Pete's random thoughts

Friday, October 28, 2005

Power is back on...

Hurricane Wilma wandered up the east coast earlier this week and hit most of us with rain and wind, but since we are at a higher elevation than the seacoast we got heavy wet snow instead.

The complication for us was that the leaves are still on the trees and the weight of the snow was too much for many of them. There were a lot of downed limbs and trees, which in turn took out power and phone lines in the more outlying areas (like ours).

We were without power for a couple of days, but fared well. By not opening the fridge or freezer, we didn't lose any food. The house is pretty modern (by our standards, circa 1989, I'm used to drafty old Victorian houses) so there was minimal heat loss through the insulated walls and double-pane windows. After the second day, the temperature had dropped to 60 degrees upstairs, which is reasonable if you dress warm.

If we had the woodstoves hooked up, there would have been no real issues with being without power for a while. Since the phone, computer, power tools etc. don't work without electricity, it was like having forced days out of work for us so we made the best of it by doing out-of-the-house errands. We secured pretty much all of the smoke pipe etc that we will need to hook up the big wood stove, and rounded up a few other home-improvement items like a new check valve for the well's pressure tank.

I haven't figured out exactly where to put the small wood stove, but I want to put it down here in my office/library area. It will be a bigger project than the big stove upstairs because for that one we are just tapping in to an existing chimney. The little one will need a whole new one.

I'll just add it to the list of pre-winter projects!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Betty saves the day!

This morning we got a call from UPS. It was from a real person, not a troll from the cubicle farm they have out in Utah or wherever.

It was a nice lady named Betty, a 25 year employee of UPS. She assured me that they would make good on the supposedly undeliverable package that was sent to LA. Even as I type this, it has been resent and is on the way.

Yea Betty!

I was looking out the window while talking to her and it began to snow. Right now, Wendy is on the phone to Jennine at our customs broker in Boston, it sounds like they are getting hammered with rain and high winds. Probably not a good day to be sailing in the harbor! Charlie L. and I probably would have gone out anyway, but that's a story for another post...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Are the pigs laying?

So tonight Wendy and Caleigh are having a discussion about potty training.

Wendy told Caleigh that we couldn't get any pigs until she leanred to ALWAYS peepee in the potty.

Caleigh, always being the sort to look for any loophole possible, replied that "we'd better look on the computer to see if the pigs are laying eggs yet, because I want to eat their babies"

That's my girl, carnivore to the core!

It leaves me with a mental image of a big old sow sitting on a nest filled tot he top with pig eggs, ready to hatch....

UPS drops the ball

I've always been a fan of UPS over FedEx...until this year.

When we have recieved international shipments via FedEx, they have consistantly lost them for months at a time. Until this year, UPS had lost only one package (Joe H's bayonets), misrouted one (MA to NY by way of FL) and damaged only a couple.

This summer and fall have been rough on packages! Poor Loren in NY, who is only a 3 hour drive from here, consitantly gets damaged packages. There was a 3rd model sent to Maine that was horribly smashed, and right now I've got a claim to file for a 3rd model sent to Carlo in CA that was broken.

Sometime things just happen. Once upon a lifetime, Wendy worked at the UPS hub as a sorter. She has horror stories to tell about how packages are treated. For instance, the most efficient way to get the ones on top of the pile is to pull out certain load-bearing packages on the bottom. Like the game "Jenga" in reverse.

Almost every musket that I've seen damaged had taken a whack in the wrist area. You can clearly see the dent in the box where something hit it. I can't imagine what. It seems to be rectangular in shape, maybe 1" wide and 4" long. Neldon out in UT had an object pass through a box containing a musket and a pistol, damaging them both.

What occupies my mind this afternoon is a guy down in LA. He is NOT located in a flooded area. He regularly gets deliveries by FedEx, no problem. He ordered a fowler. We shipped the fowler. Seems simple, no? No, not once UPS got involved.

The package left NH and went to a hub in IL, where it was stopped and returned to us because his zip code is in a flood-affected area. Actually, if you look at the list of affected zip codes (like Wendy did before shipping it) his zip is NOT on it.

UPS chose instead to return the package to us, at our expense. A cubicle person we poke to earlier today declared that we could resend it, but would have to pay for the second trip because the delay was caused by "and act of God" and was thus exempt from any delivery guarantee. I call BS on this one, and told her that if they were not able to deliver it, they should not have accepted it and if they wanted to return it, fine, but I wanted a refund of the shipping charges because they did not actually render any service to me.

She kept repeating the same stupid line about how UPS facilities were damaged by an act of God and that they were not responsible for not doing the job that I paid them for. After a few minutes of trying to teach a pig to sing, I asked to speak to her supervisor, and she told me that her supervisor wouldn't be able to help me. When I insisted, she hung up on me.

A few minutes later, the UPS guy showed up to make the daily pickup and tried to drop off the fowler. I would not accept it and told him that I wanted to speak to the area sales rep to get this straightened out. Let's see if he calls!

In the meantime, UPS is still in possesion of the poor guy's fowler. To me, this looks like a simple UPS screw up at the hub in IL and they are refusing to even examine the situation. If the package were in the system as undeliverable, it would have ben stopped at the Keene sorting facility, and not made the trek to IL.

As much as I distrust FedEx, if this isn't resolved ASAP, I'll be setting up an account with them.

Where is the sun? I gotta take pictures!

I'm going crazy here waiting for a sunny day.

We've got several new models here that I'm just dying to photograph, but can't do it using the flash on my digital camera because it washes the picture out by reflecting off of the polished metal.

I've found the best way to get pictures of these is to use natural light, which means taking them outside. I'm going a bit bonkers waiting to be able to take thme outside to photograph!

Here are a few things to think about though, use your imagination until I get a sunny day:

1816 US Springfield Musket

Cut down Long Land ala' Rogers Rangers based on the original that is displayed at Valley Forge

Doglock blunderbuss, circa 1690's

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"We're rich! it snowed"

We went to the Keen Pumpkin Festival yesterday, it was kind of a drag...drizzle, cold, grumpy people, cranky 4 year old.

So this morning Wendy and I managed to sleep a little late.

What wore us up was an excited Caleigh shouting "We're rich!!! Mom, Dad...come quick you have to see this! IT SNOWED!!!"

I suppose "rich" is a matter or perspective, but it certainly was a cute moment.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Gymnastics lesson for Caleigh tomorrow morning

Man am I in the wrong business.

Caliegh just turned 4 in September. Since last year, she was taking gymnastics lessons at a place in Claremont. It seems like all of the girls in this area did the same, all of them that we have talked to loved it.

It's quite a racket. There is a $25 annual registration fee, a $58 monthly tuition (for two lessons weekly) and that's just the beginning.

Since the Tuesday night class is "Kinderteam" they are practicing for a team of miniature gymnasts to go to competitions. This means they have to all get this year's "team leotard" for an additional $50, they are encouraged but not required to get the official team sweatsuit for an additional $90 (yes, that says NINETY DOLLARS, and no, Caleigh isn't getting one). Supposedly, this is a good deal because it means that they won't have to purchase a costume for the gymnastics show in June.

And yes, even the parents have to BUY tickets to see the gymnastics show. The programs are available for an additional fee, as are group photos and an allegedly "proffessionally" made DVD of the show, since you aren't allowed to videotape it. My assumption is that you aren't allowed to tape it so you have to buy the DVD.

Now that Caleigh is on Kinderteam, she will be going to meets (at an additional fee).

Having a kid in gymnastics lessons is kind of like owning a boat. You just keep pouring money into it, only with a boat, you get to go fishing now and again.

At least Caleigh is enjoying it. She's only four for crying out loud! When I was a kid we didn't do anything like that, but maybe it's different for little girls. Maybe I'm just a cheap Yankee or a cranky middle aged guy. The whole thing seems to be a scheme to come up with new ways to pay into the school. Let's examine it in detail:

$25 annual registration fee - you fill out a xeroxed form and hand it in with your check. In other words, no service rendered for the fee, it's just $25 profit to the school.

$58 monthly tuition - OK, this one has some merit, but is still bloody expensive for a FOUR YEAR OLD to learn to do sommersaults. There is one paid instructor in the class with maybe 10 kids. There are also student-instructors who are older girls that working off their own tuition. Let's assume there are four weeks in the month, that means eight lessons for $58 or $7.25 per lesson per child. That's what you'd pay for a movie ticket, not too bad. The school is still aming out pretty good, as that means $70-$80 per lesson and I'm sure they aren't paying the lone instructor all that much. Yeah, I know there are costs involved in renting the facilities, but there are at least four classes going on at once so the rent load is spread pretty thin. The building is old and decrepit, so the rent shouldn't be all that high for that matter.

$50 team leotard - Come on now, you can get a leotard at Wal-Mart for $12. The arguement can be made that you are buying a better quality one that is built for the stresses of competition. I can make the counter arguement that SHE IS FOUR and no article of clothing for a four year old should cost $50.

$90 team sweatsuit - No excuses for this one, pure price gouging. What possible excuse could there be for a sweatsuit for little girls to cost $90? At least NONE of this girls have them.

I am pretty offended at the idea of having to pay all year long, and then have to BUY a ticket to see the recital in June. It also annoys me that I can't use my own camera to film it and have to buy the halfass DVD that you buy through the school. I've had video production training, this overpriced DVD is just plain ameture material. Bad production work, bad camera work. Again, Caleigh loves her video of the show, she's convinced she's a movie star now.

I have no idea what the fees will be for the competitions, but I'm sure it will be more than necessary. Did I mention that she's only four?

When I find out what the competition fees are, I'm sure I'll have something to say about it here. Stay tuned....

Friday, October 21, 2005

I think Valentina is pregnant!

No, Valentina is not my wife.

Valentina is our white rabbit, a present for Caleigh's birthday. She had been living at the nursing home my mother-in-law works at and the deal was that she could stay as long as the staff took care of her.

Aparantly the staff lost interest and they had to find another home for her. What better home than here, where we already have a male rabbit.

As soon as the in-laws left, we put Valentina in with Lightning to mate. Now we know why his name is Lightning! Watching rabbits mate is a riot.

Rabbits have a 31 day gestation period, today would be day 19. The kits are old enough to make rabbit chili with at 8 weeks. The feed to meat ratio is something like 4 to 1, not quite as efficient as chickens, but less plucking to be done. They don't crow, don't take up a lot of space, and produce good fertilizer that doesn't need to rot before use.

The best part is that you can adapt nearly any poultry recipie to rabbit.

We got the new issue of Smoke and Fire News today, and our ad for the fowler is in it.

OK, back to work...

Disaster? Ha! What a jerk...

(My appologies in advance folks, this guy really has me pissed off and I get a bit profane. I don't know if I can edit this blog or not, maybe after I've cooled off a bit I will delete some things.)

Hell week is nearing it's completion, and a lot was accomplished. More on that later, once it is all done. At least my Jeep is here, safe and sound.

Instead of writing about all of the stuff we got done this week under pressure, I instead feel compelled to rant about a flaming anus of a customer who is being a real jerk.

This guy, I'll call him CH, ordered an assortment of stuff for the Southern Planation House museum he works for, they needed it for a school program. I like to help out museums with stuff whenever possible, especially for school programs because it serves the greater good. All of the stuff they wanted was not currently available, so we actually put other work aside and fabricated something for him.

Due to a paperwork glitch, we didn't have the English Sea Service pistol on hand to ship in time for the program, so we actually offered to LEND them a French Sea Service pistol until the English ones come in.

So that's all settled, and the guy asks to order 2 muskets for his unit. Because of a good friend reccomended him, we agreed to sell them to him at the unit price. This was at the end of last week. I personally worked long hours and so did everybody else trying to get the backordered stuff out to the people who have been patiently waiting, and the only fair thing is to put this guy at the end of the line behind them. He never mentioned that he needed thme for an event or that it was time sensitive in any way.

Then, early this week we get another call from this CH character saying that he needs the muskets he had ordered just days before for an event this Thursday (I guess that is yesterday). As you are aware if you read this blog, I have been out of state for several days this week and all shipping and shop work had to stop during that time. Wendy is much more of a softy than I am at times and convinced me to drop what I was doing after getting back from Massachusetts to vent, prep and ship this guy's muskets at 11PM on Tuesday night. If that's not "pulling all the stops to please the customer", I don't know what is.

Then we get an email from him that says he needs them for a specially scheduled BAR inspection to consider his unit for acceptance and that he fully expects us (presumably at our expense-yeah, right) to send them by OVERNIGHT delivery. I'll go off on a tangent here and say that if your unit does not even have muskets, then you are not ready to schedule any inspection by the BAR. Furthermore, if TWO muskets make the difference between acceptance between joining and not joining, then your unit isn't big enough to watse the BAR's time with.

This shit-for-brains actually called not getting his muskets overnighted to him a DISASTER. Nope, at best it is an inconvieniance. A disaster is when Pauly's house got flooded out, a disaster is when a couple's house got washed down the river and took out several bridges, severing major roads into town, a disaster is 79,000 people dying in an earthquake in South Asia. What a self-serving loser!

Wendy had been emailing this clown all along. He claims to be a proffesional "historical consultant" (yeah, whatever, aren't we all...) but yet has an AOL address. In other words, he doesn't get a lot of his email from non-AOL addresses and it is often delayed. So then we get a rather uppity email from him where he states:

All I have gotten from you is excuses and never proper service. You have a great product, but if the service is horrible, then why purchase from you?

If I sound dis-pleased, it is because I am as I felt that I have gotten burned twice and I still don't have a complete order from you from the last order.

In the future, I don't want excuses. I don't want to hear so-and-so died, or this person is sick. I don't care. If you make a mistake in the future, please do not give me excuses. Just tell me that you are sorry and you will not let it happen again.

What an asshole. The service from Wendy is horrible? Let's see, we fabricated a sword for him so that he (correction-his employer) would have it on time, even though there were other people ahead of him waiting, we sold him a Pedersoli musket AT COST for the museum, we bumped him up on the list of things to pack, putting him ahead of one of our bigger wholesale customers, and eventually even stayed up late intot he night to get his TWO muskets out to him, less than a week after they were ordered because he had an event coming up. That's horrible service.

The amazing part is that, even though we did all of this for him, he still thinks we owe him something.

The ratio of really great people that we meet in this business to jerks like this is astonishing. Hundreds to one, but unfortunatley it's the weenie with the biggest mouth that stands out more. It is unfortunate that we did manage to get the clown's muskets shipped out at all, because I would not have sold them to him if I had known he would be so disrespectful. He doesn't deserve them. If I could figure out how to make UPS pull them back without delivering, I would.

This is a very human business, and humans need to be treated with respect. This guy is obviously a bean-counting poser, a bully who thinks he can intimidate women. Probably had a small penis and had to make up for it by being a blowhard. He seems to think he is much more important than others and should be treated as such. The only mistake we made was in trying to go the extra mile to help out a museum to meet a deadline. Sometimes trying to nice to people just comes around to bite you in the ass.

We do this job because we love it. When I worked in high-tech, I had to deal with folks like this who think the world owes them something because they have a degree. I didn't take crap from them back then, and I am not about to start now. I am certainly not going to allow him to give crap to my wife, who gives her all to customers to make them as happy as we can. I hear it from everybody. Well, at least from humans.

It's a good thing that so many of our customers are such great, respectful, loving people. We've made many, many friends in this business. If I had to deal with two jackasses like CH in a row, it would be enough to make me throw in the towel.

I'm going to go let the goats out, eat leftover pork roast and go pack We's order that he has be so patient and polite aobut. It's people like Wes and so many others that make this all worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Long live the Cool Bus!!!

Hell week continues. Things are actually progressing. The UPS guy was met with a mountain of outgoing boxes yesterday, but I still have more to pack.

While he was picking up a mound of boxes, I was in Lowell, MA clearing away "stuff" from around several vehicles in preparation for moving them. First to be dug out was the Mighty Dodge aka the Cool Bus.

The decision was made to junk it. The reality is that I can throw together a shed out of pallets and musket crates in the same amount of time it would take to make a round trip to Lowell to pick it up and tow it here. Then I would need to take the seat out of it and cover the missing floor sections with plywood or something. All during hell week. I thought it better to send it off to the great junkyard in the sky and have a little less "stuff" to do this week.

Found some neat momentos in it while clearing it out. I took the plate off of it and the junkyard dude came with a flatbed to haul it away. They should paint flatbeds up like hearses. That's kind of what they are, big diesel hearses for dead cars.

The Cool Bus deserved better. It was like an old faithful dog. 380,000 miles on it, and it would still go over 120MPH while towing a trailer. It was a 3/4 ton Dodge 8-passenger van that we got used after it had been sold off by an airport limo company who had to liquidate quickly before they were seized by the IRS.

First my Mom used if for daycare, fieldtrips etc. Then we moved with it when I bought my first house. Then it became the ultimate reenactor vehicle with the addition of a roof rack donated by Al A. who took it off of his old phone company surplus van. It was the kind of rack that had hooks on the front to make it easy to put a ladder on. It looked like the Mighty Dodge had antlers. We took off the rack because it wouldn't fit through the sallyport of the fort on Castle Island where we used to have an annual encampment.

Later on, when I worked at the bus company, people would hang out after work and get silly. One particulalry drunken night some coworkers thought it would be funny to decorate my (yellow) van with the words "Lowell" and "School Bus" in the big black letters that you see on the side of a bus. Of course, the "school bus" part was quite illegal, so we changed it to "Cool Bus" the next day.

Eventually I stopped getting inpection stickers for it, kind of a protest thing about it being none of the state's business what I drove. In four or more years of driving without a sticker, we only got pulled over once. It was covered in bumper stickers like "If it's tourist season, why can't we shoot them?" and "It take lead balls to shoot a muzzleloader (complete with Rick Howe's portrait)", stickers from the Seige of #4, various Libertarian and Indian themed stickers too, including "Official MicMac Truck".

I think the cop just wanted to hassle the hippies after having a bad day. The other cop who was on the scene seemed a bit embarrased to be a part of giving us a ticket, it was Wendy and I and 4 week old Caleigh. There were no mechanical defects, it was obvious that the old fart cop just wanted to give us a hard time because we didn't look the way he wanted. It was in the town of Tewksbury, MA. I never did get a sticker after that, but even in other vehicles I never spent a dime more in Tewksbury.

I've gotten several speeding tickets with it, but that was the only time anyone noticed the sticker.

One speeding ticket was in New York. We (me, Al and Eric) were coming back from the "Clan Wars" Jacobite event in Milford, NY. It had snowed a little that weekend. We were wearing kilts, bonnets, dirks etc. We were dirty. We smelled bad. In the back was Benjamin, the 3-prd cannon on a field carriage, a mortar, a grenade launcher, baskethilts, probably five or six muskets, assorted pistols, a powder box, targes lining the windows like something out of a futuristic Viking movie, but the funniest item was a foam head (really good one) on a pike that just happened to be wearing a Hillary Clinton mask.

We had been stuck behind an old guy doing 40MPH in a single lane part of the highway for a little too long, and when the road opened up, I punched the accelerator. The week before I had put new injectors into it, and it really sprung to life. I hadn't got up to cruising speed yet when the State Police Z-28 pulled me over, I had only climed up to 87MPH. The cop looked at the stickers as he approached the van, took a long gaze into the back at all of the weaponry, lingered a second to study the Hillary head on a stick, and gave me the ticket almost without a word, like he was trying to make believe he hadn't seen a thing out of the ordinary. A $125 ticket, but a priceless moment.

One time, I backed it out of my driveway in a hurry an slammed a fire hydrant shaped hole in the back of it. When we had it fixed, they weren't able to match the paint so it ended up two-tone yellow with a pinstripe between the shades of yellow. It looked long, and vaguely like a ripening banana.

I stopped driving it when the floor started to rot. You know how it goes, you park it meaning to fix it when you have a few minutes, but you never really do and it just rots away. You can't bring yourself to junk it, but eventually you have to face facts and have it hauled away.

Wendy and I lived in the van for two weeks on our honeymoon. We had posted our "banns" at Fort #4, then drove off to Lousibourg out on the tip of Nova Scotia. A 2500 mile round trip, all in all. We had built a bed frame in the back and had a twin sized bed back there, taped screening over the windows from the inside to keep the bugs out, and camped in it along the way. At one point it broke down and we camped in it at the Dodge dealer in New Glasgow, NS. It took a day for them to troubleshoot the wiring harness, then we were on our way again.

The junk yard is mailing me a check for $35. Somebody will get a great V-8, transmision and rear end. Brand new windshield too. Sort of like donating organs, little bits of the Mighty Dodge will live on.

Long live the Cool Bus!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Busy day today, for the whole week ahead

Too much to do over the next week. More than is humanly possible.

I gotta get the rest of this shipment of guns packed and shipped.

I gotta go to Massachusetts and bring back the Mighty Dodge and my Jeep before Friday.

I gotta get the home repairs as outlined by our new insurance company done by Friday.

Don't know how we'll do it, but we always do.

The Jeep needs an engine. I bought it brand new in 1987, the only new car I've ever owned, and probably the only one I ever will. I blew the engine a few years back and started to tear it down in my spare time. The problem is that I have no spare time. I recently found out I can get a rebuilt one for $1300 and have my Jeep back on the road, but I have to put the old one together again as a core.

The van, aka "The Mighty Dodge" aka "The Cool Bus" is parked in front of it. It's a 1988 Dodge 3/4 ton 8-passenger van. Yellow, with the words "COOL BUS" on the hood. It's a character all on it's own. 380,000+ miles. Being a Dodge though, it's got terminal body rot and is destined to be a shed to store feed in.

Both of these will be flat towed behind the Suburban, so that means two trips down to Mass.

The insurance repairs are relatively minor: I need to replace a windowsill and doorjamb that have some rot on them from being wet, I have to stake down Caleigh's swingset, I need to get fire extinguishers inspected, and what seems to be the biggest project is to put some stairs at the back door from our living quarters upstairs.

Instead of stairs, the plan is to build a bridge of sorts from the bedroom door straight across to the woods. This will make for some funky landscape design and will give us direct access to the trails that start behind the house. It will also allow me to bring firewood straight into the house with a cart instead of schlepping it up the stairs.

Can it all be done by Friday? I don't know, but we'll see!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Wrong number

Today I'm working on getting fowlers and long lands shipped. Last night Louise was here packing a few pistols and a bunch of backordered bayonets.

Wendy likes to give people who have backordered stuff a call to let them know a package is on the way. A few minutes ago, she came down and told me that she gave Will W in Illinois a call and apparently got a wrong number. She said "Hello, can I speak to Will please?" and the person on the other end just hung up. No "Sorry, wrong number" or "Sorry, there is no Will here", they just plain hung up. Do people really suck that bad in this modern world that they can't even be polite on the phone to someone who dialed a wrong number? Unbeliveable.

No, we don't ship to Lagos, Nigeria

Since I went online with my new computer in March of this year, I recieved 162 Nigeria scam offers. I'm not sure how many I had recieved on the old computer, I put them in a file but haven't turned it on in a while.

They crack me up. Do a google search on "Nigeria Scams" if you don't know what these are. What amazes me is that there are so many of them. If they didn't work, the scammers wouldn't waste their time doing it. The really sad part is that people must actually fall for them. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The victims get no sympathy from me for the most part. There are a few scams that seem like an offer from a widow to help out your church, but those are pretty rare. All of the others involve tapping into people's greed because if the scams were real, they are asking the "victim" to be co-conspiritors in international money laundering.

I like to read some of them though, they are pretty funny.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Our pond is back!

I'm not trying to say that the life and property losses from the flooding this past weekend are something to make light of, I'm just saying that every cloud has a silver lining (no "rain" pun intended).

We have a little pond here out in the woods. It is spring fed, and during the spring thaw, there is even a little waterfall where it spills over into a culvert under the logging road. Last month it dried up roughly the same time our well did. The well we fixed, but the empty pond was just plain depressing to see.

Well all of this rain we had over the weekend filled it back up! Most of it is pretty shallow, only a foot or two deep, but in the front corner of it is a hole that was dug with a backhoe by the previous owner to make it easier to dip water from it for his pigs. The hole is just about jaccuzi sized and nearly chest deep.

It took a little doing, but I managed to talk Wendy into jumping into it with me yesterday afternoon for a "polar bear" type dip. Actually, it was 55 degrees, so it was more like polar bears in training. Even Caleigh tried it, but being smarter than both of her parents, she only went in ankle deep!

We've been hustling here trying to get all of the current orders shipped. Sometimes a little flakyness is needed to keep life exciting. All work and no play makes Pete a dull boy.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I guess the rain we had this weekend is a bit more than what we expected. There is severe flooding in several East Coast states. I read yesterday that Saturday night NH got 2" of rain per hour. There are roads and bridges out all over the place up here. Houses have been washed away, and in one case a mobile home got washed into the Cold River just to the south of here and as it floated downstream towards the Connecticut River it slammed into a couple of old stone bridges and destroyed them.

A body was found washed up in a corn field in Langdon, a 20 year old couple was killed when their car washed off the road in Unity. Jeff told me that the new Home Depot in Claremont was flooded from the Sugar River jumping it's banks. There are ten people missing in Alstead.

Keene has some major flooding and many road closures. Brattleboro VT had to evacuate an elderly housing development. The Governor of NH called up the National Guard to help out.

Paulie's house was basically ruined in Alstead Village. His antique wagon was washed away and half his yard is gone. The first floor of the house was ruined, and probably many antiques lost.

I read that the Fire Chief in Alstead pulled off a spectacular rescure by tying 200' of rope to himself and wading into the flood to rescue a couple that was trapped in their house and in danger of being washed away.

Except for the two guinea keets we lost here due to their lack of common sense, there was no damage here.

This has been an amazing year for natural disasters. I can't speak for others, but as for me it makes me more appreciative of the things we are blessed with and our relative safety up here in our little piece of woods.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Goats are smarter than Guineas

Yesterday we had to make a trek to Massachusetts to attend a funeral of a friend. I have many thoughts about the funeral and the stuff that goes along with it, but they have to ferment in my mind a little more before I write them down.

Today I'd rather talk about goats and guineas.

Our goats arrived on Friday afternoon. As I mentioned in the previous post, the hotwire wasn't done yet so they went into the chicken run. We set up a tarp over it, and hoped for the best in the coming storm.

Everything was fine when we left on Saturday morning.

We got back late on Saturday night, at least 11PM, probably later. My first priority upon returning was to check on the critters. I rounded up the ducks and put them to bed. I took my Maglite and headed over to the chicken/goat coop. I was only partly surprised to see a complete lack of goats in the chicken pen.

As I approached, I played the light over the scene to get a handle on the situation. The turkeys were sleeping on their perch under the tarp, oblivious to the world. Imagine my surprise when I didn't see any signs of goats escaping. No knocked over fence, no holes, nothing out of order.

I opened the door to the henhouse and saw a relieving sight, two dry goats! They had managed to wiggle through the little chicken door, maybe 12" wide by 20" high. The chickens seemed to have dealt with the idea of having new roommates and made their peace with it.

After I saw that everything was OK, I headed over to the guineas. Now since they are the "wildest" of the birds that live here, One would assume that they would have the most self-preservation instincts. Nope.

There were three of the adults sitting on a perch and the rest had gone into their little gound-house. The problem was that there was 4"-6" of water in their pen from the pouring rain. It was quite a storm!

They were soaked to the gills and lethargic. Death by hypothermia was not far away. It was 48 degrees. I was soaked and my freedom of movement was limited by my drenched clothes, so I took them off and continued to work in my underwear. (how's THAT for a visual...) It really made the job quicker.

I scooped them up and put them in the brooder box for some shelter and covered the whole pen with some aluminum roofing sheet I had salvaged from the dump last week. The birds were really in a stupor, so Buster and I went to the garage to get the brooder lamp to provide some heat.

We managed to get to bed about 4AM. This morning I woke up at 8:45 and went out to check on everyone. The first thing I saw was the flock of adult guineas running around grazing. That was a good sign. A couple of the babies had hopped out of the box and were looking good. Two of them looked pretty lethargic, so back in the box they went with the heat lamp. Unfortunately, one of them was laying dead in the corner. He apparantly hopped out and wandered through the remaining puddle and got chilled.

I'm looking at it this way: sure, we lost one keet, but managed to save nine adults and seven keets who otherwise would not have made it until morning.

As many joke there are about turkeys being too dumb to come in out of the rain, it was the guineas that lacked the common sense not to stand in a puddle. The turkeys were high and dry, but it was the resourcefulness of the goats that went abouve and beyond my expectations.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

New additions to the homestead

There's been a lot going on here today, but since we have to get up early tomorrow to go to a funeral in Massachusetts, I'm going to keep this short, then go eat dinner.

Today I spent running electric fence wire while Jeff worked on prepping the new shipment of guns. What the electric fence for? Why, goats of course!

The well guy had a couple of extra does that he needed homes for and I was all too happy to help him out in that respect. Now, in a addition to chickens, turkeys, ducks, guineas and rabbits, we have two Nubian/Boer cross does.

We're planning to breed them to take advantage of their Boer side and get some meat goats out of the deal, and in the process get them to lactate so we can have goat milk.

With a family of three, we don't use enough milk to warrent a cow, and besides, Caleigh is lactose intolerant. She can digest goat milk though. After the goats push back the forest and we reclaim some pasture, maybe I'll give some thoughts to a beef-type critter, but that's way down the line.

The new girls came already named, the white one is "Bumper" and the tanish one is "Chocolate". Cute little buggers. Of course, I botched the electric fence job and have to find a short, but that's an entry for another day. In the meantime, the goats are in the chicken pen. They have never met chickens before, and the chickens never met goats. The turkeys don't seem to care much one way or the other.

Maria and I rigged up a big blue tarp over the pen to give them some shelter from the rain, they have a bucket of water and some hay. I hope they like it, becasue they'll be bunking with the poultry for a few days until we get the electric fence straightened out.

Now it's "cock-a-doodle-doo, quack, buck-wheat, gobble-gobble and BAA". This place is a riot!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Guns are comin' up the road!!!!


We just got a phonecall from the trucking company to tell us that the new shipment of muskets is on the way, and will be here in a few minutes!

It's exciting every single time. This one is extra exciting because there are a couple of new prototypes in this shipment that I haven't seen yet.

Unfortunately, this is September's shipment, held up for several reasons beyond our control, but that's OK, any shipment of muskets is still a shipment of muskets and cause for celebration!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ducks are laying!

Well, we had the fracking done to the well and now we are getting 6 1/2 gallons per minute. That's even better than when it was first drilled back in 1987. We can do laundry, wash dishes, shower flush the toilet all day AND change the water in the duck's kiddie pool as often as they mess it up.

Our ducks are Indian Runner ducks. It is a breed that originated in India and was brought back to Scotland, where they were bred into good egg layers. They can lay something like 200 eggs per year.

These ducks don't waddle around like regular ducks, they stand up straight and run around with their backs straight up and down, usually quacking. They put their two cents in on anything that is going on around here. No critter makes me laugh like ducks do!

We have four, three ducks and a drake. They are all "surplus" from a hatch a nice lady in Concord had this spring. All of a sudden they have started laying big white eggs. They don't seem to have any particular care for them, but hopefully come spring at least one of the girls will have figured out that you are supposed to make a nest and sit on them, not just leave eggs strewn about the floor of your house.

If none of them decide to go "broody", we can hatch them in the incubator. As cool as it is to see a Momma duck leading her babies around, it's pretty amazing to watch them hatch through the window in an incubator.

The ducks are the only birds here that don't really have a job. The chickens produce eggs and meat, likewise the turkeys. The guineas are for bug patrol and a predator early-warning system. The duck's only job is to entertain me. The big white eggs are an added bonus.

Between the ducks and chickens, we are getting nearly a dozen eggs a day at this point. So remember if you drop by to bring an empty egg carton or two, nobody leaves here without a dozen eggs!

One of the other great things about the well being fixed is that it gives us the resources to take care of larger animals. The plans are to add pigs and goats soon!

The hooved critters will not only provide meat, milk and entertainment, they will also help to clear some of the brush and smaller trees that have grown up here. By using temporary electric fencing, we can move their grazing areas as needed and reclaim some open space to grow some garden and have a bigger yard to play in.