bird cannons of Hurley
Monday, July 18 2011
Late this morning I drove Sally and Eleanor down to my dirt mine on the banks of the Esopus, but I'd already walked Eleanor, so the only activity I had planned for the dogs was to have them wade in the creek and cool down. When you're a mammal, all it takes is a little water in your fur to lower your core body temperature for hours. As I was coming up from the creek, I heard a powerful explosion in the nearby cornfield just before a pickup truck driven by one of the farm workers drove past on the dirt road where my dirt mine is located. I wondered if perhaps the farm worker had fired a gun. But off and the distance I could hear other explosions going off at random, an average or one every twenty seconds somewhere within earshot. Was some sort of automated cannon being used to scare away vertebrate corn pests?
I took five more buckets of dirt back to the house and used it to further augment my yard drainage diversion ridge, which is now complete enough to do the job (though I might want to add more dirt later to make its sides more gentle and thus easier to mow).
The drive down to the Esopus and back had gone without incident, so I decided my tentative brake pad replacement had been a success, so I replaced the brake pads on the other front wheel. I really shouldn't have done that, because it allowed me to see that the other front axle CV joint is also torn and will need to be replaced.
This evening I took the dogs with me down to Ray and Nancy's house to watch tonight's unremarkable episode of the Bachelorette. Ray is no longer working in the City, so he was there and made us a fresh summery pan-Asian mango pasta salad. We got to talking about the random explosion in the nearby cornfields, and Ray said that he'd done some research and found that it was indeed a pest-control technique, designed to scare away birds by maximizing obnoxiousness and unpredictability Indeed, the explosions are so constant and relentless that they make outdoor life in Old Hurley unpleasant, making you think less of the breadbasket of Eastern New York than of the Battle of Stalingrad. The explosions start early in the morning, just after cropdusting, and continue past dinner time, when people might be trying to have a nice outdoor barbecue. Nancy said she had to close her window in order to focus on her work (she's a graphic designer working from home). I never remember cannons being used to keep birds out of the corn in past summers, so it seemed as if it might be a new technique. If so, I couldn't imagine it helping nurture the relationship between Hurley's many suburban residents and John Gill (the chief corn grower in Hurley). Surely someone was going to get sick of all those explosions and do something crazy, like scythe a message in the corn visible from passing geese, airplanes, and satellites: "PLEASE, JOHN GILL, STOP WITH THE GODDAMN EXPLOSIONS!"
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