Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Fence Fun (Not!)

Our solar electric fence has been a total failure so far. It never worked right from the start and we just thought it was a grounding issue. After trying to work on that and it still didn't work right we just about gave up.

Then after one particularly windy day we noticed the charger unit was showing in the red (not green like it's supposed to) indicating some sort of failure. My husband walked the fence line and found a branch laying across the wire. In spite of removal of the branch the unit still didn't work.

So we turned it off, thinking maybe the charge had run out and it just needed to be recharged. Every time I go out to feed I turn it on, hoping to see the needle jump from the red to the green, but no such luck.

Hubby is out of town for a couple of days so today I decided to walk the fence line and see if there was another branch or something on the line.

Here's what I found.
It's obvious that something got snarled up in the fence and did some damage. The yellow clips along the bottom are the neighbor's wire.
I decided to do a little more investigating and the culprit wasn't hard to find.
If you click on the pictures you will clearly see the barbed wire shred on the side in the above picure and the shoulder rip on this picture.
With my keen powers of observation there's no telling how long it's been like this. At least it was just the horse blanket that got a bit shredded and not the horse.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Painting Started

Yesterday afternoon I got the first part of my dental crown. The news was not encouraging. The dentist said he was concerned that the fracture ran from the back of the tooth to the front, rather than from side to side. I got my temporary crown on and he wants to see how it does for the next two weeks before he even orders the new crown. Apparently there is more of a risk for the tooth to totally split and/or the root to get infected which would call for a root canal. I'm going to be very careful for the next few weeks!

So today we went and bought my new fancy ladder. It is absolutely perfect for our tall walls. You can see I got one coat on the first wall. Look how much brighter the room looks already! I'm thinking I will put a second coat on and then do a first coat on the second wall. The next day I will second coat the second wall and first coat the third wall, and so on. Unless I'm feeling unusually energetic. Then I'll do more.

This afternoon our driveway alarm went off and I looked out to see a little van driving up to the house. It was a man from the county assessor's office. Since the house was newly sold he wanted to ask us a few questions. Plus he wanted to measure the play room.

Seems they did not have the accurate measurements/square footage of the house in their county files. How does this happen? The plans have to be approved by the county prior to building, plus an inspector has to come out and check things during the build. I don't get it. According to the county man they have been out to this house a few times in the eleven years that it has been here but somehow they have managed to not have the correct square footage. He said had it not been sold they would be after the last owner for the increased taxes this will no doubt create plus back taxes for the last five years!

I guess the good news for us is that the added assessment will not take affect until January 1, 2013. And since we are new owners we don't have to "worry about back taxes". Regardless, I'm not happy about this latest development. We're pretty much stretched to the limit as it is and knowing there is a good possibility that our house payment will increase by a good amount (albeit one year from now) does not make me happy at all. This definately bears a little research.


Hope your day is better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Best Laid Plans

We woke up this morning to the wind blowing the snow down. After a while it turned into big pretty flakes that quickly filled everything in. When we walked to check the mail it was quite beautiful. On the way back to the house though, we were walking into the wind and I ended up with a few giant flakes getting sucked up my nose!
How perfect though! I dressed in my painting clothes and had my husband help me bring the big ladder in. I knew the little ladder wouldn't be big enough to reach to top of the wall at the 11 1/2' ceiling.

First problem: there was no way the big ladder would fit throught the door of the bedroom from the hallway. Problem solved: remove the screen from the window and bring it in from the deck! That worked like a charm.

Second problem: turns out the ladder is 12' long. Too big to fit into the room! Looks like I'll be buying an in-between ladder soon. Maybe tomorrow after my dentist appointment to get a new crown. I'm not really looking forward to that.

Anyway, I avoided working on the office and I made a batch of potstickers. Well, Monday was the Chinese New Year after all!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Choosing A Paint Color

My husband is a little antsy to get started on the painting. Correction: He's a little antsy for me to get started on the painting. I didn't want to start on the living room just yet because I've had this image in my head for the second bedroom and I want to do that first.

We finally got all the boxes out of there and the day bed is put together and ready for visitors. The room is lacking a little furniture but at least there's a bed!

My idea was to have one "accent" wall in a textured wallpaper, and paint the other three walls. (Think maybe I've been watching a little too much HGTV and/or DIY TV?)

So the first thing I had to do was figure out what color paint I wanted. We aren't in any hurry to replace the carpet just yet, even though it's a less than pretty piney green w/flecks of yellow low shag. I'm glad to say the bedding I had picked out in Bakersfield for the day bed fits in well with the different shades of green it has in it.
The way I choose my colors is the same way I vote. By process of elimination. The ones I like least are thrown out first. (Side note: Why is it I always feel like I have to vote for the lesser of the evils???)

It's taken 2 1/2 days but I finally picked my color. It's from the "whites and neutrals" and it has the faintest shade of green in it. Once it's on the wall you may think it's just white.
We went to the Bend Lowe's and got a few supplies. I found the wall paper I wanted and ordered it. This will be the second time I've done wallpaper. And this is not a prepasted. I'm a little nervous about it but I'm sure I can do it.

Maybe I can get the three other walls painted before the wall paper gets here. Right now they're a medium gray color.
In case you are wondering why I'm not using the paint sprayer it's because I'm kind of hesitant to use it at this point because of the wood ceilings. I'll see how this room goes first. Maybe I'll use it on another room. But we have vaulted wood ceilings and wood trim everywhere.

The other thing I did was yesterday during the first football game. I took the tractor out and got started on another path. I'd much rather be doing that than painting right now. I sure had fun!

Well I can't say I'm lacking for things to do, that's for sure. It's just what would I prefer to be doing at the moment? For example: my "office" space is still in quite a shambles. I haven't worked on that area since the last time I mentioned it.

Well, little by little we're chipping away at what needs to be done. I like to see the progress!

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Dog Collars

Our latest big news item: The dogs got fancy new light-up collars!

We figured since we didn't have a fence yet and there's no telling when that might happen we might as well get the dogs these fancy flashy light-up collars. Besides they were on sale!

I had a hard time getting a picture with the collars turned on. With the camera in the regular mode it flashed and you couldn't see the lights. When I turned the flash on the camera off the camera still took in too much light and you couldn't see the collar lights. So this picture was the best I could do where you could still see the flashy lights on their collars. Sorry for the blurriness.
While I was "working" on this post my husband asked if I couldn't take a picture with my I-phone. And while I don't have an unlimited data plan and I have to pay extra for every picture I send I figured it was certainly worth a try and here are the results!

This is the same view as the above picture only with my i-phone. You can see the collar lights in the darkness. (Gus is on the left, Clyde is on the right.)
A "close up" of Gus's collar.
And with the lights on you can kind of still see the lights on their collars!

If you are interested in a collar for your dog I got it from www.keepdoggiesafe.com. Maybe you can even see the collar a little better. The collar has three modes: flashes on and off; steady on; or off. When I let the dogs out tonight I could really see where they were in the darkness. It's kind of cool!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Acorn Squash Soup

This soup is so delectably rich and delicious, yet it is so simple to make! I threw it together when we had an extra acorn squash that needed to be cooked.

The ingredients are 1 acorn squash, 1 C beef broth, 1 C heavy cream, 2 C milk.
First bake the squash. Cut it in half, clean out the seeds. Lightly oil or spray Pam on the exposed flesh and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.

When the squash is done you can either wrap it up and put it in the fridge to finish later or continue. Scoop out the flesh and place in a large bowl or pot.
Add the broth and blend with stick blender until smooth.
Add the cream and blend until smooth.
Add the milk and blend...
Serve hot or cold (like a vichysoisse).
You could probably do this in a stand blender too if it has a big enough capacity. Notice the only fattening thing is the one cup of cream. There is no added butter or salt and in my opinion no need for it. The cream makes it very filling and rich so you don't need a whole lot. It makes a great appetizer or little snack. If you wanted to lighten it up you could probably substitute the cream with half and half and the milk with low fat milk. But really, why would you?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cat & A Cheesecake

Just to let you know, the cat and the cheesecake don't have anything to do with each other.

I took this picture of Ollie totally relaxed in front of the fire last night.
She was flat on her back and when I took this picture she glared at me like she wanted me to go away and let her bask in the warmth from the fire.
Yesterday I also made this mini cheesecake that we ate tonight.
It turned out better than I expected because I took a recipe and kind of divided it by four to have a small portion. We had one package of cream cheese, just a bit of sour cream, and some oranges and blueberries that had been in the fridge for a while. I wanted to do something with them before they went bad and I'm happy to say it was a success.
I will attempt to recreate this recipe (it made two mini cheesecakes) at a later time which I will record and if it turns out good again I will post it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not Much Today

Didn't do much today but sit around and try to stay warm. It was chilly today! And a little on the dreary side. This is the first sun we saw all day. It was right around 4:30pm so about 2o minutes later it was gone...
I did manage to start straightening up my office area. I have a feeling it's going to be a long and drawn out process. I think I'm a borderline hoarder! My straightening process consists of taking everything out of one box, deciding if I still need it (but of course!!!), and then placing that stuff in new piles.

I did get myself to throw some stuff away so far. Like I said, it will be a long process.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Loop With Jumps

I have a couple of jumps on my "loop" now. I was going to do a little video of me on Star jumping them but I think my Nikon Coolpix camera has suffered serious damage from being stored for so long. Plus it had gotten knocked around quite a bit before that, so... Besides that I was going to ride today because it's really pretty out, but it is a little too windy. Anybody who rides knows that windy + horseback riding = not a good idea.

We are going to take the tour first going counter-clockwise. This is the jump I showed when I built it in the shop. It is not permanent so I am able to move it to any location if I decide to. This would also make a good stadium jump if I ever get an arena built. I will eventually!
Next is this tiny jump. And by tiny I mean narrow. It's only about 2 feet wide and about to the top of my knees. These are some railroad ties I found in the brush and dragged out. They may have been part of fence posts at one time?? I am thinking I would like to place a wall of rocks from the rock pile on either side of these. That would make it look more like a "real" jump.
Next up is this simple jump. I made it using scraps from Dakota's plywood walls. Obviously it is also very portable. In fact the wind had pushed it over and I had to pick it up for the picture.
And around the bend starting up hill is a couple of sticks I put together. I can actually just step over this one. I think it's about 8". Truly baby novice size.
At the top of the loop the next one is a little bit more substantial than that last one.
At first I had just piled the "logs" up but the other day I went out and actually tied them together so it looks more like a real jump rather than a pile of brush across the path.
Now we turn around and go clockwise.
Around the corner going down hill and you can barely see the sticks near the bottom.
There they are!
Around the bottom corner and heading uphill again.
The narrow r/r ties and the first jump behind it.
The made jumps will eventually be painted, and the others (r/r ties, logs/branches) will be left natural. I'm trying to make my jumps jumpable from both directions so I have a little more variety.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chilly Morning

This is what the temperature was when I got up at 8:30 this morning. A little chilly.
It was a little foggy but the fog was lifting rapidly.
This was taken just 30 minutes after the above picture.
It looks like it's going to be a beautiful day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!

I suppose it's a good thing we didn't do the kitchen update after all.

My husband took his truck in yesterday to get some work done on the front end and now they are saying it will be more than the original $500 estimate. Aarrrrgh. He also decided (rightly) that the truck needs a couple of new tires... to the tune of about $260 apiece. More aarrrrgh!!!!

The fence guy came out and gave us some advice about the electric fence. The bad news: We are in a bad area for electric fences. It has to do with the dryness of the area, the rockiness, the climate, etc. It's not impossible but it's not the news I had hoped for. Meanwhile he took the measurements for the area we wanted cyclone fenced and he will be calling us with that estimate.

Tonight we went out to #1: feed, and #2: chop wood for this evening's fire. Hubby went out first to cut the wood and a minute later came back in to let me know the bull was not in his pen.


We both went out to find him. I opened his gate wide and threw a flake of hay in his pen. We found him to the far south west (not far from his pen) and managed to herd him back. I think it helped that it was the normal dinner time.

I found the spot where he escaped from his pen and fixed it. I did see some blood on the ground and after examining him I found a small scrape on Dakota's shoulder. *HUGE SIGH*

So hopefully now things will calm down a bit and the $ bleed will slow down.

I took some comfort tonight in a picture of our old cat, Kneadermeier (about 13?)...
...and our goof ball dog, Clyde.
One day at a time...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Moving Rocks

We've been working on getting our electric fence to work for a long time now. Every other day my husband has been trying different things and buying different things in an attempt to make the fence work. I've been asking him to call a professional fence guy for a while, but I guess he thought he could do it. He's probably thinking: After all, the neighbors behind us have an electric fence that works. I'm thinking: A local professional would certainly know what he's doing.

I may have mentioned way back when we had stopped by the fence company and left our number. The secretary was supposed to give the owner/worker the number but we never got a call back.

Today when after two hours of more work and no results my husband decided we needed an $80 electric fence checker I just looked at him and kind of pouted a bit. And then he had a moment of brilliance. "You know," he said, "It will probably cost that much to have somebody come out to check it. What do you say to calling someone and having them take a look?"

Being the wise woman I like to think I am I wholeheartedly agreed. And being the wise woman I like to think I am I never said aloud what I was thinking: We could have saved some money, time, and aggravation if we had called sooner!

So he went into town to talk to the fence guy. As we suspected he never got our number. He said he would have remembered it since we have an out-of-state area code (cell number). He'll (hopefully) be coming out some time tomorrow to take a look and maybe fix the electric fence and also give us an estimate to build a chain link fenced area for the dogs.

In preparation for that we decided to move the (killer) rocks along the front of the driveway. In this picture we have cleared the rocks from the area next to that cement curb. Beyond that you can sort of see the curve of that section of driveway where the rocks have been pushed in line with the tree. That's the part where my car got stuck when I didn't turn sharply enough when I came out of the garage!
Next section getting cleared.
Making a nice rock pile. I already have plans for repurposing some of these rocks!
The rocks are mostly gone from where we want to build the chain link fence.
The rock pile.
And the only casualty from the day. I somehow managed to smash a finger and break my nail. Ouch.
Oh well, it's about time for a fill anyhow.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our Garbage

We did not sign up for garbage service so we have to deal with our trash ourselves. This is the first time we've ever been without any sort of garbage service so it is a little bit of a learning curve.

We have learned to separate cardboard, glass, tin (and aluminum) cans, magazines, plastic containers, and paper. Here in the laundry room is the bottle container, plastic bags with plastic containers and metal cans.
We've only been to the landfill once so far, which was at the end of November.

All the "recyclables" are unloaded outside the dump in marked bins, so we have learned to load the truck up accordingly. All the household trash goes in the back toward the cab.
The Christmas tree is the last to be loaded, then we tie down and go.
Here are the bins for newspapers, magazines, plastic containers, etc.
After off-loading the recyclables we drive onto the scale to get the starting weight. Then we drive to the various "cells" to off-load miscellaneous trash like a broken Rubbermaid box, giant plastic tarp thing that covered the new guest mattress, and so on.

Final stop is the regular household trash.

The truck gets weighed on the way out and we pay our fee. So far we haven't gone over 300 pounds so our dump fee is only $10.

It amazes me how we have changed our garbage habits. I used to put a new bag in the kitchen trash at least once a day. Now that we are separating everything it's more like once every three or four days. It's not that difficult to put the different things in their place once you get used to it. The only thing we don't bring to the dump is paper trash, like paper towels, trash mail, the rolls inside the toilet paper or paper towels, etc. All that stuff is burnable so we put it in the fireplace to help start the fire. I'm not sure how that will change come summer (maybe chiminea fodder?).

The only thing I'm not doing at the moment is an indoor compost pot (coffee grounds, peels, etc.) Baby steps!

Now that I think we have the hang of it I'm going to get a place outside to store everything until we make our dump run. It is definitely worth it if we only have to go to the dump once every month or so and it's only costing us $10. I can certainly live with that.