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VOLUMES 225 & 226 -------- MARCH/APRIL 2021

Uploaded May 25, 2021

Yeah this is an excuse for being late, but there really ain't much going on around here.  Most of these two months have been spent holing up like most of us have been doing all year.  Ann and I did finally get our COVID shots with the second ones administered on March 5th.

As I write this, many of the restrictions imposed by the powers that be have been lifted and we can go about our lives with a little more normalcy.

One of the hazards of getting older, especially for those of us who have done a lot of shooting over the years, is hearing loss.  I got my first hearing aids over 3 years ago, and they died just a few months after the warranty expired.

My insurance provides a hearing aid benefit every 3 years, I thought.  Checking further, I found that the provision was changed to every 5 years effective 01/01/2021.  So, even though there would be no insurance reimbursement, I decided to go with Miracle Ear.  I got the new ones in March.  While they were about $2,000 more expensive than my old ones, Guess what?  They ain't that much better than the others.

Gotta have 'em though.  Without them I miss too much that is going on, including not hearing things that Little Heifer says, and that ain't a good thing.

I guess the biggest change at the ranch, is the logging activity.  Last fall we began investigating various alternatives and logging companies.  One major concern is the proximity of many huge trees near the house, both for fire danger reasons and having one or more fall on the house during strong windstorms.

One need only think about the major wildfires in the Northwest over the last few years and the seeming prevalence of windstorms to understand our concerns.  We have had some close calls with windblown trees, although none have actually hit the house.  The most damage incurred was a mashed fender on our flatbed trailer a few years ago.  More recently, this past January, a large tree was uprooted by wind just east of the house.  Fortunately, it fell away from the house and the shop building.

Another consideration is the forest health on our little acreage.  A number of trees are showing signs of ill health, and adding dead and dying trees to the mix only exacerbates the fire danger.

Our investigation of logging companies did apprise us of the fact logging has changed greatly over the years.  Today it is common for logging to be done with little or no use of a chainsaw!  Instead, huge equipment takes down the trees, trims limbs, and cuts the log to length, ready for the mill.

About to settle on Worley Logging to do the work, when owner Mike Worley made a recommendation.  He said that he would do the work, but the equipment he uses would exact a toll on the landscape.  He instead suggested we have the work done, "the old fashioned way," falling the trees by chainsaw and skidding with a swinging grapple skidder would be less damaging to the terrain.

We received a proposal from Worley's Brother-in-law, Robert Groce of Groce Logging and elected to go that way.  Groce's proposal included gathering and piling slash and burning it as part of the deal.  The work began in early December and is progressing slowly.  It is interesting to watch as much of the work is being done with antique equipment.  More on this as we get into the photos later.

Things went pretty well as long as there was snow on the ground and the ground frozen.  Then we started having those January thaws!  Work halted for several weeks until things completely thawed and dried out.  There now appears to be work elsewhere that is keeping some of the man and woman power away from this job so we will have some discussion on that soon.

During spring and summer logging there will be no slash burning, so we will have slash piles hanging around until next winter when we again have snow cover! 

Instructions to the loggers included selective cutting on the property, except around the house.  We wanted all the trees that could reach the house if uprooted by wind to go, except for two white pines just north of the house.  These trees were excepted because they are the only white pines on the place and prevailing winds would tend to blow them away from the house.

Sure is changing the view here.

View to the East

Looking Northeast





This is looking South.  The truck carrying the loader is probably 1960's vintage while the loader is early 70's maybe?  Old Blue really smokes when they fire up to move the loader!

Some of the trees on the place are considered huge in today's world.  Many area sawmills have closed in the last few years and some of those still operating have re-tooled to process smaller trees.  It is now sometimes difficult to find mills that will accept the larger ones.  Although we don't notice it seeing them every day, trees can grow a lot in 35 years!

Three Douglas Fir stumps in the driveway circle in front of the house.

This is the only 'before' picture I could find of the fir trees in the driveway circle.  Of course Ann's 2019 Ford Edge is included but that's OK.  The tree just to the left of the fir trees, and further away is an even bigger Ponderosa Pine.

The ruler will give you an idea of the size of the largest fir tree in the circle.

Ponderosa Pine stump just south of the driveway.

In anticipation of the aftermath of logging, some new equipment has been ordered for the little Kubota tractor.  A three point, PTO stump grinder and a grapple for the loader were ordered.  Both will make it easier to do the final cleanup and get rid of the stumps near the house. 

Unfortunately both attachments require some additional hydraulic connections on the tractor.  Those parts have been on order for over two months and still not here.

So, the stump grinder has been delivered but I can't use it.  The grapple and hydraulics are on order with the local Kubota dealer, with no end in sight.  Hell, I didn't want to work anyway!

This is the new Stump Grinder.  More on this when I can get it on the tractor and hydraulics connected.

Another project that I'm working on is putting a non-slip coating of some sort on the flatbed trailer.  When wet, the 2X6 planks make the decking get so slick it becomes dangerous.  So I'm still investigating what kind of non-slip coating/paint/whatever I will use on the trailer.  I've looked at several alternatives but have not yet settled on a product.

It is apparent that whatever I choose will require that the surface be clean and dry before application.  No problem, I just fired up the pressure washer to scour down to the clean wood, then pull the trailer into the shop to thoroughly dry.

When I started that project, the engine on the Ryobi pressure washer ran for a few minutes, then had a smokin', knockin' fit and shot craps.

Only so many things could go wrong, right?  Well, it weren't over yet!

I went to Home Depot and bought a new DeWalt pressure washer.  I didn't really like the wheeled frame that held the engine and pump, but it was supposed to be the best one on hand, so I bought it anyway.

When I got it home and unpacked, it appeared the sheet metal platform holding the engine was slightly bent.  The engine was listing to the right.  So, do I pack up and return the dang thing?  Hmm . . . Let's see?

I really liked the Ryobi's framework better than the DeWalt as it has a holder for detergent additives, a small storage bin for accessories, and is easier to roll around.  As I looked things over, it appeared that the  engine and pump on the DeWalt would bolt directly on the Ryobi frame with no modification necessary.

A little wrench turning later, and my 'eyeballing' of the situation was correct!  The engine and pump fit perfectly!  Then there's the bonus that the Ryobi hoses and nozzles also work on the new unit.

This is the DeWalt frame I will discard.

Here's the DeWalt/Ryobi hybrid after the motor switch to the other frame and relocation of the DeWalt wraparound decal.

Ann and I recently made a trip to the Sportsman's Warehouse store near Spokane Valley Mall.  This was the first time we had been in the store for quite awhile.  We bought hunting licenses for us and for Rick's upcoming birthday.  The licenses purchased for the three of us include deer, elk, bear, and cougar along with a small game license.  I also purchased a turkey tag for me.  Due to the pandemic, licenses were  purchased online last year.

The next activity must take place today or tomorrow, which is the deadline for applications for special hunts.  Ann was drawn for a bull moose tag a couple of years ago and never even saw a moose!  Luck of the draw I guess.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a Facebook post that Ann shared with me:

"Banning guns because criminals have too many, is like castrating yourself because your neighbor has too many kids!"

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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