Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Home!

We're moving the blog!

I've done a lot of thinking over the past few weeks, and I've decided to take the blog to Wordpress. It's got some better features on my side of things, and I think you'll like it there. For the people who read us on Facebook, the page will stay the same, and so will the Twitter updates - just the blog address.

So switch your RSS Feeds & bookmarks to: - because that's where we'll be!

Leave us a comment at the new site letting us know how we can better serve you and keep you coming back!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It's been a hiatus to say the least. After a two and a half week vacation, I am back in action in Northern Virginia, and happily living with my wife, Mrs. Buck. I'm already eating better food for dinner, and the Mario Cart competitions are something fierce. Wedding festivities in Pennsylvania were an epic four days of family, friendship, feasting, and booze. I think it would be fair to say the past few weeks were the best days of my life. Therefore, I shall share a few observations from my wedding and honeymoon experiences.

1. Snorkels are not good shot glasses.
2. Good friends get you drinks at your reception. Responsible friends get you water at your reception.
3. Wedding rings are universally awkward for all guys to wear the first month of marriage. It is our common bond of unity, and we can spot each other a mile away.
4. First Class air travel is not claustrophobic, and it gives flight attendants a purposeful job.
5. Although I have been to a mere minority, I'm confident that Maui is the best island in the world.
6. Hawaiian food is scrumptiously delicious.
7. Hawaii weather flawless. Always.
8. A Jack o' lantern carved out with a blow torch is Halloween done right.
9. People do not give you gifts you want or need for your wedding.
10. I like marriage.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Perspectives on a Poultry Harvest: Bill E.

The chickens were ripe for the plucking, and my good friend Ezekiel Mossback was feeling opportunistic. He raises poultry out in Hoosierland, and he needed my help with the slaughter, scalding, plucking and gutting. They say "Early to bed and early to rise makes Bill E. a pre-loader at UPS and very tired", but I made the trek out to Ezekiel's homestead last Friday night for a Saturday Poultry Harvest. Steve's owner Lucas met me out there. It should also be noted that the Willig Matron lent us her artful plucking services for the day.

The day began with what will be forever immortalized (I know that's redundant, but the point needs to be made) as the "Traffic Cone Fiasco", or TCF. For slaughter, the chickens are placed headfirst into upside down sawed-off traffic cones. I had been telling Zeke that his plans for suspending them by taping them to the barn posts would be fruitless, but his country folk stubbornness would not mind my city-slicker attitude. He kept insisting that things be done "the old farm way" and that he was not about to ditch 300+ years of Mossback farming tradition on account of some hokey dude from the 'burbs. But when the pole-taped cone was squeezed too hard to allow a single chicken head through, he begrudgingly allowed me to go with my brilliant idea: a pair of 2-by-4's strung between the barn poles between which the traffic cones could snuggly nestle. I spend so much time on this anecdote because it was really only meaningful contribution I made the whole day.

I caught a few chickens with Z-Moss and wheeled them back to the farmhouse, where I pondered the wonders of man-made technology (redundant again) as I watched something called the "Plucker 3000" skillfully remove the feathers from a freshly dead bird and give Ezekiel a half-way decent backrub.

It could have been my destiny to slaughter chickens that day, but I instead chose what I am going to call "Ignorant Manifest Destiny" or IMD, and decided to help gut the chickens.

As I leaned over a sink with a sage Mossback elder for upwards of the next 9 hours, severing chicken legs and pulling off their heads, scraping my fingernails into their putrid innards, hoping that a stray squeeze on my part didn't cause some leftover excrement to sputter out of their anii and listening to Lucas spew a variety of oaths whilst trying to coerce the scalding water to EXACTLY 145 degrees, I reflected that it is indeed natural for the human to work. Not in the Communist sense of Marx, but in the Christian sense in imitation of St. Joseph. Work in this context is not the telos of man but the result of love, which is man's true telos. I also reflected on how long it would be before I could bring myself to eat chicken again.

Actually, it was today, when I ate a chicken patty sandwich at school. Though it was a processed mess with no resemblance to the wholesome free-range meat of Mossback's farm, it was the first step on the journey back to enjoying chicken.

That night, Sage Elder Mossback took us to eat at the local tavern in appreciation for the help. Actually, he was just really hungry and too tired to cook. None of us ordered any chicken. I was effectively asleep before the meal was finished and we drove back. In lieu of our usual night of Mossback Music, I dreamt of a local bishop playing "The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down" on the piano for the entrance song at a mass to make a facetious point about good liturgical music. I blame the poultry.

Needless to say, I have baited my breath for the summer poultry harvest. Give Mossback a ring on the tele for the finest free-range chickens east of the Mississippi.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lucas and Bill - Roommates turned chicken butchers

So, this weekend, Bill & I have agreed to spend our time with our dear old friend Ezekiel Mossback assisting him with the unfortunate task of slaughtering, plucking and gutting chickens for sale to the general public.

While initially, I agreed to help with this endeavor because I enjoy spending time at & helping out with chores at Ezekiel's farm, I am now reconsidering the enjoyment factor of such activities. While the end goal of prividing healthier farm products to those who are more health conscious is noble, there lies a responsibility with the person responsible for taking the lives of the chickens. Taking a life is a serious thing - and it must be done with the utmost respect for the God-given gift of life.

That said, I'm kinda scared. I'm scared that I will not be able to fulfill this duty properly - I'm afraid that these animals will suffer unnecessarily on my watch, and I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that.

That said, I will try my hand at butchering chickens this weekend. I've watched a few instructional videos on the most humane way to bleed out a chicken, and the care needed in the situation is humbling, to say the least. Hopefully, I can emerge from this experience with some good stories to tell & cross off one of the lines of my 'bucket list'.

I hope I don't puke my guts out. We'll talk Monday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Rant

Judge Judy, that lace collar isn't make me take you seriously...

Every day around lunchtime, I mosey on over to the break room. With such amenities as a refrigerator (albeit gross and infested with month-old leftovers), a microwave, tables and chairs, the setting is perfect for enjoying a delicious Healthy Choice meal. This affords me the chance to take a break from the mental strain of a stressful work day, collect my thoughts, and prepare for extreme productivity in the second half of the work day (like blogging...).

Occasionally, I find myself as the only person in the break room, allowing me to control the complimentary 19 inch television mounted to the wall. In such instances, I enjoy the freedom to watch ESPN and catch up on all the tired, overplayed stories like Brett Favre and his waffling over whether or not to retire (they're probably still talking about him right now).

Finding myself as the only break room occupant, however, is rare. Most times, I am forced to share my quiet time with coworkers. Now, don't get me wrong. I like my coworkers - and I'd like to think they like me. My issue is not one of like or dislike though. Most times I head to the break room for lunch, other people have comandeered the break room for their evil ways. Evil meaning that they have the remote, and I don't.

Problem is, I don't think many of them realize that the television programming they watch greatly affects my truly trivial opinion of their tastes. If you, dear readers, were to collectively ask me what would be on the TV in the breakroom if one of my coworkers were in control of the remote, I would definitively answer "fake court show depicting uneducated low-income people involved in ridiculous disputes", I would be 100% right, except for the other 50% of the time there's "World's most extreme explosions" enveloping the screen.

Now, I don't doubt that these shows can be entertaining, even addicting to some, but the level of serious fanship that exists not only at my workplace, but undoubtedly in countless others to these "Judge Judy"-style shows reflects negatively on my perception of the person and how well-educated or well-rounded they may be. This applies not only to fake court shows, but reality shows as well. When did we become a society that entertains itself by watching the drama created by mixing together a bunch of seemingly incompatible and combatitive personalities?

Regardless, people (my coworkers especially!) need to realize that the content of the material they are ingesting into their heads is, while entertaining, severely influencing and helping to form my ultimate opinion of them. Brett Favre needs his airtime, and I aim to give it to him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My brain hurts...

But what if...I don't know what would that?..

That Pinnochio is a LIAR.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Well, DUH...

 *Picture "borrowed" from

"The Eater"

Fearsome. Infamous. Grotesque. Horrible.

All of these adjectives have been used to describe that which we dread: The Eater.

But have we been to harsh? I'll tell you what happened to me yesterday. I saw The Eater. It's true. It was The real Eater himself. He's actually not half-bad. I was patrolling the forests when I saw him. I was petrified. I knew he saw me as well. I fell to my knees and begged, nay, pleaded for my life.

But it turns out The Eater was actually not interested in consuming me at all. He was actually a pretty chill sort of dude. Sure, he was The Eater and he even enjoyed it, but really the economy had him looking for work just like everyone else. He just wanted to follow his dream and earn his money making music. Can't fault a guy for that. Hell, this cat even had some chops. I know, I saw it later.

Now, I'm not saying he might not pop off and just eat one of us one of these times. I mean, that's what he does. But the guy really just wants to make music. As long as I gots my guitar, this one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple person is safe.

Ohio's Real Problem

Ohio needs to step up and grow a pair.

At this very moment, a debate rages over the possibility of allowing casinos to open their doors for business within the borders of the state, the proponents promise the creation of 34,000 new jobs in the state, effectively "solving" the unemployment issues we are currently facing, in addition, the incoming tax revenues created through the tourism & entertainment appeal of the casinos would stabilize the struggling local economies. Opponents of "Issue 3", set to be voted on tomorrow make the case for keeping casinos out of the local neighborhoods because they claim that the figures of new jobs and projected revenue are grossly overstated, not to mention certain provisions that give complete controlling interest of the casinos to certain people - who happen to operate outside the state of Ohio. 

This is a trivial debate, and not something with which I will waste any more time. 

No, the real problem with Ohio's economy & overall resident happiness lies in the quality of life being provided by business owners in the state. While the casino debate rages on, there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed by both the state house & senate. 

New Author!

I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome my good friend Ezekiel Mossback to the ACNS family!

Ezekiel lives on a farm in rural Indiana where he currently raises chickens and pigs. I have visited him on numerous occasions to learn more about the art of farming and raising animals, and I am held in rapt anticipation for this coming weekend when I will have the opportunity to help slaughter the chickens and prepare them for sale to the general public. Great care has been taken to make these the healthiest damn chickens you've ever seen.

As you can probably see, the 2 posts below are stories from the farm. I'd like to have Ezekiel write a loosely regular post on the blog describing his experiences on the farm. That way, us city folk can learn to appreciate the natural beauty and order that surrounds and permeates our physical world. And maybe learn how to make moonshine too...

The Blackhead Pig

There is no kindness in nature. Those effete, modish inheritants of an overly technological world who hold, usually at no fault of their own, the sadly mistaken assumption, handed to them by whimsical progressives—self-styled as such largely because they have progressed beyond reality-- and fostered by a few decades of nineteen-eighties-and-nineties public schooling and the television specials they watched after that schooling from three-thirty until their parents got home, that at least some animals are ‘nice’, had better avoid taking any vacations near the ‘natural world’ or their mistakenness will soon be sorely so. Animals are not intrinsic victims, but very often, if not normally are wicked, stupid, loathsome things intent upon the destruction of others and usually themselves. Anyone who thinks animals have rights has never discussed it with any animals, for if they did, the animal would bite their mouth off and end the conversation. ‘Animal Rights’ fideists have never met this blackhead pig that lives on my farm.

I went to buy feeder pigs with my friend Will. I forgot to tell him that the best way to carry a pig is by the back leg, and when he grabbed the blackhead pig around her middle, she began her shrieking, suicide inspiring scream that is still continuing as I write this two months later. The other pigs make somewhat pleasant grunts, and when worked up at my proximity, and the anticipation of food, they might emit as much as a grunting-snort sound. The blackhead pig condemns everything about me with her squinty, contemptuous eyes, and her pointed ears that curl back and around her head much like Satan’s horns must do. While I try to pass by, feeding the chickens, she screams commandingly at my cardiovascular system, frantically demanding it jack up my blood pressure until my brain explodes out of my eyeballs. If this fails, she increases the decibels of her deflating-balloon-combined-with-a-falling-bomb-and-locomotive-brakes cursing screech, mockingly daring me to shoot either her or myself in the face.

I tried to tell myself, in my better moments, that it was not her fault that this was her only means of communication. Perhaps she was the victim of her own limited, wretched vocabulary. I tried scratching her back, patting her while I fed her apples. My hours of kicking back the mud pushed over the electric fence in the pigs’ clever attempts to escape-- doubtless conjured by the blackhead pig in order to seize my farmhouse, kill me in my sleep, and begin running the farm—and my back-breaking labor repairing their warm straw hut that they insisted on destroying so they could spite me by freezing to death, were rewarded by the blackhead pig’s increasingly clever attempts to eat me.

For example, one sunny afternoon, as the birds cheerfully chirped death threats to other birds near their territory, I strolled over to the pigs’ pasture to give them a bucket of corn. They love corn more than I love Krispy Kreme donuts, but not, apparently, as much as they love human flesh hot off the femur. The pigs were nowhere to be seen, which is unusual because they are normally frolicking about the pasture pretending they are chasing down little kids, or ruling the world. Thank God I am just enough smarter than the pigs that I suspected that something was up. I closed the gate behind me, and still they lay hidden. I poured out their corn, and they remained silent. It was only when I walked out into the pasture, seemingly cut off from ready escape that they poured forth from their den, the blackhead pig emitting her gleeful ring-wraith siren, and surrounded me. They had not accounted for my easy ability to step over the electric fence, and they gnashed their teeth and kicked each other for overlooking this obvious flaw in their perfect crime.

Every increase in my attempts to coddle and care for the pigs has been matched and raised by the pigs’ efforts to eat me. Since the overt attempt upon my life, they have chosen to keep their cards close to the chest, only casually opening their jaws and nonchalantly putting my leg between them. Never do they act violently enough that it will demand conclusive reciprocity on my part: after all they know that they only grow more valuable as they put on meat, and it would take a clear and present danger from them to make me butcher them before they weigh enough.

Animals are not kind, and they have no ‘rights’. Without the human person to care for them, to domesticate them, to drag them into the fire-light as White Fang was, animals trample each other, lay down in puddles to drown themselves, poop everywhere, seek out heavy objects to crush them, and eat their young. The ‘natural world’ is a free-for-all in which everything competes in exhibiting a newer and more absurd form of dying. The human person struggles to eke out a tiny corner of kindness, sense, and creation, before the ragweeds and multiflora roses of dying drag it down. Animals do not deserve our care, they have no ‘rights’ before which the human will must pay respect. However, our dignity demands that we care. Human rights and dignity are only kept alive by responsibility, and in caring for things, in tending our gardens, we safeguard our own human rights, and pay respect to the grave duty of being a human being. Failing to care for those things that are our responsibility does violence to our rights, to our dignity and freedom. Without this being truly human, the chickens would all be torn limb from limb by possums. Imagine a world where possums roam at will. 

Disgusting. I have to go now; I hear the blackhead pig screaming for her dinner. If I fail to return to provide this essay with an adequate conclusion, it is because the blackhead pig has eaten my fingers.

John 3:19

I arose long before dawn, in the fog enshrouded dark, from my warm air mattress alongside the radiator. Consoling my groggy innards with coffee as hot as the morn was not, and as dark as the window through which, with sleep begrimed eyes I watched, I balanced my shotgun, breeched, upon my knee. For some time I sat upon a stool, watching nearsightedly for some stirring near a white fence that loomed monolithically in the mist.

The hillcrest became a black line contrast. A buck placidly eased along it. Another followed. Then suddenly my eyes were snatched by the trap at the periphery of my vision. In it wiggled a white- faced vermin. I had the satisfaction of having stopped this threat to my chickens, but was nevertheless burdened by the duty that I now had to execute.

I donned my marine-corps sweatshirt and stocking hat, belted on my jeans, and shut the breech of my shotgun with a determined click that announced its latent power. Too powerful: at the gun-case I traded it for a restrained but equally reliable .22. In my rubber boots I rounded the house. The possum faced me from its cage, a white circle of fur with malevolent black angled slits of eyes that held hatred and sure knowledge of what was to come. Not afraid, not sad, the possum awaited me head-on, angry that it had been suckered by this inferior creature, but resolute in the knowledge of its fate.

"Im sorry possum," I said, looking it in the face, and took direct aim at its forehead. Josie the cat appeared, rubbing around my boots and looking at the possum. "Go on Josie," I said, not wanting her to see what I had to do, nor to be startled by the gunshot. She did not listen, so I walked a distance to get her to follow. I left her sitting near the porch. I had to act now before she returned to be an outward judge of my inward compunction.

I clicked back the safety, took four quick strides towards the possum, formed an E upon its face with the sights of the rifle, and shot it. The possum whipped around, dying. I had hit it straight through the head, but I wanted no risk of it suffering, and fired twice more. The second shot blew its jaw half way off, and it bled heavily. One sure look confirmed the deed, and I lingered not one second more. I safed the rifle while turning immediately around, and as I stepped grimly, one step after another, I could not keep my head from hanging.

It is not possums' fault that they are evil, but nevertheless they are evil. they would gut 50 of my chickens in a few minutes, just for the fun of it, and eat only a mouthful. It had to be done.