Sept 4, 2004:  Well, August has done come and gone!!  I tell ya, if I don't strap my camera to my neck, I forget to take it.  But, I got a couple of shots and I have news.  First of all- rain!!!  The first week of August, it rained nearly every day, .3", .1", .3", etc.  The ground was saturated and these relatively small amounts of rain kept everything wet. Combined with July's rain and the warm soil temperatures, the grass just exploded.  I've never seen grass like this here, ever.  Here's an example:

This is the "shipping trap" pasture in which I run 1,000 head of cattle for a week.  It gets grazed hard, and at the start of the year, was down to almost nothing.  Just go back and look at any of the pictures from April or May and check out the grass height.  Here, it's up to the first strand of barbed wire- 12 to 14" tall.  And the thing is, the entire ranch is like this.  I've seen patches like this before, but never the entire ranch.  It's truly amazing.  Here's what the Bible has to say about this:

Psalms 104:13-14 He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works. (14) He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth...(NASB)

In mid-August, we took David to a new doctor in Amarillo.  David has aplastic anemia.  He was under care 2 years ago, but we were not happy with the proposed treatment and pulled him to pursue a course of nutritional support.   The new Dr. is a Christian and attends the Bible study of a very good friend of mine, who recommended him to me.  He uses an isopathic approach and we were very optimistic about the visit.  And, indeed, the Dr. said that we are "doing all the right things" and recommended that we stay the course, as well as try some other things.  We are awaiting a proposal from him about the treatment and in the meantime continue to treat David with good food, lots of vitamins, and constant prayer.  According to him and the research we've done, there are 3 options: 1) bone marrow transplant, which will cost about $2 million and might kill him, 2) a splenectomy, which might make things worse (since his spleen is most likely helping with red blood cell production at this point) and will require him to be on antibiotics for the rest of his life (with diminishing effectiveness), or 3) nutritional and herbal support.

Very shortly after this visit, we all got sick from colds.  After a week of nose-blowing and coughing, mine morphed off into a full-blown sinus infection which kept me pretty much house-bound and energy-less for the better part of 3 weeks.  There went August!!!  I got out and checked on things, but it's hard to do any real work when you have wracking coughing fits and are hacking up bloody mucous and your nose feels like it's got that thing stuck up it that Ah-nold pulled out in "Total Recall"....anyway, you get the picture.  But, finally, I got better and got to work feeding cattle.  The reason I'm feeding cattle, even with all this grass, is to get them trained for shipping which is only 1 month away.  The better they feed, the tamer they are, and the better they'll drive or follow the feedwagon.  Let's go on a feeding expedition!!

(Above)  Here's a view from my "field office"- it takes me 1-4 hours to feed a pasture.  Here's a large group of cattle scattered over the pasture.  I use my horn to get their attention.  They were semi-trained back in the spring, and haven't forgotten a thing.  At the sight of the pickup stopping and honking, some of the cattle start running toward the truck.  The other cattle see the first ones running and they start running too.  You only need 2-3 to start toward the truck and they'll all come.

(Above) Here's a shot of freshly fed cattle strung out in a line.  The feeder (in mirror) can be set to drop cake in lb. increments.  I'm feeding 2-3 lbs per "drop".  Stringing the cattle out like this makes it so much easier to count them.  I'll be spending much of September doing head counts, with me on the ATV and Georgia in the feed truck.  We're getting ready for shipping!

(Above) This is a loooonggg line of cattle (the camera loses depth).  I found nearly all the cattle in the big pasture spread out over this gorgeous expanse of grass and so I just strung 'em out over a 1-mile long line.

(Above) Close up of steers.  They're really not hungry, but to them, protein cake is like ice cream.  It's a real treat and they can smell it for a long ways.  You always try to work with the wind at first, but the feeder itself makes a loud "clang" as the feed comes out and the cattle quickly key in on that sound.  I've called 'em from across the pasture by banging on my door to mimic the feeder.  This is good looking bunch of steers here.  Oh....and in the background you will notice...trees!!!

(Above)  Hey!!!  It's the Ice Cream Man!!!  Wheee-hawwww!!!

Over at my other job- lutherie- the exciting job this month was installing an adjustable truss rod in a late-70's Martin  HD-28. This year had a non-adjustable, square tube and this particular guitar had a soft neck.  When I got it, it had .020" of neck relief, and should've had about .006".

(Above)  Here's the old non-adjustable truss rod, freshly removed from the neck.

(Above)  Here's the new adjustable rod in the neck.  I used .060" of carbon fiber inlaid alongside the truss rod to stiffen this neck up.  After stringing it up, I never even touched the rod and had .006" of neck relief.  It'll probably increase over the next year, but this is one stiff neck now.

(Above)  Also this month, I had to deal with my first UPS damage claim.   This is a Proulx OM/D that was in for warranty work.  Upon arrival home, the owner quickly spotted the broken neck which has snapped clean across the heel at the upper bolt.  I'm currently in the process of filing a claim with UPS- we'll see how it goes.   In 6 years of shipping guitars, this is my first damage claim.

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