Cougar

We share this place with all sorts of wildlife: turkey, deer, pheasant, skunk, rodents of every variety, bear – and cougar.

A family (Cowheadguy), has a small farm about a half of a mile down our almost mile-long easement road. It’s a type of micro-farm and he has (we know he has cattle – The Totem), goats, chickens, a dog and kids.

About four days ago, a cougar jumped or dug underneath the ten-foot fences he has around the various pastures and killed all four or five of his goats and a calf. I feel bad for the animals and for the family, differences aside.

Another neighbor of ours came over to warn us and said the sheriff’s department and/or Fish and Game has set up a trap for the animal with motion-sensor cameras. They will signal a man who is on call to come and deal with the cougar should it show up again.

In the meantime, I got permission to set up one of our security cameras on my neighbor’s property, trained on his entrance and a little down the road where the cougar might be traveling. I set it to audible alarm and to take a snapshot should it be motion activated.

The same neighbor, who has shot at the cougar and missed, thinks he’s found a game trail wherein it’s coming through his property. I set up a trail cam down there but so far all I’ve gotten is a house cat.

Yesterday, the neighbor informed me the cougar had gotten a bunch of chickens on Holdmybeerguy’s property just above us. Within a few hundred feet of our front door.

We’d already told our son not to walk around at night with his flashlight until the cat has been removed from the area, however that may happen. He carries bear spray if he even goes outside after dark. We do also.

I set all of the cameras to take a snapshot with motion but had to turn the audible alarms off because with all of the cameras, something like long grass (which I cut), or the damned spiders that are constantly weaving webs in front of the lenses, sets them off every few minutes.

We’re hoping this thing is taken care of soon. For all of us, including the neighbors we don’t get along with. At some level, we’re all human and have to come together for the common good.

Holdmybeerguy Now Has Dogs Or Someone Visiting With Dogs

What would you do?

The barking began two days ago. It’s worst in the evenings – and goes ALL night long – NONSTOP. I want to emphasize this isn’t intermittent and it’s LOUD.

The first night it started at around 11:00pm with the racket still echoing over the hillside when I finally went to bed around 2:00am. Last night it started even earlier. They were still barking at 2:00am when I finally fell asleep.

I woke up to the cacophony at 4:00am.

I tried to use high frequency noise after the first few hours yesterday but nothing. I discussed things with my husband – the fact that once again we were in a position wherein a totally thoughtless neighbor had backed us into a corner from where we had to react.

We considered giving it a couple more days in case this was a visiting relative of Holdmybeerguy and live through it rather than end up in yet another confrontation rather do something immediately.

We asked ourselves what kind of person lets their dogs bark continuously most of the night without a care in the world. I sure don’t know, but when I woke up at four this morning my mind was made up.

I was pissed. No more.

I walked up along our shared property line and looked for the source of the noise and saw a small pen set up with one or two medium to large dogs inside with one running around outside the cage. All of ’em were barking.

I yelled across their property for them to quiet their dogs then turned around and added “you have one hour before I call animal control”. Realizing it was pretty early, I quickly decided it was more prudent and reasonable to go down the work-things-out-directly checklist before I made any calls.

I went back to our trailer and scribbled a note telling them to quiet their animals and that I’d be more than happy to meet to discuss the matter in person because we have to sleep sometime. I taped it to the post along their road with Gorilla tape. Two tiny pieces of paper from a notepad with extra wide industrial strength adhesive tape bigger than the note. Maybe I was trying to make a statement.

That was about twenty minutes ago, then I came in to vent.

What would you do? How long would you be willing to listen to three dogs bark all night long before you approached the owners, called animal control or the sheriff?

This is the guy who stole one of our UPS packages and ripped a full grown tree out of the ground with a chain right on our shared property line where we had trees that could have been damaged. This is also the guy who threw huge chunks of asphalt all over the easement when it got muddy making it almost impassable so I’m thinking that aggressive, swift action is the way to handle this situation.

Wish me luck. I don’t like confrontation but you have to show people like this that you’re not going to put up with their shit. Incidentally, we love dogs and have owned them. We don’t right now because we don’t have a fence as a guarantee of keeping them from wandering. As for the barking; no way in hell would we ever allow that kind of behavior.

Why us? Why the neighbors from hell?

I wish I had a nice poem for this one but I don’t think I’d be able to find enough expletives that rhyme.

The Case Of The Disappearing Vegetables

Linda’s plate was full of food
To her Mom it all looked good
Little did her parent know
All those green beans had to go
What to do, there was no pooch
No furry friend who liked to mooch
Steak and salad with tomatoes
Great big pile of mashed potatoes
But the bane of that great feast
How to slay the veggie beast
Thinking fast she ate the rest
Put her magic to the test
Laid utensils side by side
Under which the beans she’d hide
Lined them up all in a row
Till not one of each did show
Said “I’m done”, picked up her plate
To the sink she made her break
But with Mother on patrol
Into sight one bean did role
Cross-hairs of a pointed finger
Turned around, she didn’t linger
Brought her plate back to the table
Linda ate her vegetables

From a poetry blog I have https://wordchef.press/

Coffee’s Comin’ Down The Tracks

Morning ritual wakes us up.
Pound of coffee in your cup.
Black as night and heavy too.
Man, this is your kind of brew.
Coffee is so thick and dank.
Roles in like a Sherman tank.
Busting rivets, twisting guts.
Loosening your bolts and nuts.
This pot it has a coal car.
A fireman and crew.
Hit that mountain running.
Son, you have no clue.
Clear the way to Uncle John.
Pave the streets and tell your Mom.
Ticker tape parade with bands.
Don’t forget to wash your hands.
When it’s done and all is quiet.
Feel like you’ve been on a diet.
Have another cup my friend.
I’ll stay with you to the end.

The inspiration for this poem.

How Many Extension Cords Does It Take To Fill Up A Pool?

This is not a math quiz.

It’s about a matter of necessity or what you have to do when you can’t turn on a spigot with access to an unlimited water supply (although we technically do – from the mountains). Resources are precious out here, regulated not by the water company but by Mother Nature.

Winter is done and somehow we’ve skipped by spring rather quickly and belly-flopped straight into a summertime heat advisory. Today was in the nineties with the prediction tomorrow being the same or higher.

Not being content to wallow in the livestock watering trough I’d bought in the stead of my failed pool venture of last year, I found myself digging through the dust-laden shelves in search of the plastic heap that was The Pool. Or rather, I asked my husband to find it.

The thing requires approximately two-hundred-thousand gallons of water to fill it which is problem when the springs have suddenly dried up or at least the rate of flow has dramatically decreased because of said heat-wave.

You have to have sense of determination around here at times.

We have two springs at the top of the hill. The original and The Squitzer as we call it after my husband broke some rock away when we were digging it and excitedly exclaimed “look at this – we have a squitzer”!

The water was literally squirting out of a crack in the bedrock under pressure. It was a nice sight. It fills up faster than the original but we haven’t had to use it over the winter months and I needed the water from both springs to fill the pool to capacity.

This meant I had to hunt for an extra thousand or so feet of extension cord to reach the top of the hill because The Squitzer required the pump. We can’t siphon it because it’s sunk deeper into the ground, unlike the other spring.

After about an hour of locating cord and lugging it up the hill, I had to dredge the damned spring. Once a year we clean out months of accumulated clay and debris from trees that’s fallen in and decayed.

This is a lot of work to fill up a pool but it’s freakin’ ninety-plus degrees; about two-hundred in front of our trailer. Even the cats have retreated into the “basement” of the fifth wheel to sleep through the worst of the heat of the day at this point.

After the dredging, I have to pump the dirty residual water out of the hole lest I create a mud pit rather than a pool. I want pristine water. Sparkling, shimmering, bug-free with no pine cones floating around. And warm, dammit.

I dragged the blue-vinyl mass into the brush and found a sunny spot and spread it out. I inflated the ring after I cleared the spot of branches and pine cones.

Now I needed power. Not a problem thanks to good ‘0l Mr. Sun and our solar power system.  I made my fiftieth trip up to the top of the hill carefully checking the connections of the two-thousand feet of extension cord, placed the pump in the now pristine waters of The Squizter and plugged it in.

Believe it or not – it worked.

I ran two miles back down the hill for the six-hundredth time to the pool in the wilderness and found, to my delight, that water was coursing out of the hose into the pool.

To the best of my calculations it will have taken about two-hundred thousand feet of extension cord, five-hundred thousand gallons of spring water and one week to fill the pool up.

Then I can recreate.

How Many Gallons Of Gas Does It Take To Cook A Pizza?

Being “off-grid”, we’re on solar or generator power and, unfortunately, when a generator isn’t working at full-peak, the load it can handle is less than advertised. We aren’t the best at maintaining these as per the manual because, during the off-season for solar, we run ’em 24/7/365.

It’s hard to keep up.

You can only run so many watts on a particular model and it has to be able to handle the surge or peak watts (additional load placed on it when something is first plugged in). If it’s not tuned, it will balk more easily and shut down.

We have to think about that when we use the microwave or small electric oven we bought when our RV oven broke. It’s not easy to come by a new propane model so we went to Walmart and got the smallest electric device we could find.

I don’t know what the surge watts are when we turn it on but I can tell you it’s an event when we do.  The lights dim for a second as we stand there looking up and around at each other, wide-eyed and nervous, as if we’re waiting to be bombed, then the generator dies.

Blackout.

Time for my husband to put his boots on and grab the gas can.

We need the BIG one.

He trudges over to the canopy under which the super-heavy-duty-240-volt-capable-power-horse sits and dumps fifty gallons of petrol in.

Time to crank her up.

When he does, the rumbling echoes up into the canyons and hills of the surrounding mountain range and spills over the hillside into the valley below. I’m pretty sure it’s audible at Walmart in the kitchen appliances isle.

As this ear-blasting assault on the senses is happening, I’m wondering if the neighbors are regretting their decision to not let us have the power company run a few feet of line across their property to save us tens of thousands of dollars (it’s a long story).

All things considered, at about a half a gallon of gas per hour (as near as I can figure and with the pizza taking twenty minutes to cook), with gas at about three-thirty a gallon, it costs about sixty cents or roughly a quarter of a gallon of gas to cook a pizza.

Don’t get me started on man-hours.

We gotta find a new propane oven.

Generator Genius

OK. So we’re not small engine mechanics but after three years of not having city or county utilities, we’ve gotten to know The Generator pretty well.

That’s because we run the shit out of them.

We have solar also but our system is 1200 watts and it’s limited in the off-seasons. During the summer, however, the sun runs EVERYTHING.

The rest of the year we use generators: small ones, big ones, efficient ones, gas guzzling monsters for the 220 volt jobs, loud ones, quiet ones, two strokers, 1500 watt ones, 3700 watt ones, orange ones, green ones, generators from Walmart, gens from North 40.

We got ’em all in a generator graveyard behind our shed, but not before we go through the “keep ’em alive” checklist before one or the other finally kicks the bucket:

  • check the oil when it’s shut down and the oil is in the pan, and do oil changes
  • spark plug – pull it out and clean the gap with sandpaper or get a new one. They get carbon deposits on them.
  • fuel filter – if it has one. I’ve never seen a generator with a fuel filter but I guess they exist. Replace if it has one?
  • air filter – wash and dry it if it’s soaked with oil and/or dust.
  • spark arrester at the exhaust – yes, this can impair airflow through an internal combustion system. Remove it and clean it regularly.
  • check that the gas doesn’t have water in it. You can add a product called  Heat, which gets water out of gas but I can’t say how effectively. You can always drain the tank and refill with good gas.
  • the carburetor gets mucked up with hundreds of hours of usage and might need to be cleaned. We take it to a shop for this or, to keep things running in the interim, spray carb cleaner directly into the butterfly port while the engine’s running. It’ll bog it down temporarily then recover.

I’ve probably forgotten something, but there you go. If all else fails, buy a new one and retire the old one to the graveyard or sell it on Craigslist for repair.

We may not be able to fix them after a certain point but there are people out there who can.

Wildlife Cams

We have seven security cameras and we love them.

Why would a family living on a chunk of land that has little on it (except trees), in an area with little crime, have them? 

  • bear
  • wolves
  • coyotes
  • cougars
  • deer
  • turkeys
  • house cats
  • skunks
  • an occasional neighbor destroying the road that you are responsible for the cost of maintaining, with their snowmobiles
  • the neighbor’s dog
  • occasional shenanigans of HoldMyBeerGuy

About that last one: we were delighted to come home one day to see HoldMyBeerGuy pulling a very large tree out by the roots near our driveway entrance. It sat almost on top of our property line and his extended family were in attendance. He had it chained to his truck and was giving it the ol’ heave-ho amongst hoots and hollers and the brandishing of a firearm.

To lend some perspective, imagine living in the suburbs and arriving home just in time to witness your neighbor ripping a tree out by its roots (which can kill nearby trees), directly in front of your house.

Then there’s the other wildlife.

Our county is home to wolves, coyotes, big cats, and bears.  You want to keep an eye on such visitors.

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The house cat cam is below our trailer and lets us know who’s waiting to be let in.  I have one camera on a tripod I can move around, depending on what we want to look at.

It’s currently the trash cam as our truck, which we haul garbage away in, is at the shop. Something’s been getting into the bags that are waiting for the dump run and we aim to identify the culprit/s.

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Lastly,  we can observe the Gobblers https://wordchef.press/2021/05/06/absurd-bird/

The system was cheap but setting them up was a pain in the rear. We had to trim branches away and run hundreds of feet of cord for the initial setup. Now spiders keep spinning webs ON the cameras, and we keep having technical issues with the connections.

All in all, the cameras have been worth every penny and we’re able to run everything on solar. I wouldn’t be surprised if a website like Survival For Preppers recommended something like this https://survivalforpreppers.com/.

We like being able to keep an eye on things from our living room whether it be an errant neighbor or a marauding skunk – or vice versa.

 

 

Someone Paved Our Driveway – Sort Of

It’s that time of the year again – when the snow melts and the ground doesn’t. As a result, billions of gallons of runoff heads in our direction in the space of about three weeks.

The layer of permafrost won’t let the water soak in except for the topmost couple of inches; just enough to make a nice mud pie.

Our driveway, which doubles as a seasonal creek and has never been user friendly,  becomes a bog. It should have been regraded and graveled a couple of years ago but that would have required the neighbors to agree on something.

We have three times the traffic this year and every time someone drives through the goop, it gets deeper and threatens to suction the car in place – never to move again – and it’s one lane.

The prospect of becoming a ginormous speed bump the neighbors have to negotiate on their way home is enough to keep us far, far away from The Thing – The Road.

The destruction extends all the way to the main road. The postal service left a nasty-gram in everyone’s mailboxes telling us to fix the road or no mail would be delivered.  Luckily someone  dumped a load of rocks in front of the boxes, thus restoring our service.

The trek is so intimidating we stay home unless we’re out of oxygen or something. Don’t try to text during the ride or you may end up ruining a relationship with someone you never knew and becoming best friends with someone from Lisbon, Portugal in the space of a quarter mile.

By the time you reach the street, there’s a chance you’ll be seasick and may have incurred some sort of blunt force trauma after glancing off of some inner furnishing of the vehicle. The violent lateral lurches are capable of putting a head through a passenger door window.

The other day we needed cat food (oxygen), so we piled into the four-wheel  and braced ourselves. As we crept to the top of the worst part of the easement – a steeply graded slope – we looked down and noticed someone had laid pavement at the bottom.

More accurately, someone had lobbed chunks of broken asphalt all over the road. They lay at all angles and sizes where they were chucked. Some slabs were two feet in diameter with smaller shards mixed in.

This project had our uppermost neighbor’s “hold my beer” signature all over it. Huge ruts from his truck now cut into and through portions of the road – which he missed with the asphalt.

What we were looking at reminded me of a school project. Imagine a four-year old with some glue and macaroni only big.

I told my husband to stop while I jumped out and I redistributed the minefield.

I  jumped back in and we skirted the construction zone as far to the right as we could without rolling down the slope away from the road.

Now we had to make it past Cowhead Guy’s house (explanation here).

Never a dull day.

Frozen

All it takes is one pipe.

Part of the reason we moved away from Western Washington was the drab weather. The Pacific Northwest is mild and rainy almost year round and it can get depressing. We wanted some white Christmases.

Three winters later, we’ve had our fill.

It’s not so much the weather itself, it’s the way we are set up or rather not that’s the issue. We originally planned on building then changed our minds so we still reside in a fifth-wheel.

We have a spring at the top of our property and we siphon water down through about a thousand feet of garden hose to the holding tank next to the trailer. In the winter, that becomes a problem for a couple of reasons.

RVs in general, are not designed for severe weather. You have to insulate – especially when it comes to plumbing. Almost all of the Pex pipes are housed in what’s called the basement of a fifth wheel. It’s an area under the foremost compartment of the trailer with two access doors into an area about two feet in height. It’s way too small to crawl into to do maintenance and doesn’t have a heat source.

Because of the freezing, we’ve gone through three water pumps and then there’s always the occasional water leak because we’re not experts on this sort of thing and something comes loose from time to time – it’s inevitable.

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Who is supposed to climb in to deal with this stuff? Certainly not a full-grown man so you know who has to slide in and do the maintenance? Me. And it’s not easy. First I have to remove all of the insulation then it’s dress-down for the job. Gloves, pants, a coat, then tools and a flashlight and I go in.

We open the hatch and I have to crouch down then slide in. I had to remove a structural cross-member to get to the area I needed to be the first time then hammer it back into place when I was done. Don’t have claustrophobia and plan on doing this.

I have to slide the tools in first and push them around ahead of me because there’s no turning around or turning over once you’re inside. If the yellow jackets have decided to winter in the place, watch out for them too. They sting when they’re sleepy I found out.

I get in and do the repair crunched up and craning my head to see properly while my husband provides moral support from just outside. We run the water before I exit and he pulls me out by my heels once I reach a certain point. Then in goes the insulation again and we have to screw the hatches shut because our cats use them as cat doors if we don’t.

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Then we wait for the next mishap.

A couple of weeks ago when the deep freeze moved so far south that Texas froze, we spent three days without running water. It was about zero at night and the ice had become especially thick. Something somewhere would not allow the water to circulate. .

We bought an extra heat fan, a heat lamp that was placed carefully where we could see and watch it, we put heat tape on the Pex pipe most prone to freezing, we opened all of the cupboard doors that linked to the basement, and we put an extra heater right in front of one of those sets of open doors.

Still nothing for three days.

I doubled my efforts to find the problem when it became evident that the end of the cold-front was nowhere in sight. I checked that the defrosting arsenal was plugged in. All OK. Where was it frozen?

I pulled the heated hose out of the water tank and looked. There it was – the very end, which was a small splice of  regular garden hose was filled with ice. I took it off and we were open for business again. Or so I thought.

Still no running water. Then it occurred to me that maybe I insulated so well the  heat wasn’t reaching the pipes. I had used spray-foam so I set about cutting and ripping the toughened insulation out from around them.

Within twenty minutes, we had water.

Now we needed more water. Time to gather up and wind the hoses onto the brackets we’d mounted on the walls of a small shack. Once they are in, we light a propane heater and shut the door for a couple of hours until they’re thawed. Then up the hill again with the hose to the spring.

We could probably dig a trench and lay pipe but we don’t know the first thing about heavy equipment operation and so far, we’ve done everything here by hand.

Besides, why spoil a good time?

Out come the straws for who gets the first shower.