Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Clear Voice About a Long Violent History

Tyler Childers is a rapidly rising 29-year old country-bluegrass star from Paintsville, Kentucky who has opened for Willie Nelson and John Prine.

In his latest album, Tyler asks his listeners to imagine what it would be like to be written off as more than ignorant hillbillies -- to actually ** FEAR ** for their lives for just being alive. It's an amazing act of empathy for a young man whose home town is 99.3 percent white, and where coal mining and poverty are a way of life.

In "Long Violent History" Tyler asks his white, rural listeners to flip it around.

"In all my born days as a white boy from Hickman
Based on the way that the world’s been to me
It’s called me belligerent,
It’s took me for ignorant
But it ain’t never once made me scared just to be
Could you imagine just constantly worrying
Kicking, and fighting, and begging to breathe
How many boys could they haul off this mountain
Shoot full of holes, cuffed and laying in the street
‘Till we’d come into town in a stark ravin’ anger
Looking for answers and armed to the teeth,
With thirty-aught-sixes,
And Papaw’s old pistol.
How many you reckon?
Would it be four or five?
Or would that be the start of a long Violent History
of tucking our tails as we try to abide?"

In an introductory video that passes for what we old folks used to call "liner notes," Tyler is blunt:

What if we were to constantly open up our daily paper and see a headline like ‘East Kentucky man shot seven times on fishing trip,’ and read on to find the man was shot while fishing with his son by a game warden who saw him rummaging through his tackle box for his license and thought he was reaching for a knife?

What if we read a story that began, "North Carolina man rushing home from work to take his elderly mother to the E.R. runs a stop sign, is pulled over by the police, and beaten by the police when they see a gun rack in the truck?

Or a headline like "Ashland Community and Technical College nursing student shot in her sleep?" How would we react to that? What form of upheaval would that create?

I venture to say if we were met with this type of daily attack on our own people, we would take action in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia.

If we wouldn’t stand for it, why would we expect another group of Americans to stand for it?

Why would we stand silent while it happened.... or worse, get in the way of it being rectified?

I've seen people from my Appalachian regions say that we wouldn't act the way we we've seen depicted on various media outlets. But I've also seen grown folks beat each other up the day after Thanksgiving for TVs and teddy bears.

And these aren't **things** this community has lost, these are sons and daughters... brothers and sisters and cousins... mothers and fathers. Irreplaceable threads within their family fiber, torn from their loved ones too soon, with no justice.

And they are demanding change, same as I expect we would. Life is hard enough without being worried about the smallest interaction with a public servant.

So what can the rest of us who feel seemingly outside of these issues do?

First, we can use our voting power to get rid of the people who have been in power and have let this go on unnoticed. Chances are that the people allowing this to happen are the same people keeping opportunity out of reach for our own communities, that have watched job opportunities be shipped out, and drugs shipped in, eating up out communities, and leaving our people desperate in what some folks would deep a food desert.

We can stop being so taken aback by "black lives matter." If we didn't need to be reminded, there would be justice for Breonna Taylor, a Kentuckian like me, and countless others.

We can look for ways to preserve our heritage outside of lazily defending a flag with history steeped in racism and treason -- things like hewing a log, carving a bowl, learning a fiddle tune, growing a garden, raising some animals, canning our own food, hunting and processing the animal, fishing, blacksmithing, trapping and tanning the hide, sewing a quilt. And if we did things like that, we'd have a lot less time to argue, back and forth, over things we don't fully know backed by news we can't fully trust.

Childers ends the video
by urging folks to come together.

Love each other, no exceptions. And remember, united we stand. Divided we fall.

Watch it all, below.

100 percent of the net proceeds from Tyler Childers' new album of will support underserved communities in the Appalachian region through the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund.

Readers, please consider donating. Water the good. This is certainly that.

Stanley Crouch Ran on Principles

Stanley Crouch has died at age 74, and I am sad.

If you don’t know who he was, his obituary is here, and I remember him most for his 'flip test"

The first time I heard Crouch explain the Flip Test, was during the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Flip it around, said Stanley.

What if Woody Allen were accused of murdering Mia Farrow and a friend, and the cop who searched Allen's apartment turned out to be a rabid anti-Semitic who had said he'd plant evidence on a New York Jew if he had half a chance. At trial, the prosecution portrays the cop -- its star witness -- as Captain Whitebread, but Allen's lawyer learns of his attitude towards Jews and uses it. Would he be accused of waving the bloody shirt of Anti-Semitism? I'm sorry, but the case would go down! And when the nine Jews on the jury voted to acquit, it wouldn't be because they were crazy, it would be because the prosecution embraced a scumbag and got caught!

Okay... an interesting exercise. But Crouch is black, so maybe this was simply a convenient reach to get to a pre-ordained pro-O.J. conclusion?

But no, Crouch says the "Flip Test" works in both directions:

Black kids who dress like gangsters complain that they get bad service at restaurants and stores. They say, 'Hey, we aren't thugs, we just dress that way.' Well, let's flip it over. Let's say a white guy comes into a store wearing a K.K.K. outfit, and everybody is horrified. And he says, 'I'm not really a Klansman, I just like the look.' Now, with ninety-nine percent of those black kids it is only style, but we just don't have time to go around interviewing them. 'Excuse me, young man, are you actually carrying a 9-mm pistol or is your outfit just a cultural signifier.'

Flip it around says Crouch. Once you do that, you can see if you are running on principles -- or something else.

Wee Wolves By Land and By Sea

Rolling with the wee wolves — scouting kayaking locations for later in the week.

Stupid on a Stick

Nothing to See Here

A Cool "Track"

Monday, September 21, 2020

Badger and Coyote Hunting Together

A partnership based on shared skills and shared rewards. What the badger drives from underground, the coyote often kills above ground, while excess mortality proves a feast to both.

Wild Grapes

Birds were feasting on them today, but they are also loved by raccoons, groundhogs, possums, and fox. 

The Locals Abide

A pair of groundhogs hanging out on a school lawn up the road. There’s at least one other groundhog underground in the hole at the base of the tree.

Odd Chicken Parts Pricing

Chicken legs are less that 1/3 the price of chicken feet. 

This is an Asian supermarket, and therefore some cultural cuisine difference in preference, but I’ve still never understood this pricing. 

 Wings are even more expensive!

Deben Collar Straps and Brace Hitch

Just ordered two Deben collar straps (needed) and a brace hitch (not needed, but why not?) from Leading Lady Leads.  Seems like good quality at a great price. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Bidens Owns Guns; Trump Does Not

Joe Biden owns guns, has pro-farm policies, drives an American-made car, and owns dogs.

Trump does not own a gun, has never walked a farm field, does not know how to drive, and has never owned a pet.

Who do you think is the “real” American when it comes to dogs and hunting?

As the cartoon suggests, we’ve been down this road before with low-information voters. Anyone who doubts that can read a 2009 post from this blog entitled Crying Wolf in Dog and Hunting Debates.

As for the Second Amendment, I am all for it and have written about that in some detail, but it's not an unrestricted right.

Not even the most rabid fanatic at the NRA says folks should be able to carry a loaded rocket-propelled grenade launcher through the airport. Guns are about Time, Place, and Manner, as no less of a Second Amendment proponent than Antonin Scalia has noted. Scalia notes in Heller that:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

Is Joe Biden going to take away your shotgun, deer rifle, or home defense piece?  Not a chance.  

Remember, Biden was in office
with Obama for 8 years. You know what they did?  They argued before the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment

"...protects an individual right to possess firearms unrelated to militia operations. By its plain text, the Second Amendment secures a "right," a term that the Constitution consistently uses to refer to indi vidual freedoms rather than state prerogatives. The text also makes clear that the right is not limited to members of a select body (like today's National Guard) but extends to "the people" generally.

The Obama-Biden administration also greenlighted carrying handguns in our national parks. I still think that's a stupid idea, but it's clearly not one that is "anti-gun". 

Checking a Field Sette

Saturday, September 19, 2020

A Simple Pop Hole

Digging in hedges with big trees and a lot of push-log piles is always a chance for trouble, but none of that today.

Dogs located and it sounded deep. Good news —- it wasn’t. Just 1 foot, but straight under a big trunk. Sound can be funny in rock and root.

Still no problem, as the locator gave me a good fix through a narrow stretch of rocky soil between the roots. Turned out to be a quick pop-hole dig on a mid-sized possum. As Georges Peppard used to say: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

The possum was lifted up the tree, but Moxie still had plans.

How Do You Defeat Evil? One Step at a Time.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Treating a Minor Skin Issue

I never have skin issues with my dogs.... until now.

The cause in this instance is a lay-away from digging during the hot days of August, so the dogs did not get their weekly bath. Perhaps a flea made its way into the yard? Perhaps a few river swims initiated a fungus? Perhaps both? Who knows?

In any case, I noticed a redness at the backside of Misto yesterday while we were kayaking, and a higher than average amount of scratching when I was loading the boat.

Upon inspection, I think it’s a spot of yeast dermatitis. What to do? Off to Tractor Supply for chlorhexadine and a topical fungus treatment. A gallon of chlorhexadine (2% solution) was $15, and a bottle of fungicide was $12.

After I got home, I washed Misto and then sprayed him well with the fungicide. I then popped a baby benadryl (25 mg) in him, and 500 mg of amoxcillin as a loading dose.

No scratching this morning. I sprayed him again with fungicide and gave him another round of amoxicillin.

Chlorhexadine is next after 2-3 days with the fungicide.

Whatever it is, this regime should fix the problem, and will not do the dog (or my wallet) any harm.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Three Seconds to Joy


France, 1955, colorized.

Pretty as a Picture

pretty little farm I passed the other day on the way back from kayaking. The corn is just starting to come off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Roadkill Blues

On the way to Tractor Supply, I passed what looked like a dead coyote. I turned around to make sure.

Yep; a young dead coyote — the second one of the day. This animal was in no condition to closely inspect, but it was probably a juvenile male doing “walk about” to find its own territory. A lot of the fox and coyote struck by cars this time of year are young males.

Roadkill is a 20th Century phenomenon, which is to say that we did not have it in the 19th Century when the roads were populated by horses and carriages.

Oh sure, we had some train kills -- deer and moose and cows and buffalo, but that's TRACKkill, not roadkill. And, of course, some horses died on the road from exhaustion or being shot, but they too were not roadkill as we define it here -- animals dying from vehicle impact on the road.

In fact, roadkill is probably the wrong term, even if it is the one we use. *Carkill* is what this really is; the road, after all, is simply a passive observer.

The problem with the term "carkill," is that it puts us in the picture. Roadkill, however, is a term that conveniently assigns millions of drive-by deaths to an inanimate object. It is a comforting term that absolves us of guilt.

Today, the Mercury Cougar (Automobilus detroitus) does some of the pruning work once done by the wolf (Canus lupus). Which is not to say Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Volvo, Mack Truck, and all the rest are not doing their part as well. They are.

Roadkill is not a small biological phenomenon, it is a BIG one.

In the small state of Virginia, there are over 35,000 deer-car impacts a year. In Michigan, deer impacts are so pervasive (over 55,000 a year), that they use deer roadkill data to determine the deer population in the woods. In Pennsylvania, another 40,000 deer a year fall under the wheel.

What's the national tally? Who knows? The number 350,000 is tossed around, but that seems too low. That said, not all states have as many deer as Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan, or as many drivers on dark or twising roads. So who knows? Whatever the number, it's clear that it is a lot.

Though I have no doubt that Darwinian forces are slowly playing out between animals and cars, the time-frame is still far too short. As a result, as brilliant as a squirrel is at figuring how to get to, and jimmy open, a bird feeder, it is still completely flummoxed by squealing tires and 4-cylinders. As a result, squirrels die in droves from vehicle impacts -- perhaps 40 million a year according to one back-of-the-napkin bean counter.

A few more sobering roadkill numbers, and some descriptive reasons as to why some animals are more likely to die on our highways than others:
▪️Dogs: It’s been written that 1.2 million dogs are killed on U.S. roads every year, but that seems dramatically high. That said, the number is not zero! Most dogs are killed in the daylight while chasing a ball, child, cat, or squirrel. Fences and leashes keep dogs alive. No fence and no leash, and the result is predictable.
▪️Cats: Cars kill about 5.4 million cats per year -- more cats than are killed in all U.S. animal shelters. Most cats are hit by cars at night.
▪️Snakes: Snakes are cold-blooded and will warm themselves on asphalt, especially on poorly-traveled rural roads in early Spring. Because snakes are small and easily obliterated by tires, there is no good data, but the numbers are clearly huge.
▪️Opossums: Opossums feast on roadkill, a habit that results in about 19 million opossums a year getting squashed. Possums are naturally slow, come out at night, and will often freeze in the headlights of a car.
▪️Skunks: When threatened, a skunk's natural defense is to turn its back and spray -- a technique that does not work too well with cars. Most skunks are hit at night.
▪️Turtles: Turtles and tortoises are killed in huge numbers, usually in late Spring and early Summer when they are moving around to mate and find suitable ground in which to lay eggs.
▪️Groundhogs: An estimated 5 million groundhogs or woodchucks get hit by cars every year. Groundhogs are diurnal, but because so many den along roadside embankments in order to take advantage of soft dirt, good drainage, fewer predators, and good forage, they are often living just yards from traffic. Sure this is maladaptive, but groundhogs have not been programmed with cars in mind.
▪️Raccoons: Raccoons frequently scavenge in roadside water ditches, are not too fast, are fairly belligerent, sometimes travel in trailing family groups, and hunt at night. Which is a nice way to say there are a lot of vehicle-raccoon impacts -- perhaps 10 million a year, maybe more.
▪️Fox and Coyote: Red fox are field-and-edge creatures, and are much more likely to be hit be a vehicle than a Gray fox which will generally be found in deeper woods and rocky areas. That said, both Red and Gray fox are night time scavengers, and as such are prone to being struck on the road while feeding on the carcass of a snake, possum, rabbit or squirrel previously struck by traffic. The saving grace of Red Fox and Coyote are that they are very fast and extremely wary -- the two chief reasons you see fewer dead fox and coyote than you do dead raccoons and possums.


Misto’s sire died from porcupine injuries a few months after he was born. Thankfully, we don’t have porcupines around here.