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*.

*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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In case you wondered…

Here’s what eight pallets in fairly good shape look like when imitating a stack of firewood…

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This would have been a good time to know how to macrame.

So Tobie chewed up a strap on his harness the other day. At first I thought it would be a simple fix because I have lots of strapping among my repair stuff, but I had foolishly used up or never acquired my supply of 1 1/2″ slide fittings. Which meant I was screwed.

Yesterday I visited the only two local stores even conceivably likely to carry web fittings. I found 1 1/2″ webbing at one of them but no fittings at all. So I fell back on the one thing that would definitely work, and that I definitely have lots of…

Good old 550 cord. If I had to run away naked in the snow and could only take a single thing with me … it would be a pair of boots. But a hank of 550 cord will always make anybody’s short list of things you oughta have with you.

Alas I’ve never been skilled in what I always considered the frivolous contrivance of fancy knots. There’s definitely a macrame knot that would have worked great for this, and I don’t know how to do it.

Doesn’t matter: Tobie’s tender torso has stretched so far from front to rear that he wears this otherwise-great harness on his neck anyway, and I have ordered a longer and more substantial one. So this is a temporary fix.

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Gorrrrramit, Tobie!

This kid combines the chewing fetish of a typical puppy with the chewing ability of a … well, a combine.

Today, the little sonovabitch wrecked his own harness.

While he was wearing it.

I actually expected to be able to fix the damage in a few minutes, because one thing I have a lot of is webbing in various widths…

But unfortunately it turned out I had completely run myself out of slide fittings in 1 1/2″. There’s a drug store in town with lots of crafty stuff and I’m hoping to pick up what I need in the morning. In the meantime…

…he gets to wear his puppy harness, which even let all the way out is almost-but-not-quite choking him.

Serves him right, says I.

I’ve been actually thinking about getting him a more substantial harness anyway, and this was incentive to pull the trigger on the purchase. So in about a week the repaired one will become his plan B harness.

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Joel takes a poke at landscape photography

Next to the wash there’s this one – not a butte, not a mesa, I guess I’d go no more exalted than an erosion feature – that is very pretty in first autumn light. I’ve been meaning to come out here at daybreak for weeks, and pretty much missed the best of the seasonal light. But this morning I was determined to give it a shot.

I set up a little too early and immediately wished I’d dressed more warmly. In November the days warm up very quickly after daybreak but can start rather nippy.

That may be the most meta photograph in the history of the blog, right there.

Anyway. I waited, and waited, and then… Continue reading

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Even the things you naturally do can become burdens…

…when they’re forced on you.

Yesterday’s experiment with D doing the mid-day horse feeding went so well he decided he’d also take over the 6am feeding. As you can imagine, I begged and pleaded for him to have a change of heart*.

And I went to bed last night a bit early, as I’ve been doing lately, fully intending to stay in bed for as long in the morning as I freaking wanted to. This turned out to be 6:30 and would have been longer except starting around 5 Tobie kept coming in to see if I was done laying about. “Are you getting up?” “Are you getting up now?” And then around 6:30 he just declared, “Okay, look. You’re either getting up or showing me how to work the food bucket.”

I found this funny because I normally get up around five anyway and think nothing of it. And what with Tobie’s obvious needs I even usually go right into action. Adding a quick fifteen minute trip to the neighbors’ to the routine isn’t that much of a burden. But being required to do it every single goddam day without fail or falter kind of is for some reason and I’m happy to be done with it.

Apparently the 6am feeding went so well that D decided it was time to catch up with all the barn disorder horses can cause in three weeks, all in one morning session. I arrived at 8:30 to find him sweeping out the second of the two stalls, with elaborate plans to fix misarranged floor pads and clean up the hay room. This tired him out quickly and I suggested it might not be completely necessary to get everything done in a single session, particularly since overdoing it might set back his recovery. But it’s good to see him recovering so well.

No new news about L’s recovery, and no news isn’t necessarily good news but I can hope. Best case is she stays symptom-free and gets released as soon as she tests negative, which optimistically might be sometime next week.

*I did not do this at all.

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Neighbor D getting more mobile…

He figures he still can’t haul the muck wagon around the corrals but he ought to be able to do at least some of the feeding. So I’m skipping the 11am feeding this morning and will meet him at 4. If he can do the feeding while I handle the mucking out, that will speed things up some. And it means I don’t have to go there for about six and a half hours in the middle of the day, which will help my own chores. I still have wood to cut.

We’re already splitting the pellet stove cleaning: I do everything that requires kneeling, and he hauls pellets and scrapes out the fire tray. That speeds my indoor chore a lot. It’s going to be quite a while before either he or L will be able to kneel in front of that stove so I’ll be doing that, at least, for the foreseeable future.

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