The Way is Shut

The Dads do not suffer the dogs to pass.

Easement Acres gets its share of odd projects.  And this time it’s for muddy paw mitigation.

Say it’s nice enough to leave the door open.  Say I want to enjoy the deck.  Say I also want to let the dogs enjoy the weather because I’m an awesome dog dad.  But also say that the backyard isn’t dry, and say the dogs like to run and I can’t keep grass growing back there so it’s’ a mud pit.  And finally, say that politely instructing dogs to not leave the deck has little effect.  What to do?

Simple.  Shove a kiddie pool against the stairs and wedge it with the grill.

Or, something slightly less trashy…

A gate!

Not a novel solution I suppose.  Somewhere along the line someone figured out barriers need access points and invented such a device.  But I still had to create one that fit my exact needs, so I still get man points!

Behold, my adjustable retainer! The bolt can be loosened to account for changing tolerances.
And another fine application of an existing invention.
A gravity latch. Oooooo.

The whippet has since thanked me by peeing on the floor.  But what she hasn’t realized yet is that I can also lock her in the yard, thus depriving her of deck furniture cushions in the sun once the weather warms.  We’ll see who has the last laugh then!

Naughty dog projects.


String Lights

I’m not sure if we’re going for a roadside shanty theme, but our growing string light setup is certainly more pleasant to look at from afar than the standard suburban system of single-bulb external illumination.  The overlapping fields of small-lumen bulbs provide a less invasive experience to the human eye, which I’m finding quite superior to everyone else’s practice of buying the brightest bulbs available to replace their standard garage and patio fixtures.

These are people who’ve forgotten how to use their outdoor space, and in an act of suburban paranoia, take crime-reduction advice to an extreme.  Yes, illuminating your entire property with theater stage lights will indeed make any criminals visible, but someone still has to see the criminal to know he’s there, and that system relies on other people in the neighborhood.  But with lights so bright now, I’m gradually planting bushes and constructing barriers to block those critical views.  You might have sufficient light to land helicopters, but now no one can see your yard to report crime, including you, because you’re inside.

Also I hate you now, because you’re making my own outdoor space less relaxing.

But enough of the grumbling.  Here’s our new deck lights!

It does make things a little cozier.  The prior lights were strung along the eaves, but the effect was a backlight that brought the deck in rather than inviting its full space.  I’m looking forward to their shining through the hydrangeas.

But waste not!  The old lights got a renewed purpose on our front porch.

Both sets are on light-sensing timers, so bonus in that I don’t have to remember to turn on lights for delivery services either.

All in all, their aesthetics might suggest rustic homeliness, but I’ll take the alternative to the typical sterile prefab over-lit house theme in these here parts.

Also I make good crab cakes.



I want to shoot neighborhood cats sooooo bad.


Okay, so I just don’t want cats on my property.  I find this to be a very reasonable request.  Yet, in the internet debate over cats being allowed to roam unrestricted outside, the arguments against this practice focus on the dangers posed to the cats themselves, which is still a self-centered argument, even if it’s on the against side.  It overlooks what should be the prime reason: it’s rude to other people.

Even if letting your cat outside wasn’t inherently dangerous, it’s still pissing and shitting in my vegetable garden and digging things up.  It’s being destructive to my property and hobbies, and potentially passing infectious diseases into the produce I eat.  Under no condition would a rational person consider this okay.

And yet – there they are.

And it turns out that the problem was worse than I thought, revealed to me after my garden camera install.

…And that’s just one day.

But I’ve ranted about roaming cats before.  No need to go through that futile discussion again.  Instead, I decided to find a preventative measure that was more likely than changing a cat owner’s behavior.

Although there are other animals I wish to deter, like this skunk
…and some of the squirrel population (but it was fun to talk to them through the camera).

Instead, I invested in a motion-activated ultrasonic alarm.  I had limited expectations, but I haven’t caught any more cats on camera in the two days since I installed it!  So I bought two more.  It seems feasible that I can at last create a cat-free perimeter.  The 3rd one I’ll run at a higher frequency and see if that does anything to the squirrels.  That’d be a double win after last year’s tomato patch decimation.

And the camera worked for one of its intended purposes.  I love it when a plan comes together.


Ring 3

It’s not quite paranoia, but I wanted another outside camera.  This time, I wanted a view of the garden.  Why?  Because the house doesn’t have any windows on that side and I want to check in on the veggies.  And to yell at any deer and cats that trigger the motion alert (the latter of which I’ve already chased away with the camera’s alarm).  I’m also hoping its presence will be a deterrent to a certain neighbor who takes their dog across the property line to shit.  Doubtful.

But between the pandemic and chip shortage, the camera model I wanted, which I’ve previously installed in the backyard, hasn’t been available for a couple years now.  Then, finally last month, it appeared open to order, though it must have been backordered because I only just received it over the weekend.  No matter. I have it now.

Taking the previous installation’s lessons, I routed a CAT6 through the attic and to the garage window, where I installed a keystone jack, and connected to this a specially-ordered outdoor patch cable which ran along the eaves and to the camera.

Exposed wires are never elegant, but it’s the garage.

I also must be losing my touch with crimping cable terminals.  I struggled to the point of fury before deciding to go out and buy a different model, which worked just fine.  User error maybe.

Surpassing the other camera, this is now the longest ethernet run I’ve pulled.  And fortunately, it worked the first time.

I see you!

This makes my 10th drop to the patch panel.  And I even acquired a PoE switch since last time, thus replacing the prior single-port injector and giving me 4 powered ports.

Future expandability!

Looking forward to some nature pics.  And foiled pooping attempts.


Winter Carrots

As I mentioned last month, I am on a gardening quest to extend the growing season.

Phenology 2022

In so doing, I’ve cataloged these extended growing times through observation and failure, have been largely successful overall.

Bastard deer couldn’t even finish a whole carrot.

I also mentioned Bambi, amusing in that it was these rampaging ravenous ruminates that forced my winter carrot harvest – probably the last of my phenologic experiments of the prior year.  The goal was to dig them up at the beginning of March, at which point I would then plant onions and radishes in the newly-vacant and opened earth, just before the carrots started growing again and converting their sugar.  If that were successful, I would have closed the gap entirely on the fallow period.

Still, I was close.  I just need to…address the wildlife situation.

And make more stock!