Chickadees And Squirrels: Part 4

The dog calmed down immediately. I retrieved the cat. “Come! Here!”

“Yowwwlwlll I’m hungry.”

It was no use trying to coax the cat. I picked up stroke kitty, carried it over, and set it on the ground.

“I’m hungry. I want other cats to bully. Feed me. You’re the man keeping me down.”

“Right there. Behind you. It’s a damn squirrel. Yummy.”

“Yowwwllllll…. the trees are tilting.”

I picked up the cat, spun it around, and dropped it, nose first, on the squirrel.

The cat exploded. There was fur and claws and unholy sounds. Brain fried or not, the cat still has the instinct. Then it stood up, squirrel in it’s mouth, and raised it’s tail higher than I’d seen it all winter. It practically radiated joy at it’s excellence.

Yes, I care about the self esteem of my asshole brain damaged cat. Add that to sneaking up on a bird feeder like a sniper who gets one shot to survive the day. Neither of these things make sense. Humans are unusual creatures.

Squirrels breed like rabbits. Or maybe rabbits breed like squirrels. When Stalin kitty was healthy there weren’t many around. Now they keep turning up. I’ve popped a few more. The trusty little pellet gun still has the trigger pull of a tree stump but it works.

It seems that my cat, asshole that it is, has trained me to do it’s job. Human that I am, I fell for it. It’s getting used to squirrel treats every few days. I’m cat’s professional hunter? What a dumbass! The dog has calmed down, the cat has fabulous self esteem, my bird feeder looks like a horror movie, and the chickadees still don’t care.

Woodpeckers hate me.

Woodpeckers hate me.

Epilogue: The blood on the feeder has faded. Squirrels still abound but I’m slowly thinning them out. I still enjoy my cool chickadees and (less so) the other birds.

Yesterday a woodpecker showed up. No worries. There’s suet for them. Then the thing ignored the suet, perched on my feeder, and started scooping seed like it was getting paid by the pound. Just dumping shitloads of it on the ground! I grabbed the pellet gun but I had to admit that he looked cool.

I have no idea if they’re protected. I’d probably get attacked by “birders” if I shot one. So I chilled out and watched him waste seed by the pound.

Then the bastard paused, looked me right in the eye (I swear it did!), turned back to the feeder, and just pulverized the plastic lens on my feeder. As if to say “check this out Bubba, KABLAM”.

I went tearing out there and found my feeder with a baseball sized hole in the side. Jerk.

The chickadees? They still don’t give a shit.

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Chickadees And Squirrels: Part 3

Winter hasn’t been kind to our outdoor cats. We’re down to one. That particular cat has been a total shithead all it’s life and nobody likes it; which explains its karma now.

It’s a kitten that showed up one day while I was trying to weld some shit in the garage. It approached the welder fearlessly (probably because it was hungry). Then it tried to steal a drink of my coffee. Any kitten willing to invade a garage with blaring heavy metal, risk annihilation from high voltage and sparks, and then steal some bearded maniac’s cup of coffee? That’s a bad ass kitten!

So I fed it, gave it water, and a few days later took it to the vet for “the standard feral cat package”. I thought I’d have a epic mouser. Instead the kitten repaid me by beating the living shit out of the other barn cats. Seriously, the damn thing was Stalin incarnate. Luckily the other cats had a couple pounds on him and toughed it out. Even so he grew up to be a bully and he utterly dominated the other cats. Until this winter.

All the other cats died (or vanished) in various manners (most were getting old and one may have tried to take on a coyote). This left “bully cat” to rule uncontested. Karma’s a bitch because a few weeks into it’s total dominance it had some sort of stroke. Now the damn thing has a 45 degree tile to it’s head (I harbor the suspicion that it’s a little nuts now too).

Formerly it was hell on wheels for killing critters. Now, not so much. I don’t know if it’s because of bad depth perception or because it’s brain is scrambled or because Karma likes to kick you in the balls; but now the cat couldn’t catch a squirrel with a land mine.

I saw him hunkered by the feeder. “Dude, kill a squirrel will ya?”

Quoth the cat “Snarf. Woophf. Yeep.”

“You’re fried aren’t you?”

“Nah.  Snarf. I’m sorta’ here. Damn trees are all tilted though. Feed me!”

The cat wandered off and stood by his food bowl, yowling piteously, and looking at me with a tilted Popeye face that weirds me out.

If you want something done you gotta’ do it yourself.

Back at the office I grabbed an old air rifle and loaded it. (You mean you don’t have a half dozen weapons near your desk? Why?) I looked out the window. No squirrel. The dog was asleep. The cat was in the barn yowling for food. Squirrels are assholes.

Two hours later I was getting shit done when…


The squirrel was outside the window ignoring the chaos within. I reasoned with the dog “SHUT THE HELL UP!” and slipped the window open. I had a great shot but I’m not sure about pellet guns.

I wish I’d grabbed my .22. I know where that bad boy will hit. The air rifle was just a whim and I was regretting it. Not being 100% super spot on trusting in the point of aim in the air rifle I decided I should get a better shot.

I slipped out the door, rounded the barn, and crept closer. Now here’s where I admit a human failing. I take marksmanship too seriously.

Pellet guns seem weak and it’s a single shot and (lets face it) missing is for pussies. So I crept closer.

Then closer.

And closer.

Meanwhile the dog was tearing the house apart and the squirrel was chowing down on my chickadee feed.

I didn’t want my nice feeder damaged so I aimed carefully in case the tiny pellet would overpenetrate and ding the wood. Deep breath, let it out, squeeeeeezee.

The pellet gun fired like a tractor taking a dump. It vibrated, made a weird sound, I got it super cheap and it’s probably totally inaccurate. The trigger pull is like a bad clutch on a lawnmower. It’s junk.

I watched the target.


Oh! Well then. I guess there’s more velocity to a pellet gun than I’d thought.

Then I realized squirrel blood was all over my cool little feeder. Damn!

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Chickadees And Squirrels: Part 2

The problem with birdfeeders is that they attract critters other than chickadees. Generally I don’t care. Birdfeed won’t break the bank. If sparrows or blackbirds or whatever take some food I can live with it. Unfortunately the dog can’t quite grok the concept; especially when it’s a squirrel.

As we all know, squirrels are assholes. Not that I mind. I’m an asshole too. The little varmints get into the feeder, flip over the top, and chow down on twice their weight in seed. This doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that sometimes the dog sees the squirrel and goes to DEFCON 5.


It’s enough to give me a God damn heart attack. So I respond in my usual polite Curmudgeonly manner. “SHUT THE HELL UP YOU DAMN MUTT!”

The dog looks at me, “but I’m defending the home?”

“From a friggin’ squirrel?” I explain to my stupid dog. “You bark like that again and I’d better see six Viking ships and the Mongol Horde crossing the front yard. Got it?”

“But… squirrel!” The dog tries to explain.

“Seriously man, if you bark like that again and it ‘aint Zombies driving a tank I’ll trade you in for a llama.” I threaten.

So the dog goes back to sleep and I mop up the coffee I’ve spilled, turn over the keyboard I’ve flipped, and restack the papers I sent flying, count to ten, and settle in. The thing is that you’ve just got to let stuff go; like water off a duck’s back. And if you…


The squirrel is back. Sigh.

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Chickadees And Squirrels: Part 1.5

On a dreary tax day we all need Ray Stevens:

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Chickadees And Squirrels: Part 1

I like chickadees. They’ve got balls.

They’re the toughest little buggers out there. Few creatures are as plucky and cheerful as the half ounce of concentrated indomitable moxie that is a chickadee. Deep wilderness or urban backyard? It doesn’t matter to a chickadee. I’ve seen ’em in swamps, mountains, forests, hedgerows, mall parking lots, tall trees, short bushes, canoe gunnels, and hunting blinds.

Where they really shine is cold weather. When I’m in the deep forest freezing my balls off in a miserable snowstorm, there’s a good chance a chickadee is nearby; happily flitting around looking for six calories to make it another hour. Brutal cold ‘aint no thang to a chickadee. Eagles will flake and run where a chickadee will fluff up and sit on a spruce bough like it doesn’t give a shit. You know why? Because they don’t. Pound for pound a chickadee has courage the likes of which killer whales and grizzly bears couldn’t muster. Chickadees might die but they’re never subdued:

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever feeling sorry for itself.” – D. H. Lawrence

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the little bastards. I even put up feeders. My feeders attract all sorts of more exotic songbirds too. I could ohhh and ahhh over them but who cares about flowery little chickenshits that run south at the first flake of snow? The feeders are for my chickadees; who, quite frankly, don’t need my help.

One feeder in particular is a gift to myself. I was cruising down a rural backroad when I saw a cute little farmhouse with a “for sale” sign and eleventy zillion feeders and birdhouses. Someone had made them, hung them up, put up the sign, and was selling them from his yard. Who knows how many he sold? Some of them were pretty elaborate and others were plain. I pictured some sweet retired old coot with a tastefully appointed woodshop churning out dozens of these things; each one lovingly crafted while he played Sinatra on his garage radio and smoked a pipe. (I’ve got an active imagination.)

Each one had a price tag. It was my birthday so I picked a plain Jane version, stuffed the price (with an extra $5, just ’cause) in a little ornamented wood box he’d left out, tossed the feeder in my truck, and drove off. Never met the guy. I hope he sells them all.

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A Political Lull

I’ve reduced my political writing for a while. This isn’t because we’ve had a collective outbreak of competence and sanity. (Nor have I suddenly become wise and risen “above it all”.) Rather, it’s timing. Now is a time when politics is just a sporting event. Rooting for a favorite team requires a non-loathsome team and belief that the game matters.

From time to time there’s a moment when multiple courses are possible; when America is standing there with it’s hands in it’s pockets thinking really hard with it’s 300 million competing brain cells and pondering its options. Should it go to work that morning? Or maybe should it just snort some crack and stuff Cheetoes up it’s ass?

I get tense… will there be more stupid? Less stupid? Same stupid but from a different team that pretends its stupid is less stupid than the other side’s stupid? Thelma and Louise are rocketing toward the cliff and I have the feeling that further stupidity might possibly be avoided if they just calmed the hell down and hit the brakes. In such times I rant about politics.

Now is not that time. The national debt is $18,177,643,345,234.85 and I’m the only guy who’ll spare the time to type all sixteen digits. Silly me! In a world where nobody will even make eye contact with that sort of number I think we can all agree that returning to a number akin to zero is simply no longer possible. It makes me wonder if the debt of ten years ago (a mere $7,932,709,661,723.50) was somehow more palatable? Why? At the time it seemed very bad. Are things now 129% more bad? Will they be 129% more bad in the future? How about 10,000% more bad? How does one quantify the unquantifiable?

Since Louise has already launched the car I might as well enjoy the majesty of flight. Possibly welding shit on a wood splitter is the noblest of current activities? Especially since I’m not sure politics of other eras were any less stupid.

Suppose I built a time machine and decided to seek a few decades of sanity and progress in which to settle down and spend quality time. When would the era of non stupid have been?

Would I start in 1776 when we put our thumb in the eye of the most powerful Monarchy in Europe? Yikes! A dude could get himself shot! Would I blog (pamphlet?) about the good man Washington taking a wrong turn pounding civil liberties during the Whiskey Rebellion less than 15 years later? Would I write posts warning of economic bubbles in 1848? Would I cringe at an ugly civil war in 1861? I might bitch the foolishness of driving bison to near extinction by 1890 but by 1914 I’d switch tasks and get jittery about the long term ramifications of a jackoff’s assassination of a noble. Of course my blog, delivered by telegraph(?), would point out that the bigger killer was a pandemic. I suppose then I’d hammer on a typewriter while DC extended the Great Depression by declaring the distance from garden to kitchen interstate commerce. Perhaps I’d write that Europe looked to be doing Great War Version 2.0 and politicians were getting it as wrong as humanly possible. If I were a blogger in 1939 I’d be making comparisons to cars and cliffs right until Pearl Harbor. Two months later when the President was imprisoning American Citizens I’d be trying to point out that concentration camps are a very bad thing indeed. After the Great War Part II a wise man might focus on tail fins on Cadillacs but would I be able to ignore race riots and threats of thermonuclear war? Luckily Communism fell around 1989 or 1991 (as much from economics as from yearning to be free) and so (of course!) we decided to embrace damn near every part of the Socialist agenda right here at home. Because we just love to shove Cheetoes up our ass.

Which brings me to now. Right now, today, even as I type, the NSA is engaged in domestic spying on every single American. I fret that Soviet Russia (or for that matter any number of fallen and current oppressive hellholes) might hint that it’s not a good thing when these things happen. When the State becomes all powerful, when it spies on its citizens, when it controls my doctor as if he somehow chose to be an employee of the State, when it amasses debt that exceeds realistic number theory… when that is true, perhaps it is not the time to stare into the stupid. Which is why things like commenting on gay wedding partners and religious pizza shop owners is really and truly… missing the point.

The point is that right now is a short lull in a long term Galactic arc of people doing stupid and stupid leading to misery. Both sides of our political coin are pretty useless at the moment. Frankly it takes a lot of work to become that fully emasculated. One has to face the stupid, inhale the stupid, become that which is stupid. The evil party is running out the clock having gotten all it can (good and hard). Did they show restraint, humility, the hand of power resting lightly on the tiller? Hell no, to do so wouldn’t be sufficiently stupid. Meanwhile the stupid party is squawking loudly and crapping on its shoe (which appears to be what it does best) while desperately killing any hint of regeneration of mind and spirit within it’s own system. To do otherwise would be to adapt, learn, and eschew the stupid. Both of them are purposely obsessing over matters of little import. (“ISIS does mass beheadings in Iraq? Better go ape over some gay dude’s bakery choice in Indiana!”) That’s stupid. It’s also why now is a good time to write about homesteading errata, livestock, and flat tires.

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My Woodsplitter Goes to Eleven: Part 13: Success!

Here’s the final product:

The original puny little 8″ tires have been replaced by 12″ high speed tubeless tires (4.8-8 to 4.8-12). The wheels now have a five bolt lug nut pattern. The center of the hubs has been moved roughly 3″ higher and 2″ further back and 4″ wider than the original OEM position. Instead of welded rigid spindles it has a 750 pound torsion axle suspension.

In use, the ergonomics are at least as good as (or slightly superior to) the OEM setup. The beam to which I have to lift wood is at most 1″ higher than OEM. Close enough that the original tongue support (near the hitch) is high enough. (I’d planned on extending it but it wasn’t necessary.) The wheels are not in the way.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe splitter balances fine in “vertical” mode. I was concerned that the relocated wheels would get in the way but it all worked out well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Foxinator’s turkeys inspected my design and found the new axle adequate.100-FinishedB I’d almost talked myself into installing snowmobile trailer tires to get additional width without adding height, but it worked out pretty well as is and snowmobile trailer tires ‘aint cheap.

Torsion axles (if they’re reverse angle) must extend beyond the thing they’re welded to at least far enough to let the suspension flex. This is more or less the minimum for a reverse angle torsion axle. It doesn’t interfere with work at all.  The red lines indicate the added width (despite the crappy photo, it’s the same amount on both sides).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe OEM fenders still fit (I had to replace the one I melted). I’d planned to simply slap on new fenders (they’re cheap) but my welder was inspired by the axle and wanted to fabricate something nice to hold the OEM fenders. The black bracketry you see is his idea and it works great. His solution looks better than my idea and I’m glad I took his suggestion. The OEM fenders flex instead of bending or breaking when I drop wood on them (and I do that fairly often) so they’re much better than rigid metal or plastic. On the other hand Troy Bilt just reams you for them. I scoured the internet and paid something like $35 for one!

I added cheap ($5) trailer lights to the fender supports and they’re simply bolted on. I can replace a light in no time when (not if but when) I accidentally smash one. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother view of the nice brackets my welder made; also showing the torsion axle below.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe tongue is hollow square “tubing” stock. I routed the light’s wiring through the frame itself so I’m less likely to rip the wiring out on a stump or something. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s has always been impossible to see the splitter behind the truck (it’s too low and too narrow). Thus backing it up has been something of a cluster. I wanted something to see when I was backing up. I tried a magnetic CB antenna with some flagging tied on but it blew over. I went looking for one of those horrific flags that safety Nazis inflicted on bicycles in my youth (like this Bike Safety Flag) but I didn’t find one.

My welder stuffed some pipe in the hollow splitting wedge as a “female end”:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then he welded a big honkin’ chunk of scrap steel bar to the proper sized pipe as a “male end”. It sits in there good and solid when I’m driving and I just set it to the side when I’m working. It’s pretty hefty and you never know when you’ll need a big steel bar. For example I threatened to brain Foxinator’s turkeys if they crap on my gas can again. I planned on hitting it with some orange paint and maybe adding a pirate flag but I never got around to it. It makes backing up immensely easier.

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