Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Duke was a good horse. It takes about a year before a horse and a rider get to know one another. Within our first year I learned what he didn't like and he learned what I didn't like and we accommodated one another ever since. I trusted him to take his time and familiarize himself with his environment. He trusted me to go where ever I asked; be it into a horse trailer, through a river or over a bridge. On rare occasions he'd look back at me like he wanted to say, "Are you shitting me? Really? You want me to do that?" I'd loosen the reins and let him have his head and tell him it was OK and he would go where ever I asked.

Duke and I had an understanding. He'd come when I called him. I always spent a lot of time talking to him. I chattered to him every time I cleaned his pen and every time I fed him. I talk to him every time I put him out or brought him in for the night.

Sure, he had his faults, like all horses. He didn't like other geldings, he tried to be the alpha horse when he was with other horses, he'd try to bite you if you messed with his mouth or cinched him up too quickly and he test or misbehave with other who tried riding him. However, for me there was trust and I never pushed him further than he should have gone.

Duke was arthritic. He was that way when I got him several years ago. I treated him with an anti-inflammatory before and after rides. He was always willing to go out for another ride. I think he enjoyed getting out into the open. Lately I noticed his head dip when he walked on his left front leg. Then he started no being able to bear weight on that leg when I lifter the opposite foot for cleaning. I know he'd never be able to stand for a hoof cleaning or a trimming again. It was time.

Our vet came out and put him down yesterday. He went quickly and peacefully. If any mythology is true, maybe we'll ride together again one day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cool Chicken Shades

One of the disturbing things about chickens is that they will cannibalize one of their own if they detect that they have a wound. Even if I go out among them and there is a spot of paint on my shoe or pants leg they will peck at the blemish or the noticeably odd thing that is contrasted by a background color. If you have a cut on your hand they are all over it.

Chickens constantly peck at one another for the purpose of enforcing the pecking order, and if you have a lot of birds; that's a lot of pecking and if by chance a peck draws blood it can get really bad for the unfortunate chicken.

Joseph Haas invented these rose colored glasses in 1939 and at the time you could buy 100 of them for $3.00. The rose colored lenses masked the color of blood. These glasses were cool (the type in the photo below) because the glass swiveled allowing them to see with normal light when they pecked at the ground but stayed in place when viewing things with their heads up.

There are newer versions of these being produced today, but they are opaque red plastic and work more as blinders for forward vision.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Weekend With Gearhead

Gearhead and I have been friends for the last dozen years. Oddly we only see one another once or twice a year. He lives in the Salem area and I live in the Astoria area. It's a two hour trip and we are too practical to visit on a whim. Besides I get farm envy when ever I visit him. He has a nice spread of land, a great barn and shop and lots of farm equipment.

Anyway, last weekend was our once a year to catch up face to face as we attended an annual conference. I am always fascinated by his mastery of not just having the right tool for the job, but designing and building the right tool for the job. He shared photos of the new fork lift he built that will do 60MPH, and yes it is advantageous for him to have a forklift that will go that fast. It has all the creature comforts such as a hydraulic powered tow bar that he uses to hitch up to his truck without getting off his lift.

We spent some time discussing a joint writing project that we are involved in and he always has ideas for things I should write about in this blog. We spent some time (like 14 year olds)proclaiming who is a douche bag and to what level their douchedom rises to in comparison to douches we have known in the past. We have a douche scale.

Gearhead is an inspiration to be around, though I doubt I'll ever get my shop as clean and organized as his. He makes things happen and he doesn't accept failure as an option. He retired while in his early 40's and went into agriculture full-time. He has a success record that most people could never achieve in a life-time. This is because he knows right from wrong and he possesses a moral compass which makes him incapable of passing on an inferior service on to anyone.

There are few people I consider as a friend, but Gearhead is one of the six people I'd put on that list.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Found This Interesting

In reviewing this post I realized that it could be misconstrued as raciest which is why I am going to post the reply as the text of this blog.

A study of Art History shows that the progression of Western art started when primitive art started moving closer to realism and then a religious fervor took hold and Western art rolled back into icon art in the 1300's and then it moved more towards realism in the Renaissance. It wasn't until the 1800's when Western art moved into impressionism where the feeling of what was represented was an "impression" and up for interpretation. However with this traditional Japanese the interpretation cannot be mistaken. It is literal and you know exactly what you are seeing. Western art then moved to the abstract where any meaning can be totally misread. To me it seems the Japanese paintings, though technically simpler reflect reality better than most Western art.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pi Pie

For those of you that don't follow me on Google +, here are some things you may have missed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I fully get the Occupy Wall Street movement. I totally agree that there needs to be more regulation of the financial industry to limit the risk that money managers can impose on their investors. I also feel that the loophole should be removed from the tax code and that everyone should taxed at the same rate.

That said, I understand why one wants their presence felt in the financial district, or in Washington, D.C. However, this "Occupy" movement isn't there. Instead they are occupying parks. Dudes, you are occupying parks! I'd understand if you were protesting squirrels for jumping on trees or protesting the pigeons because they shit on statues. People who run Wall Street don't visit parks, they own parks. They may have caught a glimpse of you on the news, but do you really think your presence will interrupt what they do?

Instead of camping out and making the nicer portions of your cities look like shit, why don't you lobby your representatives. Instead of those awful drum circles, why don't you drum up support and play the game the way the game is played these days. It was a great idea to use the social networks to get people to take their money out of big banks and put it into local banks and credit unions.

I guess what I'm saying is hanging out in parks isn't doing it. If anything, it waters down the fight to end homelessness which is what tent cities should call attention to. It's time to get to work and do something about the problem before you start losing the support of the people.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh Deer...

I noticed years ago how cyclical things are in nature here. Some years you will see a lot of one sort of animal and the next year you won't see them any more but you'll see a lot of a different type of animal.

A few years back I mentioned to an acquaintance that I had been hearing a lot of coyotes at night and he told me that was because the price of beaver pelts had gone down that year. Lower prices equals fewer people trapping beavers which equals to a higher population of beavers and a higher population of coyotes preying on the beavers.

Last year it was raccoons. They were everywhere and this year there are reports of sick raccoons showing up at people's houses and the police come by and dispatch them.

This year I'm predicting an up-coming increase in the cougar population because there seems to be deer everywhere. Day or night, I've been seeing deer on front lawns, in town, on the side of the road and in the road. I am normally a slow driver and there is so much deer activity that I've slowed it down even more. There are stretches of road on the way to my house where I have never seen deer in the past, but they are there now, too.

Driving home the other night I had to stop three different times on a five mile stretch to avoid a collision. I'm expecting a lot of auto body shops will be busy until the cougars can reset the balance of nature around here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


With the recent passing of Andy Rooney I am surprised by how he is often described affectionately as a curmudgeon. I too have been labeled a curmudgeon by many readers here, but I don't agree in my case, nor in Mr. Rooney's case. A curmudgeon by nature is always cranky, always nasty and cynical.

I don't compare myself with Rooney in any other way than having been labeled improperly. If you look over my or Andy Rooney's essays you will find that more often than not there is a joy and a reverence for the objects or situations of which we write.

Sure I've had negative things to say about art, home schooling, dogs, Sunday Market, Seaside, Warrenton and Knappa, neighbors that make noise and leave lights on, fish farms and hatcheries, guns, the organic industry, corporate farms, KMUN, the Daily Astorian, Monsanto and a few other things... However most of the things I write about is the natural beauty of our area. The fresh food that we produce. The wonders of having horses, chickens and honey bees. The wonderful memories of my childhood and my personal experiences with "dumbassary." I write about new music I've found. If you look at the ratio my writings are probably 80% positive if not higher. It would be totally unbalanced if I wrote only about sunshine and lollypops.

Think of all the things you complain about every day. Are you a curmudgeon?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Advice From Astoria Rust

Having had this blog for over five years now with over 1800 posts; these articles show up in all sorts of web searches which have interested enough people from the outside to email me and ask questions from time. The most often asked item is for advice for someone who is planning to move to the area. Generally my only advice to anyone who moves here is, and I always give this advice:

1. Never buy a house on a slope and try to live where you don't have neighbors close by. Everyone I know who lives in town has a crazy neighbor.

2. Stay out of politics. Though your intentions may be pure, very few in politics here ever end up unscathed. Their reputations are in shambles when they leave office and their names become synonyms with and adjectives for unpleasantness.

3. Never believe anything that is printed in the Daily Astorian. The publisher and editors have their own agenda and have been detrimental to the growth and stability of our region for at least the last ten years with their one-sided, nonobjective reporting and editorializing. Their reporters are unseasoned and are only here long enough to add experience to a resume and they get out as soon as they realize what devils they are employed by.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Thanks to Tango for posting this video on Google +, click the link Murmuration of Starlings. I am reminded of this natural wonder often happens here as well. I recall a few years ago when I worked near the riverfront in the State Office Building, every evening as the sun went down I'd see this sort of thing take place over the Columbia River at the end of 6th street. I've seen it on other occasions while kayaking by the islands behind Tongue Point and on Youngs Bay.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Chicken Death

Over the years I've seen a lot of ways that chickens can die. I've seen them go by way of dog predation. I've seen my horse step on one. I've seen a coop of dead chickens lined up by a mink or weasel after killing them all just to partially eat one of them. I've seen an egg bound hen die and I've seen a chicken brutalized by other chickens. However, yesterday I saw a chicken die like never before.

I had just opened the gate to the coop so the chickens could go out and forage. The chickens all wait at the gate to be let out and once the gate is open they dash for the bird feeders to make a meal of the seeds the birds let fall to the ground. Since their gate gets opened at a random time each day they may not all be waiting to be released. Some are in the coop eating or laying. At this point they can come and go as they please.

As all the other chickens are tending the bird feeders I returned to feeding the burn barrel. I noticed a late hen exiting the gate and as soon as she crossed the thresh-hold she fell over on her side, squawked and kicked her legs out a couple times. When I got to her there was liquid coming from her mouth. She was breathing, but within five minutes she was dead.

When something like this happens I can only hope this isn't the beginning of something that is going to spread through the flock. The hen was two years and four months old and maybe it was a heart attack or a stroke. I didn't perform a necropsy since I really wouldn't know what to look for. Are there any chicken people out there that have experienced this before? Any ideas?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Astoria Rust Updates

I’ve always said that I write things in this blog so I can forget them; make room in my head for new stuff. I get occasional questions from readers wanting to know how something I wrote about turned out, so this post is dedicated to updates on some things I’ve written about since August.

The lone walnut I collected from my walnut tree ended up being a dud. I cracked it open and there was a shriveled piece you yuck inside.

I’m not liking my new phone all that much because when it’s on it automatically locks to prevent pocket dialing and when I unlock it, it will often try to open an apps site for me to buy apps and it takes a while to clear that screen. Another thing is that when you call this phone two rings go by before the phone makes a sound to let me know someone is calling and if I don’t retrieve the phone and push the send button within the next ring the call goes to voice mail. I really should have gotten a pocket watch.

The raspberry bushes produced more than I would have believed. We probably got three gallons of berries which are now frozen to use through the rest of the year.

I harvested all the wheat that was growing randomly around my yard from the straw I’ve used this year. I’m saving all the harvested wheat to plant a crop in a raised bed next year.

The garden is frosted and finished and the chickens are once again allowed to roam and dig at will.

My left eye is still messed up. Though my vision is getting clearer the most noticeable thing is that things look much smaller through my left eye. If I look at what I am writing right now with my right eye the text on the computer looks normal in 11 point type, however if I look at it through my left eye it looks like 6 point type and it looks wavy. It’s all very odd and it messes with my depth perception.

Several chickens are molting, and the shorter days have reduced my egg collection to zero or one egg per day. So, I've added a timer and a lamp to the coop, which goes on at 3AM which increases their light per day to fourteen hours. Hopefully production will increase with the young hens that aren't even nine months old yet. If not I'll bring out the halogen lamps.