Thursday, July 23, 2009

The pond is looking good!

Well, I usually just post on my projects as they are in progress and rarely post on them after they are finished, but when I went out to the pond at the house yesterday to feed the Koi the water lilies were out after the rain so I went ahead and took a few pictures to share.

Here it is looking back toward the east. The pond is about 17 feet long and 12 feet wide. It's just over 3 feet deep at it's deepest point and levels out to just a few inches deep on the far west side.

And a shot of it looking toward the west. Not much of a waterfall, but it serves it's purpose of aerating the water.

Here's a closer view of the water lilies. They started out at 10 small plugs that I bought 3 years ago.

Another shot of the lilies. Some of the more colorful ones actually weren't blooming in this picture. There are pink, yellow, white, orange and some bright pink/purple ones that aren't blooming in this picture.

And lastly a couple pictures of some of the fish. Most of them are about 5 or 6 inches long but there is one that is close to a foot long and one that is pushing 18 inches.

The water isn't crystal clear, but one of the dogs loves to swim in it and I don't really put any effort into it, so I'm happy with it the way it is.

The pond is actually about 150 yards from the house on my CRP property. I was required to establish a permanent water source for wildlife when I put in for the contract so I figured I would go ahead and go all out on it. It can be a pain walking out there when it is hot and windy, but you don't have to feed the fish in the winter so at least I'm not having to go out there in the cold.

That's pretty much it. When I went out and saw the lilies in bloom I thought it looked good enough to take some pictures and share.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The pigs are back...

Well, I went down to the land last weekend with Eli to check the trail cameras and fill the feeders and am just now getting around to posting about it.

We got some rain on July 4th so the pond is no longer dry, but it isn't exactly full and overflowing either. It probably is about 1 foot deep or so right now but that's a lot better than being dry! I'm debating on whether I'm going to put in some irrigation tubing and put in a small watering hole for the future in the event of another drought and possibly to water some trees and stuff as well.

After a month long absence the pigs are back and they brought some friends with them! I got 18 pigs in one picture!

The deer are really hitting the protein feeder and it was completely out of pellets for a couple weeks based on the trail camera photos so hopefully they will come back around now that it is refilled. I'm getting a decent amount of bucks on camera, but I'll have a much better chance of identifying exactly how many different ones once their antlers grow a bit more.

Stickers is a couple weeks behind last year on his antler development. Since I didn't get pictures of him until he had already dropped his antlers this year I'm not sure if he dropped his antlers late this year or what, but hopefully he'll grow as big as last year and hopefully keep his kickers and stick around for a bit during hunting season too!

Here's about the most recent picture I have of him.

I ended up with 2 cameras at feeders that were either out of food or not working properly and I accidentally turned the flash off on my other camera that was at a feeder that was working properly the whole time so I didn't get many consistent pictures for the entire month between checking cameras. I still got quite a few pictures though.

Here's a couple younger bucks. I think the one on the right is a 3 year old this year.

Here are 3 younger bucks hanging out together. The one in the front should be decent this year, but if he makes it to next year he'll end up even better.

I'm pretty sure this doe was still pregnant when this picture was taken on June 25th. Whitetail deer have a gestation period of about 200 days so if you go backwards that means doe would have conceived the 2nd week of December or later. This either means that the rut was later than some folks think for that area, or there were more does than bucks and this doe was bred on her 2nd cycle. More than most of you wanted to know I'm sure!

I haven't gotten any pictures of fawns yet this year, but I did get this odd picture of what appears to be 5 does together going by one of my feeders that wasn't working at the time. It seems odd that the does would be together this time of the year so I'm not really sure what to make of it. Some appear to be smaller and they could have been yearlings last year and they might not have fawns of their own this year but it still seems odd to me.

I got pictures of a bobcat, coyote, armadillo, skunk, raccoons, turkey, deer, pigs, quail, dove, squirrels, etc. this month so plenty of activity going on.

If you want to check out some more they are at and the new ones start at the bottom of page 6 and go onto page 8. On the 4 cameras I had out I actually went through over 2,000 pictures and most were obviously left on the cutting room floor.

That's about it for now.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More work in the barn.

Well, I got a little more done in the barn this week. Nothing major, but things I've been meaning to do for a couple years now, so I'm glad to have them done for the most part!

Along with all the light fixtures that I got when we remodeled our accounting firm's office, I got several cabinets as well. Of course they've just been sitting in the barn ever since. I was able to use the regular counter top ones, but the wall cabinet one had been sitting upside down in the way for a couple years and the one with a sink had also pretty much been collecting dust.

One issue I had to overcome was the fact that when we poured the slab I put the incoming water line near the front of the barn and put the drain line toward the back with the thought that I could just run it over there inside the barn after it was finished. The issue was that there was an 8" I-Beam right in the way and it was going to be a pain to run the water line around it. After checking with a coworkers husband who is a structural engineer who designs steel buildings, I decided to drill a hole through one of the I-Beams to run my water line through it.

It doesn't look like much, but drilling a 1 inch hole through a 1/4" thick steel I-Beam isn't exactly easy. With the help of some oil to cool the bit and some patience, I was able to get it done without much issue though. I did have to enlarge the hole just a little bit with a dremel to get the 3/4" PVC to fit through it though. You can see some of the metal shavings under the hole in this picture. The next step was to actually hang the wall cabinet. The problem there is that the only structural support on the wall of the barn is the C Purling at 7 feet and 12 feet and some angle iron on the floor. To hold the cabinet I had to first put up something to hang it on. My simple solution to this is to cut 2x4's and screw them to the C Purling on the top and to the angle iron on the bottom. With self tapping metal screws it is a pretty easy process and the 2x4's seem to be pretty sturdy. Once I had the 2x4's up, it was a simple matter of holding the cabinet up while Cathy was helpful enough to put a few screws in.After 3 trips to Lowe's I finally had the parts I needed for the plumbing job. I have boxes of PVC fittings but they never seem to be the right ones. It was also a pain to find the right parts for the sink trap since at some point this sink had a disposal on it and not the normal extension.

Here's the plumbing roughed in. (The kitty litter is from me spilling the cup of oil I was using to cool the drill bit when drilling the hole in the I-Beam).After that, just a few more fittings to install and I was up and running. One of the few projects were I actually got it done without a single leak!

I still need to figure out how I'm going to attach the lower counter cabinet to the wall though. It isn't perfectly stable and it will be a pain to retrieve items from behind it if they fall back there. Since the plumbing is running behind it I can't push it up against the wall, but I'm thinking some pressure treated plywood left over from my hunting blind project might do the trick.

Here's the finished project. And of last but not least, a picture of the sink with water running! I still need to redo the top on a couple of the counters but I'm really nearing completion on the barn. I may start working on setting up a workshop area sometime down the road, but for now I think I'll just enjoy it the way it is for a while.

That's it for now. Nathan

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Snow Day!

Well, it's been nearly a week since we got back from our week in Montana, but I had a conference in San Antonio that I was doing a presentation at and a lot of other stuff going on at work so I'm just now back home again and have a little spare time to make a post. I'm getting some other stuff done in the barn as well, but since it has been 105+ the last several days I'm taking a break during the heat of the day. Kinda makes this post even more amazing.

We decided to take the ATV and my motorcycle up Arasta Creek and show my brother Arasta Lake. It isn't that great of a lake and isn't worth the 7 mile one way hike to get to it if you don't have an ATV or motorcycle, but it is one of the few trails that they do allow you to use an ATV or motorcycle on so it is well worth it then. And the ride is as fun as the destination.

We ended up heading up there on June 30th so we were expecting there to still be some snow, just not as much as we ended up encountering! I made a post last year when I went up there with my friend Mike, but then we were able to go all the way to the lake very easily and even made it up to the top of another trail that ended up at 10,000 ft. Things were going well and we got into some snow around the 8,500 ft mark. Here's a shot of where we were headed.

Then we ran into a pretty good sized drift right across the trail. (That's my brother Frank on the ATV and his wife Kerry watching and my bike parked in the background)

We still had nearly a mile to go at this point and I started to get a little nervous. I had expected that we were going to find some snow, but the snow was finding us! Our ATV is only a 2wd and works well under most circumstances, but it didn't really like the snow. The front wheels just plowed into the somewhat soft snow and the rear wheels just spun out. We tried working around the edges, but there wasn't much edge to work around on several sections of the trail. I was surprised that my motorcycle actually seemed to make it through better than the 2wd ATV.

Here's the next decent snow across the trail. Anywhere there was shade across the trail there was snow.

Here's a short video clip of my brother going back through that patch of snow on the way back down.

Here's where we about gave up the first time. We actually left the ATV just up around the corner here. I kept after it on my bike as I could skirt around the snow a little better and it actually went through the snow pretty well for the most part.
This is looking back down the trail. I can't remember if the ATV made it this far or not.
Here's the first spot that I left the bike at. The kickstand isn't down, but it was so stuck in the snow it didn't matter! I actually ended up making it through this spot and probably another couple hundred yards down the trail before giving up and walking.
Here I am standing by the bike while it was in the drift. The snow was hard enough that for the most part with my big feet I stayed on top, but every once in a while you would break through.

Here's a video clip of me coming back through that spot on our way back down. Nothing exciting, but you can get a feel for what it was like riding through the snow.

After abandoning the vehicles we still had maybe a 1/2 mile to go to the lake. We started off on foot, but walking uphill at 9,000+ ft elevation is a little more effort than you might expect.

It started raining (it pretty much rained every afternoon we were there) and then my brother said all we need now is for it to snow, so of course mother nature obliged us! It was kind of like hail, but much softer. The temperature was above freezing but not much. Talking with some locals they said that it was called "popcorn snow". Little balls about a 1/2" in diameter. There was enough of them to pretty much cover the ground.

After huddling under some trees trying to avoid the rain and snow for 30 minutes or so, we ended up making it to the lake.
Here's a picture from nearly the same exact spot last year on August 1st. I wasn't able to get the motorcycle in the picture this year though!
After a few pictures around the lake, we headed back. This picture gives some pretty good perspective on the snow. We weren't trying to find snow, we were trying to AVOID snow and this was the best route down at one point.
After we got back to the ATV and the bike, of course it started raining again. The temperature was still in the upper 30's or lower 40's and although I had my motorcycle protective gear on, my brother was just wearing a T-shirt. Needless to say it was a cold ride back down the mountain on a pretty treacherous trail.

My bike went over for the first time on the way back down. There are 2 creek crossings and 1 of them isn't very wide, but this time of year the water was close to 2 feet deep. I stalled out climbing up the other side of the creek, and couldn't hold the bike up against the current and it fell over in the creek. Thankfully, I was able to get it started right back up and walked it out of the creek without much problems. Of course waterproof boots don't work too well in 2 feet of water, but the bike ended up with just some light scratches on the handle bar end so that part was good.

We didn't get to ride as much as last time but it was still worth taking them up there. It was one of those times in your life where it wasn't that much fun when it was actually happening, but looking back on it makes it seem like it was alot better than it was. Especially sitting here in 105+ degree heat!

I may make another post on our week at church camp in Montana and I've got a few projects I'll post on as I get to them.

Had a great time at camp, but it is good to be home!