shutdown of an unexpected poultry operation
Thursday, September 28 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
Due to delayed receipt of a tax document, we got an extension on our taxes this year. They were finally completed today and our accountant Steven said we could come sign them. So we drove out to Ulster Avenue to do that early this afternoon. Accountants are much less stressed-out at this time of year than they are when we usually sign our taxes, so Steven was in an unusually chatty mood, giving us a variety of interesting insights into things like tax law. He mentioned that during covid people collecting unemployment insurance didn't have to pay taxes on their first $10,000 in benefits, which Steven thought was unfair to essentially workers like nurses, who were taxed on every dollar of their income. Steven was so upset about this that he actually wrote to our congressman (who was Anthony Delgado at the time) and never heard back. It turns out we're getting about $2000 in refunds this year but would've had a steep amount to pay were it not for a $9000 tax credit we got for installing solar panels on the roof of the cabin.
Back at the house, Gretchen continued a massive cooking jihad from this morning in preparation for a "high tea" we'd be hosting for our new friends from Olive Bridge, the actor and librettist who had us over for dinner a couple weeks ago. But she was having problems getting some of the food to turn out right. Her best working theory was that this was a consequence of the different vegan butter she was using (Miyoko's instead of Earth Balance).
Meanwhile, I drove down the Farm Road to gather some nice pieces of bluestone, some of which I'd carried there from one of the better old "micro-mines" in an area where the rock flakes into unusually high-quality flag stones.
When I got back from doing that, Gretchen was freaking out about another landlording problem, one that it wasn't even our job to fix. It turns out that the neighbors of our Downs Street house (a blue house on a corner) inherited the place from their mother, who died a year or two ago. Since they moved in, they've been raising ducks (which I'd seen earlier this summer) and turkeys (which I hadn't) in the yard next to our rental. I didn't think much of it, but apparently the critters have gotten bigger and more numerous in recent weeks and are now being neglected. The resulting stench and noises have become a nuisance. Gretchen was worried now that we'd have trouble renting apartments now. But it didn't take long for me to find some very useful passages in the City of Kingston's codebook regarding farm animals. And we know from experience that Kingston has no problem enforcing such ordinances, so fixing this problem probably won't take much work.
Eventually Gretchen made some scones she was content to serve, even if they weren't her best work. And then our new friends from Olive Bridge arrived. Meanwhile, Gretchen was on the phone with the building inspector, who had gone out to look at the house on Downs Street with the ducks and turkey (it was, it turned out, three ducks and a turkey). He was so horrified by what he saw that he gave the residents until the next day to clean up the mess or pay huge fines. The inspector also offered to Gretchen that the men living there looked "inbred." Face with such a crisis, the inbred immediately butchered all the birds, making a horrifying scene for a couple of our renters.
Meanwhile, I was giving a tour of our house, which inevitably ended up in the laboratory. It's hard to say exactly what our new friends thought, but they indeed reacted as if it was an unexpected spectacle. While Gretchen was wrapping up the unpleasant business of the unexpected factory farm on Downs Street, I told the gentlemen about our modest real estate empire, how it finally made good use of the investments that had been withering away under the many rules Gretchen insists on following. Running a real estate empire hasn't been effortless, though it hasn't been much work either. And we've had just about every bad thing happen: we've had to evict an unpaying renter, we've been sued, and (I forgot to mention) we've had to deal with a rat infestation.
The core of today's tea was a bunch of sandwiches Gretchen had made with bread from which she'd removed the crust. One such sandwich was cheese and "pickle" (a kind of British chutney), and there was also watercress with cream cheese as well as the perennial favorite, chickpea salad sandwich. Conversation then drifted to topics I know little about, mostly related to theatre. One interesting nugget concerned the social life of working on a film or theatre production. Such productions are always temporary in nature, and the question often arises (as it does in any job) whether you'd be friends with the people you're working with if you weren't brought together in this way. One of the guys then told the sad tale of a young man who called an older actress after the conclusion of a production to ask if they could have dinner some time, and she responded, "Honey, the production is over!"
The guys only stayed about two hours; they had scheduled dinner and a movie over in Rhinebeck. Once they were gone, I packed up the Bolt, loaded up the dogs, and drove up to the cabin for the weekend, leaving Gretchen (who had other plans) behind.
It was well past dark when I arrived at the cabin, and, when I checked the mouse traps, I found they'd all been triggered but had caught nothing. Clearly there was still at least one mouse still in the cabin. Hoping these newer, long-throated traps would be more effective against our deer mice, I set six of them in various places (including one up in the great room, just in case any mice made it up there). I then took some cannabis and later climbed in the bathtub.
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