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Sunday, January 24th, 2010
8:48 pm - More animals?
So, lets see. Ten days ago I  was on my way to work and when I arrived at the end of the lane I stopped to make a phone call (Mobile phone service doesn't work too well at the farm itself). I saw, coming down from the main road, looking lost, a little dog. Now this isn't unusual around here. You often see dogs wandering around, though most look like they are having fun. This one just looked lost and confused. However, I've seen this before, sometimes such dogs are scared of people and just run away if you go near them. With that in mind, I just opened the car door and carried on with my phone call. No one replied to the phone anyway and just as I hung up a tiny black nose appeared under the sill of the door and the dog gave a small whine. I spoke gently to it and it poked its head under the door and looked up at me. Poor thing was trembling and looked both lost and scared. I could see now that it was only a puppy, some sort of Labrador cross, though I've no idea what; labrador/terrier  perhaps. I patted it on the head and after a moment it crawled into the floor space of the car, then up into my lap, soaking wet, cold, trembling, still scared and making little whining noises.

So what's a man to do? Well I cuddled it of course, told it was okay, and safe and tried to dry it with my coat and .. took it home.

It was very thirsty and very hungry so I gave it water, gave it food, made it warm .. and adopted it. It doesn't have a chip, no one has posted anything up about a missing puppy, and no one has contacted me with the number I left at the vets and various other places.

Besides, it's a bit late now, she, the puppy, has kind of hijacked a bit of my heart.

So we have a new dog. Ethel ;)

And shes intelligent too. Within half a day she had learnt her name, though it took about five or six days to house train her.

I think Toby is a little put out with the new addition though, for to demonstrate it, he ate the middle out of our sofa. :o

And then the dishwasher broke.

Ah life ...

current mood: contemplative

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Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
10:01 pm - Extreme Sheep Herding
If you haven't seen this yet, it's well worth a look. 

I roared with laughter at this.


current mood: amused

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Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
10:07 am - Windmill
The plans I have in mind are for a VAWT ('Vertical Axis Wind Turbine') mounted on an old tractor trailer I have. Advantage of that is, as I get more cable over time (copper being really expensive at the moment) I can tow the whole thing further up towards the top of the hill. :)

Problems with wind against water is variability. Three ways around that. One, use the generator to power resistive loads only, heating water for the central heating system for example so that frequency/voltage control is not critical. Two, connect the whole system into the grid. The grid acts like a huge power sink and the generator I hope to get is asynchronous, so will automatically come into sync with the grid, turn my electric meter backwards and reduce my bill. Any sudden increase in wind speed in such a situation causes a current spike, not a frequency spike. There are obvious dangers with this system, especially should the grid ever go down, and it does. Plus all sorts of questions of legality. (Though if I manage to build the thing and have 'proof of concept' I may well try to sell electricity to the grid anyway, they buy a few kilowatts these days due to green legislation.) Three, use a strict regulation system adopting dump loads to take care of surges in power, switchable capacitor banks to take care of 'power factor' issues and, quite possibly, an electro-mechanical braking linkage. If I get the generator I'm hoping for, over current isn't going to be a problem, it's big enough to handle anything I can throw at it.

The design I have in mind is based on this ... http://www.wind-sail.com/

Though they have an internal generator and as I'm being given one that is belt driven, I need to come up with a drive system using, yes, car parts. No worries though, I have one in my head that I'm going to play with.

current mood: thoughtful

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Saturday, August 1st, 2009
5:55 pm - So many things ...
I think my head is going to explode.

Yesterday I went online for a few minutes and ended up spending the entire day surfing from site to site, being a nerd. I have this project in mind of building my own windmill to give electricity. It's been brewing for months. I even have been promised a massive old generator, so long as I can get it out of the head office old basement.

I've been trying to come up with a drive train to link the windmill to the generator and I've been studying gears; epicyclic trains, conjugate tooth action, profile shift, gear meshing, tooth forces and to cap it all, the involute tooth and its geometry. I really didn't know there was so much intricacy and math involved in what starts out as a simple gear tooth. It has been a very nerdy ride this last day.

Anyway, that lead onto V belts and flat belts. The old generator is so old that it uses flat belts to drive it; Pre-war stuff. Found an interesting technical drawing from 1937 from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture showing how to join old leather flat belts with belt lacing. Also found several nuggets of info to do with modern V belts; such as "The preferred center distance is larger than the largest pully diameter, but less than three times the sum of both pulleys." Lovely !

Anyway, time goes on and my ideas progressed until, using the rear axels, diffs, drive sharts and wheels from my two old Volvos currently rusting in the fields, I think I have come up with a rather neat, and above all cheap, solution.

But that is not all. 

I've also been working on the central heating and dreaming of having an automatic control system for all the radiators and valves and then intergrating a solar heating system into the same heating plant. I dabbled a bit with logic gate control, and that took me back to my college days when I used to be able to design most anything with a few dozen logic chips. But times pass and I forget stuff. I found online some logic simulation software and played with that, a free circuit board design software, and played with that, and a free electronic circuit simulator that I struggle to use at all !!

Anyway, then I started looking at modern day PIC chips and controls systems using them. Then I had a brain wave. Up in the attic I have several old Z80 trainers. You know, a Z80 chip, power supply, PIO chips, serial data chip, EEPROM and ROM chips, dip switches and some LEDs all wired up and ready to go attached to a bread board that you can prototype your own circuits on.

I used to be a top rate Z80 assembly language programmer, and heck, I could be again! So it's time to get dusty up in that attic and find this stuff, for I finally have a use for it. Alas, looking online at Z80 assembly language websites I come to the horrific concluesion that I have forgotten .... everything !

I do hope it's like riding a bike.

So I have many projects now on the go. And I have three weeks holiday left. But in that time I need to paint and fit the water storage tank to the central heating system, create and install all the valve work and piperuns and put in the radiators. Oh, and finish two roofs. Oh, and start laying concrete paths around the farm. Oh, and build G some flyscreens for the doors and window. Oh, and ... well, you get the idea.

I also seriously need to organize my bookmark menu now .. so many new things !!

current mood: high

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Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
11:23 pm - Keep off the Marmite, Jallora !
I was having a read of some of the dragonspawn entries. About dairy smelling baby puke and all the other baby related stuff, and that reminded me of a Marmite advert. Now, you, the Kerroc'h fraternity, you know Marmite, right? I'm sure you've tasted it on a visit, if not you really must try it. You'll either love it or hate it.

Anyway, here is a warning for Jallora. Do not eat Marmite if breastfeeding. Here is a Government Safety Warning. 


current mood: amused

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
11:30 pm - Movies
Saw two movies tonight. The first was Jumper. I enjoyed it. Seems it was panned by the critics though.

The second movie I saw, also totally and utterly panned by the critics was D-war. I mean, this movie gets review like, 1 out of 10 stars. I have to say, it's true that I didn't like it. ---  I loved it.
Okay, so perhaps it's not one of the Ten Movies to See Before you Die, but, as monster movies go, it's right up there with my favorites. I'll certainly sit down to watch it again; with pleasure.

I think the reason the critics didn't like it is that, being a Korean film, it doesn't follow the western story arc, and, well, without giving the game away, does not end the way you would expect a western movie to end. The priorities are different.

That said, the scenes of battle between dinos and tanks, and dragons and helicopters in and above the streets of LA just had me smiling in delight like a little kid, oohing and aahing at the crashes, bangs and thumps. There is a fair good measure of comedy in it to, the directer having been a comic prior to being a director. And no matter what folks say, I found the movie left me with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment at having seen the ending of the story wrapped up in a way that certainly worked for me.

Anyway, take a look if you get the chance, you might like it too.

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Sunday, March 1st, 2009
6:35 pm - Sunday is an ibuprofen day.
A yes, the nice restful Sunday. I'm quite happy today because here I am, not even dark yet, and I've done everything I set out to do this morning.

So that I can take the pigs to market tomorrow I need the pig trailer. But ... the lid of the pig trailer is broke anyway and needs to be fixed. And .. to have the pig trailer I need to empty the tonne of bettraves that are in it. But .. to empty the bettraves I need to brings down the storage cages for them from up the top field . But ... to bring down those cages from the top field I'm going to need the bulldozer to lift them out of the trailer they are in. But ... the bulldozer is still parked up ready to receive firewood for carrying down to the farm. And .. I've not got any firewood cut or split so it makes sense to do that first. Oh, and I need to put the second coat of paint on the central heating storage tank.

So here I am now, with the pig trailer lid fixed, a half cord of firewood cut, split, transported and stacked both outside my house and my dads place and the fire lit and warming the house here. The unexpected flat front tire on the bulldozer has been pumped up again, the storage cages down here at the farm, the bettraves all unloaded from the trailer and stacked up nice and tidy in the cages, and the pig containment unit (a wooden box that stops them jumping out the trailer) now in the pig trailer, the pig trailer in the pig field, and the pigs seperated from the others into the small field with the pig trailer, ready to be loaded in the morning. And that second coat of paint done.

I ache now :)

I am getting old ;)

Snugs to you all,

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Saturday, September 6th, 2008
10:29 pm - Big boy's toys
One of the pleasures of living on a farm is that in my free time I get to play at the sort of thing I used to do with toys when I was a kid. Thing is, I'm still a kid, just the toys are now much bigger. Oh, and click for a bigger image btw and spot my dad hiding in plain sight.


current mood: cheerful

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Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
12:07 am - Vacation
As of now, I am, happily, on vacation.

And how did it start? The washing machine broke. Well, it gave all the symptoms of being broke. It sat there, stuck in the middle of a wash cycle, full with water and soap and clothes, blinking its little 'spindry' light at me. The last thing I need right now is a broken washing machine. It's 5 years old .. so, I thought, could be doomed, or could be repairable.

So before I gave up the ghost and called in someone I would have to pay (shock, horror) I thought I would check out the pump. Access to the pump is though a little panel and I happily found that the manufacturer had provided a tiny hosepipe behind the flap that you can pull out from the machine, uncork, and low and behold, you get your feet wet. So, recorked, got a dish and several dishes later I had an empty washing machine. Mind you, this took about an hour. It's a very very thin hose and a large load washing machine.

Happily, once drained, I had access to the pump, which when I took apart had a screw driver bit lodged in the pump blades. Must of come out of one of my pockets. Thankfully the pump is magnetically coupled to the motor, so nothing could burn out from the blades being jammed. The motor spins, but the pump blades just don't turn to follow it. (All thanks to the manufacturer with a brain ! )

Anyway, put it back together and all works as normal. :)

As an aside, I'm glad it broke because pulling the washing machine out showed me a leaky plumbing fitting which I also was able to fix, but had to leave the dehumidifier running all night in that spot on full power to dry out the dampness from the walls that the leak had caused.

So all in all, happy vacation time. Cause it didn't cost me any money and got a leak fixed that I didn't know I had. ;)

Snugs from Aisheth

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Monday, July 7th, 2008
9:05 am
I have a cow!

Yes, once again, we're starting out with cows on the farm And we're starting small. Really, really small. A while ago I purchased a milk/meat cross calf. She was only little, a month old. Really very cute and she thinks I'm her mother, which while she is as small as this, is rather nice, but when she gets bigger and starts to thud her head into your body where your udder would be to try to get milk .. well, ouch.

Anyway, she met Max the dog which started with an ZOMG, what's that! attitude from both sides, but settled down quickly enough to acceptance of the other creatures right to be.

First Kiss ! (Click for full image.)

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Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
10:15 pm - TV advert
I don't know if this has made it onto french TV, if not, I'd like to share it with mes amis francais. It amused me at any rate. But then, I'm a push over and really easy to please. ;)
Citroen C5 - Unmistakeably German, Made in France

current mood: amused

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
8:21 pm - A bit of sun
Today for the first time in a couple of weeks I was able to feel the heat from the sun. And what a wonderful feeling that is. For an hour today, it didn't rain, the clouds cleared and I, on the spur of the moment went off for a walk with the dog.

As I went up along the drive, the tarmac drying out as it started to warm up, I glanced up into the sky and there, circling silently, not fifteen meters above my head was a young buzzard. One of the ones born here a few years ago. Totally beautiful. I shaded my eyes against the sun and watched it with total joy. As I watched it, it slowly rose, circling on the thermal rising from the tarmac driveway, and then through the gap between my fingers, I saw it's mate, also circling. They joined up and started riding the air as a pair getting smaller as they rose.

I had a warm feeling in my heart as I wished them both well for the coming year, though if anyone else had been there they would of surely thought I was talking to myself, but I wasn't, I was talking to them.

The mellow feeling that gave me has stayed with me all day.

Snugs and good health to you.


current mood: calm

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Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
12:41 pm - Coal day

Good grief !

It feels like winter today. Snow, rain, hail, wind, cows being blown over, well, okay, perhaps not quite that bad.

Went out and bought a bag of coal today, because, work being as it is, I've not cut enough firewood. The trees are cut down and ready for logging, I just never got around to doing enough logging. So as tomorrow's weather is meant to be even worse than today's, and as I don't feel like standing out in a blizzard with a chainsaw, I took the easy route out and went and got a bag of coal to tide me over for a few days.

"30 euros !!! What the hell !! I said coal, not gold nuggets!"

Snug to you all

current mood: cold

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Friday, September 21st, 2007
9:50 pm - News
So, here I am. Still alive.

I'm missing you folks. Didn't get to see any of you this summer. :( But I guess we are all living busier lives these days.

Anyway, I'm doing okay, though spent yesterday in hospital. (I know Jallora, you spend near every day in hospital). Seems I have a gastric issue and have to go speak with the surgeon on Monday. So anyway, I'm home, off sick, and catching up on my computer life while I happily float along on the Best Painkillers Ever. Whatever they are. They must be strong because the pharmacy didn't even want to give me the prescibed quantity of two boxes.

Farm is doing well, slowly growing. Oh, and I was on TV the other day. Had a spot on a UK show that talked about people living and working in France.

Snugs to you all!!!

current mood: contemplative

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Thursday, March 29th, 2007
10:22 pm
Phew, a moment to get online.

Been busy as ever, returned to a half time job for the Contrôle Laitiere as a temp replacement for someone off sick.

While I was there for a month I had the cheek to apply for a specialist internal post, you know the sort of thing, promotion from within the ranks.(I never even received the announcement about the post, just heard about it and sent off a letter) I was only there on a short CDD but was interviewed, promoted, pay rised, CDI'd, issued with a company vehicle, laptop, laser printer, ink jet printer, fax, filing cabinets, more paperwork than you can shake a stick at and now spend half my time working from HOME doing company paperwork and the rest of the time I drive all around, clocking up about 2500km a month with a flexitime hours system as I deal with robotic milking machines and the quality control of the milk from said robots. I must say, I did NOT see this coming and am rather happy about it.

Still running the farm of course, and just tracked down a fellow who will take my pigs meat and make hams and smoked sausages and bacon. The whole idea rolls nicely off the tongue in french, "Un traiter qui va traiter en sous traitence!" Okay, my spelling is off, grammar too, but it's late. Forgive this dragon.

Still waiting on the fire brigade issue, going through a whole set of vaccinations for every disease known to the human race. Then need lung xrays, and all sorts of other stuff. I'll see how it goes.

Hmm, been listening to the cricket while doing all that driving thanks to BBC R4 Long Wave. Thank goodness they put an FM/AM radio CD in that car, so I can pick up the transmissions from the UK. I love driving while following the cricket. How very English of me!

Snugs to you all from Aisheth

current mood: busy

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Friday, April 7th, 2006
10:57 am - Bad Karma?
Well now, not sure what happened.

First thing in the morning I received communication from a firm of Intellectual Properly lawyers in Holland telling me that one of my websites was infringing their clients trademark and I had 10 days ... etc etc.

Then I checked the cows and had a cow down, feet in the air, near death. Emergency call to the vet, having to get neighbours around to help rotate it onto its stomach, etc etc (all sorted, cow getting better)

Then the tractor ran out of diesel as I was heading to the fuel storage.

Then I snapped the bleed valve off the injection pump as I was just finishing up bleeding the fuel system and my tractor is now out of action till I tow it to a garage to have the stub of the bleed valve removed and a new one fitted.

To top it all, the internet wasn't working.

What a day!

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Thursday, January 12th, 2006
9:57 pm - Where has the dragon been?
Immersed in Life.

My Dad's been ill recently, but he's coming out of hospital at the end of the week and is going to be fine, so I can catch a breath and get back up to date with what is going on with my friends.

How are you all?

Snugs from Aisheth.

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Monday, November 21st, 2005
9:18 am - Fire Service
A little progress on this front today. Received a mail stating that I had passed the initial review at a local level and asking for more paperwork to send on the dossier to the departmental review board for approval.

Spoke to the fire chief and he's giving my file a full endorsement, so he anticipates no real problems. Perhaps only because I have an english driving license, but such things can be changed if needed. .. probably, one hopes with ease, but more likely with a bit of bureaucratic red tape to wallow in for a while.

We shall see.


current mood: hopeful

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9:09 am - Progress
Made my first VAT (TVA) rated sale yesterday. Though the taxation people have screwed up and not sent me a VAT number, though when I rang them, they confirm that I do have one but "we can't give that out over the phone". So I was forced, under their own advice, to commit a minor illegal act and charge VAT without putting the VAT number on the invoice. Ho hum.

Still, it's a progress point.

Am putting advertising in a local english language monthly, and also in the regions newspapers. Man, that last bit is Expensive and justifies the upper case. I'm going to have to come up with a cheaper way than the newspaper. Just a little classified ad costs like 30 a day. A DAY! Sheesh.

Anyway, I'll go take a valium and continue.


Right. Bi lingual website should be up soon. A good friend of mine is working on the enormous task of translating the text. It's really quite a demanding piece of work and the one doing it get a huge HUG from me. (You know who you are.)

Snugs from Aisheth

current mood: determined

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Wednesday, November 9th, 2005
8:49 pm - Home!
I'm home again!

3450 miles, one split diesel injector line, one near miss with a sheep, one incident with the Royal Air Force, and one high speed tyre blowout later and we are back at the farm. :) Our Scotland road trip is over and it was lots of fun. The SO is already talking about a road trip through Sweden, Finland, Norway, on to the Shetlands, then Faroes, then Iceland. - Sheesh, I'm going to have to add more antifreeze.

But really, I don't think we'll be doing that trip for a couple of years.

Anyway folks, I just wanted to touch base now I've got internet access back again and to say how much I've missed you lot.

Snugs from Aisheth

current mood: cheerful

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