At Patterdale Hall, the work never ends for villagers Chris Watt and his wife, Karen Russell. (Photo submitted)

Easy to print, PDF and email

Pa Chris Wyatt

November 8, 2022

To make it look a little like a real diary, I bought a chain today to put across the alley entrance. We get the occasional hunter who drives up and parks outside the house. Now it stops.

Get news at home, sign up for Yellow Springs News today

The chain won’t really stop anyone if they want to go up the lane, but it will mean they can’t claim to be “lost”.

Barriers are already coming up, there’s a vote in Ohio today, I might need to build some tank traps. Our shelter may well become a real shelter. Which, frankly, is another reason we own it. Patterdale Hall feels very safe; we are far from the madding crowd, and there is little to attract them except, it would seem, the deer.

Without letting paranoia and fear overwhelm me about the political situation in the US, I would like to address something important. We had coyotes on the property for a while. They lived under the house and one day we surprised the mother and she dropped her pants and growled aggressively. But I never wanted to kill them. If we called animal control they would trap them and kill them and I really didn’t want that. Indeed, they had more right to be there than we did.

I was, however, thinking about buying a gun. A 20 gauge Winchester would be all I would need to deal with various rural pests, but I ended up not buying one.

Instead, we got rid of the coyotes by blasting loud Christian rock on the radio, constantly, 24/7. Although I ended up having to tone down that approach as a friend of mine threatened to sue PETA for animal cruelty, so I switched to NPR and banished the pesky creatures from there with fact-based journalism.

Little by little I would like to lay out the composition of Patterdale Hall, dwell on aspects of the property and perhaps even reflect, or more likely reflect on what new hell befalls us every day. One of the most important things we had to do before the Hall was safe was to repair the chimney. It ended up being a heroic task, but our chimney sweep was the stuff of legend and we now have a functional chimney that will last until the next ice age. The new sleeve, the chimney is higher, filled with vermiculite and practically bombproof. The stove – I promise I’ll get to it – is pulling hard and all danger of a chimney fire is now minimized. The chimney, roof and plumbing are dismantled.

Well, the plumbing is taken care of, but the water is not. Our well water is bad. Now we only drink water that we bring to the hall. The tap water is murky. We installed a whole house filter to minimize the particulate matter, but there is a definite egg in the water and I don’t drink it.

I have to do a water report and see what’s down there. If bad, I have to find out what can be done. There are a lot of things I have to do, so can I bother getting a water report if I’m fancy enough to just bring gallon bottles of water to the property? Probably not.

We will also need to run water from the outside of the house as there is currently no hose connection. There’s a hole in the wall, one of many, that looks like it used to be where the faucet used to be, but now it’s just a hole and it looks like we’re going to have to call the plumbers again to run a line so we can water easier vegetable beds. Perhaps we won’t; we survived this year without fancy pants and our vegetables were majestic. I’ll stop there if I freeze this winter.

In other news, my friend John is going to lend me a drill to finish taking apart the cattle netting chain. It’s good and I’ll feel safer if the chain is there. Again, this does not provide any safety other than mild restraint. If someone wants to go through with it, they will, but at that point it’s a violation. I’ll also feel better if Karen is ever left there alone, although with the number of machetes, axes and tools at hand, God help whoever surprises Karen there: it would be a massacre. I also think we need a sign to hang on a chain, and that fills me with great excitement; there’s no way I’m just going to have a sign that says “Private”, oh no, no way.

Today I am editing the conclusions for the students’ written papers, which should be enjoyable. Then I’ll probably go to Patterdale Hall tonight and the net will go up at the weekend. It’s getting cold.

* Originally from Manchester, England, Chris Wyatt is an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology at Wright State University. He has lived in Spruce Springs for 16 years, is married, has two teenage children and two crazy Patterdale terriers.

Previous articleThe Putnam County Health Department will hold two car seat inspection events | News
Next articleReruns of late-night shows will be shown this week as the writers’ strike begins