Here we are in July and I'm still recovering from Kaufman Kamp in June.  Right quick was the 4th of July festivities- Brianna and I rode bikes in the town parade.  My mother was hustling to get her taxes done before she went back overseas and her computer caught a virus, so I spent basically 2 days de-bugging it.  And then, the 53rd Annual Sierra Grande Rancher's Camp Meeting was coming up July 8-11.  The scheduled preacher had to cancel, so I was asked to help cover.  I came up with 6 sermons and ended up preaching daily at 3 pm.  July has been just as busy as June!!  But, things are getting under control again and here I am working on this page, finally.

Here's a shot of the big tent at the camp meeting.  I missed the setup, but was there for the take-down.

And here I am in the pulpit.  I had the 3pm slot and attendance was a little low then.  That's alright, I'm not preaching for a crowd.

The great news is that, during the meeting, it stormed!  Here's a bank of clouds building up.  On Friday evening, our ranch got 2-3" of rain. I suspected/hoped that we were getting rain and so Brianna and I headed back home to spend the night, rather than camping.  Sure enough, when we went out and checked, the rain had washed out two watergaps in the fence- at opposite ends of the ranch!  All our creeks were totally full of water.  We made emergency repairs and then headed back to the camp meeting where I was due in the pulpit at 3 pm.

Here I am fixing one of the water gaps.  I've already got the posts standing again and am working at repairing the broken fence.  This is where my fencing splicer really comes in handy because all I need is 1/2" or so of overlap and I can repair it.

Just across the creek from the above shot is this big washout.  I'm going to have to do something about this because the cattle will walk down that gully and under the fence.

And here are my boys hanging out in the rocks while Dad works.  Couple of more years and I'll just send them out to fix gaps!

Back at the Camp Meeting, we're having an Association meeting to talk about next year's plans.

July 19: We've been blessed with another great rain- 1-2" over the entire ranch this time, with sprinkling all night.  On July 18th, our pastor needed to go to OK for a funeral and called me Saturday afternoon to see if I could do the sermon.  So, once again, Sunday morning found me and about checking water gaps after a Saturday night rain prior to hitting the pulpit.  This is getting to be a routine....<g>.

(above) Water on the road.  Fortunately, this road is caliche and sheds water really well.  Nevertheless, I'm in 4wd here... 7pm-ish, Saturday evening, heading south.

(above) And here we have water running down both sides of the ditch.  I'm heading west in this shot and am about 3 miles from the house.

(above)  This is what we found the next day while driving to church (this is actually driving home from church but whatever....).  These fence posts are 5' tall.  The funny thing is that there is a little dam underneath all this water! 

(above) Here's a close-up of the above shot- guess what this post is marking?  My phone and DSL line!!!

(above)  Round Mound, or Mount Clayton, is north of my house near Grenville.  It was a landmark for pioneers traveling on the Santa Fe trail. The trail can still be seen in some places and when you climb up on top of Round Mound you get a fantastic view.  This pond is entirely rain run-off and is called a playa lake.  I've never seen water here- these guys got 2-3" to my 1-2".  This is a lot of water and the grass is going to really explode now.

(above) Speaking of grass, remember back in May when I was watering to make mud so that the cliff swallows could nest on our house (they're great mosquito catchers!)?  Well, here's that site now. This is what grama grass can do under optimum conditions.  These seed heads are 12-15" tall.

(above) Here's a section about 30' away that was not watered.  This grass was grazed hard last year (it's the shipping trap) and this is what the grass is looking like under natural rainfall this year.  This pasture won't be grazed until we ship in October and I'll try to remember to take some more photos later on for comparison.  We're looking at 3-6" of grass here.

(above) One thing that we've really enjoyed having over the past several years are free-ranging chickens.  You've never had eggs until you've had eggs from free-ranging chickens.  They are NOTHING like your store bought eggs.  Chickens are amazingly voracious predators and no grasshopper is safe.  When cattle are in the shipping trap, the chickens will forage out there with them- you'll see chickens foraging 200 yards out in the pasture...it's kind of amusing.

(above) This is an amazing thunderhead that cropped up.  The photo doesn't nearly do it justice- the white part was full of yellow and gold and white, white, white.  I watched it grow up and split off and drift around.  Stunningly beautiful.

(above) All this rain means that I'm cutting grass.  This is what I call a riding lawn mower.....  And as you can see, our septic tank may be having problems- there shouldn't be weeds growing on top of the drain field.  Arghhh....

(above) Late in the evening, about sun-down......

It's actually time to start thinking about shipping cattle in October!  The first that's going to happen in August is that the official scale inspector will come out and inspect my scales and certify them.  Thus, I need to have them clean and balanced.  This means clearing off the old dirt and sometimes crawling down underneath the scales and cleaning off the ball  joints down there.  It's an icky job, but it's gotta be done.

(Above) Here's the scale house.  It keeps most of the weather off the scales.  Unfortunately, my doors are in poor shape and they've got to be replaced this winter.  I can't even shut them right now... The back half of the scale house is rotted and falling apart (note the leaning chimney). The rear half was built first and then the other part built to enclose the actual scale.  Time to tear down the old section and rebuild it.

(Above) Here's me and David scraping dirt out of the entranceway.  This dirt is there because the yard flooded into the scale house during the big rain we got back in late June.

(Above) And here you can see the rocks and junk that get wedged between the scale and the foundation.  This is the easy part- the nasty part is crawling underneath the scale and cleaning out stuff down there.  It's actually too wet to do that right now, so I'm just going to clean this up and wait for the underneath to dry out a bit.

(Above) Here I am on the scale itself, hoeing up dirt on the scale.  This doesn't have to be cleaned up, but it's good to go ahead and do it.  Keeps moisture off the scale boards and that keeps them from rotting.  I took 3 wheelbarrows full of dirt off the deck.

(Above) This photo doesn't even begin to do the actual scene justice, but this is immediately post-storm with the late evening sun shining off across the grass.  In real life, this was lit up in brilliant green and yellow with a dark, dark blue sky.  I put the barn in the shot because I liked the contrast of it against the dark background sky.

I'm working on a bunch of guitars, but this is one of the more challenging.  This is John Beaver's eBay D-28.  Here's what it looked like when I started:

The entire front edge of the bridge seat is broken.  The guitar had evidently taken a hit that pushed the bridge thru the top.  The other guys tried to fix it with an oversized bridgeplate, which was fine, but they ran the grain perpendicular to the top and- with no stiffness- the repair just folded up.  I had a BEAR of a time getting the old plate loose w/out tearing half the top up, but finally got it loose.  What a mess.....

And here's what it looks like now:

This is a new Madacascar RW bridge with a "long drop-in saddle" (there's a temporary short saddle in this shot).  I used an oversized bridgeplate made from a thinner piece of spruce and offset piece of maple, glued to the top.  The spruce should give stiffness and the maple has some strong directional grain.  I've made the plate overlap the broken section by a good amount- it's basically my only hope for keeping this top together.  Then I glued the missing pieces back and rebuilt the bridge seat. I've had the guitar strung up for several days and so far, so good.  It sounds really good, too.  I think it's just happy to be alive....

Here's a neat shot of the braces lit up with a 40 watt bulb:

Look at all the old cleats!!!

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