Congress must disarm all the sane people who didn’t lose their shit and kill a lot of people!

Right, I’m just going to turn the Jeep radio right off for the duration, so I don’t need to hear any more admiring paeans to the clueless schoolchildren currently being bussed around to repeat words placed in their little mouths in protest of congress’s inexplicable failure to punish all the people who haven’t shot up a gun-free zone.

This absurd re-iteration of the same old bullshit makes me so crazy I want to go off my meds, rip the AK and bag’o’mags off the wall and march right down to the…(ahem) actually it just makes me wearily change the channel. Because I’m not a crazy kid, and furthermore I refuse to accept punishment for something somebody else did.

But I am so sick of hearing it. So for the record, no. Your move.

I’m so tired of this hectoring “conversation,” in fact, that I can’t even think of any witty arguments for my own side. So instead, go read this…

A stray dog bit me. I demanded that all my neighbors’ dogs should have their teeth pulled.

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Cows are calving…

I set up the game camera next to a well-used cattle trail last week. Turned out to be a mistake in terms of wildlife, but I got hundreds of pictures of cattle placidly strolling back and forth.

Including these from yesterday…

1651:021718:54F:0000:TUAK1   :1E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]
1651:021718:54F:0000:TUAK1   :1E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]
1651:021718:54F:0000:TUAK1   :1E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]

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Weatherman says we’ve got one nice day, so I must use it for something not nice.

Yesterday actually wasn’t all that bad, but muddy as hell after Thursday and Friday. This afternoon the wind will come up – in fact that’s already started – and it’s supposed to get wet again. Tomorrow is scheduled for cool and epically windy – Tuesday through May is the return of Winter.

So today I dig and smear ABS cement all over everything.

sewer1
A week or so ago I dug out most of the pipe trench, leaving just enough to stabilize the pipe. So it didn’t take long to finish getting the old pipe out. Back when I built the septic system I scrounged everything I possibly could – here I counted six unions in 26 feet of pipe. Continue reading

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Advice from chicken experts needed.

chickens
These are the four ladies I currently have at the Secret Lair. There are nine more just like them, from the same batch, at the Big Chickenhouse at Landlady’s place.

Until Autumn these chickens have been exemplary. They don’t fight, they don’t pluck one another. Some are more bold than others but none are neurotically fearful. They’re beautifully formed, beautifully feathered, and all last summer they laid so many eggs it literally became a neighborhood problem. Until winter these were easily the best chickens we ever had.

This coming Spring they’ll turn 2. They spent their first calendar year just gaining maturity, getting fed for free. 2017 was their first productive year, and I fully expected things to taper off from there. This winter they had their first molt, and between that and the short days I was unsurprised when their production fell right off.

I was surprised after the solstice, when they were all fully feathered again and the days started getting longer, and they pretty much stopped laying eggs entirely.

Those four in the picture above? They haven’t laid a single egg since Feb. 1. The nine at Landlady’s place lay one egg every 2-3 days on average. Yeah, I keep records.

chickens2
I’m starting to wonder if I should plan to slaughter hens – but I don’t understand how or why this happened. They seem in fine health, there’s certainly nothing wrong with their appetite. They’re not acting unusually neurotic. If I can’t think of something to help them get back in action, they’re all going to the freezer. They’re not pets, and chicken feed ain’t free.

Suggestions? I’m open to experimentation.

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That escalated quickly…

Really didn’t even want to go to town this weekend. I’ve had all the “town” I want to see for a while, to be honest, and I have enough drinking water for another week.

But it’s bad practice not to top off necessities – like water – whenever possible, and anyway my conscience warned me I really needed to pick up my new eyedrop prescription. If I wait more than a week, they’ll send it back and I’ll no longer be greeted with a smile.

So I went.

As of this morning I had one pair of insulated work gloves, and they’re kind of worn, and Thursday they got soaked and mud-impregnated. This late in the season I didn’t want to break in a new pair, even though 2=1 & 1=0. Finally flipped a mental coin: For some reason the only place to buy decent insulated gloves in the little town nearest where we live is the feed store. I figured that if D&L wanted to stop at the feed store, I’d go shopping for gloves. If not, not.

They did. I really should have looked at the price of the pair I picked, because I was suddenly and to my surprise $30 poorer. Nice gloves, though.

I didn’t even want to go in the dollar store. Really just tagged along to be polite and maybe pick up some cheap munchies.

But they had some flour, and I’m about to fill my flour buckets thus wiping out my reserves. So – seven sacks at $2.50/sack = lots of money I hadn’t planned on spending, but now I won’t be haunted by the sight of my empty reserve shelf.

D asked if I had any other stops, to which I replied “No! Get me out of here before I spend again!”

groceries
During the trip I saw…

cattle
…that the cattle are starting to calf – one of those tiny babies still trailed an umbilical cord – and they’ve released the bulls for an early start on the next generation. I didn’t realize the cows were that far along, no wonder they released them so early.

Also…

dirtybud
…sometimes it just doesn’t pay to own a white horse. Bud likes to roll, and really seems to prefer mud.

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Clouds went away overnight…

So the morning turned colder, of course. Not real cold, expect it’ll warm up pretty well once the sun comes up. Hopefully the place will dry out enough it’ll make sense to clean the mud off my boots.

But right now, what with all the moisture, everything and its brother is covered in thick frost.

frost

The past couple of days I’ve been cocooning in the Lair and watching the weather be miserable. Timely, really, since after Wednesday’s adventure I’d normally be inclined to do that anyway. But not having been out and about more than absolutely necessary I hadn’t gone into the powershed. So every morning – yes, even in the gloom, which affected my tentative diagnosis – my battery voltage was down a couple of tenths and I had begun to speculate that maybe one of my second-hand batteries was giving up. Didn’t occur to me to check if I’d left the damned powershed light on again. Which I had.

lights
They’re two exterior 12v LEDs, not very bright but quite frugal. Still, if you leave them on for days your overnight battery voltage will notice the load. I thought for years about putting them on a timer, for the many times I’ve left the powershed with some entirely other project on my mind – the powershed also being where I store my tools and parts – and forgot to flip the damned switch off.

So this morning while I was thinking about it, I put one of these in my Amazon cart…

switch
:) That’ll fix it.

There were actually cooler and cheaper electronic switches listed, but I’m not sure those will work with 12 volts. Sometimes it’s smarter to just keep things analog.

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Okay, yeah, I laughed…

NK bobsled

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Still raining…

The mud is worse this morning than yesterday, if that’s possible. Off-and-on light rain. I’m regaining dormant driving skills and haven’t stuck the Jeep anywhere, though it does occasionally proceed sideways.

This morning I broke out a piece of kit I actually considered discarding, back when I moved the winter clothes into the new closet…

parka1
I traded for this rain parka several years ago, in the big wet Monsoon of 2013. Since then the powershed rats have made more use of it than I have, and it could use a patch or two. But it’s still waterproof.

Batteries are holding up well, though of course I’m not abusing them. Sky is predicted to lighten later on anyway, might even get some sun, but I’m still waiting to see it. So far today’s as ugly as yesterday, if not quite as wet.

Good day for baking. :)

bread

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Oh, boy. Where’d all this mud come from?

I had this great thought that I could spend the day indoors. I put on my favorite hoody and even broke out this dumb pair of “lounging pants” I brought home from when I cleaned out J&H’s stuff back in 2015 – it’s like thick fluffy pajamas but with no fly. I never actually wear them, but this looked like a good day to try.

Then I came to my senses: I had to get dressed in any case for chicken chores, plus my building materials were taking up approximately all of the floor space in Neighbor D’s workshop, he’s in the middle of a project, and wouldn’t appreciate my blowing off coming to get the stuff just because it was raining. So it was canvas jeans and longjohns, not lounging pants and Earl Grey.

Turns out it was just as well, but I do wish I hadn’t worn my favorite hoody.

That drumming noise had stopped. I looked out the window to see if the rain was gone…

wet1
Not exactly. But the thermometer said it was 37o out, so you know it was just adding to the damp. I bundled up and cleaned off the solar panels, then leashed up Little Bear for my second mistake of the morning…

wet2
When there’s a lot of mud, do not take your dog for a walkie on any route involving volcanic ash, okay? Just don’t. And I was shocked at how much mud there was.

Didn’t really realize until I turned around how much rain we’d had…

wet3
Yup. Third mistake: Didn’t put the wheelbarrow away.

Anyway, I needed the Jeep trailer for the building materials. Thought at first I’d go to Landlady’s for chicken chores and then come back for the trailer so I didn’t have to tow it through that much mud. But I’d forgotten that the old Jeep seat is still in the trailer. So I brought the trailer to Landlady’s, to put the seat on the pile of stuff waiting to go to the landfill.

Good thing I did that, because otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the road to Neighbor D’s. And then I wouldn’t have seen that impromptu pedestrian.

There’s this older couple, part of the family that bought J&H’s place, and you’d swear at meeting them that they don’t belong here any more than Eva Gabor would. Must be tougher than they look though, because this is their third year and I’ve yet to hear them complain. He gets a lot of work done, too, even though he’s shaped like a basketball and wheezes. And he’s the healthy one. I found him struggling up the hill from where he’d gotten his truck stuck in the terrible mud that forms at this one turn, past the wash crossing. Glad I didn’t try to take the trailer that way.

His wife had a doctor’s appointment they didn’t see fit to reschedule due to weather, and now she was in the truck and he was very slowly and moistly working his way back to his property to get his brother and another 4X4 to pick her up. I offered to help tow the truck, but he just wanted a ride home so he could get his brother. Shooed LB into the back of the Jeep, took my neighbor home, then went to Neighbor D’s through the wash which has much better traction as long as you’re not afraid it’ll flood. It’s been so dry so long that all this water was just dedicating itself to mud-making and nothing was running off yet.

wet4
Got the trailer loaded and home without further mishap. The wood and insulation is under the addition now, all safe.

Kind of made a mess, though.

wet5
And now I’m going to kick it in my second-favorite hoody, the most favorite being kind of wet and muddy. Looks like it’s going to do this all day, but the chores are done and all’s well as long as the phone doesn’t ring.

wet6

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“What’s that sound?”

I’ve been up since 4:30. Woke up trying to identify that constant rushing noise, that didn’t match anything in my head’s catalog of noises-the-cabin-makes. There was the clock ticking, check. Little Bear grumbling in his sleep, got it. But what’s that constant noise, like an engine or motor? Can the space heater make that noise? Sort of, but no, not that loud.

What is it?

Finally woke up enough to realize – it was raining! Seriously raining, not just a drip. And now it’s quarter to six as I write this para, and it’s still raining. Hasn’t done that in so long I’d never really registered what that sounds like in the insulated and drywalled bedroom.

Coming back over the western hills from the Big Town yesterday evening Neighbor D and I saw a band of really ugly black sky in the eastern distance. “Somebody’s in for rough weather,” said D. I replied, “I hardly ever say this, but I kind of hope it’s us.” It’s been that dry. A week or two ago the cattleman dumped 160 presumably-pregnant cattle on us and I don’t know what he expects to happen – there’s virtually nothing here for them to eat at the moment. Last Monsoon was a bust here locally, and there’s been barely any moisture all winter. Nothing but juniper is green. They lost a bunch of cattle last spring, and local forage wasn’t nearly as bad as it is right now.

I kind of like it green, but to me rain mostly just means mud. If I were the cattleman, I’d be praying to my Satanic Majesty for a month of solid rain.

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Okay, so more like nine and a half hours…

Nothing went wrong, in fact it was a relatively stress-free trip. Just took forever is all. I had my eye appointment, which ground on and on, and then we had a 45-minute lull which was just enough for a lightning trip to Wal-Mart, which no longer carries my favorite fire starters which were the principal reason I wanted to go. Then we made it to Neighbor D’s knee appointment which lasted almost two hours. A side trip to run an errand for L, then a late lunch, then a ruinously expensive trip to Lowe’s where I scored…

*all the pipe I need to fix the Lair’s sewer
*a new and hopefully more predicable thermostat for the bedroom heater
*hopefully enough lumber to finish the addition’s exterior trim
*four sheets of rigid insulation for the addition’s floor, which I really should have done before winter. Not that it mattered much given how mild the winter has been.

…and not one bit more than that. I had it in mind to buy the interior trim, but learned to my utter shock how much that stuff costs. I don’t know how you guys do it, I really don’t. Interior trim may be a more gradual process than originally planned.

The ophthalmologist visit was neither as scary nor as expensive as planned, I’m happy to say. Interocular pressure is up quite a bit, which I expected given that I stopped taking one of the prescribed meds several months ago. Discussed why I stopped taking it: If it’s raising sores on my eyelids, what’s it doing to my eyes? Got the prescription changed. They didn’t run me through all the rigmarole I expected given that it’s been nearly a year since they could shake out my pockets, so I still had a little jingle when I left. Might even have enough for those new glasses I want to replace the current functional but scratched-up pair. I’ll be trying mail-order again. What’s the name of that on-line glasses place? I can’t remember.

Anyway, Little Bear probably slept through the day but then dinnertime came and went and there was NO DAD!!! And I really expected I’d be paying a price for that, but he was a very very good boy. He just had an extended meltdown when I finally got home.

I ditched the hardware in D’s workshop, and it’s too late and I’m too tired to go back with the trailer right now – and D made it clear he was done for the day as well. So LB will get an enhanced Jeep ride in the morning. I’m gonna have an adult beverage and go read myself to sleep now.

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I hate this part.

The only bad part about being a hermit? Sometimes you have to step out of the desert, and it’s always a big scary deal.

Once in a great while somebody will throw a compliment about how I’m not really afraid of anything in the boonies but breed bulls, how I can live on next to nothing, “improvise, adapt and overcome,” and all the other good things about the solitary life. That’s nice, but as I’ve said before nobody becomes a hermit in the desert because his life was going so great outside the desert. Outside the desert I’m afraid of pretty much everything – mostly because when something goes wrong in a city you usually can’t just shoot it or hit it with a wrench until it stops bugging you one way or the other. You have to actually deal with it, and I’m no good at that.

Eleven years in the desert haven’t exactly attenuated that effect. So now I’ve absolutely got to go to the eye doctor, and since I haven’t been to the big town about 50 miles away in almost a year I’ve got a helluva shopping list which means Wal-Mart and Lowe’s as well, and I’d almost rather be shot. I’m sure everything will turn out all right, but in the meantime it’ll be five hours of nervous twitches and a cramping gut.

Pray for us sinners, I guess. Here we go…

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Please don’t make me defend Jeff Sessions.

He’s not my favorite person. He’s not even my favorite Attorney General, and how high a bar is that to clear? Fact is, I despise the man.

But this is ridiculous.

AG Jeff Sessions used the phrase ‘anglo-American’ in a speech and left is freaking out

[C]onsidering every single god-given thing we know about Jeff Sessions, that is a very generous interpretation of his remarks. When you are Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, and are viewed as a racist by a wide variety of people, one would think you might consider the optics of praising “Anglo-American heritage” in front of a largely white crowd of cops.

In other news, the Winter Olympics is racist because ice can’t endure in some third-world nations.

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The AK is a versatile tool.

S’true! Let’s say you’re a bunch of good ol’ boys out behind the Dairy Queen (no offense, Milo) and the battery in one of your pickups is dead. Anybody got jumper cables? No, I thought you brought the jumper cables.

(sigh) Okay, rifles out…

akbatteryjump

h/t MJR

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There’s a pair of guns that could get me denounced by Milo Yiannopoulos…

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

pairak

The folding stock is not a lot of help with the red dot, so I’ve been searching all over the gulch without success for an unattached wooden one. Ian used to have literal piles of AK parts lying around, but I guess they’ve all migrated back to his place. I was near to giving up until last weekend when Landlady said she didn’t care what I did with the pink AK as long as she never had to see it again.

It’s been so long I totally forgot until I broke out the sandpaper that Ian and I originally painted the whole gun pink, furniture and all, but that was way too pink so we re-painted the furniture gloss black.

So right now the World’s Ugliest Carbine is chipped camo, black, Bakelite brown and pink/black. Is AK. Is not supposed to be pretty.

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Even bad things got to come to an end…

pinkak
Nine or ten years ago Ian and I painted up a pink AK for a photo shoot and later presented it to Landlady as a sort of joke – because, you know, a woman would want a pink rifle. We even coerced her into posing with it one time. ONE time. Since then it has gathered cobwebs in her Meadow House closet. Now I’m going to steal its buttstock, swapping out the WUG’s folder, and I promised I’d make the pink go away. So I’m going to bring home some decent camo paint during tomorrow’s trip to the Big Town, and maybe in the fullness of time we’ll have a rifle-painting post.

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Here, kitty, kitty…

We’re actually lousy with bobcats, but you could live here your whole life and never see one. They’re mostly but not entirely nocturnal, and quite shy.

I’ve been hoping the game camera would catch one in the act of being here, though I didn’t hold out a whole lot of hope. But a few nights ago one wandered into range…

1815:020718:45F:0000:TUAK1   :6E[087:0762]G[040:0x0036]
A few more frames below the fold… Continue reading

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Sometimes it’s best to just go redneck.

I built all the Lair’s cabinets – under Neighbor D’s watchful eye, but still – my work. So of course it’s imperfect at best. And one side of the overhead cabinets has been sagging for some time and getting worse. One joint in particular was not built nearly strong enough. I knew how to fix it but couldn’t really see how to push it back up into shape so I could make the repair. It would take considerable force at a really awkward angle.

Finally occurred to me that I possessed exactly the right tool, right out in the Jeep…

jack
Worked great!

I’ve got it nailed and glued back into place, but I need to bring home a couple of brackets from the Big Town when I go there Wednesday. Otherwise I’ll probably be doing this again in a few years.

I was joking with Landlady over coffee this morning that the Secret Lair is suffering schizophrenia: I never did finish anything in the main cabin, but I’ll be bringing home a whole bunch of trim for finishing the addition in the Spring and I’m obsessing over colors. Someday after I’m gone somebody’s going to break in and wonder, “Did two different people live here?” :)

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Ian’s new sink

Landlady came up this weekend, and we spent an hour cutting the plywood and then laying out the boards for the kitchen counter in Ian’s cave…

sink
That’s an old cast iron double sink, weighs a ton. Similar to the one in the Lair, which only goes to show that people throw away the damndest things.

Lots of finish yet to be done on the salvaged boards of the counter. I like the way Landlady sort of herringboned the corner.

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Just a sudden thought…

I’m heading for my weekly trip to town and actually kind of in a hurry, but I was struck with a sudden thought…

curling
Imagine: You’re a Korean factory worker, trying to figure out what the hell a curling team is really doing.

Yeah, I know it’s basically ice shuffleboard. But it always looked silly to me and I’m from the one place in America where you get to Canada by going south. Transplant it to Korea, and I can imagine things getting surreal in a hurry.

That is all, gotta run.

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