Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rolling and Tumbling

Here we are again after a long hiatus from the blog. I guess that last post (Departure) took a lot out of me. It's been a busy, busy time since then. I went to Winfield KS in September for the Walnut Valley Festival and spent nearly a week there camping, picking and catching up with friends. It was a great time and I'm hoping to do it again this year, Lord willing.

Aerial view of Walnut Valley Festival- and we're not even in it!

The view from my abode.
Talking Friends
Jamming Friends
Eating Friends

Cattle shipping went well and there wasn't a lot to report there.  I wrapped things up and hit the guitar repair business full-time and full-tilt.  I suppose I did a lot of work, but at times it seemed like I was trying to run in mud; doing a lot of effort but not getting much done.   Derek and I went to the North American Falconer's Association meet in Alamosa CO during Thanksgiving week and it was COLD there.  Cold and snowy.  So much so, that we bailed out early and came home.    Except for that week and few others, our winter has been pretty mild with just a few snowstorms and days of frigid weather.  Unlike last year when the water heater and furnace both went out within a month of each other, everything held together pretty well.

Stressed out and missing homeschooling Derek, Georgia quit her teaching job in December.  She had to drive 60 mi/day to get to work and by the time we paid gas and etc, her hourly pay was about $7/hr.  It just wasn't worth having her gone from the house for 8-10 hours/day so we made the decision for her to bail.  At the same time, I investigated Subaru's trade-in sales pitch and ended up trading in our 2012 Subaru Outback with 32,000 miles (that teaching job put the miles on!) for a 2014 Outback with 0.0 miles.  It actually worked out to be a good deal and basically cost me about $3,000 to erase those 32,000 miles.  Here's hoping we put a lot less miles on this one!

Subaru Outback #3

I've been working hard at my archery.  I posted on this in an early post "I Bow Down", and taking pictures for that post helped point out some flaws in my technique.  I'm shooting 3 bows now, only 1 of which was in that old post!  I now have a 2011 Hoyt Contender (which I bought last year at this time and immediately used in State competition), a 2010 Hoyt Maxxis 35 (which was in the old post), and a 2010 Hoyt Alphamax 32 (that I got a great price and couldn't pass up).   I made all these moves in order to get adjustable cams which my old Hoyt Vectrix didn't have and I did that so that I could play with my draw length.  I found a sweet spot and my shooting has picked up.  Last year, I finished 3rd in the State and this year, having been moved to a new class ("Senior"!!!), I should win.  Derek, if you didn't know already, is defending State Champion in his class.

Falconry-wise, we had a disaster.  My prairie falcon got tangled up in her telemetry harness and ended up damaging her wing and losing 6 primary feathers and follicles.  She will never fly again.   It was really disappointing as I had high hopes for her, going into her 3rd season.  But, that's the way it goes sometimes.  It looks like I'm going to pass her on to a raptor education group and they'll use for public education.  On the upside, the kestrel we took as a chick in June has been a lot of fun.  Derek took a liking to him and after an episode in which the kestrel was lost for a day, I made the decision to not try to hunt with him.I just felt that after losing his brother, that Derek needed to not lose something, but to have some success.  Instead, we just fly him around the house and work on training techniques.  We move from room to room and the kestrel will "hunt" us down at which time we toss a tidbit for him.   We're planning to release him back into the wild in late summer and get another one, which we will try to hunt sparrows and starlings with.   I'm also hoping to take a tiercel (male) prairie falcon- a bird I've never flown.  Derek's excited about that, too. 

Now for the biggest news.  In January, Georgia was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Fortunately- we hope- it was caught early.  As I type this, she's had 2 surgeries to remove the mass and will be starting radiation or chemo therapy in a few weeks.  That will require daily treatments for about 6 weeks in Amarillo, TX.  We have several sets of friends there and she should be able to stay with them and come home on weekends.  That's been a huge challenge for us, coming not even 2 years after David's passing, but it's certainly not as bad as it could be and we've had tremendous support from friends, family, and people we haven't even met.  One friend setup a donation site and the help we've received from it has been a real and appreciated blessing.   The link:  Georgia's Cancer Fund.   To do my part, I've been paring down as much excess stuff as possible; I've sold 3 guitars and a vintage Fender amp and applied the $$$ to our expenses.  It's kind of nice trimming away the excess, actually.

Georgia's book

Out on the ranch, I've rebuilt the 2002 Yamaha Grizzly again.  I did this back at the beginning of this blog and here we are again.  Last time, 2 valve tappets came loose and I miraculously recovered them from the engine, but I think they damaged a valve seat and smoking on start-up, oil consumption, and hard starting ensued.  Since I wasn't using the bikes during the winter, I decided to go ahead and rebuild the head.  It took pretty much all winter to get 'er done, but there was no rush, and the bike started up immediately and purred like a kitten (okay, a BIG kitten), so maybe it'll be good for another couple of years.

Engine guts
The tumbleweeds have been unbelievable this spring.  They have filled up the creeks, gullies, and fence corners.  This is going to be tremendous MESS if/when we get a gully-washer rain and all these weeds become flotsam.  Right now, when the wind blows, the weeds pile up and knock down fences.  I'm in constant fence repair mode.  And I don't think there's anything I can do about it.

Tumbleweeds along a fence (dark line running over horizon)

Weeds in a creek- the fence is buried

Weeds, weeds, weeds

Weeds on every corner
I think that more or less catches us up.  I've been spending too much time making short Facebook updates and instead of doing that, I think I'll re-focus on my blog and just link FB to it.  That way I can control my photos a little better, write longer posts, and non-FB friends can still read what's going on.

For now.... off to work on guitars and fix fences.