Feb 20

Nary a drop to drink

Heartwarming Hill Country Tap WaterShall I speak to you of rainwater collection? Hear ye my sorrowful lament.

The story begins in 2005 at the offices of Jagoff & Pretentsio, my architects. The bunkhouse was still on the drawing board, glowing with the promise of my future contentment. We all gathered around the drawings, sipping lattes.*

“You’re gonna love your rainwater,” sang Jagoff.

“It’ll be chemical-free and taste fantastic,” tittered Pretentsio.

Butterflies fluttered about the room as Peer Gynt swelled in the background. And so the magnificent 30,000 gallon underground concrete cistern was built and miles of gleaming gutters and pipes installed.

The grim consequences of my having signed off on this wackaloon scheme is one of the top reasons Lucky Golden Rainbow Shangri-La Utopian Clearwater Ranch is now called Dreadful Acres.

Big skyMy rainwater collection surface is the expansive metal roof of the bunkhouse, which bunkhouse is picturesquely nestled in a grove of vile, mean-spirited live oak trees (see photo, right, taken from a 60′ crane). Twice a year the trees dump all their leaves, and once a year they dump pollen pods, onto the roof. The trees also provide squirrels, birds, cicadas, and lard knows what else with an open invitation to use the roof as a toilet. All the arboreal animals within a 5-mile radius take full advantage of the opportunity.

Also, I’m pretty sure those airplane urinal ice blocks fall on it every now and then.

The only way to prevent the resulting water supply from turning into birdshit-flavored oak tea is to get up on the roof and deploy a leaf-blower and a poop scooper. This leaf-blowing/poop-scooping must occur whenever a puff of wind blows a single leaf, or whenever a single glob of bird shit plops, onto the roof. By which I mean, there is no way to prevent the birdshit-flavored oak tea result. For years my argumentative, beer-guzzling handyman “blow-dried” the roof every week or so. The effort was achingly insufficient. In fact, unless I dose it with Clorox, my collected rainwater has never once, in over 5 years, not been birdshit-flavored oak tea.

It gets worse. During oak pollen season it is necessary to physically block the collection pipes, because oak pollen turns the water an even browner shade of brown than the oak leaves do. Of course pollen season is also rainy season, so, while I’m keeping the pollen out, I’m also missing most of the year’s rain. To make up for the deficit I have water hauled in. The water delivery company is called Water Boy, which irrelevant detail I include because “Water Boy” has always seemed to me a name perfectly incongruent with big tanker trucks and adult men wielding hoses. The hauled-in Water Boy water starts out in a fairly drinkable and un-brown state, but is eventually debased by any roof-crap that drizzles in.

The oak pollen may be blocked seasonally, but birds and squirrels enjoy contamination privileges year round. If there is a way to keep their feces out of the water supply I haven’t found it. Yes, the water is filtered and passes under a UV light, but the amount of bleach I have to add to keep it potable and non-brown renders the whole operation pointless from the my-body-is-a-temple point of view. Not to mention that the water filters themselves, which supposedly last 3 months but which really need changing about every 10 days, are expensive, cumbersome, awkward to access, and always soak your pants when you unscrew’em, thanks to the fucking knuckleheads who installed the system.

Cistern hatchThen there’s the cistern itself. It’s underground, as I mentioned, and can only be accessed by an enormous galvanized steel hatch so heavy I can’t open it by myself. This hatch, despite gaskets and insect screen, is far from impenetrable, so despite the drought, Dreadful Acres enjoys the distinction of being the only mosquito breeding-ground for miles. Also, the concrete cistern leaches concrete-leachings into the water. Oh, and check this out: a few months ago, when the water began to smell even fouler than usual, a decomposing rat carcass was dredged up from the bottom. The entire 30,000 gallons had to be pumped out — wasted in the middle of a drought.

I can’t even bear to picture what happened next: the argumentative handyman mucking out the empty cistern, slooshing around my drinking water tank in his — shudder — bare feet. I can’t explain it, possibly it’s due to the particular antipathy with which I view that particular handyman, but the idea of bare, middle-aged dude-feet in my water grosses me out even more than a dead rat.

So I’ve been drinking bottled water ever since.

I am happy to report that this week it all changes. After over 5 years of enduring this pointless cycle of filter-changing, leaf-blowing, Cloroxing, handyman-wrangling and carcass-dredging, I’m finally crying uncle. The doomed rainwater collection enterprise is getting junked as we speak. The entire system is being re-plumbed to bypass the tainted cistern and gnarly gutter pipes. I’ll get my water from the well instead. It’s a crappy, shallow, 4-gallon-per-minute well, but as long as it liberates me from the haunting spectre of eau de handyman-foot, I’ll be swimming in happiness.

* Which lattes would, of course, later appear on my bill.

Feb 15

Hay there

We were down to about 20 bales and I was starting to get nervous. An empty hay barn is a dispiriting spectacle. No crone can rest easy in a hay vacuum.

Two years ago, as a result of the worst drought since the dawn of time, you couldn’t get a flake of hay in Cottonmouth County for love or money. All I could scrounge was last year’s reject hay imported from the lush, green North, a moldy timothy/orchard/alf mix that you wouldn’t feed to cattle, going for a price-gouging $15 a bale. This hay was so enfungussed that when you broke it open a cloud of spores would sproof out like some venomous alien flower arrangement on Star Trek. It smelled, not like grass, but like mushrooms.

The situation was dire, but I was happy to get the stuff. I wrestled it into submission by steaming it in a giant hay steamer. The horses loved it (figures), but holy shit. Owing to the particular messy, fussy (mussy?) nature of hay steamering and the necessity of feeding the hay directly it has been steamed or the horses will apparently die in agony, the operation took on something like the smell of full-time grunt-labor.

HayGain Prongs of DeathA hay steamer, you are no doubt anxious to know, is basically a large ice chest connected by a hose to the boiler unit of a Jiffy garment steamer. An autoclave for fodder, if you will. You put the hay in the chest, go through a lot of mussiness with the boiler, turn it on, and hope you remember to turn it off again in an hour before it burns your barn down. The steam supposedly kills mold spores, which is useful if all you can get is nasty hay. However, the design flaws in my steamer — an unreservedly asinine device made by a company called HayGain — screw you, HayGain! — are legion. I wouldn’t wish hay steaming on a fucking men’s rights activist. I’ll spare you the grim minutiae; suffice it to say that of the HayGain’s many serious defects, the razor-sharp metal spikes that jut up from the bottom of the chest to impale the hands are among the most diabolical. The thing is practically an iron maiden, but with the added insult of steamin’ hot steam.

But I digress.

HayI am fortunate, this year, to have been able to retire the dreadful HayGain to the shed. My hay guy, Joe Ben, has just delivered a butt-load of fairly edible coastal Bermuda at the still-inflated price of $9 a bale.

Joe Ben, incidentally, is a freakishly strong dude. He can toss a 60-lb bale of hay about 50 feet in the air with one hand while milking a cow with the other. He also fancies himself a keen observer of human nature. Once he had finished tossing my 200 bales into perfect stacks, Joe Ben perceived the expression of contentment on my face as I admired the tableau. Quoth he, “You women and your hay.”

What tha? Did I just hear a sentence beginning with the words “you women”? Wait, that’s right, I’m not in Austin anymore. I’m in Cottonmouth County. Out here in the fields, gender-neutral conversation is a figment.

So, according to Joe Ben, there is something like a love connection between women and hay. Apparently no woman is ever as happy as she is when her hay barn is full. Extrapolating from the gender-specific nature of his remark, I assume his contention is that men, by comparison, are completely immune to the charms of a fully-stocked hay barn.

When I re-open the Twistitute for the Study of Rural Sexism, the first study I will conduct is one that will undertake to disprove Joe Ben’s theory that hay barn-related contentment is a function of sex. As a professional crone, I do not suffer at all from bias, but I can tell you right now that anybody, whether Vagina-American or no, who has ever endured the agony of crap-hay steaming during a drought, will show elevated levels of oxytocin and vasopressin when gazing upon a freshly packed barn full of decent hay. Mark my words!

Feb 12

Manure, hair dye, and more beetles

Carried off on a wave of enthusiasm for beetles, yesterday I posted these photos in the comments. Considering their sheer gaudiness, the notion of promoting these handsome bugs to the front page suggested itself.

Glove (with rainbow scarab)This is a rainbow scarab, notable not only for its ginormous prong and iridescent awesomeness, but for its taste for horse shit. That’s right. This exquisite relative of the sacred Egyptian scarab, so regal in bearing, eats poop. It is a dung beetle.

Crones such as myself both revere and identify with the dung beetle. Like the insect, the crone is obsessed with horse shit. Whereas dung beetles roll it into little balls, crones while away many a happy hour honing it into giant manure piles that will later become compost. Manure-pile-honing would be impossible without dung beetles. They do the grunt work of crumbling the horse-muffins into their consituent parts, thus rendering themselves essential to the process of elevating humble feces to rich, fragrant dirt.

Dung beetleI’m happy to see a healthy population of dung beetles swarming over my manure, but I don’t want to give the impression that there is nothing dreadful about them. In the warmer months, when I’m picking out the paddocks, I have to race the beetles to the individual poop piles. If the beetles get there first, which they always do, they crumble up the muffins into dirt before I can fork’em into my bucket for later removal to the Master Pile. Once it’s been beetled, a pile of horse shit resembles sand and can’t be forked, so it just sits there in the pasture, attracting flies and exuding pathogens. This results in my having to shake my fist at the sky and bellow “Damn you, dung beetles, damn you!”

Longhorned beetleAs for the blood-red and metallic teal longhorned beetle, I don’t know jack about it except its No.1 Science Information name (Stenaspis verticalis insignis). With that loud color combination they’re pretty arresting when you’re traipsing through the woods and happen to see one lounging on a tree. I have, in my day, had my hair dyed each of those hues. I didn’t know it at the time, but nyah nyah, Mom, it turns out those colors are found in nature.

See more and better photos of the rainbow scarab, and every other bug on the planet, at BugGuide.net, my favorite website ever.

Feb 11

Fig. 17. Unexpected longhorned beetle, 1.5″ excluding antennae

BeetleWhen you live in the country it’s more or less a foregone conclusion that on a daily basis you’ll be forced to look at things that bum you out. For example, it’s a pretty painful tableau when you’re about to slice onions and you reach for the trusty mandoline, but suddenly, blamm! A big-ass beetle reclining insouciantly on the handle. It’s an entity-class bug. It has its own zip code, can be seen from space, etc.

“Whoa!” quoth the startled crone.

Gargantuan arthropods in the house? Come on. I get that bugs, even the big-ass ones, are diminutive relative to human architecture; nevertheless I can’t fathom how so many of them manage to get inside. The bunkhouse is constructed of solid, sealed and caulked material, but I swear I’d have fewer buggal encounters if I were camping in a tropical rainforest with nothing separating me from the poetry of the earth but a mosquito net with several large holes in it. And what’s with these huge specimens brazenly infesting kitchen gadgets in broad daylight? Look, I’m down if they choose to regard the dank, dark crevices of seldom-opened closets as luxury resorts, but it’s simply going too far when they start striking louche poses on the cheese grater.

Feb 09

Gross crap oozes out of horse, again

It’s a fact: horses with chronic ventral midline edema are endlessly fascinating. You can bet that a few days ago when my mare Ginger Rogers suffered another relapse after a two-month dry spell I could pretty much see “Internet Sensation!” written all over her crusty, serum-oozing umbilical carbuncles. It was the work of a moment to whip off these snaps. I realize they look pretty similar to the snaps I whipped off a couple months ago, but as you know it’s impossible to ever quench the public’s insatiable thirst for equine dermatology.

Fig. 6, taken from between the hind legs, documents the swollen udder as well as the oozing crust.
Ventral midline edema

Fig. 22 shows the vast quantities of fluid pooling at the lowest point of the spare tire, making Ginger Rogers look even more zaftig than usual.
Funky old edema

What does the vet say? Allergies. Shot of dex in the neck followed by oral dex for 3 days will treat the symptoms, but this is unsatisfactory! Steroids have untoward side effects, and in any event the actual allergen remains a mystery. Is it fly bites? Oak pollen? Arabians?* “Take her to A&M,” is the constant refrain.

“A&M,” for those of you not lucky enough to inhabit the Lone Star State, refers to Texas A&M University, where there’s a vet school and a large animal clinic. Apparently A&M is where all the equine veterinary dermatologists are kept; certainly nary a one has ever been spotted roaming the Hill Country tossing out convenient allergy tests.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to schlep Ginger Rogers all the way the fuck up to A&M for some wildly expensive and logistically difficult allergy testing, but there’s a catch. I regret to say that it’s a bona fide Catch-22. I found out about it two years ago when my Arabian mare Stella came down with eyes-swollen-shut. The catch is that in order to be seen by a dermatology specialist at A&M, the horse can’t be sick.

It breaks down thusly: an appointment at A&M has a 1-month wait. One of the requirements for the appointment is that the horse be steroid-free for at least 3 months lest it foul up the test results. But a horse suffering the kind of painful dermatitis that plagues Ginger Rogers can’t wait a week to be treated, let alone a month. Neither can she go 3 months without steroids, because the flare-ups are on a tight 6-week schedule. So the upshot is that neither of my allergic horses will ever get a diagnosis or any decent treatment. Those flippin equine dermatologists might as well be partying in a palace in Dubai for all the good they’ll ever do me.

On the upside, Ginger Rogers appreciates that her dex tablets come stuffed inside Fuji apples.

* “Why not Arabians?” joked the vet. “Lots of people are allergic to them.” In case you aren’t familiar with the petty breed biases of the horse world, Arabians are thought, by people who don’t actually have Arabians, to be unstable, oversensitive, and flighty. It’s a bad rap. Arabians are merely alert.

Feb 05

Crone predicts own existential funk

BarnSo much has transpired since last I remembered that I had a blog, it’s ridiculous. But don’t worry. I won’t bore you with any of it. Suffice it to say that it was all dreadful. However, I can’t resist posting a couple of pictures. Observe the new Dreadful Acres barn, approaching (but never attaining) a state of completion. And only six months behind schedule!

Work, of course, has skreeked to a standstill. This is consistent with the natural order of things in the wild world of dwelling construction. When one embarks on a construction project, it is well to bear in mind that it will never be finished in one’s own lifetime. Currently we await the rubber floor installers, who are running a month late.

BarnBecause I can’t imagine that too many other people are stupid enough to buy rubber floors for their flippin’ hobby barns (thus clogging up the rubber floor installation queue), I can only surmise that the rubber floor installer dudes just don’t feel like installing any rubber floors at the moment. Presumably they are partying at a Sandals resort in Cancun.

In any event, within a few weeks the floor will be in, and then the stall fronts can be installed. At which point I suppose it will be possible to actually put horses in there.

Holy crap. Horses in my barn? The mind reels. I’ve been designing this barn since I was twelve. I’ve uprooted my whole life, moulded it to this specific purpose, and spared no expense to accommodate the fulfillment of this childhood dream of barn perfection. A sense of foreboding engulfs me.

BarnUndoubtedly what will happen is, at the moment of truth, I will escort the mares to their new luxury quarters, take their picture, and then turn them right back out again, because there is no good reason to confine a horse in a barn on a perfectly good sunny day when it could be lounging around under an oak tree in a perfectly good pasture.

Then I will stand in the aisle of my exquisite empty barn and gaze at it, somewhat brokenly. I will experience an existential pang at the inevitable realization that horse barns do not constitute a high moral purpose or embody great philosophic value, and that my ever-misguided search for Truth and Beauty has met another dead end. Thus bringing to a dramatic culmination the dream of 42 years.

As the good old poet said, “the world is a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”

I can’t wait!

Dec 11

Blogging all my nowhere posts to nobody

My brain used to be a Size 10, but all that carrying-on in the 80s and 90s shriveled it down to about a Size 2. Thus it’s not uncommon for me to come down with blogular amnesia. By which I mean, I just completely forget I have a blog. Sometimes for days on end. I attribute this phenomenon to two factors.

One: forgetfulness.

Two: the cheeky habit time has of just flying by.

For example, a day can often turn into two days. Two days can turn into three. I shudder to think what seven days might turn into. A week, possibly.

This can all happen in the blink of an eye. One hardly notices. Seriously, just the other day I was 24 years old, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But today? I’m like 50 and every joint in my body needs replacement surgery. What the frak? Tomorrow — because unlike in that treacly movie where Brad Pitt plays a creepy geriatric man-baby, crones age in the same direction as everyone else — don’t be surprised if I turn out to be 83.

Meanwhile, as I continue to ossify at warp speed, some dreadful crisis or other always diverts my attention and before I know it, instead of writing a pithy essay entitled “The Night the Rabid Racoons Attacked,” I’ve spent the entire morning trying to unstick a venomous six-inch centipede from a glueboard, which glueboard is also stuck to my boot.

Not today, though. No, today, not only have I remembered I have a blog, I have actually composed a riveting commentary and am ready to publish it. But who knows if anyone will ever read it? I can’t post anything because my internet is down. And when your internet iCraps out in East Jesus, nobody can hear you scream.

Homespun text banter with the CEO of my ISP

OK, that’s not strictly true, at least for me. It turns out my ISP isn’t pure evil like Verizon or KableTown. It’s two dudes named Rick. The Ricks actually can hear me scream, albeit not before I have put in considerable effort to be heard. When my internet connection goes blotto, I have to schlep a mile up the road to where the cell network sort of quasi-works, and then shoot the Ricks a text. One of the Ricks then shimmies up a tower somewhere in Dripping Springs, TX and fixes it. Sometimes I stroll, or ride a horse, or take the Gator to the cell phone sweet spot, so getting a hold of the Ricks can be kind of a diverting little jaunt in the country.

Not today, though. It’s 7 in the morning and 35 degrees and the wind is envortexing the farm at 30 miles an hour; it feels like about 45,672 microscopic curare-dipped icicles are being driven into my body by a commensurate number of microscopic hammers. My lack of country pluckiness obliges me to wrap up in about 8 parkas and take the car up the road. The Rick and I manage only a brief exchange before the ominous words “No Service” reappear on my phone. Faintly, the theme from “Jaws” begins to play.

NO SERVICE. I huddle down in the seat, hiding from the frozen, isolated nowhereness like the busty blonde teen in a slasher flick hides from the crazed maniac who lurks at the lakehouse dismembering helpless sexy girls because his mother was a drunken lesbian slut murderer who sold his puppy to buy an 8-ball; i.e., ineffectively.

A couple days ago, when I still had an internet connection, I’d downloaded a semi-recent Diane Rehm podcast to listen to while picking up horse manure. The topic was “The Future of the Landline” or something (I regret that I am unable to confirm the precise title, having no internet access via which to fact-check). Copper-line phones are going the way of the white hipster belt/ironic trucker hat, apparently. They’re gonna be phased out.

Big deal, you say. Who uses a landline anymore?

Well, everybody out here does. As you may have deduced from the preceding paragraphs, cell phones don’t work in Cottonmouth County. At all. I mean, cell service kind of sucks in town, I know, but it’s a mild, half-assed suckiness that pales in comparison to the flat-out worse-than-uselessness of mobile phones in this or any other rural outpost. Also, in town there’s fast internet and wi-fi everywhere. Out here, Verizon’s constant refrain to the hayseeds is “Coming soon! Fiber optics! Cell towers! Lightning speeds!” but what they actually mean is “screw the rural jurors who have to crawl a mile over broken glass to find the faintest glimmer of a spot where their goddam flip-fone can get a bar or two. Let them use dial-up.”

Like the dude on Diane Rehm said, the big telecoms are always promising improved coverage and hi-speed access to us yokels, but they never make good. I’ve been out here listening to those promises for over 5 years, and I still get internet access via an achingly slow and rickety DSL-over-wireless network for which I pay twice what anyone in Austin pays for superfast cable. And I’m one of the lucky ones. Some of these farmers out here couldn’t receive Rick’s flimsy, flighty little wireless signal even if they wanted to, so they’re forced to use dial-up. Yeah, I know! Fucking dial-up!

You may point a sanctimonious finger and say “first world problems, cry me a river” or whatever, but it is my considered opinion — and I am joined in considering this opinion by professional liberal wankers who publish articles in popular magazines and pontificate on public radio talk shows — that limiting access to communications and information networks in this day and age is nothing but discriminatory, classist, megatheocorporatocratic oppression. If I were a patriarchy blamer, I might say that it’s a plot to ensure the continued ignorance and marginalization of rural Americans, to preserve them as a self-replicating source of the yokel-power that keeps homophobic antifeminist godbag politicians, and country-western pop stars, in business.

Then again, how adorable is it to get a text from the president of your ISP complaining, à propos of nothing in particular, “I got a sick kid. My handyman busted a water line in my bathroom and the internet sucks. Also I’m out of chicken feed”? It’s so worth it!

I kid, I kid! It’s agony! I’d take faceless megacorporate cable internet over folksy texts from nice guys any day. It’s 2012, already. A crone shouldn’t have to travel a mile down a dirt road on horseback just to download a cute kitten video, goddammit!

Dec 08

Crone clenches fists, hollers “noooooo!”

The Sanitron rainwater filtration system: one of the many places water goes when it wants to screw me over.

There are many aspects of country life that remind me of a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And then there are those that flat-out shoot an electric current of unmitigated terror straight into my amygdala.

Water is one of those.

Damn you, water! There either isn’t any because of the drought, or there’s too much because of the flood, or the pump that pumps it out of the well is busted, or what little of it there is is full of arsenic, or it turns dirt into mud, or it washes out the road, or it rots the horses’ hooves, or it breeds mosquitoes, or the guy who delivers it runs over a deer with his truck, or something crawls into its tank and dies. Disasters all, but nothing water is, or does, or pretends to be, is as abominable as its propensity for freezing.

What a vile habit. Water cares not where it freezes, whether in pumps or pipes or sumps or snipes. It is indifferent to a country crone’s anguish. It just freezes as it pleases.

One of the most painful places for water to freeze is in the hoses that supply the horses’ drinking water. You already know about leading a horse to water. Try leading it to ice. Let me use math to illustrate this torment: horses absorb ten gallons of water a day. A pint’s a pound the world around, so that’s 230 pounds of water a day for the three mares of Dreadful Acres. And when the hose is froze I gotta hand-tote it from the house. During the course of which totin’ I inevitably end up wearing about half of it. Which, because it is literally freezing outside, is pretty inconvenient. And then, once the water’s where it needs to be, I gotta figure out how to keep it liquid long enough for the horses to actually drink it.

If I screw this up, and the horses don’t stay hydrated, they’ll all get impaction colic and die. Within, like, 28 minutes.

And here’s another thing. It freezes so infrequently down here, I never really get a chance to hone the procedure down to a gleaming, elegant system. I have to basically re-learn it every time. Drain the hoses, wrap the pipes, drain the hoses, wrap the pipes. It’s a foregone conclusion that I’ll have forgotten to have pipe-wrapping supplies on hand. And also, because 230 lbs is what is known scientifically as a “crap-ton,” I’ll be throwing my back out pretty early on. At the end of the first frozen day, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be that big, wet, blubbing blob sobbing on the mud room floor.

With my love’s picture then my eye doth feast.

You know what would make all this a lot easier? A no-freeze hose. Well, guess what somebody posted on the CoTH forum? A link to a just such a hose. And it supposedly actually works. I was intrigued — nay, smitten. Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes?

It is my policy to immediately buy anything suggested by any random internet stranger, so I ordered one of these miracle hoses right off the bat.

Minutes moseyed, days dragged by. Of the sluggish clock it may be said that hours seemed to linger between its tick and its tock. Yet still no sign of the hose. Then one brisk morning there arrived an email from hose-purveyor Brenda at Barns2Go. She apologized for the delay; they’d unexpectedly been out of stock but would be sending my hose “tomorrow.” Not only that, said Brenda, she’s “personally been using it on my own farm and it’s performed as advertised and been an incredible time and labor saver for watering!”

O how my spirits soared! Thanks to Brenda, the no-freeze hose and I would be two hearts that beat as one. Together, our sub-zero horse-watering technique would be unstoppable!

That was 9 days ago. By now you will have undoubtedly surmised the horrible truth. No freeze-free hose appends my bib, and there’s been not a peep out of Brenda. Which makes me pretty disconsolate, because, although it’s currently about 126.7 degrees F here in Cottonmouth County, I have been given to understand that we’re gettin’ our first hard freeze in a couple-a days.

I was blinded by love’s young dream before, but I see it now. This whole freezeless hose business was all just a fantasy, a figment, the gilded delusion of a desperate crone. Well, that’s it. I’ve brushed the scales from my eyes. Tomorrow I go to have my “No-Freeze Hose 4EVER” tattoo removed. Then I’ll return to the empty bunkhouse and play Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” while I, a broken crone, mourn that which never was with bitter tears and a tub of Cool Whip Kool Kreme. All our love is lost, for Love is dead.

Hose photo from Barns2Go.com

Dec 06

Deep thoughts

Fawn head

When pondering the episode of the dead turkey vulture in the driveway, it is difficult to avoid the central question: why aren’t there dead turkey vultures galore all over the place?

I ask because the atmosphere above Dreadful Acres is pretty thick with these birds. Most days you can’t even see the sky for all the swirling and sworling vultures. Their population must number in the gazillions. Furthermore, my suspicion is that they don’t live forever. So, what happens to all the dead ones?

For that matter, where are all the deceased black vultures? Regular turkey corpses? Recent Great Blue Herons? And what about all the mammals? There are dead deer all the time (encrusted, of course, with live vultures), but they are the exception. I can’t remember the last time I saw a deceased armadillo that was not the result of vehicular dillocide.

Why isn’t the countryside positively riddled with rotting carcasses? This isn’t Disneyland, for crying out loud. It’s Savage Death Island!

And don’t say “the vultures get’em” because even vultures leave the bones, and it’s not like there’s a crap-ton of porcupine skeletons littering the horizon.

Photo: the dead deer head Bert was carrying around for a while. He wouldn’t trade it for anything less than half a chicken.

Dec 06

Crone posts heartwarming dog photo in lieu of essay

Last night it was 62 F outside so we had to have a fire or we would die.


What’s that smell? The dog roasting. You literally have to pry my yella lab Franny away from a fire. She thinks she’s a suckling pig.

Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in need a dog with a mind like a superball who persists in a state of relentless good humor, I suggest a 2-year-old yella lab. Mine has never been in a bad mood, or even so much as a slight funk, since she was 8 weeks old.

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