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Mortimer Snert and the Chainsaw Rebellion

It was an agricultural day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert arrived at the Farm for a session of slave labour. He had taken to doing this of his own volition to provide some escape from the mind numbing boredom that he was beginning to suffer on weekends since the Park was closed, and they didn’t need anyone to work on the train tracks or run the carousel. Now Mort had previously scoped out the farm for things that needed doing, and what he found would certainly take the next 5 years, if he worked there every day straight. So finding something to do was certainly not going to be a challenge, just where to start was what concerned him. So he figured to start at the front and work his way towards the back, and take things as they came. The first order of business that day presented itself when he exited his truck only to hear his father somewhere in the barn cursing and flinging things around. Knowing better than to do this, Mort made his way to the barn to see what was causing this commotion. He arrived to see his father, balanced precariously on top of the backup electrical generator, which was balanced precariously on top of 2 saw horses, balancing an electrical fence charger on his knee, and trying to connect 3 wires to it, while holding a flashlight between his neck and his shoulder, and dropping the little wing nut things that all electrical fence chargers have on them. Mort knew better than to say anything, so he just looked on in amusement while the process continued until all the wing nuts were carefully dropped into the pile of rubble at the base of the saw horses, never to be seen again. It was about this time that the fence charger went sailing by Mort, narrowly missing him, and his father stood up abruptly, almost causing a collapse of the saw horse/generator ladder that he was standing on. Mort knew an explanation was on the way, and he waited for it, having a pretty good idea as to what it would be. His father, who was raised in the Great Depression, and was quite proud of it, and who never threw anything away, whether it was broken or not, had somehow determined that the fence charger was not working. Having made this determination, he had dug out the 13 other fence chargers that he had over the years determined did not work, and was trying them out one by one to see if by some chance the fence charger fairy had come by in the middle of the night and sprinkled fairy dust on them and magically resurrected them. Such was not the case, and Mort was witness to the last one being tested. The others were lying in various stages of destruction around the barn, having been flung in different directions and having had their progress interrupted by various other things including large farm implements and, of course, gravity. Mort was also aware of the method of troubleshooting which was in effect here, that being the most expensive thing was always at fault. Electrical fence chargers, being over $100 each were a logical place to start. The fact that 13 of them did not work, or rather, did not work like they were supposed to, all failing in the same manner, was not enough to provide a clue that it might not, in fact, be the fence chargers that were at fault. It was about this time that they were summonsed to lunch, an event which Mort was thankful for, since no amount of logic would prevail in the fence charger debacle. So it was that they had a tasty lunch of incinerated hamburgers and some type of mutant vegetable from the garden, after which Mort’s father promptly crashed for his after lunch nap. During this lovely lunch, one of the many topics that came up in the conversation was a sighting of wild animals around the farm, including turkeys, coyotes and most notably, 3 deer which seemed to be performing some obtuse function around one particular tree that was located quite in the fencerow. The very fencerow which in fact, held up the electrical fence, which was amazingly enough attached to the nonfunctioning fence charger. Now it occurred to Mort that it was probably no co-incidence that the deer and the electrical fence malfunctioned about the same time, and it was during this well timed afternoon nap that Mort decided to check out the fence to see what kind of damage was done. Now this particular fence, being of the nature that it was, extended somewhere close to a mile around 3 different pastures, and looped back on itself 5 times, and a short circuit in any of these places would render the fence inoperable. So Mort set out to walk the perimeter of the fence, accompanied by the dog, who was more interested in peeing on things and digging random animals out of their houses than anything else. So at the very exact farthest point in the electrical fence, Mort discovered the tree that the deer had been functioning on, and also discovered that the olde fence, which was comprised of rusty barbed wire and metal posts and bailing wire, had indeed been broken through in whatever endeavour the deer had been engaged in. This had become quite entangled in the electrical fence, providing a direct, if not rusted, path to ground. Ever aware of the possibility of contracting tetanus from the lovely state of things, Mort carefully unwound the wires, and draped the olde rusted fence wire over the nearest post, wrapped it around 3 times, and continued his pursuit of the fence. Arriving back at the barn a considerable time later, he was met by his father, who had just woken up and was dragging around in a bit of a stupour. Mort set him about locating the newest non- functioning fence charger amidst the pile of rubble, and they proceeded to hook it to the now ungrounded electrical fence. After plugging it into the mains, Mort stepped outside to check the voltage with the special electrical fence tester. He had hooked it up and noticed that the fence was indeed charging quite effectively when he heard shouting emanating from inside the barn once again. Bolting in the door, he noticed the area around the electrical fence device was quite filled with smoke, and his father was dashing around madly with the bucket of dog water, preparing to douse the charging device with the contents. Acting quickly, Mort grabbed the cord to the charging device and yanked it from the outlet, just as the bucket of water hit the case of the charger. Clearly, the thing had been damaged somehow in its flight across the barn before lunch, and had failed spectacularly when connected once again to power. Mort suggested that it might be a good time to purchase another charger, all the while collecting the other smashed ones and depositing them in the garbage dump. Having somewhat successfully accomplished this task (or as successfully as anything ever got accomplished around there) Mort was prepared to move on to the next task. This involved demolishing the olde well house, the one which had supposedly been disconnected and abandoned by the ever so efficient well service person when he installed the new wonderful well housing. Mort decided to take a look at this structure to determine what would be needed. Arriving at the location, he discovered that it was quite still connected to the electrical box. This was the first thing that needed to go, so Mort set about to locate a suitable ladder to access the electrical connections which were suspended in mid air on the pole. His father just so happened to have the perfect ladder for this task, so he told Mort, and they headed back to the house. Inside the barn, next to the smouldering fence charger, was a nice shiny electrically conductive aluminum extension ladder. Now Mort, having almost been involved in one electrocution already that day, decided to pass severely on using this particular ladder to disconnect the wiring to the well, which by the way, was connected in such a fashion that there was no circuit breaker available to disconnect it from the meter. This would have to wait for another day, one in which an electrician had visited and disconnected the wiring himself. Having successfully accomplished that task, (as successfully as anything else was accomplished) Mort looked for the next project. He didn’t have far to look, as the next project was about 100 feet away, in the form of a 150 year olde cottonwood tree which had been hit by lightning, and had succumbed to the ravages of time, and had quite fallen over in the midst of the cow pasture. This would require the use of a chainsaw, 2 of which Mort owned himself, but none of which he had thought to bring with him. His father, however had 2 relatively new chainsaws back at the barn, somewhere between the smouldering fence charger and the aluminum ladder. So they proceeded back to the barn, dug out the chainsaws, the extra can of petrol and the bar oil, and headed back to the pasture, accompanied by the dog, who was busy yelling at random cows; Mort’s mother, complete with cellular phone in case she needed to call an ambulance; and Mort’s father, complete with John Deere tractor with the bale spike attached to the front hydraulic device. Now the tree in question was quite massive, having been around for centuries, and had amassed quite a height, along with a massive trunk diameter. This thing had fallen in such a fashion that it was resting on 2 branches and the remains of the trunk, making it logistically very dangerous to attack with a chainsaw. It was determined that they should start with sawing off the branches that could be safely reached from the ground, then trying to splinter off one of the main supporting branches in an attempt to take pressure off the rest of the tree, and hopefully be able to saw the rest up without accident. So Mort grabbed the first chainsaw, turned it on its side, and proceeded to fill it with petrol and bar oil, and pulled the string to start it. After about 10 minutes of string pulling and 3 massive blisters caused by the friction of the rope, the chainsaw finally started, belched 3 clouds of smoke and quit running. Not to be outdone, Mort grabbed the other chainsaw, filled it, and pulled the string to start it. With the exact same results. Now Mort was in a bit of a quandary, one could not saw up trees if the chainsaw didn’t work, and he had 2 of them which did not, and he didn’t feel like driving back home to retrieve his, so on impulse, he decided to dump out the petrol and replace it with new, since he didn’t know how long the saws had been sitting with the petrol in them. What he dumped out of the 2 chainsaws quite surprised him, the gas was a very dark green colour. Now Mort knew from mixing petrol and oil for his own chainsaws, that the petrol should have just barely a green tinge to it. The stuff in the saws appeared to have about as much oil as it did petrol. It was about this time that Mort’s father, who had been waiting impatiently in the cab of the tractor, decided to make an appearance and inform Mort that “them chainsaws always was awful hard to get started, specially if it was cold out.” In the ensuing conversation, Mort discovered that his father had indeed mixed the oil and petrol, but instead of using the small can of oil in one gallon, he had used the large can, which was good for 5 gallons, and which had caused the sparking plugs on the chainsaws to foul quite effectively. The plugs on the chainsaws had never been changed, so there was no chance of finding a set of used ones in the pile of rubble in the barn, so they dragged the saws back to the house, removed the plugs, cleaned them, (as clean as one can clean fouled sparking plugs) and put the saws back together. Mort’s mother just happened to have her own can of carefully measured Weedeater petrol, which was the exact same mixture as the chainsaws were supposed to have, so they used that and proceeded back to the fallen tree. Arriving there, Mort dredged out the oldest (and largest) chainsaw, and managed to get it started. He was able to saw off several massive chunks of tree that were positioned in such a fashion as to not fall on him, or the dog, who was busy rooting some varmint out of a hole, or any one of the number of cows who had suddenly appeared to see what all the excitement was about. Initially, these pieces were attached to the back of the tractor where they were hauled off to the special place in the creek where all fallen over trees go. However, after the second one, Mort’s father decided that it was just too much trouble to get out of the tractor to unhook the trees, so he proceeded to pick them up with the bale spike on the front of the tractor. This would have been ok, had he had any grasp of physics and weight distribution, but unfortunately, that was not the case. He invariably would pick up a piece from the exact centre, completely oblivious of the fact that one end was invariably much larger in diameter than the other end, therefore weighing much more, and causing the branch to be completely out of balance. He would then proceed to raise the thing in the air until it was at such a height as to flip off and come crashing down within inches of where Mort was concentrating on sawing off another piece of tree. And tragically enough, the balancing problem never occurred to him, no matter that every branch he picked up did the exact same thing, and no matter where Mort pointed him to pick up the pieces, he still centered the spike directly in the middle of the branch. Now Mort had sawed all the major pieces off the tree that he safely could, and his father had hauled off all the pieces that Mort had sawed off, until there was nothing left but the main trunk and 2 supporting branches. Arriving back at the tree, and seeing nothing else was sawed, Mort’s father hooked the spike directly under the remaining piece of tree and proceeded to raise it up. Mort was watching this in sheer amazement, and about the time the tree cleared the ground, the back wheels of the tractor did the same. Seeing no progress, and completely unaware that the tractor was overbalanced, Mort’s father hauled back on the hydraulics, until suddenly he started sliding forward in the seat. Sensing something was not quite right, he finally looked out the window to see Mort frantically waving and pointing to the back wheels of the tractor, which were now about 3 feet in the air. Comprehension of his predicament slowly occurred to him, and slamming the hydraulic lever in the opposite direction, he managed to dump the tree off the front end and bounce the back of the tractor quite impressively. So much so that the collection of cows, which were too stupid to stand back, now scattered in 12 different directions, to be not seen the rest of the day. A quick discussion ensued, and it was determined that the tractor could be positioned in such a fashion as to take the pressure off one of the branches without hoisting the whole tree in the air. Mort would then saw off the offending branch, they could lower the remains to the ground, reposition the tractor, flip the remains of the tree, and Mort could then safely finish sawing it apart. So the tractor was positioned, the first branch was sawed off, and then instead of repositioning the tractor, Mort’s father proceeded to pick up the sawed off branch and haul it off, leaving Mort with a running chainsaw and nothing to saw. Now the trip to the fallen tree sanctuary and back took about 10 minutes, and Mort, having nothing else to do, turned off the chainsaw and sat down to wait. By the time he got back, Mort’s father had forgotten what the plan was, and once again hooked the remains of the tree with the bale spike. Fortunately, enough of the tree had been sawed off to prevent the tractor from becoming airborne again, but the fact that the tree was exactly centered on the bale spike once again proved to off center it to the point that no matter how much the spike raised off the ground, the root end of the tree remained firmly in place. Now Mort was certainly no psychic, but he could see clearly what was about to happen, and as he started waving and yelling, the top end of the tree took a wicked dive off the bale spike and splintered quite effectively on the ground, narrowly missing the diesel tank on the tractor. Leaping on the tractor, Mort ripped open the door and reminded his father of the decision to flip the tree over. Repositioning the tractor, this task was finally accomplished. Now Mort had something to saw, and he went back to the truck, got the saw out and pulled the string to start it. For about 10 minutes. Finally the thing started, belched 3 clouds of smoke, and quit. By this time, Mort was having a serious time resisting the urge to fling the chainsaw into the creek. Returning to the truck, he grabbed the other chainsaw, yanked the string, and was surprised when it roared to life. Now the chainsaw that Mort had was a tad on the puny side. This was why he had not used it before, the engine was about the size of a Weedeater, and the bar was a whopping 12 inches long. Barely big enough to saw halfway through the remaining branches. So he proceeded to saw through both sides of the branches, and between sawing and hoisting with the bale spike, they managed to destroy the rest of the tree, and haul it safely away. By now, Mort was wired, and ready to saw down some more trees. They went around the bend in the creek, and located some likely looking trees, and Mort set about with the chainsaw hacking them to pieces. About the third tree in, the second saw succumbed to a fouled sparking plug, and Mort decided that that was about enough for one day, so they loaded up the dog, which had just decorated itself with fresh cow pie, and headed back to the house. Arriving there, he provided explicit instructions on replacing the sparking plugs and mixing oil and petrol, both of which he was certain would be immediately forgotten by his father. Finally, he loaded up his truck and headed home, wondering what exciting adventures awaited him next weekend.