Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Win Some, Lose Some

We got another great rain- 3/10" across the east side of the ranch.  The west is still dry, but the eastern 3/4 has now received nearly 3" of rain in the past few weeks.  That's still way behind, but believe me, we'll take it.  I went out to check on stuff and found this:

Water in the creek, clouds on the horizon

We've gotta cross here!
Water in the creek!!  This really takes a load off the windmills and also helps the cattle spread out and graze different areas.  I have to cross the creek in the 2nd photo, but fortunately, there's a patch of high ground there.  ASAP, hopefully today, I need to bring our skid steer down here and make some road blocks to keep antelope and prairie dog hunters from driving straight down a hill to the right of this photo.  A straight road will just erode like crazy; the correct way down is to zig-zag.  Unfortunately, visitors to the ranch aren't always astute in matters of erosion.  So, I"m gonna block the road.

I drove around the back side of Chavez Mountain and put some salt out back there.  Salt will draw the cattle to that spot and there's some strong grass on the backside of the mountain.  While back there, I took this panoramic photo with my phone camera.  Didn't realize this until I got home, but panoramic view uses a much smaller photo size.  Too bad, 'cause this would look really neat if it filled your screen.

A little further on, I liked this cloud formation but was still on panoramic setting.  Oh well, here it is anyway:

The rain is the "win some".  As for the "lose some" see the little box in the upper right hand corner of this blog.  I've been on a diet since April 25.  Back then, I weighed 177 lbs and even though I felt okay, I looked fat and my dear wife said I was fat.  About that time, I also got a new phone- a Samsung Android- and started looking at apps for it.  One of this was the "MyFitnessPal" app which is neat little online calorie counter.  According to the BMI, I should weigh 140 lb.  Now, I think that's a little low because I'm kind of a stocky guy, but I set 155 lb as a reasonable goal- still a 20 lb weight loss.  For the past 3 months, I've been entering calories and keeping at my recommended calorie count.  At first, I over-estimated my activity level (and we were hiking a bit more then) and gave myself 1800 calories/day.  After awhile, though, I decided I really wasn't that active, recalculated, and now I get 1600/day.   If it's an active day, I can have 1800, but I basically try to keep my calories between 1600-1800.  If I exercise, I get more and MyFitnessPal tells what's what.  Today, I stepped on the scale and was greeted with a "159".  This is the first time in 10-15 years that I've been in the 150's.  Yee-haw!!! 

You know, it really wasn't that hard.  Keeping track of the calories was the key.  I have found that the difference between making the goal and going over is a single glass of juice at breakfast, an ice cream bar, a cookie, a biscuit, 2 tortillas instead of 1 for lunch, and so forth.  It really helps me to just eat consistently.  For breakfast, I have one of two choices- a Clif Bar or ham/eggs/potatoes.  The former is an excellent breakfast, easy to eat, and surprisingly satisfying.  The latter has a few more calories but is good for variety.  Both of these will hold me to lunch.  I can't say the same about other breakfasts, so I just stick with one of these two.  At lunch, I get a serving of this, a serving of that, a salad, and that's it.  I choose my foods a lot more carefully now.  I usually eat 600 calories for lunch which means I have 500 or so left for supper,  If I exercise, I can have more and once every couple of weeks I splurge at Pizza Hut buffet or eat Sunday lunch at the restaurant.   But even then, I don't "pig out" and the next day, I'm back on the program.  Again, it really hasn't been that hard sticking to this plan and there are days where I actually have to eat a little more!  Mostly, after entering my day in MFP, I find that I need some more carbs.   Protein and fat has not been a problem, but I've found that I'm sometimes low on carbs and I've also found that if I don't eat those carbs then the next day, I'll be run down.  That's where the Clif bar is especially handy because it has such a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat.

And so here I am- in the 150's!  Granted, I'm on the deep end and not the shallow end, but the shallow end is in sight.  I think I'll shoot for an honest 150 lbs and then up my caloric intake to 2000/day to see if I hold.  The bad news is that none of my 32W jeans fit any more, and I just bought 5 pair back in early April!!  Maybe our local seamstress can take 'em in?

Finally, I've been working on the hawk house, getting metal panels up and such.  It's still not real pretty, but it's getting there:

Moving along
And remember that ball of fluffy white down that I told you was a peregrine falcon?  Here's the handsome little fellow today:

Hello.  I am a peregrine falcon.
He likes to play
Serious training is going to be starting for him in the next 2 weeks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh, YEAH!!!!

Sunday afternoon.  Over 1.5" of rain across the ranch.

And this was at 6:30.   By 7:30 pm, it was still sprinkling heavily.  More photos and news tomorrow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Look Ma- Mud!!!

My mother actually does read this blog...

We got over 1" of rain yesterday afternoon and last night!  And it seems to have gone over pretty much the whole ranch, too.  This is great, people!  Can I hear it?  I can't hear you... this is GREAT!!!  Let me hear ya out there now!!!  GREAT!!!!  (I missed my calling- I should've been a rock star).  Well, anyway, here're some pictures.

Mud On The Tires

Puddles of Water
I spent most of yesterday working on guitars.  Here's one that's getting a new bone nut/saddle and a new pickguard.  The customer gets to pick his guard (that's why they're called pick-guards.) 

Pick Your Guard

A Sunburst Top

Just a short note today.  Let's see what trouble the day has in store.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)

Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.
(Job 5:7)

"Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue.
(Job 14:1-2)

Have a GREAT day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In The Groove

This has been an incredibly busy week.  First, we spent Thurs getting ready for the 58th Annual Sierra Grande Camp Meeting.  This is a Christian camp meeting that's been going on for- surprise!!!- 58 years.  I've been chairman for the past 3 years and have working hard to reverse a downward attendance trend.  When I first started going to the meeting 14 years ago, there were lines 100 yards long at supper and the big tent was full of people.  Attendance fell off quickly shortly afterward and by the time I took over the Chairman role (I like to be called the "Camp Meeting Czar"...:)  ) we were down to 20-25 people at meals and maybe that many at the Sunday service.   I've been advertising more, changing the schedule around to give more free time, involving more local preachers instead of a single "guest star" preacher, and things like that.  This year seemed to be more well-attended and, more importantly, more active.  The people who were there participated much more in setup, discussion, take-down, and so forth.  I did the daily Bible study and preached the closing sermon on Sunday. I'll have some photos when B2 gets back with her camera.

Immediately after the meeting on Sunday B2 and Georgia took off for South Plains College's Camp Bluegrass, leaving me and the boys alone for the week.  On Monday, I met with our lawyer to try to straighten out some issues we're having with our cattle owners.  With that resolved, groceries gotten, and some banking done, it was time to get David's blood tested.  And it was down again, with a hemoglobin of 6.6, which is still better than when we started, but not all that good.  Plus, his platelets were down to 29k.  See the post on "Bad Blood"... So, I scheduled an appointment in ABQ for another transfusion.  Since Mom was gone, I was going to have to take youngest brother Derek along for the ride, too.  We'd be leaving at 5 am for the 4.5 h drive to ABQ.

After doing a little last minute guitar work and getting things ready, it was 10 pm before I made it to bed.  Sometime during the night- about 2 am, I think- I awoke with the smell of skunk in my nostrils.  I went out with the shotgun, but didn't smell it anymore so maybe it was out in the pasture or maybe the dogs were doing their job.  In any case, it was back to bed and I managed another couple of hours of sleep.

Incredibly dry out here

On the drive in, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly dry it is .  The country around Las Vegas is normally green and gorgeous.  It's brown and dead now.  Going non-stop for 234 mi, we made it to ABQ right on time and got David all IV'ed up after a short and uninformative visit with the doctor.  There's just been no progress made since the last visit which is frustrating, of course, but I guess the wheels of medicine move slowly.  Upstairs, we ate lunch while we waited on the blood to be prepared, and finally, about 1 pm, we got started on the actual transfusion.

David was already hard at it with the video games.  These transfusions don't bother him a bit.  This was Derek's first exposure to such, and pretty soon, I had 2 Wii Zombies on my hands.

Wii Zombie-ism Spreads

Me, I was pretty tired.  The place was empty, so I asked one of the nurses if I might lay down in one of the empty chaises and take a nap.  Granted.  I plopped down, reclined, and I was out for most of the transfusion time.  I actually had a great nap and was rested up when David's blood finished.  We left right at rush hour, so I detoured into REI where Derek wanted to look at kid's climbing harnesses.  We spent an hour or so there, found some great kid's backpacks, checked out the harnesses, and then fueled up at Shell and McDonald's.  I'm really watching my calories (and it's paying off), but I needed a Coke for the road.  Armed with Chicken McNuggets, an Angus burger, and a Coke we hit the road for home at 6 pm.

Even though the Suburban is out of the shop, I'm still driving my mother's car- a Mazda Tribute- until I can get it back to Santa Fe, and it's great for quick road trips like this.  It's noisy on the road, but it drives well and gets 26-28 mpg which means that a trip to ABQ and back is $65 instead of $97 in the Suburban or $110 in the pickup.  That starts to add up.

After another non-stop trip, we were home just before 10 pm.  I felt lodgy and bloated after my fat-filled Angus burger and fries, so I loaded up "3:10 To Yuma" on the portable DVD player and hit the exercise bike for an hour.  Then, just as I was fixing to hit the shower at 11:30 pm, David came in with an "accident".  After cleaning that mess up- hydration from his transfusion, I guess- I got a shower and finally hit the sack at 12:30 am, exhausted.

Today, I slept in to 7:30 am, finished up a guitar, did odds and ends around the house and ranch, prepared some stuff for the lawyer, played with the peregrine falcon, and played guitar (fooled around with this one: Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi) a bit.  I feel "caught-up" now.

The Peregrine looks like a Peregrine now!

Tomorrow's another day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This Just In...


It starts

A few minutes later

Comin' down!

3/4" at the house.  The yard is flooded, the roads have water in the ditch, there's water standing in the creeks. 


More pictures tomorrow.

Nothing New Under The Sun

You could just go re-read last week's post, I suppose.  Same deal- cloudy skies, no rain.  They remind me of this passage from Jude, in which Jude is talking about false prophets:

They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;  (Jude 1:12)

What we want to see is more along the lines of this:

Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. (1 Kings 18:45a)

Or this!

Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.  (Zechariah 10:1)

We've certainly had the flashing clouds and the result was fires all over the place.  One ranch south of us was almost entirely burned up and the owner, who took to the air in a plane said it was almost like it just burned along their property boundaries.  We, so far, have been spared from fires.  And the weather forecast is still calling for 10-40% chances of rain every day for the rest of the week.  So, while it's tough, it could be worse.

As part of the Ministerial Alliance in town I get 15 min a day on the local radio station about every 5 weeks.  The above passages are probably overflow from my most recent series, which was on....drum roll... rain!   I looked at a lot of verses on rain, and it was clear that God uses it to accomplish both chastisement and reward.  I did the same thing in 2008 and I'll probably do it again in a few years.

This week, the 58th Annual Camp Meeting is coming up and I'm doing the daily Bible study as well as preaching the closing sermon on Sunday.  In light of everyone's recent and current struggles, I'm thinking I'll look at Job, particularly:

And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.  (Job 1:21-22)


But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.  (Job 2:10)

Of course, times of trouble aren't easy- Job tore his robe and shaved his head.   The author of Hebrews says:

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:11)

So, there's not much to do here but examine ourselves, try to ride it out, and hope for better times.  Hard times certainly make us appreciate the good times more.   Oh wait... here's the famous 2 Chronicles passage:

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.   (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

Well, that's pretty much my message for Camp Meeting this week!  :)  However, you don't get the brisket and beans that we'll be getting.  Yummy.

Moving to more mundane things, a neighbor came over on Monday and we "pulled" the windmill in last week's blog.  This involves hooking up ropes and pulleys and pulling the sucker rods up, unscrewing each one, laying them out carefully, and then getting to the valve which enables water pumping.  There are circular leather bushings on that valve and if they get rust, dirt, and junk in them, the mill won't pump.  We were getting some rust flakes when pounding on the pipe and so decided to see what was down there.  Found a couple of flakes, put new leathers on, and it seems to be a little better.  Sorry I didn't get pictures- next time!

On the falcon front, training of the prairie falcon is moving along.  She's a little challenging, but we're starting to make some progress and I've gotten her to eat off the lure and take food from my glove.  Here she is relaxing on her window perch.  This is good as it shows that she really can relax.  As soon as I get her out flying, she'll be able to burn off some of the energy and aggression that's causing our training issues and things should progress even better.

The peregrine is growing up:

Being taken at a much younger age, being a peregrine, and being a male, he's got a totally different attitude than the prairie.  He likes to play with us, is much more sociable (which will create its own training challenges in a bit), and far more vocal.  His feathers are growing by the minute and he's now moved from a creature who could barely walk 2 weeks ago to one that's flapping and running around  his mews (8' x 12').  I don't think I'd been able to take him at this age!

And finally, what with our ranch income uncertain, I've been stepping up the guitar business again. My intent this year was the reverse- back off the guitars and focus more on the ranch, but it just hasn't worked out that way.  So, I contacted all the people I put on "hold" and told 'em the gates were open. So far this week, I've done 2 bridges, 2 bridgeplates, 1 neck reset, 1 nut, 1 saddle, shaved a couple of braces, and I have another neck reset lined up once the guitar has a chance to react to the new bridge/plate.  I like working on guitars.

Here's a 70's Martin D-41 getting a new bridge:

And, I guess that's it for today.  I need to go out and "doctor" a couple of sick cattle in the pasture, do some guitar work, get ready for Bible study tonight (we're going thru Matthew, chapter by chapter, reading it, and then seeing what jumps out at everyone), and praying/hoping for rain!!!   THIS is what it should look like this time of the year:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More of the Same

We're still waiting on rain.  Even though this showed up:

It didn't do much.  I suppose it was raining under this cloud, but all we got at the house was a very light sprinkle- not even enough to register in the rain gauge.  At least it's cloudy and cool and not burning sun.

Of course, some days have been burning sun and worse, they've been windless days.  That led to the situation I described earlier where the windmills don't pump.  Since there's no ground water, this is a bad situation.  We fortunately have an electric pipeline that takes water to several pastures.  And we have a water trailer, so what I do is raid one of the larger pipeline tanks and bring water to the non-pumping mills.  It's a lot of work. The trailer breaks, the truck breaks, and the pump breaks.  Today, the pump quit on my last run at 8 pm, so the first thing I'll do in the morning is get a cup of coffee.  THEN, I'll go out and find out why the pump quit.

A pitiful stream of water

The water tank.  It'll take 4 of these to fill the stock tank.
Well, that's the ranch.  Falcon-wise, I've been working on my hawk house.  I have all the panels up, giving me an 8' x 24' structure.

Big Ol' Ugly Hawk House

It's ugly now, but I think I have all the supplies on hand to panel the outside with metal, like this:
Metal paneling
The roof will be green and there will be a green flashing covering the top 1' or so.  After I get it all up, I'll paint any exposed wood dark brown to match the interior and then I'll put decorative rock along the base.  I think it'll look good and more importantly, hopefully, I won't have to mess with it again for many years.

Here's an update on the birds:
The prairie falcon, happy on her block

The peregrine falcon, growing feathers
Mom and David are in ABQ for David's 4th transfusion.  Nothing much to report there- the doctors are still looking into a cause for his anemia and he's still getting transfusions which will, hopefully, allow him to grow.  Hope, hope, hope- it's all about hope!  I hope it rains, I hope I don't have to work on the hawk house, I hope I get the water pump fixed, I hope nothing else breaks, I hope we find David's problem and cure it.  Hope- it's sometimes all we have.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)