Line Level

This is a life saver. Not the round kind that you throw in the water to a drowning person. Not the candy kind you eat. No, this is what is used to teach us hillbillies what level looks like. Frankly, it’s a hard lesson and one we don’t quite believe.

We’ve been using our line level a lot this week. You see we cling to the side of a mountain and haven’t seen a level spot very often. Around here things are either up or down. Over yonder is down and then up or up and then down. I’ve been carving terraces into our mountain for years now to make garden spaces but realistically, my terraces aren’t plumb level, nor would I want them to be since I need water and cold air to drain away.

This past week we’ve been laying out the line stakes for the final road grade up to the whey tank and house site as well as laying out the strings for foundations. To do this we’ve been taking a lot of level measurements. After getting a level we all set back and look at it. Someone says, “No way is that level!” So we recheck it – always a good idea – and “Yup! It’s level but it sure don’t look it!” After living our lives on a mountain I think our eyes must be tilted.

I’ve been teaching our kids to use the line level but they have their doubts even after an explanation of the physics. Our younger son Ben joked that someday we’ll have to go down to the valley to see what level really is. He’s dubious about the whole thing…

Without the line level we would have made our foundation about 25″ too low on the downhill side. After all, to our hill conditioned eyes that looked level. Good thing I have the sense not to trust my senses!

So the line level is a life saver. Otherwise we would end up with a house like Jack built and our peas would run across the table.

64째F/44째F Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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12 Responses to Line Level

  1. jessie says:

    Don’t knock the crooked house. Our old farmhouse is great for spills; liquid all ends up in one spot in the kitchen.

  2. pablo says:

    So is it house building time? (Or the beginning perhaps since winter should arrive next week up there.)

    Also, Kansas can teach a boy about level.

  3. What a great tool ~ I’ll have to search for one of those!

    Loved the photo of your “littlest piggie” ~ do y’all call them *runts*? You know the littlest ones are usually the toughest of them all (not meat either – personality, spirit, etc.). Love those little piggies ~

    Happy October to your family “up yonder”…
    Harriette Jacobs and family
    (~~waving from the Deep South~~)

  4. Leslie says:

    Man, isn’t that the truth? I used a regular carpenter’s level when I recently built a feeding hutch for our rabbits (small accomplishment for those who build, HUGE accomplishment for me) and I checked “level” several times on each board I attached. It still looks crooked, ’cause it’s on a hill.

  5. KayJay says:

    Hello Walter! This is kind of off subject, but I was wondering if you might give me a bit of advice. I have a pair of dogs (well pups, they’re 9 mths old now) that I had in with my livestock (horses, goats, & chickens)and they were doing great, very protective and watchful… until they found one of my older chickens who had fallen into a water bucket she was roosting on and drowned… I caught them pulling the chicken out of the bucket so I took it from them and firmly told them NO! But the next day they started mauling the live chickens (trying to play, they were never aggressive), I again reprimanded them and spent some time with them on a leash trying to make them understand that the chickens are not toys, but they just keep wanting to play with them. Any suggestions on what I can do to make them understand that the chickens are not toys? Thanks in advance and thanks for all the cool articles and info! :)
    P.S. Sorry this entry is so long. :|

  6. Harriette, yes, definitely it a runt although we’ll see how big she gets. We just slaughtered a run – took him 14 months to get to market size. Tasted fine. That would not be worthwhile on a grain diet but with them out on pasture we don’t have that sort of economic pressure so I can be a bit more patient. Cheers, -Walter

  7. KayJay says:

    Thanks again!! :D

  8. I find the electric chicken works very well. Basically you take a chick or chicken (previously dead) and wire it up handing from the fence. Tell the dogs “No Touch!” and leave them. They learn. It works very well with teaching puppies, dogs, pigs, etc. Chickens and ducks are not to be molested.

    On rare dogs that is not enough but do not abandon the dog. With time and patience I taught even Killer Kita to be an excellent, trusted free roaming guardian of livestock large and small. Click on that link to read her story.

    Stringing up electric chickens or piglets around your perimeter fence is a very effective way to teach the local wildlife to leave your livestock alone. Ideally setup several different versions such as one sitting on a rock, one on a log, one hanging clear. To teach pigs not to eat chickens, or ducks, you can put this sort of thing in your weaning pens. Use a good high voltage and damp earth around to give a maximum shock on the mouth, tongue and lips to impress the lesson.

    You can’t kill all your enemies but you can teach them to be nice.

  9. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    When my Akita/Newfie cross Ontos was older, I acquired a wolf hybrid I named Molting Buffalo (you had to see him in his first shed in New Mexico’s muddy Spring). MB was 155 at one year, and in his senior years about 180. (did I mention that I like large canines?). He had not been trained or associated with other species (except dogs, like Ontos) while young, and I found it necessary to be very careful with, for example, a kitten. Muzzle and chain, constant hand on head for sessions over two careful months, and so on. The “take” reflex is very strong in wolves. (That kitten became his dearest friend, eventually). MB would “take” anything really small and moving, like small chickens or terriers, so fast and over so much distance that he was almost frightening. On the other hand, our grown hens ate from his kibbles and cuddled against his tummy on windy and cold days. It seems, at the wolf end of the spectrum, that your “in pack” applies to those who have already associated with the critter. Long term exposure and breadth of exposure do seem to be the essentials.
    I absolutely love your electric chicken. You have a diabolically useful mind, Walter.

  10. Farmerbob1 says:

    I’m surprised that you didn’t just do it the way the Egyptians did, Walter, with water in a trough :) If you poke around on the web and see the tools the Egyptians used for leveling stone on their projects, it’s pretty amazing. If course, liquid water is a little uncommon in your part of the world. A water-based level would be reliable from June through September or so, I imagine, hehe.

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