Thursday, June 20, 2024

Are You Killing Your Dog With Treats?

“If you took your dog for a two-mile walk and reward him with a Milk-Bone, you’ve just given him more calories than he burned.” 
Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, professor of clinical nutrition and sports medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Wee Grandson Before His Haircut

The Not Improved Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard Skulls, top to bottom: 1850, 1921, 1967

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tolstoy’s Dream

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” -- Leo Tolstoy

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Blade Was Fast, the Memory Long

On the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I in 1659, and two years after his death, Oliver Cromwell’s body was exhumed, along with two of his enablers. The bodies were hanged at Tyburn and beheaded. Cromwell’s head was exhibited on a spike at Westminster Hall until 1685 -- 26 years.

Trying To Do a “Walk Away Split”

Hopefully doing a walk away split into a small nuclear hive. If successful, the moved bees will make a new queen for the small nuclear hive. The three moved frames were replaced in the big hive with empty frames given a little extra wax to compensate.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

What They Ignore, Says It All

“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. 'Blessed are the merciful' in a courtroom? 'Blessed are the peacemakers' in the Pentagon? Give me a break!" -- Kurt Vonnegut

Loading More Wood

Friday, June 14, 2024

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

My Vast Land Holdings

IT’S UNSEEMLY TO BRAG, but I own everything in this picture.

This land and waterway is taken care of me by a crack team of contractors and managers and, by a special arrangement I have, based on birthright and over a hundred years of law, I never see a bill.

Of course, this is only a small slice of my land holdings.

Under a similar arrangement, I own over 475 million acres of land stretching from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and the Mexican border, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

It’s a lot.

I have told my grandson about this land, but he’s just 18 months old and cannot quite comprehend the expanse, but I think he will in time.

He needs to understand this land, because like all great fortunes, it comes with responsibilities.

I myself went to war for a number of years to keep out predatory loggers and roadbuilders who thought they had rights to this land that they did not.

It was a long battle, but we won protection for 58 million acres.

My grandson will have to patrol these same fence lines after I am gone. Evil is cunning and powerful, but above all it is patient. What it took 400 years to make, can be gone in 20 minutes. This land is my land. It is my family’s land. I own it, and my children and grandchildren have been told to never sell it or give it away.

I visited my Hawaiian land holdings earlier this year, and things seemed fine. I will be visiting my bison, elk, and wolf holdings in early October.

I like doing surprise inspections as it keeps the staff on their toes. In truth, I am rarely disappointed, and often quite surprised.

For instance, the canal path you see here is being improved with better drainage and a new crushed powdered stone substrate. They’ve put in about 290 miles of that so far, and have another 50 or 60 miles left to go. When I enquired how much this was going to cost me, the nice fellow in the truck (who had no idea who I was) smiled and said, “not a thing… no additional charge… this one is on the house.”

I thanked him, of course. True royalty understands that we only govern this land with the consent of the peasants and the serfs, and that gamekeepers and their heavy-booted assistants are the backbone of the estate.

Carry on good stewards. You are doing a fine job, and the Wee Wolves approve.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Sunday, June 09, 2024

The Deer Unseen

I watched as several bicyclists zipped past this deer, neck deep in the verge on the side of the canal.

People miss a lot by moving too fast, not looking around, and not paying attention to where wildlife is most likely to be found. Deer in particular like to take advantage of dips in the land which hide their silhouette. Deer are everywhere, of course, but if you take time to track deer in snow, you will see how they use the land to move with as little notice as possible.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Monty and Ike With Hitler, June 26, 1944

Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery had two dogs during the war; one a fox terrier he named "Hitler" and another, a spaniel, he named Rommel.

"Hitler" was a gift from BBC war correspondent Frank Gillard who heard Monty say he missed the animals he had with him in previous campaigns. Looking to fill the hole in Monty's life, Gillard cast about for a dog.

Normandy was not a terrific location for dogs right after D-Day, but Gillard managed to hear of a coastal village where a Frenchman had three young fox terriers. They had already been promised to buyers, but in the chaos following D-Day the reserve owners (probably Germans) had moved on with the war front. Gillard bought one of the young terriers and presented it to Montgomery as a gift from the BBC reporters attached to his armies.

For some reason, all dogs born in France in 1944 had to have names beginning with “S,” and this dog's name had been “Selijc”. Monty changed the name to "Schickelgruber" the putative maternal name of Adolph Hitler's grandmother. Around camp, however, the dog was called "Hitler".

A Chainsaw In the Forest

A chainsaw in the forest gives you a different perspective. For one thing, standing dead trees are always a cipher; they can be solid wood or nearly completely hollow (and therefore unpredictable when cutting). A green-leaf maple, about as thick as my thigh, came down overnight *right* where I was cutting wood two days ago. Upon inspection, the trunk was rotten and hollow about two feet up off the ground.

What else?  Ants may explode from your cut, while small colorful mushrooms may only come into focus when gathering detritus. You never realize how many dead trees there are in a forest until you really start looking.  I’m only taking out the potentially dangerous leaners; have no worries about the woodpeckers; they’ve still got a lot to work with.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Fascists Hate Anti-fascists

The first wave of anti-fascists that landed in Normandy, 80 years ago today, are mostly dead or very old and infirm.

But fascism still exists.

Today, the single greatest threat to peace are two fascists: Putin and Trump.

Have no illusion; if Hitler and Mussolini were driving over Europe today, Donald Trump would stand with them. He would be a cheerleader for forced migration, forced labor, and death camps.

This is not conjecture: Trump paraphrases Hitler routinely. He admires Putin. He threatens Ukraine. He beats the table demanding “retribution” against women, moderate Republicans, prosecutors, jurors, immigrants, muslims, labor unions, and public health workers. He is actively planning for the creation of forced detention camps. Google Project 2025. This is Trump’s blue print for dictatorship. 

Now, there is only one question: What side are you on?

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Faith in Violence

Violence is not saluted by faith alone. There is substantial, historical, and experiential evidence that violence is real and works.  God? Not so much.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Are You Gullible? Send $10 to Find Out!

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back." — Carl Sagan

Sunday, June 02, 2024

The Glory of Dogs Is That They Live in the Now

“Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us. And make our lives a little brighter. And they don't waste time being afraid of tomorrow.”
Dan Gemeinhart - The Honest Truth. The painting is by Peder Severin Krøyer; “Summer Evening at Skagen, The Artist's Wife and Dog,” 1892.

Remedial Bear-proofing

I checked the bees, adding a honey super on the most robust hive, and then added another tie down so each hive is independently anchored.

I then installed a fairly powerful solar motion-detector light on the tree across from the hives, as well as two infra-red cameras.

Finally, I took 12 construction plates and flipped them over and mounted them on a board so the sharp tack edges will cut into the feet of any skunk, raccoon or bear that investigates the hives.

I am researching electric fences and other motion and sound deterrence options. I don’t want to over-do it, but I want it to be enough. We don’t have permanent bears, but insecure young males of about 120 to 160 pounds that are moving out from the nearby mountains. I suspect the lights and the tack bars might be enough, but an additional black powder primer trip wire would be a powerful third-level deterrent if I can set it up in a way that a deer will not trigger it.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Night Moves in the Backyard

My neighbor just got back from eastern Canada where he went bear hunting, quite successfully. 

While out felling trees yesterday, we got to talking about bears. I asked him if he had seen any up on our knoll? 

He said one came through five or six years ago; a young male getting pushed out, as is typical of young male bears, coyotes, and fox. He didn’t see that bear, but others had. That was the only bear he knew of in the last 15 years.

I nodded, and said I was strapping down the bee hives some more, but was not yet committed to putting up an electric fence.

We have forested mountains with bears only about eight miles away. A young bear or two wanders east from there every year, generating a little neighborhood and press coverage before the young male moves out on his own, or is darted and moved back with an escort.  The chance of a bear on the knoll was not zero, but it’s a *very* big area out there, and a bear attack on my rather isolated bee hives seemed remote.

Until this evening.

This evening, my neighbor sent me the picture, above.  

Surely, this was from Canada, I inquired? 

Nope, he said, “this was taken last night, about 100 yards from where you sleep.”

Of course, I immediately went out to check the bee hives, and they’re fine. 

That said, I’m going to put up game cameras on the hives tonight, and bee-suit up tomorrow in order to put more tiedowns on my *very* active bee hives.

Was Heather right? Do I need to install an electric fence? Or to put it another way, is Heather *ever* wrong? Not too damn often.  I can’t remember when.

So tonight cameras, and tomorrow more straps.  

I’ll investigate lights, alarms, and e-fencing over the next few days.  

Hopefully barking terriers and a close-by shed, along with the tie-downs, will give me the space I need to get things sorted better.

But yeah, there’s a bear out there, and he showed up a hell of a lot sooner than I would have guessed.

I’m gonna name him “Houlie”.

Dipping the Dogs

Flea and tick dip day for 6 dogs.

Pyrethrin is a very old, safe, and cheap natural flower-based insecticide that is effective for a month, and is so safe the FDA and EPA give it the green light to be used in food manufacturing plants. 

The lidded tub stays full, and the dip is reused the next month.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Firing Up the New Chainsaw

Got a new 18” Echo 40 cc chainsaw yesterday, and dropped 7 dead trees in the forest along the driveway with it this morning, including three “widow makers”under which I have been walking the dogs. My neighbor is going to section them up for firewood and haul them out. He was particularly happy with the big dry locust trees. I’m happy to have the trees down and slated for a friends fireplace.

Turkey Vultures Are Very Patient

Turkey Vultures hanging out on a fence line this afternoon. There were a dozen more up a short hill, collecting a little sun.