Anyway, here's Ed and Steve with their new dance shoes on:
Ever since the Deep Side Trail was completed, I have wanted to put up some railing along them steep steps that are all part of the trail system. Prior to Steve going under the knife, I dug me some holes and sunk me some posts. I decided to go with treated 4x4's for the posts. I figure they'll outlast me at this point, which is what I want. I don't want to be revisiting anything I do around here if I can help it. I bought 3-10 footers and I cut them all in in half for my posts. I need three for the Deep Side stairs and I need 3 for another set of stairs elsewhere. I figure 2 feet in the ground is plenty, with roughly 3 feet above.
That's my trusty red wheel barrow below. My brother gave that to me for my birthday about 35 years ago, it's still running strong. It used to be sky blue though. But what with the sweet salt air of Monterey a decade or so back it started to get a little rusty. So I lightly sanded it and gave it a new coat of paint, red this time. I think a red wheel barrow looks classy, even if it's a little war torn and weary. Plus this way it's easy to find if I leave it out in the elements. Imagine how hard it would be to find in a meadow if it was painted hay, or alfalfa for instance.
As a matter of fact, I am once again hip deep in brush clearing. If we are in for a drought here in Northern California, I'd rather clear and burn dried vegetation on my terms, not have it burn on a wild fire's terms. Side note, we're now just at the beginning of a weekend long downpour, expecting about six inches of rain here in the foothills. Thank you very much. As soon as I started clearing brush and burning it the rain started to come in. Apparently it's my own personal form of rain dancing. But I digress.
I've got a pile of manzanita from clearings past, I mean a pile. Nice, long sticks from five to ten feet and more. I meandered on up to the pile and found a couple nice sticks that would be long enough. They looked kind of like this:
I basically blew up my little battery powered drill on the 10,000th screw, so I went out and bought a $30 electric drill. I've had it about a decade now. One of these days I'll get another battery powered drill, but so far, this little gizmo has suited me just fine.
I think screws are better to use than nails because nails will many times start popping up after a fashion. So then you have to either pound them in again or tear some flesh off the bottom of your foot from time to time. Or you could just screw them in and forget about it. Save some money on tetanus shots and band aids too.
Besides the Roto Stripper, I also used my orbital sander. The Roto Stripper worked well. I was a little concerned at first because that wheel contains a bunch of wire "needles" that are metal and I thought they might be too rough on the wood. Not so. It stripped off the loose bark with ease, and the process left the stick pretty smooth. I touched it up with the sander. I didn't want the wood perfectly sanded to a fever pitch, I just wanted most of the knobs and kitches removed. And of course have the wood relatively smooth. I probably spent an hour and a half on each stick, which were each 8 to10 feet long.
Once that was done, I applied some penetrating oil. That's about the only thing that will penetrate a hard wood, a varnish won't. The sticks did have a number of cracks and I wanted the wood as weather proof as possible to minimize future and more serious cracking.
Once our heart rates almost got back to normal, we stopped sweating and we figured out how they would fit best, I marked with chalk how the sticks would lay on the posts. I also marked a spot for a hole to be drilled in the manzanita. (The chalk was my lovely wife's idea too. I started in with a Sharpee, but that ink penetrates the wood. It's takes a few months to years for the Sharpee ink to wear off. Chalk was a much better option, thank you my dear.) Here's the top post:
Our Rooster and his harem are all doing fine. They've been enjoying our recent drought weather, but now that rain has finally come they're got to dust off their version of Angry Birds and hopefully play happily indoors for a while.
The kitty's are fine as well. My how they have grown though. No longer cup cakes, they are probably about half their adult size right now at about 6 months of age. They are still cute as hell.
They are also going outside now from time to time. We really wanted to wait a little bit longer before letting them out, but these girls are QUICK. An open door for an instant and they are through. I mean, all our kitties have always been allowed to go outside. Yes, we know there are hazards, we've lost some kitties to those hazards over the course of our lives. But we also feel it's a little living being's right to enjoy the spectacular outdoors. It's a lot bigger than the indoors and there's a lot more going on. Plus there's delicacies out there that don't come in a can, like rats, moles, voles, gophers and the like. And that food comes with a fun chase as well. Most of the cats we've had have lived very long, happy lives. We just put our forever top cat Tom to sleep last summer at the age of 18. He'd been going outside his entire life.
We also have crazy cat Joe, who is now 18 and has been going outside his entire life. Now, definitely out here in the country it's imperative to get the kitties in at night. That's when all sorts of nocturnal predators prowl, like fox, bobcat, raccoon, coyote and owls, to name a few. A small feline would no doubt fit in as a very delectable dish to many of those critters.
The only day light predator I am concerned about right now is a hawk. We've experience a couple hawk attacks on chickens here and until the kitties are fully grown I will harbor some concern.
But they are very, very fast and agile, these two lovely little demons. I have never seen kitties move so fast. I think that comes from the fact they have rough housed, wrestled and chased each other since they were cupcakes. They seem to be smart, and both will come right away when we call their names. They are staying fairly close to the house right now, but they do make forays out into the thick to check it all out. With a little more experience, which they are getting every day, my concern will eventually gravitate towards the hawk should he ever decide to try and dine on one of these little damsels. He could end up being their dish, some form of Hawk Ragu.
And I bid you adieu.