Herding goats…

I had a rushed morning. Already feeling late at 8:15 in the morning, I rushed to D&L’s only to run into a frickin’ herd of frickin’ goats coming the other way and taking up the whole road.

They didn’t like the looks of the Jeep and turned around to run home, and I got to putter along for a mile or so at the speed of the slowest two, fuming at the delay.

Click for bigger. Kind of felt like I did my civic duty for the morning.

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Okay, I’m back to “Those damned goats.”

Three days in a row, they’ve come to Landlady’s ridge to eat my chicken feed.


Now I have a big cinder block on the lid which will probably solve the problem. But naturally this had to happen with the can nearly full, which makes it nearly immovable for my rather worn shoulders. Otherwise I’d just put the cans back inside the chickenhouse.

Damned goats. I’m starting to develop a craving for chevon.

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“Your eyes got really bright there, little man.”

First time I’ve roasted pork in months.


And I finished it just at lunchtime, and so after it cooled a bit I gave a nice chunk to Tobie.

Tobie will eat anything I offer him off my plate … of course. He’s a dog. He doesn’t usually take all much pleasure from it, and sometimes acts with a bit of hesitancy, like I’m trying to trick him into eating asparagus. He’s not even all that crazy about cheese. But this time roasted pork in chili sauce hit his tongue, and his world changed before my eyes.

I recall many years ago, before my daughter was eating solid food. We were cleaning strawberries in the kitchen and I kind of smooshed one against her gums. She gave me a look like I was trying to kill her until the juice hit her tongue – and then her eyes got real big and she started masticating that berry like it was the only thing she ever wanted to do in life.

And that’s what Tobie’s face did: His eyes got wide and his pupils dilated in a moment of pure “this isn’t kibble” pleasure.

And now I’m guarding that baking dish with my life.

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It’s not possible to Tobie-proof a small cabin…

…no matter how you try.

I’m down to one D&L trip per day, and it rarely lasts much more than an hour. Tightening up the cabin before leaving seems to take almost as long: Make sure there’s nothing on the near half of the kitchen counter you mind being destroyed. Move the desk chair cushion to the bedroom, close the bedroom door, close the desk lid*. Empty or remove the bathroom trash can, ensure that the kitchen garbage can is lidded. Of course it’s been impossible to store anything portable in the lower kitchen cabinets for months.

Once in a blue moon, Tobie will actually just take a nap and be a good boy. On those rare occasions, he gets praises and treats like a prince. But on most occasions…


Tobie, like nature, finds a way. In this case I neglected to take the woodbox out to the porch.

(usually) Nothing is really harmed in any of this. I’ve had friends with rescue dogs that simply couldn’t be left out of a cage alone or furniture and even walls could be damaged, and Tobie is not that bad. I’ve lost some favorite gloves and both my pairs of summer sandals, but that was mostly because I’m a slow learner. Little Bear is the only other puppy I’ve ever raised and he went through a destructive chewing phase which he completely outgrew, so I live in hope. I’d say this looks more like separation anxiety than just him being an obnoxious puppy, except he recently developed apparent hatred for my knit caps and he’ll steal them whenever possible whether I’m in the cabin or not. So I’m leaning toward ‘obnoxious puppy,’ and continuing to live in hope.

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*Thank god for rolltop desks.

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High finance, desert rat style: A Jeep transmission bleg update

To date, the tip jar has recorded $1560 in contributions, of which a majority has already made its way to my grubby grasping hands. It brought my bank balance to $2035 and change, which meant that I was able this morning to deal the shop manager $2000 to get the ball rolling.

So they will presently get busy yanking the transmission out of the Jeep and determining whether it can be rebuilt: My money is on no, which will trigger the most expensive option which is a new trans, and which as of this morning has already been paid for in full. If it turns out the transmission can be rebuilt, the job will be less expensive but more time-consuming and honestly I don’t know which to hope for. Personally I like to keep things simple but going cheap has also become something of an instinct.

Once that’s done there are a few other things I’m going to want them to look at while it’s in the shop: A PS fluid leak that’s probably just a hose, that busted shock bolt, and find out how badly worn the brake pads are. None of those things are transmission-level showstoppers, of course.

Assuming, as I still am, that they’re going to end up ordering a new trans, that means I need to raise a minimum of $500 dollars further, the labor charge, to get the Jeep out of hock. And if there’s more in the bank by that time I can get the other more minor repairs completed.

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I misdiagnosed: It’s the tibia, not the fibula.

But yeah, D broke his leg. Or rather, L’s horse broke D’s leg.

And then D fell against the stock fence and bruised the crap out of his thigh, raising a hematoma the size of half a kettlebell – consider that since his multiple mini-strokes D has been on blood thinners for years – which he says is more of a bother than the broken bone.

So: I’m back to commuting to D&L’s multiple times a day. Which at least allows me to employ this useful meme…

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OOOkay. We’re cursed. This is officially a curse.

Neighbors D and L, both laid up with serious injuries, have been recovering with remarkable speed and ease given their age and the … wide and plentiful assortment of injuries and illnesses they have suffered with in the past few years. D, who recently had a knee replacement, is already clambering over stock fencing I don’t even try. The only daily chore I’ve been left with at their house was pellet stove cleaning, and there was talk of L taking even that over next week.

Good news, right? All’s well and now we’ll get back to what passes for normal around here. Uh huh.

Got a phone call from L: Could you come over to help with the afternoon horse chores and then help me get D into the truck so I can take him to the emergency room in (the biggish town about 35 miles away)? Because one of the horses kicked him just below the newly-replaced knee joint, maybe cracking the fibula, and then he fell against a fence panel and he’s got a hematoma on his thigh you could see from low orbit.

Are. You. Kidding me.

I’m getting a little afraid to stand too close to these two.

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I got an estimate on the Jeep’s transmission…

…and it’s not as bad as I feared at $2500. That’s how much cash I need to raise before anybody will pick up a wrench.

That’s for a new transmission: The price for rebuilding the current one could conceivably be less but it would be extremely time-consuming, knowing local contractors, and considering that I believe there’s severe mechanical damage it may not even be worth trying. Once steel parts start flying around inside that aluminum housing, the transmission’s resale value and rebuildability, if that’s a word, drops by the second.

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Tobie’s new threads…

I was able to pick up Tobie’s new harness today…

His old one was basically riding on his neck and I was thinking of replacing it even before he chewed through one of its straps. He got really long.

And here’s the new one, after letting it out enough to just barely fit around his torso; we’re still fitting.


Ain’t that a handsome boy? Maybe he won’t be able to pull this one off when I tie him to something and say “stay.” Because he can do that with the old one when he thinks of it.

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Heh – This is how mild the autumn was…

With indoor temps in the mid-forties, I lit the first woodstove fire this morning.

That usually happens in late October or early November, and by now it’s usually standard routine. I’ve been using the bedroom heater for over a month, after heartlessly evicting a single mother of color and her infant children into the cold. But only very sparingly, usually not even tweaking the thermostat*.

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*And may I add, I believe the humble thermostat to be one of the great inventions of western civilization.

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Goats. Not as bad as cattle, but still a nuisance.

Neighbor S met me at D&L’s place this morning just as I finished cleaning their pellet stove, and helped me tow the Jeep to the shop in town. The towing went well, then just as we were trying to maneuver it into some semblance of a parking spot the transmission locked up and we ended up towing it backward against the shop’s yard fence while the rear wheels scrubbed. So clearly things could have gone worse. The shop is closed on Saturday, so I’ll go back Monday and explain what it’s doing there. Hopefully they’ll be able to give me an estimate for a used or (more likely) rebuilt transmission without too much delay. There are some other small things I want them to do but they’re all irrelevant while the Jeep is totally out of commission.

I went home, grabbed a quick sandwich, and then went to Landlady’s place to do today’s main chore…


S&L scored a bale of new straw, allowing a much-needed sweetening of the big chickenhouse. But first…


…the whole thing needed to be raked out, and that’s my job. About forty five very dusty minutes of raking shit-infused dirt and rotted straw out the door to the chicken yard where wind will take care of it. I was about halfway through the job when I saw shadows passing under the front door of the chickenhouse, as if somebody was walking back and forth. But there were no voices and nobody tried the door. I went outside and saw…




This is becoming a real bother. The goat people can’t keep their animals penned up on their own property and haven’t shown a lot of interest in trying to do so. Underfed, the goats wander all over the place. Kind of hard to convince a large puppy not to charge off after them in the face of such temptation.

It’s difficult to chase them away, because they’re basically pets and have no fear of people whatsoever. Indeed they expect to be petted and talked kindly to. This is a main reason I like a revolver instead of an autoloader…


Ammo flexibility! I most commonly just use it as a noisemaker to get pests to go away, and I don’t have to shoot up my expensive commercial ammo to do it. I most commonly keep the gun loaded with commercial .44 Special rounds, but also always carry speed strips of heavy magnum rounds for the next time I have to climb under a house after a bear and light reloads for plinking and making noise. You really couldn’t do this with an autoloader.

So I hopefully ruined these goats’ day, noisily chasing them back toward home. Then I went back to the chickenhouse to finish raking and spread nice new straw for the chickens to scatter.


And now I need a shower in the worst way.

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Well, hell. Jeep transmission is toast.

The Jeep’s transmission has been threatening to hydraulically fail for years, to the point where I’ve always assumed the trans would be the thing that permanently parked it. It started out with a tendency to go completely out of forward gear when going up a sharp upgrade while cold; that has degenerated into a refusal to move forward at all while cold. But it all seemed like nothing worn-out clutch seals couldn’t explain, there didn’t appear to be anything mechanical wrong with it…

Until yesterday morning when all hell broke loose.


I drove to and from D&L’s as normal and everything was just fine until I tried to back the Jeep into its regular parking slot. There was a loud clunk and a rasping whirring noise accompanied by no rearward movement at all.

I had a lunch date with D&L at noon, and that’s when I learned – not to my surprise – that the Jeep wasn’t really crazy about going forward, either. It moves but with a distinct lack of power. I seriously wondered if it would make it up D&L’s mild upgrade and I’m not at all confident that it will make it to town, so I need somebody to follow/tow me to the shop.

D&L graciously loaned me their Jeep again…


…though with quite a few new caveats and addenda, and Tobie is explicitly and officially forbidden to ride in it. Not a long-term solution.


The yellow Jeep is for the moment parked on D&L’s plaza and really needs to go to town this weekend; I’ll work on arrangements today. I’m at the shop’s mercy as to what a used or rebuilt transmission will cost, and I may almost certainly will cry out for financial help when I have an estimate. I have some money in the bank, but it definitely won’t be enough.

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Life in the informal economy…

I’ve been going to D&L’s place repeatedly every day for a little over a month, taking care of horse stuff and giving their pellet stove a daily clean. Yesterday they were gone nearly all day at a doctor’s appointment in the big town about 50 miles away, and decided to pay me back…


So today after the Monday morning water run, which fell on Tuesday this week, I got busy packaging meat.


Tobie wanted me to know that he was there for me if I needed him. Or if I turned my back on the counter for even a moment, oh please please…


I like having some meat put up for the winter. It’s still a luxury item for me since I went so many years eating vegetarian or meat out of a can so I wouldn’t call it a need exactly. It’s just nice to have a mood (and temperature) raiser when winter gets gloomy and depressing.


So I’ve been working on a winter stash for some time in Ian’s freezer, and now I think it’s more than done. 🙂

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I’m so old I remember when this was a comedy sketch…

…and its absurdity was what made it funny. Now its proven powers of prophecy make it seem sad.

Can you imagine that scene in a modern movie?

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Note to self: Be more careful what you say.

🙂 A few weeks ago I noted in passing that I didn’t leave my camera and gear in the Jeep because it would take a Pelican case to keep it safe from the dust.

For the record that wasn’t a sly bleg; just a statement of fact. But Generous Reader WW, who donated the camera in the first place, decided to act on it.


WW knows that I already have two nice camera cases, because he sent them with the camera. And my first thought upon seeing this one was “too small, waste of money.” But he’s wiser in the ways of camera cases than I am, because in fact if I take the cube foam completely out…


It really will neatly accommodate the camera body with the smallest lens, or…


…safely store all lenses not currently in use, which is how I might end up using it.

Thanks! Didn’t really need one, but thanks.

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It’s about time, I guess…

With the exception of a brief cold snap in early October it’s been a remarkably mild autumn. That ended overnight…


…and we just got back from a long morning walky in which Uncle Joel was dolled up in nearly full winter regalia. Of course it’ll be substantially warmer after sunrise but you can’t really tell. And it’s late November, so whether I like saying it or not that’s the way it has to be.

But seriously, I haven’t even fired up the woodstove yet this season.

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They say a band with an upright bass can’t really be bad…

It’s not necessarily true.

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Happily we now know that hyperinflation is a GOOD thing.

This morning I spent just shy of $95 on this much fuel…


Ten gallons of gasoline and something less than 15 gallons of propane. Don’t know how you guys do it.

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Neighbor L’s Back!

And happy as a clam to be back. She had lurid tales of getting stuck in that rehab center, which at first wasn’t bad at all but then they had the covid outbreak and I gather from the story that the place turned into hell on earth. Half the staff stopped coming to work and they shoved all the positives into one wing with one nurse between them, and L hadn’t had a hot meal in weeks. Anyway, they shucked her out of there as soon as somebody decided she wasn’t shedding virus, and she was quite happy to go. First stop, Wendy’s.

See, this is why I try very hard not to break bones.

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And now my back hurts.


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