I know it’s the all-chickens-all-the-time blog around here lately, but…

I gotta show you something that has never happened before. Around here, that is. 100_4279Five eggs from four hens in 24 hours.

Way to go, girls! Extra gruel for everyone.100_4280Selma the other little red hen is still segregated from them in Landlady’s portable coop, but all five seem to spend most of their time hanging out together through the wire and I’m wondering if it isn’t time to see if I can re-integrate her with the rest? They’re as big as she is now, and there never seems any antagonism. On the other hand that’s logical thinking, and I try never to predict hen behavior based on logic. It never works out well.

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Holy Uncertainty, Batman…

I heard about this over the weekend, but frankly expected it to have been reversed before my first sip of Monday coffee.

Also, great headline here:

DC rushes to prevent horde of law-abiding citizens from entering city

Over the weekend, a rather important decision regarding gun rights was handed down in the Palmer v. DC case: the District of Columbia’s ordinance that prevents law-abiding citizens from carrying their firearms outside of their homes is unconstitutional

Yeah, but what does it mean? Nobody seems sure. For the nonce, the DC law actually seems to be acting like the decision means something, though they may not know exactly what…

D.C. police were told Sunday not to arrest people for carrying handguns on the street in the wake of a judge’s ruling that overturned the city’s principal gun-control law.

But they’re hoping they don’t have to actually abide by it.

Meanwhile, Ted Gest, the spokesman for the D.C. attorney general’s office, which defended the handgun ban in court, said it will “be seeking a stay shortly,” so the order by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. may not be in effect for long.

According to the article, DC is supposedly behaving as if there’s full reciprocity with the CCW licenses of other states. A DC resident with an unregistered gun can be busted, but you can’t if you can prove you’d be legal in another state. In a state like mine, where no license is required? Well, it won’t be a problem here because I’m not going to put it to the test. Best of luck if you decide to, though…

Kind of makes a fellow wish adults were in charge, so they could keep their rules halfway straight. But sane people would refuse the job.

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Morning walk-around…

…to see that everything’s in its place, and one of the two remaining Araucana cocks has finally discovered that their enclosure isn’t really intended to hold them in. araRemains to be seen what he’ll do about it. I may start opening their door during the day, or I may just put them both in the freezer. Haven’t quite decided: There’s a part of me that never quite got over being a control freak. I’ve relaxed a lot, but I have a hard time letting go of the things I’m supposed to be protecting. As chickens, the Aras have value only for their meat, which is marginal roast-quality: Much better than a worn-out layer. I don’t get that much meat.

On the other hand, we’ve wanted to know for some time whether it would be at all feasible to pasture birds, if they’ll return to their coop at night. Ghost makes that problematic, but this is right in the yard. He might go along with the joke, unlike last time. I guess we’ll see. This one may be making the decision for me, and the other will likely follow. If they suffer the price of freedom, well, they’re sort of expendable.

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QoD: I suppose PTSD could affect some of us differently…

“Waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night screaming ‘In-text citation!!!’. Horrible thing to endure.”

Comment in response to an article about a pinch hitter politician whose symptoms of (claimed, then unclaimed) PTSD were rather more amusing than usual.

As a former tech writer, I suppose I should sympathize. But I don’t.

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A touch of underground commerce, before it gets too hot…

Neighbor J has a deal with the trash guy. I don’t know if the county employing the trash guy would entirely approve of this deal, but that’s none of my business. For a certain fixed fee. the guy will haul off a near-unlimited amount of trash to the dump, no questions asked. J invited me to add to the pile due to be carried off early next week.

Despite our best efforts to reuse/recycle, trash does accumulate. Some of this I could simply burn, but some really does need to go elsewhere. This morning I filled up the Jeep trailer with a bunch of old plywood that’s been clogging Landlady’s plaza for months.

Long enough for the rats to have moved in, in any case. This time of year I approach piles of flat stuff with caution bordering on paranoia. A bunch of nesting material means a rat thought it was snake-free. But rats are sometimes wrong, and this nest is old.

Long enough for the rats to have moved in, in any case. This time of year I approach piles of flat stuff with caution bordering on paranoia. A bunch of nesting material means a rat thought it was snake-free. But rats are sometimes wrong, and this nest is old.

I’m a little ashamed to admit I scavenged this pile for firewood-class wood last autumn and should have done something about the old plywood long ago. I could have cut it up and burned it, but never got around to it. Now it’s all stacked at J’s place awaiting pickup.

Still relatively cool and the boys were having a good time, so I went to a place I pass often but almost never drive: Where the people are.

This is the main drag to the county road. Technically it's all private property, tended by a sort of vestigial property-owners' association that rarely gets involved with anything but road maintenance. The road guy tried to keep this little wash crossing passable with culverts that kept washing out. Finally he just dug the culverts out and half-ass paved it. So far that has worked.

This is the main drag to the county road. Technically it’s all private property, tended by a sort of vestigial property-owners’ association that rarely gets involved with anything but road maintenance. The road guy tried to keep this little wash crossing passable with culverts that kept washing out. Finally he just dug the culverts out and half-ass paved it. So far that has worked.

The flood keeps trying to wash out his paving. He pounded steel posts into the wash to hold boulders to try and slow the water down, so that it will deposit its silt instead of just gaining speed on the paving and digging it out more on the downstream side. It's slowly failing because the wash always wins in the end, but I admire his perseverance.

The flood keeps trying to wash out his paving. He pounded steel posts into the wash to hold boulders to try and slow the water down, so that it will deposit its silt instead of just gaining speed on the paving and digging it out more on the downstream side. It’s slowly failing because the wash always wins in the end, but I admire his perseverance.

But I’m more interested in that little black dot. A bucket has washed or blown in there and I want to look at it before the next flood. With a great deal of luck it’s one of those good ones horse-owners buy, made of some expensive rubbery material that’s damn near immune from UV degradation. If so, it’s worth expending a little gasoline and giving the boys a longer-than-usual ride.
Alas, no. It won't even hold water. But I pick it up and haul it away anyhow, because why leave trash lying around?

Alas, no. It won’t even hold water. But I pick it up and haul it away anyhow, because why leave trash lying around?

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Who you calling old?

A reader just dropped this in my inbox and I got a kick out of it…


And it’s funny I should have opened that email at that moment, because I was just mentally composing a post acknowledging that another reader had stroked the paypal button with a $50 donation at a time when I was kinda wondering how I was going to pay Wildblue its monthly protection money since I spent most of the … well, never mind that. The rabbit hole gets deep and windy. I keep talk of it to a minimum because I don’t want to always be having my hand out, and goodness knows after last winter’s generosity that led to my getting my vision back ain’t nobody owes me anything. But I do kind of depend on this blog to keep its own lights on, and it usually does, and I do appreciate that very much.

Shutting up now.

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That wasn’t the best night ever…

Oh, it got hot yesterday. And humid, even though the rain squalls never came near us for once. I was in a dreadful muck sweat: Just going out for a minute to check waterers was enough to get the sweat pouring, and inside was every inch as hot as outside. Just out of the sun.

(digression)Yesterday was a chicken-intensive day. I offed the #1 Araucana and roasted him in the morning – which did nothing to moderate the temperature inside the Lair for the rest of the day, but the roast came out tolerably well. And I found #7 the PTSD’d Brahma dead in the coop, that was kind of a bummer. Looked for all the world like she just fell off her perch in the middle of the night. The Brahmas were an experiment in ‘dual-use’ birds, and I don’t think they’re a good long-term choice. True they get fat and juicy and make darn good roasters, but if you want eggs you need to leave them alive and as egg-layers they’re pathetic next to Rhode Island Reds. My four little pullets are already out-laying Landlady’s whole flock. It’s true RIRs seem to be…well, closer to their savage roots than the Brahmas and you can’t always tell when they’re gonna go mental. By contrast the Brahmas we have here are very mild-natured birds, taken as a whole, and easy to work with. But I swear they’re also natural-born victims. Victims annoy me.(/digression)

In the evening, after all was done and it should have been about ready to cool off with the regular evening breeze, I went up to Ian’s and availed myself of his excellent shower. But the breeze gave us a miss and it never cooled off. Ten o’clock I gave up and went to bed but not to sleep except in snatches. Around four – I know it was four because circumstance allowed me leisure to take a good look at a clock as I mourned my fate and cursed the gods – it was finally getting cool in the loft and I thought perhaps I could get a solid hour’s sleep. Then #2 Araucana, who seems to be planning to take his promotion seriously, started tuning his pipes and #1 Araucana tapped the inside of my large colon and said, ‘remember me?’

Oy. Well, maybe I can still get back to bed, right? So I went down the ladder, (dogs out) took care of business (dogs in) went back up the ladder, laid down and was actually tuning #2 out rather nicely and might even have caught a Z or two when Ghost went to Defcon One. Oh, he wanted out right frickin’ now and he wasn’t interested in my opinion. LB, by contrast, considered himself off duty or maybe he’s just a bit more sensitive to the Wrath of Dad.
100_4267The garden spot-turned-chicken yard has been a noisy place lately, especially around dawn, and I’ve wondered how enticing it might be to the local ne’er-do-wells. I grumped down the ladder from the loft and opened the door for Ghost, who left a veritable rooster tail of his own as he streaked past the garden toward the wash, and damned if he didn’t flush a couple of coyotes trying to work up their nerve to come say hi. I saw them disappear over a fold in the ridge, and now an hour later with the sun finally making a direct appearance he’s still out there strutting and barking and generally being extremely pleased with himself.

BTW, as it became clear that the Araucanas were not going to be welcome guests and I started making my plans and preparation for them to enter the brief, useful phase of their earthly existence, I got to brooding over what a hassle it was going to be to catch them. The fishing net isn’t the panacea I’d hoped it would be, because all chickens seem to go crazy at the merest glimpse of it. The Araucanas are fast and athletic and I’m not and their yard has lots of little alleys around the planting boxes and the net wasn’t going to work well.

I finally decided, nobody’s keeping score and it’s my game anyway. So why am I not cheating?
As a tool for precise hole placement at a distance, the 22/45 is the best gun investment I ever made in my life. It’s a bitch to clean, but with the addition of some aftermarket sights this is the most precise firearm I own. And I can testify that if you shoot a chicken in the head with it, it behaves pretty much the same way as if you’d chopped its neck with a hatchet – but without all that bother about preliminary negotiations. Just saying.

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No, seriously, somebody wrote this and it got published.

I think maybe Beretta’s latest antics have gotten under somebody’s skin. Not sure why else anybody would write a hit piece as poorly conceived as this one.

Beretta’s New Super Rifle

Gun company Beretta is tone deaf when it comes to calls for restrictions on powerful guns sold in the United States. It must be the chance to make money.

Beretta’s website carried an announcement that the ARX100 is “shipping now.” Beretta markets the rifle as “Italian Design — American Built.” Regardless of its origins, the gun is unusually powerful.

That first paragraph kind of gives the store away for no apparent reason. But what is this ‘unusually powerful’ gun Beretta is so tone-deafly marketing in the pursuit of evil money? It’s this…arx100Meet the ARX100. I had to look it up, I’d never heard of it. Yeah, it’s another 5.56mm shooter, which would make it…not unusually powerful. Or unusual in any way, actually.

After a lengthy quote from a Beretta press release which mentioned ‘tactical shooters,’ the writer helpfully explains…

In common usage, “tactical shooter” is one of the descriptions of video game features.

Oh. I totally did not know that.

So what did Beretta do to deserve being slapped for manufacturing and marketing this apparently run of the mill rifle? Gee, I wonder.


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So if you could go ahead and not wake me up tomorrow at 4:30?


Yeahhh. That would be great. M’kay? Thaaanks.

ETA: 100_4265

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You Never Completely Lose

I’m short on word count, but it seems like all I can think to add to my draft at this point is just bloat. Maybe more amusing stories will emerge, but I’m going into the editing phase in the next few days, after a final read-through.

Anybody want to read a book?

Here’s a chapter… Continue reading

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I can haz ennui

It’s hot. I’m hibernating. Here’s a funny picture.

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In which hell freezes over…

Past few days I’ve been in the Jeep rather more than is good for my fuel budget. My entertainment choices this far out are talk radio, “country” music and a couple of guys yammering about sports celebrities. On the talk radio station, conservative gasbags have been going on and on and on about how ineffective Barack Obama has been concerning that airliner that got shot down. Congressvermin right and left are demanding that he do … something. I gather he just gave a speech this morning and fell short of threatening Russia with thermonuclear war, so that shows what a wimp he is.

And I find myself for perhaps the second time in the course of his administration, in the exceedingly odd and uncomfortable position of almost kinda sorta defending Barack Hussein Obama. Please stop doing this to me, world.

Look, you’ve got some Ukrainian rebels who used a Russian missile to shoot down a Malaysian airliner, probably by oopsie. They’d used the same hardware to shoot down a Ukrainian transport plane in the same area not long ago and nobody said a word. What do people seriously expect Barack Obama to do about any of this? How is it even any of his business? Of all the things Obama ought to be doing and isn’t, or ought not to be doing and is – and it’s a lengthy list – this isn’t even an item.

I like Tam’s take…archduke…because seriously, this is how big wars get going for no apparently logical reason.

Also I notice one thing conspicuously missing from the discussion, at least on the part of the conservatives, is a ship called the USS Vincennes. Pot, meet kettle. Or should the Russians have declared war on America in 1988? They had marginally better cause.

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The best thing about living alone in the boonies…

You can lie in bed at 4:30 in the morning fulminating about the constant noise that’s keeping you awake, saying to yourself “I’m going to kill that bird” – and actually mean that.

If it’s your neighbor’s dog that’s doing it, you can complain but you can’t take positive action without police involvement. I have wanted to shoot my neighbor’s dog. I have dreamed about it, even plotted how I might get away with it. But I knew what I was really going to do was complain some more and otherwise live with the damn dog. Neither the dog nor the neighbor cared what I thought.

But I am, in fact, going to kill that bird.

That one. Right there. He's toast.

That one. Right there. He’s toast.

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What does it say about you…

When you’re transferring speed dial numbers to a new phone, and you realize the only retailers in your phone list are a feed store and a junkyard?

(and btw, is there a drearier chore anywhere than building a new phone list? Fortunately mine is rather small.)

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“This is where Americans come from.”

Claire Wolfe on the calamitous 17th century.

When I’m in a, shall we say, mellow mood with friends, I can occasionally launch into accounts of politics in seventeenth-century England.

This usually results in incredulous stares, followed by, “Oh, so sorry. Fascinating story, I’m sure. But it’s really just hours past my bedtime.”

It’s a shame anybody should feel that way, though. Because even in the hands of a dreary lecturer and deadly bore (um, not saying I am one), the story of seventeenth-century England is one of riotously awful chaos — and the birth of modern freedom.

Sit down. Have another drink. Let’s talk about it.

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Okay, the camera’s definitely not an improvement…


…so I won’t be retiring my low-resolution digital point’n'pray any time soon. On the other hand the small file size may help the whole ‘couldn’t send this pic with the cell phone no matter how badly you want’ thing. Atmo conditions aren’t the best at the moment but the file did send. So…

Anyway, the new qwerty phone is on line and working, and Tracfone didn’t even make me suffer through its usual experience. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to transfer a whole bunch of phone numbers.

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On meeting nice people in dollar stores in small rural towns

Ever since the state where I live dropped the requirement for a license to carry concealed pistols, I’ve started covering mine whenever I go to town. It’s not for any big tactical reason, it’s just that I’m never at my ease with strangers around and try to avoid drawing notice. This area is very gun-friendly compared to other places and open carry has never caused me any trouble worth the word but it’s not so common it doesn’t draw glances. So I’d really rather cover up in public. Nothing elaborate, it doesn’t matter if the gun prints a little or even a lot, but I do throw on a light shirt when I’m going to town.

People familiar with my rig know that a light shirt doesn’t actually conceal very much – I’ve got a stainless big-frame .44 in a sincerely OC holster. But it’s the thought that counts.

Anyway, this afternoon I was in the dollar store buying some canned goods when a nice little old lady needed to get by, right? And she’s got two toy poodles in her cart, and I looked at them and made the appropriate noises and she started talking about how they love to be petted, even by strangers, so to please her I fussed over her damn coyote-bait yappers for a minute (to be fair they were very friendly for poodles but I dislike poodles) and then I got my cart out of her path and we smiled and went our ways.

And about sixteen picoseconds later I realized that my “concealed” pistol was positively highlighted by the fact that the wind had blown my shirt up over the grip, and it was as if I were advertising its presence.

A post or two down, somebody left a comment mentioning that he didn’t know why I would choose to live in a place with so little green. That’s why. :)

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Boy, I just dodged a $30 bullet…

So a friend of the blog sent me a nice nearly-new qwerty phone to replace my old faithful Tracfone whose battery has gone perilously tired. Unfortunately it turned out it wasn’t actually a Tracfone at all but something from Not-Quite-Tracfone or possibly Bizarro-Tracfone and anyway I couldn’t activate it without buying some sort of monthly plan from some other company and I carry prepaid phones for the specific purpose of avoiding monthly charges on credit cards I don’t possess. Oh, well, bummer but that’s life. I’ll see to it that the phone doesn’t go to waste, I’ll pass it down the line sometime.

I’d already spent the $40 budgeted for a new phone on groceries, but it turned out that the glaucoma meds and lumber a neighbor picked up for me cost substantially less than I’d planned so I could go ahead and spend the $40 bux today without stretching too painfully. I went to the dollar store with D&L, bought some groceries and a $40 Tracfone. Grit my teeth as the very nice checkout lady rang up my tab … which came to $29-and-change. I didn’t want her to come out short at the end of her shift – I worked as a bagger in high school and still remember checkers reduced to tears at shift end by the manager because their till was short – and so I said, “How could that be? You just sold me a forty dollar phone.” And she said, “Yeah, but it’s on special for nine dollars, this week only.”

So unnamed person who gifted me the phone I can’t use? By delaying me a week you still saved me thirty bucks. Thought you’d like to know. :)

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Does anybody know what straighttalk.com is…

…and whether it’s related in any way to Tracfone?

A reader sent me a nice used cellphone last weekend, which asfaik both of us believed was a tracfone. But when I tried to activate it I was informed that it was a Straight Talk phone instead, and Tracfone refused to have anything more to do with me. I looked up Straight Talk, of course, and it is indeed a cell phone company apparently based out of Wally World but though it says “prepaid cell phones” right on the banner they promptly start trying to sell me a plan.

Anybody familiar with this? Can I get this working with prepaid cards, or am I back to buying a Tracfone at the dollar store?

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Everybody loves me, baby. What’s the matter with you?

A couple of days ago there was a nice big flood that tore up all the wash crossings. Most were back in service within hours, as whoever lived closest with a tractor went out and did his or her thing. But there’s one crossing nobody seems to use but me. 100_4242And I don’t use it often lately, because the sand has been so deep that driving on the wash hasn’t given any advantage in time or mileage. But now of course it’s more firm.
100_4244I needed it today because I was hauling juniper out of D&L’s mud plain, where L plans to build her round pen. There are several dead junipers in there, and now that she has a horse she is suddenly offended by them.

But first I needed to fix this road. Mostly I just bashed over it with the Jeep but when the wash flows you need to pay attention to the detritus of many failed attempts to fence it. This stuff can mess up your tires big time.

That’s also why my always-in-the-Jeep kit contains items yours might not…100_4245
The southern part of D&L’s property is at the edge of a mud plain that goes on many hundred yards and is of no use to man or beast. L plans to level hers and haul in a whole bunch of sand from the wash, and convert it into a place to work her horse. But first I have to do battle with these damn things…100_4246
There are half a dozen she wants gone, and this was not the biggest. This time, instead of just cutting off the dead stuff that’ll burn she wants them flat gone. So after I chainsawed absolutely every bit I could get to and hauled off everything but twigs, she came in with her backhoe and we broke up the stumps and dug them out.

We’re maybe half done. I’m going back tomorrow. This is at a time when I was supposed to be finishing up J’s arsenic caps, but I thought I’d get L’s ‘little chore’ out of the way while it was still relatively cool. It hit a sunny 95 today and I’m feeling very stiff and dehydrated. I yelled quit about 3.

Also, my chainsaw is acting up. I think trying to start it wore me out more than the cutting did, at first. It has gotten me through three winters without major service, but now the carb is acting up and it won’t start after a hot soak.

Every now and then I’ve got to spend some time doing actual work. I’m far luckier in that regard than I deserve to be but this’ll be four straight days away from the Lair when I’m really wanting to get my first draft done on the book.

:) Or at least I suddenly get hot to work on the book when what I really want is not to be slogging away on arsenic caps or trudging through a mud plain hacking at junipers with a balky chainsaw.

When I left D&L’s I was staggering, but still had to empty the Jeep trailer for the last time. A lot of what I hauled is junk that’ll end up in the burn barrels, as is always the case when I cut juniper. But there’s a substantial amount of usable firewood in there.

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