Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Thursday, February 18, 2010

WAR: Getting there is half the battle

Getting out of town turned out to be probably the hardest part of the whole trip. My work had been driving us pretty hard for a deadline just the Friday before we left, so a lot of things got left for that weekend -- including finances for the ranch. When I looked at the bank account - *GULP* - the news was not good. So I knew on Monday on our way out of town we'd be stopping at the bank. Sounds simple enough, except as I'd feared, they were insisting on putting a 1 week hold on the check that I wanted to deposit. Thats just so irritating. I said I'd deposited a check from the same LOC last month and it cleared fine. So the teller offered to call and get a verbal authorization. Well, very long story later, the creditor still can't locate our account by our names, our SSNs, or the number on the bottom of my checks. Fuming, I called Ginger and had her look up the paperwork in the files. Armed with the account number, I called back - and voila! Sure, you have 9 times the amount you want to draw down available. GRRRRR. So then I asked to verify the SSN on the account, and it was correct, so I said why couldn't the other agent find the account by SSN? Huumm -- turns out he couldn't either and he promised to get that fixed. Yes, thank you. *fumes more*

Meanwhile Dave had gone over to the hardware store to pick up a second padlock for the trailer. We had one on the hitch, but wanted one on the door as well. HA! Turns out when he parked he noticed that the door had bounced open! Ah Hell. He wisely refraned from telling me this until after we were out of the bank, but it really was just another "what NOW" moment. Since I'd packed the trailer he didn't know if anything was missing. I had packed it, and knew that at least the canvas floor to the tent was gone - conveniently tied into a rather rollable / bounceable package. So we re-traced our steps back towards home. We actually had to go almost all the way home, before we found it. But find it we did, threw it back in the trailer, locked the door, and hit the highway, FINALLY.

It was snowing.

It snowed off and on all the way to Santa Fe, but fortunately the roads were never too bad so the drive went smoothly. Spent the evening with my parents, then up early for the second leg the next day - also uneventful.

Arriving about 4, we had about an hour of daylight remaining and immediately set up the tent.

It went up fine - we're still refining our 'magic stick' technique of locating the stakes. We have 22 stakes that are equally spaced in a circle, about 84.5" radius from the center pole. A magic stick is a stick that is the length of the separation of stakes, and attached to a long string (two times 84.5") that wraps around the pole. In theory then you put in one stake at the correct radius, then use the stick/strings to locate all the other stakes. It works - but our stick isn't perfectly adjusted, so there was some fudging along the way. The really awkward part about our setup, though, is the fact both of our ground cloths - the plastic tarp and then the canvas floor - are way oversized currently. (See in the photo above) We haven't trimmed them down to the correct size circle yet. We figured it wouldn't be a problem to just tuck the extra ends under. Huh. Well, with the sheer volume of extra material we had, folding big square pieces into a round footprint was tedious. BUT - It all went together and we got our stuff moved inside before it was pitch black.

The next morning I set about playing house. :-D Arranging the furniture, etc. We hung a curtain just to the left side of the door, and tucked the head of the bed up behind that. The bed takes up half of the tent interior, with wedges of space at the head and foot. So we tried to stick all our mundane items behind the curtain at the head of the bed - the cooler, the box of beers, my computer bag, etc. Then our carpet is perfectly sized to take up the other half of the tent, forming a living area. I was really impressed with how functional that curtain was, making it feel almost like a two roomed space, when it's really just one.

See my cute hanging shelves?? I love them!

The view from the bed.

This organizing was quite entertaining, and kept me busy for a couple of hours, until Dave pointed out that a storm was blowing in and that we should get Rossilin's tent up before things got wet. Well - alright. Her tent (which does have nearly-correctly sized floor coverings) went up very smoothly. Yes, we not only carried Rossilin's tent with us, but put it up as she wasn't flying in until later that day. I told her I was thrilled she was going to do the reverse for us next year!
:-D Yeah, I won't be holding my breath on that one.

See how ours (which looks TINY compared to Rossilins -- this still cracks me up) looks a bit sluffy? What completely amazed us, was how much the canvas changes size during the day. No joke, in the heat of the afternoon, it looks ready to fall over. In the cool of then night? It's as tight as a drum and we could never get the doors closed - we had to put extender loops on to just keep the door fastened while we slept. I guess Kevin was right when he said we shouldn't worry about the roof looking a bit loose! Ah well, live and learn.

Being Wednesday, it was still a little early in the week. We had several more tents crop up in the next couple of days. But this essentially was our camp for our barony - the large tent on the right being the kitchen, and two more just like it were set up outside the frame of this picture for seating and campfires.

Walking around it's always fun to see the other groups that set up such nice and elaborate camps. We're brainstorming how to do something similar for ours next year.

But I can't fail to mention our new cart! Lord Garin made this cart just in time to go to war. It's beautiful, and was very handy. He and Master Thorfinn have quite the story about heating those iron rims in a camp fire so as to slip-fit them on the wooden wheels Garin had made. (no, you really can't see the rims in this picture, but they are there) Whatever it took, they did a great job.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The tent goes up! And down, and up and...

Well I am one day late to hold to the bi-weekly status reports schedule, but this one was truly worth the wait... It's DONE!

Last Monday we pretty much finished sewing on our tent, and Rossilin's was down to just webbing loops. Unfortunately I had to travel on business, and Dave had some things going, so after he helped her with the last major 2-person job -- attaching the roof valence, we left her to finishing it up. And she did! So on Sunday we got down to the business of setting up the tents and doing the final adjustments.

One big question was -- WHERE would we do this? Everything is still snow and ice encased, and now that the days are up to the 40's, they are horribly muddy to boot. So... we headed for the barn.

The fine-tuning process, we'd been warned, would take a day. We were seriously hoping this would not be the case, but considering it took Dave and I nearly 2 hours to get all the equipment moved in, the guy lines and the pole set up initially... we knew we were in for the long haul.

Kevin arrived about that time and set up next to us.

Once up, you start inserting spokes - until you cannot get any more in, and then you trim them all down a bit, and do it again. Eventually you get to the right length, and all spokes fit in.

We also didn't know how long the poles needed to be, so you can see here that the spoke hub is WAY higher than intended -- it's supposed to sit right on that little shoulder in the pole, just above the black metal band. We ended up taking about 18 inches off the pole. (Thank GOODNESS!! Because getting those spokes in so high was a real chore!)

But every little adjustment changes a lot of things.. Shorten the spokes, and the angle of the roof changes, dropping the eves and hub lower. Adding the walls, too, will pull down the eves. So it is an exhausting chore of making a change, setting up again to see how it looks, then adjusting something else.

Slicing off the spokes was the easy, and fun part. We set up a back stop on the chop saw, so we could just throw the spokes in two at a time and go for it.

So we had the two tents going up and down at their own rhythms.

And we were well warned. We are very aware that it's 'easy to cut things shorter, but hard to cut things longer'... Never the less, it seems Dave and I made a serious miscalculation and took too big a chop off of our spokes. GRRRRRR! Somehow we were convinced we had another 5" to take off, so we thought we'd be conservative and just cut 2 1/2" to start with. Ug. If only we'd gone with 2" it might have been perfect! But all of a sudden Dave had all the spokes in, and they were easy to go in. HUURRMM. So we said lets hang the walls and see what happens.

We also re-laced the top ring, because the laces looked too long and did not match the slope of the canvas roof when all put together. (I did mention there are 1000 different adjustments, right?)

The walls indeed did pull the canvas more taught. You can see here another reason for trimming the center poles - because the walls are about 10 inches off the ground here (those tabs at the bottom are suppose to lie flat on the ground under your ground cloth).

We both continued to make small changes and monkey with the tents - finally staking the walls to the ground. Eventually we wore out, and decided to leave them up overnight in the barn and come back Monday.

Interesting thing about leaving them overnight is that our walls did relax a bit, allowing us to pull them out further - actually achieving our 7' base diameter it was designed to be. Also, after sleeping on it we decided we really didn't like the shortness of our spokes, so Dave cut some rounds off of a dowel and put them in the bottom of our hub-holes. 1/2" and we're much happier with the shape of the eves of the tent. Kevin is convinced that was unnecessary - as the tent may well shrink when it gets rained on. Well -- whatever I say! We can always drill out those plugs if we need to. Going SHORTER is easy!

Here's a little time lapse showing our FINAL setup.

And.. not only is it done -- but THE BED FITS! I knew I was worried about the tent not being exactly as big as we'd designed it. And that the bed was the minimum constraint that we put upon sizing the tent. But it turns out my fears that the bed would not fit inside were a bit larger than I realized. When I got home last night, Dave and Kevin were working down in the barn. So I loaded up the bed frame and drove it down. Once we'd done the final set up, we brought it in to see how it looked.

LOOKS FABULOUS! And the enormous rush of relief that I felt seeing that? Who needs drugs?

The tent is packed -- we actually haven't made stuff sacks for the canvas yet, but they are made for the poles and stakes. We load up a trailer this Sunday and head out on Monday to try out the new living quarters for a week.

We surely owe a huge thanks and High Fives to Rossilin and Kevin for their help and camaraderie throughout this long drawn out project -- and of course to Friedrich as well who gave us SOOO much advice. Couldn't have made it without any of them!