Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last Wednesday In April

Well, that month didn't last long!

I did not put the boys out on Sunday night because it was still too wet but the temps are great. They seemed to want to stay in, too. On Monday we did put them out all night. Originally I had wanted to give them access to the pasture and the barn. They didn't like this idea. Too much nosing around, acting like tourists, so we locked them out of the dry paddock and left them alone. The little guys were in their stalls for the night. Also, the big boys got new shoes.

On Tuesday morning they heard me come through the gate and ran up the hill to come in. I grained them and turned them all out immediately. My goal is to stop having to muck stalls. Monday was a delicious day and dried everything out. The trees are really leafing out and can't see into the cornfield behind us.

Checked the weather; no rain in sight. Another night left out in the pasture. The little ones came into their stalls with no issues. Cloudy, breezy, but no rain overnight. I opened some windows, still warm in the house; Irene is in heat, none of us slept that well.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend Wrap-up

Easter weekend was a flurry of activity. Tom works like a dog, if a dog actually worked. I don't know any working dogs. He finished the patio, but the weather did not cooperate with his plan of putting in the polymeric sand. Apparently the brick pavers MUST be completely dry or the sand sets up like concrete on the pavers. The bags are stacked in the shed. He also put in the 'crib' to keep the pavers where they need to be, nailed in with 8-inch spikes. He put a piece of 'cattle carpet' over the sand that is east of the back steps and put the new mulch on that. It looks great and smells even better. I want to get large planters to place on the mulch and put in flowers and some sort of greenery.

He also finished sanding the walls in the downstairs bathroom and I painted the walls on Saturday and the ceiling on Sunday morning. Now that the roof is fixed the ceiling will stay repaired! He re-installed the cabinets, light fixtures and towel racks and it looks fantastic! All grown up!

Also on Saturday, while I was at the kitchen sink, a couple drives up. I don't know them. Tom and Aunt Pat are eating dinner, but it is still light outside. I see her on the new patio, waving, and he's in the drive way telling her not to go to that door, go to the side door. Tom goes out to see what they want.

He's dressed in a green denim shirt, 'cowboy' jeans with a big belt buckle, she's in a shearling vest, jeans, both have on cowboy boots. They are older than we are, but not old (Ha!). They don't want to come in, they want to see the barn. Typical, right?

They live 'down the road' and have Quarter horses, but not at their place; board the horses over near one of the horsey clubs we belong to. She says she's been driving to work past our house for twenty-five years and all of a sudden there is this barn! Apparently now is the time to stop in.

Their plan is to move the horses to their own place but they don't yet have a barn. We should get a commission! Tom gives them the full tour and Sprite is the ambassador, the 'hostess with the mostest.' She says if Sprite is missing, she'll be at her place! Sprite is a charmer, she needs a job.

After they leave, after Tom finishes dinner, we start a bonfire! I burned all my old bills and things that we used to shred and started on the close-in pile, then moved to the flat bed that is full of the Pine and Maple debris. We got about half way down the flat bed pile when it started to rain, heavy at times, so we fled to the barn. I sat in the chair under the awning, outside KC's stall. I played with his lips, which he loves. Tom played with the little ones. By the time it stopped raining it was after 11:00 o'clock and well past my bed time. I was pooped. I made sure what was in the barrel would get burned and wouldn't catch onto what was not in the barrel.

Easter Sunday the day dawned clear but the fog had fallen in the field. Tom went to the old house to pick up the patio furniture but ended up mowing the grass. I wanted to mow the grass on my way home Friday but it was raining by the time I left the office. He also ran out of gas. I painted the bathroom ceiling and put together the pasta salad for dinner.

The patio looks great with the furniture on it, once we get another load of gravel for the parking lot, it will tie in the new patio lay-out with the expanded parking. It will look like it was always like that.

We wrestled the ham into the oven and straightened out the house, set the table, and all that other stuff you do when company will be arriving.

After dinner, around 3:00 o'clock, the hot (80's) humid weather turned into a raging thunder storm. The grain elevator across the street could not be seen during this episode. It was awesome! It only lasted about 15 minutes, but it was spectacular. Tom got all the kids into the barn before they all got too soaked.

After everybody left and the kids had eaten we had planned on putting everybody back out for the evening. Temps would not go down much below 60. At 10 o'clock it was still lightening, but the stars were out. I thought it best to keep them in where it was dry, not standing around in the wet grass all night, eating. That will happen soon enough, April is almost gone.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday - Happy Friday!

We did get the new roof, finished in one day and it looks better in person than in photos. The architectural shingles, in 'weathered wood,' is really a great choice for the farm house. Gives a cottage look to it, not plain nor too sophisticated, will look good with whatever siding color we later decide on. And it is coordinated with the new patio pavers. Slowly, everything is coming together.

Tom is finishing (finally) the bathroom project: sanding, re-mudding, sanding, painting, reinstalling the moulding (top and bottom) and the cabinets, towel racks and like that. Big project, little room! As you will recall, this bathroom re-do was started in August, with the entire room being thrown in the trash, even the walls, the door moved to the left and every new fixture put in a different place. It will look like a show-place.

Also wrapping up the patio re-installation project - he got the special sand/grout mix to put between the bricks from a local landscaping specialty store. He's worn out a pair of leather gloves doing this job.

Since my uncle died and the episode at their house Christmas, it is easier to be at my house - closer for my sister and her family and friends. Our 'old' neighbor, Eric, is also joining us. That will make nine of us! I miss my uncle, terribly. My aunt is bringing everything and using my kitchen to make dinner, she's coming down this afternoon. Next weekend we'll ride....

May 6 weekend is the 'Spring Round-up" at the LOMH - big deal - lots of horses and trailers in one spot - that sight is amazing (looks like Texas!) and hope that we can at least swing by there then, if not camp out.

We met a woman a few years ago that now has her own farm - she boarded her ONE horse for years. Her husband was not a horse person, but she rode three or four times a week (indoor arena, blah, blah). He bugged her over time about getting their own place with room for the horse because they had to live somewhere, blah, blah. She finally caved and they have a gorgeous place: 25 acres on the NCR trail - Circa 1890 Victorian with an old bank barn, several outbuildings, etc., but now has no time to ride. The house was a disaster, the barns were in terrible shape, the fencing needed immediate repair - now they have over a dozen horses (they board horses and ponies) and she says she's only ridden a couple times since they moved. I had reminded him, over and over, about their situation. I don't have time to make all the mistakes, I try to learn from others. But he is a horse person, so he misses riding as much as I do, maybe more?

And Skip looks fantastic - almost fat! The down time has ensured that he is looking robust, like the Halter horse that he is. The grass is growing and they are eating it as fast as they can. I brought them in last night; they wanted to stay out. The weather forecast said it was going to be colder than it was at 10pm, and they would just eat all night long, so I brought them in and hayed them all. Just a matter of days before they start staying out all night, right?

Tom really is productive - he also picked up 10 bags of mulch, and we'll spread that around the end of the patio that will not have pavers on it. I want to put the cattle carpet on top of the sand base, then put down the mulch, to protect the sand base from the mulch. I also want to get big faux terracota planters to place on the mulch. Maybe not this weekend.

There is always something, right? I want stall mats, but then he'll bring something else up that we NEED that isn't even on the list! I have a list, and things are getting crossed off, slowly. I also had a short list of New Year's Resolutions, but now can't remember them! I do know that one of the items was renting our old house. Waiting for the signed lease to come back with a move-in date of May 15.

Irene still needs to be spayed. Her mother had 6 kittens on Wednesday night. I AM NOT GETTING ANOTHER CAT!! But they are cute! Her mother is a good mother so they aren't afraid of dogs or people, large farm animals or loud farm equipment because she takes good care that none of them are molested in any way. I AM NOT GETTING ANOTHER CAT!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Moonlight Becomes You

Full moon overnight, soft, mild evening. Tom suggested we keep the boys out overnight, temps being so nice. I thought it was too early to let them out; they'll eat grass all night and not get enough sleep. This will deplete the growing grass. I returned around 10:00 to let them in - they were in the run-in shed! They wanted to come in, really.

Earlier in the evening, while doing my barn chores, I noticed the neighbor's cat skulking around. I don't think he saw me, but I was keeping an eye on him. He went behind the barn, into the boy's pasture. KC charged him! and he skedaddled under the fence. This is the reason I don't worry about Coyotes or stray dogs getting into the field. KC is a bully and will not tolerate an invasion of his territory. On the other hand, Skip has a pet mouse in his stall.

Earlier last week Tom put the lightning rod into the barn's foundation, grounding it at the corner. We do worry about strikes out here, and we've gotten some incredible storms just lately. Better safe than sorry.

Tom continues his work on the patio re-build. It is going to be gorgeous when it is finished and I'm sure he'll throw out the gloves he's been using. Four days until Easter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Anniversary Weekend

This weekend is the anniversary of our settlement date on this farm. Tom had said it would take a full year to turn it around, as usual he was right. The bricks were delivered during the rain on Saturday. As it turns out the driver had to wait so long at the store to load the pallet that he gave up waiting and we got three full pallets, not two and half of another. We can build a bigger patio than planned.

Mid-morning Tom pulled the honeysuckle from the old fence, cut down the little tree that was in there, wired twisted through and around the trunk, and pulled down the pig-wire section. He rolled it up, I pulled the debris to the burn pile. It started to rain.

The delivery driver got pretty wet while unloading the pallets, too, the seat on his three-wheeled fork-lift was soaked, so then were his pants after that. It rained, off and on, all day. Everybody was in. We went over to the old house in the afternoon because we were showing the house to potential renters at 4:30 and 5:00, respectively.

We stopped at a favorite place for lunch and it is now a mattress wholesaler. You turn your back and the place changes. This is why you can't go home again, nothing stays the same and especially you. We ended up at the restaurant closest to our old house. Al Carbon, right across from the METRO station (a favorite for the bus drivers); eating in this unassuming place is its best reward. Real wood-fired grill with a South American slant. Yum!

This part is the roller-coaster of our life: The two potential parties met each other on the sidewalk, coming and going. No pressure, right? Sign up now, it's going fast...And it is raining. The yard is so green...

The first potential renter is actually the sister of the guy from LA, that starts a new job on May 1 and has no place AND has two large dogs. Tick, tock. The second couple consisted of a potential renter that first toured the house on Tuesday, sans the husband. Now he wants to see it. We didn't think he appreciated it, so we immediately discounted them. They left, we locked up the house and headed over to the Post Office and Tom got a call from her. They are at the local Brew Pub and want the house! Tom stopped in to get their information for their credit checks while I went in for donuts at the Fractured Prune. Their specialty is HOT donuts, custom-made to order. Killer. Raining cats and dogs and the meter-maid is giving parking tickets.

We made it home while my favorite radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion," was on. During the broadcast the National Weather service cut in to announce a tornado watch and warning for local counties, including ours. Tom pulled up the weather map and it did look menacing, like the defensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And it was coming our way.

It was getting close to feeding time, I dished out grain, replenished water, hayed everybody and hung out in the barn. The weather front was coming across the bean field, no rain, but a stiff breeze. All of a sudden it got warm, I took off my jacket and rain slicker. Still no rain. The breeze picked up, still warm, but now it was windy. Then the rain came down, horizontally. I was under the over hang in the dry paddock, the Dutch doors were open and KC and Skip were looking out. The rain came down in buckets; the downspouts were flushing water out and the dry paddock was one big pond. It went as fast as it came and the rain subsided to a slight drizzle. It was almost fully dark by then so I went in to fix dinner.

Sunday dawned a beautiful day, albeit with a stiff breeze, most of the puddles were gone. One big pond in the dry paddock, but shrinking. Everybody went out early; KC paused slightly when he saw the old fence was missing and the rolled pig-wire on the ground, but he recovered quickly. Both big boys trotted through the gate and slid on the mud. The grass grew overnight and they both dropped their heads and went to work on the greenery. When Lil Fred went out, he stopped dead in his tracks, then did a beautiful roll-back and scooted out of there. That old fence doesn't look like it used to, so the big chicken was out of there. Sprite nor Skip gave it a second look.

We wasted most of the day going to Lowes', Lowes', and Home Depot. I didn't go into Home Depot because I knew the answer would be the same. It's on the website but we don't stock it. Unobtainium - that element that exists but you can't have. Same old story: you need something that the product requires but can't get it where the product is sold. Like the red cedar siding - it takes aluminum screws because any other will stain the cedar, but you can't get it here. Go somewhere else. These big box stores kill the little stores, then don't carry what the little stores did.

Anyway, Tom will have to go to a specialty hardscape supplier to get the sand mix that the bricks call for, for the installation. In the meantime, he is laying the bricks on the sand base and it looks marvelous!

We stopped for lunch in 'downtown' Lisbon at the Town Grill. A great place in a gas station and convenience store setting. The food is excellent and priced right. Hickory-smoked BBQ and 'real' french fries. Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"I'm Ready for my Close-up, Mr. DeMille"

As promised, here is a short video of Irene on her box, giving her paw on command. The barn cats' daughter is very talented, I think we should have her tested.

Gorgeous Spring Day!

Too bad I'm at work...

The blooming tree in the parking lot circle is blooming, as is the Pear tree. So lovely. Soft, cool morning. Last night was mild, too. Everybody had stayed in yesterday; it rained, heavy at times, for most of the day.

Tom turned them out when we got home and KC trotted five strides then dropped his head. Skip followed, slowly, and did the same thing. The grass grew while it rained. At dark they came in to eat their grain, then turned out again to resume eating grass.

At 9:30 pm they wanted back in, though the evening was mild with a soft breeze. I didn't plan on keeping them out all night, not just yet.

The day dawned clear and beautiful and everybody is out today, catching up on mowing that growing grass down. The latest weather forecast for Saturday says rain. That is the day the brick pavers will be delivered, too. I do have water-proof boots and an excellent rain coat from Muddy Creek (highly recommended) that I can work in. I don't mind being 'wet' if it is not cold. Setting the bricks in the sand base will not be a muddy mess, so it's all good.

Tom is also trying to get a load or two of gravel and stone dust delivered. I honestly don't know what strategy we'll use to get the stone dust where we need it to be in the barn. I'm sure it will entail lots of hand work (shovel and wheel barrow). The guy we've used in the past is not a very good driver, and I don't want him tearing up more of the store-bought stone, like last time. He is reasonably priced, but undoing what damage he's done can take so much time and energy.

Hope the weather straightens out for Monday, when the roofer is scheduled to begin work. We'll keep the bucket in the living room until then.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rain Today, Plans Tomorrow

Raining today, temps in the low 60s, everybody is out. Over the weekend, Tom ordered eight tons of brick pavers for the patio. As you might recall, the previous owners took the patio with them. We have what I like to call a 'sandy beach.' There is several inches of gravel topped by at least six inches of white sand. A perfect base already in place for any brickwork. We've debated and argued what we were going to do with it. Naturally, I didn't want to spend money on it.

Tom ordered the pavers and they will be delivered on Saturday. O boy. So, guess what we're doing this weekend! It will look nice when it is done, like normal people live here.

The new roof will be installed starting on Monday. O boy. We needed it like last year, the timing is really great. Easter is 13 days away, the house will be like new (HA) by then. At least we won't get our heads wet during dinner, right?

We're also in the process of meeting prospective tenants for our old house. We've met some nice people and unfortunately some are just going to be non-starters. We definitely are not holding the house for the next couple months for anybody, unless they want to start paying rent, now.

The house looks really good, too, with the blooming trees and flowers. It always looked better empty, in my opinion! But the house isn't as important as the yard and location/proximity to METRO and downtown amenities. The roof is good and all the appliances work! Couldn't say the same about the farm house.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

Weekends are anticipated, and then gone in a blur. From Friday evening to Monday morning is like a blink of an eye.

On Friday, everybody was in. It rained, off and on, all day. Drove home in the driving rain. Everybody was glad to be in, too. There were seven 'ponds' in the dry paddock and the pasture had standing water. O boy.

The farrier was out on Thursday, but didn't get a minute to ride all weekend. One of these days I'll have my life back!

Saturday, got up early, turned everybody out. Three 'ponds' in the dry paddock, a drying trend! Drove to Gettysburg to pick up ten dining room chairs. Stopped off at Tractor Supply to get extra-strength weed killer, "Pramitol 25E." This herbicide is for the parking lot, which is really turning green. Stronger than Triox, worth the money (I hope). 'Safe' for farm animals, but not for well water heads. On to Southern States Cooperative to get feed for everybody with hooves.

Hurried back to the farm, but now it is almost noon. While I was gone, Tom set some of the loose tiles in the hallway and kitchen with grout. These tiles will eventually be sent to the dump, but in the meantime they clunk and rattle when you walk on them. Unfortunately the installation was done poorly, over existing tile or wood and never was set correctly. Most all are broken, chipped, cracked or in some way compromised.

Unloaded the feed and set off to our old house. Finally the craigslist listing is up; renting the house was on my short list of New Year's resolutions. We filled up the truck with 'stuff' that has been lying around the house. Tackled some of the yard work, bushes and ivy. Our neighbor was mowing his grass.

Back over on Sunday, repeat all of the above, painted the closet interiors, washed the deck, took out more trash, made a dump run with the car because trucks aren't allowed on Sundays. It is looking great and potential renters stopped in for a walk-thru.

I need some serious time to catch up on everything that I didn't get around to doing. Today the temps are in the high 80's.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Thursday in April

Skip is finally shedding. I spent some time with him last night with the rubber curry comb. It was almost like I was shaving him! His legs, neck, everywhere. His hair is very short, so the hair is like dust. His hocks look like he has rain rot, but he doesn't. It is the way he is, it's what makes him so special!

Lil Fred continues to shed, too, and seeks me out to brush him. I wish the birds would clean up the hair for their nests.

The farrier is supposed to come out today to put the shoe back on KC. It has been two weeks. Friends are coming up from North Carolina, camping. Rain is slated for the weekend, naturally. Better than snow, right?

Warmer temperatures this week have made the blooming trees just pop. The peepers are so loud at night, too. The days are getting longer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

First Weekend in April

Had a nice weekend, I'm pooped! Need to get to the job to get some rest. Tom works like a dog, too, certainly much harder than I do. He finished the fence and built a beautiful gate into the patio from the front. Looks better than professional, as usual.

Family and friends descended on us, my aunt left late this morning. It was great seeing everybody and everybody enjoyed playing with the minis. It's like a petting zoo around here, and Sprite especially loves the attention.

Tom finished re-installing the crown moulding and replacing the section that was broken and missing, apparently for years. Base boards, too, in the kitchen. it's coming together, slowly. We are planning on eight for Easter dinner, so, o boy. We have to finish sanding the bathroom's mudded drywall and paint that, too.

Last night, after dinner, he installed a new toilet in the upstairs bathroom. We never use that bathroom, the room probably has to be gutted because of the condition of the tub, the walls and the ceiling damaged by the leaking roof. We'll be getting a roof in a couple, three weeks.

This afternoon I walked our road frontage, picked up a tall kitchen trash-bag full of trash (beer bottles, fast food wrappers, cans, plastic cups, plastic and cigarette boxes). What pigs drive past our house! Wasn't long since we last did that.

I also continue to haul bricks, pavers, cement pieces, logs and sticks, plus broken glass, nails, screws, nuts, washers, bolts, rusty metal, old tools, roofing nails and like that from the side of the parking lot where the old shed was located next to the landscaping bins.

Washed and changed the sheets, grocery shopped, mucked stalls, you know, the usual, right?

Everybody is 'in' and it is now lightning, was rain predicted? Supposed to be 75 degrees tomorrow? I welcome that, but would have liked to have been that warm this weekend instead of the 40 degrees and windy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day

It was snowing when I walked out to feed the kids this morning. What a cruel joke this new month is sharing. By the time we left for work the sun was breaking out of the clouds.

There is standing water in the dry paddock and a mud pit around the gate and run-in shed. Everybody went out, even though it is a muddy mess out there.

Our farrier and me are trading calls back and forth, but the bottom line is that he is out of town and probably not available to put the shoe on KC. Darn it! And this weekend I am having a house full of visitors and family! Naturally.

And the breaking news is that Sprite is finally shedding! Lil Fred and KC continue to drop massive amounts of hair. Skip didn't have much to begin with, so his is more like dusty shavings.