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L. Neil Smith's

Number 873, May 22, 2016

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Norseman's Diaries Part I
The Return of Franklin & Revenge of the Vortex

by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Been an interesting two weeks on my little spread in Greater Appalachia that is my refuge. Was not sure where to begin between the the crazy weather that goes back and forth between summer like warmth and chilly days more typical of early spring and a spectacular late spring flower show and other other good things that happen in spite. Lots of things blooming; from irises to wild azaleas and Ladyslipper orchids and I have been trying to get the remainder of my turtle flocks outside on a permanent basis in lieu of global warming that is not happening regardless of what authorities claim.

And a few belly laughs along the way.

Perhaps I should begin with the story of Franklin—a male Gulf Coast Box Turtle—Terrapene carolina major who went AWOL when I left the lid to his pen open last summer and walked away to tend other animals just for a short while. And that was all it took for him to climb over the wall and take off for parts unknown. It was a major fail on my part to loose an animal that I've had for many years and while he was acclimated and able to survive local winters on his own—I didn't expect to ever find him again. Especially as the weeks passed and efforts to find him on the property or adjoining lands failed. Thought about getting Mrs G to bring her dog—a Chocolate Lab over to sniff him out and I would have rewarded him handsomely with a New York strip steak if he succeeded—but by the time the idea occurred to me the trail had surely gone cold and unless the turtle stayed around it would be unlikely that the dog or anyone else would find him. Box turtles are said to have a built in GPS that uses the Earth's magnetic field to navigate and may be capable of finding their way back home over long distances. I pretty much had written him off on the assumption that he was headed southward on a line aimed at a point somewhere near the Gulf of Mexico between the border of Texas and the panhandle of Florida.

Much to my surprise last week when I went up to the pond one morning to plant a hybrid woodland phlox and to look around a bit; I ran into him on the way back down—sitting in the grass between the row of stock tanks and the lower pond!

That was way too easy after all my efforts to find him were in vain. And it looks very much like he has a strong fidelity to my place and that site in particular as opposed to taking off and trying to go back to the southland. Or even the recently cleared upper hollow. So much for Box Turtle Heaven! This misadventure ends much like the case of Greedy the Wood Turtle who lingered and was recovered and once returned on her own after going AWOL in the summer of 86. Like her Franklin was acquired at a young age and has lived and hibernated here for many years. Strong credence to the idea turtles cling to an area with lots of food and a safe place to spend the winter.

Put him back in with the female and the other male. Might have to send the latter back or build a separate run if the two males dont get along. Within ten minutes when I returned—he was already interested in the female. Then he got interested in me when I was weeding out the pen. He was obviously expecting to be fed and I would look into getting night crawlers on my next shopping trip.

That day would have been a great for getting so much more done outside were it not for having to take my car to the Honda garage for Auto Butler reapplication where it looked as if I'd be stuck for at least 3 hours. Yet I cannot regret my choices too much. Could have gotten out much earlier to do more in the morning but might have missed Franklin if my timing had been different because it was only a short time I spent at the pond and did not see him on the way up. He was apparently heading away from the lower pond because of the trace of duckweed on his carapace and he would not likely have stayed in that spot for long. I was very lucky that day and it more than makes up for whatever else I could have gotten done!

It was getting really nice that afternoon before I left. Was strongly tempted to cancel and reschedule the service but better to get it over with. And I could always put the time to good use catching up on email correspondence.

That Friday turned out much better than expected weather wise with summer like conditions after the passage of a front a few days later that brought steady rain early in the morning. For a while I thought the secondary front that was supposed to come later in the day might have been a dry one but it is still coming in the morning with thunderstorms and then the bottom drops our. 50s for highs and 30s for lows over the weekend. Down to 32 Sunday night and I would have to prepare for frost. Then the week remains downright sucky with highs in the 60s right until Friday when it turns warm again just in time for the start of vacation. That is probably also the turning point for going into summer.

Between car payment and property taxes I had little left this pay. But was finding ways and resources to get things done. After draining out the blue barrels at the house and watering greenhouse plants went into the pond to set a basket of biofilter medium in the water to colonize with bacteria and then did a little weeding and plant maintenance.

After that I ran numbers and discovered my current predicament. Nothing terrible—just needed to tighten my belt a little to get the taxes paid and out of the way and still had plenty of food, can scrape up spare cash for milk and other stuff for a week or two. Instead of running out to the bank I just mailed the check to save time and gas for other things. And rather than run out and buy the pipe for the Hurricane pump I remembered the roll of leftover 2" poly I saw at the older springhouse when I turned the elbow last month!

Did not measure but there was enough to run from the corner of the pond where the branch of the interior path comes down—all the way up to just past the CBT pen and used couplings to connect to a run of courogated tubing to get from there to watercourse and a short peice between the lower end and the pump. Cut off the two smallest sections of reducer nipple to improve the flow. Laying the poly line was fairly easy once I got the part going down to the pond slid under the log steps of the ascending path. The rest of the way I didn't even have to dig a trench. Just pulled back the path mulch and laid the line on the soils surface and then pushed the chips back into place. Someday after I refurbish the watercourse it will be safer to run it continuously with the two. Will run the pumps on an intermittent basis—for the benefit of guests and my own gratification when I'm around. It will be very much like a natural stream flow which fluctuates in volume.

Works excellent! Even before plugging in the two pondmasters I had quite a torrent coming down the falls from pool to pool. The falls from the Rosyside Pool to the inlet of the pond is looking better than it ever did before. Not going to run continuously but for show and to test the system as I make improvements.

Not bad for a day!

And I had a good belly laugh going thru the checkout line that evening. On the cover of National Enquire was a most unflattering picture of both Clintons and the headline saying something about Hillary covering for her husband's sex crimes. That was a total hoot and I'm beginning to get the picture that that publication is either out to destroy the Hildabeast or there is a lucrative market for ripping on her and her philandering mate who is probably champing at the bit to have another crack at the young and tender female interns! Either way it's encouraging news in a nation otherwise going to hell in a hand basket.

It had been either a hopeless or fun week for politics depending on how you take the news. Take it or leave it or laugh at it.

Perhaps the funniest of the week for me was from Robert Felix's Ice Age Now site pertaining to a recent government recomendation—or edict? in Sweden.

"Sweden has about nine and a half million people. It's the 90th most populous country in the world. The population of Los Angeles County, CA is greater. If everyone in Sweden stopped eating altogether, starved to death, and gave the place back to the reindeer, it would have no measurable effect whatsoever on climate change".

So I guess my turts and froggies have a climate friendly diet?

The other big thread from last week going into this one was of course the manifestation of what we began calling Revenge of the Vortex—as in Polar: that accursed entity that just insists on spoiling the month of May time and time again pushing the isobars southward and along with it the threat of frost and even snow in parts of Pennsylvania and the upper Midwest! And Ray of course was bugging again about the core of blue centered on his state. I Just figured it out. It's one of the reasons that Wisconsin & Pennsylvania can be called called Blue States! His was looking a lot bluer than mine at the time. At least we have a little southern influence to temper the cold and the left wing populism. Then again there is the paradox of Scott Walker which he got for a while. I'm not sure if we could ever get that lucky in the Keystone State whose main growth industry seems to be government. The best this state can usually do is elect a wishy washy RINO once in a while.

And while the Vortex's Revenge was bearing down upon the region; "2016 was being predicted to be the hottest year on record"—that was the official statement from climate scientists just as I was bracing to deal with the challenge of a possible frost or freeze event! Their predictions are so beautifully timed that one must wonder if it is planned or are they just so damned lucky? House was 62 F when I got home from work Sunday evening. Lit the fire and shifted some plants back into the greenhouse and brought the Chinese Boxies and Euro Pond pair back in. Between that and our conversations and the pic Ray sent I had all the make of a good article but there was little time left to make the upcoming issue and I was beat!

This is often normal weather for here this time of year. May often sucks. Has been that way since I was a kid. I remember many a chilly, cloudy wet stretches in late spring. And late frosts. This one turned out easy on us in comparison to other years. I probably could have gotten away with not doing anything but glad I did. Need to get better organized with frost covers and frames that can be put up and taken down and stored easily. Sooner or later my luck will run out and it is always a drag trying to find stuff to cover plants at the last minute.

Slowly other projects continued unfolding.

Got my hole saws on the way home Monday night. The set has a selection of small ones up to 2 1/2 or a little bigger. That covers the whole range between small holes for the biofilter and rain barrels to the large hole needed to pass the overflow nipple thru the wall into the lower pen. And the blades are made for cutting light sheet metal—perfect for that application. Experimented with putting them on the drills to make sure they work and did a small job making a hole for a tote container filter to go outside the Euro Pond enclosure. That made for a good test run but I'll wait until I get my new tank and set it in place before cutting the hole between the two other pens. Want to make sure it will be properly aligned with the nipple coming off the bulkhead beforehand. And also make sure I can put the bulkhead on the end of the tub which is curved. It will have to go on the side if that is not possible. That will change the placement of everything.

The weather was dreary again later in the week but at least it didn't frost or freeze and the warmer days were just around the corner. Or so the forecast said. It should warm up and then stay warm for the duration of the spring transitioning into summer. Then I can make it without using the furnaces for a while and no more shifting turts back and forth which I've been doing a lot of lately the way it keeps flipping back between warm and cold. It flipped again to warm and sunny on Thursday and of course I was working. But that afternoon business slowed down and the Charge Nurse suggested I get my dinner in before she started cutting. I had already eaten lunch so I volunteered for the chopping block and got it!

Wonderful ride home. Finally caught Michael Savage on the station I listened to Quinn on the way in that morning! Picked up nightcrawlers for the turts too. This was destined to be the day! Fed the CBTs and adult Euro Ponds before moving them outside again. Then went up and fed the Gulf Coast Boxes some of the night crawlers. Everyone was in the mood for eating despite the slight evening chill. Would get warm again in the morning so it was an ideal time.

The one coming out of the pool is Franklin—the one who was AWOL. The big horn colored turtle is the female I call Olivia. The smaller dark male in the hollow log I have yet to name. He was a breeder on loan to replace Franklin and I'm not sure if he will be a keeper yet.

Come Friday morning like most of my mornings when I'm doing the 11AM shift—there was never enough time to do what I wanted to do before hitting the road to work. Did manage to visit the greenhouse and spray the plants down. Then brought up the lone young male Japanese Pond Turtle—tote tub enclosure and all—and then hand carried the female Florida Box. So now all the larger turts are either outside or in the Greenhouse. Then eyeballed the CBTs and others at the pond site and saw the male Dollar Sunfish on the way back down. Then it was another long day.It was only 8 hours but it felt more like 12. Not horrible but just long. Probably because it was last day before vacation and it was so nice outside. The long awaited 70 + degree day before the weekend that had now been downgraded into a relapse of chilly weather before the pending warmup. Was slow the first part of it and I was at the back station so it was an opportunity to reprint my schedule and catch up net learning. After having put in my next schedule the day before. Always a good thing to have done before vacation. Then it got busy somewhat and it seemed like the day that would never end. At 7pm I was resigned to the idea that the next 4 hours were going to drag on at a painful pace and they would probably get horrible like most last days before weekends or vacations get. Then Mrs G came bopping along to take over just as I started wheeling the supply cart around to replenish the rooms. Totally forgot about our trade where I worked part of her shift earlier in the week! And so I was free as a bird and out the door!

Did not make it home in time to do much outside as it was getting dark by then. I just made rounds outside to eyeball the pens and the ponds and such. Plenty of time to catch that all up now and start on some projects in the coming days after a busy weekend. Jump started the truck and took it for a spin around the lake and back. Was going to visit Bruce but it was running a little bumpy so I figured it might be that one of the tires is low so I just idled it a while before shutting it off. I'm sure it is the battery because it was totally dead but the interior lights came back on once I connected the cables and started charging and turned over shortly thereafter. Hoping it will start again in the morning. If not—I will jump it again and get the tires inflated to proper pressure and then take it for another spin. This coming week I might go to Lowe's and get timbers and boards for the future Euro Pond and Slider/Painted Turtle pens and later in the week maybe get some sand and modified 3b and the livestock panels to have on hand before the inspection runs out. It may be a tight budget next few pays as I want to get fuel oil and propane before the prices go up too much. In the meantime I can still run the truck on the property to move firewood down when I cut up the brush piles and downed trees. Looks like yet again I won't be running according to the ideal plan. Maybe next year. But I keep saying that every year.

Could go on but busy day coming up between morning errands and a birthday party for my nephew and then Sunday is the Greater Appalachian Reptile Show in Morgantown which I changed my mind about and decided to go and see if the guy with the Cumberland Sliders will be there again. Figured worth a shot before I start ordering then online and it might even make for an interesting start to the second half of this article to be written as I go on to enjoy what I am hoping will be my best vacation in years. Possibly a long overdue road-trip/adventure that I have not really done since I began contributing to this journal. It's time to break the mold and start traveling again.


Got a little more Trump news; he was on TV Friday afternoon giving a press conference and was really going both barrels in defense of gun rights. If he stays true to that and other stuff he might not make a bad president. He definitely wasn't wishy washy on that issue. And I talked to a lady and her husband who fit the description of Walmart Republicans. The man said he lived in the same town—Scranton -- with Hillary's family—the Rodhams and said they were rude and terrible and owned most of the town. Go figure—typical upscale limousine liberals who got theirs and are now going to tell everyone else how to live and dictate how much they can have. I do know that Hillary used to be a "Goldwater Girl" before meeting Bill. And I cannot help but wonder if the GOP establishment will stab Donald in the back as they probably would rather have the Hildabeast to fall back on if they can't get one of their failed establishment picks nominated. As opposed to someone who might actually put up a fight and win. After McCain and then Romney you have to wonder if they are just throwing the contest because they'd rather let the democrats own the economy in bad times? Maybe—many of them being crony capitalists figure they can survive just as well cutting deals with democrats in power—and the Clintons are even more receptive than Obama when it comes to that sort of thing.

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