They keep pushing back the forecast for the next sunny day.

Since a week ago yesterday, or for the past eight days, the next sunny day was always forecast to be three days away. Today I note we were supposed to have “rain and drizzle” this morning. In the forecaster’s defense, we did. Of course it is now 4 PM and still raining.

Went on the regular Monday morning water run this morning, in intermittent rain. On the way, D said they’ve been running their generator every day for almost a week. I asked if there was something wrong with their batteries, which are relatively new. She smiled and said, “No, Joel. We actually use electricity.”

And it’s true: Numerous close neighbors use a lot more electricity than I do. I often forget.

My own batteries are doing very well through this extended gloomy spell…

For several years I ran two 240ish a/h 6v batteries, and thought that was the way to go for a person with my laughable income stream. It can be done, I’ve proven it can be done, but I really used to feel gloomy days. If you can contrive to double the size of that bank and have the panels to power them, my neurotically low level of electricity use will barely take the surface charge off them. Only a few months after I more than doubled my generation power by bartering work for some old large panels, somebody asked me to haul off 4 old discharged Trojan T-105 golf cart batteries. I did it to be nice, hoping to eventually find a recycler who could repay the effort. But of course I tested them: They not only took a charge but held it beautifully. Later I worked up the nerve to arrange for the Trojans to power the inverter while the Interstates ran the 12v lighting. That way if the Trojans failed me, as I more than half expected, nothing was really lost. That was almost two years ago and all six batteries are still working fine. The Interstates are going on five years old and the Trojans are probably older. They should be failing but they’re not, and I think that’s because I hardly ever really stress them.

Of course there are lifestyle trade-offs. No fridge. No TV. No AC. I can’t run a shop vac for any serious period of time even on a bright sunny day, and power tools need the generator. I’ve been doing it this way for so long I barely recall that there was a rather unpleasant adjustment period. But in case anybody takes it into his/her head to follow my example, there actually was a rather unpleasant adjustment period. Most people consider electricity important for more uses than I put it to, and those people are often more comfortable than I am.

But I like it.

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Lots of elk around the cabin

Along around six TB got all worked up about something outside the cabin. He seems to find all this natural stuff endlessly fascinating/threatening so he can go off about anything from a coyote in the yard to a bird in the eaves. But he was giving me a full-on All Hands to Battle Stations freakout so I leashed him up and we went out to see what the problem was.

And to my surprise there actually was something any self-respecting dog would want to bark at. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the elk seem to have returned, well, this morning it could have been elk steak for everybody if I were that sort of hermit. He immediately tried to give chase and I was happy I’d resorted to the leash. He truly hasn’t got the sense god gave a butterfly: what was he going to do, herd them*?

Anyway, a little later we went on a nice longish walk through the wash between rainstorms** and on one leg he alerted to a big shaggy fully-antlered bull in the wash that had seen us first and was sort of sidling toward the mudhills on the far side of the horseshoe turn. TB again attempted to give chase and the bull upped his pace just a bit as if to humor him. I’ve been carrying a rifle lately since starting to layer up against the morning cold and again there was a shot that could have been taken. But I’m really not a hunter so I just enjoyed the sight. They are beautiful animals.

* BTW, I finally succumbed to the temptation to type “corgies herding cattle” into a Youtube search window, to confirm that people actually do (attempt to) herd cattle with corgis. The videos I saw suggest they do this more for comedic effect than because that’s a logical breed for the chore, but the people appear to be trying to take job seriously even if not all the dogs are.

** Cold and lots of rain overnight: I got woke up by a positively scary rainstorm.

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Cozy time for Torso Boy…

I’ve been passing out early which means waking up early. This morning at 4 I was done sleeping but Butterfly Brain definitely was not. So I came back to the (nice warm) bedroom from the ivory throne to find him on the bed waiting rather impatiently for me to climb back in.

And there he wanted to stay, no wiggling please, for the next hour until he could no longer postpone his own need to water a tree.

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Fake but Accurate

Here’s a joke to get Sunday off to a good start…


A little girl was leaning into a lion’s cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the collar of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, all under the eyes of her screaming parents.

A biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch.

Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl and the biker brings the girl to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly. A reporter has watched the whole event.

The reporter addressing the Harley rider says, “Sir, this was the most gallant and bravest thing I’ve seen a man do in my whole life.”

The Harley rider replies, “Why, it was nothing, really. The lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger, and acted as I felt right.”

The reporter says, “Well, I’ll make sure this won’t go unnoticed. I’m a journalist, and tomorrow’s paper will have this story on the front page.

“So, what do you do for a living, and what political affiliation do you have?”

The biker replies “I’m a U.S. Marine, a Republican and I voted for Trump”. The journalist leaves.

The following morning the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed brings news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:


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Ancient Aboriginal Tupperware

Wide stretches of the landscape around here is just little rocks and pebbles…

…and sometimes it pays to keep your eyes on the ground if you’re in a safe spot because interesting stuff can appear. People have been here a long time. And they’ve always been litterbugs.

I got my axehead that way…

Yeah! Walking along with the dogs through a patch where I’d never been before, minding my own business, and there it was lying on the ground. I don’t know where it came from or who left it there, but it’s mine now. Nice axe, too. Way better at taking and holding an edge than some hardware store axes I’ve used. All I needed was a handle.

But some litter you’ll find is a little older than that…

This place was picked clean of all the good stuff decades ago but now and then you can still be walking along and see something lying on the ground that looks like a potshard. Chances are it’s a potshard, like these I happened upon yesterday evening.

They say that up till around 750 years ago when Donald Trump denied global warming and angered the gods, quite a lot of people lived around here. As far as I’ve ever been able to tell, their principal activity was breaking clay pots.

These days you could get in big trouble for leaving all that shit lying around the way they did. But whoever they were, they didn’t object to litterbugs. In fact from the evidence you could make a fairly credible case that it was some sort of requirement.

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Not quite ready for that, young ladies…

To avoid the risk of mansplaining I never tell new pullets that they shouldn’t hang out in the nesting boxes because then they just fill them with shit which I have to clean out. I accept my guilt as a white male and just clean out the damned boxes when they’re done playing in them.

Though technically I developed this approach during a period when the pullets were always red. Now that they’re white do they share part of the blame, since after all I’m not the one actually taking multiple dumps in the nesting boxes? Does whiteness count for more or less than maleness when assigning guilt? This brave new world is confusing and occasionally infuriating.

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A few gulchy pix…

…from last week.

Cleaning up after the building season – here’s the Secret Lair in its current form, from the hillside behind the cabin.


And that buzzard or another just like it made another stop at the watering station…


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Suddenly had to go to town this morning…

…because the weather is going crappy again and there’s a good chance that D&L’s semi-regular Saturday trip to the feed and dollar stores would be canceled on account of mud. I don’t normally go on Saturday unless I have a big dollar store shopping list saved up and enough pocket money to fulfill it…

…but if I could get the tires back on the trailer before the rain starts up again, that would be great.

So I did. :)

And while I was at it and the Jeep was backed up in front of the trailer, I tested the taillights and (rather to my surprise) they still work fine. So, with new tires and freshly-lubed hubs, the trailer is officially ready for any road trip Landlady wants to take it on. And it can go ahead and rain all week for all I care.

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In my absence I have gotten a few things done…

The wood stove is ready to go…

I cleaned four dead birds out of that thing, in addition to the one Laddie killed and two I released and shooed out the open door. The stovepipe really needs a better weathercap.

But the stovepipe itself didn’t even need cleaning at all. Better wood, hotter fires, and it doesn’t pack up with soot and creosote. Just like a hundred people have said. Today’s a lot warmer than it has been since Sunday, but it’s supposed to go right back to being rainy and cold starting tomorrow so it’s only a matter of time before I break down and start lighting morning fires.

It might be a little while before I start wanting this…

…but it’s ready to go when I do.

I finally! Finally! Got the bypass regulator plumbed to the pipe and bottles. Pressurized it, climbed under the cabin and tested all the fittings for leaks…

…then laboriously bled the air out of the plumbing and got the pilot lit. We are officially ready for winter.

And this morning I started on a sad chore that has waited a long time…

Last weekend Landlady brought Little Bear’s grave marker up. The weather’s been lousy but today it warmed up enough that I felt like opening a tube of construction cement and gluing it to the pedestal I poured a month or more ago.

Tomorrow I’ll paint the pedestal white, then I have some smoothing to do on his grave and I’ll get it set. Just in time, too, because late this month or early next Boot Hill is going to get its iron fence and become an official family plot. Hopefully for a long time yet to be filled mostly with pets, only one human-type person.

Also this morning I packed the trailer’s hub bearings…

And so it’ll be ready to go when I pick up the wheels with the new tires on Monday. Already paid for!

Anyway – I’m still having email problems but the blog is officially back in business. Sorry about the lapse in posting.

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I’ve decided on Laddie’s Gulch name…

…since – I’m sorry, ML, but “Laddie” is just a dumb name for a dog. Hell, why not “Rover?” Or “Rex?”

He answers to Laddie so that’ll probably stay, but in my heart I’m going to call him Torso Boy.

Because he’s a more-or-less normally-proportioned smallish brown dog who was the butt of a really dirty trick when they handed out legs.

Sigh – but I’m afraid we’ve figured out what he’s been after with all the middle-of-the-night alarms…

He’s fine in his own bed during the day but seems to think he needs to sleep under the blankets with a person at night. And if you let him do that, he wriggles to the bottom of the bed and you won’t hear a peep out of him till you actually sit up in the morning. If you don’t, he’ll be a nervous wreck all night long and will ambush you the moment you even begin to gain consciousness. So you may as well just let him, and then you can both go back to sleeping through peaceful nights.

We’ve been doing that the past few nights, and a lot of his nervous tics have backed off.

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And we should be back.

I’m still having email issues, but I just got off the telephone with the service guy who did the work and he says he’s been done transferring files and database for some time. So we’re back! I…guess…

Since personal computers didn’t wind up being a passing fad like Rubiks Cubes, I’m a little sorry I’m not younger and more hip to techie shit like, you know, configuring an email account. Which by now ought to be as simple as dialing a telephone. Except it’s not. Which I really don’t, in my inner heart, hold to be my fricking fault. I guess what I’m trying to say is I get really pissed off every time something like this happens. Damn it, Jim! I’m a writer, not a computer programmer.

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Plan B for Drinking Water: Inferior

We went on our regular Monday morning water run, only to find a sign on the food store door saying the water machine was out of order. Bother! That meant Plan B…

…the vending machine outside the convenience store. 35 cents a gallon, exact change only please. Bother.

I also had to haul the trailer’s wheels to the only repair shop open outside the little town nearest where I live. There was some negotiation: The proprietor gets stiffed a lot and is barely able to stay in business, and wasn’t thrilled about carrying the cost of the tires for a whole week. Fortunately I had enough cash reserve to pay up front, at which point he became much friendlier.

A quick inspection of the hubs between rain showers this morning shows it would be super dumb not to pack the bearings while I’m waiting.

I think there’s a tub of wheel bearing grease in Landlady’s barn: If not, I can bum some from Neighbor D. That makes me happy, since I really didn’t want to buy a whole tub of grease for two sets of roller bearings and then never use it again.

The weather has been terrible. I don’t recall ever needing to haul out the longjohns in early October but it’s raining and cold and apparently going to stay that way all day long. I have one outdoor chore on the cabin I can get done between showers, but mostly it looks as though this will be another of those days for sitting around indoors. The weather only went crappy yesterday but I think I already have seasonal affective disorder. It’s that ambiguous time of year when the heating infrastructure is still shut down but sometimes you kind of wish it weren’t. As soon as the sky clears I’m going to give the stovepipe a good scrub and get the woodstove ready for business, just so I can take the morning chill off the cabin when I need to.

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Barbi & Bambi @ the watering station


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The hard part is done.

Oh, I love that phrase – especially on the morning of what promises to be a quite rainy Sunday.

Yesterday Landlady and I spent several hours cleaning out Ian’s powershed, preparatory to mounting a door.

I hauled two full wheelbarrows of dirt, nesting material and rat turds out of that building. Killed one snake – unfortunately a bull snake, the light was quite bad. My bad, but it shouldn’t have coiled up and shaken its tail. Continue reading

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Zelda will get a kick out of this…

Today’s big project is cleaning out Ian’s powershed prior to fitting it with a door…

It’s been that way since we built it in 2009 and you can imagine the rat situation. It contains the power system but we also stored a crap ton of building supplies in there, most of which went unused and which now need to be hauled out and sorted through (mostly) for disposal.

I did some exploratory sweeping/scraping yesterday afternoon and was immediately glad I had splurged on a thing I really thought at the time would be expensive overkill…

Now I just hope it’ll be enough.

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Care Packages – Look at all this food!

A couple of Generous Readers, emphatically including Big Brother, seem to fear I’m going to starve!

All this is from BB:

I’ve got snackies to last me the month – or until 3PM today if I left it out, so I hauled by far the majority up to the loft where it won’t be in sight and in mind.

Ditto most of CH’s gift…

…though I left the pizza makings out, because pizza. And canned meat! I love this stuff. And between the two gifts there are eight cans of Spam, which along with eggs is the protein staple of my diet. Fried Spam, people. It is the answer. I don’t even care what you pick to be the question.

In answer to last month’s lament about my little first world problem, two people sent me 12-ounce packages of their favorite coffee for my sampling pleasure. Plus that little envelope of Hawaiian Paradise, about which I know nothing but I left it down so I can try it right away. I’m less than two weeks into the last can of Trader Joe’s House Blend, so it’ll be most of a month before I can crack open one of the new ones.

And a kind soul hit my wishlist for something a little more frivolous (as opposed to coffee, which is a life necessity)…

Claire recommended this movie some time ago, I’ve never seen it, and I impulsively put it on my wishlist. Thank you!

In regard to the dog treats in that first photo, Laddie has biscuits to last him a while (I had just stocked up with a big box when LB got really sick and died in June, and then J&B brought another big box and I haven’t opened either one, and now here’s another medium box) but he has recently discovered these flavored rawhide sticks to be to his liking. Laddie has rather exacting standards*: He doesn’t know what to do with a rawhide bone and isn’t interested in learning, he burned out on pig ears right away, but he does seem to like these rawhide sticks.

Speaking of Amazon, that gift card above is for $25 which will get me a good ways toward a personal purchase I suddenly have to make. It can’t be said too often, you guys rock. Sometimes you keep me going. Thank you!

*He came with preconceived notions about treats, which it has mostly been my responsibility to figure out. He thinks he needs a biscuit after every expedition outdoors, AND he wants a cellophane-wrapped treat of some sort before he will settle down in his bed at night. He’s worse than a toddler.

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kavanaugh - first scandal

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The babies are getting big…

Yesterday I took the big cage out of the chickenhouse. I left it in there with the door propped mostly closed so the pullets could get to their own chick food without being hassled by hens, lest the hens eat it all themselves or chase the pullets away from the main feeder…

…which they’re mostly not doing. In fact the hens are taking this whole invasion thing quite phlegmatically, for Rhode Island Reds. RIR extraflock – and too often interflock – relations often involve a thick slice of psychotic violence.

They’re remaining two distinct groups, but the groups are getting along remarkably well compared to some earlier attempts at integration.

This just in: The pullets have hired Michael Avanatti and filed a class action suit against the hens, something about inappropriate pecking. Kids today…

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Guess what! Presumption of innocence is still a thing!

…if you’re a #resistance prog who got caught doxxing republican senators, that is. If you’re a republican nominee for the Nine Nazgul, fergetaboutit. You dirty pedophile.

Cosko’s defense attorney, Brian Stolarz, told Fox News his client acted alone.

“We all need to take a deep breath,” said Stolarz. “In this political climate everyone wants to jump to conclusions. We need to put the conspiracy theories aside and focus on the allegations. Jackson Cosko is innocent until proven guilty, and we intend to challenge the charges.”

I’d have to find the video to answer my only question, which is whether Stolarz managed to say any part of the above with a straight face.

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Handrail for the front stairs – rather more improvised than planned.

I’ll have to re-do this once I find better-looking hardware, but I don’t know when that’ll happen and Winter Is Coming.

Eh. It works.

Unfortunately, I have learned the terminal limitation of my beloved cordless drill…

Been using it near-daily since Spring 2015: The motor could be stronger but otherwise I’ve been delighted with it. Until today, when the motor smoked. And snapped, and crackled. It still works, sort of, giving me time to gather the money to replace it. Fortunately I got paid for roadside brush clearing, so once that’s in the bank I’ll buy another just like it. I have lots of compatible batteries and the next-better one costs twice as much, so it’s not worth upgrading. Until I let the smoke out of it, I liked this little drill.

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