Friday, September 19, 2008

Jerry Springer and Unexpected Visitors

If there's any television show that the Boomhauer Brothers love, it's Jerry Springer. Whenever I go over to B.J. Boomhauer's farm to hang out and drink beer, it always seems that Springer is on the TV (un
less there's a NASCAR race going on).

Now I got nothing against Jerry Springer. I actually am quite fond of him and his show. I've watched it sporadically over the 18 years it's been on the air. It's silly, but it's entertaining.

I even donated $20 to the exploratory committee he set up when he was considering a run for the U.S. Senate. Scoff if you must, but remember that he has a history in politics - dating back to the '60s when he was a campaign aide for Bobby Kennedy and the '70s when he served as councilman and mayor of Cincinnati. When he decided not to run for the Senate, he sent my $20 back. That made me like him even more.

Anyway, the Boomhauer Brothers don't care about Jerry's politics. The watch the Springer Show for the fighting, the trannies, the midg
ets, etc... It's silly, but it's entertaining.

Months ago, B.J. Boomhauer started joking about how he wanted to go on Jerry Springer. "We'll both go on. Tell 'em we're having an affair. We'll break the news to my wife on the show."

Yeah, right. Like I would ever go on television and tell the world I'm fucking a Boomhauer Brother. "Sure, B.J. But the real twist will be when your wife and I reveal that we've been fucking all along behind your back."

This only made him roar with laughter. He thinks this would make great television.

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with B.J & Mrs. Boomhauer. We took a little side trip across the state border so we could pick up some beer. While they were in the store, I nosily picked up a Fed/Ex envelope laying on the backseat next to me. I opened it and saw that it was from the Jerry Springer Show. In addition to an autographed photo of Jerry, there was also a letter that thanked B.J. for contacting them and mentioned the inclusion of a disposable camera. I flashed back to the memory of B.J. snapping my photo with a disposable camera a week or two earlier.

Oh fucking Christ.

I hadn't really thought about any of this until today. B.J. stopped by this afternoon to do a little trading. I swapped him a couple old doo-dads I'd found - a 1940s fountain pen and an equally old enameled pan - for a 12-pack of beer. We were sitting on the poop deck working out a trade of a tobacco pipe shaped like a gun (you put the barrel in your mouth) for a brand new pair of binoculars when his cell phone rang.

He starts talking to some guy named Fred on the other end of the line. They talk about something or another, B.J. telling him he won't be home for about another hour. He says he's hanging out with a friend who moved
down here from Alaska. "Here, you should talk to her."

I really hate it when somebody hands you the phone, insisting you talk to someone you don't know. I don't know Fred. I have nothing to say to Fred. Ignoring my protests, B.J. thrusts the phone into my hand. "Just talk to him."

"Hi, Jackie. This is Fred from the Jerry Springer show."

Oh fucking Christ.

Fred goes on to explain to me how the Jerry Springer Show is going to be moving away from the fighting, the trannies, the midgets, the fighting tranny midgets and getting back to real people drama. Did I happen to know anybody with any drama going on that would want to appear on the Jerry Springer Show? Did I want to be on the Jerry Springer Show?

I was completely taken by surprise. I didn't wake up this morning thinking I'd be talking to the Jerry Springer show today. I'm no good at improv. I just stammered something about while I'm sure there's plenty of drama in this tiny town, I just hadn't lived here long enough to be able to recomme
nd anyone or anything to him at this moment. I'm slightly better at outright lying than I am at improv. He asked me to give him a call if I thought of anyone who'd be interested in appearing on the show and to remind B.J. to call him back when he got home.

While a free trip to Chicago plus whatever stipend they pay is enticing, rest assured that you will not be seeing me anytime soon on the Jerry Springer Show. But if B.J. Boomhauer decides to make an appearance, you'll read it here first.

Okay, now that we have that weirdness out of the w
ay, let's get back to regular farm news.

Had a couple unwanted visitors to the chicken coop this week. This morning I was making my rounds in the coop when I noticed this:

In case you can't tell what this is, it's a freshly shedded snakeskin hanging out of a mousehole above a boarded up door.

I never bothered plugging up the mousehole in the drywall because the little bastards would just chew another one. Besides, the mice don't really pose much of a problem and there's little I can do about them anyway.

The snake doesn't really pose too much of a problem either. It's not poisonous and it won't attack the chickens. But it will eat eggs. And there is a hen sitting on a clutch of eggs at the bottom of that boarded up door. The first thing I did was count the eggs in the nest. All present and accounted for.

For all I know, the snake left immediately after rubbing its old skin off against the rough wooden boards that make up that wall (cut from trees that started growing in the 1820s - I counted the rings). Even so, I was extra cautious before reaching into unattended nests to grab fresh eggs. I'll admit it's pretty creepy to think that snakes are IN THE WALLS.

When I pulled the skin out of the hole, it was about two feet long. But the head and tail portions were missing so who knows for sure how big this snake was. Judging by the girth, I'm guessing at least four feet. I really didn't feel like reaching into the hole to see if I could find the rest of it.

It's things like this that remind me why I'm waiting until winter to crawl under the coop to salvage the rest of the old copper plumbing pipes. I'm not particularly afraid of snakes, but that doesn't mean I like them.

The other visitor to the coop was much more une
xpected. A few days ago, I was working a couple hundred yards from Frankencoop when I heard the chickens squawking up a storm. I knew something was wrong because Sanchez, the young rooster hanging out with me in the garden, took off running towards the coop the instant the ruckus started.

I ran down the hill, expecting to chase off a neighbor's dog or a stray cat. Instead, I found a juvenile Coopers hawk INSIDE the coop. All of the chickens were wisely outside of the the coop.

The hawk was about half the size of my smallest chicken. I couldn't help but think of Henery Hawk from those old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons: "I'm a chickenhawk and you're a chicken. Are you coming quietly or do I have to muss you up?"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mice, coyotes and rednecks

I've been doing my best to keep the mice in the house under control. For a while there, they'd gotten mighty bold and were driving me crazy. They'd managed to get into kitchen cabinets that used to be off-limits, tearing into previously safe foodstuffs and leaving a mess that then attracted ants. I plugged up the new mouse holes but they just gnawed more of them.

I emptied all the cupboards and gave everything a good cleaning. All vulnerable foodstuffs either went into the freezer, fridge or plastic containers. For the first day or two, the mice merely gnawed on the plastic containers, leaving tiny blue plastic shavings which at least didn't attract ants.

Eventually, their numbers dwindled. I would go days at a time without a sign of a mouse in the house. Oh, I knew they were still there - but at least there were fewer of them. I can deal with a small population.

But the few that stayed behind are crafty, stubborn little fuckers - an emerging strain of supermice. Since regular food is now out of reach, they have gone to great lengths to find other things to eat.

About a two weeks ago, one managed to reach one of the higher bookshelves. It climbed a stack of books and stole all the corn kernel teeth from my Hunter S. Thompson Day of the Dead skull. It's nothing I can't fix but it still pissed me off.

A few days passed and then I discovered a mouse had climbed on top of a dresser and devoured the corner of one of my sugar skulls. This was damage I could not fix but it didn't really ruin the piece. In fact, I kinda liked how it looked with half of the lower jaw missing.

I can't help but wonder: Why am I compelled to make skully art out of food products?

I moved the sugar skulls to the fireplace mantle for safekeeping. Well, that didn't work. Some sly mouse figured out how to get up there. This time, it knocked the damaged skull right onto the floor where it shattered into more than a dozen pieces.

At first I thought simple gravity might be responsible. Perhaps it just tipped over due to the missing corner. But closer inspection revealed fresh teeth marks on the back of a second sugar skull and tiny turds near the base.

But I have a much larger wildlife worry now. Two days ago I saw a coyote in my yard. I was inside around 6pm when Della started barking. She rarely ever barks during the day. I poked my head out the backdoor and saw a large animal about 80 feet from the house. At first I thought it was a small deer but, when it turned to run, I saw a long tail.

"A fox," I thought. "A really big fox that wants to eat the chickens in my front yard." I grabbed my rifle and headed for the front porch (which should now be called the poop deck since the chickens figured out how to get up there). The animal was standing in the tall grass (I really need to mow more often), just looking at me. I took a shot and missed. It ran across the back field. I managed to squeeze off two more bad shots before it disappeared in the brush.

Later that night, I was looking up a little information on foxes and came to the realization that what I'd seen was actually a coyote. I knew coyotes were in the region, I've often heard them at night but this is the first time I've ever seen one. And while I always enjoy spotting new wildlife, I'm quite unhappy about seeing a big, hungry coyote so damned close to my house (and chickens).

I'm still flippin' out about this Sarah Palin thing. She's all over my TV, radio and computer. She's gonna be on Face The Nation this weekend. Tom Brokaw's talking about her. My beloved McLaughlin Group won't shut up about her. Michael Carey and Eric Croft are being interviewed on NPR and CNN is talking about Hollis French and Wev Shea. As an Alaskan-in-exile, this is some seriously weird shit.

It really makes me miss working at the recording studio in Anchorage. Election season was always my favorite time of year because my office was a nonstop parade of politicos recording TV and radio ads - from lowly school board candidates to that indicted troll, Senator Ted Stevens.

Hell, it really makes me miss Hunter S. Thompson. I would give my left tit to hear his take on this circus sideshow.

Politics is one of the most interesting things in the world to me but I have no one here in the boonies to talk to about it. I'm scared to talk politics with these people. The subject does come up from time to time but I'm never the one to bring it up.

I was happy when B.J. Boomhauer volunteered the info that he's voting for Obama. That was a surprise, considering he's such a redneck good ol' boy. He told me that the Republicans had fucked shit up so bad that there's no way he'd vote for one this year.

But before I had a chance to feel all warm and fuzzy about a Boomhauer Brother voting for a black man, I met a straight-out-of-Deliverance motherfucker that made B.J. Boomhauer look like Bobby Seale.

I'd only met this guy once - over a year ago. He recently stopped by to say hi when he saw me working outside. I don't even know how the presidential election came up in the conversation. Lord knows I wasn't the one to bring it up. But, seemingly out of nowhere, he said "If Obama gets in the White House, he's gonna tear up the rose garden and put in a watermelon patch."

Ummm...yeah... It's 2008 and this asshole's making watermelon jokes. I wanted to tell him the joke would be funnier if he said "arugula patch" but figured that he wouldn't get it. Instead, I lamely offered "He certainly can't be any worse than what we've had for the last eight years."

"Bullshit!" Mr. Redneck exclaimed. "Someone's gonna shoot that nigger." The conversation went downhill from there.

Mr. Redneck went on to explain to me how, in the wake of Obama's assassination, the country would descend into anarchy and chaos. All hell would break loose and it would only be a matter of days before people in the nearby cities of Birmingham, Montgomery and Atlanta ran out of food and supplies. Hungry, desperate people would descend on rural areas - like the one we live in - and good, God-fearing folk like ourselves would have to defend our property with our God-given guns.

He also said something about how black people should be grateful that we brought them over as slaves from the barbaric hellhole that is Africa and civilized them, giving them a chance for a better life. I couldn't even respond to this because I had trouble hearing him over the voice in my head, screaming "DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT? THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY HE JUST SAID THAT! NO WAY IS ANY OF THIS REAL!"

Ummm...yeah...It's 2008 and this asshole gets to vote.

I really wanted to ask him if he was going to vote for McCain and how he felt about voting for a ticket with a vagina on it. Instead, I quickly changed the subject. What the hell do you say to someone like that anyway?

Well, I guess I could've started with "Get the hell off my property." I apologize for being a gutless wuss.