Sunday, June 29, 2008

Training in the hot, hot, hot sun...

But not on a bike, or at least not a pedal powered one. Saturday morning somewhere in the vicinity of 9:30ish Cheryl, Clint and I headed upcountry on a pair of fourwheelers for a thrilling day of fence repair. In the lower country it was hot and dry. Higher up and on the other side of a ridge, it was hot and green. Hot and green remained the order of the day right up until I started working my way uphill following the fence.

At the corner at the top of the first hill I actually got to sidehill for a ways. Of course part of the sidehilling was through a couple of brushy swales, which for some unknown reason were the focal points for fence breakage, and in both cases it was all four wires. Got those fixed and went on. It was now back to hot and dry. Then I got to the corner on the top of the next hill. At this point I was wishing I had the camera I bought because it was small enough to take with me when I'm wandering around. The view down the canyon was phenomenal. Sunflowers, lupine, mallow, Indian paintbrush, all were blooming around me, and the air was quite redolent of flower fragrances. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera, so I had to get back to work and I started down into the canyon.

At the bottom of the canyon, where according to Cheryl the fence is usually bad, the tiny creek was chuckling and gurgling over the rocks and the breeze was rustling the cottonwood leaves. It was really hard to make myself leave the inviting shade and start back up to, yes, hot and dry. The fence was good there besides, which made it even harder to leave.

At the top of the first climb out of the creek I could see Clint at the top of the ultimate ridge, but I still had another down, then a climb, to get there. I could also see some of the cows that were supposed to be in the rented pasture next door in our rented pasture. I counted noses so I could tell somebody how many there were. I made it to the bottom of the down and while crossing the relatively flat bottom of the draw a blue grouse jumped out almost under my feet and nearly stopped my heart. Fortunately the fence was good there.

The climb to the top of that last ridge was, shall we say, interesting. I was extremely glad that I have been climbing tons of stairs lately. Occasionally a small breeze would meander through and cool me enough to let me crawl up some more sagebrush hill. Then, finally, the summit and the bikes. And the cooler. And a cell phone call from Cheryl for help on another part of the fence that a herd of elk had apparently drug for a goodly distance down the slope at some time in the relatively recent past. Clint and I did some rockhopping with the fourwheelers and finally got to where she was, helped her get that hole fixed enough to confuse the cows and hopefully keep them in, then she went on and we went back and around to the top to pick her up...

I got home finally about 6:30 to the shower. When I got out of the shower and stepped on the scales I weighed five pounds less than I did a couple of weeks ago which is the last time I checked...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The new reloading press works great...

As I mentioned earlier, my new Dillon 550 reloading press showed up a week ago last Friday. I was spraying weeds at the time, which it seems like I've been doing since the dawn of time, so I just packed the boxes into the reloading room and left them on a chair for the moment.

My fourwheeler has been having issues with the heat the engine generates when I'm spraying, mainly I'm sure because of the slow speeds I'm moving at which aren't especially conducive to much cooling. It could have something to do with the fact that the pump on the spray tank sucks enough juice from the battery that it's running almost on a direct feed from the alternator. As opposed to walking back to the house every so often because the beast dies and won't start until it's had some cooling time, I've started a routine of spraying out one load of chemical then parking the bike at the house for twenty minutes or so before I start mixing the next load. That seems to be working. So far I haven't had to walk back to the house once since I started doing that.

What does this have to do with me getting my new press, you might ask? Everything or nothing, depending on your point of view. What this routine does is give me time to work on setting up the press, etc. while the bike is cooling off.

So, this last Friday I finally had both toolheads (.45 Colt and .357) set up, the dies adjusted, and so on and so forth. That shiny blue piece of machinery was sitting there doing nothing so I decided, "What the hey, let's see how it works." And how does it work? It works extremely well. I had a box full of already primed .45 Colt cases sitting there and I've been wondering if the Dilloon powder measure would reliably feed the fake black powder I've been loading for cowboy. The stuff's pretty coarse.

Obviously there's no time like the present to answer one's own questions, so I got out the bottle of powder and dumped some in the measure. It took a couple of casefuls to get the powder bar adjusted to the right load, then away we went. In seemingly no time at all, I had half a binful of loaded shells and I didn't have to dip a single grain of powder. The measure did it all as long as I did my part. The learning curve is actually rather gentle with this press.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A couple of weeks in the life...

Of whom? you might ask. Well, of yours truly. Nothing earthshaking has occurred, but life does indeed go on. The weekend after Memorial Day was high school graduation in Baker. Of course, since we've known large numbers of the kids since they were munchkin sized, we got approximately a zillion graduation announcements. Enough so that we had to pick and choose whose we went to. On the other hand, neither Cheryl nor I had to cook dinner for about four days. That was kind of nice.

Last Tuesday, a week ago, we were revisited by winter. Winter? you ask. Yes, winter. I was in Baker picking up my totally nonstylish, frame type required by my employer new glasses. When I left the spectacle place and turned toward downtown it was raining. Then suddenly the rain drops had bones in them. By the time I made it to Safeway it was snowing hard. On June 10th. When I topped out on the hill west of Pleasant Valley, at about 6 PM, it was snowing so hard that I had my headlights on, the transfer case in 4HI, and was driving about 50 so I could make sure I stayed on the road. Interesting trip home.

I now have a Dillon reloading press sitting on my reloading bench in place of the two Lee presses that used to be there. I had originally planned to buy a new set of pistols for cowboy shooting with the money from the sale of a different pistol. This plan was about to come to fruition when I decided to load up some .357 shells. It then took me two hours to load 200 rounds on a progressive press. It should have taken about 45 minutes. At that point I started shopping for reloading presses.

I posted on the SASS wire asking for opinions on presses. I happened to mention that I was getting rid of two Lee's. Almost immediately I had an offer to buy one of the Lee's. A day later it took about twelve hours to sell the other one. That night I ordered the Dillon, which arrived last Friday. It's mostly set up, except for adjusting the .357 dies in the toolhead, then taking them back out and putting the .45 dies back in so I can load some .45's. I can hardly wait.

So, as I said, nothing earthshaking has been happening. I have gotten some writing done on the third book in the Deputies series, but not much else is happening. Cheryl started cutting hay this afternoon, so summer busyness is about to kick off...