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!

Day 3: Drain Tile Grate Secure!

Well, it’s day 3 and the drain tile grate has not popped off yet. I secured it with a worm gear adjustable clamp on October 1, 2022.

I had to fire the little zombie I posted to guard it. He was drinking blood on the job, gambling on zombie cribbage with a gang of putrid corpses, and making threats to cancel Halloween based on bogus orders from Dracula.

I hired a wolfman from the temp agency who seems more reliable. He carries a sword although I’m not sure why. His teeth are huge—for such a tiny werewolf. Don’t call him “Tiny” to his face. He has an inferiority complex.

If you laugh at him, he’ll surely shred your shoestrings. Quick, say that three times really fast right now!

Day 1: Drain Grate Intact

So far so good. After I affixed the drain grate to the corrugated base with a worm gear adjustable clamp, this morning the lid is still on.

I also posted a tiny zombie guard. He’ll chew up anything that tries to come up from below or break in from above. He’s not fussy about what he eats. He doesn’t sleep. He’s not scared of anything. Bad weather doesn’t bother him. He says the same thing Beetlejuice says:

“I’ll eat anything you want me to eat, I’ll swallow anything you want me to swallow; so, come on down, I’ll chew on a dog!”

Something is Flipping Our Lid

The tile grain grate in our back yard popped off again last night. One of the landscaping pins Sena used to secure it was bent and the other pin came out when the lid was flipped. The grate is always flipped upside down. Sena wondered if something might have pushed it up and over from inside the drain.

That would pretty much rule out Bigfoot, but something is flipping our lid.

It might be a rodent head-butting the grate from inside. Or it could still be a raccoon, picking it up with its fingers from above, either by the lip or the slots. We’ve never seen the culprit.

We have seven of these grates in our back yard but only one gets messed with. I’m not sure I want to spend $30 on a critter cam. You can order them through Walmart. They can run off several AA batteries. I suppose I could try to mount the camera to a support post under the sun room.  I’m still not sure if it would have the range to capture something several yards away. And they’re not available in the stores, not even in Fin and Feather. Local rental stores don’t carry them.

I searched the web for animal control service and it’s difficult to find. In most instances, there’s a professional you could hire for a minimum charge of $100-$500 or more—if you know what animal you want removed. Other options include the dog shelter or the police. The pros have an advertising strategy which naturally steer you to their own service.

We don’t even know what is flipping our lid.

Our options are limited.

We could try to duct tape things together. It’s not ideal and I’d probably get the tape all bunched up.

We could try getting a worm gear adjustable clamp that would fit around the pipe that the lid fits inside of and cinch it tight.

We could screw the lid to the pipe. That would probably solve the problem but we’d like to be able to remove it easily.

I could stay up all night with the yard light on and try to catch the critter in the act. That might lead to a more focused solution. It might also lead to me just nodding off in the chair, no matter how much coffee I drink. And if an extraterrestrial is involved, I might get abducted and then I’d be screwed, literally. That probing routine has got to be a violation of intergalactic law.

Get a critter cam and get a picture of the perpetrator.

Which of the options would you pick? Any other suggestions?

Update: We opted for the worm gear adjustable clamp. Sena found one at Menards that’s a little over 7 inches in diameter. It cinched down enough that I couldn’t lift off the lid. Let’s see if a critter can figure out how to knock that lid off now.

She found a few other things for me to do while I was out there: got rid of a couple of basketball-sized wasp nests using a blowtorch. After I rebuilt the house which burned to the ground, I had to check for Bigfoot turds in the yard and I slipped on one, cracked my sacroiliac, got it fixed at the ER and when I got back home, I had to throw some sod on a bare spot in the yard that was about as big as a football field but I persevered nevertheless and watered it down but got soaked to the skin and had to dry off by doing a few hundred wind sprints between Iowa City and Des Moines. Next up was to heft a few dozen bags of dirt and mulch to the back 40 where Sena’s building a city park; the Ferris wheel is on backorder—all this before dinner.

Bigfoot Messing with Our Drain Tile Cap?

We have this yard drainage tile system in our back yard. We have a half-dozen drain tile round grates over all of the pipes. One of them keeps turning up flipped over next to the pipe. It’s happened 3 days in a row.

The grate just slips into the pipe. Water pressure isn’t forcing it out. We think it’s maybe some kind of animal, Bigfoot, or an extraterrestrial messing with it.

According to the lawn and garden installer who supervised the job of laying the drain tile and pipe grates, the problem is either too much water through the pipe or critters. We’ve had no rain for the last 3 days yet we’ve found the grate upside down next to the pipe each of the 3 days.

I thought of getting a trail camera (critter cam) to catch whatever might be happening. But I’d have to order it because local hardware stores don’t carry them. We live in a residential area, but it’s a wooded lot. We commonly see squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, and even raccoons in our back yard.

If Bigfoot is messing with us, I could catch it on critter cam. That would be awesome.

So, it’s not impossible that an animal could be flipping the drain tile grate. But why? It’s always got water in it, and probably bugs. I think it would be easier for a critter to find water in the woods and bugs are flying around everywhere and on the trees.

I don’t think a human would flip the grate off. But if we had a critter cam, I could record it. They’re pretty expensive. I doubt Sena would let me order one. She’s going to try using sod pins to tether the grate.

Update: Sena put a couple sod pins in the grate to help secure it in the ground. She put some dirt around it so if a critter is messing with it, it’ll leave evidence. The rods are crossed with string around them to—confuse the critter?

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