August, 2010

 

Having not been doing much at T14 in the July heat and it hasn’t been much better in August.  The heat makes it difficult to work out in the sun for long, but we’re still dedicated to making regular progress.

I started out August by adding to the runway markers and lights that we’d put up last month.  While we were perusing through the vendor booths at Oshkosh, we found some solar-powered LED pavement markers.  These looked like they’d work great to mark the ends of the runway, so I ordered some to put out on the runway thresholds.

 

They arrived just a few days after we got home from our trip to Wisconsin.  We placed them out and then went up in the evening to see how they worked.  Not too bad…

 

 

 

 

On the weekend of August  6th thru 8th, we continued our work cleaning up the east side of the property.  I started having loads of crushed asphalt delivered so that we could build a decent road that would remain firm in heavy rains.  The sandy loam and clay in this area is quite firm when it’s dry, but it quickly becomes a layer of mud in a heavy rain.  Even my 4 wheel drive Ford F-250 will get stuck when the ground gets saturated.  We plan on laying down a bed of crushed asphalt (coupled with some lime-stabilized soil) to create a solid road bed.

 

On Sunday, August 8th, we flew a powered parachute from the runway for the first time.  It was nice to do some “low ‘n slow” flying for a change.  We didn’t stay there this weekend, but still got a lot done.

You can see, in the above pictures, that the runway is cracking badly and the grass is starting to turn brown from the lack of rain.  We’re also building up quite a few piles of trees.  But the runway area is almost completely cleared of obstructions.  It’s about time to start burning wood piles again.

 

August 14th thru 16th

 

This would be the first weekend that we’d stayed at the airport this month.  We didn’t bring the travel trailer out there until Saturday because I brought out my 20’ covered trailer on Friday.  I’d purchased some school tables at an auction and brought them out in the trailer so that they could be stored on the property (which is where they’re going to be used, anyway).

 

We did our usual walk of the runway and found that *something* had taken one of my red LED markers from the north end of the runway.  Where there had been five markers before, there were only four now.  During our walk down the runway we also saw that someone had been using our runway for their own off-road experience.  There were tracks where somebody had skidded around one of the marker tires and then had headed back out again.

 

Although we have a gate at the official entrance off of CR3511, there was nothing to stop anyone from accessing the property from Hwy. 2101.  There isn’t an entrance off of the state highway, but we’d just been driving across the ditch and onto the property.  There had been heavy tree coverage to prevent that before we bought the property.  I’d pulled or pushed all of the trees down, however, and the runway was now clearly visible from the road.  Apparently, someone just couldn’t resist the urge to go tearing down the runway.

 

With all the hard work that we’d done to recover the runway and get grass growing again, we couldn’t allow this.  So Walt and I headed into town, bought some t-posts, 300 ft. of field fence and a gate.  We spent a VERY hot Saturday putting up a fence along the front of the property to prevent access from that direction.

On a site note…

 

While we were working on the fence out in the heat, I only barely noticed the car that pulled into the turnoff about 30 yards away from us, turned around and then drove off again.  I was sweating away, pounding in one of the fence anchors into the rock-hard ground when Walt said “%!#@#!~$... They threw out a cat!”.

 

Sure enough, I could hear the mewling of a very scared kitten coming from the brush.  It’s a very heavily brushy area with a lot of trees.  Coyotes and other hungry predators frequently hide in it.  I walked over to the source of the non-stop crying and almost stepped on the scared little thing.  I guess that it was pretty traumatized however, because it ran off across the road into a culvert and wouldn’t come out.  It never stopped crying, however.

 

We couldn’t coax it to us, though, so we gave up and headed back in to escape the 105 degree heat.

There were so many coyotes hanging around at that time that we were sure that the kitten would become a late-night snack, but there wasn’t much that we could do at the time.

 

The next night, Rachael, Walt and I were doing our customary walk down the runway.  It’s something that we do almost every night that we’re there.  Our two dogs, Max (the German Sheppard) and Cessna (the Husky mix) were with us.  They were being their usual playful selves and were running all around us while we walked down the length of our property.

 

It was a dark and almost moonless night.  We were walking with just the stars to light our way when Walt jumped aside and shouted an expletive that I won’t repeat here.  A small shadow had come up to him and he didn't’ know what it was!

 

It was the little kitten.  It had survived that previous night and the next day in oppressive heat and had managed to not get eaten.  I don’t know how it survived, because it was completely hoarse from what must have been non-stop crying for help.

 

I was extremely surprised.  It had run up to us with our two big dogs jumping around - looking for a savior to rescue it from certain death.  I doubt that it could have survived another night out in the elements.

 

Rachael scooped it up and protected it from the dogs while we finished our walk back to the trailer.

We didn’t have anything to feed a cat and Rachael’s other cat, Sheba, is 10 years old and we don’t bring her out to the property yet, so Rachael gave it some meat from that night’s supper and headed into town.  About 30 minutes later, she came back with a bag of kitten chow, a combination water/food bowl and a collar for the thing!

 

I could see the writing on the wall…  we had another cat…

 

She named him “Runway” since that’s where we found him.  I’m not a cat person but, as cats go, he’s pretty amusing.  Sheba (her other cat) won’t have a thing to do with the dogs and hisses at them whenever they come close.  But Runway will actually go out and play with the dogs.  He and Max have been seen playing together many times.  Max will grab him by the tail and drag him around - with Runway only slightly protesting.

 

We bring Runway out to the airport each weekend.  He was just barely (if that!) weaned when we found him and has all of the energy of a rambunctious kitten.  He amuses us each day that we’re there with his regular stalking and dismantling of a large continent of grasshoppers (yuck!) and the way that he gets along well with two dogs who are VERY much larger than him.  He even puts up with Max’s humermongous (yeah… that’s the word) slobbering kisses.  For some reason, Max likes to give him big licks - which Runway barely tolerates, but doesn’t run away from.

 

What’s more funny is that Runway will make our nightly walks down the runway with us.  He runs alongside us just like the dogs.  He’ll scoot ahead of us and wait for us to catch up.  Many times, he’ll fall behind when an errant late-night grasshopper diverts his attention.  But he’ll never get too far away.

 

He and Sheba will never be best friends (she’s old and VERY territorial), but he and the dogs get along fabulously.

August 20th thru 22nd

 

It was a beautiful weekend, so Rachael took the opportunity to make her first solo cross-country journey as a pilot.  She flew her 172RG down to New Braunfels and visited her family in San Antonio.  She’s flown long distances with me for years, but this would be her first time going any significant distance alone.  She had a GREAT time while Walt and I worked back on the airport.

 

We spent the weekend continuing our efforts to clear the property.  A lot of fallen trees were moved off of the sides of the runway and piled for burning.

 

On Sunday morning, I was out on the runway working on my lights when I heard two friends on the radio.  Anson was inbound in his 182 and Robert was out to the west playing around in his T-28.  Anson came in and landed while Robert stayed out to the west and waited for him to land before coming over.

 

Then, our little community got their Sunday morning wakeup call…

 

I don’t know if you know what a T-28 sounds like when it comes barreling out of the skies at full power, but it’s an impressive sight and sound when it passes over you with the throttle pushed in all the way.  Robert made a few passes and then thrilled us with a brief aerobatics show before heading back to his home airport.

 

Thanks for coming by, guys!

 

We did a lot of mowing and worked on repairing our equipment for most of the weekend.

August 27th thru 29th

 

This was a busy weekend.  I went out early on Friday morning to open the gate for a dump truck driver who was delivering some loads of crushed asphalt.  I plan on using them to create a firm road bed.

 

While I was waiting throughout the day as the driver came and went, Walt L. and I worked on MoFo.  We had broken the hinge pin on the front axle again and wanted to try to make a more permanent fix.  After lining up the pin and inserting another safety bolt through the opening, we welded the pin in place with hopes that this would provide a more permanent solution (fast forward - it didn’t work!).

 

After we got MoFo working again, we started mowing and continued on through the day until the last load of crushed asphalt was delivered around 9pm that evening.

 

I had planned on using Saturday to run electrical power out to the shed area, but a search of all the local hardware/home improvement stores yielded no luck in finding the right size wire.  We had a 330 ft. run from the electric meter over to the shed and couldn’t find a long enough run of wire.

 

Since we couldn’t do anything about the power situation, we decided to tackle another one of the many projects that were waiting for our attentions.

 

 

The second tree line on the property was even more heavily wooded than the first.  When we walked through it, however, we knew that we didn’t want to mow it down and completely remove it.  I could see, in my mind’s eye, a beautiful glade where we could create walkways through which one could meander.

 

Although I didn’t know exactly what we would find, we set to work to clean it up.

 

This wasn’t going to be the brutish “sledgehammer” approach that we took to the other line of trees.  This was doing to require a lot more finesse’ in how we removed the underbrush.  We started off by removing all of the small trees at the end of the treeline so that we could see what was inside.

 

I was surprised to find an old barb wire fence line!  In fact, there was a complete wagon trail with a fence line on either side going through the middle of the glade.  The barb wire used was very old.  I don’t believe that the type has been made in many years.  After seeing this, I couldn’t imagine losing that little bit of a glimpse of the past.

 

I instructed Walt to be VERY careful on the dozer and we carefully cut and pushed away only the trees in the middle of the tree line away.

 

When we had finished a few hours later, we had cleared about 250 ft. of trees out of the center of the line and had preserved almost all of the barb wire and old beau d’arc tree posts.

 

It made a great place to go to get out of the heat of the summer sun.  We moved a table into the middle of it and will probably spend most of the rest of the summer sheltered from the summer sun underneath its beautiful canopy.

Although we worked hard this weekend, we still took some time to have some fun with our firearms.  I’d purchased a Bersa .380 for Rachael and Walt brought out his rifles.  We had spent part of the time the previous weekend and this weekend and had built a pistol range next to the second tree line.  We pushed up dirt with Godzilla to make a berm in back that would stop any fired bullets.

 

Rachael had a blast!  Using Walt’s .223, she popped an old Freon container from 300 yards on her first shot.  We probably shot two whole boxes of shells through our pistols this weekend.  We’re working hard, but we’re enjoying the fruits of our labors, too!