Thursday, May 31, 2018

Satan's Carpet Cleaner

One thing my father taught me was to love a good, well-made appliance. Towards that end I have no trouble whatsoever paying good money for something--but once I have, you bet that damned thing better work.

Once such item is my monster Bissell carpet cleaner. With our Nevada snowy winters, decomposed granite (DG) dirt that cheerfully sticks in the tread of your shoes until you come inside and our various animals, this thing isn't a luxury item, it's a damned necessity.

I call mine the Big Beast.

I got it at the same time we bought the house 6 years ago once I saw the state of the carpets here. Based on the amount of dog hair and DG the Big Beast has pulled up out of the carpet I strongly suspect the previous tenants had simply left the window of the master bedroom open and allowed several large dogs to come and go through it as they willed, year round.

By the way, the Bissell 'Pet Urine Remover' solution in fact, looks suspiciously like...well...

The Big Beast has served me faithfully ever since. This thing could pull Satan himself up from Hell through my carpet, it's that strong.  When you turn it on you have to warn anyone else in the house that you are about to do so because this thing is mind-rattlingly LOUD. Using it gives you such a 'RAWR!' feeling that you know what Ripley must have felt when she climbed into that Cat Power Loader and battled the Alien Queen. I may have actually blown kisses at it when I do my Spring cleaning after Chickam is through and my house is a wreck. I love it.

When it works.

When it does NOT, it never fails that the thrice-accursed thing fails spectacularly, vomiting several gallons of filthy water all over my carpet or even more fun, haha, laying down scads of soapy water and then refusing to suck it back up.

And does it do this right at the outset, you ask?

Of course it bloody doesn't. It's sneaky. It waits until it's lulled you into a false sense of security and you're halfway through your whole-house cleaning job. When you've put in your earbuds and turned on your music player so you don't have to endure it's loud, throaty roar as it's foaming maw attacks your carpets. When you've fallen into the mindlessness of carpet cleaning.

Then you realize--I haven't had to empty the dirty water receptacle yet. And I should have had to empty it at least twice by now, shouldn't I...? Because that's the other fun thing about using the Big Beast--you use it so seldom that it's easy to forget the finer points.

I long ago learned the operate the Big Beast barefoot in order to make sure that 1. It's putting down soapy water and 2. That it's picking it back up again. I know by know that the carpet should have a certain degree of wetness after I've used the cleaner on it and no more.

I check with my feet. The carpet squelches, it's too wet.

Damn, damn, DAMN. I unload the two water containers--no fool I, I'm not gotta tip this thing upside down with them in place and spill them, I learn. I tip the thing over and no surprise, it's loaded to the gills with dirt and dog hair--some of it from our dog over the winter, but a lot of it still from the previous tenant's dogs, which are the gift that keeps on giving even 6 years later. Armed with several tools I pulls clots of gunk out of the machine, and the levels of nastiness they have attained are stunning.

It's clean again, huzzah. Now it should work.
Nope, the rollers won't turn. Huh. it must be that when the rollers don't turn it won't suck up water.

OK, I go in again and see that hair has lined the rollers where one of the belts goes and is obviously keeping the roller from turning. I spend another cheery half hour muttering bad language, throttling back my disgust and carefully cleaning out the hair...and try it again.

It should work.
Nope...the rollers still won't turn.

Wrestle it over on it's back again like the 600 pound Gallapagos turtle that it is and check. Oh joy, one of the belts is broken.
Who wants to bet if I can find a new belt in our small town! Anyone...?

Bingo, Amazon it is. Two days later I have my belts. Belts, I say, because I've lived with me long enough by now to know that if I only get ONE of the one that is broken either the OTHER belt will break or the new belt will snap going on. So I cut to the chase and buy two of each belt, thus ensuring that I will NEVER have to change a belt on the Big Beast again.

New belt goes on. Rollers turn. Huzzah again, this should fix the problem.
Nope. It still won't suck up that damned water.
It has more than one problem at once, I now know. Time to bust out the $2 cuss words.

By now I'm grimly stomping through the house armed with several screwdrivers, covered head to toe in disgusting dirty water and sick to death of wrestling the Big Beast. I've gone through the 6 stages of Carpet Cleaning: Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I've seriously considering stabbing it to death with the screwdrivers I've used to take off the covers again and again, aiming for wherever the word 'easy' appears on the stupid labels. I've begged the Carpet Gods to just make it work for this last 6 foot square section so I can be done. I've threatened the thing with death by backing my '69 Plymouth over it. I've been mucking about with this hellbeast for almost 5 days now. Nothing has worked.

The Big Beast has spent most of it's time in this state:
It's taken to leaving nasty, dirty wet spots that I suspect may forever be a part of the carpet. And while we're on the subject, who the HELL lays beige carpet in a part of the country where it snows?

Husband and I stare at Big Beast wondering what it wants. I wouldn't put human sacrifice beyond it at this point. Then I see it.
"Wait--" I say. "What is that?! That wasn't there before was it?"

Husband says he has no idea. I suspect the thing is spontaneously generating weird new parts just to gaslight me. Nevertheless, since it claims to be a filter we fuss the thing open and clean it (it wasn't dirty but we do it anyway because we are firmly in the 'bargaining' stage). That'll fix it!

It doesn't.
Also, the rollers have stopped turning again.

"FIRE UP THE PLYMOUTH!" I roar at my husband. I'm backing over this SOB right now and I'll bet I can sell tickets to other homeowners at this point. I'm so exhausted and permanently filthy I'm feeling positively maniacal and I swear I'm foaming at the mouth. Don't get it on the carpet, I remind myself.

Instead I take a deep breath and turn to the Internet, making sure to use the proper search parameters..
It is absolutely NO surprise to me that 'Motherfucking' and 'Bissell' work together.

I watch several official Bissell videos for 'loss of suction'. All say the same thing and address Dumbshit 101 areas such as: make sure the tanks are seated properly, make sure it's plugged in, etc. Because by the time you resort to the Internet you haven't checked those things already 900 times, haha. All the videos offer to sell you new, expensive replacement parts. More really bad language is directed at the makers of the videos.

Finally, finally...I run across a little post in an out-of-the-way forum where someone mentions the little trap door in the uptake tank...it has a filter screen behind it that can become clogged.

Away I fly to the kitchen where I've got the Big Beast apart to check...

HALLELUJAH BROTHERS, THERE'S THE PROBLEM. I swear if the person who posted that was standing before me I'd kiss them square on the mouth. The thing is gunked up. I clean it and discover, printed on the inside of the flap door, a message to clean this area regularly--printed inside the flap so that you cannot see it when the flap is closed.

Imps and demons of Hell are loudly and vocally directed at whoever designed this particular aspect of Big Beast. More abuse is heaped upon the heads of the makers of Bissell videos that never mention this little hidden filter screen.

I take the thing out to the living room to show it to my husband, shaking the thing under his nose and griping loudly the entire time. "Look at this! Why would they print that where you can't see it?!"

He doesn't know, but he does know he doesn't want me to hold it over him and let it drip on him. One filthy human at a time, please. I run off cackling with glee at the prospect of someday NOT being entrapped in the eternal chore of carpet cleaning like Prometheus having his liver pecked out by eagles for all time.

I replace all the parts to the Big Beast, mutter a serious threat at the carpet cleaning gods and flip the switch.


I'm past crying for joy, I'm up to growling, "Damn well BETTER, too!"

Now, of course, I have to start all over from the beginning because my carpets are laden with soap.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Chicks Are Two Months Old!

This weekend will be the 8 week mark, in 3 days the chicks will go outside to live with the big chickens and Chickam will end for this year. All of this is weather permitting as we have had a REALLY wet, thunderstormy Spring this year. And putting baby chickens out in a thunderstorm just seems...well, mean.

After the chicks go out we will, of course, be putting the cam out on weekends (again, weather permitting) for Saturday or Sunday Chickams using the same YouTube channel that show the adult birds out in the chicken yard during the day, we'll announce these on our Chickam Twitter account. As we can get them we'll be giving the chickens things like watermelons and pumpkins to eat, plus the Wheel Of Food, which is always fun.

But anyway, here are updated chick pics of the two month old chicks! We hatched 5 bantam Cochin eggs I got off ebay and 3 eggs from our flock. We seem to have ended up with 4 boys and 4 girls this year.

In order of hatch, the first is Nora.

And yes, in full 'derp' mode. Because he's a rooster named Nora. Nora is a chick from our flock, I suspect that Sprinkles is mama and possibly Groot is daddy.

Next is Fireball, another rooboy, a bantam Cochin hatched from eggs I got off ebay. Fire wins the 'Gigantic Comb' award and is VERY talkative and friendly.

Bobo, another bantam Cochin, a hen. Bobo wins the 'Boneless Chicken' award this year and only wanted to melt into a puddle of chicken during picture time. The kid had to prop her up.

Sadly Bobo has molted out her superhero mask and white butt feathers, however she does had the odd white-tipped feather here and there.

Luna, another bantam Cochin hen--Luna was the chick who had pipped the wrong end of her egg and had to be assisted a bit. She's grown into a BIG ol' honkin chick.

Now Pongo, a rooboy chick from our flock. Pongo appears to have Milton, our bantam roo for a daddy and probably Tater Tot for mom.

Gumdrop (who I insist on calling 'Gumball' for some reason, probably because she's just so round), a bantam Cochin hen. Gumdrop LOVES to bite me. Probably because I am stupid and can't get her name right.

Pickle, a bantam Cochin hen. Pickle is a fearless girl who INSISTS on being petted, NOW.

Lastly is Zuul, a rooboy from our flock. Zuul probably has Milton for a daddy and Star the Red Star hen for mama.

Zuul also channeling the derp.

We had our first non-thunderstorming weekend since the hatch, so the chicks spent the day in the small run getting used to the great outdoors and letting the big chickens know that new chicks are incoming.

Meet & Greet time! As always, there was much staring.

Two hens outside the wire, Star the Red Star on the outside and half of Shake the MilleFleur Belgian d'Uccle.

Milton the  d'Uccle/bantam Cochin mix roo outside. He crowed, taking credit for ALL those babies.

Queen Elizabeak the white Light Brahma/Leghorn mix, Alice the Barred Rock, Shake on the far left POINTEDLY IGNORING the babies in disgust and the rear end of Beauty, our 12 year old Americaunas/bantam mix hen. 

Hens on the outside looking in. Sprinkles the Americanas/Kraeinkoppe mix and Bruce the black mottled Belgian d'Uccle

Groot the Dark India Cornish Rock roo lookin' at his offspring 12 year old and Beauty again.

Pong the 15 year old white Frizzle cochin hen. Pong has done these Meet & Greets so many times it's all routine by now.

Just not impressed.

Getting Cam to come over to pose with the babies.
TRYING to get Cam to come over. The kid is an expert chicken wrangler by now.

He was afraid of them. This is the Head Roo, the chief protector of the flock, mind you.


This was as close as he'd get. After this he ran over to be with his hens. Probably figured that the mama hen was somewhere nearby and he was in for a broody mama-style butt whoopin'.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Zombie Chicken!

The kid just came up to me showing me Blossom's right foot (the uninjured one) and said, "She's missing the end of THIS toe, now!"
I look. "Haha, she couldn't have hurt herself in the house. Naw, her *toe* is there, she's just snapped off a claw." There is a tiny drop of dried blood, but Blossom is fine.
Kid INSISTS part of her toe is gone. I give it a closer look, comparison to purple bandaged toe on other foot is made.
Blossom is missing the end of her fucking toe and claw.

Terrific, now we have to search my house for a chicken toe.
Step one: Look for blood in area chicken hangs out.
Success, we find a couple of *tiny* blood spots (on the carpet I just cleaned, BTW)

ToeHunt 2018 begins.
My husband finally finds it, next to the couch.


This is about a 10 on my Weird-Shit-O-Meter.
Apparently she'd injured *both* toes originally, this one had stayed in place and today the broken off part finally fell off. Creepy thing is, I had thoroughly inspected her feet with my hands to check for other injuries and never saw this. Kinda glad because if her toe had suddenly come off in my hands while the kid was holding her it would have traumatized that poor girl.

...Or we have a Zombie Chicken. I'm personally going the Zombie Chicken route.

And yes, that IS a previously broken outer toe on the foot with the claw flipped upwards. Chickens LOVE to do this, it's a very common injury.

For crying out LOUD...my life is just one dumb, weird thing after another, I swear.


That settles it, Blossom is a goddamned ZOMBIE.

Hours later, I was just putting my shoes on and found this NEW tidbit sitting *right* where my husband found the first one. 'Oh HAHA,' I thought, 'husband dug the toe out of the trash and put it there to mess with me.' Then I realize that IT'S NOT THE SAME TOE.

Inspect chicken. Yup, she's shed another toe!

At this point I'm off to the Intenet to see what new weird chicken disease that causes the damned birds to shed body parts is going around. Happily, no chicken leprosy...nearest we can figure is that it was caused likely by frostbite months ago and the toe bits are just now falling off. Chicken people experiencing the same thing are saying Silkies and Cochins are prone to it.

But, I mean, LOOK at the first pictures I posted--that damned toe is ON there, right?! And it looks FINE.
It's freakish.

Stupid bird has 3 toe tips/claws left. And yes, I pulled on them all to make sure no more were about to fall off like damned autumn leaves.

 Who knew that the zombie apocalypse would start with a chicken?

Thursday, April 19, 2018


So the kid just got home from her volunteer job at a local thrift store, she has to perform 20 hours of community service to qualify for the Nevada Promise program (2 free years of college, baby!).

She bought something. I know this is true because my husband walks in and says she bought something. In kind of a warning tone. Also, he's smirking.
OK, I say, where is it?
*insert Holy Crap Moment here*
*also insert maniacal laughter from the kid*
*GoTo HolyCrap*
Next thing I hear as I make my way out to the living room to see what the Hell this thing is, is Blossom the househen who is NOT PLEASED and is LOUDLY vocalizing as such.
I continue and round the corner...
Apparantly it's my new favorite phrase, at least for today.

Yeah, the kid had gone shopping. This damned thing is as tall as I am. I realize that ain't saying much...but lordy. I can't imagine how much real estate getting rid of this thing freed up at the store.

And yeah, OF COURSE we showed it to the chicks.

...who couldn't care less.

Blossom the housechicken, she of the broken toe--SHE cared when the thing first came through the door.

...Oh look, chicken food!
After this all interest was lost in their distant relative who has come to live with us in our house. Forever.

That's a looong time, forever.
Maybe I just won't go in the kid's room any more.

Meanwhile, the baby chicks have decided to pose like little feathered delinquents as they finalize their plan to use the cinder block/camera setup to escape the box.
I mean, if you came across a group of human kids lounging SO purposefully nonchalantly, you'd mutter, "Juvenile delinquents..." and get the Hell outta there, yes?

Next I fully expect to find 'Fuck The PoPo' and 'JETS' written on the side of the box...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Chickens, Great And Small

The baby chicks are doing great...although wings have come in and the start of tails, and we can tell that we got skunked on Frizzles.

The traditional grassy dirt clod that provides dirt to scratch & dustbathe in, green material to eat, hidden bugs to find, grit for crops, a first introduction to our local pathogens to help build immunities--plus a primo thing to leap on your sister from--was introduced.

...and there was much chickspicion.
 As in lots of glaring and pointedly turning their backs to it because that'll fix THAT weird new thing.

Eventually the grassy clod was accepted and is being joyfully used.

But who needs a dirt-clod-toy when you can just go and flat-out LAY in your food like a little feathered heathen?

Or, when that gets old, roost your big butt on your poor little sisters. Because why sit on just one of your siblings when you can camp on two of them?

Geez Nora, move your butt.  Poor Gumdrop and Bobo--!
Zuul prefers to ignore all these goings-on.

Meanwhile in big chicken news, Blossom the Silkie mix hen is still in the house recovering from her attempt to rip off one of her toes via a compound fracture.  I had to reset (poor thing!), bandage and splint it and so far she's doing fine, having herself another housechicken stint until she is healed up enough to go outside again.  I have no idea how she managed this one.

But wait, there's more!  Why have ONE entitled, grumpy hen in the house when you can have TWO?

Cue Alice, the Barred Rock hen who we discovered one day as a 3 day old chick at Tractor Supply, her broodmates had attacked her vent and had wounded her so grievously that the guy who came to remove her headed for the back door...where I'm sure she was destined for the trash can and death. I asked him if I could have her and he gave her to us...frankly she was so profoundly injured at only three days of age I never expected her to live, I just didn't think that death in a trash can was something she should have to suffer.

So we took her home, treated her wounds and gave her her own little section of the brooder box where amazingly, she lived and eventually grew up to join the flock!

 Alice has been glowingly healthy...until today.  Today we found her suffering from a condition known as Ascites, or Water Belly--a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, usually in laying hens, that can be caused by Fatty Liver Syndrome, amongst other things (I suspect her injuries as a chick have come back to haunt her).  I have a home treatment for it gleaned from other chicken people, and I'm also going to drain off some of the fluid with a syringe to make her more comfortable.

When you keep chickens, you learn pretty quick to take a deep breath, woman up, buckle down and be your own vet. Chicken keeping frequently involves smelly, disgusting procedures that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

But first, since Alice apparantly hasn't been able to perform her poop curtsy properly and has badly soiled vent feathers--a bath!
This is the beginning of the bath, before the warm water soaked off all the gunk.  You don't want to see the 'after' condition of that bathtub.

After the bath will come meds and sticking her with a syringe to draw off some of the fluid, then she and Blossom can hang out and watch TV together.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Chicken Migration!

We got fed up with UStream throttling back our data stream, so my husband shopped around and found Chickam a new home on YouTube!

The new Chickam!

Come and see, the picture is VASTLY improved, yay!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

395, Again...

Another trip down highway 395, where weird things await...

One thing that has bugged me, literally since about 1980, is this sign with the weird squashed-bug symbol on the bottom. It looks like a right-facing Pac Man with six legs.  The sign is just ahead of a curve in the highway as you are going southbound. There is no matching sign going northbound.


I've even taken to the Internet to try and find out what the stupid thing means. No dice. All I can figure is, it is a warning that several (three) dirt roads offshoot the highway ahead.  But I've never seen anything like it where other dirt roads join the highway...and there isn't any kind of flashing warning light nearby, either (my other thought).

I grump my way down the highway.

Continuing the weird sign theme, further down is a Seventh Day Adventist billboard on the outskirts of Big Pine.  It used to have a message to the effect of 'Saturday is the sabbath, changed to Sunday by the Anti-Christ'. Not entirely friendly for a church, but oh, well.

They've upped the ante.

WOW.  That's some serious hate-slinging, there. Why would a church (and more importantly, the members) tolerate such a hateful message being displayed...? Truly a sign of our sad times, I guess.

So much for peace and love at church. Just based on that sign, I'd never join that one.

A little further down the road...
When you start to suspect that at this point, your doctor is just being a dick.

One happy note--the Give and Take sculpture garden outside Olancha has another new installation!

A raven who looks like he's either wearing the Wicked Witch of the East's striped socks and ruby slippers or some rad toe socks.
I love him, and he's a lot closer to the highway so hopefully he'll attract more attention to the sculpture garden!