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VOLUMES 229 & 230 -------- JULY/AUGUST 2021

Uploaded: October 13, 2021

I'll catch up on the latest developments here at the ranch, and try to not get so far behind in the future.  Here goes!

With the hydraulics completed on the tractor, I decided to put the stump grinder to work.  After lubricating all the fittings, I started with a group of stumps next to the driveway a little north and west of the south shop building.  This was a group of two huge Tamaracks (Western Larch) and a couple of Douglas Firs.  Some were all crowded together with huge roots arching over one another above ground level.

Even after the loggers cut the stumps off as low as they could, it still left a tangled mess more than a foot above ground and several square feet in area.  I thought to myself, "If this thing will reduce that conglomeration to wood chips, it should do everything else I want it to!"

So away we went!  Here's a short video showing how the thing works:

Video HERE

As mentioned above, I lubricated all the fittings on the stump grinder before beginning the grinding.  In that process, I did have some frustrations.  While there are always design challenges in providing access to grease zerks on U-joints, the assemblers here clearly didn't do their job!  Zerks on both ends of the driveline were not tightened, making is near impossible to thread a grease gun nozzle through the maze and get it seated on the zerk.

Hey people, a 3/8th inch wrench would have fixed the problem easily if done during assembly!  I finally had to temporarily remove the driveline guards and tighten the zerks before getting them successfully lubricated.  Slow as I am, that wasted a good hour or two!

Another development on the tractor equipment front:  My order of a grapple for the tractor loader from Coeur d'Alene Tractor has gone unfilled since March.  They keep telling us they can't get them from the factory.  This was the same story I kept getting about the hydraulic parts I ordered at the same time, until I made a few phone calls and found them myself.  Anyway, we're convinced they weren't trying very hard!

Continued checking with dealers in other towns within a 200 mile radius revealed that some were unable to get grapples and others were.  Finally, tired of waiting and fearing that snow will fly before Coeur d'Alene tractor comes through, we took matters into our own hands.  On October 7th we fired up the GMC diesel and headed for Kalispell, Montana.  Parsons Tractor was one dealer who didn't seem to have trouble getting the grapples, so we made the 400+ mile round trip and brought one home!

Landpride Grapple

Works great too!  I'll report more about the unit in action next time.

Seems like deer season has crept up on us again.  Our early whitetail rifle season opens this Saturday the 16th.  We have seen no mature bucks so far this year, and in spite of reports of fewer whitetails in Eastern Washington, we are as overrun as ever with does and young of the year.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is reporting that an outbreak of Bluetongue and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease has taken a toll on deer populations in Northwestern Idaho and Eastern Washington.  Thus, there are restrictions on taking antlerless deer in our area.  For example, us old farts (65 and over) are allowed only bucks this year for both seasons in our area.

Speaking of wildlife, we are still blessed(?) with an overabundance of wild turkeys in most of the state.  They are not only a nuisance here in the country, they have taken over many neighborhoods in the cities.  The problem is exacerbated by the 'do-gooders' who insist that they not be harmed and even feed the damn things to keep them around.  All I can conclude is they must like turkey poop on their patios a lot better than we do!

The poop issue brings up another matter.  A few days ago Little Heifer noticed a small pile of poop in the corner of the under-deck patio.  We were unable to identify the species.  Wasn't turkey, didn't look like cat, coyote, or raccoon, so we were puzzled?

Setting up a game camera secured to a chair solved the mystery.  We have had this visitor now 3 nights in a row.

Here's Mr. or Ms. Skunk

Not sure exactly what to do about this, but getting too aggressive might smell up the area.  Ann bought some spray-on repellent that is supposed to affect skunks among other creatures, so we'll see how that works before getting too wild.

We were discussing the fact that we have observed fewer coyotes than usual around the ranch in the last year or so.  No real explanation, so let's blame it on COVID like everything else.  We would like to see more coyote vs turkey activity like the game camera caught last year though.

Coyote carrying a Thanksgiving turkey dinner home to the family

Well, I think our logging operation is mostly done!  At least all the marketable logs have been trucked to the mills.  On the afternoon of October 7th we were told that the skidder would be hauled out at noon on Friday and finishing of the cleanup would be done with the antique loader pictured in the March/April newsletter.

Hmmmm?  As I have reported before, part of the contract for this job included slash cleanup and burning as conditions allowed.  Slash gathering and piling in several areas on the place requires a skidder because the loader can't navigate a lot of the terrain.

The skidder information was passed on by the logging crew, which consists of the owner's Daughter and Son-in-Law.  Next morning I had a lengthy conversation with the Boss Man.

I said, "Robert, I realize that there will be some difference of opinion between the landowner and the logger about what is proper 'cleanup' after a logging operation.  Recognizing that, I think there needs to be a lot more cleanup with the skidder before it leaves here."

The result was a delay of the LoBoy for hauling the skidder until evening on Friday and Robert spent a long, hard day on cleanup!  Things look a whole lot better now, and the skidder was loaded and hauled out at dark that evening.  That grapple discussed above will help greatly in getting the smaller stuff that a skidder will inevitably leave behind.

Now we need to await the wet weather or snow that will enable the burning of the slash piles, and there are a lot of them!

This is a small sample of the slash piles that will be burned.  The loggers will haul away the scrap in the foreground for firewood.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from an unknown source Ann found while 'computering':

"You can bitch about rich people all you want but I never got a job from someone on welfare!"

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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