Time to Remove the Worm Gear Clamp

The critter cam didn’t capture any activity last night. So, I did the next thing—I removed the worm gear clamp from the grate. It has been undisturbed for over a week now. The last event was on October 8,2022, when the big rocks on top of the grate were shoved around.

It’s getting pretty cold. It’s in the mid-twenties this morning. Maybe that’s inhibiting whatever’s out there. I didn’t see any poop, but Sena saw a pile yesterday which looked pretty much the same as the first one. It was in about the same location. This is likely from a dog.

Let’s see what happens.

Me and the Deer Caught in the Critter Cam Lights

I reset the mode of our critter cam to shoot both pictures and videos yesterday. One viewer suggested I walk around our yard as a check to see how this works. I did get up and traipse around this chilly morning shortly after 6:00 AM, took pictures of bright objects in the night sky (funny how celestial bodies can induce a sense of lost time…), and listened to an owl hoot and a dog bark.

The drain tile grate was still undisturbed. It was dark but I didn’t step in any poop; I checked my shoes. The specimen I shoveled up the other day was probably just dog poop.

Also, we caught some deer trotting through the yard as well. The video and pictures look pretty good. You can see the garden grasses blowing in what was probably a 14 mph wind out of the northwest.

That’s more like it. I set it for video mode only and we’ll see what happens tonight. You may want to turn up the volume on your audio speakers to hear the sounds in the video below.

Cryptid Caught on Camera!

OK, so we really didn’t capture a cryptid last night—but the point today is that we certainly could have. What proves this is the accidental shot of my groin (relax, clothed!) this morning just before I touched the critter cam which was still working within the time setting.

This proves that the camera works as it should. But again, I didn’t get any pictures overnight. This isn’t surprising, really. When you think about it, you have to get really lucky to catch a cryptid on the first couple of nights you mount a critter camera in your back yard.

This reminds me of the show The Proof is Out There, hosted by Tony Harris, who has the right mix of a sense of humor, skepticism, and an open mind. The program delves into the paranormal by various experts examining videos people send in. Lots of stuff gets debunked, although some end up being either unexplained or clearly identified as something which exists in the natural world. Michael Primeau is the forensic video analyst (“This video is clearly faked.”).

Last night, the show’s experts looked at a video which showed what clearly looked like either a cryptid, an extraterrestrial, or a fraud. It turned out to be a kind of moth called Creatonotos gangis. One of the experts called it a kind of Tiger Moth. The male of the species develops several tentacles which make it look like it’s a cross between a mini-octopus and a little alien. Those tentacles are scent glands used to attract a mate.

So, could a winged dragon explain why there are no discernible tracks in our yard? On the other hand, we found a suspicious pile of poop in our yard nearby the target area of interest in the vicinity of the drain tile grate—which is still intact.

I got an F grade in Cryptid Crapology, but I think we could narrow this down. According to at least one internet authority, the poop is much too large for a squirrel, chipmunk, mouse or rat. It’s certainly not consistent with bird poop. It’s probably not from a raccoon because you usually find berries and seeds in it.

It could be from an opossum. They’re nocturnal. That reminds me of the scratching noises in our attic. It doesn’t explain why the tradesmen who fixed our exhaust vent found a walkie-talkie up there. Opossums use telepathy to communicate, as you all know. But I can’t figure out why an opossum would mess with our drain tile grate.

I don’t think it’s bear poop. The scat is usually much larger and would contain berries and seeds because it’s an omnivore. Deer poop is rounder.

Sena saw a skunk in our yard in the past, but the poop doesn’t look typical for skunk. If you poke it, it would likely have remnants of undigested feathers, fur, and seeds. I did not poke it and that could be one reason why I flunked Cryptid Crapology.

I don’t know why dragon poop is not listed.

The drain tile grate has been secure for about a week now. But I may keep trying to catch the cryptid on camera, just in case. I could get a video on The Proof is Out There.

What’s Up with No Critter Cam Pictures Last Night?

Things did not go according to plan last night with the critter cam. It took zero pictures. What gives? I’m sure I had the timer settings right. It’s a 24-hr. military time clock and it was set for 1930 to 0730 starting yesterday evening. The grate was undisturbed and maybe that’s the explanation.

Could there be a problem with taking night time pictures? I checked a web site about that, “Trail Camera Not Taking Night Photos? 7 Things to check.” As far as I can tell from the list, there is nothing seriously amiss.

The area of interest is well within our camera’s 65-foot detection range. I suppose the problem might be the alkaline batteries, but it took pictures in dim light of me just fine. The memory card is brand new, formatted and I deleted any test pictures I took so there was plenty of storage. The camera is rated to 13 degrees below zero and it didn’t get close to that last night. It’s not shooting black pictures—it’s taking no pictures.

I could be wrong, of course, but I don’t think it had anything to do with night time. It took pictures of me in dim light and daylight just fine. The camera was pointed in the right direction according to the daylight test shot I took this morning.

No pictures might just mean no action. That doesn’t mean unusual things can’t happen. I ran across a headline today on the web, “Mountain Lion sighting in South Central Iowa.” The animal was filmed in Madison County, which is not far southwest of Des Moines.

Anyhow, I got an idea about a different approach today. I think I figured out how to mount the camera on the stand with base included in the box. Feel free to point out any mistakes I made putting it together. The manual didn’t include instructions on how to assemble it. I also could not find any YouTube or other internet guidance. It’s like nobody else thought it was important enough to tell newbies how to do basic things with trail camera field mounting.

I know the stand is supposed to be secured to something with screws, but I couldn’t find a suitable place to install the tiny wood screws with funny looking plastic sleeves.

Instead, I placed the camera with the stand along with a couple of heavy rocks on the base on a patio block. I took some test pictures, which looked OK. You can tell which pictures are which by the time stamp. The post mounting shot was at 9:46 AM; the stand on the block picture was at 11:23 AM. I think the latter would be as secure as the post mount.

There were either no trigger events or there was a malfunction. I doubt it was the latter, but I’m not the handyman or modern age Daniel Boone kind of guy.

For now, my new plan is to use the critter cam stand and rocks setup and try again, maybe tonight. I can just hear people groaning, “Rocks, are you joking? Extraterrestrials will just blast them with their ray guns!”

 I would like to try video, but for now I want to just make sure it’ll take photos as programmed.

Critter Cam Tested and Ready to Go!

We’re trying to catch a glimpse of whatever or whoever has been removing one of our tile drain grates in our back yard for the last few weeks. It happens only at night. We bought a critter cam and it’ll go live tonight!

Today I ran the critter cam through a few tests to see if it would work in the dark. I set it up on a footstool, turned it on and clowned around in a dimly lit hallway. It wasn’t completely dark, and it seemed like I had to dance a fair amount to trigger the Passive Infrared Sensors (PIRs)—but it worked! Check the slideshow below.

I have no experience with these things and I don’t know whether the PIR Sensitivity might be set too high because we’re in autumn and the leaves are falling. It makes me wonder if the camera will trigger too much, making the image yield low. But there’s only 3 settings: high, medium, and low. Because I want to make sure I catch whatever is messing with our drain grate, I plan to leave the setting on High.

Sena and I mounted the camera on the nearest post supporting the sun room. She clowned around while standing next to the drain tile grate and it triggered and got her picture. We hope the rigging holds. I’ve set it to come on at sunset tonight and turn off at sunup tomorrow. It’s set to take photos, not videos for now.

It’s chilly out there; only 49 degrees. I don’t know how that’ll influence Bigfoot activity out there tonight.

I removed the rocks but left the worm gear clamp attached. Keep your fingers crossed!

Critter Cam Arrives for Drain Grate Ghost Hunt

The critter cam was delivered and I’ll need to get some batteries and a micro-SD card for it. I’ll also need to learn how to mount it to one of the posts supporting our sun room.

The rough distance from the camera to the drain grate is about 40 feet, so it should be well within the camera’s range.

We plan to remove the rocks, but leave the worm gear adjustable clamp on the grate. There hasn’t been any new disturbance since my last post about it. The rock is still on top of the grate.

I’ll test the camera first just to make sure I’ve got it set up correctly, which could be a challenge for me since I’ve never done anything like this before.

We’re going to try our best to catch whatever has been messing with our drain grate. Wish us luck!

Update: I just formatted and installed the micro SD card, the 4 AA batteries, set the clock to the correct time, and quickly ran through the functions. It seems to work fine in Test Mode. It’s a little late now, so we plan to set it up for tomorrow!

The Drain Tile Grate Ghost Strikes Again!

The drain tile ghost struck again last night. You’ll recall a couple of days ago, I stacked two large rocks on the tile drain grate which has been the subject of numerous vandal attacks for at least the last couple of weeks.

It looks like the top rock was picked up and turned over on the ground about a foot away from the grate. The other rock, which is heavier, looks like it was pushed across the grate, seemingly to remove it. The grate is still attached with the worm gear adjustable clamp.

This happens only at night.

The only trouble is we don’t what’s causing the problem. It’s a mystery that drove us to order a critter cam, which is supposed to be delivered in the next couple of days.

We also don’t know why only one of 7 grates has been singled out for attention. They’re all the same. They help control drainage in our back yard. They all have water in them, which slowly drains. There is nothing else inside the pipe worth all the effort apparently being expended.

Over time, the major interest is not that this occurs, but who or what is causing it. So, for now we plan to leave the scene of the crime as it is. We’ll see what happens tonight.

I’m not going to post any guards. They’ve all been incompetent.

Three Rock Fail on the Drain Tile Grate!

We can’t believe the 3-rock weight option to help secure the drain tile grate failed last night already. This morning, the top rock ended up about two feet away down the slope of our yard. The other two rocks were tipped over into the landscaping rod.

What’s crazy about this is how the top rock got moved so far away from the grate. I think something or someone would have to pick it up and move it. It wouldn’t have taken much strength to tip the two other rocks.

Obviously, the three grate guards failed as well, probably because they were drinking on the job. They will have to go.

On the bright side, the grate was still attached, and the clamp was secure. I replaced two of the rocks on the grate and we’re hoping for the best for now. But we won’t be surprised if it’s a mess tomorrow.

This is an ongoing mystery which requires a critter cam now. We are ordering one today.

We’re hoping to catch the culprit on camera if the shenanigans are still occurring when it’s delivered, and we’re pretty sure they’ll continue. There’s no reason I can think of for any animal to mess with a drain grate. There’s no food in the drain and water is a lot easier to get in the wild.

And what kind of person would pull a prank like this?

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just secure the pipe and the grate with stout screws and forget it. There are two reasons. One is that I’m not convinced that would eliminate the problem.

The other is like Clark Griswold’s attitude in the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), expletives deleted:

“I think you’re all bleeped in the head. We’re ten hours from the bleeping fun park and you want to bail out. Well, I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much bleeping fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our bleeping smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your bleeps! I must be crazy! I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy bleep!”

This thing is too senseless and has been going on for too long for me to say, “Just screw it.” So, the drain tile grate mystery is now a quest. No, I don’t need an aspirin!

What I need is a guard I can depend on.

Tile Drain Grate Off Again!

Last night something removed our tile drain grate again! This time it wasn’t flipped. Something lifted the grate off the pipe and set it on the ground beside it. We were flabbergasted.

Recall that I thought I had secured the thing with a worm gear adjustable clamp on October 1, 2022. Up until that time, something (or someone) was flipping the grate upside down off the pipe every 2-3 days and lately every day.

I looked around and could not discern any animal tracks. The two crossed rods and thread over the grate were not disturbed. The worm gear clamp was still in place. I figured I had just not placed it close enough to the top of the grate and not screwed it down tightly enough.

So, I put the grate back on the pipe, pulled the clamp up so it covered the seam between the pipe and the grate better, and really cranked the screw tight enough so I could not move it at all.

Now we’re shopping for a critter cam. I favor the idea that a raccoon could be the culprit. Another outside possibility is a woodchuck. Both have fingers and are strong. This lid removal caper looks like it only happens at night. Sena checks it in the evening when she comes in from working out in the garden. That would tend to focus on the raccoon suspect since it’s nocturnal and the woodchuck is not.

Sena is going to get a brick or two to set on the grate and we will see what happens. Raccoons can lift 10-20 pounds, though. I’m thinking it’ll just move the bricks one at a time.

The other possibility is that the culprit might not be an animal. What if this is a kid playing games? There are not any kids in the neighborhood old enough to pull this off, though.

I’m pretty sure it’s not Bigfoot. The sod is loose and soft around the grate. Bigfoot would leave obvious tracks.

What about extraterrestrials? For example, some people think aliens are behind all the cattle mutilations. Others think it is some ultra-secret government agency running experiments (which have been going on for decades) to see how much nuclear radiation cows are absorbing from all the atomic fracking these bozos are doing to discover more fossil fuel energy resources underground all over the country. They cover their tracks to hide it from the public using the usual conspiracy tools—they just tell enough to investigators who get TV producers to make expose shows about it. They tend to air them in October to make you think this is just all about Halloween. I saw this show on TV last night.

Of course, if the government were doing that, there would be nobody living in the country by now because everybody would be dead from cancer from all the radiation.

But what if the extraterrestrials are trying to steal all the tile drain grates to use them as cooking grills to make barbecued chicken? The only problem is that aliens are so puny, they cannot do more than barely move them off the tile pipe. They get all out of breath and exhausted, which leads to them just giving up and going to a good BBQ joint like Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack in Iowa City.

Where was I? Oh, I need to hire a new guard for the grate now. Obviously the first two bozos were incompetent. The zombie was too busy eating his own armpits and the wolfman started pooping on the grate and clogging up the slots, because even though they may be hundreds of years old, you still cannot potty train them.

And the sword the wolfman carried got stuck in the grate slots, leading to a hernia, the surgery for which veterinarians charge a lot. I could get them from passing zombies, but they are touchy about their stuff.

So, the tile drain grate saga continues. Aren’t you glad?

Update: Sena bought 3 big rocks, the total weight of which might exceed 20 pounds. We set them on top of the grate. And I called the Temp Agency and hired 3 new guards to make sure that grate stays on. Depending on what history you believe, either good things come in threes—or bad things come in threes. We’re going to go with good things.

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