Monthly Archives: April 2009

WIP — Pierced Copper Ring

Progress has been made on the ring.

A flat piece of cop­per was ham­mered and then cut into a cir­cle.
That cir­cle was dapped into a dome shape.
The the tree bit was sol­dered onto the domed bit, mak­ing a hol­low orna­ment
A chunk of 12 gauge half round ster­ling wire was made into a ring band.
The top was then sodlered to the ring band and… voila …

the front of the ring

the front of the ring

ring face soldered onto the ring band

ring face sol­dered onto the ring band

ring from the side

ring from the side

I hap­pen to be pret­ty dang proud of my first “real” sol­der­ing project.

Next up the fin­ish­ing. In the end the top of the ring will be black and the band will be satin fin­ished sil­ver.

Barn Swallows are Back

Each sum­mer we have sev­er­al nests of barn swal­lows.

Late last week I watched the first of the barn swal­lows fly across the pas­ture. This morn­ing I had the first evi­dence that house­keep­ing has start­ed.

One of the oldest/biggest nests is perched on top of the flood light over the feed room in the barn.

flood light over the feed room

flood light over the feed room

As you can see it’s a tight fit.

here's the nest perched on top of the light fizture

here’s the nest perched on top of the light fiz­ture

This morn­ing I found this lit­tle mess on the floor direct­ly under­neath the nest. It’s made up of hay loose­ly joined with mud and a plush lin­ing of chick­en feath­ers.

barn swallow nest

barn swal­low nest

chicken feathers used to line the nest

chick­en feath­ers used to line the nest

Usu­al­ly they just build a new lay­er on top of last years nest. I sus­pect this last top lay­er had to be evict­ed because there is no more room to build up.

We should see the females arrive soon.

Shearing Day Report

Today was shear­ing day. There were only 6 ani­mals so it went quick­ly.

Here’s what the crew looked like before:

the crew all fat and wooly after a snowy winter

the crew all fat and wooly after a snowy win­ter

Here Jason is shear­ing the first vic­tim, er Mut­ton:

Jason shearing Mutton

Jason shear­ing Mut­ton

And here’s what they look like now:

the crew after shearing

the crew after shear­ing

April Fools’ Trial, Gold Bar, WA April 5, 2009

The day began with dis­ori­en­ta­tion: April in west­ern wash­ing­ton, clear skies, pre­dict­ed high of 70 degrees. WTF? oh well, guess we just deal with it as best as we can. For a long time north­west­ern­er, this was seri­ous cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance ter­ri­to­ry. 🙂

the day before, i’d done some prep on the bike (clean air fil­ter, check tires and flu­ids, etc.) and then tak­en it for a quick ride around the place. This was of course the time that i mis-judged a log cross­ing and snapped the front fend­er off, right at the brace. a quick ses­sion with some scrap plas­tic and a few pop-riv­ets set things right. I had every inten­tion of order­ing a new fend­er, but the fix worked so well that i might not.

any­way, on to the event. nor­mal morn­ing rou­tine, faith­ful read­ers (both of you!) will know it by heart now: dri­ve up, find a park­ing place, unload, pre­flight the bike, warm up, then off to sign-up. signed up, and when the mar­shall asked me if i could observe, i said “sure”. saw him write my name down for sec­tion 1, but didn’t real­ly think about it too much. of for some more warm up. found most of the morn­ing sec­tions, then went look­ing for the after­noon sec­tions. found 2 and 3, but no oth­ers. 2 and three were both steep hill­climbs, with the exits nor eas­i­ly reached with­out rid­ing the course (a ‘no-no’). so i walked through 3 and on up the trail. found 4, and fig­ured out that the rest of the sec­tions were laid out along a trail on the side of the moun­tain that would give a moun­tain goat sec­ond thoughts. ‘rugged enough to make a rab­bit crash’ is one phrase i’ve heard. walked back to the bike, and found sec­tion 1; hmm, that looks like a cake­walk. well, sec­tions (the ones i saw, at least) aren’t going to be the tough part of this tri­als, but the loop is going to take a toll. back to the pits to get ready to observe. morn­ing rid­ers meet­ing com­mences, they are call­ing off observers, but my name is not uttered. rrru­uh? i let the com­mo­tion ebb a bit, then go talk to the mar­shalls; ah here’s the con­fu­sion: when i singed up, he wrote me down to observe in the after­noon, for­get­ting or not real­iz­ing that i was rid­ing in the Advanced class, in the after­noon. well, looks like they aren’t short of observers, so i’m off the hook. so i head out for a bit of seri­ous prac­tice.

i resolve to focus on things i’m uncom­fort­able with: steep drops, turns over jumbly rocks. I man­age to re-teach by body a few things about stay­ing loose in the bike, and lean­ing the bike over; don’t try to keep it ver­ti­cal all the time, it real­ly does turn bet­ter when it’s leaned over!
after about 45 min­utes, back to the pits for a snack and water. while i’m relax­ing, a friend wan­ders up and is exam­in­ing the back tire of my bike, from the look on his face, i’m guess­ing he’s about to point out a giant hole in the tire, or a torn-off knob or some­thing. but no, he points out that i’ve a bazz­il­lion feet of rusty wire wrapped around the rear sproket, hub, and brake disk! exple­tive. i quick­ly bor­row a stand and a BA cres­cent-wrench, whip the rear tire off and start in with the wire cut­ters. a few min­utes of cut­ting and pulling, and it’s all gone, and no dam­age done. we spec­u­lat­ed that it was the wire belt­ing from a tire that some ass­hat prob­a­bly burnt in a ‘camp­fire’ in the area.

a bit more prac­tice, some on the big under­cut log (which result­ed in one of slow­est ‘over-the-bars’ i’ve ever had) and i feel like i’m ready. around noon, we get the sig­nal for the rid­ers to meet up at the scor­ing trail­er. get our instruc­tions (yel­low rib­bon marks the loop, it starts over yon­der and ends over that­away, ya got 3 hours, now git!), and away we go. off to sec­tion 1, looks like a cake­walk, sure enough start off with a clean. nice. on to 2. sec­tions 2 and three and laid out par­al­lel to each oth­er, up a steep hill­side. 2 is a mixed-media climb, dirt, a big rock step, and the rocky dirt on to the exit. 3 is about twice as long, starts in the water, makes a sig­nif­i­cant right turn 12 way up, and has a piece of old log chok­er cable about an inch in diam­e­ter across the line, about 8 inch­es off the ground. the cable has some give, so it’s real­ly not much of an obsta­cle, but it makes ya think. back to 2, watch a clean and 3, decide on 2nd gear, and go for it. good trac­tion, i do a lit­tle ‘trac­tion bounce’ just after the rock bit, and get out clean. down the hill and attack #3. 2nd gear, con­cen­trate on get­ting through the turn clean, and then get­ting a bit of momen­tum built up before the cable and the steep steps after it. a lit­tle foot­peg lever­age just after the cable, and i made it out clean! you can see a pho­to here. (notice the wire cable just under the bike’s front wheel.) yee haw, start­ed off with 3 cleans! but now we get to the meat of the trail. it’s vis­cious­ly steep, both uphill and down­hill, and requires near­ly as much effort to ride as a sec­tion. #4 has a sharp left fol­lowed by a steep climb, 5 has a nasty root-filled uphill left that caught near­ly every­body for at least 1, etc. etc. 8 and 9 were a bit note­wor­thy in that they were a con­tin­u­ous sec­tion; 8 has a dev­il­ish lit­tle turn with a per­fect­ly placed din­ing-table sized rock right at the apex at foot­peg height, forc­ing you into exact­ly the wrong place for the exit. very tricky!

fin­ished the first loop in about and hour and 15 min­utes, the entire loop couldn’t have been a half mile long. but it was work. I’ve been rid­ing events over the past year and tried to keep track of what my heart-rate was doing at var­i­ous times and what my calo­rie burn was. One of the things that i’ve learned is that if i’m sit­ting at the entrance to a sec­tion, and my heart-rate is over 145, i should take a lit­tle rest break until it comes down to about 130 or 135. I ride much bet­ter, giv­en the extra 2 min­utes it takes for the rate to come down. so on the sec­ond and third loops, i paid atten­tion to this; the loops was so short and so chal­leng­ing that unless i gave myself forced breaks, i’d just wear myself out. by doing this, i man­aged to get through the event with­out once arriv­ing at the end of a sec­tion and not being able to get my hands unclenched from the grips!

fin­ished out with 39 points, which turned out to be good enough to ace Cur­tis Mann out of 3rd by 1 point. Michael Jor­dan schooled all of us though, with 24 points, topped off with a 4-point loop 3!. Nice ride, Michael. Kyle Lar­son also put in a good ride to take sec­ond.

Next event is May 3rd, at Deer Flats, above Gold Bar. Great place to ride, nasty place to get to. about 5 miles of rough, rocky road.
If you’d like to find out what observed tri­als are all about, let me know, i’ll get you detailed direc­tions and you could come up and spec­tate.

keep those feet up!
black­dog