Archive for March, 2009

Aaaargh!

The electricity went out right in the middle of shampooing the carpet, the brooder has chicks in it, and the incubator is full of eggs.  Luckily, it isn’t cold enough to do anything more than cause a little discomfort to the chicks, the floor shampooing can be resumed later, and I can always find more eggs.

Hope this isn’t a prolonged outage.  My computer battery backup says get off the computer NOW, dumbass.

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Catching Up

redoubtOver the last few days, I had been waiting breathlessly for Redoubt’s eruption only to miss it because I was sleeping, taking care of the various critters and, of course, working.

I chanced upon the son and daughter-in-law of some neighbors in the store. He, a construction worker, had been unemployed for some time. She, a college student, was the sole support of the family with a part-time job. She had been trying desperately to find a full-time job, but could not. The degree that she had been working towards had a bunch of unemployed graduates this term, and she was going to change majors.

She was understandably upset. “My mother never had a vegetable garden, and I don’t know how to grow anything. Neither do my friends. We grew up not knowing how to do anything. What are we going to do?”

Interestingly enough, another woman I know, a woman who has never gardened before in her life, spent the weekend shoveling horse poo for her first ever vegetable garden. She sacrificed some expensive trees and the flowers in the flower bed for her veggies.

I have 8 chicks in the home-made brooder on a countertop in the office.   They are in a clear plastic 90-quart container from Wal-Mart with a flood lamp at one end for warmth.   I like to watch them.  They’ll be running around, scatching spilled food, eating from the feeder, drinking, and then suddenly, they’ll all lay down and go to sleep right where they are. 

SwampMan asked me “how many eggs will that incubator hold?” 

“It’s a small one.  It will hold 50 hen eggs, but I’d have to turn them twice daily.”  (An automatic egg turner cuts down on the space available for eggs.)

SwampMan told me he wanted that incubator filled UP with eggs, even though I have a bunch of cross-bred chickens, not fancy purebreds.  SwampMan, of course, will not be feeding and caring for those lil’ chicks.   He’s right, though, if the unemployment rate gets much higher, we’ll need more chickens to keep our friends and neighbors fed.

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The Government Won’t Protect Us…

A sad article in the Houston Chronicle today about Mexican villagers attempting to defend their villages from thugs armed with much better weapons:

Gangsters have staged platoon-strength raids on towns in Chihuahua and other nearby states. Kidnappings have increased, as well as cold-call extortion attempts to even poor residents of the area.

A number of merchants, as well as two members of the city council, have been kidnapped in Guadalupe Victoria since late December, residents said. Ransoms, they said, have reached several hundred thousand dollars.

“No one knows who took them. No one knows anything,” said Gilberto Cabello, the head of the town’s merchants association. “Everyone is left wondering who is next.”

Defense left to the town
Not surprisingly, villagers in Cuauhtemoc and San Angel remain on edge, sharply eyeing strangers, careful not to say too much to outsiders.

“The less said about this, the better,” said a city hall official in Cuencame, the township seat. “It can be dangerous to say too much.”

Soldiers and federal police took up the defense of Cuauhtemoc and San Angel last week after the towns’ plight played on the front page of a Mexico City newspaper. But the patrols evaporated after a few days, leaving nothing but the ditches in the villagers’ defense.

“That’s the way it is,” said a sun-weathered Roberto Fuentes, who was helping build a sidewalk a block from one of Cuauhtemoc’s earthworks. “If the government doesn’t do it, we have to.

“Here, the people are defending the town.”

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More on National Health Care, and It’s All BAD

A good article on national health care via Bonz at Gulf Coast Pundit:

Government health care advocates once sang the praises of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). That’s until its poor delivery of health care services became known.

A recent study by David Green and Laura Casper, “Delay, Denial and Dilution,” written for the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that the NHS health care services are just about the worst in the developed world. The head of the World Health Organization calculated that Britain has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care.

Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash. Waiting lists for medical treatment have become so long there are now “waiting lists” for the waiting list.

Government health care advocates sing the praises of Canada’s single-payer system. Canada’s government system isn’t that different from Britain’s. For example, after a Canadian has been referred to a specialist, the waiting list for gynecological surgery is four to 12 weeks, cataract removal 12 to 18 weeks, tonsillectomy three to 36 weeks and neurosurgery five to 30 weeks.

Toronto-area hospitals, concerned about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in treatment may jeopardize their health, they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless. Read the rest here.

I don’t get it. Anybody that has to deal with government employees knows that they aren’t the most motivated people in the world and are impossible to fire for poor work habits.

Look at Congress and the Senate, for example. They’re too damn lazy to read laws before they pass them. How stupid and lazy is that? Do you want people that may not be as motivated with as high a work ethic or morals to be in charge of your health care?

“But Swampieeeeee”, they may whine, “the Bill I’m supposed to vote on is 1,300 pages looooong! How am I supposed it read it?” Suck it up, asshole. That’s what you’re getting paid for, not to flit back and forth from California like a giant bat, not to impress other empty suits on the cocktail circuit, but to read these things and make rational decisions.

I am disgusted with our government. They would be overpaid if they received no wages.

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I Was Surprised in Garden Centers…

…by how many people were buying gardening supplies. The places were packed! I ran into some former neighbors in two gardening supply stores because they were looking for supplies that had been sold out in the larger stores. One of them asked me if I still had chickens; when I replied affirmatively, they said that they had just purchased some chicks.

*sigh* I had seen some Buff Orpington chicks in the local feed store and, once the brooder was finished, went back to purchase some. ALL of the chicks had sold out today.

You would think a lot of people independently came to the conclusion that the “government” in Washington were a hostile entity out to destroy us.

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New Chick Surprise

As y’all know, I had occasion to pick up some hatching and unhatched eggs abandoned by the mother hen, stick them in my Hovabator incubator, and became the stepmom of 7 peeping bantam chicks. Since I didn’t have a brooder built and wanted to build a better one than the makeshift heat lamp on a tub that I had used previously, I’d been putting them outside in a pen in the warm afternoon air while I cleaned the Hovabator, leaving the eggs inside, then returning the chicks to the incubator in the evening. I’ll build a brooder today. (Note, the Hovabator was never meant to be a brooder. However, it does the job rather well in an emergency.)

As I was removing the chicks from the incubator Thursday afternoon to transport to the protective pen outside on the grass in the fresh air and warm sunshine, I noted one poor little chick was quite wet. The poor tiny little black chick must have fallen into the water, although I didn’t think it was possible. Oh, well, no harm done, and I put him into the transport bucket and removed the rest of his siblings from the incubator, then did a quick count to make sure that an especially entrepid little explorer hadn’t escaped over the side. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven….eight? Hunh. Must have counted one twice. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, EIGHT! The eggs all looked intact in the Hovabator, but I checked again, and found that one egg had an end missing. Well, how about that!

So, today will be spent building brooders, cleaning my yucky house (because I’d rather do things like build brooders than clean, my house is very neglected), and cleaning up after the puppy (my fault). Things found on the porch steps this morning: One rake, handle chewed (d’oh!), one glove, fingers only (AAAARGH!) one plastic bucket, in small pieces, and one shoe, mine, of course (dope slap to head, again). I was raking up the mess the puppy had created Thursday evening when I got home Friday afternoon, but the breeze was getting chilly, so I put down the rake, gloves, etc. by the temporary chick cage, brought them inside to the Hovabator, went back outside, fed the ewe with the bottle lamb, watered her, brought her hay, gave the horse some grain, threw some corn to the chickens and ducks, ran to the feed store to get another bag of horse feed but couldn’t find a parking place, came back home, fed some grain to the ewes and lambs as the pasture is too dry to produce much in the way of sustenance, ran back inside and started dinner, mixed up more milk replacer for the lamb, fed lamb, fed husband, fed dogs and cats, and completely forgot the rake, gloves and bucket left beside the chick cage, as well as the walking shoes shed on the back porch.

Note to self: Buy another pair of New Balance shoes today. Then buy a rake handle, gardening gloves, and a new bucket.

Puppies are expensive!

Update: Puppy and Odie somehow got outside the back pasture fence this morning through a small hole that allowed egress but not entrance, and refused to walk around to the front gate. Apparently, they were in pursuit of a smaller predator (probably a fox, as there are chicken feathers scattered about out there, as well as the remains of a nest), and Odie was raising Cain at that location two evenings ago.

So, donning a heavy jacket, I had to push my way through thick brush, blackberry thickets, and hanging thorny vines to the back fence where I had to function as Odie’s seeing eye person. Four feet away from the fence I couldn’t even see the fence.

Now I’m plucking thorns out of my legs and asking myself why do I like dogs? The cats have had me extricate them from some roof situations, but no thorns were involved. And there was zero chance that I’d step on a bigass sleepy rattlesnake covered in a blanket of leaves.

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Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

From Adelaide Now comes an article written by the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Mr. Alexander Downer, about the people in charge of our economy. He knew them in their previous jobs, and knows the effects their decisions had at that time, and warns of the consequences of that behavior in the present:

Today, Geithner’s the economic boss man in Washington and Summer’s once more calling many of the shots. But this time I’m a spectator. If I wasn’t, I’d fly to Washington again and this time tell them they’re endangering not just Indonesia but the U.S. itself. Why? Because the problem with the U.S. economy is that it’s swamped with debt and their response is compounding the problem on the grand scale. They are adding to America’s already huge debts trillions of dollars of additional debt.

The worry is, where are they going to get the money from? The answer: China. For years the American economy has been built on a foundation of debt. It has run massive budget and balance of payments deficits and household consumption has been funded by debt. Believe me, this money has to come from somewhere and it has come from the reserves and savings of China and the oil revenues of the Middle East. The U.S. has depended on China and the oil-rich kingdoms of the Middle East buying U.S. Treasury bonds.

To stabilise and rebuild its economy, the U.S. needs to do two things.

First, it should take the toxic debts out of its banks so the banking system can recover. The Government then needs to manage those toxic debts in the same way toxic debts of Australian state banks – including our own State Bank – were nationalised in the early 1990s.

AFTER all, it was government policy both in the U.S. in recent years and in Australia in the 1980s which caused the toxic debts in the first place.

Second, the U.S. Government needs to cut its borrowings and try to encourage China to spend its surpluses on stimulating its economy. The ensuing upturn in consumption in China would lead the world back to recovery. But instead, the Obama Administration is pleading with China to lend them more and more money to finance a new splurge of spending and debt.

Assuming China lends the money, it will have less to spend on reviving its own economy. The frightening thing is, the Americans are assuming China will be happy to buy more and more Treasury bonds.

I woke up with a start on Friday morning when I heard China’s Premier Wen Jiabao expressing concern about China’s huge investments in American bonds. The Premier said: “I’d like to take this opportunity here to implore the United States . . . to honour its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets.”

The media didn’t much focus on this telling phrase – they like political gossip and the sex lives of movie stars. But this was a massive warning. China, worried about the amount of American debt it already holds, is hardly likely to be keen to lend the trillions of dollars of extra debt the American, British and now, tragically, the Australian governments, want to borrow for their own recent fiscal frolics.

IF China doesn’t lend the money there are only two options: Either those countries will suffer big increases in the cost of their massive borrowings or they’ll print money and cause hyper-inflation. It’s a horrific prospect either way.

In Europe this is a matter of enormous controversy. The continent is split between those like Britain who think they can spend their way out of recession, and those like Germany who think this will end up by making a bad situation even worse.

In Australia, there’s not much debate about this at all. But someone recently made a sensible contribution – it was Paul Keating. He made the point that this spending spree has its limits and we’d better start thinking of other alternatives. A lot of non-economic commentators should listen to Mr Keating and stop swallowing the latest dose from the economic spin doctors in Washington.

When the Howard government was in office, ferals and others used to claim we slavishly followed America – which was untrue as I pointed out above. Now it’s apparently right slavishly to follow America massively into debt. The public deserve to know that there are two sides to this argument.

We have every reason to be afraid, very afraid.

If I were a nation with money to lend, I’d be looking real squinty-eyed at a nation that is creating phantom money to spend its way out of debt. China has given us a warning. The administration has ignored it.

The American people do not seem to be sufficiently worried about this massive debt with promises of much more to come. Apparently not enough of us realize that we have to pay this off PLUS INTEREST.

SwampMan, the non-gardener, is eager to get to the hardware store to buy supplies for his raised bed garden. If Michelle is putting in a garden at the White House, he figures he’d best get to work.

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