Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is That A Turbine In Your Yard Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

A Tale Of Independence

Well, I promised I would post about the windmill ordeal. And, I must stop right and correct myself.

Wind turbine ordeal. Because, Lord knows, we're not going to grind wheat with this thing now, are we?

And, fortunately for all you readers, this will be a bit of a photo journal type post. Yay photos! We love photos! Then we don't have to write as much! Oops - was that last part out loud?


You would really not believe the logistics involved in bringing a wind turbine and 100' steel tower from Grayslake, IL to Schuylkill County, PA. I know, you think you might have an idea but, trust me, you don't. So I am going to walk you through this, step by step.

Step 1: Trying to Get Out of Doing the Actual Hauling Yourself

This is done by trying to locate a tractor trailer or something coming home from that area empty. Obviously, the first thing to try is the internet, right? No, wrong again. The internet was about as helpful as it would have been to climb to the bottom of my well and ask around down there. Oh, don't get me wrong - there are lots and lots and lots and lots and (lots) x 10 of sites out there. But none that give you any actual help with the problem. When we finally just broke down and called a trucking company to pose the hypothetical situation of "What if someone had a wind turbine and 100' tower in Il...", we were given a price of somewhere around $1,400. So, this brings us to the next step.

Step 2: Trying to Get a Towing Vehicle and Trailer to Just Get the Thing Ourselves Already Because, Cripes! $1400?!!!

First, try to get a flatbed or stake side truck. Because that is the best vehicle to do a job like this and also because we can all use a little exercise in wild goose chase. Then, start to casually drop hints everywhere - at work, at home, at the gynecologist's office - that you need to find a very large, flat trailer capable of carrying a heavy load. Eventually, someone will know someone who has one and you might want to try to call so and so. In this case, it was a guy that I work with. As it turns out, he had the perfect trailer and was all like "Just take it, I'm not using it..." So we jumped on it.

The next part is to find a vehicle capable of towing not only the trailer, but the trailer loaded down with many, many pounds of wind turbine and tower. So the thing to do is call ed's usa rentals and try to score a truck or SUV. Fortunately, they had a big ass Suburban that was available and had all the bells and whistles necessary for electric brakes and whatnot.

Just out of curiosity and a sense of impending doom I asked the gal at ed's "So, what is the mileage like on this thing?" She said she didn't really know but she thinks around 20 mpg or so. I thought she was being a bit on the optimistic side so I figured probably upper teens on the way out and then, once we loaded the trailer, about 2 or 3 mpg on the way back.

Step 3: Head West, Don Quixote!

(This is where the post will start to get interesting because I didn't take any photos of the "making phone calls" part of the process.)

Now, as in my last post, I am going to start letting the pictures tell the story here - mainly because I really need to get out and mow the grass today. So, here we go!

Here is a picture of the Suburban. I called it the Drug Lord Mobile.

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It was very plush and roomy. Kind of like a suite at a nice hotel. Minus the shower.

Because of not wanting to use vacation time, we planned this trip for when hubby had a 4 day off period in his work schedule. The unfortuante part of this is that we were leaving on a morning when he had just finished working a 12 hour night shift. The very unfortunate part of this was that, at some point, he would be too tired to drive and I was going to have to take over the wheel.

People, I can't even drive the riding lawn mower with the yard cart attached let alone a Drug Lord Mobile towing an 18 foot trailer!

Be that as it may, here I am, taking the helm after a quick stop for a bite to eat.

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Hubby had a few hours of peaceful slumber and eventually was ready to take the wheel again. Which was fine by me because we were coming into heavier traffic somewhere in Ohio. We were going to make a quick detour to Canfield but, as you can see...

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What is up with that? Closed.

Anyway...Ohio is very...flat. Well, at least it is after a short hilly section right after you leave PA. We stopped at a rest area in Ohio and I must say, Ohio has very nice rest areas. Since we were at least 10 kinds of long with our Drug Lord Mobile and 18 foot trailer, we parked with the big rigs.

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She is small but mighty.

Indiana...well, that's flat too. But they have very personable toll collectors in Indiana.

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This guy said "What you takin' my picture for?" To which I replied "Because we're frm Pennsylvania." It seemed logical at the time. But bear in mind, this was after many, many hours of flat driving.

We finally arrived in Illonois and it wasn't long before we were in the Chicago area. Here is a bit of advice for travelling in the Chicago area with a Drug Lord Mobile and 18 foot trailer: try to avoid it at all costs. Except when that cost is somewhere around $1400.

It seems there is no way around Chicago so you have to go through Chicago. As it turns out, the road we were on also happened to be under major construction so that the normal size lanes that are challenging enough when one is driving (or riding in, for that matter) a Drug Lord Mobile with 18 foot trailer, are now little, narrow construction zone lanes that make driving (or riding in) a Drug Lord Mobile with 18 foot trailer rather a bit frightening. I saw about as much of Chicago as I have seen of the Exorcist since what I did see of both was through the little slits between my fingers when my hands are over my eyes.

Ok...I exaggerate. A bit.

We got to our hotel just around 1am and crashed into bed. The next morning I woke up and took a looksie outside.

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Wetness. Everywhere. Not good. We showered, ate our continental breakfast, and headed off on the last 5 miles of our journey.

Step 4: Load the Gosh Darn Thing
We met up with the fellow who sold the wind turbine and proceeded to slide sideways through the mud to the lower section of his yard. Again, not good. Especially considering we were going to have to try to get back out with a mere 4 more tons of weight.

The owner took the lower section of the tower apart so's it could fit on the trailer. As it turns out, the second lower section also had to be taken apart since it too was also too wide for the trailer. Here is another picture.

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It took us all about 4 or 5 hours until we finally had everything on the trailer. In the mean time, the rain gave us a break. We were able to get the vehicle and trailer out of the lower section of the yard and aimed at the road and we felt all kinds of successful. After everything was loaded, the former owner guy took us to a spot down the road a bit to show us another wind turbine in action. It was about 120' as opposed to our 100'. We stared in wonder and envy.

Step 5: Get Thee Back To Pennsylvania
Soon we were back on the road and way too soon we were back in the Chicago area. Only this time, instead of racing through at midnight, we inched our way along with the rest of the mid afternoon traffic. Like this: stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, etc. It took us close to three hours to make it around Chicago. And it was all very exciting for us what with 4 tons of cargo on our trailer.

Just as we were leaving Indiana, it started to rain again. Rain, and rain, and rain and rain. Like this: rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, etc.

Here's a picture to fill in the other 993 rains.

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That's what it looked like out my window. This is what it looked like out the windshield.

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We pulled over at the next rest area and ate something or other and waited for the rain to pass. Once the sun came out, we were ready to get back on the road. I took a moment to snap a picture of our Drug Lord Mobile with fully loaded 18 foot trailer on account of knowing you would all want to see. Here it is.

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Is that a rainbow shining over our Drug Lord Mobile with fully loaded 18 foot trailer? No, it is not.

Now we were in for a whole lot more flat driving. The only difference was that this time we had to go quite a bit slower and every once in a while we would start going all sorts of side to side. Hubby said this was nothing to worry about but I didn't believe him in the least and I commenced to severe worrying for the remainder of the trip.

Here is a picture of us going all side to side.

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Fortunately for you, it is not video. Just trust me that is was in mid fishtail. Scary.

Around dusk, we caught up to the rain storm again. Only this time, we didn't get into the rain. Instead we travelled in a huge circle of lightening. I'm talking MAJOR lightening. Like 6 or 7 bolts hitting the ground all at once plus another whole lot of bolts flying around in the sky. It was crazy. Like this: lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, etc. But all at once. Hubby and I were all "Man, this is some crazy lightening!" Then I started to think about the fact that I was attached to trailer with 4 tons of steel. Then I made myself stop thinking about that.

The lightening went on for - get this - 4 hours!!! During the first hour we were thinking "This is really cool!" During the second hour we were thinking "This is really cool and, my, isn't it going on for quite a while!" During the third hour we were thinking "How much longer can this go on?" And during the fouth hour we thought "Let's pull over and take a nap. Lightening schmitening." We planned on taking a small nap. Which, relatively speaking, it was I suppose. Like if you were comparing it to, say, a 12 hour nap. Eight hours later we were on the road again.

There were two truly priceless moments during the trip. The first was when we were in a merge situation due to an upcoming construction area. As we were approaching the single lane, a Prius came up along side of us with the driver acting like it might be a good idea to try to beat this Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer into the spot that was between us and the slowing vehilcle in front. Hubby looked at the car and said "Look at this guy in the Prius acting like it might be a good idea to try to beat this Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer. Well, look out buddy 'cause we've got a trailer full of independence!"

Maybe it was being on the flat boring road for umpteen hours but that just cracked me up. And speaking of being on the road for umpteen hours, the other priceless moment came when we were still about 70 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Poor hubby had been hauling ass with our Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer for hours on end because I refused to drive it once it was loaded. I was keeping a close eye on him, trying to make sure he got plenty of breakes and drinks and such. All of a sudden, he broke into "Jesus Take the Wheel". Which, I suppose should have really concerned my but it only served to crack me up all the more.

Finally we crossed the border back into Pennsylvania.

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I can honestly say I have never loved the hills of my home state more than that moment.

Another 5 hours and we were home, daddy, home!

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The June Post...for lack of a better title

Hey there everybody.

Here I am again.


Anyway, I thought I'd give an update as to how things are going down on the farm. many updates, so little...desire. That's right. I am just not in the mood for the blog thing lately. I think, mainly, that it's because I spend a WHOLE LOT OF TIME on the computer at work and the last thing I want to do when I come home for the day is sit in front of the computer. There might also be the fact that my butt is starting to take on the shape of an office chair seat. Large. Flat. Tweedish pattern. And just plain unflattering. So there it is.

But, I know you are all wondering if I, along with my eccentric family, have fallen off the face of the earth so I will make the sacrifice to give you your fix.


Well, I think, the last project I had mentioned was the goat fence. That project - mercifully - is done. Not without minor glitches, mind you. Ok. Major glitches. See, here's the thing. We figured on fencing in this one particular patch on the property that ended up requiring a 400' perimeter fence. Easy enough. We went to Lowe's, bought the fence, carted it out into the parking lot where it promptly all rolled off the cart into the lane that the cars drive in, loaded the fence and, oh, about a bazillion fence stakes into the station wagon and drove it all home. The next day, hubby, daughter, daughter's friend and I all worked our various shaped butts off getting the fence installed. Finally the project was done and we were all so very proud of ourselves. We put the goat into her new environment and she propmtly squoze (word? not word? who knows?) her evil little head through one of the holes in the top part of the fence. And got it stuck there. Because she has theses blasted horns, she could squeeze her head through but could not pull it back out.

That sucked. Big time.

I might have even cried. If I didn't cry, I at least cried out. Bad words.

Anyway, back to Lowe's for fence with smaller holes which, coincidentally, is much stiffer and a big pain in one's odd shaped butt to put up. Carted that fence home. Took down the old fence and installed new.

Now the goat is secure. Secure in an Alcatraz kind of way. It''s...beautiful.

Next project. The Chicken Tractor.

What, exactly, is a chicken tractor? Well, it's a kind of mobile chicken coop and pen that runs on the distored ideas of misguided first time farmers. No, really, it is just a mobile chicken pen. My hubby came across this idea in Mother Earth News. It's cheap because you can just whip it together with all of the pipes and falling down buildings you already have on your property. And it's easy to make because it only takes about 89 days to figure out exactly how you are going to make this motly pile of building materials work together. I promise I will post pictures. As soon as we get it out of the garage.

As you can see, that project hasn't quite made it to the Thank God We're Done With That list.

Hmmm...what else.

Well, I accidentally poisoned myself.

No, really. I did.

And, as you might have guessed, there is an interesting story to go along with it.

I had to show a house in a certain town that shall remain nameless except when it crosses my lips in prayer that the entire area is swallowed into the fires of Hell. The house seemed nice enough. Until...

Until I got into my car and drove away. I made it about two blocks away and happened to look down. And can you imagine what I saw? Hmmm? Fleas. A whole lot of fleas leapfrogging in delight on my jeans.


So I stopped at the nearest store and bought flea spray guaranteed to kill on contact. I didn't read the finer print because it's apparantly guaranteed to kill ALL LIVING THINGS on contact. I sparyed my legs, my car seats, the floor of my car, etc. And then I figured I better find a store where I could buy a flea bomb and bomb my car. It was on the way to store number 2 that

But, in a day or so I was over it.

No visible harm done. It just takes me an extra 10 minutes to write my name and things like that.

Oh, what else...?




Our eBay purchase.

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so, consider this a good 4 or 5 lengthy and descriptive paragraphs.

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That would be a 5kW turbine on a 100' tower.

We're driving out to Illinois on Tuesday to pick it up.

I think that's all I want to discuss right now.

I think I need to go have a drink.