98 Degrees in Clearfield

As you may recall, I have been planting evil plants back in the strippings. And I rather stupidly forgot to take into account a local Pennsylvania custom: the beer-addled ATV-ride through other people’s property, prior to going and setting off fireworks.

To be honest, I did not listen for/try to intercept them because in these times, in this place, there’s a lot of gun-toting and attitude going on. I don’t want to face-to-face confront a bunch of jackasses on ATVs. I’m left with damage assessment and being glad they didn’t set anything on fire.

As you can see, the strippings are pretty friable; an ATV’s tires shred the ground and throw it everywhere. That’s why it’s so “fun” I suppose.

If you look at the picture above you can see the sole survivor of the black locusts; there were 2 or 3 in the middle of what is now an ATV trail. There are some survivors and seeds and some bamboo stands starting to establish, but there’s not going to be any progress until I put up some fences. ATVers out here feel no remorse about going home and getting tools then coming back and destroying your fences, or tearing down your signs. So this is wasted work. It’s all wasted work.

And, as amusing as it is to think of making caltrops, etc., I don’t want a bunch of broken-down ATVers, pissed off with nails in their tires, back in my property. That’s inviting getting rifle bullets through my house. I want to ante up but carefully.

Perhaps when it gets cooler I’ll buy some rebar and wire fence and put some strategic fences here and there. Of course they can go around, but if I catch someone back there, who has just driven around a big fence that says “NO ATVS” it’s a bit harder for them to plead ignorance. There’s a lot of ignorance, since this is mostly a republican zone, so I’m not sure I can pump to the bottom of that reservoir. Mostly, if I can get some fences up until the bamboo establishes itself, I’ll win in the long run.

I do find it ironic that, here in Pennsylvania, where the politics lean republican/libertarian/fascist/racist, property rights are hailed as one of those constitutional thingies that – you know, like the 2nd Amendment – are held up as one of the great things about America, and then those same individuals are pretty shameless about despoiling the property of a land-owner. It’s probably a <i>gekokujō</i> scenario: class struggle by ATV trespass. Except nobody’s property is untrammeled.

It’s dehydrated because the stalk was broken, not because I haven’t been coming out to water them. This one is also toast. I have a bunch of seeds left and I think I will just broadcast them on the main slope.

Yesterday I had a pretty messed-up day. My neighbor over at the school had volunteered to help me with a post hole digger (the closest I get to a PhD!) and replace the posts that I put up 5 years ago, to make a gate across the driveway there. I didn’t do a very fancy job with the posts because I figured nobody’d mess with them, until some drunk decided to explore up the driveway and bent the posts with their car pressing against the cross-cable. So now they’re at an angle, which means I have to shorten the cable or …. screw it: “let’s do it properly!” says Marcus. Since it was going to be hot, I got up early and ran to the rental place to get the post hole digger and we got busy. Except I hadn’t had any breakfast and was a bit dehydrated, and the temperature began to scream up toward about 90. Yeah, I know that’s wimpy stuff for those of you who live in Hell, USA, but none of us here are accustomed to that. So I started getting wobbly as the post hole digger kept beating the shit out of me – the handles were right where my diaphragm is, so whenever it hit a rock it was like getting punched in the lung. That sucked. Then everything started getting spots and tightening down and I found a nice patch of grass and went prone. Mark, my helper, poured water on me, gave me more, and got me sitting up, and I eventually stood and then, really, whoo boy, my body went “get all this stuff out of me!” and I was puking up the water and generally being a mess. Eventually I got into the building where it’s cool and lay on the floor in front of a fan and ate some chips and a sugary drink or 3 and I was able to finish the job by attacking it a bit at a time.

4 holes 3 feet deep means 2 50-lb sacks of concrete per hole, so we decided <i>not</i> to do all the holes yesterday (besides, I didn’t order enough pipe from Grainger) and I went into town, pressure-washed the auger at the car wash, and returned the PhD. The guy at the rental place looked at it and said, “that’s the … cleanest auger I’ve ever seen.” Then I bought and loaded 400# of concrete, took it back, set up my hod, and started mixing and shoveling. When I was a kid in the summers my project was usually to mix the cement while mom and dad cemented stuff – to me the water flowing through the cement was like some kind of fairy-land disaster, so it was always fun – I took my time, mixed and shoveled, and called it a day around 4, then went home for a much-appreciated shower. So, that’s why no blog posting: I was busy being an ass.

The red posts are the old ones and you can see they’re a bit bent. The new posts have an anchor and will have an angled piece. If I need to adjust the front post I can tap the angled piece down a bit. That’s galvanized schedule 40 pipe – anyone who hits that with a car is going to be unhappy with what it does to their car. Next design will feature a different cable system, too, so there will be a few chocks and a padlock near the middle where a car will encounter it if they go up the driveway.

On the left you can see my hod (yes, that’s the word!) and rammer. To level the posts I used a try block and a 1920s vintage Starrett machinist’s level. Maybe that was overkill. But unless the planet’s center of  gravity changes a lot, those posts are vertical. They’re not perfectly horizontally matched but I did put a laser on the try block and check the dot on the peer pipe, then tapped the taller one a couple times with my forging hammer.

Because of the location, I had to carry water, which wasn’t too bad – I used 3gal jugs and only had to carry them about 100 yards.

Yesterday was the 4th of July. I thought about posting Frederick Douglass’ great July 4th speech, which pretty much explodes the united states, but I was sure that Douglass would get the job done, himself. He’s been doing great work, lately.


  1. johnson catman says

    Do you have cats that you haven’t mentioned? That “water jug” looks like the container of the same type of cat litter that I use (scoopable and unscented).
    Take care of yourself, Marcus! Breakfast is an important start for every day. And the work looks good.
    It is quite a shame that people disrespect your property and privacy. Good luck getting the natural barriers to flourish.

  2. says

    Anna has a cat, Lucciano. I gleefully grab all the litter jugs I can – they are great for all the things except solvents. I carry them 2 at a time up 2 flights of stairs, that makes them mine.

  3. johnson catman says

    Ahhh. I recognized the color. I actually get the 35-lb pails when I can. The empty pails are useful for numerous things, and they are pretty sturdy.

  4. kestrel says

    I’m so sorry for the little thorny devils being torn up by the roots before they ever got a chance to flourish and grow. Are electric fences OK where you are? I’ve been known to use those when I have a problem with protecting plants for at least long enough for them to grow. I’m usually worried about cows eating it, not humans running over it with vehicles so perhaps that would not work.

    That new gate will be great. Bizarre that someone decided to drive into the other one hard enough to bend it like that; wonder what the car looked like after that? Idiot.

    On the heat exhaustion, I think everyone is going to have to start worrying about stuff like that, even if they never did before. Glad you’re OK.

  5. says

    Are electric fences OK where you are?

    Brilliant! As long as they are marked so some ATVer doesn’t decapitate themself. But that is a great idea. There are cheap solar units i could hide a buried power line from, then energize some tape and it’s all legal.

  6. theflyingchipmunk says

    Buy a few realistic looking human skulls off of eBay, shoot neat bullet holes through them and impale them on pikes posted on your property line.

  7. dangerousbeans says

    There’s a technique around here using 3 star pickets and mesh to create round barriers to stop feral goats and deer eating seedlings. i wouldn’t want to run an ATV into one, so you might want to paint them bright orange so people can see them.

    (That slope does look really fun to fang a dirt bike up)

    >30c in sun is enough that doing physical things is serious regardless of where you live. Hope you can avoid more heat stroke

  8. TGAP Dad says

    I used to live in a rural area north of Toledo, and it always surprises me the lengths people go to to claim recreational rights over property they don’t own and aren’t welcome on. We had horses, and more than once the intruder – gleefully four-wheeling on a freshly-planted wheat field – threatened to mistake them for deer when we told them to leave.
    If you’re not going to use the land for planting crops, I suggest a liberal application of railroad ties on and around the trails. Load up the pickup, and just toss them out the back. For extra credit, set some ties half way into post holes. If you ever clear brush, dump it all on the trail.

  9. lochaber says

    Unless they have changed significantly in the past ~30 years, I don’t think electric fences are much of a deterrent for people. I grew up in PA, and used to roam around the farmer’s fields (I didn’t damage anything, in my sorta-defense…), and frequently crossed electric fences. They mostly startle you if you aren’t expecting it – I found out that if you grab hold of it, and tense your arm muscles, it has almost no effect, but you can feel the periodic ‘tic’

    Or, you know, you could just use gloves…

    Also, it’s kind of distinctive – what with the plain bare wire, when everything else was pig fencing and barbed wire, and the insulators on the posts, etc.

    Maybe setting up some bollards too close to admit ATVs at the bottle necks might work for a bit? It would certainly be more difficult to remove than some fencing. – like a chunk of large-diameter pipe (8 inches plus?), stuff some rebar or rolled up pig fencing/chicken wire/lath, use the post hole digger to set in in the ground a couple feet, and fill it with concrete.

  10. ffakr says

    Might not worth the effort to install.. but a Gabion wall at the top of that hill would stop ATVs, On the upside, if you manage to haul all the rocks up there, it’d most certainly be seen as too much effort for your neighbors to move.
    At the VERY least.. no one is going to be able to say ‘I didn’t see the big wire box full of stones’ or ‘I accidentally spent 2 hours breaking it down to move it out of my way’.

  11. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    I’m guessing “3 star pickets” are essentially the same as T-style posts in the US. They run about $6 for 6′ posts at big box, but won’t stop an asshole human if they can see it coming.

    Just had to set up some welded wire fencing (2″x4″ openings) around some shrubs I planted a few weeks ago because the damn deer keep munching them down to twigs (or stumps). Several Acuba Japonica along the property line, some caladium in a bed, and a new blueberry bush on the back hill I am slowly turning into a terraced garden; all apparently delicious as their leaves are mostly or entirely gone. Took a 4’x100′ spool and cut it into ~8′ lengths to make tubes ~2.5′ in diameter; now I just have to anchor them better since the catches on the U-style posts I bought don’t line up with the fence spacing.

    I still think a bit of biochemical warfare might be in order (daily automatic drone spraying of any number of vile liquids). Who really wants to spend recreational time in an area stinking worse than a chicken factory farm?

  12. dangerousbeans says

    oh, more Australian slang than I thought. a star picket is sort of a wye symbol in cross section. about 1500mm long, 4mm steel?
    you can totally run one over, but it’s not going to be fun on an ATV and it’ll give the shrubs a chance to establish.

  13. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    Definitely sounds like the Australian version of T-posts. Basically a T cross section with low, long hooks/barbs on the flat side for attaching wire fencing. Typically driven 1/4~1/3 of the full length into the ground. Not pleasant to run over, but definitely the type of fence that would escalate things in a bad way unless limited to a small thing surrounding the plantings.

    Some homemade Czech hedgehogs would be another definite escalation if dropped around entrances, but just scattered about the hills to protect plantings…? Would give the black locust a framework to grow on as well.

    Actually, erosion control/silt fencing would be a truly legitimate thing to place all over those hills. Not likely to really stop anyone as it is just a heavy fabric stapled to wooden stakes, but would be a not super expensive or energy intensive option at $15~30 per 50ft depending on options.

  14. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    ooh, and there appears to be a ‘Texas DOT’ silt fence with 12-gauge 2″x4″ welded wire fence as extra support…

  15. lochaber says

    speaking of erosion control…

    would putting in a couple terraces of those chainlink rip-rap/gabion boxes be prohibatively expensive? I’m assuming those are high enough that climbing them with an ATV wouldn’t really be possible. And I would think it would certainly give some opportunities for other species to gain a foothold, that might later have a chance of spreading and stabilizing more of the slope.

    (I may not be using the right terms, I’m thinking of those roughly cube shaped things that look like they are made of chain link fencing, and filled with cobble-to-boulder sized rocks. I’ve seen them used both as erosion control on waterfronts, and as retaining walls in road coats through questionable strata, and I’m sure they are used for a dozen other things as well…

  16. dangerousbeans says

    yeah, i was thinking just around the sapling to stop it getting run over until it’s established. then repeat 3m to the right.
    paint it for visibility so they can’t claim you’re trying to trap them.
    it seems like a low escalation option

  17. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    It occurred to me a bit after my last post, that one could permanently spoil the slope for the assholes with a few barely functional vehicles (road, farm, construction, etc.). Bonus points for getting a couple pickup trucks and filling the beds with soil and lettings seedlings become well established before driving them to the slope and disabling them. Have to drain most of the various fluids beforehand and drain the rest on site, but draining the oil while the engine runs would be one method of disabling it. Depending on conditions, one might have to do more than just shred the tire sidewall to prevent it being pulled away with a winch.

  18. says

    This is what the completed support looks like:

    Next up, I’ll drill some holes and rig some cables, then I can think about taking down the old ones.

    The way the top-bar is attached, it’s locked in place with big allen/wrench worm-screws. I suppose if I needed to change the tension on a post, I could move the connectors a bit. As it stands, there’s not much “give” in any of this set-up.

    The slabs above and below: they were calling for thunderstorms yesterday (never happened here) and I didn’t want water to wash into the concrete in the hole.

    If the cross-piece were lower there would be less leverage on the second post and the whole thing would be stronger at the risk of weeds growing up and covering it until someone hits it with a mower. The pipes are in 3 feet of concrete and they feel really solid.

  19. johnson catman says

    re Marcus @20: That looks like maybe 1 1/2″ galvanized pipe. A determined (or drunk) trespasser would not be deterred by that. Maybe you should have gone for a 6″ concrete-filled pipe?

  20. says

    This is a bit peculiar problem from my perspective. In CZ we have the law of free passage, which guarantees that only certain types of land can be fenced off or have restricted access. You can fence off a garden and the state can fence off an area that needs protection for environmental reasons for example, but a piece of ordinary forest or a meadow must be accessible.

    However, the law also states that people should not do damage to the property, so there’s that.

    People driving ATVs and (in winter) snow scooters are a problem here too, of course, assholes are everywhere and they gonna asshole. Just this winter these massive sphincters attacked a park ranger in one of our national parks when he caught them where they should not be.

    I have nothing of value to say, unfortunately. I think strategic fences here and there and some serious obstacles at key points are the way to go.

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