Hot Pants

A family member was kind enough to give Hadley the Barbarian these ski pants at Christmas. And they’ll come in handy in a couple of days. Nice, right?

Only problem: the kid’s going to be tripping security sensors right and left. And I’m not saying that someone has sticky fingers but…

…did these pants fall off the back of a truck or what? Ouch, they’re burning my hands, they’re so hot!

So yesterday, I brought them with me while shopping at a ski store. I first picked out some gear because a) I actually needed to buy stuff and b) to convince the sales lady that I’m legit. Of course I tripped the alarm when I arrived, so the sales staff was tailing me from the get go.

Anyway, I deposited my clothes at the register, whipped out yee-ole credit card, and then off-handedly mentioned, “Oopsie daisy, someone gave my kid these pants but they forgot to take off the security tag. Can you just pop this off?”

“It’s from another store,” I added. (translation: even if I did steal it, at least I didn’t rip off your store.)

“Well, I know that,” sales lady says with a touch of scorn. “Our tags are different and I can tell you right now, our machine can’t take this off.”

I made her try anyway, but finally she said, “Why don’t you take it back to the store you stole it from and they can remove it?”

Okay, so she didn’t say exactly that, but the look of face said: you, are shady acres.

And at that very moment a security guy strolled through the door and leaned up against the counter. But apparently it was just the rent-a-cop making his rounds.

So my next stop was a guaranteed bastion for bad behavior, a place saturated with ways to buck the system. The internet, of course. I picked up a ton of tips on do-it-yourself security tag removal.

Pry it up with scissors, then use plyers to gently rotate the round end. Wrap a bunch of rubber bands around the metal post to widen the gap until it pops free. Use a flat head screw driver to pry the thing apart, but only if it doesn’t contain ink (Ink? who knew?).

But then a little farther down: put the garment in the freezer for a couple of hours to solidify the ink, then crack it open.

One enterprising individual actually sells a curved pin that disengages the device like the stores do.

But in the end, I didn’t need internet tips. The farrier came by today! And anyone who pulls horse shoes can figure out how to pop one of these babies off.

Bending a horse shoe nail into a make-shift skeleton key didn’t work. But five minutes later, ta da! Yet another use for a good pair of nippers…

Field of bleak

You’ve all heard it before: “I think October’s my favorite month. The leaves just start to turn and there’s that crispness in the air…” Or else, “I dig June, it’s finally hot, break out the shorts, hit the beach…” And there’s always a few saps who claim they “luuuuvvv December because it’s soooo festive…”

No one claims to love February.

Because February is a parasitic month. It should be the time to look forward: “hey, we survived 3 months indoors, just 30 more days til spring!” But normal people don’t think that way.

February is the month that won’t end. It’s dead yellow grass, speckled with brown dirt patches, and naked trees as far as the eye can see. Nothing grows but mud, and it feels like nothing ever will.

I know, it’s the same every year — this interminable shade of bleak. Then overnight everything greens up, like spring pulls an all-nighter, frantically slapping buckets of paint on everything before the sun comes up.

I just can’t wait for that day. Vile February, be gone!

Mel, who accompanied me to take photos, is less traumatized by February’s cruel, cold grasp. Or else, he just keeps it on the inside.

Are you trying to burn the farm down?

This morning starts like any other morning in paradise.

Departure routine: Wrestle kids into jackets, steer Hadley the Barbarian past the smorgasbord in the litter box (thanks Drippy, for missing the box again); set kids free in yard; kick horses out of their stalls, feed cats, throw hay to sheep, chase down kids and stuff them into car seats while using leg to block muddy dog from leaping into the truck.

All the while I’m thinking: should I work on my resume and look for a job this morning? (while perusing non-news sites like tmz and perezhilton) Or should I watch a movie on HBO? Hmm, decisions, decisions.

At that moment, Martin interrupts my heady thoughts: the water troughs are frozen.

Oh really? I barely feign interest. Trough duty falls under Martin’s purvey. In the winter, that include the obvious — filling them up — but also the annoying task of draining the hoses, which otherwise freeze, and checking the water heaters. One trough has heating tongs installed in the bottom, but the others have floating heaters. They’re OK but if the water drops too low, they’ll burn a hole into the side of the trough, rendering it useless. Don’t ask how we learned that.

So water supply: Martin’s responsibility. But, horse health is me, so I enter the field with a crow bar we keep handy for such emergencies, and proceed to bash ice.

Martin: Oh, I guess this is what happened, he says, brandishing the extension cord. The plug — the prongs — aren’t just singed, they’ve melted and disintegrated after a long, slow burn.

Holy s&*%! How did that happen?

Martin: I don’t know. But it was kind of looking like that before.

I’m sorry… it “looked” like that before? You were using a semi-fried extension cord? Why? Why didn’t you replace it??

Shrug. I dunno. He climbs into the truck and drives away.

Later, when I inspect it again to take a photo, the cord starts hissing and popping, which tells me that Martin didn’t even bother to unplug it before he peeled out.

What is the wrong with you? Electrical fire’s not interesting? We could have had Mississippi Burning, here, and all I get is I dunno!? Sheesh. And Martin wonders why tv commercials portray guys as dopey, lazy, boneheads who can’t figure out how to microwave a HotPocket. When the extension cord is smoking….there’s probably a problem.

In other exciting farm updates, we have new barn doors. Remember the recent post about the wind? Well, it claimed another victim. The new doors, however, are twice as thick and pressure treated so hopefully, they’ll live longer than a couple seasons. Take that, wind!

Out-going door on left, new improved door on ground (still in need of paint)
Crew discusses how to get cursed, ridiculously heavy door on the runners and whether they will support the weight
Martin appears, procrastination ensues. Discussion of door abandoned for conversation about West Va strip clubs, Obama, vascectomies and gas prices (in that order).