Art of Proprietation

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I saw something new today

That's a string of rail cars carrying continuous rails. The track worker I talked to said they are as much as 1600 feet long. They were delivering one near my house and then moving south to deliver them to various locations in the stat. The string of cars goes on out of sight. I have lived here for more than ten years with the railroad across the street, but I have never seen a load of rails like this before.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I am doing my part

I just bought a GM vehicle. I am doing my part to prop up the US economy.

So what if I only paid $450 and GM lost interest in this particular vehicle about seven years ago.

I just acquired a different van. When I say Van, I mean a full size GM van of the G series. I have had a long string of them. This is my ninth, I think. I have a definite pattern. When I find my previous van is faltering for the last time, I look around for a high mileage business van being sold at a loss. I generally buy a van at around 150K miles. At the time of purchase it needs to be ready to pass inspection, have a strong running engine and no obvious mechanical problems I can't fix in my driveway. The previous owner has already gotten as much use as they anticipated from the van. Every thing I do with it is bonus. It's kind of like recycling, but better since my way doesn't require tearing it apart and working to turn it into something else. The color is unimportant.

I was being facetious. My wife might correct me and say "You were trying to be facetious".

I think any vehicle that is running, road worthy and inspectable is worth at least $500. I think I have paid as little as $300 and as much as $3000. Both of those extremes ended up being mistakes. On that $300 one I did extensive body repairs, painted it and then hit a deer. After I replaced the radiator the main bearing on the engine went. I owned it less than eight months. The $3000 one I bought from a used car salesman, the only and last time I'll do that. The used car guy lied about repairs he had done and did not disclose the extensive electrical problems in the van. That and I found shovelfuls of gravel in the door cavities. I only drove that one about 30K miles, making it the most expensive per mile van I have owned. Outside of those two, I have gotten outstanding performance out of my beat up old vans. The rest of them went 60K to 100K miles and cost in the $.15 - $.25 per mile range. And that's everything, purchase price, repairs, gas, insurance, tires, any improvements. Everything. The honest truth is my motorcycle, which gets 50 mpg, costs several multiples more to drive per mile than my full size van. I won't bore you with the details, trust me, I have checked my math. I really enjoy my motorcycle, but truth be told, if I had to make a choice I'd probably choose a van.

I like my vans because I don't care if I need to scrape through brush driving down a logging road. As a a commercial vehicle, they don't have a lot of extras to maintain. They have high clearance, another plus on logging roads. As a cargo van, there isn't a lot of plush interior for goat piss to soak into and the poo sweeps out pretty easy. I can carry six or eight kayaks inside. A van can pull a large trailer of manure. I can sleep across the back of the van without getting cramped. I can do the majority of reasonable repairs in my driveway. A motorcycle rolls in to the back like a horse into it's stall. The G van body style began in the sixties and ended in 1996. My first was a 1979 and the lessons I learned on that one have been applicable on each subsequent van.

I have had eight vans. I lost the first to a connecting rod protruding from the side of the engine block. The second was the main bearing. The third, a manual transmission, lost 2nd gear. The fourth the transmission. In the fifth I was T-boned by a driver doing twice the posted speed limit at an unmarked intersection driving it home from the purchase. I salvaged the engine and transmission out of #5 back into #4 and kept #4 alive. #4 went on to do a cross country trip that included kayaking the grand canyon, back country snowboarding in the Tetons and Niagara falls the Canadian side. The sixth I sold as a running vehicle, a one and only time for me. Seven was was a personal best and favorite but I had to put down with a bad cam shaft after 100K miles of my own driving and 255K total on the van. Original engine and transmission. I called it the old gray mare and she went out to pasture when she could no longer pull the wagon. The eighth was the $3000 electrical basket case. I still managed to drive it for six years, but it was never my primary vehicle. I bought Eight thinking number Seven's time was coming soon. Seven fooled me and went three more years. By the time Eight was my only van, the price of gas was through the roof and I was driving a civic as my primary vehicle. A bad fuel pump is the end of Eight. That and the rust I don't feel like fixing and the electrical problems. And I found a replacement for $450.

It isn't perfect. It isn't pretty. There are a few things I want to address right off, like paint it anything other than the ugly maroon it came as. But it has a strong running engine, is road worthy and I think it will pass inspection as soon as I replace one headlight.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Big Chicken

That's a big chicken. That in fact, is Big Chicken.

This is Big Chicken as a chick. He was a free rare breed chick that Murray McMurray Hatchery throws in with orders. He is probably a Buff Cochin. We didn't take much notice of him because we were concetrating on egg breeds. But he was distinctive from day one with his side stockings.

Big Chicken turned into a great rooster though. He was big, and he was relatively gentle with mild manners. He didn't overly dominate the hens and he didn't fight with other males. And he was good looking
When we were butchering Chickens and Guineas last fall, Big Chicken got a pass because we wanted to keep his genetics in our flock. He looked like he had a good size carcass, he had good disposition. And he was our only rooster anyway. We were going to look around for a rooster from an egg laying breed, but we like having some birds worth the effort of slaughtering. There is a downside, Buff Cochins are known for laying small eggs. We'll probably look around for a egg laying rooster for next year's hatching. But I'd like to selectively breed Big Chicken's progeny to keep a group of larger frame birds. We have stayed away from Cornish Cross in the past for a variety of reasons so I am glad we have found an alternative meat bird.

That's Big Chicken on the left, a Americana in the middle and a rockbarred on the right.

This is a next generation rooster from Big Chicken, a cross with a Buff Orpington probably. He is already showing the size that his father passed him. To keep the Buff Cochin characteristics strong in our flock, we'll have to pay more attention to selective breeding in the future. But Big Chicken will live on in our flock long after the last of the chicken soup is gone.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Update on the Kids

Here are the details about yesterday's kids:
Sparky (Sparque as she prefers it) delivered two bucklings yesterday afternoon at about 2:00 in the afternoon. As Jeff predicted, she waited until the weather turned and it was the most inconvenient moment. It had turned cold and rainy and we were expecting company at the house. I guess she decided that middle of the night wasn't inconvenient enough since I have been sleeping int he goat house since Tuesday anyway.

The delivery went well. Both bucklings came out front hooves followed by noses in diver formation. The first one spent a while coming out and going back in, but the second one didn't fool around. We did get nervous about the after birth. Last year Sparque had a retained placenta and it was unpleasant. We had oxitocin on hand this year and when Sparque hadn't passed the afterbirth two hours after the delivery, I intervened. She passed the after birth shortly after that. The oxitocin triggers the contraction of the uterus. It can also be used to induce delivery. It's possible she would have eventually passed it on her own, but given her history, I was glad to have it.

I did get to try my bounce technique out to check for additional kids after the first. It was quite obvious there was still another body in there, I could feel the hard parts moving around in her belly.

All in all, a good delivery. Nobody died and no reachin' in. The delivery was later than we expected and we were starting to get a little on edge. Last year, she was a day early, so this year we have been prepared since Tuesday and expect it by Thursday. She had gone into a false labor the Thursday prior. It does seem like we got a lot of rare bad experiences out of the way last year with two poor presentations, a retained placenta and a still born. We are hoping we have paid our dues for a while.

We are pretty sure we are done for the season. Our other doe that we bred does not look pregnant. But she still has nearly 1-1/2 months to go if she is, so it is possible.

Whealt, it's been a long day of over due equipment work and I still have to go out and check on the kids...

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

A promise made is a deed left undone

I promised I would get a blog post up immediately afterward...
they are in reverse order so steel yourself.

Warning Will Rogers....

Extra points for picking out body parts

I was moving in to gently pierce the birth sac when it burst.

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