Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dealing With Bears and Fixing the Toilet

Yesterday, I wrote about how a bear destroyed our bird feeders, all while Pam and I watched only feet away and the dogs barking furiously.  The bear wasn't fazed by us much.  We moved the bird feeders and bird seed, which was on the porch, inside to the woodshed.  It was a good thing.  The wood shed door is covered in bear claw marks now.  A screen door wouldn't have stopped him from getting to the seed on the porch, and then possibly inside the cabin.

Pam loves to feed and watch the birds, so the routine now is to put the feeders out in the morning and take them in late in the day before the bears become active.  We'll see how that works.

I'm also keeping the shotgun near the door, unloaded, with a couple of shells nearby.  If need be, hopefully that would scare him off.  He didn't seem to intimidated by much of anything though, so I told Pam that the first shot goes over his head.  If he charges, the second one goes at his butt and then run like hell.

In more mundane news, Pam went garage sailing with her mom all day yesterday.  Some big doings in Ballston Spa, their annual city-wide sale or something.  I decided it would be a good time to tackle the leaky toilet which causes the well pump to cycle on and off.   We'd been keeping the water intake valve closed and opening it when need be.

I had already replaced the most likely culprit, the flapper valve, but that didn't fix it.  That left the big gasket between the tank and the bowl.  So I shut off the water and removed the tank.

If you're not toiletly inclined, this is an easy job.  Just two nuts on the bottom of the tank, disconnect the water line, and pull it off.  The first thing I noticed is that the head of one of the bolts was almost missing.  The second was that the gasket was in rough shape.  I put the gasket and a bolt in a paper towel and hiked halfway up the muddy-driveway-of-death to the Miata to head to the hardware store before I realize that Pamela left with my wallet.  With no money, I had little chance of buying a new gasket and bolt.   The only thing left to do was to put it back together.

The only real problem was the one bolt with the missing head.  I dumped out the inventory from the Magic Pretzel Can.

This can belonged to my dad and is probably as old as I am.  Spare nuts and bolts got thrown in there over the years, and my job, when helping my dad, was usually along the lines of "Find me a nut to fit this bolt" or something along those lines.  Like magic, it was always in the pretzel can.   When my dad passed away, relatives were picking out furniture and such.  I snagged the Magic Pretzel Can.  I even carried it on our boat where it saved my butt countless times.

Within minutes, I had a replacement bolt and nut, as well as a couple of compressible washers.  I put it back together.  It still leaks, but it's usable until I can get to the hardware store today.

So I've now gone from boat projects back to house projects.  And it's not even my house.  But our landlords were nice enough to rent us their wilderness escape for an inexpensive price.  The least we can do is to take care of it for them.


  1. I remember the Magic Pretzel Can on Drift Away-- Did you throw a Navi nut in there??

  2. My pretzel can I'd called The Lucky Box, as in: if you're lucky, you'll find the nut, bolt, screw, etc that you need. Came from my late FIL, who was a lifelong marine mechanic on Long Island.



  3. No, the Navi-Nut (patent pending) stays on the boat to add value to it.

  4. I understand Pam's feelings but it's better to not feed birds in the summertime (the VTBird listserv I'm on would second that). I take mine down as soon as the migrants are here (early to mid-May). You could put a hummingbird feeder outside an upstairs window.. You could plant native shrubs that the birds enjoy on your land. A bird-bath might bring in some birds without attracting bears, and nesting boxes will bring the satisfaction of watching them rear their young.

    For me, the biggest imperative is to be sure I'm NOT the cause of a bear's death, especially since it may have cubs nearby.

  5. Thought you might like this, from a neighbor near our camp:

    "Our chicken coop (a portion of our barn) has been visited by a bear at least twice in the last two weeks. In the first visit the bear broke through the gate of the chicken yard, and then was unable to figure out how to either get through the little chicken hatch or dig under the slab to get to the chickens -- sort of funny actually. But then something must have startled it and it blasted through a board fence and completely destroyed it.

    Visit number two it went through the hardware cloth (tougher than normal screening) that covers the window of the coop, and grabbed either one or two birds before enough ruckus was raised that we got outside. He (or she) left ample fur on the sharp edges of the hardware cloth. He now close the window and barn doors at night, and have our dog on heightened patrol. Thankfully the bear took a chicken that we had recently decided was not laying any eggs"