Friday, July 19, 2013

Photo Phriday: If You Build Them, They Will Come

Last year I made five bluebird boxes from the short sound bits of old broken and rotted barn wood and installed them around the pastures and hayfields.

This year I turned it up to eleven.

It works! By gum, it works!

Bluebirds -- several nests of them -- and one nest each of house wrens and tree swallows are all successfully fledging from the barnwood boxes.

I may have nearly saturated the appropriate bluebird habitat with boxes. (The wrens and swallows chose boxes that the bluebirds didn't think were sunny enough.) One box had a successful clutch of five wee bluebirds.

I have had to practice house sparrow eviction and infanticide measures. Part of the responsibility of being a bluebird landlord.

Starting to regard the neighbors' open country with an imperialist eye.

This winter I'll be making bat boxes and nest boxes for kestrels and screech owls.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Garden Cart of Theseus

It would have been around 1995 or '96 when I found the garden cart in the dumpster of a big box store's garden center.

The metal parts were a bit rusty. Some of the molding was bent. The plywood was a bit splintery. And it was completely sound and functional.  Pretty enough to roll horseshit around the yard. So into the Tardis lunar excursion module van it went.

It only lasted 17 years of abusive use from the day of dumpster rescue to when the bottom fell out.

What was left of it sat in the barn for another year until I could do something with it.

Here's what I had to start with:

Knocked out what was left of the plywood, and then cut off the rusted-out bolts from the metal parts .

Cleaned up the worst of the rust with a wire brush.

Primed and painted the metal parts. I used spray paint in the color that I had a lot of.

I also had to replace some of the angle-iron in the front. There was a length of angle-iron among the farm junk that was not too rusty.

Cut replacement plywood from some that I had left over from repairing the barn roof.

The dimensions from this scrap couldn't be exactly the same as those from the original cart, so I ended up with a cart that is slightly narrower, but deeper than the original.

This plywood is significantly thicker than the original plywood; as a result the cart is rather heavier than I would have preferred.


 Primed and painted all the plywood parts before assembly, again with a paint I had around. This is porch and floor paint for extra durability. I gave it a lot drying time before assembly.

Assembled the cart with shiny new bolts.

Hoping for another 17 years of abusive use out of the reconstituted cart.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Clorox Kettle is Back On the Stove

Over three years ago I accidentally discovered just how fake a "rescue" could be, and wrote about it in this post

Tonight I revisited the classified section of the Holmes Bargain Hunter. Because some of us masochists can't be satisfied by a mere cat-o-nine-tails or a nifty thumbscrew.

No "Guardian Angel Rescue" in this edition, or "AA1 Rescue." But there is an ad "Looking for litters of puppies, all breeds, all sizes to place in loving homes. Call us at: (330) 465-6040."

That seemed ... provocative. So I googled it and got this:

Of course it is "Heaven to Earth" rescue.*

Further down the page, there is the obligatory Give Us Money Button, and the only place on the site that provides human names. (The "About us" page includes only directions to the "rescue" location; the FAQ page ... I'll get to it.) There's also the name of a young girl who raised money for the homeless rescue puppies as her bat mitzvah project. I cropped that name off.


Remember those, because it becomes important.

Paul "Joseph" Feldman. Or Paul Feldman. Or Joseph Feldman.

Cindy "Rachel" Feldman. Or Cindy Feldman. Or Rachel Feldman.

Only one other ad seeking puppies in the heart of Ohio Amish puppymilling. Joseph the familiar local puppy buyer has been doing business for ten years, and he pays top dollar, as usual!

Joseph's phone number is (330) 465-1140 and he will see us soon!

Yes, yes Joseph will see us soon

Uh oh Paul "Joseph" Feldman.**

You forgot the first rule of laundering puppymill widgets.

Keep your "rescue" profit center separate from your wholesale profit center!

Folks, this is why you google any rescue from which you are considering acquiring a pet, and absolutely any charity that wants your money. Don't just google the name of the organization -- google the names of all the principles, and all phone numbers.

* Carol Gravestock once quipped "When a dog breeder starts talking about Jesus, I start looking for the rabbit hutch full of starving puppies."

This seems to be a statistically sound conclusion one can draw about "rescues" with explicit or quasi-religious marketing.

Invoke Judaeo-Christian language and imagery, Imma gonna start looking for the sorting shed where the pups get divvied into pet store sales and sucker "adoptions."

** Further up on the FAQ page, the lovely Feldmans explain that they rescue puppies -- and only puppies, never grown dogs -- because ehrmagerd bait dogs doncha know!

How can you not pay up?!  Bait dog! Bait dog I tell you! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Also "We do not support or agree with the puppy mills, we just want to prevent the puppies from ending up back in the breeding cycle."