New Colossus Shithole


haiti slumPresident Trump called Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa shithole countries on Thursday. This sent Democrats into fits of vertigo because they apparently have never seen photos of any of these places. You don’t have to be able smell the human feces deposited on the public roads by locals or experience a gang rape with a side of HIV transmission to understand that three-quarters of the world is uninhabitable by Western standards.

I’ve been to a few shitholes. You wouldn’t want to live there, either. That’s why they want to come to the West.

We twenty-three cousins were the first generation of our family born in the United States, so we had a lot of access to why my grandfather packed up a wife and half a dozen kids to move to a place they had never seen that was six thousand miles away.

The short answer: It was a shithole.

Of course, shithole is a bit of a moving target, depending on speaker, time, and place. Millennials call any residence without broadband internet a shithole. I think any place where I can see my neighbors is a shithole.

However, crapping in the streets, roving gangs of brigands, tyrannical government, and child mortality rates approaching ten percent are probably fair hallmarks of a country that is a shithole, by anyone’s standard. If they aren’t, the only conclusion a reasonable person can draw is that the residents of said shithole countries enjoy living in squalor.

Every immigrant to any country in the world left his native land because he thought it was a shithole compared to the destination.

The West is a bitchin’ place to live. Especially, the United States, and despite, or possibly because of, several forays overseas on her behalf, that sentiment has only been reinforced. Those who want to leave are free…nay, encouraged to book passage to any nation that will have them. Nobody will miss them.

But they won’t leave.

How many whiners who complain about the West are willing set up shop in some third-world shanty-town with an open sewer running down the middle of the main street to bless the underprivileged locals with the benevolence and superior know-how they possess?

The answer is precious few, and fewer still who remain any longer than a Peace Corp-sponsored, working vacation to put off graduate school and having to get a real job.

The Peace Corp is the modern version of The White Man’s Burden.

A nation can have either a robust social safety net or unfettered immigration, but not both simultaneously. The United States has been trying to have both for fifty years, and we are on the verge of collapse because of it.

Prior to establishment of the welfare state, immigrants who did not or could not survive economically repatriated themselves, once it became clear they would starve to death. A substantial percentage did just that. It was a wonder of self-regulation. You either pulled your own weight, or you were out.

There were one or two in my family who faced that dilemma. They returned to Portugal, which by then had gone from a left-leaning monarchy to full-blown socialism. Nobody misses them, either.

The American immigration system, once a beacon that attracted the smartest, hardest working, and most likely to assimilate to the dominant culture, has degenerated into the world’s biggest welfare ward.

The occasional white collar professional surfing across the top of the sludge from his shithole country of origin does nothing to offset the tidal wave he rode in on.

Assuming the government and the New York Liberals cannot be forced to demolish the Statue of Liberty entirely, I suggest the following change to the Emma Lazarus poem, The New Colossus, inscribed on the pedestal:

Send me your energetic, your pure of heart, your vibrant go-getters yearning for free markets, the virile entrepreneurs who rise above their origins. Send these, the robust, tempest-weathering to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

 

3Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate every one of you. Please visit my Patreon account for members only content. Becoming a supporter gets you additional articles, behind the scenes access, and unique Thank You gifts for your support.

Don’t forget to preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Advertisements

Leaf Rake Product Review


20171206_133028Fan rakes are used for more than leaves, and that is what gets most of us into trouble. Instead of fighting with bent out pieces of spring steel or brittle bamboo, you can buy a brand new fan rake for the price of you and your sweetheart going to a movie.

I’m not sure if that’s an accurate statement or not. I don’t get out much and, to be honest, I don’t remember the last movie I saw in a theater.

However, Mrs. Cunha probably remembers and would be glad to remind me.

To her credit, Mrs. Cunha encourages my tool buying habit. In our younger years, she learned to buy the heavy duty equipment after I burned out two electric chainsaws in three years. A little pain in the present prevents catastrophic failure in the future, when a tool is pushed to its limits.

I’m a Husqvarna man, but when the logger select-cutting my fire-damaged stand of white oak referred to my baby as a “butter knife,” my competitive streak kicked in. I’m now eyeing one of the big boy 461 models from Stihl.

Like being an drunk, the first step is admitting that I have a problem.

“Hi, I’m Carlos and I’m a tool-aholic.”

For the paltry sum of twenty dollars (.001198 Bitcoin, if you’re that sort), Mrs. Cunha replaced several previous fan rakes that failed to go the distance; thwacky-cracky bamboo, springy-sprangy steel, and bendy-snappy plastic.

20171206_133022This True Temper fan rake is a tough customer. It’s a bit heavier than I would like. Having said that, the trade off is the sheer amount of material it is able to gather up. We took turns working it hard. Leaves and twigs were gathered up easily, both is short grass and long. The tines are stiff enough to pull up partially buried yard debris, while working between tufts of grass we wanted to leave behind.

The wooden handle painted to look metallic does not impress me, but the end you swing it by has a medium density foam grip that lends a good amount of comfort to the chore of raking.

I raked out the sheep pen with it and was impressed at how clear a swath it left behind. It didn’t gather as much of the sheep poop as I would have liked because of the relative size of pellets to the tine spacing, but once they picked up some hay, a reasonable amount was left behind.

Where this rake really shinned was its ability to dig down and pull apart compacted chicken litter from the coop. The sharp points and stiff tines pushed right down to the floor and pulled everything out of the coop in a handful of motions.

20171206_133044The label says there is a fifteen year warranty, but like most such claims, I will believe it when I see it. This isn’t to say True Temper won’t honor their promise. I just haven’t had need to ask them, which is testament to their confidence in offering a long warranty.

My guess would be that leaving it out in the weather or exposed to sunlight for long periods will shorten its life, but so far, I’m pleased with this product and recommend it.

 

3This product review was made possible by the generous support of my patrons. I appreciate each one of you. Please visit my Patreon account for members only content. Becoming a supporter gets you additional articles, behind the scenes access, and unique Thank You gifts for your support.

Don’t forget to preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Homemade Hay Feeder


20170612_095651Hay constitutes most of the diet of farm animals found on the homestead. Pulled directly from the ground by the animal consuming it is the most nutritious, but that’s not always an option. Fields need to rest, winter stops hay growth, and some folks don’t have the land to dedicate. There is any number of reasons a homesteader might feed hay. If that’s the best option for your circumstances, go ahead and do what’s right for you. I wouldn’t presume to know what’s best for someone else.

Besides the importance of maintaining condition of the hay, the method of feeding it is also important. Animals tend to make a mess. They are picky and go for the tastiest parts first. I often hear farmers caution that cows will eat the center out of a round hay bale to the point the outside collapses, sometimes causing injury.

In addition to store-bought feed we supplement for the known vitamins and parasite medication, we try to feed hay as much as possible. One of the many projects on my Honey-Do List is fencing off additional paddocks to use for rotational grazing. Until that chore is complete, the sheep will be largely on dry hay we bale through year.

My goal is three hay cuts a season, but between fires, unpredictable summer weather, using mostly borrowed equipment, extensive travel for work, and plain old inexperience, I’m doing good to get two mediocre cuts.

Our hay needs on The Five Cent Farm are modest with nine ewes, but with a soon to arrive ram, those needs will increase, if I can get Apollo to do his job. I’ve seen his results on my neighbor’s farm, so I’m confident that despite middle-age creeping up on the old boy, he’ll continue to produce long enough to expand the flock.

The big problem we were having with feeding the girls hay was two-fold. We get a lot of rain and any bales placed on the ground wick water up through them, so it becomes a race between moisture moving up and sheep eating down.

The second problem is the tendency for sheep, mine at least, to stomp all over bales as the pick through it, ruining hay they would normally eat while scattering around hay they might eat later, depending on how hungry they are.

Neither Mrs. Cunha nor I were happy with what we viewed a wasted resources in loss of finished hay and the time and effort to get it that way. Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, we set out to steal a few good ideas from other people and incorporate them into one of our own.

This is what we came up with presented in photographs. Feel free to steal some ideas yourself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate every one of you. Please visit my Patreon account for members only content. Becoming a supporter gets you additional articles, behind the scenes access, and unique Thank You gifts for your support.

Don’t forget to preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Things That Go Bump Stock in the Night


Paddock1Stephen Paddock bump fired the National Rifle Association into showing their true gun control agenda. Wayne LaPierre will gladly assist the gun-grabbers of the world, who happen to occupy both sides of the political aisle, if it means he can keep his position as King of Gun Rights and the donations flowing in from poor suckers he has bamboozled into believing he is on their side. The days of Neal Knox are long gone, and any hope of the NRA protecting the true reason for the Second Amendment died with him.

You soft-hearted types, who have trouble wrapping your heads around dispassionate after-action analyses of facts, may want to skip the next section or two. Go sit with the women and fret a while.

Listening to the audio of the Las Vegas shooting, two thing struck me. Naturally, the first was the high rate of fire. Under stress, even a moderately trained person can shoot himself dry surprising fast, but the booger hook working the bang switch tires quickly. Fatigue overtakes adrenaline with the first magazine swap, and most people come down from peak twitch pretty fast. The continued high rate of fire clued me in to a few things.

Pay attention to the pattern of fire. There were distinct pauses, but the spacing of each report sounded off. It didn’t jive with the reports of “automatic gunfire.” However, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason.

Stephen Paddock strikes me as the sort who enjoyed having his guns more than using them. Based on the crime scene photos, his firearms were pristine. Anyone who carries a gun or uses them on a regular basis knows they wear and have a tendency to get beat up. Finishes dull. They wear in a predictable pattern. Guns that are actually used also tend to carry big, ugly scratches and gouges taken out of them from being dropped occasionally. It happens. Working guns look they were dragged behind a truck and run over by a tractor. You can trust a man with a beat-to-Hell gun because it’s just a tool to him.

Stephen Paddock was a Mall Ninja, who bought his way unto being able to lay down a base of fire.

By comparison, Omar Mateen, the Pulse nightclub shooter in Orlando, killed forty-nine people versus Stephen Paddock’s fifty-eight. The vast majority of carnage in both instances occurred in the initial ten to fifteen minutes. The big differences were in the number wounded and the number of rounds expended.

In Orlando, the active shooter portion was ten to fifteen minutes, before he barricaded himself in a bathroom with hostages and didn’t fire a shot during negotiations. He initially exchanged fire with an off-duty police officer doing security duty, but things didn’t really start to turn against Omar Mateen until several more good guys showed up with guns. Funny how that works.

Pistols are for emergency use until you can get your mitts on a long-gun and get to work.

Stephen Paddock picked a great shooting position, but it was a lousy escape position. His options were through a door into a hotel hallway, down thirty-two floors, and out one of a limited number of exits on the ground floor or out a window about four hundred feet above the pavement. He definitely would not have survived option number two, but it would have been fun to watch.

Omar Mateen had a better chance of getting out of the Pulse nightclub alive. Several hours of negation was a three hour window, during which time he could have surrendered. His chances still weren’t good, but a negotiated surrender increases the odds of survival over the chaos of an assault. However, once the SWAT team initiated the rescue by blowing a hole in the bathroom wall, there weren’t many ways for the operation to end that included Mateen seeing the sun rise.

SWAT guys are the sorts who enjoy winning. They expect to come out on top in an operation, and woe be unto any who get between them and the goal. Botching the wall breach by not blowing a big enough hole to fit through is as infuriating as it is embarrassing.

Nobody may ever know how many rounds Stephen Paddock expended, but so far, the number two thousand is being thrown about. That may be a number put out by politicians to gin up public appetite to ban bump stocks, but let’s accept it, for the sake of argument.

That is some piss poor shooting. He was hosing that crowd down and relying on 22,000 people being crammed together butts-to-nuts. Stephen Paddock could have achieved a much higher death tally with a conventional firing method, or at least, some trigger control on his bump stock. He was a rank amateur.

Has anyone besides me noticed the conspicuous lack of disciplined, well-trained, mentally healthy, non-drug addled perpetrators of mass shootings?

Full-auto fire is conducted with controlled, aimed three to five round bursts. What is heard on the recordings is a man who does not have a firm grasp on how to run his weapon system. There was no skill, discipline, or commitment to craft. It seems like a last hurrah in a come-to-life game of Call of Duty by a rage-filled man bent on suicide, but who lacked the guts to do it himself absent the pressure of the police closing in on him.

By definition, the insane don’t act rationally. That can be an advantage once the shooting starts because of the gaps left to exploit by the responders. Then again, shooting up a crowd of strangers at a concert is highly irrational, in the first place. Just crazy enough to initiate the shooting is actually worse, in this case, than being nuts to the point of not being able to effectively plan and carry it out.

These shooters occupy a sweet spot on the spectrum of crazy where they are rational enough to concoct a plan and put it into action, but, luckily for everyone, not rational enough to understand the fix when their skills suck. So, just like a lot lazy, but perfectly sane and law abiding, shooters, the Stephen Paddocks of the world attempt to purchase their skill set.

You don’t improve your shooting by hanging crap off the gun. You get better by running rounds through it until parts break.

Fast is great. Accurate is greater. But living to testify in front of the Grand Jury is greatest, so I’m not too picky about how I get there. For my money, the best gunfight would more accurately be described as a “shooting” because the other guy wouldn’t get any rounds off in my direction. Hell, if I had my druthers, the other asshole wouldn’t even know the fight had begun.

Mrs. Cunha has a strict policy that I return from my adventures alive, and preferably, without any additional scars.

Based on the number of weapons in the room with him, Stephen Paddock did seem cognizant of the tendency for heat and gunk to render a weapon inoperable. I suspect the plan was to use a variant what old timers called a New York Reload; drop the gun that doesn’t go “bang” anymore and pick up one that does.

Fair fights are overrated. The objective is to win.

Some reports indicate Stephen Paddock had recently been prescribed diazepam, typically used for anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. This doesn’t mean he was taking the drug, so toxicology tests will be interesting. There is evidence to suggest that benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, can lead to aggressive behavior.

It’s also coming to light that he was a drunk and a fan of cocaine. The guy definitely liked to party and weekend-long video poker benders don’t sustain themselves. With all three of these things possibly going on inside his body at once during the shooting, it’s no wonder he sucked at his task.

Then again, bat-shit crazy is a thing, and that may be the only reason discovered. Life is full of unanswered questions.

What is not an unanswered question is what to blame in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.

A single, solitary man named Stephen Paddock is to blame.

Bump stocks, assault rifles, and silencers are no more to blame for the loss of life in Las Vegas than tall buildings, country music concerts, or hammers. To believe otherwise is to abandon any pretense of personal accountability and turn society over to voodoo practitioners. An item’s existence neither influences its wielder nor creates an impure heart. A hammer that builds a house can just as easily be to put to use crushing a skull. It’s the workman who chooses to put the tool to use; whether that purpose be good and creative or twisted and evil.

With a moderate degree of skill and a milling machine (or a high degree of skill and access to a file and drill press), an ambitious home machinist can turn out a fully functioning and aesthetically pleasing boom stick, which is completely legal, as long as it meets AFT length requirements, is semi-auto only, does not fire from an open bolt, etc. Throw in plans downloaded from the internet, and the production process speeds up a whole bunch.

What mental defect afflicts gun grabbers?

If our ambitious machinist of moderate skill loads plans downloaded from the internet into his CNC milling machine, turns out a functioning BAR, and tests it out by shooting up the nearest grammar school, exactly what would gun grabbers want to ban?

Manufacturing a full-auto firearm is already illegal.

One option is to put firearms blueprints on par with child pornography by criminalizing its possession, dissemination, and creation. That is a moral equivalency I’m sure hoplophobes would be glad to defend and, I’m sad to say, most Americans would let pass without comment.

There are simply too few Americans hogging out their own AR receivers or having AK Bending Parties. The fact that most people reading this article have no idea what I’m talking about in the previous sentence, much less have ever participated in either activity, lends weight to the statement.

Perhaps, just like bump stocks, gun grabbers would prefer to go after the tool, instead of the man who employs it? The government could create a registry for CNC machines and license their operators. That way, they could keep tabs on every machinist in the United States and have a database from which to begin investigations on the off chance one whacked out loser out of 330 million people decided to go rogue with his weekend workshop project.

A type of bump stock called a bump board can be made with a length of board and a nail. Running a loop of 550-cord through the trigger guard and around your shoulder gets the same rate of fire as a bump stock. There is an old technique using a shooter’s thumb through the trigger guard and a belt loop that yields the same result.

Knowing how to do something is lightyears away from putting it to an evil purpose. Twisted minds and wicked hearts cannot be controlled by regulating objects.

Honestly, what surprises me is that we have so few Las Vegas type shootings.

Lawmakers, on the left in particular, but ever increasingly on the right, are more than willing to slowly suffocate every right we possess. It’s not just gun rights, but rights in general. However, firearms and any piece of gear that puts the average citizen on par with the average government actor strikes fear in politicians’ hearts because deep down in their souls, politicians know they possess the capacity to become tyrants.

As part of the Washington political establishment, organizations such as the National Rifle Association are loath to admit the Second Amendment was instituted to give the citizenry the ability change the government in the event it became tyrannical.

We are far from any such situation, and it’s a horrifying thought. However, much like mutually assured destruction through nuclear weapons during the Cold War, it kept both sides sober and honest. The prospect of having to put the threat into action encouraged everyone to keep talking to work out their differences.

The NRA long ago abdicated its mission statement of protecting firearms rights in favor of being the public relations firm for friendly, well-dressed sport shooing enthusiasts, who are too upper-middle class to entertain the notion that our descendants might possibly, one day in the distant future, run out of political options and be forced, with heavy hearts, to dismantle what our ancestors so painstakingly created.

But, hey, as long as the dues money keeps rolling, so the NRA Board of Directors don’t have to get day jobs and Wayne LaPierre continues to be invited on television and to all the Washington parties, the National Rifle Association is totally willing to play political patty-cake with our God-given rights.

To preserve their rock star lifestyles and social clout, the NRA has come out in favor of regulating bump stocks.

A small, ferocious mutt makes a better attack dog than a friendly, dopey behemoth.

As such, I would advise anyone serious about protection of the Second Amendment support more aggressive and ideologically pure champions. They are smaller organizations and may not carry the same clout in Washington, but they also aren’t buddy-buddy with those who would strip us of our rights.

Here are my favorites:

Gun Owners of America

National Association for Gun Rights

Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership

I’m not saying to quit the NRA in protest for them being pansies. They won’t care what you have to say. What I am saying is to let your membership expire and put that money where it will be used to protect your rights, instead of political deal making with people who have no qualms about marginalizing you and dictating what freedoms you may maintain.

And before some Liberal asks, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Every one of those fifty-eight lives is worth sacrificing for the right to have a bump stock. So is mine. So is yours. So is everyone’s. That’s the nature of rights. They transcend the individual.

The more important question is why aren’t you willing to protect those rights?

3Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate every one of you. Please visit my Patreon account for members only content. Becoming a supporter gets you additional articles, behind the scenes access, and unique Thank You gifts for your support.

Don’t forget to preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Nazis Literally Ruin Everything


NazisOnce the original Nazis were defeated in World War II, Americans did their best to forget they ever existed by exiling Nazis to the realm of literary and comic book villains for the likes of Indiana Jones and Captain America to best again and again. Sure, there may have been the occasional Nazi who rebelled against the system, such as the Operation Valkyrie conspirators, but they are notable precisely because of their rarity.

I’m certain a sizable percentage of Nazis escaping the smoking rubble that was once Germany, Allied victor’s justice, and the heavy-handed denazification process landed in the United States and introduced Home Owners Associations.

I keep a tastefully small collection of Nazi paraphernalia on display in my den for no better reason than I enjoy watching people squirm when they notice it.

Nazis were wicked enough in their time that mention of the name makes people’s skin crawl, and merely gazing on their relics causes weakness in the knees and a pronounced stammer. The title of Nazi has become the ultimate racial epithet against whites; on par with nigger towards blacks. Most of us honkies believe the Nazi sobriquet to be untrue and not applicable to us. Thus, the lack of a visceral reaction when it is hurled at us.

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be many black folk throwing around the Caucasian N-word. That heavy lifting comes mostly from Lefties and Millennials, who are generally dumb enough to think it humorous to startle a pit bull or kick a bear in the nuts.

Please, believe me when I say, “Those are both terrible ideas.”

The Nazi shadow is a thick, inky cloak that has forever ruined an untold number of perfectly reasonable and acceptable objects, ideas, and practices. There are just a few:

Names

God help any elementary schoolkid whose parents are societally tone-deaf enough to name the child Adolph. Those named Helga, Ingrid, Henrik, or Manfred don’t fare much better. A quick review of the Berlin phone book reveals a conspicuous dearth of the family names Eichmann, Goebbels, Mengele, Himmler, and Hitler.

Salutes

The Pledge of Allegiance used to look a wee bit different than the current hand-over-heart position most of us grew up with. For the fifty years prior to the Second Great European War, our grandparents, who fought real Nazis, began school every morning pledging allegiance to the Republic with the Bellamy salute, a gesture that gives today’s Liberals a case of the vapors.

Boy Scouts

No, wait. The Nazis only disbanded Scouting. The gays ruined it.

Summer camp

My parents were too cheap to send my brother and I off the summer camp. We were left to our own devices, where we accumulated scars and hearing impairments. However, I have it on good authority from friends whose parents wanted them to enjoy their summers that there didn’t seem to be a lot of Jewish kids at summer camp.

Hugo Boss suits

German luxury fashion house Hugo Boss emerged from bankruptcy in 1931 to land a contract for the all black SS uniforms. By the end of the war, Herr Boss provided most all of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS uniforms. Hugo Boss made the Nazis look fabulous.

Had there been even a smattering of Armani suits among the Alt-right crowd at Charlottesville, they could have gotten away with their torch-lite march without hearing a peep out of anyone. Now, because of Hitler and Crew, anti-Semitic, ethno-nationalists don’t feel the need to get their shit together enough to dress respectably when showing up for a cobblestone melee.

Toothbrush mustache

Popularized in the United States by Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy, the straight-trimmed, indexed off the edge of the nostrils patch of upper lip hair will forever be associated with Nazis, third-world dictators, and artists who want to create a public stir. The fact that so few people know the proper term for it serves as proof that Adolph Hitler will own the toothbrush mustache from beyond the grave for a very long time.

Fashy haircuts

The name for this category of men’s hairstyle has emerged recently with the growing exposure of Alt-righters, but it’s been around for a long time. It’s a high-and-tight left long on the top; think Brad Pitt’s character in Fury. It’s arguably the most attractive, utilitarian, and low-maintenance haircut for men. That’s what has made it popular. The problem is that the haircut’s popularity goes back to, at least, Hitler Youth in Nazi propaganda films.

According to Leftist logic, even an irrelevant and superficial similarity between a person on their List of People You’re Supposed to Hate and Nazis makes that person a Nazi. Thanks for fucking up my haircut, Hitler.

Swastikas

Anytime one of my daughters has a new boyfriend, I make certain our introduction includes butchering an animal, so I can gauge their reaction. Throwing up on his shoes does not earn the young fella the Cunha Seal of Approval. Jumping in and helping sets him down the right path to my eventual demand for a bearskin, a shark tooth, and a snow-cone from Antarctica in exchange for her hand in marriage.

In the same vein as butchering, I lay little traps around the house; a Totenkopf on the mantle, a photo of lynching on a side table, a Confederate battle flag hanging in the office. Even if the young suitor has been forewarned (Which is likely, as this point in my child rearing tenure), a career spent being lied to has left me a fair evaluator of the genuine and false.

An investigator of any stripe should have a minimum of three children before being allowed to work a case on his own.

Throwing around the term Nazi for those with whom you disagree is going after flies with a hammer. It’s ineffective and mars the furniture. It shows a lack of nuance (something I’ve always heard liberals extol) and shallowness of thought.

If there really were Nazis everywhere, hospitals and morgues would be packed to capacity with Antifa protesters because the great enemy of Fascism was Communism. Antifa, Leftists, Progressives, etc. being allowed to speak their minds and escape public gatherings with their lives is proof positive there are no Nazis hiding behind the trees.

 

3Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate every one of you. Please visit my Patreon account for members only content. Becoming a supporter gets you additional articles, behind the scenes access, and unique Thank You gifts for your support.

Don’t forget to preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Pardon Our Mess


junkyard1My homestead dreams included images of tidy outbuildings and manicured fields, populated by well-behaved livestock, with a snug little house heated by worm farts and sustainable wood that was harvested on-site. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homesteads and working farms are cluttered places. Turns out that I was a combination of deluded and snookered into believing the Homesteader’s Dream.

Buildings have a tendency to age and dilapidate. Everything, with the exception of the rocks in the ground, breaks in the middle of a project. And, oddly enough, livestock does not line up for slaughter.

“Everything here has been burnt or broke, at least, once before.” – Bobby Bare

There are some specific reasons my farm occasionally resembles a junkyard. Let’s play a game where you see how many apply to your homestead and whether you have some of your own that I missed. Leave your additions in the comments section.

Emergencies and forced delays

My farm may not have been hit by hurricane Irma, but she did push wind and rain up our way. Neither of which are conducive to working outdoors. All manner of weather can slow down projects, and often bring them to a dead stop. Even a simple change in the rain prediction will throw the next several days of planning into disarray and necessitate re-prioritization, based upon what would most likely be ruined, if it was rained on. That’s usually hay laying in the field.

I’m getting too old to work on non-mission critical projects in knee deep mud or freezing cold. Plus, the wife makes me come indoors when she sees lightning. So, work is often a stop-and-start affair.

Elements of nature aren’t the only reason we are surrounded by half-finished projects. Kids and livestock have a habit of coming down sick or injuring themselves at the worst possible time. Mrs. Cunha and I have been known to soldier on with broken bones and bleeding wounds, but the phrase “rub some dirt on it” doesn’t go over well with the Millennials. I don’t know what they will do, when adversity eventually comes their way.

Stocking up on supplies for future projects

Aside from cash, the go-to gift for a hard-to-shop-for man, such as myself, is fence posts. Specifically, five-foot metal T-posts. These knobby metal rods do more than hold up fence. They serve as boundary markers, tree supports, tie-down stakes, and any other purpose the imagination can conjure. When we moved from a rental into the house we now own, I pulled up every post I had sunk into the the rented land over the previous three years and had fantasies of never buying another in my lifetime.

I blew through them in a couple of weeks.

junkyard4T-posts are in such demand around the Cunha farm that we’re saving our pennies to buy a pallet of the bastards, much like we did with a purchase of 2x4s last summer. They take up a bit of space in the garage, but just having them on hand when needed cuts down on time-stealing extra trips to town.

Not only is precious covered space dedicated to keeping bulkier items dry. The shelves of my garage are packed with little whose-its, what-thems, and doohickeys, partly because I can never find a specific item when I need it. I stopped counting the number of half-used rolls of electrical tape and cans of WD-40 I have. And God help me if I don’t squirrel away a couple of wedge blocks before the first cut because the Co-Op sure as hell won’t have any when the hay tedder throws a fork.

Error, mistakes, and inexperience

Homesteading is a continual learning process. No two endeavors go exactly the same, and often, the evidence of my ignorance is on display for all to see.

This past spring, I had one of my most brilliant ideas every. It struck me walking by the outdoor display at Tractor Supply. There, before my eyes and on sale, was a ten by ten dog run that could be quickly and easily converted to a sorely needed duck pen. We dragged it home, jury rigged a center pole with an eight-foot fence post, and zip-tied a tarp on as a roof. Not being engineers, neither Mrs. Cunha nor I realize that we had just created a giant kite.

IMG_20170322_145043947_HDRIn one of life’s bittersweet moments, we happened to be outside a couple days later, when an afternoon wind picked up our newest animal abode and crashed it down into the hayfield about sixty feet from where it started the day. The ducks looked surprised at the sudden disappearance of their shelter. Just before impact, I remember thinking their reaction reminded me of a Benny Hill skit, but not as funny because there were no women in underwear. Just confused ducks.

I was left so brokenhearted, both at the waste of money and general failure, I didn’t bother retrieving the wreckage until the day before I mowed the hay. Mrs. Cunha, understanding soul that she is, did not ask once when I planned to face my failure.

Deferred maintenance makes for ugly buildings

The barn on my farm is fairly young for a wooden barn. The house is about fifty years old, according to the property records the county keeps. I haven’t found evidence of the barn’s exact age, so I’ll just peg it as the same as the house, for the sake of example.

^DE2C3DD736DB8E5A8CCCB0AABE3AF983E8F7355479CED4D49D^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrThe house was clearly kept up with more diligence than the barn. It doesn’t lean near as much as the barn, but that might be attributable to the house being single story. Impending collapse aside, the barn is still much more of an eyesore than the house. Dulled galvanized roof, faded and peeling paint, and rotted siding that make me cringe every trip out there speak to God knows how many years the previous owners didn’t nail in a replacement board or pick up a paint brush. Maybe they didn’t have the cash for materials or just never got around to it. Valid and excusable reasons or not, the chores were not accomplished. The result is a building that passes for an abandoned crack house for drug addicted livestock.

Why does your homestead look like the set of Sanford and Son?

Leave a comment below with your favorite reason. I promise not to judge.

 

3Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate every one of you. Please visit my Patreon account for members only content. Becoming a supporter gets you additional articles, behind the scenes access, and unique Thank You gifts for your support.

Don’t forget to preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Farmer Tax Revolt


Taxation4Libertarians popularized the phrase, “Taxation is theft.” I think it’s closer to Strong-arm Robbery with a firearms possession enhancement, but the Libertarian version fits on coffee mugs and bumper stickers better.

All taxation carries the implied threat of government force. If you don’t believe me, try not paying any income taxes for a while. The letters will be relatively polite, at first, with phrases such as “We noticed” and “Please remit,” and become progressively more aggressive. Ignore the Tax Man’s love notes long enough, and you will discover men with guns breaking down the front door of your house to drag your off to jail.

Local government collecting property taxes may be less aggressive Caesars demanding what is theirs, but liens against property, which must be satisfied prior to any sale, will sooner or later result in the Sheriff, a man who not long ago came to you begging for his current job, evicting you from your home. He’s got a gun, too. As well, as the authority to drag you out kicking and screaming. So ultimately, local government isn’t any better than the Feds, other than he is easier to vote out of office. At least, I get to directly pick my executioner on the local level.

Government needs money to function. My complaint is they function entirely too much.

Long ago, I adopted the “Philosophy of No.” It’s based on my experience as a parent and human ATM for people with neither skills nor jobs.

Taxation2Whenever a ballot initiative appears asking for power over me or more money, the answer is not only “No,” but “You manage the money I’ve already given you so poorly, I refuse to give you any more to squander.”

It’s a lesson in tough love and money management that most any parents have to mete out sooner or later.

Rather than allow one half of the population to extort money out of the other half, I have a better plan. Run the government via GoFundMe campaign. Imagine a government funding mechanism where every voter was able to put his money where his mouth is. Everything from local projects to entire federal departments would limited to what citizens voluntarily gave.

If providing clean syringes to drug addicts is important to you, there is a fund to which you can contribute. Alternately, don’t like the War on Drugs, don’t contribute to the DEA. Want a border wall? There’s a fund for that, too.

Sometimes, before resorting to force, lower levels of government will resort to guilt trips for enforcement.

The county I live in has something called a Wheel Tax. The state calls it the altruistic-sounding Vehicle Privilege Tax, just in case somebody forgets who serves whom in this relationship.

Taxation1They get away with hiding this bit of extortion by not listing it as a line item on the state registration, but requiring the serfs to present themselves at the local government palace, where a court functionary doles out stickers bearing the county name. From my experience, the punchline to “How many civil servants does it take to hand out a sticker?” is three; one of which is the County Commissioner. I nearly pooped myself when informed the privilege of owning a vehicle in my county was reckoned to be worth sixty-one dollars per vehicle.

“And what all do I get for my contribution to the Wheel Tax?” I asked the clerk, suspecting I knew the answer.

“It pays for the upkeep of the county roads,” said the clerk, not breaking stride on the smacking of the wad of Hubba Bubba in her maw.

“Really?” I said, raising my eyebrows. “Have you seen the county roads around here? A crew was out at my place two days ago and they missed every third pothole.”

“You can always move to town and live on a state road,” said Hubba Bubba.

“You’ve got a hellova way to handle life’s problems,” I said. Hubba Bubba’s face hardened. I could hear Mrs. Cunha shepherding the kids out of the Assessor’s office into the hallway. She knows I’m not one to pass up a fight, and nearly two decades of experience has taught her they come hard, fast, loud, and messy.

“County Commissioner’s right there,” said Hubba Bubba, pointing to a nervous looking man in a white shirt and blue tie standing at the end of the counter, whom I didn’t vote for in the last election and bore a striking kinship resemblance to Hubba Bubba. She had tired of my shit quickly, and didn’t get paid enough to deal with me.

“That is what a lot of people do,” said The Commish.

“God, no. Then I’d really be steamed, having to pay for something I don’t use,” I said. “At least, this way, I can kid myself into thinking I’m paying for the road in front of my property.”

“Well, you’re getting more than just roads,” said The Commish. “That’s only about a third of it.”

“What’s the other forty dollars go for?” I said.

“Drug abuse and battered women,” said The Commish.

“Put me down for a case of each,” I said. “I’ve got a big weekend planned and I want to get my money’s worth.”

Altruism with other people’s money is neither noble nor commendable.

Charity is a social good. Once bills and family obligations are met, everyone should endeavor to help those in their community who are in need, however you define “community.” Whether defined by geography, religion, ethnicity, occupation, or nature of the need, pick one or two and do what you can to relieve the want of a brother. The choice is entirely up to you, the giver, as is whatever benefit your derive from the charitable act. It’s a win-win for everyone that is best enacted personally, directly, and freely.

Taxation3Charity through forced redistribution of resources is theft, just the same as if a government bureaucrat slipped a debit card out of your wallet while you napped. I bet people would scream bloody murder if tax bills were payable in time and physical effort instead of cash.

I resent locally imposed taxes slightly less than the further removed ones levied by the state and federal governments because of the higher levels of accountability. Send your secretary out to run interference all you like, Mr. Elected County Official. Our kids attend the same school and there isn’t but one Piggly Wiggly in town. I’m not above asking in a loud voice why you can’t make time for a constituent who voted for you.

It doesn’t matter if that’s a lie. He won’t know one way or the other. Even if he does, the people listening won’t, and that is the important part. The damage will still be done.

I suffer a from genetic disorder called “lack of shame.”

Since the school bus my property taxes pay for is The Lord of the Flies on wheels, Mrs. Cunha and I build our lives around a twice-daily journey to the far side of town to three (now, thankfully, two) schools. I tell myself it is quality time with the kids, but it’s a lie. The more time, money, and energy I expend making up for the shortfalls of government schools, the more attractive home schooling becomes.

The two-a-day trek takes us right past the county government building. The very same building of the sticker standoff with The Commish and his Girl Friday, Hubba Bubba.

I structure my life in such a way as to avoid taxes whenever legally allowable. No less an authority than Learned Hand, the judge most quoted by the Supreme Court, said in Helvering v. Gregory way back in 1934, “Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. – US Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Learned Hand

I had spent days plotting revenge for the blood money I was unable to dodge because of our need for a truck on the farm, when the burrito from lunch decided Elvis was ready to leave the building. It seems giving the only Mexican restaurant in town another chance after its fourth closure by the Health Department was not the best of ideas.

Navigating the town square, a required lap around the county government building to make it from one end of town to the other, a sheen of sweat beaded my forehead, as I searched for a port to shelter against the brewing storm. Not surprisingly, parking was ample. Of the three dozen or so storefronts that ring the outside of the road encircling the county government building, all but four are vacant, and the buildings that house them in such bad repair they will likely never be rented or sold.

I slid out of the passenger seat of the truck (what can I say? Mrs. Cunha likes driving the truck, too), and penguin-walked my way into the building’s basement, where I knew there to be a public toilet.

We need to get out of here before the Sheriff shows up. What I did in there was a crime.

Mrs. Cunha was appalled at the brazenness of my decision that afternoon. She patiently waits in the truck virtually every day since, as I stride into the county government building, folded newspaper tucked under one arm, to conduct my business in the public lavatory. Apart from the occasional puzzled looks from the few building occupants, I draw no attention, create no ruckus, perform no vandalism, damage no property, and leave no unreasonable mess. I make use of a public bathroom during business hours in a taxpayer funded edifice of the county in which I am both a taxpayer and a resident.

It may not be possible to fight City Hall and win, but for anyone willing to sit down, bare assed on a public toilet, the power to subvert is as close as a roll of toilet paper.

Call me Rosa Parks on the Porcelain Throne.

 

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.