Looking for writing-related posts? Check out my new writing blog, www.larrykollar.com!
Showing posts with label down on the farm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label down on the farm. Show all posts

Saturday, August 09, 2014 4 comments

Harvest Time

On Planet Georgia, the harvest begins in earnest in August. The mother in law, who was the major garden person around here, departed a couple years ago. Still, the wife attempts to at least put some garden stuff in.

It didn’t help that we ended up with a huge amount of tomato plants this spring. One of the local banks does a customer appreciation day, in which they have a cookout with free hotdogs, and give out those six-pack trays of tomato plants. This year, they arrived close to the end of the day… next thing she knew, the bank people carried three entire flats (12 six-packs each, which meant there were 216 plants) over and dropped them in the back of the van. I took one of the flats to church, where several of the church ladies snapped them up, but the other ones were still there. I didn’t help matters; I wanted some Roma tomatoes to put on the dehydrator, so I bought a six-pack (this was before the “load 'em up” incident at the bank).

In addition, there were melons, a couple rows of corn, a handful of okra plants, and a few other things. It wasn’t as much garden as the mother in law planted, but it was more than enough.

This week, the piper paid us.

I came home from work to find the drainboard completely full of Romas. I got to work Thursday night, and roughly half of them were enough to fill the dehydrator. I tackled the rest today. Now, I have two quart freezer bags full of dehydrated tomatoes. The basil we bought is doing well, the oregano is sprawling all over the place, and I have enough tomatoes to make plenty of sauce.

Prepping for the dehydrator is easy enough. Drop them in boiling water for about 15 seconds, and the peel comes right off. This year, I got smart and added a pot of cold water for a quicker cool-down. Cut them in half, drop them on a dehydrator rack, repeat until the rack is full or until you’re out of tomatoes.

That was just the Romas. The wife dropped off a pretty good load of larger tomatoes, both ripe and green. I had made some noise about wanting to make green tomato salsa again, since the last batch I made didn’t last very long. So last night, I was off to the races… or rather, in the kitchen. Blanch, peel, chop up, add some other stuff like garlic, jalapeƱo, cilantro, onion, vinegar, a dab of sherry, and some “taco” seasoning. Then I dumped the whole mess in the crock pot to simmer overnight.

This morning, I grabbed four pint jars with lids, scooped salsa into them, and screwed the lids down. Despite the lids being used, they sealed. I’m still putting them in the fridge.

But gee, there’s still all these red tomatoes to deal with! I’ve always been curious about gazpacho, so I looked up a recipe. When I took +E.J Hobbs to work, I picked up the stuff we didn’t have around the manor, and came home and got to work on that.

This took a little longer than the 45 minutes the recipe page said, especially with regard to the “take the seeds out” part. I won’t be surprised if a handful of seeds managed to sneak past my diligence. Still, I’m looking forward to trying some of this, come tomorrow’s hot afternoon. If it’s any good, and EJ and I leave any, I’ll take some to work Monday.

The only downside is, I used less than a fourth of the ripe tomatoes to make the gazpacho. And the wife opined that there’s probably as many more tomatoes coming our way next week. She’s already made salsa (much milder than what I like to make), and she thinks she’s getting a rash from eating too many of them, so I need to figure out what to do with this bounty. I suppose I could give them away at work easily enough…

Oh, and lest I forget. You know I like big melons; I’m a guy. Get a load of this (it was a load, all right):

45 pounds. Can’t wait to get my hands on that!

Sunday, August 18, 2013 2 comments

Debugging Mobile Windows

Not the kind that runs on your phone. I’m not sure there is any debugging of the hot mess that is Microsoft products.

The father-in-law has two F-150 pickups (yes, both are white) for use on the farm. The slightly newer one is a 1994 model, and was fairly luxurious when it was new… power everything, cloth seats, and so on. Nowadays, it’s a truck. It looks like a truck, and smells like a truck.

So on Monday, I came home from work to find the nose of one F-150 plugging the hole in the garage that’s reserved for the Miata. “The driver’s side window is all the way down,” the wife told me, “and I can’t get it to go up, and I don’t want it getting rained in.” So, in a valiant effort to reclaim the garage space I worked so hard to clear for my own vehicle, I gathered screwdrivers and other tools. I figured to pull off the door panel and push the window up. I didn’t get the entire panel off, but got the top loose enough to grab the window. With a little pulling while hitting the up button, the window bounced but did slide up. I parked the truck off to the side, put my car in, and promised the wife I’d give it a fair shot to make a permanent fix come the weekend.

During the week, I Googled “1994 f150 power window repair” and “remove 1994 f150 power window motor” and found a ton of forum postings and a couple videos. Funny how O’Lierly was ranting about how bad the Internet is on Fox Spew this week (the father-in-law insists on watching that crap, which comes on around the time we eat… and that might explain why I’ve had indigestion all week… but I digress), when I was using it to figure how how to fix a vehicle he would approve of. So come Saturday, I was armed with both tools and enough knowledge to be dangerous. With EJ at my side, we pulled the truck under a carport and got to work. The only screw that required the impact driver was the one in the door handle, but it wasn’t long before we had the panel popped off. Of course, there was a sheet of plastic, that felt like the same material in a heavy-duty garbage bag, glued to the door itself, so we peeled that away and decided to duct-tape it back up when we were done.

Here’s where things get interesting. On these trucks, Ford seals the power window motors behind sheet metal, but leaves dimples over the two bolts that are covered. With a 1/2" drill bit, a heavy duty drill (of which we have several, remember), and a little WD-40 as lube, we had access holes.

“What do you think that slot is for under this hole?” EJ asked me, pointing to a cutout below the lower hole.

“Maybe it’s to stick a piece of cardboard in, to catch the bolt if it falls off,” I suggested. “Actually, that sounds like a good idea.” Instead of cardboard, I used the lid from an empty McDonald’s drink that was laying off to the side. And a bolt fell, and the lid caught it. (Score one for me, huh?) So we got the motor out, and I pulled the cover off…

Crumbles are good on cake.
Inside motors, not so much.
And asked EJ, “You think that might have something to do with it?”

“Yeah, probably.”

I learned a few things about power window systems, yesterday. First off, I’d always assumed there was some kind of belt drive connected to the motors. I figured that belt was slipping and needed to be tightened. EJ had torn a few doors apart and knew better, but it seemed like a good assumption at the time.

The second thing I learned was, that triangular space in the plastic gear (the one under the metal gear) is supposed to hold three cylindrical rubber bumpers. That makes sense, it provides some “give” when the window hits the top or bottom. But in this motor, after a mere 19 years, the rubber had hardened, then crumbled.

One of the things I’d learned online was, the plastic gears are replaceable (that is, you can get just that part), instead of having to replace the whole motor (or the entire “regulator,” as it’s called, the motor and the scissor jack that lifts the window). So hi ho, off to AutoZone we go.

“Um, I don’t think you can buy just the gear,” said the counter dude. I pointed at the “power window gear kit” selection on his screen. “Oh.” So he punched up inventory, suggesting I buy the entire regulator for $129. “We don’t have one in stock, but they do at the Keith’s Bridge location. Or we do have the motor, $47.” Bah. The gear kit (gear and bumpers) was $20, and Keith’s Bridge isn’t that far away. We had to listen to the same surprise that they carried just the gear kit, and he went back and found it.

Triumphant in the hunt, we drove back to the manor, where I have some clear workbench space. Out with the old gear (after wrestling with a snap-ring), in with the new. I found that by putting in two bumpers, slipping the metal gear on, then wedging in the third bumper, I was able to cram it all in. Put everything back together, no leftover parts, put it back in the door, and test. Window went up, window went down. Hooray! We duct-taped up the plastic sheet, greased the slider track under the window, then put the door panel back on. All done, except to carry home all the tools (of course).

The wife got to test it shortly after, as some of the cows were being noisy and we had to shift them to another pasture. She rolled the window down and up several times, looking through the light rain to see what was going on. Everything worked just as it was supposed to.

I wonder how long it will be before we have to do the same thing on the passenger side.

Sunday, August 11, 2013 3 comments

Oh, Dam.

When this isn’t happening,
there’s a problem.
Even without the chicken houses, there are a zillion ways around here to have a significant percentage of one’s weekend eaten alive. This one, however, was a little different.

The inlaws have a farm. And on that farm there is a pond. With a pump house on one side, and a dam on the other. A few months ago, the pump house was flooding out, due to a lot of rain coming in and a clog in the overflow pipe going out. We ended up running a piece of high-pressure roll pipe down the outflow pipe, and ramming away until it broke free. The obstruction turned out to be a can of starter fluid, which to me was just more proof of the usual bizarre stuff that happens around here. (Only here would a can of starter fluid stop something.)

So on Friday, the wife is telling me a tale of woe. Something was clogging the pond’s outflow pipe this time, and the water was threatening to rise over the dam and cause massive problems. Three people had spent half a day on it, but she suggested I call Evil Lad NOT and ask him for assistance. Well, he was moving into his lodgings at UGA, so I was on my own.

Being by myself, I decided to survey everything first, to see what they’d tried and what I was up against. I suggested opening the drain, to buy some time, and was told the end of the drain is capped and it would be a major hassle to dig it out. I decided to put that in the “last resort” bucket, right before the idea of dropping a weighted M-80 down the pipe. The end of an augur line (a souvenir from the chicken houses) was sticking out of the outflow pipe below the dam, their attempt to break the clog from underneath. I decided to work from the top.

The problem was, the outflow pipe (up top) was difficult to find. The usual formula is “about eight feet left of the drain handle and just a little past,” but this time, the drain handle was under water. Being a pond, the water isn’t exactly clear, so it took a little paddling around the general area until I got close enough to see it. Then, I had to find the outflow pipe. Half an hour later, I was ready to… something. I probed with a thin piece of roll pipe, and concluded that the blockage was probably at the bend.

Then I got an idea. If a can of starter fluid could block the pump house outflow, could another kind of can block this one? And if it was steel, maybe I could fish it out with a magnet. The Boy has blown out speakers of all sizes, and they were piled up in the garage. I figured, since I’ve been planning to repurpose the magnets for a windmill project sooner or later, that I could pull one of the subwoofer magnets, tie it to a rope, and try to fish out any metal object blocking things up. I left the roll pipe sticking out of the overflow, to mark the spot, and got the magnet. I pulled up all sorts of crud with it, perhaps muck with a high iron content, but couldn't grab anything else.

At this point, I suddenly thought of the pump house blockage, and how we used the thick roll pipe to ram the obstruction out. In fact, I wondered why the wife hadn’t thought of it, since it was her idea that time anyway. So I got the unwieldy stuff, spent another half hour relocating the pipe because I didn’t leave the other to mark it, then got at it. After a couple minutes of ramming, I felt something give just a little, and the pipe resisted pulling as if it were stuck. So I bashed away a few more times, then felt a vibration. Putting my ear to the pipe let me hear the sound of rushing water, and I saw a little vortex form above the pipe. Yay!

I left the pipe there, just in case, and went down to the outflow. I was rewarded by the sight of plenty of water flowing out, although I didn’t see anything in the water that could have been the obstruction. I figured it was debris and muck that collected and packed up. I felt rather good about myself, having accomplished in three hours what three people hadn’t in four hours… although, around here, that usually means they’ll expect me to take care of the next problem myself.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...