Honk if you love a trucker.

Add Gravel Trucker to my husbands list of accomplishments. That’s right, Art navigated a 5 yard dumptruck loaded with gravel up our road….4 times. It was an all day adventure on Tuesday. My friend Helen bought a new house out in Livermore. It came complete with a 1.35 acre yard, the back half of which was freshly graveled (it was dirt and weeds, the sellers brought in 20 yards of gravel to “pretty it up”, which Helen promptly ordered removed) So, with a keen interest in ‘free’ gravel, Art took the day off work and rented a dump truck.
Helen’s gardener/handyman rented a bobcat frontloader and a couple of Mexicans and the party commenced. Lots of pushing gravel into piles, loading it into dump trucks and 100 degree heat. Yeah, great day to do this project. Art and the gardener trundled their trucks up to our house, all of 15 miles from Helen’s new house. Easy? No, not really. Ramone’s truck overheated and pooped out half way up our hill. He had to dump his gravel load in a couple of spots on the side of our road, and then hike down the ravine to get water for the truck out of the creek (lucky dude, there was still water flowing in the creek, not common at this time of year) Several mishaps later (Art, not being a professional trucker, didn’t realize that you have to gun the engine in order to power the hydrolics for the dumper hence spent a good chunk of time hand shoveling gravel out of the back of the truck before having an epiphany (a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience)…resulting in the ‘rev-n-dump’, much easier than the ‘sweat-to-death-shovel’ technique.
4 loads of gravel and one squashed skunk later (yeah, dumptrucks don’t stop on a dime, something the errant skunk didn’t understand until it was too late).
We now have the makings of a new driveway…awesome! We are just waiting for the temperatures to drop below 100 to spread it and ‘magnet’ it (it has a bit of wire and metalic debris littered throughout). Woot….gravel.

Lunar eclipse

The full lunar eclipse last nite (this morning) was pretty neat. I just happened to have been awakened by the pups a couple times during the nite and got the chance to see the moon partially eclipsed and then later in the blood red color when it was fully eclipsed. Neat…

Wallpaper – the worst home improvement invention ever

We spent a fair bit of time this weekend helping Lisa’s friend Helen tear down the wallpaper in her new house and prep the walls to be painted. I swear, if I could go back in time and make sure wallpaper never got invented – or else got invented with an easily removable adhesive, I would do so in a heartbeat. While all the humans gooped up the walls with adhesive remover and scraped off wallpaper, the various dogs played in the backyard. To the point they were all aching tired today and generally wanted to do nothing other than lay around. Except for Q, who is as I speak, running around like a little maniac trying to get the other dogs to play with him. Saw a medium sized rattlesnake on the road on the way home – we stopped and tried to shoo him off the road, but he wasn’t having any of our intervention and just tried to strike and was generally pissy. With luck, he won’t be road pizza. Maybe I’ll start carrying our snake pole in the car in order to make snake rescues easier (and safer).

Open letter to our chickens….

Dear Chickens;
I remember when you were so small, little puff balls shitting it up in that big stock tub Art the Husband hauled into the bathroom so that you could be raised up in the luxury that is our guest bathroom. Remember ‘chicken cam’? Yeah, me too. It was great watching you from work (okay, Art the Husband watched you from work, I got hourly email chicken status reports) It wasn’t so long ago that we gussied up the chicken coop in preparation for your transfer to the great outdoors…BUGS! DIRT!! WOW!!!
And now, you repay us. In eggs. Brown eggs, in all the cool shades….burnt sienna, italian ochre, mexican sand, creme brule, raw sienna, french vanilla and green eggs, again in the most awesome shades….spring green, sap green, light pthalo, malachite, oceanic and saguero. You are all so creative and artistic. We are awash in eggs. Sometimes they contain suprises, like TWO YOLKS! Yes, you are still learning to build these eggs, and we treasure every one. Your unborn offspring are taking over our refrigerator, and make a mighty tastey omlette.
So thank you, Chickens. We think you’re super neat!

P.S. Sorry I had to off one of your sisters. She had a broken leg and it was close to dinner time up at the big house. These things happen, so be safe.


We had another earthquake nearby Sunol tonite. Ok, it was barely a quake – mag 2.3. I don’t recall feeling anything, but then I was outside mowing the lawn, so I doubt I would have felt it. Its the 4th in the past 4 days. According to the maps, the epicenter was less than a mile from us (right over the ridge to the northwest). More info from the USGS here.


Bird day afternoon

Sunday here seems to have gone to the birds. First, there is a group of wild young tom turkeys that are trying to woo our chickens. They are all very confused. But they’ve been coming around for the past couple days, doing the same thing.

Then while eating a sandwich out by our carport, I watched the latest batch of swallows learn to fly. Practice, practice, practice. They all seemed to get the hang of it, although a few didn’t make it far and ended up perched on the shed a few yards away, content to just sit there and squawk at the others.

And to top it off, I have been periodically buzzed by some of the hummingbirds apparently flying quarter-mile time trials across the driveway, usually two at a time, sometimes three.

5000lb Bronco vs. deeply embedded shrubbery

No contest… with Lisa away at a dog show in Santa Rosa this weekend, I brought Greg over to help me around the yard. After doing some misc cleanup of dead grass/crap, we tackled the oleander shrubs around the driveway. Although they are nice plants, they are very deadly to the horse, etc, so they had to go. And what better way to remove them than to use the largest power tool we have – the Bronco. Yea, I know, I generally have dissed the Bronco over the past couple years for one reason or another, but for work around the farm, there’s nothing better (unless magically someone would deliver a D-9 bulldozer). Putting a tow strap around the shrubs and a good tug and POW – out of the ground they flew. I only wish I had a camera set up to record it all. It was lots of fun. Much more fun than digging them out by hand.

How not to do it. I don’t like using chains if i can help it, because if it lets loose, the chain is likely to come flying thru the back window of the truck, which I suspect would make Lisa unhappy 😛

This is a bit more what my approach looked like sans the redneck twang



We went to the Wente Vineyards over in Livermore last week to see George Carlin. The place was pretty neat – never really thought of Livermore as being wine country (just seems too dry, hot, etc), but I guess if you put water on the ground enough, grapes do grow. Anyway, we got one of those package deals that included dinner, so we had dinner before the show. Great food. The wine was pretty good to (although for the pork & steak that we had, the waiter actually suggested a wine from a different vineyard than we were at – go figure). I suppose I made a classic geek move and sniffed the cork. Lisa was chiding me the rest of the evening about that move 🙂

Carlin is getting pretty old – he just turned 70 this year. As he put it, he’s officially an ‘old fuck’. He was presenting pretty much all new material, so he worked from some notes which was a little distracting to have him keep picking up his papers and look thru them, but he was still funny. It was surprisingly chilly and even under the stage lights, George made note of it as only George can. What was kind of weird was that some folks left the show early, about 1/2way thru his set. I guess in spite of know that Carlin is pretty ‘adult’, they still couldn’t deal with it. Dunno why someone would pay for front row seats and then bail early. Downside of seeing a show at a winery – the percentage of just plain snobby people – bleah.

Howdy neighbor

Well, not exactly close neighbors, but I met up with a couple that is buying a place on the other side of Sunol valley. They were looking to buy some lambs to help eat down the grass/weeds on their property, so I went out to their place to survey the situation. Turns out they really need goats in addition to some sheep. 6 acres of hilly grassland with lots of oaks. We’re going to sell them two of our goats (the nubian goats we bought last season) and our remaining lamb. They will need to find a few others, at least temporarily.

In other ranch news, our chickens have grown up and are laying eggs – yay! We now have fresh eggs every morning (tho sometime, like today, they didn’t lay eggs til noonish – we’ll need to talk to ’em about being more timely). No more store bought eggs – I suspect with 14 hens laying, we’ll have no shortage of eggs.

The vultures are crowding around today – mostly coming to clean up the remains from yesterdays lamb slaughtering (sorry PJ). Everything here is recycled – the scavengers gotta eat too. We’re done with the messy side of farming for another 6+ months.

Life on the ranch

Our day started with the ‘raccoon recycling program’ – yea, trapped another one last nite, who got relocated 7+ miles away. Can’t tell if its one of the previous ones, but I’m guessing not – they tend not to go back in the trap after being caught once. It seems appropriate that I put the trap in the big recycling barrel to contain any mess they might make.

Its lambing season again – one of the ewes dropped two this morning, which Jack promptly stomped to death. Sigh… ‘hooves of death’. Time to move Jack out of the pasture with the ewes. The strange thing is one of them looked like an alien cattle mutilation – eyes, ears, mouth all neatly carved out. Hmmm… I did see a large flaming meteor streak down toward the next town over last nite. Maybe it was an alien landing.