Pete's random thoughts

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Time to "frac" the well.

Ever since we moved up here to NH, we have been having trouble with the well.

Not a water quality issue, but a water quantity problem. Sometimes the well just plain runs out of water.

Being from the city, I never had to think about water much. For the past year, we have had to plan our water use to make sure we didn't draw too much without giving the well a chance to recover. For instance, we can't take a shower if we just ran the dishwasher or washing machine. That we could live with. Sometimes, however, the well just runs out of water for no apparent reason.

When that happens, I need to shut off the breaker to the electric water heater because it can overheat and ruin the heating elements to have it powered up with no water in it.

On the control box for the well pump, there is a green light and a red light. The green ligth tells us that the relay to the pump motor is on, the red ligth tells us that it is tripped out. The controller senses the current draw of the motor, which lowers when there is no water for it to pump and it cuts off power to it so the pump won't overheat and burn out it's windings.

Over the next day or two, there will be a well company "hydrofracking" our well. What they do is remove our pump and pressurize the well up to 3000psi to fracture the bedrock and open up the channels that bring water to the well. Pretty cool idea if it works!

The well guy told me that it is very, very rare to not have some improvement when fracking a well. When it was originally drilled 16 years ago, it was making 5 gallons of water per minute. Now it makes less than 1/2 gallon per minute. Even getting flow up to 2gpm would be a big improvement to us!

The downside to this plan is that it will cost around $1800 and is not guaranteed to work. But like I said, even getting 2gpm would be better than what we have now. If fracking doesn't work, we will have to drill the well deeper, which runs into another $2000-$3000 and come with it's own set of inconviniences.

We considered a rainwater capture system to get water for the non-potable uses like watering the animals, washing clothes, flushing toilets etc. but figured by the time it was set up and I got the plumbing divided, I will have spent just as much as fixing the well. I already capture some rainwater for the animals, but that won't work in the winter when the rainwater gets delivered to us frozen!

Monday, September 19, 2005

"Talk like a pirate day"-September 19th

Just a reminder:

Tomorrow, Monday, September 19th is officially "Talk like a pirate day"

No, I'm not making that up. Here's a link to the official Talk Like A pirate Day website:

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lost a hen today

Today I had to kill one of my Arucana hens.

Arucanas are the fabled "Easter egg chicken" that lay blue and green eggs.

The "girls" are getting up to speed with this whole egg thing, they are laying about 5-6 per day. What happened with this particular hen is called a prolapse of the oviduct. Basically, an egg gets stuck in the ductwork on the way out and the hen pushes her guts out. Literally.

I only have a few Arucanas, and some of them are roosters (can't tell them apart until they crow). This one was a funky gold-brown color. Had I left her to her own devices, and let her stay in the coop with the other birds, they would have literally eaten her alive by picking away at her oviduct that was hanging out. The only humane thing to do was to put her down.

Very sad to lose a bird, but we have to make the best of things. She's all plucked and gutted, ready to be the guest of honor at tomorrow night's dinner. Buster got the feet and guts, chicken feet being his favorite treat.

Inside her body cavity were at least 9 egg yolks in various sizes that were to be laid as eggs over the next week or so. It was fascinating to see, albeit morbid. When I gutted her, there was no hard shelled egg, so I went and looked under the place where we hang critters to bleed out, and sure enough, there was a big blue egg. Since we weren't sure how long it had been stuck either in or out of the hen, we decided not to eat it, so I threw it in the woods across the road for the little critters to eat. The head went out in the forest by our range for a different set of critters. In the end, all that goes uneaten by someone or something from one of our chickens is the feathers.

We eat chicken a couple of nights a week. After buying the day-old chicks and growing them out to eating size, our cost per bird is $3.89, which is cheaper than the supermarket and we know how they were treated from the start. They get fed well, housed well, plenty of excercise and fresh air, and even treats in the form of table scraps and grass clippings. No comparison between these and store-bought chickens. The white meat is even dark and juicy because they actually get excercise, unlike "factory farmed" birds with pale, white, dry breast meat.

It's an interesting thing, chicken is cheaper today than it was in 1950. This is a result of factory farming them and the advent of Cornish cross breeds. Cornish crosses are a hybrid breed of chicken that is basically lazy. They sit around and do little more than eat and poop in massive barns that hold sometimes 10,000 chickens wall-to-wall. They are debeaked when they are born so they won't pick each other and given a massive dose of antibiotics in order to deal with the squalor they will be raised in. They are fed a high protien diet and are ready to butcher at 8 weeks of age. Yup, 8 weeks. The chicken you get at KFC wasn't old enough to crow!

That's not how things are here. Our birds are treated like pets, regular members of the family. Well, except for that whole chopping block thing...

OK, gotta go jump in the shower. Maybe next time I'll tell you about our heritage turkeys!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Wendy's birthday & my old truck

Today is Wendy's birthday. (well look at the time, after midnight alreay, I guess YESTERDAY was Wendy's birthday) It was very low-key this year, with just a cake for the three of us. Sometimes you feel like having a birthday party, sometimes you don't.

I spent part of today working on my old truck. It's ugly, but it runs. The problem is, it no longer stops...

We blew a brake line last week, so Saturday I replaced a couple of funky old lines. It's a 1988 Chevy, and sometimes you have to "make" parts fit. I spent longer than I care to think about as a mechanic doing field repairs on a fleet of aging school busses, so I am no stranger to making things fit.

While I was in mechanic mode today, I gave the chassis a once-over and found a few other issues that need attention before winter. caleigh and I repacked the front wheel bearings and discovered a bad ball joint. There is also some rot that needs to be dealt with if I ever want to get an inspection sticker for it. Learning about Bondo will no doubt be fun for Caleigh, sort of like Pla-Doh for trucks.

Like I said, it's ugly, but it runs!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sexism or self-importance?

Certain little things piss me off.

One that really bugs me is when guys call to ask a question and talk to Wendy. For instance, "are they shooters?" (I won't even begin to rant about how that question is on the FAQ page-not right now anyway, I'm sure I'll rant about it soon)

The guy will ask Wendy, who will tell them yes. She can't quote load data to them, but can tell them that the barrels are made of D.O.M. steel with a threaded breechplug and that yes, they ARE shooters. The conversation will go on and on, with the caller trying to impress her with their alleged knowledge of muzzleloaders until she will confess that she doesn't know much about guns. Then the guy will call back and ask for me, only to ask the same exact questions. (yes, the ones on the FAQ page...but I digress)

Do guys do this because of sexism? Since Wendy is a woman, she obviously can't answer a simple question like "are they shooters?" right?

Or do certain guys do this because they just want another chance to try and show off how knowledgeable they think they are? It is been my experience that people who tell you how smart or important they are generally are neither.

I don't know, maybe it's both. Either way it pisses me off that these guys have so little respect for Wendy that they don't believe her answers to their questions and feel the need to ask them of me as well.

Wendy won't lie. If she doesn't know an answer, she will say so, she won't just make something up.

Recently there was another guy who insisted on talking to me becasue Wendy told him that a particular item was out of stock and he figured that I could look around and find him one. He also thought I could cut him a better deal!

Wendy handles the inventory records. I stay out of it because I'd mess them up. If she says it's out of stock, IT IS! She also handles ALL of the invoices and money stuff.

Guys: it's her you have to be nice to, not me!!!

Friday, September 09, 2005

A $93 fill-up?

I haven't posted in a while, been too busy.

Much has happened in the meantime, and I'll fill you all in later.

Right now, I am just a bit horrified that it cost me $93 to fill up the tank in Wendy's Suburban. $3.09 a gallon. It's a free marketplace, but I do hate price gouging.

What will a 30% increase in fuel costs do to the US economy? Don't the gougers understand that if fuel prices soar, it effects every aspect of our lives?

I don't believe in governmental regulation of any industry, but fuel has the power to make or break this country. Grrrrr....