Day 3, and the deer carcass is still on our driveway. Well, it’s sort of off the driveway now; the critters have been actively gnawing on it for the past two days, and they have been moving it as they pick at it. First, our local fox started chewing on the hindquarters, and by yesterday morning the entire rear end was opened up. Then the crows started circling. At 3:30, there was a giant turkey buzzard hopping around and chewing on the neck where I’d separated the head. There are now several perched atop the church across the street, looking like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Great tufts of hair are floating around the driveway and blowing up against the house, and there was a bit of a smell on the breeze when we took the dog for a walk this morning. People walking past the house stop and peer down the driveway, wondering if what they’re seeing is, in fact, a dead animal and not a butchered human corpse. There has been no sign of Animal Services either by text or in person, so now we’ve got a dried-out tree and a deer carcass out in front of the house. If I add a couch, some cinderblocks, and a couple of spare tires on the lawn, we’ll have the full Redneck Experience covered. Or, I could just pull the Scout out of the garage…
We overheard Finley gleefully mentioning both the dead deer and the fact that I’d chopped the head off to her entire class this morning. I’m sure her teacher has put us on a list of some kind, and Child Welfare is gonna be knocking on our door shortly.
I’m waiting on a third set of weatherproof boots to arrive. The first boots were too small; the second pair were too big (both made by Sperry—I followed Zappos’ sizing recommendations, so something is seriously fucked with their QA process). I punted and followed a sale LL Bean is currently running, opting for a set of 8″ Bean boots with Thinsulate and hoping they actually fucking fit. Bean’s sizing information is less than helpful; I’m just throwing darts at the wall to see if the size is correct. At this rate, I’ll have a set of waterproof boots just in time for summer vacation.
So we had two different options lined up for someone to come and haul the deer away, dress it, and butcher it for meat, but they both fell through. The County Animal Services folks say it’ll be somewhere between 1-3 days before they can get someone out here to haul it away, and they’d only do that if it was easily accessible—which meant it needed to be in the driveway or out by the curb. I decided our neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate a rotting deer carcass sitting next to the sidewalk. I looked up How to Drag a Deer Out of the Woods on YouTube last night and a nice man showed me how to loop a rope around the rack and tie that to a stick, and I was able to get it moved around the house to the driveway behind our cars much quicker than I’d thought. Last night, our local fox found the corpse and started picking at it, driving Hazel into fits of panic.
It’s a rare occurrence for us to see a deer, let alone have a buck with points die in our yard, so I figured I’d take the head, cut it down, and boil the skull clean to mount it. I had about 10 free minutes between meetings this morning, so I put the axe on the bench grinder to sharpen the blade, then went out and gave the neck about five good whacks before it separated cleanly.
I was expecting Kurosawa amounts of spurting blood but overnight coagulation in the driveway meant everything was still and mostly solid. The head is now sitting under a rubbermaid bin weighted with a cinderblock behind the greenhouse. My next YouTube search is How to Clean a Deer Head, which, frankly, looks pretty gruesome. Hopefully I can get to it in the next couple of days before it really starts breaking down. Temperatures are in the low 40’s for the next couple of days, so I should be able to get a couple of hours on Saturday morning to get my hands dirty (we are currently preparing for one of our yearly Big Events this week).
This beautiful young buck was hit by a car out in front of our house this morning. I was at my desk working and heard a dull, loud thud as a rust-colored Jeep slammed into his flank; I looked up to see him scramble to his feet and run back into our yard and behind the house. I ran to the windows to see if I could see him, then outside to check the yard. He was laying on his side behind the Chic Shack with a stunned look in his eyes, drawing labored breaths and bleeding from his mouth.
I ran to check on the driver, who had pulled over to the side of the road. She was OK so I told her I was available if she needed me for the insurance claim and went back to look at the buck. In that short interval he had died; there was a pile of dark red blood and tissue around his mouth that he’d aspirated before the end. I don’t know why it hit me so hard, but I felt so bad for this guy, cut down in the prime of his youth, just trying to get the fuck out of the suburbs and back into the woods where he belonged.
Huh, I don’t know where this has been and how I missed it, but Spotify just suggested The 500 With Josh Adam Meyers: a podcast where the host goes through The Rolling Stone’s Greatest 500 Albums of All Time with various interesting musicians, comedians, and artists; they pick a song from the album and discuss. Right up my alley. His voice is a little grating, but overall I like it.
Driving through the County after a hike with the family yesterday, I spied these two beauties parked in the back of a lot about twenty minutes from the house. Perhaps I’ll stop by in the summertime when I’m driving Peer Pressure and see if the owner is home.
From Fabulous Hair Finley.
- December 26: playing Fallout 76, watching The Professor and the Madman (verdict: not bad! ), bingeing the first episodes of True Detective season 3 (verdict: SO MUCH BETTER than Season 2)
- Dec. 27: Bingeing the first episodes of His Dark Materials season 2 (verdict: good, and they’ve tightened up some of my issues with the second book), Taco Bell for dinner. NACHO FRIES! (verdict: disappointing. The Dorito-taco-thing was very good. The resulting Run For The Border was as urgent I remember it from 20 years ago. Some things never change)
- Dec. 28: Working on the workbench, burgers for dinner, finishing True Detective Season 3 (verdict: I highly recommend this series.)
- Dec. 29: Working on the workbench, His Dark Materials season ender (verdict: I’m very curious to see how they approach the third season, as everything in that book goes off the fucking rails. And I wonder if they will give the main character any agency of her own, as it all disappears midway through the second book)
- Dec. 30: Finishing the workbench, Onward (verdict: that’s the hardest I’ve laughed during a movie in a long time. Not quite standard Pixar-level, but recommended.)
Back in the early days at the Lockardugan Estate, I had $4 to my name and a houseful of home renovation projects to tackle. One of the many things the Doctor did not leave us was a workbench of any kind to stage tools upon. Our basement was basically a big empty room containing a relatively new boiler, an ancient, broken washing machine, and a dryer the size of a toaster oven.
I made it through the first six months just leaving all my tools upstairs while we gutted and rehabbed all the bedrooms, but as we got those projects done and I was able to move back downstairs, I needed someplace to store everything. I built a quick and dirty tool bench out of 2×4’s, some leftover plywood, and some pegboard I found up in the attic, and it worked reasonably well for the next seventeen years.
But it had flaws. It wasn’t attached to the ceiling or the wall, and as a freestanding structure on an uneven floor it wobbled a lot if I put anything in the vise or hammered on it. The pegboard didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, and the small shelf I added later was too shallow to really be useful and too low to put anything underneath. Because the lighting circuit down there is a frightening mess I used a power strip plugged into a random overhead outlet and mounted it on a wood panel nailed to the wall behind the bench.
I did include shelving underneath the bench, but it was never enough space and the extra stuff started piling up around the bench almost immediately.
With a week of free time over the holiday, one of the top things on my list to tackle was an overhaul of the workspace down there. I began by completely deconstructing the bench and stacking the material up on the side of the basement. Then I put three studs on the wall and started building a newer, longer bench all the way to the edge of the staircase and raising the height by 4″. I re-used most of the material from the first bench and reinforced the surface with double-thick plywood, put in a single sheet of pegboard, and a longer, deeper shelf above the whole thing. Down below, the shelving extends all the way to the left side and there’s now a two-level section for toolboxes, which were always underfoot before. New rubbermaid bins replace milk cartons I’ve stored tools in haphazardly for 30 years—I’m going to have to find a way to retire those gracefully—and a 10-outlet shop power strip replaces the old one. Finally, because I dropped and broke the old fluorescent light fixture during the demo, I bought a new 2-strip LED fixture and hung that in its place.
It’s amazing how much more space there is; the drill press tucks neatly under the stairs and the available storage feels like it’s doubled in size.
There’s a truckload of debris and garbage that need to go to the dump, and more stuff that needs to be organized or tossed, but I feel like I’m finally making some progress down there. Next up is a laundry sorting area with a larger workspace and better lighting.