Tag Archives: F-250

Cedar post traction

The weather remains cold, down to 12 degrees last night and up to 21 degrees at 3:00 p.m.  I do like Winter.

Since Tuesday, we have stayed put in the ranch house, burning pinion in the fireplace during the day, lowering the thermostat to 65 degrees in cooperation with emergency power issues in Texas.  The temperature is not expected to go above freezing until Saturday and another snowfall descends this evening.

Schools closed.  Our mail carrier, Jeannie Chisolm, told us this morning that the roads are treacherous on her route that encompasses county roads in Erath and Palo Pinto Counties.

I needed to make a mercy run to Interstate 20, five miles away, for supplies.  First, I had to put weight in back of the F-250.  The old “two-bales-of-hay-watered-down-and-frozen” ploy was not feasible.  Too cold and I didn’t want the hassle of clean up next week.  As a second option, I decided to load the F-250 with cedar posts in order to weigh the rear end down.  Actually, the wood used for fence posts is not cedar, but juniper.  The colloquial is “cedar,” however, and I’m not about to go to the “cedar” yard and ask for “juniper” posts — might result in fisticuffs about definition of terms. But, back to loading cedar.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.  First, I broke the ice around the barn doors with a flat shovel in order to drive the DX-55 Case-Farmall into the pasture where I stored the posts.  After the tractor warmed up, I loaded two big stacks of cedars into the front-end loader, sweeping some snow off the posts and observed Meadow Larks nearby, scratching for seed where the posts had rested.  I drove up the hill to the house.  I used a rubber hammer to dislodge the goose-neck ball from the bed of the pickup, as it had become frozen after the rain Monday evening.  I use the rubber hammer and vise-grips frequently in these times.

I dumped — very carefully — two loads of 6 to 9 inch cedar posts into the bed of the F-250, raising the front-end loader above the bed of the pickup and away from the back window.  I estimated the load to be about 800 pounds, sufficient to give traction on ice for the pickup.  I test drove the 250 up and down the lane.  Two loads seemed sufficient — it was.

Between our place and the interstate, a pickup had overturned and at least ten off-road events in the bar ditch had occurred.  Trucks on the interstate traveled in one lane at 15-20 m.p.h.  We bought our few supplies and came back to the house on the road with two inches of ice beneath several inches of snow.  The clerk at the Exxon station stated that the local propane dealer had run out of propane and his trucks could not resupply until the roads cleared.  There was no milk for sale — all sold out.

Back at the house, we settle in.  I give Star a loaf of hay to tide him over till supper.  Lottie our Schnauzer jumps up on the fireplace bench to warm herself after we relight the fire.  I look out and see cedar posts in the F-250 and I know in an emergency we can make the Palo Pinto Rural Health Clinic (PPRHC) in Gordon with cedar posts as weight in the back for traction.

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Filed under Adventure, Cedar, Flying Hat Ranch, Juniper

Field Log 5/30/2010 (Coneflowers)

North Erath County, Texas, Lat 32.43 N, Long -98.36 W, elev. 1,086 ft. Turkey Creek Quad.

General Log

Weather has been hot, 90 deg. F. plus, last few days.  Air is almost completely calm.  Some slight breeze from the south.

Grass is drying up, browning.  Seeds are become ripe and falling off.

This week, Shiney goes for sale at Shawnee, Oklahoma.  We leave on Thursday, come back on Sunday.  The most important objective is guarantee that Shiney will have a good home, regardless of the auction price.

F-250 in shop for air conditioner repair.  Have been looking at new and used F-250s to purchase.  The trucks have been repaired frequently in the last week, ranging from oil pumps to the F-150 bearings and now the air conditioner.

Barn Swallows and Feeding Wild Birds by Hand (A Method Observed)

In the evening, Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) encircle our ranch house on Poprock Hill and feed on mosquitoes and flies.  A nest of barn swallows have hatched fledglings on our back porch.  Notice the characteristic sharply-notched tail.  This photograph was taken in the morning.  If I sit quietly on the porch, the swallows will angle under the eve of the porch and fly within three or four feet of where I am sitting.  Last year, a resident wren that fed about the porch landed on my hat and pecked around on my hat for about a minute until it flew off.   I will set the camera up for remote operation and see if I can photograph the wren on my hat.  When I lived in Paris, I was always intrigued by the young man at Notre Dame that would sit in a chair about the sidewalk and hedge and have the sparrows feed out of his hand.  The method he used was to look away from the birds and extend his arm back from his body (like in handing off a baton) so that the birds did not see his eyes or mouth (specific threat areas for birds).  The young man was neither monk nor priest, but a lad that loved birds.

Barn Swallow in Flight, Photo by J. Matthews

Wildflower Photography and Hoe Downing with Bull Nettle (Not a Dance)

On May 23, 2010, Brenda and I drove the F-150 to Pecan Tree Pasture for her to photograph wild flowers and for me to hoe down Bull Nettle.

Wild Flowers alongside SH 108 at Gate 3 Entrance, Photo by B. Matthews

Lemon Horsemint, Photo by B. Matthews

This blossoming plant is the Lemon horsemint (Monarda citriodora Cerv. ex Lag.)  It is also known as the Lemon beebalm, Horsemint, Purple horsemint or Plains horsemint.  Several stands of this plant are about the place.  Over near the pecan tree, a few blossoms are present.  The biggest stand of Lemon horsemint is back up by the barn, about an old hearth location that goes back for several decades, perhaps prehistoric.  The Lemon horsemint is attractive to butterflies and bees.

Clasping Coneflower, Photo by B. Matthews

This yellow-leafed blossom is the Clasping Coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis).  It is also know as Clasping-leaf Coneflower.  It differs from the Black-eyed Susan and Mexican Hat.  This particular species has medicinal qualities: the Cherokee used the  juice of root for earache and a tea, made from the leaves, was used as a tonic and diuretic.

Unidentified Plant and Blossom (Now Identified)

Bush Vetchling or Manystem Pea, Photo by B. Matthews

Here we have an unidentified plant and blossom.  (See update for identification in next paragraph.)  I first thought it a Skull-cap (Scutellaria drummondii), but I am not sure.  Like my previous analysis regarding the Mariposa and Wine-cup, I must go back over to the pecan tree area and re-photograph and take a sample of the full plant, not merely the blossom.  One of the interesting aspects of posting this photograph and determining genus and species is that I look more closely at the photograph to make sure I get it right, and upon looking closer at the photograph, I see bean pods that I did not notice while I was in the field — see if you can spot the pods.

Update:  The unidentified plant and blossom is the Bush Vetchling or Manystem Pea from the Lathyrus genus, more than likely the species montanus or nissolia.  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center lists several species including polymorphus and brachycalyx ssp. zionis. Thank you, Grethe Bachmann of Thrya Blog and Flora and Fauna Blog for the identification.  I never would have found it since it does not appear the two general sources of plants I use for identification.  You can go to Grethe’s blogs by linkage from my blogroll on my Homepage.

Texas Prickly Pear, Photo by B. Matthews

This is the blossom of the Texas Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri).  The blossoms are especially brilliant.

Indian Blankets with Shelton Rock Hills, Photo by B. Matthews

This is a stand of Indian Blankets with the Shelton Rock Hills (north and south) in the background.  The direction of the camera is west.  To the right (north) is The Grove and Salt Creek.

With this hot weather, the horses go back to the stables for shade and water.  I attend to them at about 6:00 p.m. everyday.

Jack Matthews with Hoe and Clasping Coneflower (2010), Photo by B. Matthews

I am actually in a much, much better mood than what this photograph belies.  In the pasture, I’ve been hoeing a few Bull Nettle down and it is rather hot, late in the morning.  Note the large stand of Big Bluestem grass to my left.  I’ve been careful to keep the Big Bluestem from getting shredded for several years and now it grows higher than me in the field.  Please also note the tool on my left side.  That is a hoe.  Not machinery, a manual tool.  Kinda Luddite-ish, don’t you think?

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Filed under Field Log, Plants and Shrubs

More Santa Fe Blizzard Express

Hermleigh, Texas, December 24, 2009

Hermleigh, Texas, December 24, 2009

Roscoe, Texas, December 24, 2009

Roscoe, Texas, December 24, 2009

Jack Matthews, Roscoe, Texas, December 24, 2009

Farm Fields, Slaton, Texas, December 24, 2009

We had been keeping up with weather forecasts before we left at 5:00 a.m. CST from our home in Mingus, Texas.  The weather forecasts on December 23, indicated that the Arctic snow front would pass through the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma, bypassing our route on Interstate 20 to Sweetwater, Roscoe north to Lubbock, then Clovis, Santa Rosa, Santa Fe.

On December 24, we left Mingus, temperature 37 degrees.  We first encountered snowflakes in Eastland, Texas, but before that, only minutes out of Ranger, Texas, a Federal Express double-trailer had overturned, indicating, perhaps, high cross winds.

The snowflakes would not subside until we reached Lubbock at 2:00 p.m.

We did not encounter snow accumulating on the road until Sweetwater where we made a rest stop.  At Sweetwater, the temperature was below 30 degrees.  By the time we reached the turnoff to Roscoe, Texas, then north to Lubbock, the snow had accumulated on the highway and the wind blew the snow to a white out for a few seconds every so often.  The turn off at Roscoe was treacherous because a white out suddenly occurred at the intersection and I had to “feel” the turn for a few seconds.  At that point, I decided to go into Roscoe and put the cable-chains on the back wheels of the F-250. We also considered staying put and waiting the storm out and Highway Department to clear the roads.

The F-250 I drive is a 2003, the last year they made the 7.3 liter diesel engine.  Our F-250 is maintained precisely to the Ford Motor Company’s guidelines, plus a few of our own.  As a consequence, we have 240,000 plus miles and it pulls a twenty-six foot tack and stock trailer or a flatbed with a DX-55 Case tractor.  We had a full fuel tank, blankets, phones, and food and water.

At Roscoe, I put the chains on and we ventured out again on the highway to Lubbock.  At Hermleigh, we stopped at an Allsup’s for a rest stop but the convenience store was closed.  Our daughter in Lubbock called by cell and said that there was a thirty-two car pileup at Post, so we first decided to go from Snyder to Lamesa, then Santa Fe by various routes, but the latest reports at Allsup’s from truck drivers indicated that the wreck had been cleared.

The wind turbines at Roscoe and Hermleigh were hidden by the snowstorm, but occasionally the wind would die down and we saw the giant turbines, less than a quarter-of-a-mile away, slowly turning in the storm.  Nothing else but snow and the turbines.  We maintained a long distance between ourselves and the car or truck in front of us to give us time to stop.  Yet, we did not have the respect from cars in back of us.  Truckers, however, gave us space.  Since we had chains and traction, I could ease over and let cars and trucks pass us.  Several cars that passed us we later saw in the ditch or median.

Our speed could not exceed 30 m.p.h. with chains.  Finally, at Post, Texas, we stopped and I took off the chains.  Between Post and Lubbock, we were diverted by the Highway Department to tour along the access roads and avoid going over bridges.  In Slaton, a U.S. Postal Service truck was blocking the overpass because it had no traction and was stalled.  We saw several National Guard medical vehicles headed south from where we had come.  We later found out that Governor Rick Perry had called out fifty National Guardsmen to assist in rescue efforts.

From Post, then, we had no chains, but the Highway Department had cleared one lane by the early afternoon on the highway.

At Lubbock, we visited with our relatives and left Lubbock at 4:00 p.m. for Santa Fe, arriving at 9:30 p.m. MST.

Notes

“Postscript by Brenda:  Jack’s writings depict the experience perfectly.  What cannot be conveyed completely was the stress and emotions of the eight-hour drive to Lubbock…but, the picture of him above portrays his attentiveness.  I was never terribly worried because I knew he was an excellent driver and near obsessive over safety.  Yes, I wish we had left a day earlier, but I am happy to be in Santa Fe!  Brenda Matthews, 12.28.2009.”

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Filed under Adventure