Episode-2029- Listener Calls for 6-22-17 — 11 Comments

  1. For the listener asking about recovering compacted pasture, I thought I’d mention what we are doing. We are raising rabbits on pasture in bottomless tractors.

    We’ve done this for 6 years now. Our rabbits are big, muscular, and healthy. They help with pasture recovery with manure but also by digging.

    We do have to deal with “rabbit divets” and the occasional jail break but they’ve done very well. They have disturbed the soil enough that we have been able to start working it. (It was so compacted you could bounce a sharp axe off the soil. It was nasty!)

    Our tractors are made with PVC and welded wire or hardware cloth. They’re easy to make, light weight and durable. They’ve survived thunderstorms with hail and 70 mph winds. I even moved them by myself with a broken collarbone.

    I’d be happy to share what we’ve learned. There’s too much to tell in a comment. Just pass along my contact info and I’ll send images and details.

  2. On home security:

    The growing statistic in home property crimes is parcel theft. There are fewer break-ins than there used to be. It’s far easier to drive 2 blocks behind the UPS guy and pick up those amazon packages that get left on the door step.

    With that in mind, I’m going to focus on that one specifically. It’s just the most common property crime lately, and increasing security here will bolster security for other types of crime as well. These are all “passive defense” techniques. That means they work primarily as a deterrent, they work psychologically against a criminal, and there’s nothing that can really malfunction (except for cameras, which double as active defense).

    Start with two cameras. The first one at face level near the front door (or where people would naturally enter the home or leave a package). Make sure this is plainly visible. It’s as much a deterrent as a record of crime. Studies have shown the camera footage helps in about 8% of convictions, but the number of crimes committed in the presence of a camera is 42% lower. The sight of a camera is more effective than the footage it records (but if you can get both, it makes sense to, so don’t use dummy cameras).

    The second camera is kept knee-high facing down the driveway. This is to get a clear shot of license plates of vehicles that pull in. Identifying a face is difficult, getting an ID on a license plate is easy. Make sure you park in an area that doesn’t block the view, if at all possible.

    Next, create a designated location for deliveries, and talk to your delivery guy (if it’s the same person). Leave special instructions on where to place packages in order shipping details.

    Now get some reflective yellow floor tape (the type used in industrial sites to mark safety locations etc). Use it to mark out a big square near the door, 3′ x 3′. With a stencil and spray paint, in the center of the box, write “Place Deliveries Here & Ring The Bell”.

    This is an amazingly powerful psychological deterrent. You can find social experiments all over YouTube where people will leave $100 bills in the street, but there’s a line around it, drawing attention to it. Nobody picks it up, though quite a few people will look at it and think about it.
    Here’s one such video:
    There are many more examples, all variations on the same theme. Plus, you can train the UPS guy to leave the packages in the same place every time. Otherwise they end up all over the place.

    Understand that most criminals aren’t pros. The vast majority simply have poor impulse control. They see an opportunity to profit and the urge to take that opportunity is too much to resist. In most of these crimes, the place has not been extensively cased and studied. The decision to exploit the vulnerability is made in seconds after it’s seen. This is why deterrents work. They are more visible than the vulnerability and force someone to think twice when they otherwise may not.

    Make the opportunity less visible from the street, but don’t obscure the visibility of people. If packages are left behind a 3′ tall hedge row or half-wall, fewer people will see them and be enticed to look closer. However, if they see a delivery guy coming out of an area that was completely obscured, they know there’s cover and less chance of being seen. You want the front of the house open and visible from the street so any passer-by can see the people, just not every detail of the property.

    There was a study in Brussels a few years ago which showed that a simple coat of brightly colored paint on a house, which contrasted with the colors of the houses around it was sufficient deterrent to reduce crime on the property by 80%. Thieves like houses (and cars) which blend in to their surroundings. Anything that stands out as different will subconsciously put them edge. If all the surrounding houses have grey siding, paint yours barn red. If you have a white car, try to park where all the surrounding cars are black. They study only looked at break-ins, but there is evidence to suggest it may deter other property crimes as well. It doesn’t appear to be limited to paint colors, anything which is visually distinguishing in a very obvious way will work. What’s important is the contrast.

    In a similar study by insurance companies, unusual colors of cars are a lot less likely to be broken into. Lime Green, Light Purple, and Orange were at the top of the list for being unlikely targets. That may hurt the resale value, and the more unusual colored cars are also more likely to be pulled over for traffic stops, so weigh the pros and cons in your region. But if car break-ins are common in your area, consider getting an odd color with your next vehicle.

    A wireless door chime can be installed near the front door of the home. These are the IR sensors that make the “ding” sound when you enter a convenience store. They’re pretty cheap, they put a would-be intruder on edge, and they alert dogs to the location of entry.

    The Security Monitoring signs can be purchased online cheaply. Even if you don’t pay for service, get the decals for your entry windows. Oddly, these aren’t a significant deterrent, much less effective than the other means (people probably know the decals can be had without service, or they don’t intend to be there so long that police could respond). But it’s probably with $12.

    One thing that needs to be acknowledged, thieves improvise a lot. Again, these are crimes of opportunity which they fall into in a moment’s notice. They’re not typically prepared with tools. If they want to break a window, they probably didn’t bring a hammer, but a rock next to the door works well enough. Therefore, don’t keep big rocks near doors and windows. Don’t keep tools or other valuable items out in plain view. A row-boat hanging off the side of a shed or a portable grill on the porch are as likely to be taken as anything else. Valuable should be secured inside structures, bolted down, or otherwise difficult to see or get to.

    Most property crimes happen around the Holidays. People buy gifts and store them in cars or in closets and don’t pay them a second thought for weeks until they’re ready to give them out. When people have a hoard of brand-new stuff that they may not look at for a couple of days, or that could be readily sold on eBay or Craigslist, it’s a very tempting target. Doubly so in cases of parcel theft.

    Keep in mind, Christmas lights don’t go well with security cameras. They can light up an entry enough that the camera doesn’t go into IR mode (night vision), but are dim enough to make it difficult to get a clear picture. Multi-colored lights can also make some details hard to distinguish. Keep such lights away from camera areas. Also remember, holiday decorations are a big sign that you have new, cool stuff for the taking. You can weigh the risk against the value of tradition, again it comes down to the crime in the area.

    The Holidays can be particularly bad in cooler climates. A ski-mask and gloves don’t look out of place in 3′ of snow, lol. A neighbor who knows you well may just assume that guy hanging around your garage door is you, getting ready to shovel snow. If you are going to do Holiday Shopping online, you reduce the odds of parcel theft if you can complete your shopping in September/October. Nobody’s looking for large volumes of deliveries at those times.

    One other consideration is if you are the sender, shipping packages elsewhere. If you can obscure the contents of a package, it’s a lot less likely to be stolen. Standard rate pre-paid boxes tend to be stolen less frequently than custom packaging because it’s a gamble on what may be inside them. Is it a new smartphone or kitchen cleanser? People are less willing to risk it if they don’t know what the reward will be. You can re-use boxes to deceive a would-be thief. Nobody steals boxes of fruit from the fruit of the month club. When I moved into my current house, the previous owner (a horse breeder) left behind several boxes which were labeled as carrying horse semen. I promise you, I could have shipped a brick of heroine to Germany and back without anyone peeking inside that box.

    This is a valid consideration for home security. Many people on trips for business or vacationing may want to ship items home to family, or ship them ahead of their own arrival to avoid the cost of carrying it on a plane.

    I hope that helps get people thinking about this subject. I know this is just parcel theft (not what the caller was specifically interested in), but these practices may reduce the temptation of a criminal to approach your home in general. It’s one less thing to worry about.

  3. On surplus clothing (buy American);
    Honestly, I had been looking for cargo pants made in the USA awhile back and could only find a brand of BDU’s that fulfilled my requirements. But that’s just a pair of pants, not a full uniform.

  4. I found “nextdoor” a few months ago…How did your neighbors react to it? Did they all participate? I wasn’t sure if they’d perceive me as a kook or something

    • I don’t go spouting my political stuff or anything there, except when something comes up like a guy being ticked for a car parked in his own grass, so it doesn’t really matter. Mostly it is people selling stuff, giving stuff away, asking for advice (handy man, place to shop, etc) or lost dogs/cats. I love it!

      When the city posted asking people to rat out their neighbors for high grass last year when we had so much rain I was happy to see most of my neighbors point out all the city land with over grown vegetation and tell the poster to take a flying leap! Of course since I live “out in the county” which is really just a few miles down the road such things don’t effect me.

    • I am a “Lead” in my neighborhood Nextdoor. It gave me the option to send invites to all my neighors and I did. I think Nextdoor mailed them an invite. Several of them did. I works good along with my neighborhoods private Facebook page to keep up with what is going on in the hood. It is also sometimes entertaining to read the whining.

      • You know I am a lead too, and I have at times been called on to smite down a post or comment because someone is offended, I always say “no, and I really don’t think you know who you are asking to do this on your behalf”.

  5. I’m out in the country too, and it’s nice to let one another know about a bear, a suspicious car, wtf that explosion was, etc. Thx J, Cheers