Bacon Update: Part 2: Scoring Bacon From A Pusher

I assume some of my readership is urban, or at least not quite as hopelessly redneck as me. Therefore I’ll explain something about the relationship between farms and buying food. This is a Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight so you might want to write this down:

A consumer must span a massive chasm of weird when they approach a farmer, cash in hand, to purchase food. Consider it an adventure… because the weird ‘aint going away. The rabbit hole goes clear to the earth’s core. This is why grocery stores exist… to take out the weird.

Buying a pig, for food, directly from a farm is a funky process. I’d say it’s like scoring weed but pot is probably a more mundane and efficient market. (For all I know stoners in Colorado pay with credit cards and get bulk discounts. Most small informal farmers aren’t remotely that advanced.) The following description is how you would buy a pig for food if you hadn’t already broken into the market several years ago:

You hear of a dude who’s got some pigs. Maybe your friend heard of a guy that works with a fellow that knows a dude who raises them on the side. So you try to meet the dude. Maybe you hang out at the coffee shop where he hangs out. You don’t quite know the dude’s name and nobody in the place drove in on a tractor so you ask the barista. The barista, who’s a vegan and weighs 40 pounds soaking wet, eyes you like you’re a baby stomping reprobate but points out the dude. The dude, for his part forgot to wear overalls and a straw hat. In fact the bastard is carrying a laptop. How were you supposed to know he was the dude?

You sidle up to the dude, a complete stranger, and say something like “I hear you’re selling pigs?” The dude glares at you like you’re an insult to humanity and and retorts “I’m a professor of humanities and a rich urbane pussified vegetarian social activist. I certainly have no idea what you’re talking about!”

Stunned, you look at the barista who points to the woman at a table a few feet further behind the dude. She is the actual dude and is laughing at your city slicker ways. There’s no outward hint she’s a farmer (or homesteader… or as I like to call it… “bacon pusher”). Her car is a VW Rabbit, she’s sipping herbal tea, wearing a t-shirt with an advertisement for a bicycle company, and reading a book about learning to speak Norwegian. The clues simply aren’t there! The Amish have a point. They wear a goddamn uniform and you’re thankful for their assistance. You vow that henceforth all farmers should carry name tags!

The dude-ette has pigs and will sell you one. You look outside for her truck which must be loaded with sweet sweet bacon and are baffled by the Volkswagen. You ask how much it will cost to get some bacon… a seemingly reasonable question. In response you get a friggin’ story…

“Well it’s X dollars per pound hanging weight, plus processing at Bills Meat Butchery and Scented Candle Emporium… you know the place?” You nod even though you have no idea where this is and loathe scented candles. Later, on Google, you’ll discover that Bill is located an hours drive away, on a dirt road, and is never open. He doesn’t answer his phone… ever.

“A pig weighs about Y pounds hanging weight and you can figure three quarters of that will be good meat…” The story is still going on. What about the bacon?!?

“…plus it’s a little different if you want chops or grind…” Chops or grind sounds like a hip hop band.

“…and it’ll take a while for the smoking process…” You entertain the idea of a bacon cigar.

“… you’ll have to go to Bill’s yourself because of the fuckin’ regulations, if you’ll pardon my French.” Um… regulations?

“….bring a cooler.” The story ends. You have no idea what just happened.

“There will be bacon at Bill’s then?” You’re trying to stay focused.

“Yeah, maybe 10 pounds or more… plus chops, roasts, grind, and so forth….” It dawns on you that pigs are not entirely composed of bacon…. which is a flaw in the Universe.

“So when do I go to Bills?” You stammer.

“I’ll tell you. I’m still fattening them up.” The dudette reports.

You leave. You’re radiating confusion and filled with errata about animal husbandry. No money changed hands, you don’t know what you’ll get, you don’t know how much you’ll pay, you don’t know when it’ll happen, apparently you need to go home and Google Bill’s location and sit by the phone.

Three weeks later your cell phone rings while you’re in the middle of a business meeting. It’s not a text because Bill don’t do that shit. Neither does Bill leave voice mail. You slip out of the room, call the number that just hung up. It’s Bill…. holy shit he exists!

“Your pig is done. I close at five.” Then Bill hangs up.

You go back to the meeting and explain that your child just got struck by lightning. Therefore you must leave right away. Then you jump in your car, race home to get a cooler, and break several traffic laws to get to Bill’s at 4:48 PM. Bill is standing there with a meat cleaver and looking sour.

You explain he called you. Bill doesn’t seem to recall. You mumble the dudette’s name and suddenly there’s a smile. Bill’s boys… all butcher shops have several young men working in the freezer (never women; possibly because they’re too smart to take that job)… Bills boys fill your cooler in five seconds with unlabeled white objects that are frozen solid. Your cooler is too small and your manhood is therefore insulted. Bill sticks the rest in an old waxed box hands you a bill for what appears to be a random amount. He takes your money and closes the door at 4:49pm. In Bill’s world it’s beer thirty. You still don’t quite know what you’ve received or how the amount you paid was determined. They might as well be using a roulette wheel.

Home, you stuff your freezer. You’re happy. You find the packages of bacon, interspersed with other glorious pig related joy. It’s frozen solid.

You set some bacon it out the thaw. It’ll take 12 hours. You pick up the phone and call the dudette. “Got any eggs?” Dudette doesn’t but she gives you the name of her brother’s uncle’s sister’s cousin who has a boyfriend with plenty of chickens. You scribble the name on your arm and the cycle of confusion begins again. What is bacon without eggs?

More in my next post…

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Bacon Update: Part 1

I am the proud owner of three healthy happy mountains of bacon. In case you were smart enough to avoid missed my earlier series here’s the background:

Time for a brief year end analysis of what I’ve learned this season:

  1. My big huge, over-engineered, Jurassic fence of doom, dotted with ego gates, and sealed with electric pain has been a BIG SUCCESS! As a homesteader there are a thousand ways to fail and I’ve experienced many of them. However, this time I swung for the bleachers and hit a home run. Heed my words and know the truth: There is no such thing as a fence that’s too big and strong. By comparison the Foxinator’s pigs have escaped many times, usually when it’s inconvenient. Imagine hearing the sounds of porcine mayhem outside of your window; at dawn, in the rain, as they trash stuff locally and then head for a party on the neighbor’s lawn. Wouldn’t that suck? The Foxintaor reports that it’s hell on a stick. She’s chased loose pigs several times and the Foxinator’s kids have chased the same pigs (and in case you’re wondering… pigs can run like hell). Mrs. Curmudgeon has also been drafted to chase the Foxinator’s pigs. (I missed that adventure entirely. Another lesson in life… leaving the cell phone off can make your day a lot more pleasant.) Our pigs, on the other hand, lounge in their oversized pen with an air of contentment and joy. When they feel like running (pigs run!) they have ample room to make a few laps in the weeds and still stay within their designated location. They have stayed put. This is a big fat hairy deal.
  2. The pigs are a great success. My corn field is a total failure. Ya’ win some, ya’ lose some.

So now it’s fall. The harvest is upon us. There’s no hurry but it’s about the right time to make a few sales, clear some space in the freezer, and finish the cycle.

I was making plans to market the little buggers when things got complicated. More in my next post.

A.C.

P.S. One last observation, you may be picturing pigs as fat lazy muddy stinking reprobates… untrue! My pigs are clean, lean, and strong. They’re toned and muscled. When they bump into you at feeding time (much like your dog would) it’s like getting butted by a Kenworth. They’re affectionate, at least when they’re hoping for a treat (which makes them at least as grateful as the average human). Also they run like the wind. I penned them up with room to spare and they’ll bolt through that “empty” terrain like a barrel racing stallion; albeit one that’s waist high.

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Raccoon

Yesterday’s post had me thinking about raccoons. Then I found this:

Hat tip to My Muse Shanked Me go there for better posts than my raccoon battles.

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Ammo Review: Part 6

Q: Can ammoforsale.com override physics?

A: Sadly, no. Light loads for small things is a law of nature.

I wanted to test the ammo right away but I was still sick. I’d promised my doctor I’d stay out of the rain. (He probably told me to eat more vegetables too.) Fate intervened…

I was sound asleep when I sensed a commotion. A terrorist! It was probably a raccoon. (A raccoon in the chicken coop is just a small scale, poultry based, terrorist attack.) As any true redneck should, I came flying out of the house with shotgun in hand.

It was cold, wet, drizzling, and pitch dark. Perfect weather for staying in bed. I hauled ass for the chicken coop; running more or less from memory. There could have been a steam shovel between me and the coop and I’d run right into it. All I knew was that the chickens were carrying on like they were under attack. That’s the pre-arranged signal for me to show up with my boomstick and earn my place on the food chain. Whether the issue was a raccoon or a grizzly, we were going to meet face to face very shortly.

Running blind sucks and my lungs hurt. I slowed and gasped for breath as I got to the chicken coop. Being outdoors in pajamas and a t-shirt wasn’t bright for someone with bronchitis. Also the chickens had calmed down. I was too late. The intrude had probably run away.

-Probably- that’s the key word. Just to be sure I stayed. I didn’t move an inch, I didn’t cough (which wasn’t easy). I waited. Raccoons and me, it’s war and I take it seriously.

After a few minutes the clouds cleared and the barnyard was flooded in moonlight. Twenty feet away was the biggest raccoon I’ve ever seen and it was looking right at me. He was a smart one to stay still. I’ll give him credit for that. It was only by unreasonable perseverance (stupidity?) I was still there when the clouds broke. I brought up my shotgun. The raccoon about turned itself inside out trying to get out of the way. I fired. Too low. Mud flew everywhere.

It started to climb a nearby wire fence (hoping to get to the forest beyond). I fired again. It was a perfect shot. Unfortunately the wire fence sagged under the raccoon’s weight and he sunk just below the shot. (That’s what you call a raccoon saving throw.)

The raccoon flopped on the lawn with his back to the fence. He had nowhere to go. Frontier justice would prevail. I took another step.

Ewww! I was standing on a recently deceased chicken. I looked down; gross! The raccoon saw his chance and bolted.

It crashed through the forest like a creature fleeing for its life. I crashed after like an ape in the dark forest. The moon was again covered up by the clouds. It was pitch dark and raining again. This is the opening scene to every horror movie.

Unable to see, I blundered along, banging my shin on a rock, my face into enough stuff that you might say I just ran into “forest”. I dropped my half empty box of shells too. I hate it when the box gets trashed!

“There’s mud all over my testing ammo! You’re doomed vermin!” I screamed. (I assume I sounded tough but I likely sounded like Yosemite Sam.)

The raccoon veered behind some branches. I was close but I won’t fire unless I know the target and backstop. Lucky for me, the moonlight came out again. It was scampering up a fallen trunk, head high, 30 yards out and moving fast. Probably out of range and mostly obscured by brush. It was going for a big old oak.

Ha! Going up are you? Yeah, fine! There was a clear view on an open space just below it so I fired two more shots there to encourage it to keep climbing. It made the trunk and headed for the sky.

Yeah! Treed it!

I was out of ammo but I had the bastard pinned. Any minute now Mrs. Curmudgeon would come with a flashlight. “I got it treed honey!” I shouted.

Five minutes later I realized Mrs. Curmudgeon wasn’t coming. I was standing in the rain, shivering cold and clutching an empty shotgun. My spare rounds were lost in the mud and the raccoon would surely climb down the minute I stepped away. Isn’t life like that?

I tied my shirt around the trunk. Not a bad idea eh? Maybe the scent would dissuade the raccoon from climbing down. This tactic, made up on the spot, is no dumber than other things I’ve done. Maybe it was a useless gesture? I don’t know. Ask a raccoon hunter. They’d know. Also they’d be sipping coffee while hounds did the work. Those guys are on to something. I don’t hunt raccoons so I’m clueless. All I do is maintain a perimeter against incursions.

Shirtless and freezing, I scooted for my truck and fired up the heater. I figured the headlights would keep my worthy adversary up the tree while I warmed up. Like all proper men, I had a flashlight and jacket in the back seat. After a suitable warm up I sauntered back into the forest with a proper jacket and an air of smug superiority. I found the box of shells I’d dropped, wiped ‘em off, and loaded up. I’d told ammoforsale.com I’d find a unique test. I’d done it. Let’s see other ammunition reviewers run around shirtless in a pitch dark drizzle. Clearly this was a real world (if poorly executed) test.

Here’s where things got hinky. For terrorists raccoons I usually go for 20 gauge with 1 ounce of #6 shot. I’d been “testing” (if that’s what you call it) 7/8 ounce of #7 1/2 shot. I shrugged. Going from “heavy game load” to “game load”; how much difference could it make?

The raccoon was way high in the tree. I wasn’t sure a 20 gauge could reach it. It might merely sting his hide some? (Usually I get ‘em before they make it to the trees!) I wasn’t sure what I’d do if he stayed up there. I took my time and fired. The was a pause, then the raccoon fell through the branches. It landed at my feet with a whump. Cool!

What happened next was not part of the plan. It jumped up and charged at me!

I let out a high octave scream that would embarrass a child and scampered away. It was maybe 9 feet away and closing when I shot it in the foot.

The critter made a sound which was pure hatred. It was a battle cry that proves not only that raccoons can go to Valhalla but this one intended to earn a seat at the best table. Rather than run away it kept advancing. Aside from its foot, it seemed in perfect health. As raccoons go, it was pretty big. In the dark I estimated it at 250 pounds and made of titanium.

I decided then and there that the difference between “heavy game load” and “game load” is a big fat hairy deal! You heard it here first folks. When you’re under attack from a woodland mammal that’s channelling the spirit of vengeance… get the heavy game loads.

Once again I was down to only one shot left in the chamber. Apparently there’s something to this whole “tactical reload” concept.

Time for a mental reboot. Am I not a rough tough dude? Wasn’t Ranger Rick here simply a hen killing critter? Missing close shots and running like a fool wasn’t helping my bronchitis and it was likely to get my ankle bitten (or from this demon creature… I’d get dismembered). So I calmed down and put the last shot right where it needed to go. Even then the raccoon flopped around a bit. “Game load” indeed! Raccoons around my farm have interbred with Kodiak bears and I’m arming up from a box that has a dove on the front? Lesson learned.

I returned to the house and told Mrs. Curmudgeon. “It’s OK. I got the raccoon.”

“Huh?” She mumbled. She’d slept through the whole thing.

The next day the raccoon barely fit in a 50# feed bag. We lost one chicken.

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Ammo Review: Part 5

Q: Can ammoforsale.com teach you to let go of unfounded premises?

A: Yes.

I was a little disappointed that the 20 gauge ammo was low brass instead of high brass. Then I pondered just exactly why I buy high brass? Turns out it’s just habit. I buy high brass for no good reason at all. (A similar logic gave us Washington DC.)

Maybe there’s some reason why high brass is good. (I’m sure someone will comment about how important it is.) I don’t reload shotgun shells so maybe that matters.

Over the winter I pondered the high brass in my stocks and compared it to the low brass I got as a sample. I desperately wanted to prove that high brass was better. I couldn’t. I’ve decided low brass is fine for me. Shooting both, even alternating shots, I simply couldn’t detect a lick of difference between the two. You learn something new every day.

Your mileage may vary. I prefer 20 gauge, 2 3/4″ shells and I spend most of my time shooting pump and double barrel shotguns. (Though I’ve had no issues with semi automatics.) I mostly use my shotgun for defending chickens and (missing) grouse. Maybe folks who slay clay pigeons by the gross have different needs? Perhaps, if you shoot a lot of 12 gauge magnum and low brass gums up your semi-auto (and you’re left handed on Wednesdays?), then I suppose that explains high brass.

As for me, I’ve decided high brass was an unfounded premiss. Chalk up another win for ammoforsale.com.

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Ammo Review: Part 4

Q: Can ammoforsale.com set you up better than a pimp with a drug dealer on speed dial?

A: Hell yeah!

When I made the analogy above, Mrs. Curmudgeon gave me a look just like this. (I"m tellin ya' it's hard to write humor!)

When I made the analogy above, Mrs. Curmudgeon gave me a look just like this. (I”m tellin ya’ it’s hard to write humor!)

If you’ve been reading the rest of my little story you know [sumdood] from ammoforsale.com had offered me, an irreverent blogger, free ammunition just for writing a review. He offered it at no cost and actually said…

“What do you need?”

Was he kidding? That’s like an open liquor cabinet and a winning lottery ticket delivered by a naked supermodel riding a dragon who shits gold. What I needed was about six truckloads of ammunition in every caliber known to man. Enough so I can stack the boxes and live inside a house built entirely out of brass and lead. What do I need? Was he kidding?

“I want ALL the ammunition! Bwa ha ha ha ha…” It was on the tip of my tongue! Trying desperately not to be rude, I moderated my wishes. “Oh, a couple boxes. Something for hunting, something for zombies. You know.”

“That’s great!” I could feel just plain niceness through the phone. Either that or my codeine cough syrup was finally working. (I had a prescription so chill out.) “What calibers? I can offer just about anything but .22.” He added.

I started running through my mental inventory of ammunition stocks. Honestly I’m not very organized about this. A lot of serious shooters have it all down pat. They might even write stuff down. Not me. I simply have a shitload of more or less whatever I need and I keep it stacked in a semi-random pile. (Actually piles.) I have less of the stuff I’ve recently sent flying downrange and more of the stuff I’ve found cheap. It’s an organic system that works for me.

I pondered for a moment and decided to ask for something obscure.

“Here’s your first test; 7.62 x 54R.”

“Sure. I’ll send a box.” He answered quickly.

“Not that misurp stuff? I shoot the shit too but I’ve got plenty of that. Crap that’s Berdan primed and made with powder that’s equal parts corrosives and Communist’s tears. No, I want some good stuff with reloadable brass.” I croaked.

“Sure, it’s good stuff. If you run it through your chronograph you’ll find…”

“I test Mosin-Nagants the old fashioned way.” I interrupted.

“Um…”

“I’ve got a nice Finn. I’ll head over to Helsinki and see if that bitch Putin can handle a real sniper.”

“Er…” The poor guy didn’t know what to say to that.

“I’m just joking. Sheesh.” I cackled. “You’ve read my blog right?”

“Oh yes.” He seemed relieved.

“How about some wheelgun food? Got any plain old .38 Special?”

“Yep!”

Wow. This was like Christmas and a tax rebate and all at once. I just couldn’t get over it. I was speechless.

“What about shotgun ammo?” He prompted.

“Uh… yeah!” I was having trouble focusing. Try it sometime, just walk up to a stranger and hand him several boxes of ammunition. If his brain immediately melts you’ve found a gun nut. Plus… codeine.

“How about bird hunting. Twelve gauge?” He had no idea I was undergoing a complete catharsis on the other end of the line.

I pulled myself together. “I prefer 20 gauge. For raccoons.”

“Raccoons?” He wasn’t expecting this.

“Yeah, 12 gauge is cool but I think 20 has a little more panache right? Plus Raccoons mess with my chickens. The little bastards are just terrorists with fur.”

“Panache?” This slowed him down.

“OK fine, I’ll go after some birds. If I don’t get one I’m writing that on my review.”

“20 gauge game loads.” He agreed.

“You have any .410?” I asked, knowing full well I’d pushed my luck further than humanly possible.

“Hmmm… More panache eh?” He clicked on a computer. “Sorry. We’re sold out of .410. I’ll throw in a second box of 20 gauge OK?”

“Yeah, that’ll do fine.” I chuckled.

“Now I want you to do an honest review OK? You don’t need to be biased.” He added.

“No worries. I’ll write something unexpected.”

He paused.

Uh oh, was the jig up? Maybe he had me confused with someone that regularly uses a benchrest and noodles around with a micrometer. If so, I was hosed. “I mean I’ll review it exactly as I see it.”

“Good!” I could hear the smile.

I felt a moral imperative to tell the guy that I was a wiseass. No use misrepresenting my level of seriousness. “One more thing. I’m not really into chronographs and I’m only modestly into marksmanship. There are far more qualified reviewers than me. Also reviews like that, which are very useful in their own way, simply bore the hell out of me. I’m just going to shoot a bird and tell everyone if it tastes good.”

“Whatever you want.” He seemed satisfied.

Well OK then. From my point of view that was a green light to have fun! I gave an address and hung up. Then, because I was still sick as a dog, I staggered back to the couch and slept for a week.

Mrs. Curmudgeon wondered if it was a scam. I smiled. I love paranoid women! I hadn’t given out a credit card number. I was satisfied.


Finally! Some actual relevant content:

Delivery was perfect. The box arrived right when he said it would. I live in the middle of nowhere. If you lived where I did, you too would be impressed and pleased with any delivery that arrives at the specified time. Deliveries here are usually a day or two later than in civilized regions and nobody on the internet is ever right about the arrival date. This was a first! I practically hugged the FedEx guy.

Have I mentioned this was free? Wait. Stop. Just quit reading and think about this. Free. I totally owe those guys. Ammoforsale.com sent me free ammunition and it’s proof that the world is a wonderful place.

More in my next post.

A.C.

P.S. Mrs. Curmudgeon points out that a positive review for a company doesn’t usually start by comparing them with pimps and drug dealers. I concur. So I’ll phrase it in a different way:

Q: Does ammoforsale.com have customer service, adequate stock, and fast delivery in a way that’s exactly opposite of those dimwitted yahoos at the Department of Motor Vehicles?

A: Hell yeah!

DMV versus FedEx

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Ammo Review: Part 3

Q: Can ammoforsale.com validate your existence?

A: Hell yeah!

I’m a blogger. Comparing normal human interaction to blogging is comparing a warm handshake to a freak stapling typewritten rants to telephone poles.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. For one thing, blogging is vaguely anonymous. This suits my desire for privacy and avoids scaring the neighbors. Of course the NSA knows what I had for breakfast but I’m not particularly worried about them; writing about broke tractors and foaming at the mouth about the deficit hardly makes me Tank Man. (Note, I said I wasn’t worried about the NSA, pissed off at them is an entirely different matter.)

For legal and logistical reasons, ammoforsale.com had to know my name and address. Thus I had to overcome a streak of paranoia a mile wide and deeper than the Mariana Trench. Then again… free ammo. Have you ever coaxed a skittish wild animal from a bush by holding out a piece of bread crust? For me… ammo will do the trick. Finally, I called their number. I was still fighting bronchitis and sounded like I’d recently been disinterred.

Ammoforsale.com” Came an almost freakishly cheerful voice.

“I’m looking for [sumdood]” I croaked. No, I’m not telling you who contacted me. Just assume he’s rich, handsome, intelligent, well spoken, and wears a halo. He distributes ammunition, clearly he’s awesome!

With shocking efficiency I was transferred. [Sumdood] picked up the phone immediately.

“Are you [sumdood]?” My voice sounded like a combination of The Kurgan and death.

“Yes. What’s up?” Came the upbeat voice.

Was everyone there happy? I briefly entertained the wish that I was employed at this workplace where everyone simply radiated smiles.

“I am,” I paused, “Adaptive Curmudgeon.”

Several years of blogging and that’s something I’ve never said aloud. Sure it’s not as awesome as saying ‘I’m Batman’ but still, it sounded kinda’ cool. Akin to Jim Morrison claiming to be the lizard king… except with the voice of someone who had slept in a cement mixer… and I wasn’t a stoned rocker.

“Oh my God!” He was enthused. “It’s really you!”

I have never in my life received such a response. I tend to expect less pleasantry. I was ready for: ‘I should have know it would be you’, ‘you again?’, and even ‘fuck you’. Here was someone, an actual resident of earth, that seemed delighted that a croaking lunatic with a six syllable pseudonym was on the phone. The world is full of wonders.

External validation is a powerful thing. I pictured Sally Field babbling ‘I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.’ No wonder everyone in Hollywood is a mess.

OK Curmudgeon, calm the heck down and close the deal. Keeping my inner dialogue to a dull roar I said something gruff and remote; “About this free ammo?”

“Oh yeah,” the guy said “what do you need?”

More in my next post.

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