken pen (that was deterring the owl last fall) and rigged up some simple net poles.

Hopefully these will diswade the black bandits from raiding the early corn when it pops up.

Should happen any day now...

Mower Transmission Repair

We've had our Cub Cadet LT1045 riding mower for 3 years now and its run well.

This year we've had to breakdowns... first it wouldn't start.

Now, the transmission drive belt shredded. This one will take alittle more to fix.

First, we dropped the mowing deck out from under the mower.
This was really easy to do, and it was great having the extra hands from the kids to help.
Yeah, kid's hands and mowing decks don't go together well, but in this case it was OK!

Lots of yuck under the mowing deck.
It is a good time to clean it out and sharpen up the blades while we have it off, too.
Fortunately, there is alot of information and diagrams for the mowers online.
We ordered a new belt for $35, and got it after two days.

Here is the underside of the mower - with the transmission's pulleys visible.
The only big issue with putting on a new belt, is taking both pulleys off of the engine's drive shaft. Slipping the belt up and in on the pulleys was tricky, but not difficult.

Ok, here is a cool trick we'd only heard of but never tried. Because the bolt holding the pulleys was on the motor's drive shaft, loosening or tightening it was impossible - the motors shaft simply spun as we tugged on the socket.
So, we took out the spark plug, and stuffed the chamber full of nylon rope. Now, as we pulled on the socket, the rope bound up the piston, freezing the drive shaft, so we could EASILY loosen and tighten the bolt!

Seeing this trick work so well made the whole repair worth it! It is really cool seeing something like this work so well. Otherwise, we wouldn't have had a chance to get that bolt off.
Here you can see the PTO's clutch dropped off, and the upper pully down to slide on the new belt.
Putting it on and all back together took less than 5 minutes.

We did a cleanup on the blades, and a quick sharpening, too.
The repair took about 40 minutes. The blade work another 15.
Not a bad repair, after all.

The mower is back, ready for action. Much to the chagrin of the mowers...

The repair shop said they were backlogged by 4 weeks. Glad we could get it up and running so quickly (and cheaply!).