Chicken Stampedes


IMG_0418Farms are like prisons; they both thrive on routine. Try being late for morning chores to see just how disruptive your barnyard inmates become. With luck, the worst you’ll suffer is obnoxious, sideways looks from the ingrates. If you have teenagers at home, this should be nothing new.

My friends who keep larger animals tell of property damage from 800 pounds of hooved livestock pushing down corrals or kicking apart stalls when breakfast was late. So, I guess I’m doing pretty well that I don’t, as yet, have any animals I can’t wrestle to the ground.

“I don’t care if you have the flu. I deserve to be fed right now.” #ChickenLivesMatter.

In the animals’ defense, I’m sure they all huddled together and passed hushed whispers among themselves, wondering if their human finally had a fatal heart attack.

Something tells me that has never happened. The animals expressing concern for their caretakers, I mean. An overweight, middle-aged farmer who drinks too much and eats bacon with every meal dropping dead from a coronary embolism probably occurs with some regularity. It just hasn’t been me…yet.

In a just world, I will be shot dead by the jealous husbands of the Norwegian women’s beach volleyball team, but more likely, I’ll meet my maker wearing a confused expression because I didn’t know that “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing.

Mrs. Cunha prohibits me from any activity that includes the words, “Y’all watch this.”

IMG_0434Until then, I’ll have to suffer the twice daily chicken stampede. Once in the morning, when I throw out scratch grain before opening the coop door, and again in the evening, when they decide to play General Custer’s Last Stand on seeing me carry out their feed bucket.

Pushing through the mob of hens isn’t so much trouble as it is annoying. It can also be dangerous. I’m relatively light on my feet for someone my size, but at six-foot-four and two hundred none-of-your-damn-business pounds, a slip, trip, stumble, or fall can have absolutely devastating consequences on a chicken because they are not terribly sturdy creatures. Ask me how I know the ease with which a chicken can meet an accidental, premature demise.

That particular situation was slightly different because it was my fault for wear flip-flops into the chicken pen, but by the same token, the owl that killed one of my hens last April has made no effort to compensate me. Like the men before me who suffered setbacks, I simply had to absorb the loss and carry on.

My daughter felt just as entitled to a replacement chicken as the animals feel entitled to be fed, teenagers to a new cellphone, or prisoners do to yard time. When it comes to entitlement, only the circumstances change. The cries of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” are always the same.

Sometimes, it’s not about the expense, but rather the accomplishment.

IMG_0471Little in life exceeds the pride a father feels when finally winning a prize at one of those claw and crane games found in fast-casual type family restaurants, arcades, and carnival midways all over the world. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen one of these machines in a place with a dress code, and since my average reader is more likely to wear Carhartt than Channel, I’ll assume everyone knows exactly the device I’m talking about.

It might take thirty-seven dollars to win a teddy bear the game’s owner bought on clearance from Walmart for $2.99 the day after Valentine’s Day, but dammit, that’s a win in my book.

In an example of both Big Brother looking out for what it thinks are your best interests and parents all too willing to relinquish the raising of their children to the state, New Jersey state Senator Nicholas Scutari has introduced legislation to further regulate claw and crane games.

The honorable Senator Scutari, whom to no one’s surprise is a Democrat, wants to regulate claw and crane games, so they produce a higher frequency of wins for the player. God forbid adults be allowed to chose how to assess their own risks and spend their own money, according to this government lover.

In New Jersey, as in most other jurisdictions, these tempting wallet vacuums are regulated as games of chance, as opposed to games of skill. Both are gambling, when you think about it, so the distinction between the two is really only important to legislators and owners of the machines.

The bigger question is whether you want your kids to participate in gambling. If you’d be OK with Junior sitting in on your poker game, go ahead and try to snatch that knock-off iPod from the top shelf. That’s a decision you should be left to make as a parent.

I have no room to throw stones. My kids learned at a young age how to mix a proper Old Fashioned and that Daddy likes his Scotch four-by-four; four fresh ice cubes and a four-finger pour. My fingers are the guide, not theirs.

I was shocked how fast the kids learned when they figured out I was tipping for each round. There have been arguments over whose turn it was to serve.

0602161917aOne of the hopes I have for my children is they learn life lessons on the farm that can be carried into adulthood. Slapping an angry rooster silly when he comes at you with his spurs forward is an instructive moment for a ten-year-old girl in how to stand up for yourself and deal with bullies.

The rooster wasn’t too thrilled by the experience, but the lesson must not have stuck. A few weeks later, we had to make an example of him in front of the flock. The rest of the chickens have been on perfect behavior since.

20150531_111648_resizedThat’s why I like to keep an understudy rooster around. You never know when you’ll have to remind those dumb clucks of Rule #1: Behave or be eaten.

All the humans on the farm, even if outmatched physically, have access to tools and technology that allow us to prevail when an animal occasionally decides to challenge our authority over them. It’s by no means a fair fight, and it’s not supposed to be.

The lesson I want my children to take away from that reality is not might makes right or even the biblical mandate that humans have dominion over animals. What I want them to understand is that life isn’t always fair. I’m sure Clint the Rooster thought it mighty unfair that he was sent to Freezer Camp for doing what he saw as right by the hens.

Sometimes, you’re just not going to win. Frequently, the odds are stacked against you, and success is a matter of luck and perseverance. Knowing and recognizing those situations is part of being an adult. It also makes the infrequent wins all the sweeter, both for the game player and recipient of the prize.

Win a stuffed animal for your girlfriend at the carnival ring-toss and you’ll be her king for the rest of the day.

I have no idea that “fair” looks like when it comes to a claw and crane game. What I do know is that if nobody ever wins, people will stop playing. The trick, I would imagine, is to make play just challenging enough to keep people playing, but allow enough wins to satisfy the pleasure centers of the brain.

It’s like throwing out scratch grain for the chickens or packing a bone with peanut butter for the dog. Make the work put into the effort just enough to justify the reward without inducing abandonment of the activity.

Wherever that sweet spot lay isn’t the government’s business to determine, but in the continual campaign to placate the Whine Glass Generation, politicians seeking to curry favor with dependent constituencies and retain their power through reelection, want to make everybody feel like a winner.

IMG_0380When everybody gets a ribbon, and each grab at the teddy bear produces a gleeful, squealing child, an expectation of success is inculcated. It breeds a sense of entitlement and reduces risk taking to a monetary exchange. Ultimately, it creates risk aversion and kills the economic libido of children who are no longer learning life lessons about risk and reward.

The livestock on my farm neither understand nor possess the capacity to understand the relationship between risk and reward. All they know is they want what they want and they want it right now.

That explains chicken stampedes.

Do what you like with your brats, but mine will earn their eventual release from the Cunha Juvenile Correctional Facility with an understanding of how the world works that is better than that of livestock.

Assuming they aren’t trampled to death by a flock of hungry chickens first.

 

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.

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Common Sense Gun Control


1Gun1Congress is currently considering the Sexual Violence Toward Women Prevention Act of 2016, which will add possession of a Y-chromosome to the category of Prohibited Firearms Possessors. Gun Control organizations, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, and the various Bloomberg organizations, have endorsed the bill and are leading a grassroots effort to fast-track the legislation.

The bill was introduced in response to the rising levels of gun violence in recent years, combined with the inability of magazine clip capacity limits, implementation of gun-free zones, and prohibition of automatic assault weapon machine guns, to stem the tide of children’s corpses piling up faster than crunchy tube socks at an all-boys summer camp.

1gun2Citing a consensus of research scientists, the gun control organizations rightly point out that the vast majority of the prison population possesses a Y-chromosome, as do ninety percent of workers who experience workplace fatalities. Clearly, they argue, Y-chromosomes cause violent, criminal behavior which justified incarceration, as well as workplace inattention leading to fatal injuries.

“Y-chromosome possession is also the leading cause of boys pulling on girls’ pigtails and roughhousing on grammar school playgrounds across the country,” said Senator Al Franken (D – Minnesota). “Add in a gun and a few hundred-thousand Muslim, Somali refugees who refuse to assimilate, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. We’ve got to think of the children.”

“It’s really about protecting the majority of the American population from the violent minority,” added Vice President Joe Biden. “It’s a teeny, tiny bit of liberty exchanged for an awful lot of safety and security.”

1gun3In addition to co-sponsorship from stalwart feminist legislators, who were kind enough to take a break from demanding equal workplace representation of women in the coal mining and sanitation engineering fields, the enlightened leftist of The View showed support for the bill by wearing paper X’s pinned to their lapels and declared they would here forth eschew the letter “Y,” as it is a symbol of misogyny.

When asked whether the letter would be deleted from the English alphabet or simply replaced with a similar sounding vowel, such as “women” to “womyn,” the ladies were at a loss.

As would be expected, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action plans to mount a vigorous opposition and eventual legal battle, should the bill become law.

“The Y-gene/violence connection isn’t settled science and is bad basis for law,” tweeted the NRA-ILA account, shortly before its blue “Verified” check was rescinded and the account suspended for promoting hate speech.

History is clearly on the side of the bill’s supporters. During the beginning of the 20th century, Turkey found its Armenian population to be quite disruptive and took away their guns. As a result, when was the last time anyone heard a peep out of Armenians that didn’t involve a parade or a restaurant opening?

1gun4Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, Pinochet, et al., not having the benefit of a living Constitution that changes meaning with the times, had to go about the distasteful task of persecuting and murdering their troublesome minorities to maintain political control the old fashioned way.

The Sexual Violence Toward Women Prevention Act of 2016 will protect American women against violent men with dangerous guns by preventing them from possessing them in the first place; just like the Volstead Act and the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were such rousing successes.

 

This article was originally written for and appeared in the Libertarian Party of Florida newsletter The Quill. Editor Raquel Okyay graciously granted permission to re-publish.

 

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 content, behind the scenes access, and goodies not available on the main site.

I Thought It Was Just a Little Paint


^AA5C1FBC83EDF7AF46DDAECD4635A672684C4D347CBC931FC2^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrLife on the farm isn’t too different from anywhere else. Except for the chores, not being able to see neighbors, the deafening quiet at night, and hunting from the porch, it’s just like living in Manhattan.

Oh, and tetanus. My entire farm is a case of lockjaw looking for a place to happen.

Between an old barbed wire fence, the two barns, renovations to the house, and a couple of rusty junk piles in the back woods the previous owner left behind, the chances of somebody visiting the Emergency Room in the next year will be an even-money bet.

Unless I need stitches or a cast, I should be good, but not so for the rest of the family.

Because of the places I’ve been, I’ve been pricked and prodded more than the zit on a prom queen’s nose the night before homecoming.

If I had a dollar for every time I was stuck by a syringe, I could probably just write for a living. And if you count jabs from a tattoo needle, I could afford to farm full-time.

The wife and kids should have appointments for tetanus and rabies vaccinations soon. Either that, or we can have them added on during the next Urgent Care visit. Whichever comes first.

I had a slightly different vision of what was going to take place when my wife said, “A little paint and some texture touch-up.”

^46C7D812FAC3DCE8FA61FFE4847D5CE3B0871596B981FBCD5A^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrStuds are visible.

Electrical outlets have been relocated. Archways have been added. Undesirable doors are being framed shut, and new ones are under consideration, so we can access a deck and hot tub we don’t yet own.

I don’t think I’ve reached the point of having bitten off more than I can chew. However, some of the projects will push the limits of my skills and force me to learn a couple of news ones.

I can always fall back on my Amish carpenter, if absolutely necessary, but that’s admitting defeat, and I’m not a fan of losing.

During a long, hot San Jose summer, my brother Jake and I, inspired by daily reruns of “Hogan’s Heros” and pushed over the edge watching “Stalag 17,” decided an underground clubhouse would be far cooler than any stupid tree house our parents had already told us we couldn’t build because lumber costs money.

^0BCA08302E54DDC65D90F3D300950AA65DDEA7CA18B1EC0B38^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrWe weren’t poor growing up, but neither did we have cash to burn. However, getting money out of my mother was like giving the cat a bath. As reasonable an idea as it may seem at first, nobody ends the project feeling good about the experience.

Confident in our logic that removal of dirt to create a void was not objectionable because it didn’t cost anything, and with the additional benefit of not creating an architectural eyesore, me and Jake raided the tool shed for the implements of the imminent cave-in.

We found a secluded spot behind the garage, at the far end of the property, that was not visible from the house. Not that it mattered much. The plan was to have a magnificently camouflaged entrance that rivaled the tilting tree stump Bob Crane made famous.

We didn’t have a tree stump handy, but no matter. Such minor details would be worked out as the project progressed.

That Monday, me and Jake began to dig. By the end of the work day on Tuesday, we could both sit up inside the cavern comfortably. That’s when we realized just how dark an underground existence could be. We would have to scavenge the garage for parts to wire our lair.

^340E72AB86867519BE654C36348B8F51A7F04B4F8DD5CAEA5C^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrOn Thursday, we were closing in on being able to stand up, but grew mildly concerned at the dirt raining down on us whenever the dog walked across the top. I think our parents became suspicious at me and Jake showing up for dinner all week encrusted in enough dirt to require stripping us to our underwear and hosing us off with the garden hose.

Pulling a dirt-filled bucket into the daylight the next afternoon, I met my dad, squatting down along the rim of the entrance, holding a flashlight.

“You and your brother, get out of there,” was all he said. Jake and I clambered out of the diagonal shaft, while the old man hung his torso over the edge and peered to the end with the aid of his flashlight.

Plumbing the dimensions of the cave with the beam of light, Dad slowly shook his head. He looked toward me and Jake. In a flash of brilliance, Jake blurted out, “We’re making Mom a root cellar for her canning.” I nodded my head in agreement.

“Your mother doesn’t can,” said my Dad, in a measured tone I’ve come to learn is a father’s way to keep from killing again.

“She can learn,” I added, hoping to turn the situation into a good idea.

It’s episodes like this that cause me to believe I was not beaten enough as a child.

^E5A904D4547807207E201B5B9D8B64CBDE2A92278475E5699B^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrAfter a lecture on the need for bracing within earthworks, Dad caved in the structure by jumping on the roof. Jake and I spent the weekend collecting the dirt we had scattered to fill in what was now a big hole in the ground. The Kommandant had found us out, and we were lucky to get out of it without any time in the cooler.

Looking back, the experience turned out to be instructional because my wife just texted me.

“Where do you think would be a good spot for a root cellar?”

 

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 content, behind the scenes access, and goodies not available on the main site.

Cat Lady…Just with Chickens


As more people return to the land, homesteaders should beware of changes in their personalities. Some of the changes are positive. There is a lot to be said for listening to the rhythmic crunch-crunch-crunch as the rabbits munch through vegetable scraps or sipping coffee, while watching the chickens sort out their personal issues.

Despite chickens being dumb and mean, I’ve concluded they have expanded the selection of idioms in the English language.

Fat Chicken 2It doesn’t take long owning chickens to gain a new appreciation for phrases like “pecking order,” “hen pecked,” and “ruffled feathers.” I didn’t have my own chickens until recently, so chicken expressions were abstract. Now, that I’ve seen their behaviors up close and personal on a consistent basis, I’m giving serious thought to accrediting my chicken run as a public high school and hiring a School Resource Officer to maintain some semblance of order and discipline.

The only thing missing would be a black chicken to make up the Goth contingent and my flock would have all cliques represented. As it is, it’s damn near the movie Stand by Me, except none of my chicken will grow up to marry Rebecca Romijn.

If chickens were the size of humans, nobody would keep them because they would be far too dangerous. At best, we would allow a controlled population to roam the woodlands of America and issue hunting tags for them, like any other big game. I can imagine fireplaces in homes across the country decorated with head mounts of gigantic chickens with cold, beady eyes piercing the viewer’s soul.

More than likely, six-foot-tall chickens would be the stuff of nightmares and hunted to the point of extinction for being menaces to society. PETA, or some such group of crazies, would lose their collective minds, but they’re fools, anyway.

I imagine a flock of human-sized chickens would be pretty close to having a pack of velociraptors on the loose. Luckily for the human race, chickens do not grow so large that they can’t be picked up by the feet with one hand.

My initiation into the Poultry Cult was a bit of a surprise. My wife and I had discussed keeping chickens for some time. Having acquired rabbits a couple months prior, I didn’t think there would be any more animal additions for some time, but I was wrong.

photoI came home from some business travel to discover a bathtub full of cedar shavings and little peeping tufts of yellow feathers.

Damn you, Tractor Supply Company and your Easter Sales.

As they’ve matured, I’ve built them a coop inside a run that is bigger than my first apartment, conducted a cull, and been the target of a presumed ISIS-inspired attack on a patrol that resulted in one CIVCAS. I believe the Al-Pollo of Tennessee Valley Network sponsored the attack, but they have yet to claim responsibility. The investigation is on-going, with eight under coop-arrest pending charges.

First eggsI’m not sure how much I’ve spent on these damn birds, and I’m afraid to ask. If I had to guess, it’s cost one of my children at least one semester in college, but hey, I get egss out fo the deal. Really, really expensive eggs.

Then again, there is entertainment value. In addition to hanging out in firearms and conservative groups on Facebook, I get to be a party to conflicting opinions and screaming matches in homesteading and backyard chicken groups, as well. And this is where you have to watch out for the personality changes.

Fairly early on in the Great Chicken Adventure, I found my wife in the run, surrounded by chickens. They associate her with food, so it is natural they congregate around her. I could see she was talking, but could not make out the words. Since I spent my younger years disregarding my auditory health, it’s a common occurrence that I need people to repeat themselves. This is something my wife and I know about me, and we deal with it, even with the occasional frustrations.

Mrs. Cunha once dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the ear doctor, so she could settle, once and for all, whether I was losing my hearing or simply ignoring her. Reading the results graph, the doctor said, “Your hearing’s fine. Start paying attention.”

That’s what I get for having a woman doctor.

I walked into the coop, so I could ask my wife to repeat herself and watch her roll her eyes. What met me was my wife holding a conversation with the entire flock. She bounced from one bird to another, like some small town politician at an election barbeque.

Coop“How are you today? Are you hungry? Here you go. Hey, don’t be such a piglet. Is she pushing you around? Be nice, you little turd. Don’t forget to vote.”

She noticed me standing nearby, and, with absolutely zero sense of abnormality, began to convey the timeline of that day’s chicken soap opera. I must have unintentionally looked interested because I now know entirely too much about the personalities of my chickens, who is the coop bully, and who just doesn’t look right on any given day.

And people wonder why I drink.

Reliable Reports Indicate


Reliable Reports
Reliable Reports

Fremont, California is home to a bar/dance club called the Saddle Rack.  Based on the name, the casual observer would be absolutely correct to infer the atmosphere is decidedly twangy.  However, since this is the Bay Area version of country, the odds of finding an authentic shit-kicker are about the same as booking a hunting trip at Urban Outfitters.  Mechanical bull and Weekend Country Girls aside, my brother Jake and I took our chances one chilly December night and sallied forth to what we understood to be the final night of this oasis of songs about heartbreak, hard luck, and hating Mexicans.

Jake had arranged a few days in town on his way to Guam, so I took the opportunity to come up and kill several visits with relatives with one stone.  Our cousin Maria was back for Christmas break from some little Podunk college neither of us had ever heard of, and we all met up at our aunt’s house.  Aunt Paula was not thrilled at the prospect of her two barbarian nephews whisking her virginal daughter away for a night of carousing.

After much begging, pleading, and promising of the maintenance of her twenty-one year old virtue while Jake and I warmed up with whiskey sours in the kitchen, Aunt Paula relented.  We had resolved to leave Maria behind if she was unable to unlatch herself from Aunt Paula’s teat, but the promise of some friends of Maria to accompany us on our adventure convinced Jake and I to allow our financially dependent cousin some latitude.

“Any of these chicks worth a shit?” I asked Maria, as I poured a third drink.  I held it out for her.  Maria caught herself reaching for the libation and forced her hand down to her side.

“They’re nice,” Maria replied.  “They’re lots of fun.”

“Does that mean they put out?” asked Jake.  We stood peering at Maria as we quaffed our drinks.  She stood in silence as she processed the unfamiliar query.

“That will have to be between you guys,” Maria replied.  “But I warn you.  One of them has a big ass.”

“That’s fine,” I replied.  “I like big asses.”

“You don’t understand, Carlos,” said Maria.  “This girl has got a really big ass.”

Maria and I went back and forth in this fashion a couple more times until I decided to put an end to the silliness.

“No, dear cousin,” I replied, “you do not understand.  I like really big asses.”

“You’ll see when she gets here,” Maria said, as she threw up her hands and walked away.

Thirty minutes and two drinks later, what should darken the lower half of my aunt’s front door, but a four foot, thirteen inch tall Portuguese girl with pancake batter makeup spackled over her pockmarked face, a bad home perm, and pumps that looked like she was baking bread in her shoes.

I kept my game face during the introductions.  There was no need to frighten off the quarry unnecessarily.  Besides, I was unfamiliar with the evening’s hunting grounds and tired from travel.  Going ugly early was a definite possibility under the circumstances.

Two Pillow Cases Full of Them
Two Pillow Cases Full of Them

As Frizzy Head passed Maria and me to enter the house, I turned and realized my cousin had not lied to me.  Stuffed into a pair of Levi Straus sausage casings was a posterior the proverbial two axe handles wide.  Short of a well-muscled thoroughbred racing horse, it was the biggest ass I have ever seen.  It looked like a pair of denim pillowcases stuffed with doorknobs.

“Jesus Christ, that’s a big ass,” I whispered to Maria.

“I tried to warn you,” Maria said, as she punched my shoulder and followed her friend.

As luck would have it, friend number two flaked out.  Perhaps she sensed trouble.  Whatever the reasons, we carried on without her.  After final promises of not becoming embroiled in any sort of shenanigans, hijinks, or mischief instigated by the Scandalous Cunha Boys, we found ourselves seated around a table at the Saddle Rack.  The girls sipped Zimas or some other noxious concoction from their bottles through straws.  That should have been a clue to Jake and I that things would go from bad to worse, but bottle beer was literally being served by the bucket at ridiculously cheap prices.  So we stayed.  My cousin Maria was a good sport.  She didn’t seem to be having a great time, but she seemed to be having a good enough time watching Jake and I thoroughly enjoy our intoxication.  I suspect her college experiences had ill prepared her for watching a pair of professionals.

Lest You Think I Made This Place Up
Lest You Think I Made This Place Up

Frizzy Head did not appreciate either our sense of humor or our war stories.  She became more sullen and surly as the evening wore on.  Why she stayed despite offers of rides home, cab fare, or simply ending the evening was beyond me.  As the evening wore on, Frizzy Head’s fiancée make an appearance.  Her face lit up for about a minute and a half before she went back to being bitchy.  I was starting to believe this was her default setting.  Some people are just chronically unhappy.  To this day, I am still unsure whether the meeting was prearranged or a rescue attempt.  I’ve always leaned toward a prearranged meeting because he joined the party.  And that was probably a mistake on his part.

If you’ve ever lived and worked in an all-male environment for months on end in the middle of some shithole location, you may have noticed a coarseness that develops.

Civilization is a fragile concept.  It doesn’t take too long of eating MREs, showering from plastic water bottles, and being on the receiving end of rocket attacks before you stop caring about little things like feelings.  And that night, Jake and I cared nothing for anyone’s feelings.  Maria did her best to keep a straight face, but Frizzy Head and her purse carrier were not amused.  I thought I saw him begin to smile a couple times, but a quick, hard glance from his dream-killer reminded him with whom he had to go home.

When Jake leaned over to Frizzy Head and said, “I thought you people were supposed to be jolly,” the festivities were pretty much at an end.

This is the point where my memory becomes a bit hazy.  Reliable reports indicate Mr. Fiancée issued an invitation to both Jake and I to engage in fisticuffs.  These same reliable reports further indicate the brothers Cunha were willing to handicap themselves out of a sense of fairness by engaging in said fisticuffs from the chairs they occupied and Mr. Fiancée was welcome to commence the pugilistic display at his leisure.

Of course, reliable reports also indicate:

  • An impromptu diving competition from an indoor balcony onto the safety mats surrounding the mechanical bull (Remember kids.  Safety third.)
  • Sundry feats of strength (I was a magnificent physical specimen at the time.)
  • Me being physically removed from a bouncer, and Jake defusing the situation by blaming PTSD (This was clearly not the first time he had pulled that trick out of his hat, but an acceptable lie in order to avoid a trip to the county jail.)
  • A 2 am four-wheeling excursion through an empty field (Don’t ever buy a used rental car.)
  • And me yakking in my Aunt’s driveway (Thank you for hosing that down, Maria.)

The next morning, I awoke to Jake and Maria shaking me awake for breakfast.

My Name is Raaaaalph!
My Name is Raaaaalph!

“Wake up, Sleeping Beauty,” Maria said, in a sing-song voice.

“Get your ass up, Princess,” Jake growled through his own hangover.

I mumbled something both incoherent and unintelligible as I pulled the covers back to realize that sometime during the festivities I had been stripped down to my underwear and deposited into a very comfortable bed in my Aunt’s guest bedroom.  The one eye I was able to open focused on Jake, shifted to Maria, and then slid down to my skivvy-clad middle area.  I raised my head and squinted at Jake.

“Where are my pants,” I asked.

“You know it was a good night when you have to ask that question,” Jake shot back.

Friendly Only Goes so Far


Canada learned again this week that they are just as much part of “The Infidel” as the United States.  As far as the Saracen is concerned, our ruddy-cheeked cousins to the North are decadent perverts fit only for death.  Please learn your lesson well, as they become more costly at each remediation.  Stick with us, Canada.  We’re used to the world hating us, and we’re actually pretty OK with it.  However, we have to discuss something first.

The World Trade Center attack heightened American awareness of plots hatched by wackos to do its citizens harm.  From the beginning, we had our own homegrown Islamist terrorists starting with John Walker Lindh and going all the way to Alton Nolen, the meat processing plant employee who absolutely, positively did not cut a former co-worker’s head off out of a sense of jihad.

But we are no longer the only ones with a homegrown terror problem.  Canada just had a shooting in Ottawa that, too their credit, is being categorized as “terrorist.”  They are still mopping up the blood and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but it is nice to see Canadians still have enough backbone to call a spade a spade.  Welcome to the Big Leagues, but I still harbor my doubts about my former English co-colonialists, not just for the socialized medicine, the gun control, or the RCMP trying to switch to synthetic fur for their winter hats.

You see, shortly after the September 11 attacks, I discovered another group of extremists had been covertly infiltrating the United States for generations.  They had been at work longer than the Al Qaeda network and are more dangerous than any ISIS jihadi because of their proximity.  And they were trained, funded, and sanctioned by the Canadian government.

Who Doesn't Like Mounties?
Who Doesn’t Like Mounties?

Yes, Canada–our friendly neighbor to the north.  Often thought of as the US without the guns, violence, and crime.  The uncovered plot implicated Ottawa in the funding of sleeper agents who went about their normal lives until called upon to rise up and spread Socialism.  Their dastardly goal was to nationalize healthcare, reduce infant mortality rates to below that of a third-world African nation, and make all American streets safe to walk on at night.

Those Mother-Canuckers!

The insidious insertion of these highly trained operatives began shortly after Canada became an independent dominion on July 1, 1867.  Remembering the US invasion during the War of 1812, the Canadian Parliament initiated what later became known as “Operation Snowback.”  Agents of the Canadian government, known as Snowbacks, took advantage of the longest undefended border in the world to slip into the United States undetected.

Their primary mission has not changed: to infiltrate American society, principally through the arts, media, and entertainment.  Lest there be any doubt, here is a short list of uncovered Snowback operatives:

  • Pamela Anderson
  • Tom Green
  • Peter Jennings
  • Alex Trebek
  • Tommy Chong
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Rich Little
  • Lorne Green
  • Monty Hall
  • and their Spy Master, Justin Bieber.

The list goes on.  These are just the agents that have been discovered.  Luckily, their exposure reduces the threat, but untold thousands of Snowbacks roam American streets with impunity, taking jobs from US citizens while waiting to transform the national sports from football and baseball to hockey and lacrosse.

Clearly, the northern US border needs to be shut down, and tighter controls placed on Canadians already here; particularly those snotty French pricks from Quebec.  To that end, the Anti-Canadian League has convinced Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to cosponsor the Subversives Among our Midsts Act.  The SAM bill will require the immediate deportation of all undocumented Canadian nationals.   It also requires all persons of Canadian origin, naturalized or not, to display a brand on either cheek in the shape of a maple leaf with the initials of their province of origin inside the leaf.  Denoting province of origin will assist in tracking and prosecution should any of the ice fishers get out of line.

In addition to shutting the US-Canadian border and identifying all Canadians, the SAM bill will outlaw subversive products and terms that have weaseled their way into the American lexicon.  For example, Canadian bacon will henceforth be called “ham.”  The National Hockey League will be disbanded, and all professional players will be assigned jobs with the Ice Capades.  All ice skates not designed specifically for figure skating will be confiscated and burned in a bonfire at various state capitols.  The story of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, in all media forms, will be prohibited, as well as sales of Canadian Mist, Seagram’s products, all Canadian whiskeys, Canada Dry, and Yukon Jack.

Works of literature written by Jack London will be exempted since they show the truly miserable nature of life in Canada.  Women will no longer be allowed to joke about their girlfriend who “always gets her man.”  All maple trees will be uprooted and dumped just over the border.  All Loons found in the United States or migrating over its airspace will be shot down.  Jim Carrey and Dan Aykroyd will be hunted down and killed for crimes against comedy.

The scourge of Operation Snowback must be stopped before Canada manages to convert the United States into a nation of healthy, peaceful lumberjacks who say “Eh” at the end of every sentence.  Support SAM.  The fate of a great nation hangs in the balance.

Note:  Please don’t make me explain satire.  And be sure to get your copy of L’homme Theroux.  It’s available just about everywhere you can imagine.

My Neighbor Wants Me in Prison Because I Hate Coons


I am sick to death of L’homme Theroux and ready for a break.  And yet, I’m not.  It came out Sunday to as much fanfare as I could muster, and so far, has been a bigger disappointment than a virgin on her wedding night.  Was Victor Frankenstein this disappointed by his monster?  Sure, it was a monster from the beginning, but it did a wicked Vaudeville routine.images (6)

One of my many faults is that I’m impatient.  But more to the point, I’m demanding; especially of myself.  I realize this whole novel thing takes time and the proverbial runaway bestsellers are notable precisely because they are so infrequent.  As it sits right now, I am not pleased with Thomas Theroux, but he’s going to have another adventure whether he likes it or not.  I’m taking a few days away from him, so he has the chance to make me proud.  In the meantime, I’m going to tell a story…

I consider myself a bit of hippie.  I love the outdoors.  Out in the fields and woods is where I like to spend my time.  Being cooped up inside makes me surly.  My ultimate goal is to have a refrigerator, freezer, and panty full of foodstuffs I created myself.  If you want to see Carlos at his best, toss me an ax and say that we need firewood.  You’ll be up to your ass in cordwood by sundown.  In a similar vein, hand me a rifle and mention the freezer is near empty.  It will be full of protein quickly.  And that horrifies a lot of people.

Depending on your personal feelings, I am either a barbaric, illiterate redneck or an enlightened steward of the environment because my most recently discovered way to spend time outdoors is trapping.  Yes, the evil steel trap in one of its many forms and sizes is my best friend when I square off with my nemesis, Procyon lotor.  The North American Raccoon, or as we call them in the South “coon.”

I hate coons.

If you’ve ever had them get into your trash cans, you probably hate them, too.  I wouldn’t mind so much if they didn’t make the world’s biggest mess in the process, but they throw trash all over the place and then poop in your flower bed to add insult to injury.  Coons are also wasteful.  They will kill a chicken seemingly for fun and not eat it.  The body is just left on the ground with its head missing.

Look at Me.  I'm so Cute.
Look at Me. I’m so Cute.

I’m undecided  whether they are geniuses in fur coats or voracious thieves driven to stupidity.  I wonder because sometimes I outsmart them, and sometimes they outsmart me.  The expression goes that we only catch the dumb ones, but if that were the case, shouldn’t coons be attending college by now?

These sneaky little nocturnal ominous are nature’s con artists.  They have that mask everyone seems to love and have behavior we humans anthropomorphize.  That is how coons trick us.  They pretend to be friendly and docile in exchange for handouts.  They are the animal equivalent of welfare recipients.  Try feeding a family of coons for a few weeks and see how angry they get when you stop the freebies.

Damn Coons
Damn Coons

They’ll run riot across your property like Obama supporters.

Don’t let the cute act fool you.  A snarling, snapping coon charging toward you will get your heart racing.  An angry opossum is more menacing, but they waddle along slow enough that they can be pretty easily outrun.  On a side note, my wife recently chaperoned a field trip to a zoo that had opossums and fell in love with the feel of their fur, so I guess I will have to get over my disdain for the nasty little creatures and skin out a few for her.  The things I will do for my woman.

I'll Hurt You.
I’ll Hurt You.

So one day, I spot my neighbor loading a live-trap into his truck.  Pacing back and forth inside the trap was the biggest boar coon I’ve ever seen.  From three houses down, this thing looked enormous, so I knew it was a big one.  As I drew closer, I began to understand how this monster was kept penned up.  My neighbor had reinforced the trap to keep Mr. Coon from pushing his way out.  Note to self: Good idea because I lose more coons than I keep in a live-trap.

I complimented him on the catch and started in with the small talk hoping to ease my way into a free coon.  I figured if this guy was in it for the pelt, Mr. Coon would be pretty close to room temperature by now.  Just as I was about to ask the Sixty-Four Dollar Question, my neighbor dropped a bomb.

“There’s some sick bastard mutilating cats in the neighborhood.  We found one on the back porch with a bear trap on its leg.  I’ve still got the trap as evidence, and we’ve called the police.  That guy belongs in prison.”

At that point, I knew I was dealing with a moron.  If you trap, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I was also pretty sure that I wasn’t getting my trap back.  My 1 1/2 double long spring had gone missing a few weeks prior.  It had upset me because it was my favorite, and I don’t have many traps, since I only nuisance trap on my own property.  I purposely bait and set my traps to avoid by-catch, so assuming the story is accurate, that cat just had bad luck.

My Favorite Coon.
My Favorite Coon.

My activity was perfectly within the law of that jurisdiction, but since dealing with the authorities is a pain in the ass I would rather avoid (even when I’ve completely in the clear), I didn’t push the issue over a trap that was free in the first place.  Not surprising, my neighbor, Perry Mason that he was, knew with absolute certainly the illegality of my trapping, but failed to understand his plan to relocate his nuisance coon to a public park was illegal as well.  I love people who know exactly what everyone else is doing wrong, but let their stuff slide.  If you want to be Johnny Law, you should keep your nose clean, too.  It’s that whole throwing glass houses thing.

1 1/2 Double Long Spring
1 1/2 Double Long Spring

The point of my neighbor being an ignorant idiot was driven home a second time when he repeated himself a minute later and the cat was now missing a leg from said bear trap that was drug to his porch.  He wasn’t clear on the mechanics of exactly how a device has the ability to both completely amputate a limb and remain attached to be drug somewhere.  Many people (me included) have caught their fingers in traps, both accidentally and on purpose to prove a point.  It won’t even break the skin, much less amputate an appendage.  I began to think I was dealing with someone mentally unbalanced.  Looking back, I think he was.

So, the short version of this story is that I lost my favorite foot-hold trap, lost out on a great pelt, and was indirectly told I should be incarcerated.  The world is full of snitches and bullies.