Carpenter Bee Catcher Review


20170416_160512Carpenter bees are thumb-sized termites bent on destroying barns. My plan was simple. The best ones usually are, but God and bees laugh at the best laid plans of mice and men.

Impulse buys are interesting things. They are products you didn’t know life was possible without prior to walking past them. They are like pretty girls you catch a glimpse of in traffic. They grab the eye, cause the heart to flutter, and often result in a traffic accident.

Knowing my barn is being slowly shot thru by Carpenter bee tunnels, I’ve been on the search for a way to control the little beasties that won’t poison any of the other critters roaming the farm. The bees are smart enough not to get near the chickens, and offering the kids a dollar per bee carcass was a bust.

The current generation completely lacks entrepreneurial drive.

Investigating the price of hog chow at one of my local feed stores, I came across the insect trap pictured above. The girl at the counter assured me the device was designed specifically for Carpenter bees. The idea being the little hardwood chewers make their way through one of the holes and then can’t find their way out. I assumed the plastic jar was for easy bee body removal.

Exactly how and why the bees would wind up in the jar of death was a mystery, but I’m a trusting sort, who assumes everyone knows more about farming than I do. That’s generally a safe assumption.

Verdict: Don’t waste your money for this design.

That stupid little bee trapping box has been hanging in the feed closet of my barn for a month, and hasn’t trapped a single Carpenter bee. I’ve killed more of the boring little buggers with a feed scoop than that contraption has captured.

Since Carpenter bees like making their homes in hardwoods, I’m wondering if the pine the box is constructed out of just isn’t attractive to them. Or, maybe, the bees aren’t interested in going to the trouble to leave their current abodes.

I’m not sure what the problem or the solution is, but I know this Carpenter bee trap isn’t the way to go. It’s just another fifteen dollars wasted.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works and consider becoming a supporter. Patronage will get you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapter

I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)


If you want reliable transportation, don’t fly. It’s the nature of aviation. Getting bumped sucks, but throwing a tantrum and screwing over a few hundred other passengers isn’t the way to deal with it.

The Pilot Wife Life

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there arealways two sides to every story.

On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.

Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.

If a federal law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.

Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m

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A Face Made for Radio


img_20161221_092635780_burst001-1In a first for me, I’ll be live on the Rocky and The Gonz Podcast this Friday, March 17 from 9:30 to 10:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Listen the buttery smooth voice associated with all the rantings you’ve grown to love.

Listen to the podcast on demand, if you can’t make the time. Or listen to it again, if I made a good point and you were just too drunk from St. Patrick’s Day to remember.

Trump Deports Margaret Cho


panda1American born, LGBT activist and rumored comedienne Margaret Cho has been deported to China in what Cho’s representative calls a misguided and racist miscarriage of human rights by the Trump administration.

Wait a minute. Pandas aren’t Korean. And Margaret Cho isn’t terribly funny, either. So, let me double-check my facts.

The difference between a panda and Margaret Cho is that I would cuddle with a panda after sex…and pandas are funny.

Donald Trump isn’t the first president to fight the treachery of China. You have to go all the way back to Richard Nixon’s visit to China and their white elephant gift of “loaning” the United States two pandas.

The National Zoo in Washington, DC has shipped a three-year-old panda, named Bao Bao, to China. In one of life’s magnificent ironies, Bao Bao the panda is the only instance of the United States exporting something to the Celestial Kindgom.

Expect this panda’s anchor baby to sponsor his family for US citizenship in the next few years.

Bao Bao the pampered panda is traveling by air in a crate the size of a double bed, so he can stretch out and relax, while his personal keeper and veterinarian keep up a constant stream of bamboo over the sixteen-hour, non-stop flight. The last thing you want is an animal that eats thirteen to sixteen hours a day to get cranky from hunger pangs.

I hope I’m reincarnated as a panda. I can’t get my company to pay for business class.

The Chinese are a clever people. They invented gunpowder and silk and noodles and border walls. They invented trickery, too. Their slanty eyes and bucked teeth are a government sponsored cosmetics surgery program specifically designed to get the round-eyes of the world to drop their guard.

panda2What other explanation is there? The damn Chinese tricked the country into establishing a breeding program for their pandas.

Pandas are the vegans of the animal world. These picky sons-of-bitches not only refuse to eat anything besides bamboo, but they’ll only chow down on two of the eighty-six varieties.

If my kids were as picky eaters as pandas, they’d starve.

Pandas are one animal that should have gone extinct years ago. They deserve to die out. Not only because pandas are more difficult to feed than a lactose intolerant, gluten sensitive, vegan albino with irritable bowel syndrome, the furry beasts won’t breed to save their species.

Search the internet all you like. There are only a handful of photos depicting real, live pandas mating, and I suspect they are different angles of the same pair. They’re terrible at it. I found more photos of people dressed as pandas having sex, which was disturbing in itself and something I discourage everyone from seeking out.

It’s easier to get white millennials to reproduce with each other than convincing pandas to get it on.

The San Diego Zoo has three of the remaining dozen pandas in the United States. I assume they are the same trio I never managed to see in the decade I lived in the area. It wasn’t for lack of trying. My family had annual combo-passes to the zoo and Wild Animal Park for at least half that time, so we went frequently to get my money’s worth. Each visit to the zoo included a trip to the panda enclosure, but luck was never with us. Our timing was always bad. The pandas were always at a vet appointment or a field trip or in time-out for biting a zookeeper on the ass.

Until one day, when we caught a break.

Past the signs admonishing visitors not to speak above a whisper on pain of being tasered by zookeepers, Mrs. Cunha and I passed out animal crackers (oh, the irony) and jugs of Bug Juice to the kids to keep them muzzled. In harsh tones and stern looks from video monitors, generic Asians in Mao jackets explained that pandas are sensitive, artistic animals, easily triggered into fits of PTSD by sudden movements, loud farts, and presentation of conflicting opinions.

These snowflake pandas are as bad as Antifa feminists at a Milo Yiannopoulos university speech.

Approaching the rail that overlooked the panda enclosure, our hearts buoyed at the prospect of finally seeing a God-damn panda. What we found was a plywood cutout of a panda holding a sign that read, “Sorry, folks. We’re feeling under the weather.” Clearly, this was a common enough occurrence the zoo people went to the trouble of making a reusable, long lived sign.

I ran down the nearest khaki safari outfit to express my dismay and displeasure at the dearth of pandas in the panda display.

If I had my way, we’d turn every one of those pandas into bathrobes and invite the nearest Chinese embassy to the Panda-B-Q that Sunday.

The perky young, blonde information kiosk confided the pandas weren’t really ill. Ping Pong was heat, so they penned her up with Ding Dong in the hopes a romantic afternoon together would encourage them to start pumping out little pandas. However, I was in luck, because a Panda Cam had just been installed in their little love nest.

panda3After schlepping the kids from the other end of the county to trod an asphalt midway in the summer son, the thought of voyeuring queer pandas in night-vision over the internet in the hopes they do some panda stuff was not high on my bucket list.

Even if I want my kids exposed to panda porn, I’m sure there are more efficient ways.

That’s why the Chinese kick our ass in trade. They take poorly camouflaged cousins to raccoons with the dietary requirements of a kosher anorexic and convince America to create a breeding program for animals so blasé about the survival of their kind they can hardly be bothered to screw.

If Donald Trump wants to make America great again as much as he claims, he will deport the rest of those alien pandas and their anchor baby cubs. That will teach China. Let them breed their own pandas.

And send Margaret Cho with them, for good measure.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works and consider becoming a supporter. Patronage will get you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on Fire


img_20161102_144452712Fires on farms are catastrophic events. When the farm in question is your homestead, it has the potential to be catastrophic, since both work and home are in danger of being reduced to ash and charred bits of metal.

“Yah bahn’s on fiyha,” my neighbor’s New England accent emanated from the cell phone, muffled by wind and road noise on both ends of the call. I needed him to repeat what he said, while the meaning sank in.

There are some pieces of news that catch you flat-footed; a parent’s death, being laid off from a job, a positive pregnancy test, a Cunha graduating high school. The possibility was always understood, but never really expected.

Grandma fondly recalled the eighth grade as, “My senior year.”

Having grown up in California, I’m well acquainted with wildfires. However, contrary to the widespread rumor, none of them had anything to do with turkey frying mishaps.

img_20161102_144138867_hdrThe upshot of having a significant portion of your farm burnt is you get to meet all your neighbors. People I’ve only seen in passing, and several I didn’t know existed, came from all points of the compass to gawk and shake their heads. I briefly considered charging admission.

The embers smoldered for several days, giving off an ethereal show at night that is likely the closest I will ever get to seeing the Northern Lights in person.

Tallying up the damage was sobering. Half of the hay field was burned, along with burning the undergrowth and saplings in virtually all of the white oak stand at the back of the property. A bunch of fence was destroyed, both by the fire and the firefighting efforts. What really hurt was the loss of my hay barn packed with most of this year’s hay crop.

As it turns out, “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing. Hay is both.

img_20161102_143910623_hdrI pride myself on being a gallows humorist, but make no mistake, there is little to find funny in the ashes. The insurance adjuster must have an appreciation for dark humor, as well, since he didn’t make any notes when I mentioned the barn also contained an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Ark of the Covenant, and several lost Picasso paintings.

With a nod to the sense of humor and understanding of my insurance adjuster, here are my best attempts.

  • Wasn’t there a scene in Bambi like this?
  • We won’t have to worry about deer freeloading from the field for a while.
  • I bet this is what Hell will look like.
  • Mrs. Cunha was disappointed the firefighters bore no resemblance to her calendar.
  • My daughter wanted to know why they didn’t bring a Dalmatian with them.
  • It was a barn-burner of an afternoon.
  • Feel the Bern!

If you ever find yourself on the wrong end of a fire (and I’m pretty sure there is not really a “right” end of a fire to be on), here are five things to keep in mind as you sift through the ashes.

Fire is hot

“No kidding, Fire Marshall Carlos,” you might be telling yourself. What I mean is things that get caught in a fire stay hot for a surprisingly long time. The heat was still noticeable through the soles of my boots when I walked around surveying the damage the next day, and there were still pockets of what I suspect were large roots that were still smoldering just below the surface.

Check buildings and equipment because the heat from a fire radiates a surprising distance. Turn on faucets to ensure the water flows and test underground power lines with a voltmeter. Plastic pipes, wire insulation, and even panes of glass will begin to melt and deform well before combustible items around them show evidence of heat and flame.

Gear up

The natural reaction to this type of catastrophe is to assess the damage. Mrs. Cunha and I were inspecting the losses while trees were still on fire and fence posts were still smoldering. It’s a natural reaction, and for most of us who are not part of the volunteer fire department, gives the property owner something to do besides standing around worrying. I won’t begrudge anyone taking what action they are able, just don’t get yourself in trouble. Take a battle-buddy, take some communication, and leave the damn dog at the house.

Wear your heavy boots, long pants, and gloves. If you’re a Safety Sally, I won’t fault you for taking a hardhat, eye protection, and long sleeves. Wear what you think is appropriate. Taking along a tool like a hoe or a metal rake is a good idea, since you will likely want to pick up or dig out something that I guarantee will be too hot to touch.

Inspect often

You’re first tour through the debris will be overwhelming. Not in the sense that it gives you PTSD (or it might, depending on what you’ve done in life), but fire changes the look of the landscape in such a significant way that the woods I was hunting a few days prior were near unrecognizable. The sights and smells and feel of everything will be alien. It takes a second to process what was a fourteen-foot tall barn when I walked by yesterday is now eight inches high.

The first month, I averaged walking the woods or the field every other day. After that, I poked around the trees a couple times a week for the next month. Each time, I found something new that made my heart sink; another break in the fence, another bulldozer gouge in the hillside, a marketable-size tree charred past use as lumber and now firewood, if I’m lucky. You’ll find something new each sortie for quite a while, so take all the pain now.

No touchy, touchy

Whatever you do while poking around the ruins, keep in mind that you are traipsing around in a crime scene. Well, not really, but kind of. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to do something that jams you up later. Let me explain.

Several different people were inspecting the damage in the course of this whole thing. There was a report from the fire department that included input from the forestry service, three visits by insurance adjusters, contractors for building estimates, and a survey by a certified forester. Starting the clean-up process too soon might very well have affected an accurate calculation of the loss sustained. Do yourself and your pocketbook a favor by suppressing the urge get everything back to normal until everyone who needs to take a look has done so.

Not all is lost

At some point in this process, you will have a solid grasp of the losses. We were lucky. There was no loss of life, people or animals. We lost a structure, some agricultural products, and a bit of future profit. Losing livestock would have been terrible, but losing humans would have been devastating. I have nothing to offer that will help fill the void left by loss of a loved one, but short of that, everything is replaceable. We will amend the field and crops will grow again. Burning out the undergrowth will likely help the trees in the long run.

img_20161225_170713399Heck, seven weeks after the fire, the grass had begun to poke through the charred earth enough to lure a couple of does into the open. I filled my freezer with one of them Christmas afternoon, so maybe there is something good to pluck from this entire mess.

In a spurt of optimism in my prowess as an apex predator and putting aside her pique at me for delaying Christmas dinner for butchering a deer, Mrs. Cunha purchase a stand-up freezer for all the wild game she expected to be dragged back to the house. We didn’t see another deer the rest of the season.

That’s about how life goes.

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Young Pigs in Love


img_20161220_155021037-1Generations of homesteaders and farmers have relied on hogs for food, field preparation, waste disposal, and occasionally, companionship. The little buggers have personalities better than most people you will meet. Who knew a Christmas present would turn into a love affair?

A few days after Christmas, the entire tribe climbed into the War Wagon for a two-hour drive to buy a replacement rabbit for my youngest daughter. Unlike the unfortunate incident with Jennifer a couple years ago, the impetus for this trek was neither my fault nor the result of friendly fire.

Death is a frequent enough visitor to the Cunha farm that I finally broke down and put up a sign reserving him a parking space next to the barn. I figure the faster he is in and out on his business, the less time he has to notice job opportunities while skulking around.

I’m giving serious thought to diversifying into a discount pet cemetery. Nothing fancy. Just a hole and a marker for the budget conscious parents of pet-owning children.

We had acquired Winter at our local co-op. She was on consignment from someone who had a connection with the manager. I should have known better.

Most days you’d have an easier time asking permission to date one of my daughters than convincing me to hand over a proven breeder, but reproduction wasn’t a factor. This rabbit was to be a pet, something cute and fluffy that wasn’t destined for the dinner plate.

This is how a farm turns into a petting zoo; one sacred bunny at a time.

Putting aside my misgivings about the rabbit’s lineage, living conditions, and lack of liveliness, I relented to the pleas of the women in my life. The rabbit came with a cage and paraphernalia, so I’d break even, if it died prematurely.

It was dead inside a month from a nasty eye infection we couldn’t get under control. Mrs. Cunha has a pretty good track record of doctoring animals, but even the best lose one every now and then.

It’s just my luck that it was an eleven-year-old’s pet…and Christmas.

61c55ee6adc9f00717d5e37f06081d250ea6164726bb1b0e5apimgpsh_fullsize_distr-1I still don’t understand the vagaries of rabbit math any better than Chicken Math, but we ended up a hundred-some-odd miles away from the farm, at a stranger’s house, answering a Craigslist ad offering Lion Head rabbits for sale. Mrs. Cunha always finds something unsettling and mildly creepy about answering the Craigslist ad of a complete stranger. I revel in the Libertarian rush of two independent, like-minded people coming together for an exchange without Big Brother being any the wiser.

While Mrs. Cunha and the girls cradled bunnies and gossiped about people none of them mutually knew, the husband of the pair took me on a tour of the menagerie. Before me was an organized, well-maintained suburban homestead that offered neighbors and the Home Owners Association no substantive reason to be upset…but, of course, they were.

If availability of food ever becomes an issue, neighbors who complain about others keeping chickens will be last in line and charged three times the going rate for having been twats.

Milling about the yard amongst the chickens and beneath the elevated cages of quail and pheasant was a bristly black package of pork protein. Something about the way I watched the little boar must have clued the husband into my mild interest because the next thing I knew, I was handed a wiggling, grunting, four-month-old American Guinea Hog.

Mrs. Cunha appeared beside me without my knowing. We’ve been married long enough that she knows her presence is probably necessary when there is that much commotion and squealing going on. Even if her skills are not needed, Mrs. Cunha appreciates slapstick.

Just once in my life, I’d like to have the farm prepared for a new animal addition.

She was falling in love as quickly as I was. The feeling was second only to looking into the eyes of a newborn child. We were sure he would be delicious.

img_20161221_092635780_burst001-1I try not to hold it against people when they tilt their heads and shoot me a quizzical look at my choices in livestock. It’s not their fault the animals we husband are a tad unusual, but it does take me down a peg when someone says, “Never heard of it.”

American Guinea hogs are pigs and not available at any pet store I can think of. Your local Petco carries Guinea Pigs, which are actually rodents, but I’ve had to explain the difference several times already. English can be confusing, but this distinction eludes many people. Most folks hear “Guinea Pig” as soon as I say “Guinea” and assume we are some sort of quixotic rodent-wrangling ranchers.

Marketability is second to producing what meets the needs and desires of my family.

It’s always dangerous to draw conclusions about an entire breed based on one example. Any scientist, pollster, and jackass in a bar who says, “The rest of the world calls it football” will be quick to point out how small sample size skews and can often invalidate conclusions. Anecdotes are not data, but I’m optimistic, bad at math, and like to gamble. That’s why I play lotto, too.

Over the next couple of weeks interacting with Hamilton (named for the first three letters of the word, and not the crappy, Leftist play), his personality convinced Mrs. Cunha and me to modify his job description from “Dinner” to “Bacon Maker.”

That’s how we found ourselves on a two-and-a-half hour sortie the opposite direction to find Hamilton a couple of girlfriends.  Despite the reputation of my area of the country, we desired some depth to our gene pool.

Why is it every animal I want can only be found somewhere between Timbuktu and frickin’ Narnia?

img_20161221_092100811Muddy and mildly bruised from the extended fumble recovery drill of chasing down two gilts my wife and daughters selected from the dozen or so available, I sat in the front seat watching the landscape roll by and daydreaming of the little black, wiggling piglets in my future. The new additions to the farm grunted back and forth between themselves, nestled in a bed of hay in a wire dog carrier in the far rear of the passenger compartment.

“I’m hungry,” came a call from the middle row of seats.

“Holy crap. The pigs can talk,” I said, turning my head toward my wife. Mrs. Cunha shot me the stink eye. It dawned on me that I was playing with fire.

The reason there aren’t very many comediennes is because, as a general rule, the female of our species largely lacks a sense of humor.

Hamilton’s new girlfriends, already christened Petunia and Baby Girl by my daughters, must have smelled the delicious aroma of fast food as we pulled into the drive-thru. I could hear my porky piglet producers rouse themselves inside their pen. Their chattering increased the closer we crept to the order board.

I was busy with the continual internal debate of whether my fat ass would survive skipping Going Big or Super Sizing or whatever this place called their sneaky attempt to pry an additional dollar from my clenched fist in exchange for ten cents more worth of compressed potato flakes and sugar water when the squawk-box fired auditory shrapnel through the driver’s window.

Despite having visited a drive-thru literally thousands of times in my life, the voice burst is always jarring. Maybe it’s the screechy tone. Maybe it’s the sudden blast of noise from a direction devoid of human beings. Maybe I’m just wound too tight.

Apparently, Baby Girl and Petunia are both wound a little too tightly, too.

The phrase “Squeal like a pig” has basis in reality, let me tell you.

My spastic lurch wasn’t finished before both those pigs were on their feet, banging the sides of the carrier as they ran in circles, grunting, snorting, and oinking. My daughters covered their ears with their hands against the piercing racket, as I shouted our order back at the disembodied voice.

Order placed and pulling forward to the first window please, I hoped the hay the gilts were kicking out of the cage wasn’t contaminated by anything foul-smelling enough to remind everyone of this adventure the next time we climbed in.

As the car drew up to the window, I glanced over at Mrs. Cunha, who had a look on her face that was a cross between horror and mortification. I turned my head the opposite direction, not know what I would encounter, but half expecting to find a circumstance that would require zombie apocalypse skills.

Freddy Mercury sang that fat bottomed girls make the rockin’ world go ’round.

Now, I’m between 6’4″ and 6’6″ depending on the angle of the video surveillance camera and clock-in at three hundred-none-of-your-damn-business pounds, so I realize my commenting on a woman’s size is akin to Stalin chastising Hitler on his human rights record.

Having said that, I’m going to throw a couple of stones from my glass house.

img_20161230_123607555The young woman collecting money at the window within earshot of the pair of squealing, oinking gilts in the back of my car wasn’t ugly at all. For a hefty girl, she was reasonably attractive and probably has no problem finding a ride home long before last call. She was far from a Tess Holliday, but a carb holiday wouldn’t have killed her.

Women, especially the younger ones, are self-conscious, so she probably knows this about herself.

The look of hatred coming from the chubby cashier confirmed my suspicion that she had heard my little piggies squealing all the way home. I was afraid to hand over my debit card for fear of how many customers behind me I was going to “accidentally” be buying lunch for. At minimum, each burger would be spat on before wrapping.

As I handed over my card, I saw her eyes dart behind me, looking into the back of the car. Her eyes sparkled as they widened, and her mouth untwisted from its scowl into a smile.

“What kinda pigs y’all got there?” the young lady said.

“American Guinea Hogs,” I said, my chest puffing up just a bit.

“Never heard of them,” she said.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.