Monday, November 23, 2015

Facebook Makes First Positive Contribution!

Some weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post of a very clever idea to build winter shelters for feral cats. It involved placing a styrofoam cooler inside a plastic tub, cutting an entry through both, then stuffing with hay. It is the only time I can think of when Facebook served a genuinely useful purpose in my life.

Because there simply are not enough chickens to defend their territory, the chicken coop has been co-opted by black snakes in the summer and now by pack rats in the winter. I evicted a pack rat last year by raking out his huge nest of leaves and sticks and leaving the big door wide open. I tried to do that with this new tenant but he is not deterred. He diligently gathers up his scattered nest material and rebuilds it overnight! The disturbance does not bother him in the least. Consequently, the last surviving little hen will not use the coop. She spends her nights perching on the Dr. Seuss structure I constructed in the early days of Chickenry at Spiritcreek.

If I forcibly remove the pack rat, he will surely build his nest beneath the hood of my car. This happens often in the winter and causes hundreds of dollars worth of damage. It cost $300 to replace a valve that controls air into the fuel system last spring. I assume the rat also caused the digital temperature to read a perpetual 50 external degrees as well. I have no heart to trap or kill or poison the rat. He has as much right to his life on this earth as I have to mine.  I admire his industry. Every single leaf I raked out of the coop has been retrieved from the ground around the coop and placed back into his nest.

The night temperatures have started to fall below freezing now, and I have been worrying about shelter for the little hen. Enter Facebook. I could construct an insulated cooler house for her. In fact, that would be even better than the poor tiny little thing trying to stay warm in the relatively cavernous coop!

I made a trip to Topeka to buy a styrofoam cooler. Per the First Law of Dumbassery (failure to measure equals another trip to town) it was one inch too tall to fit inside the blue storage tub already on hand. Cutting the cooler down to size made a huge, irritating mess of statically charged styrofoam crumbs. I shored up the raw edges with my trusty duct tape (famously called "hundred mile an hour tape" by my Reser cousins from Barton County).  I packed the empty spaces with loosely crumpled newspaper, taped the two openings together, stuffed the interior with some of Ginger's hay, and viola: chicken shelter extraordinaire! I roped it to the Dr Seuss perch and it seems sturdy enough to not crash in a hard wind. It makes a cozy little nest for the poor little hen!

If I were to build this again, and I might have to, I would find a better fit to avoid damaging the styrofoam so the lid would fit snugly. I would also screw the storage bin lid on with four screws and use a drill to make holes along the bottom for drainage. I also do not know how well the hundred mile an hour tape will hold up, but I have a huge supply of that on hand at all times because the Second Law of Dumbassery states duct tape is the strong force binding the dumbass universe.

High Rise for the last chicken

It is ugly but serviceable.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Mining Progresses

Strip mined across the entire frame.
Most of it is in a draw that runs to the north.
A little better idea of the true destruction.
Roughly the same view to give you before and after.
Though it is "reversible", it is still difficult to see.

A little closer.
It is difficult to judge the height of these mounds of disturbed earth.
Looking back north east.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Irritating Lumps of Biomass

Sometimes it does not matter what is going on in the world, everything makes me grumpy. Ginger, my bossy little mare, is the same way.

Last night at feeding time for the equine residents of my little "funny farm", Ginger was in a mood. Jake the dumb dog (who already knows better, having been repeatedly schooled by Wally scaring the bejeezus out of him) was right in the mix of galloping horses. Horses often take a warning stance before they kick the snot out of you, but if you are a dog like Jake, it is a wasted courtesy.

Ginger pointed her rear end toward Jake in warning and I tried to call him away from danger. He just stood there like the lump of irritating dog mass that he is. Kaboom! Oh, I thought Jake was dead. Ginger kicked again and he started yelping in pain and crawling on his belly. As it turned out, she must not have connected with him because he was fine - frightened but fine. While I was very happy he was not damaged, it was irritating that he was such a dummy!

Then there is the cable installation crews that have been installing flexible pipe for fiber optics service from the independent company that provides my phone and internet service. They sent their best ambassador to my home to "man 'splain" they would be boring from the road down to my service pole. I wanted to make sure they realized they would be boring across the ditch holding the electric line, water line and existing phone line to my home. It snakes randomly across my ill-defined "yard".  I do not know how some men do it, but they simply ooze condescension and patronizing bullshit. Come here, fellows - I would like to introduce you to the ass-end of a grumpy little quarter horse mare. She will school you on proper respect for the females of all species.

Some days I have little tolerance for the male gender's general failings - when men insist on being a lump of irritating human mass. (I am entirely aware that the female gender also has failings but we are not talking about that right now, are we?) After the perfunctory lecture from the boring company man, I consoled myself recalling that a scant fortnight ago, I was struggling to change my flat tire in the parking lot of Stuckys. One lady, not in much better condition than me, helped unhook the spare from beneath the Ford. The rest I was doing myself until I got to the world's most worthless car jack provided by engineers employed by Ford Motor Company. Probably all men engineers, I cussed to myself as I struggled with that piece of junk.

A truck full of men pulled in next to me. There were huge tool boxes on both sides of the truck. They would have a real jack! As they exited the cab, I asked if they had a jack I could borrow. They all looked at each other as if I had asked them for money, and for a second I thought they were going to be mere lumps of irritating human biomass of the male gender. Instead, they were hard working men at the end of a long day's work, who happened to speak English as a second language. Maybe they were not sure what I was asking because as they quickly sized up the situation, they said to me, "We will help you, M'am". For some reason, I almost started crying. There was so much kindness in that simple statement. I had wrestled with everything for a half hour, in a dress, while at least a dozen men came and went at the gas pumps. I was pretty sure people were getting a horrible view of my rear end as I bent over the rear deck of the SUV to unload the jack - when I crawled under the back bumper to lift the lowered spare off the dangling cable - while I struggled mightily to break loose the lug nuts - while I crawled under the side of the SUV in a futile attempt to place that worthless jack. The young men took over the whole operation and had the tire changed and the flat in the back in less than five minutes. I tried to pay them but they refused. An older gentleman remained in the truck, smoking, who could not speak any English. He would not take the cash I offered either.

"We will help you, M'am." The kindness of strangers. I concede: we can all be lumps of irritating biomass at times, but not all the time.