Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Here piggy piggy

On Saturday I built a pigpen with electric fencing and then went and bought two gilts - unbred weaned piglets. My plan was to use portable electric fencing and a solar fence charger so I could let the pigs rotatill up a patch and then move them around till they cleared out all my trouble areas. Unfortunately my PhD did not include training on pig pen construction.

I got the pigs from the Hoovers - a conservative brethren family that sold pork at the farmers market. They are getting out of the business since Indiana passed a law that requires farmers to register with the state and report number of animals and type to get a premise ID number. This premise ID number is required for sale, slaughter, show, or transport of livestock now. They consider this to be the mark of the beast so they are getting out of the hog business. But that is a different story. Nice family. I was really tempted to take a picture of their 8 kids sitting in the back of my work pick-up in their matching straw hats, handsewn blue shirts and dark pants.

When I got them home I put the first pig in the pen and went back for the second one. In just minutes afterwards the first pig pushed right through the electric fence and ran out past Leila into the tall grass and corn fields. I was carrying the other pig and couldn't chase it. I put the remaining pig in the pen and felt the electric fence. Nothing. So I changed chargers to a plug in one and the went looking for the pig. There are a lot of places for a small pig to hide in a corn field.

Well we had the one and he seemed to be respecting the recharged fence so I went to see if we had some cattleguard fencing to build a more robust pen. On my way back to the house I heard the pig in the corn and started chasing. Then Sam saw it and charged. Sam can move like lightning when he feels like it. I thought the piglet was a goner. I decided that Sam was going too if he ate my piglet.

I chased them both until I was clotheslined by some tievine growing between the corn plants. When I was scrambling like Velma looking for my glasses I heard Sam's frantic barking. He had cornered the piglet on the far side of the field. I ran over there and he backed off. I lunged for the piglet and he escaped again. Sam followed. I was crestfallen. As I walked back to the house I see Sam herding the piglet back into the pen, but he wouldn't go in because the electric worked now. Amazing he actually did the right thing.

The pigs both got out later because the fence shorted when Leila brought them some food, but we got them both back in eventually and went to sleep knowing we had to do something different but hoping it would hold until Monday.

Then the remains of Ike blew through. The wind and rain grounded the fence and when I came to give them a pile of green beans to eat they spooked and took off. This time I am afraid they are gone for good.

I have a lot of pent up swear words right now that could express my feelings.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is the Large Hadron Collider Cool or What?

I have been a sci-fi junkie for a long time. I can't remember what was my first sci-fi novel I read but it might have been some at my grandma's house. She had a number of Asimov and classic science fiction books there and I have been hooked ever since.

When I was in junior high and high school I used to walk home or take the bus to either the comic book store or Redux Used Junk on Broadway Avenue near the church. There was a decrepit building there with three or four store fronts that seemed to change with the seasons. Both stores had ample supplies of used paperbacks. I always felt like the comic book store owner was annoyed with me because I would go in and read for hours at a time and buy very little. The couple that owned the junk store were friendly though and so I spent more and more time there. They were young and attractive and were full of interesting stories about times that they drove their VW bus down to Chile and survived selling jewelry out of the back. They were waiters at a fancy restaurant downtown and had the store as a sort of hobby I think. Anyway they were kind enough to keep me well stocked in old science fiction paperbacks.

But now it is all real. The Large Hadron Collider could destroy the earth! Make antimatter! Unveil the Higgs Boson! Unveil Dark Matter! All we need now is space elevators. Ooh, or mining operations in the Kuiper Belt. And antigravity drives. And warp engines. And some aliens would round it all out nicely.