Desert Cat's Paradise
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." - Proverbs 27:12.
Monday, October 31, 2011
I completed my hamburger pemmican experiment this weekend. I had ordered some "grass fed beef tallow" that arrived Friday, just in time. The dehydrated ground beef from last week (two five pound chubs) went through the blender in batches to powder it. To the powdered beef, I added twelve ounces of walnuts blended to a coarse powder, about two cups of raisins (my currants and goji berries did not arrive in time), and about a quarter cup of honey. Over this I poured a quart of melted beef tallow and mixed it together, then poured the whole thing into a glass pan to cool.Comments
The result hardened up in a few hours in the fridge, and I cut it into bars. I tried wrapping them in parchment paper, but that didn't work out too well--the paper does not take tape, and by itself won't stay together. I ended up wrapping them in tinfoil.
I can't describe the taste exactly, but it is very palatable. Once I started eating, I had to keep eating until the piece I alloted myself was gone. Nummy! Sunday I ate all the crumbled pieces from the cutting--about two thirds the size of one of the bars--and I was not hungry again until evening. This week I will be using these as meal replacements (2 out of 3 meals) to see how I feel. They may become a mainstay of my diet (paleo).
Next time I will use muffin tins or other small molded pans. They come apart too much in cutting, and a muffin-sized piece of pemmican may be just about right to cover for a couple meals.
I had to take a detour from my regular progress this week, as Mongol Hord... er, bermuda grass was threatening to overrun the paths and escape from the pond area. If you're not familiar with it, bermuda grass is commonly used for lawns in the southwest because of its toughness in the face of our climate. But where it is not wanted, it becomes a highly invasive, pernicious weed. Well this bermuda grass is a weed. It came over on some plants I transferred from the Tucson garden and has been slowly gaining strength in the pond vicinity. This summer it decided to make a break for it, and in the last couple of months it has finished surrounding the pond and headed across the paths for broader pastures.
I tracked it down and grubbed it out completely from this half of the pond area.
Here is the battle front where I quit after two days work.
I will need to come back to this soon, as I discovered later it is making a run across the path near the gate also. I hadn't seen this previously. Once I have it contained, I will work on eradicating it right at the pool also. It needs to be gone completely before I can start other plantings. Once I have other stuff growing here it is much more difficult to work around to eradicate the bermuda.
Elsewhere I have a fine crop of cats...er, vetch and rye coming up.
Jasmine in the rye.
A rare photo of Thomas looking at the camera.
From left to right, Roscoe, Clyde, Jasmine, Thomas.
Whenever I come outdoors and sit down, especially morning or evening, I am shortly surrounded by cats. If I am not in motion, it *must* be kitty time!
I did get back to plumbing my solar hot water heater Sunday and today (I took an extra day vacation this weekend).
Reconfigured panel outlet.
Hot water inlet to the top storage tank from the panels.
This will get reconfigured. I bought these braided wrap flexible hoses, thinking to provide a point of flexibility to accommodate any future movement of the tank in relation to the tower. But the are not going to work. They have 1 inch fittings on each end, but the hose itself is barely 1/2" inside--too small for this application. I need the large diameter to allow robust circulation driven only by the thermal convection from the panels. In its place will go a pair of 45 degree bends and 1" hard copper. This will allow enough flex that I won't be worried about it.
Halfway up the tower, sixteen feet above the ground, this is the top of the storage tank, and the hot water outlet to the house. The top of the tee will be fitted with a 1/8" air release valve, this being the high point of the system.
The process is, as usual, rather slow. But I was thinking about "shark bite" fittings, and honestly it would not speed things up much for me to use them. I would still need to climb up here to take measurements, then down to measure and cut the pipe, deburr the ends and polish them to fit smoothly in the fittings, then climb back up to fit it all together. The process of sweating the solder joints is nearly as quick as the click together joints are.
The difference to me, is that there is an aesthetic and artistic element to working with metals directly. Perhaps the word I want is "craft" and "craftsmanship". There is something very satisfying taking copper pipe and fittings, silver alloy tin solder, flux and applying heat to meld the disparate parts into a new finished construction. I do not get the same sense of satisfaction from creating a solvent welded PVC joint, and doubt that a click together fitting would do the same.
A freshly soldered pipe joint is a thing of beauty to me.
The other great advantage of working with soldered copper is that when, inevitably, my design changes, it is a simple matter of reheating a joint to pull it apart and reconfigure it. Surely "shark bite" fittings offer this same flexibility, but solvent welded joints need to be cut out, the fitting discarded, and a new fitting installed. A sad waste, and especially frustrating when your design changes on the fly, as do mine so often.
Last thing before wrapping it up to head into town, was to pull out the old water heater that will become the lower storage tank to look it over and begin prepping it for installation.
The idea is that once the upper tank is full of hot water, the hot water will migrate to the lower tank, providing an additional reservoir of hot water after a long hot day of water heating.
Update: Here are some useful links.
An interesting looking book on solar hot water:
Looking for "shark bite" fittings? Buy them online here:
Shark Bite Fittings
Also, this looks to be a good book covering the essentials of the Uniform Plumbing Code, including a section on PEX piping and also good ol' copper pipe. This is one DIY book that gets a lot of high review marks at Amazon:
It really looks pretty comprehensive, treating the entire house plumbing system from fresh water supply through sanitary drainage. I can't tell how detailed their treatment of soldering technique is. It seems that within a generation this could become a lost art, which would be a shame.
I also can't tell if the book contains that handy list of expletives so necessary for the completion of any plumbing job. Calvin's dad found that list useful, as I recall.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 3:57 PM | permalink
Sunday, October 30, 2011
This made sense on the first read through, but I realized parts of it fell out of my head after I was done reading. Linked here to re-read a couple times:Comments
The Greatest Short - Why All Correlations Are Moving To 1
Basically it explains why, for small fry, it makes sense to hold tangible assets to hedge the future.
posted by Desert Cat @ 3:58 PM | permalink
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Centers For Disease Control (CDC) Warns About Zombie Apocalypse, Urges Americans To PrepareComments
posted by Desert Cat @ 10:13 AM | permalink
Monday, October 24, 2011
Vatican calls for global authority on economyComments
Let's see, a "supranational authority with worldwide scope and universal jurisdiction to guide economic policies and decisions"? Translated, that would be "one world government" and "one world central monetary authority".
Nothing good can come of this. Couple this with an implanted data chip and we're there.
Update: Interesting rabbit hole, courtesy of Dread451.
posted by Desert Cat @ 4:55 PM | permalink
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I started out this weekend intent on making significant progress toward getting the solar water heater connections to the storage tanks soldered up. I first finished the tank shelf, adding a block and a shelf extension to support the last tank leg, then adding a support post to help hold up the 400 pounds of water that will be up there when it is full.Comments
But gathering up my soldering supplies and equipment, I realized that I was out, completely out of propane gas for my torch.
Blast! I hate when that happens. It's not like Home Depot is ten minutes away out here. It was okay though, because with a few minutes thought I came up with a list of at least five pending projects that I could do instead.
I had purchased parts to set up a proper wired irrigation timer a while ago, including pipe and hose thread fittings to interface with my existing hose-based irrigation setup.
I got that solvent-welded together.
Next up, the GFCI outlet in my pump house stopped working last week. This is where I planned to plug in the irrigation timer power supply.
I have come to hate ground fault circuit interruptors with a mad passion! They are too sensitive to ground currents, tripping at the slightest hint of moisture outdoors. I can't tell you how many times I've had to reset the damn thing after a rain when I found power to my storage trailer cut off. And this one is the *third* one to fail completely since I started my progress on this farm. Three GFCI's in less than five years! You expect an outlet to work for the life of the building, more or less. Twenty plus years at least, no?
These things are maddening. If it were not for code requirements, I'd yank them all from the outdoor applications, leaving them only to protect outlets by indoor sinks.
I got my satisfaction though.
Today's lesson: parallax correction. (Shut up.)
My QO load center and breakers arrived this week also. I did little more than open the boxes and look it all over. Installing this was one of those alternative projects I did not get to this weekend. These will serve the 12 volt and 24 volt circuits in my house.
Then I did a little multitasking this afternoon. While rewiring the tractor to accommodate the new ignition switch, I simultaneously prepared some of the ingredients for a "hamburger pemmican" experiment I'm doing.
Yesterday I cooked up ten pounds of hamburger in a large pot, together with several cups of water. I put this in the refrigerator overnight, and this afternoon I peeled the fat layer off the top, leaving the gelled meat below.
I reheated the gelled meat until the gel melted and it was back to a broth/meat mixture. I separated this using a mesh colander. Meanwhile I reheated the fat on low heat until all of the moisture was driven out. I filtered this through another mesh colander.
I bottled the filtered fat for later use in the recipe.
The strained meat went onto teflon sheets and then into the dehydrator. I ran out of teflon sheets before I ran out of meat. Fortunately I had some parchment paper on hand. I seem to recall directing the Daisy half to purchase enough teflon sheets to cover all of the shelves, for just such a case as this. This was several years ago, and apparently it never happened.
The broth got boiled down until it was reduced by about 2/3 volume from the original.
This broth was poured into a glass pan and put in the refrigerator. When it gelled again, I cut it into cubes, and will try freeze-drying it for long-term storage.
This stuff tastes great! There is nothing at all in it besides meat juice--no salt, no spices, nothing. Even so, it evokes images of a heavenly gravy when I sample it.
The simul-task was wiring up the tractor with the new switch.
I realized when I bought the switch that it was not an identical match to the existing switch. When it arrived, I mapped the terminals in each condition (on/off/start). It was nothing like the original switch, so I traced the wiring harness out and redesigned it to fit the new switch.
The fuel pump comes on at the right time and the starter turns over correctly. There was no gas in the tank and I was out of time, so I am not 100% certain I have it right. But close to that.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:05 PM | permalink
Attention: When you instigate an assault, you must have every expectation that a can-o-whoop-ass could be opened up on you.Comments
Vox Popoli: No limits on self-defense
Why were these women not charged with assault? The minute Water Buffalo No. 1 reached across the counter and slapped the cashier, it was on. When they vaulted the counter to go after him, their fate was sealed. Why was she not charged? Because the prosecutor wouldn't have a case against the cashier then. Self-defense is a positive defense against a charge of assault.
He should be found not guilty, possibly should not even have been charged. The women could/should be charged with assault and attempted robbery (attempting to pass a counterfeit $50 bill, then assaulting the cashier when he wouldn't accept it), or left to lick their wounds in payment for their bad behavior. This was 100% self-defense. Once you are faced with the certainty of your assailants intent, you never, never stop your counterattack until you're certain your assailant has been neutralized.
In other words, if you happen to be armed, you unload the magazine into the f###er. If you're defending yourself with a metal rod, you keep whacking the beasts until they stop trying to get up again to attack you. Did he take a couple whacks too many? Possibly, possibly not. We can't tell from the angle we see. If I were serving on the jury, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt.
Had the gender roles been reversed, the cashier would have been paraded as a national hero and a huge victim. Stupid damn Politically Correct cops and prosecutor!
"Justice is blind"? Bullshit.
Are you a small woman? You've got no business assaulting *anyone*, let alone a man. Are you full of "Grrl PowR" propaganda? Reality Check: You've been set up to be seriously injured or killed someday.
If you don't have the raw physical power to end it, do not ever start it. The law does not matter in the immediate circumstances of the confrontation. You'd put your own life on the line to prove something that is a myth anyway? Regardless of what the law ends up doing to the one you assaulted with your grrl-powr, you'd be a fool, and you would deserve the ass-kicking you got.
posted by Desert Cat @ 12:20 PM | permalink
Friday, October 21, 2011
Tying It All Together (For Tom And Others On The Right) in [Market-Ticker]Comments
Denninger on the meme emanating from the Tea Party re: "government stole capitalism in 2008". This explains a lot that I didn't fully understand previously.
Queue-up right-tards for your daily dose of Fact and Reality!
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:46 PM | permalink
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
alex the girlComments
I'd like to point in the direction of someone who has been on my blogroll for all of the years that I've been blogging. Except for one short note we exchanged via snail mail years ago, I've not had any interaction with her, as she does not have comments on her site.
However her writing invariably strikes a deep chord in my soul. She gets at things in a certain way, and sees a lot of things in a way I cannot but agree with.
There is an inner aspect of who I am that is very much like who Alex is on the outside. For the infrequent times that she posts and the infrequent times that I check out her blog to see what she's posted, she serves as something of a Beatrice to my Muse. I can't help but get in a thoughtful mode after reading her musings.
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:11 PM | permalink
Sunday, October 16, 2011
This weekend was about getting the water tank installed in the solar tower. Here it is painted black to help convert sunlight to heat.Comments
And here it is on the shelf I fabricated for it. In between was a whole lot of up and down the ladder, cutting and painting bits of wood, fiddling with the baffles to make it fit, and then the daunting task of hoisting it up there via pulley and rope and then tying it off while I assembled the shelf where it would be lowered to. All the while it is about 110 degrees in the upper reaches of the tower.
I am woofed.
The rye and vetch planted last week is coming up.
The challenge is keeping after the harvester ants who would like to carry it off as soon as it sprouts. I went after a bunch of nests this evening, and there are probably more that I missed.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 7:06 PM | permalink
The latest issue of Backwoods Home Magazine arrived in my mailbox this week. In it is an article about automating your chicken coop with solar powered lights and an automatic door. Since I'm lately thinking heavily on alt-energy projects, and I've also been frustrated that any animals besides the ones that Momcat is willing to care for, have to wait until I am retired and out here permanently, this sparked my interest.Comments
Alas, it is not up on their website yet. The "current issue" is actually the previous issue. Which is, of course, the advantage of subscribing. I get first look at the newest stuff. If I remember, I will link it here as soon as it is available.
But from last issue, this article about storing your prep supplies was useful:
Survival storeroom by David Eddings Issue #130
posted by Desert Cat @ 7:41 AM | permalink
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Most of these 'tards can't string together two coherent sentences, and the communists/socialists (otherwise known as the D Squad) are busy co-opting their movement and turning it to their own ends.Comments
So Business Insider has done the job for them and compiled a rather indicting collection of charts showing just what it is that is animating the animus:
CHARTS: Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About...
posted by Desert Cat @ 3:58 PM | permalink
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
If you're not reading Denninger, you should be. Daily.Comments
He may be an asshole, but he is right at least 90% of the time.
Read and be enlightened:
Krugman LIES Outright: Banking in [Market-Ticker]
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:36 PM | permalink
...if we could get past those attempting to pigeon-hole us into Left-Right. Hawaiian Libertarian gets it right:Comments
Hawaiian libertarian: Divided & Conquered: Tea Baggers vs. Occupussies
Raised the ire of a Tea Party activist last week when I suggested that the Tea Party ought to be down there protesting side by side with the Occupy Wall Street crowd.
It's true, whether she wanted to admit it or not. The essential problem both sides see is the same. What both sides need to do is shake off the "handlers" trying to channel their beef into one party or the other, one Hegelian side of the dialectic or the other. The problem is Big Government AND Big Business, the symbiotic monster eating our Republic. To be divided into left-right again is to become assimilated into the very Borg that you are protesting!
Shake off your blinders and see the whole beast!
Update: Thanks Vox for the lucid reiteration.
posted by Desert Cat @ 10:20 AM | permalink
(not what you think...)
Labels: felicity and jocularity
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:31 AM | permalink
Monday, October 10, 2011
This was a Suzy Homemaker weekend. I requested Daisycat come out here this weekend, and so I needed to get the house cleaned up again prior to her arrival (that is backwards, I know). It took me most of Friday plus half of Saturday. This is why I do not clean it except for company. It would take just about the same amount of time if I did it every weekend, and as you can see, that would leave very little weekend for Progress.Comments
I picked up a tine shaft key for the tiller last week, and so after housecleaning, I repaired the tiller and tilled the garden while Daisycat petted the cats, wandered around looking at my hovel, and then sowed the vetch and rye seeds for the winter cover crop.
The first bed nearest in the photo on the left was turned over about three weeks ago. Because I saw abundant vetch coming up all on its own, together with daikon radish and a handful of beans, I left it alone to do its own thing. The fine lacy plants in the foreground are the vetch seedlings.
The northwest "field" also got sowed to the same crops. The northeast field is still sitting fallow, because I plan to get the tractor inside the enclosure to level it first before I plant it again. I don't want to spend too much effort building the soil until I get the soil in its final position. When I get to doing this I will probably also at the same time expand the field around the corner to meet up with a wash that runs along the south side of the house. This is part of my grandiose, long-term plan to capture and utilize runoff in my fields.
Daisycat left Sunday at noon, and the place felt empty until I got used to it again. I spent the remainder of Sunday and today (Columbus Day) working on the solar tower again, getting it ready inside for the installation of the first hot water tank. I modified my plans slightly and will be installing the top tank completely above the hot water collector panels. It just happens to fit better that way. But I needed to adjust the location of the baffles, and today I got started building the platform it will sit on.
Also arriving this week is my battery equalizer. This was a fairly big ticket item I needed in order to utilize 12 volt as well as 24 volt power directly from the battery bank. Without this unit, drawing 12 volts off half the battery bank would lead to unequal charge across the batteries, which would in turn cause premature aging and failure of the bank. This unit balances a 12 volt load across the full 24 volt bank. Now I need a junction box to mount it on and a circuit breaker panel to distribute the power to loads around the house.
The replacement ignition switch for the tractor arrived late today. Replacing that will be a project for another weekend.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:34 PM | permalink
Sunday, October 09, 2011
This house just ain't a home,Comments
Any time she goes away.
I'm a goddam addict is what I am...
Art appreciation note: I really like this original version of the song a lot. It is exactly what it needs to be without unnecessary embellishment.
posted by Desert Cat @ 1:03 PM | permalink
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
"I don't want to work.."Comments
"...I just want to bang on the drum all day!"
posted by Desert Cat @ 2:43 PM | permalink
Monday, October 03, 2011
Labels: felicity and jocularity
posted by Desert Cat @ 7:17 AM | permalink
Sunday, October 02, 2011
Friday and Saturday I installed the cement backer board panels onto the interior of the shower and tub enclosure.Comments
Done on one side.
A couple panels short overall. I need two more to finish the interior and the space immediately below the shower door on the exterior.
Today I will be switching to some garden and yard work and may post update photos later.
OT, I picked up these guitar stands for dirt cheap on Amazon a couple weeks ago. Under $5 each, I grabbed three--one for the apartment and two for here on the farm. I'm looking at picking up another inexpensive bass guitar and then modding it with a few high end components--strings and pickups specifically--to give me a practice instrument for the apartment.
When I was single, I had my guitar out where I could grab it any time and play. When I got married, Daisycat nagged about having it in a case, "because of dust". However a cased instrument is an unplayed instrument, at least for me. I never played guitar for years and years as a result.
Having my guitars (not to mention my keyboard) out and easy to access means I can grab it anytime and run through some riffs or a lesson or two. If it is cased and put away, taking it out feels too much like formal "Practice Time", and so it never happens.
So out they stay, on their snazzy dirt cheap stands!
Update: beset by equipment failures.
I got the beds in the main garden mowed, and then I planned to switch to doing some drainage grading around the driveway with the Li'l Kitty. The ignition switch was not powering Li'l Kitty's fuel pump, and when I tried to pull the wire terminals off to investigate why, the switch came apart.
Back to the garden then. I'll do the tilling. Halfway through the first bed, the shaft pin on the right tine set sheared off.
Dead in the water on two counts. I got the parts ordered (new ignition switch, shaft key assortment) so I can pick up again another week, but this is putting me behind in getting the garden turned over to winter cover crops.
And here I thought I'd get my garden turned over *early* this year...
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 7:23 AM | permalink
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