Chasing the Bull

Okay, there’s this bull in the herd that keeps crossing my territory to get to Landlady’s meadow and the watering station, right? And we’ve had a meeting or two, nothing too dramatic. I keep my eyes open for him when I’m on foot, because to get cornered by him when he’s feeling ornery would be very bad. I’d have to shoot him, and then one or both of two bad things would happen. He’d shrug off the bullets and stomp my skinny ass flat, and/or I’d have to pay for him because this is open range country and the law is not my friend.

But yesterday morning while the boys and I were making our battery circuit, we ran into him while we were in the Jeep. He was just strolling along, taking up the whole road. And damned if he didn’t turn and try to face down the Jeep. He really did. Heh.

And I’m all…

…and keep right on driving.

He made the right choice.
Y’know, it occurred to me the other day that since they drove that herd in here I haven’t seen a single elk or mule deer, or any fresh sign. Only cattle. Stupid cattle everywhere.

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We need a national conversation about common-sense measures to stop cop violence.

Good god.

GBI: Officer shot responding to wrong home shot by other officer

Yes, a police officer was shot by another police officer. At the wrong house. That’s the whole story, citizens, nothing more to see, move along.

Unless you read down to paragraph seven:

“It was determined that a dog was shot and killed inside the residence,” Alexander said. “A DeKalb County officer was shot as well.”

And then paragraph eight:

A man in the house, later determined to be the homeowner, left a room off the kitchen and was also shot by the officers, the GBI said.

Some day I’m going to find somebody who can tell me: “Protect and serve” who, precisely? Because if this is protecting and serving, I hope they leave me unprotected and unserved for just as long as possible.

It was later determined the officers went to the wrong house.

Police never suggested the homeowner had a gun or threatened the officer.

They did confirm the house they should have gone to is farther down the street.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out the homeowner,” Alexander said. “And our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer who suffered a severe, critical injury here tonight and lost a lot of blood. We just hope both of them recover well.”

Could be worse, I suppose. Could have burned the place down while they were at it.

h/t to Codrea.

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Some thoughts on storage battery layout…

It’s the first of the month, which makes it Battery Day at the Gulch. I thought, since I’ve got this good camera now, I’d take a moment and express some of our community battery guy’s pet peeves. If you plan to set up an off-grid electrical system, you can save yourself hours of aggravation just by the way you lay out your storage batteries.

This is the entrance to Ian’s powershed, which is cool because underground. Why is underground cool? I don’t know. Do we need a reason? Continue reading

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…like a dog chasing a bus…

…the worst thing that can happen is that you catch it.
This little channel is a short cut the wash cut for itself, probably many many years ago. It has the advantage of shaving hundreds of yards off the trip between the Lair and anywhere else upstream. It has the disadvantage of filling with exciting, tire-stressing rocks every time there’s a flood. So I stop every now and then and move those rocks that stiff old Joel can move. I just get my fingers underneath and give a heave – if it won’t move, I try to route around it. If it will, I shove it off to the side.
Once in a while, though, I get more than I wanted. This one wasn’t as deep under the sand as I thought, so it went upright fairly easily. Which, alas, meant I had to move it. It wasn’t actually all that in the way, before I fixed it. :(
But where there’s a will – and no real choice – there’s a way. I eventually got it horsed up out of the way. Be careful what you wish for, I guess…

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Any aircraft recognition experts out there?

Not every day you see a four-engine prop plane anymore…
This one overflew the Lair this morning, very slowly. I assume in the absence of any evidence that it’s one of those planes that drops fire retardant, but have no idea what make, model or year.

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A strange new day

Where's the barrier? The barrier is gone!

Where’s the barrier? The barrier is gone!

The hens and pullets (and Seymour, the wannabe pullet who so far wants no further part of this “interact with the hens” thing) woke to a terrifying new reality: The gate between the coops was down! What are we supposed to do?
For the hens there was no question: Step one, eat the pullets’ food! We can beat them up and take their lunch money later. The pullets are taking it a step at a time: Step outside, then lose your nerve and step right back inside. The two sub-flocks have been together for a couple of weeks now, and I hope the transition will be relatively peaceful. But I’m a control freak, and hate new and scary things even more than chickens do. So I’m watching carefully.

Once they’re associating freely, I’ll take that portable coop right out of the Fortress and they’ll have no choice but to bunk together. But one step at a time.

Oh strange new world...

Oh strange new world…

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We’ve lived together seven years, and I’m still just the nanny.

Ghost had a big weekend. Friday evening he vanished, and an hour later I got a call from Weekender Neighbor L. “Ghost is here, guess we’ll have him for the weekend. Okay, so LB and I batched it till Sunday morning, except Ghost didn’t come home when S&L headed out. No, because Landlady was still here. And Ghost is Landlady’s dog. So he just seamlessly transitioned over to her house, without giving Uncle Joel a thought.

It rained Saturday, and Landlady’s car couldn’t negotiate the mud. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, the road would be dry enough by late Sunday morning. But Scott the Road Guy really messed up one of the wash crossings. There’s a dip that holds thousands of gallons of water on top of caliche. I bashed through the pond in the Jeep ahead of Landlady’s car Sunday morning, and in the cascade of liquid mud it was clear she wasn’t going home. Tried it again Sunday evening, when there was still time for her to get home at a decent hour. If anything it was worse; the water was lower but the mud was deeper. Landlady’s going to have to stay in the desert into Monday.

Ghost thought this was great, until she announced that she didn’t want him spending Sunday night; he and Dharma make too much racket and she can’t sleep. So he had to spend last night with me, and he let it be known that he considered it unacceptable. I got up early this morning, opened the door, and he was gone like a shot. Woke Landlady up before five in the morning.

It turns out the road guy graded that messy crossing yesterday evening, so by this morning it was passable for regular cars. I checked and told Landlady so, then met D&L for our regular Monday trip to town. That meant Landlady went home while I wasn’t around.

There’s a protocol for when people need to drop Ghost off and go home. He knows the routine. All they need to do is drive to the end of my road, along the top of the ridge below which is the Secret Lair, and let him off right there. That’s his signal that the weekend’s over and it’s time to go back to the cabin. He never makes any fuss. And I’m usually there to let him in, give him a treat, and generally act as if I think he’s great.

This morning I wasn’t there.

I wasn’t there and it was thundering. Afternoon storm’s getting an early start today. LB was there, but he has no thumbs and can’t work the doorknob.

Ghost was stuck outside, alone.

I happen to know he wasn’t there long, because we passed Landlady on the county road when we were on our way back from town. But by the time I got back to the cabin you’d have thought I got caught in bed with another dog. A live boy or dead girl dog. Oh, I was derelict in my duty according to Ghost.

Well, we had to leave again right away to pick up some pallets before the storm, so he got a Jeep ride out of the deal. By the time I got them unloaded and everybody back home, I was forgiven. Sort of. I think. And now he’s taking his belated Epic Sunday Afternoon Nap.

In his Safe Space. Which is to say, the most annoying place in the Lair.
I don’t really mind. It’s kind of funny when you look at it a certain way, and I try to look at it that way. But I confess, sometimes he gets on my nerves.

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Well no wonder we got that spate of articles on how illegal it is to shoot down drones…

First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist

It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.

Once it became received wisdom that a police officer’s first priority is to get home safe, it was inevitable that they’d increasingly turn to robots to do their mundane-thumping for them as the technology became available. And of course it’s inevitable that the hardware will incur lethal levels of mission creep. Remember when Tasers were introduced as instruments for kinder, gentler policing?

h/t to Claire.

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I woke up to a funny!


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Let’s be careful in there.


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And this is why a fire in the Secret Lair would be a very bad thing.

Or worse, in the powershed.

This is supposedly 2000 rounds of 7.62 X 39 cooking off.

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No. No “conversation.”

Here’s somebody else who’s suffered a loss, and decided that somehow it’s my fault.

“We need to have a substantive conversation on what is going on in America that is allowing evil to continue to crop up over love? Is it because we are in the media? And the attacker knew this was going to get a lot of play, and here we are again, another mushroom cloud of coverage over gun violence?”

Pal, I have nothing but sympathy for your loss. Really I do. But go someplace else for your “conversation,” okay? Because we’ve been here before, and though the word suggests you want to talk about something, I know you don’t. You just want to take. You’ve already decided the “conversation” is to be about the latest gungrabber buzzword, “gun violence.” We know where that goes. So. No.

The answer was no last time. The answer is no this time. End of “conversation.”

Codrea said it nicely:

How come it always turns into someone with no claim to them calling dibs on my rights?

And even – ha! – even if you were willing to make it a conversation about crazy people with guns rather than just about guns, I’d still wave you off. In fact that’s an even more chilling prospect. Because if you pass laws forbidding gun ownership, as you want, that won’t really change anything. That’ll only make people sneaky. We’ll still have our guns, I assure you. I’m used to being sneaky around statists, that doesn’t really bother me.

But a regime that gathers enough power to really try to know the mental state of all its citizens? That’s scary. Such a state would make Mao Tse Tung weep with frustrated envy. That really would lead to war.

So let’s not do that. Go have a “conversation” about gay black guys who can’t get along with other people at work if you want, and if you dare. But leave me out of it this time.

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Look at all that beef. Let’s not make it mad.

Out where the wash hits a cliff and turns away from the cabin, there’s a single small cottonwood tree. They’re rare in the desert, always where they can find water, and this one’s mine. It never seems to grow, but otherwise it seems healthy and I like it.

This afternoon just before five Little Bear noticed a cow in its shade, and took offense.
I got tired of listening to him, and walked down the driveway to shoo it away. Just a cow, right? Continue reading

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And on that subject, sort of…What’s the only force powerful enough to defeat the irresistible Total Surveillance State?

Its own unmovable bureaucracy. 😉

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It’s not the guards in this asylum that worry me, it’s the inmates.

I knew the guards were going to be all “I don’t write the laws, I just enforce them,” and “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” and “just obey all my commands and I won’t have to kill you.” I’ve hated them all my life, but I can deal with them.

No, it’s my fellow inmates that get under my skin. I worked with a guy – whom I happen to know was an enthusiastic poacher – who got all schadenfreudish whenever he heard about somebody busted for driving without a license. I know a lady – for whom I otherwise have a very high opinion – who gets upright and pearl-clutching every time she sees an ATV on the road without a tag. These people, I don’t know how to deal with. They make me nervous. They’re snitches in waiting, every one. And everybody – me not least – has things that could be snitched about, given only a disgruntled neighbor and a cop who needs a bust.

What gets me thinking along these lines, this otherwise very fine morning, is this piece right here. It’s about a guy who posted a Youtube video on how easy it is to monkeywrench stoplight cameras. Was there ever such a victimless crime? I ask you. And yet…

According to, a dirty, no-good snitch ratted out the fearless freedom fighter to local police, who then arrested him for the crime (of?) loving liberty:

Okay, sure, I know. You post a video showing you committing a crime against the state’s revenue, you can expect a boot on your face. Duh. That’s a given. I wondered, though, how far I’d need to read into the comments on that post before I found somebody like the neighbors mentioned above…

I have a 100% foolproof way to avoid getting dinged by these cameras: don’t run red lights. I have never received a summons. I drive safely 100% of the time. None of the commenters who are in favor of this guy’s actions have said they were falsely cited. “Take back the power”, huh?. Are you talking about the power to violate traffic safety laws? Jerk.

Yeah, didn’t take long.

It’s not a new peeve with me. Look, I fully understand the desire to live in peace, even with the guv. Everybody does what he can to achieve that, and I don’t break laws just for the sheer voluptuous joy of being a lawbreaker. I need a reason, at least. But long and long, I am unable to say “law-abiding citizen” as if it’s a compliment.

BTW, Claire’s book about the wonders of snitching is still available.

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It’s all Commenter Ben’s fault.

I decided to take his advice and start the day by letting that cock bird out of the small enclosure.
Old Control Freak Joel has trouble letting go of controlled situations, usually to the point where they do more harm than good. But in this case I have a bird who’s almost certainly going to end up in a stewpot soon anyway, so he gets to be the chicken in the coal mine. That there are wedgies in his immediate future is beyond doubt, in fact by the time I got the camera they already had him desperate to get back inside his enclosure. But he’s just being a drama chick; the hens are actually taking it fairly easy on him so far.

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One of those days…

Spent the morning in town with my neighbor, collecting the last of his stolen stuff from the sheriff. Though he lost some expensive stuff, for a wonder he got all the solar gear back. So now he can move ahead with Phase 2.

Got home in time for it to start clouding up and banging away. Never actually rained here this afternoon, though it rained damn near all yesterday and all night. I nodded in my chair as I often do after lunch, and finally said screw it. Climbed up the ladder and took an old man nap.
The boys got me up in time for chicken chores, because damned if they were going to miss their Jeep ride. LB can’t find his way around a tree enough to untangle his own cable, but he can tell time. Go figure.

And I’m still sleepy. So go do something fun.

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One of my pullets is crowing.

Pullet: a young hen; specifically : a hen of the domestic chicken less than a year old

And yet I’ve suspected from early on that somebody made a little mistake in sexing one of mine. A slightly more conspicuous comb, a more than slight advantage in size and assertiveness left me open to the possibility that I was wasting food on a cock. This morning he confirmed it with his first juvenile attempts at a crow. Which is cute as can be, btw. And which will also probably condemn him to the stewpot.

I’m not against the notion of a rooster in the chicken yard. Landlady has her cock Brahma Mayor Quimby, who serves at least a marginal purpose. I’m still working on ways to keep my Rhode Island Reds sane with one another, which is one reason I wanted to increase the size of the flock, and maybe a rooster is just what the ladies need. But I’ve tried it before twice, and both times the cock bird failed to work out. At all. There was Upgrayedd, who thought my hens were punching bags. And then there was (shudder) Smithers.

So basically, this one will stay with us until he proves himself intolerable AND gets big enough to eat. And not a moment longer.

Which unfortunately brings me down to three new hens. Should have started with more chicks, and I knew it at the time.

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The Three Phases of Life

And that’s where we are now.

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Another uninvited guest

The weatherman promised us some wan sunshine this morning before the rain starts again, and so far he’s delivered.
I’ve been letting it do as much for the batteries as possible while I did outdoor work, knocking apart some pallets, emptying the burn barrel before the muddy ash rots it out, and putting new skateboard tape on the cabin’s slick stairs.
I came inside to get the broom, leaving the door open behind me. Right away I heard a droning noise like an awfully big bumblebee had followed me in. And in a way, that’s just what it was!

The hummingbird wanted back out in just the worst way, but since they’re got roughly the brain of a bumblebee she couldn’t figure out that retracing her flight path would be the best way to accomplish that. No, she settled on trying to figure out the concept of window glass, just like any bee.

Fortunately this was a guest easy to get rid of. I just went outside and removed the screen, then shooed her down a foot with the broom. She didn’t pause to thank me.

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