A New Piece of Farm Equipment?

We are very fortunate to have visitors to the ranch this week.  My brother Mark and his friend Sandra are on a cross country trip, and they have stopped by to see us.  How do you think they fared driving up a two mile long, bumpy and rutted dirt road to get to our place?

Mark and Sandra on Rewaco Trike

The trike that is pictured above is a Harley-Davidson powered, German built Rewaco Trike.  It is way more cool than it even appears in this photograph.  You have to see it in person to believe it.  I wonder if Mark would allow me the liberty of attempting to attach my Bush Hog rotary cutter to his trike, because the pastures are getting a little bit long?

Gone to Waste

It's useless now

This is (was) an egg produced by one of our guinea hens, but now it is no more.  I found this egg, in the condition that you see it, in the middle of the gravel lane that leads into the paddock facilities.  This egg came to it’s rather abrupt demise perhaps twenty yards away from the closest spot that I would imagine a right-minded guinea hen would lay it.

How do you suppose that the egg managed to end up in this location, in the condition that you see it?  I did not put the egg there.  I’m pretty sure that Retta did not place the egg there, although I cannot absolutely rule out the possibility, as she isn’t home right now for me to ask her.  We can be certain that neither of my dogs were the guilty culprit, because they would not have left any evidence behind.  I’ve seen their handiwork, and believe me, this isn’t their modus operandi.

The guineas never meander along this barren gravel drive, as there is a nice lawn along either side of it, rife with insects and other treats, which the guineas much prefer.  So even if you were to imagine a guinea hen ambling along and having a sudden, overwhelming urge to drop an egg, it would have most likely been on the grass, not on the gravel.

It seems logical (to me, at least) that we can rule out critters such as possum, raccoon, fox, coyotes and the like, for the same reason that I am ruling out my dogs.  All of these scavengers would most likely have eaten the spilled contents of the egg when it broke.  An even more likely scenario would have them down the egg, shell and all, immediately upon finding the “incredible edible” egg.  That is what I have seen our Pyre Gracie do on occasion.

An interesting observation is that the shell is entirely intact, with the exception of the small hole that you can see in the photograph.  It almost looks as if the hole had been pecked at in order to open it.  If so, then this would suggest a bird of some type.  Perhaps some bird found the egg, picked it up in his talons and flew off with it, ultimately ending up in this spot where I found it.  I suppose it is possible, as I once had half of a pork tenderloin stolen off of my BBQ grill on board the boat I once lived on, by a clumsy seagull who ended up dropping it into the water (I wonder, do crabs like pork?).

However this egg managed to end up broken and spilled on the gravel roadway, it sure seems to be a waste.  We could have eaten this guinea egg, or offered it to our dogs with their evening meal.  I suspect that our cats would have even enjoyed it, although I haven’t ever seen them eating eggs.  Speaking of cats, I have some that need to be fed, so I’m off…..

Flashback Friday #7

 A Day at the Races

There is nothing quite like the smell of aircraft fuel, super-heated tire compounds, popcorn and hot dogs all mixed up into one giant aroma that can only mean one thing. It’s race day, and I am in heaven!

An up front confession – I was a racing whore.  As a young man I was fortunate enough to connect with a fledgling race team, backed by an awful lot of money, that eventually rose to become a significant player in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-Am racing series.  And my involvement?  Eager to be around racing and race cars at almost any price, I volunteered a great deal of my time to the long, tedious hours of work that go into producing and maintaining championship race cars.  In exchange for my services, the owner of the racing team provided me with airfare, lodging and meals so that I could be a part of the pit crew as the team participated in the Trans-Am racing series around the country.  This was pretty heady stuff for a teenager, and I soon grew addicted to the sport of auto racing.  Eventually, like all good things, this came to an end as my life began to take other paths.

Later in life, while I was engaged as a computer/business consultant, I managed by chance to become involved in automobile racing once again.  This time my position with the race team was a more respectful one.  Now I was working in the capacity of an independent contractor, and actually received substantial pecuniary renumeration for my efforts.  The type of racing which I was involved with had changed as well.  Now I had a chance to rub elbows with the “big boys” of the American racing scene at the time, the Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) racing series.  For those unaware of the racing scene, CART was the sanctioning body for the Indianapolis 500 event, prior to the formation of the Indycar Racing League (IRL) by Tony George, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner.

My role with my client racing team was that of a database programmer.  At this time in racing, radio telemetry systems were all the rage.  Real-time monitoring in the pits of all vital automotive systems was being developed and advanced, and all of the major teams were involved in a race to see who could perfect their systems first. Telemetry systems proved to be an important factor in winning the races in the CART racing series.  The team I worked for, Arciero and Sons, wanted to extend the usefulness of the data that was being transmitted in real-time from the car to the technicians in the pits.  And that is where I came into the picture.  My role was fairly simple; capture the data stream as it was received in the pits, creating a database of the various data parameters.  The database could then be used in various ways after the race had ended.  The biggest benefit from this new addition to telemetry systems was in the postmortem failure analysis that occurred when things went wrong on the track.  The team engineers could sift through the recorded data, performing various analytical techniques to try to isolate probable causes of the race cars’ failure.

Fine tuning engine control modules

The photo above shows two automotive engineers at work on the race car prior to the start of the Long Beach Grand Prix in Southern California.  What they are doing here is checking, double-checking, and then triple-checking the telemetry sensors and transmitters vital to this new system (winning teams have a peculiar quirk, they like to triple-check everything).

Checking the transmitter for signal strength

As the engineers verify the proper functioning of the various automotive systems, they put the car back together in preparation for the race.

All details must be checked prior to the race

Here, a rival competitor’s crew member checks the air pressure in the tires that will be used at the first pit stop.  Usually each team will assign one crew member with the responsibility of checking tire pressures every 15 minutes or so, to adjust for pressure changes resulting from changes in air temperature.  It is an exacting process, and no detail goes unchecked (by winning teams, that is).

 Excitement builds before the start of the race

The excitement and tension begins to build amongst the folks involved in the racing effort.  A lot of time, effort, and money have been allocated to the racing endeavor, and all are hopeful for the best results, but each racer knows that only one car will cross the finish line first.

Huge crowds attend the race

When the race finally gets underway, thousands upon thousands of race fans gather and cheer along the teams that they favor.  And once again, I get to savor the pungent, almost sickening-sweet aroma of aircraft fuel, super-heated tire compounds, popcorn and hot dogs.  And I love every moment of it!