I miss sleep…and other updates from around the farm.

Ever have so much on your plate that even sleep seems to get bumped out of the way?  Not on purpose, mind you, just as an effect of your brain’s constant motion.  For me, sleep has been tenuous for about 2 weeks,.

Maybe it’s the stress of everything–the move, living away from the ranch, buying Jeremiah’s new shoeing trailer (hopefully next week), renovations, caring for all the animals, work…believe it or not the list continues–but sleep has not been my friend of late.

Yesterday, I came home from morning chores and crashed for nearly two hours.  Naps are one of those things that seem like they should help…but then actual sleep time comes around and you’re like, “Eh, I’m good.  I took a nap.”  Then you’re tired the next day, and come midafternoon you probably really feel like taking a nap again.  (Don’t do it.  It’s a trap.)

Usually my solution to temperamental sleep is to make myself busier, but I’m not sure that’s possible at the moment.

For those of you interested in updates, the new floor was put into the master bedroom about a week and a half ago.  That is a huge sigh of relief for me, as it indicates that one room is basically done.  (Hint: If you’re renovating the entire house, like we are, you need at least one room that doesn’t remind you of all the work yet to be done.)

2014-09-14 17.04.01-2 2014-09-14 17.03.54

The old, leaking window in the living room was removed and replaced.  It was super weird to see the giant hole in the house while the contractors worked.  The good news?  Turns out, while the leaking did rot out the floor, and some of the sub-floor, the studs were in perfect shape.  (Meaning we did not have to cut a giant hole in the living room down to the basement.)  The bad news?  According to the contractor, we definitely need to replace the roof ASAP.  That is now on the top of the list of Spring projects.  Luckily, our contractor is awesome and the price is pretty reasonable.

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No window!
2014-09-25 17.19.45
New Window!

We’re also hoping to wrap up the dining room soon.  Two days ago, I worked on pulling up the floor with a claw hammer.  The floor that’s currently installed was popping up in a lot of places, some tiles were water damaged, and there wasn’t any flooring in the center of the room (where an area rug used to go).  We will be putting in bamboo, the same floor we put in the bedroom.  I got about halfway through before I had an ADD moment and started another project.  Jeremiah finished before I came back to it.

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And, on the ranch:

Remember how I wasn’t going to have any roosters but then ended up with one?  Make that two.

Once "Henny Penny," now "Frack."
Once “Henny Penny,” now “Frack.”

Turns out my pullet, “Henny Penny,” wasn’t so Henny.  His name is now “Frack” to match the other rooster “Frick.”  Frick is pretty cool; Frack is kind of a jerk.  All I’m saying is he better shape up; Jeremiah has nearly ended him at least once…

Also, awesome news, I’m riding Cinco!  I’ve been having a trainer come and work with us once a week for a about a month now, and I’m fairly thrilled.  (Of course, yesterday he was pretty much a turd, but we won’t talk about yesterday.)  Now, after all these years of wishing I could keep my horse at home, I’m considering boarding him over the winter at the trainer’s.  Somewhat ironic, I know, but I really would like to be able to keep working with him over the winter, and without an improved riding area at my place, it won’t happen unless I move him.

Cinco!
Cinco!

We’ve done a lot of work together this summer; I would hate to have to start over in the Spring…

Finally, just because it’s cool…

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Albino Clover!  Isn’t it pretty?  I saw it on the way to the horse barn yesterday and had to take a photo…
By the way, my next post will be by a guest blogger.  I will be taking over her blog for a day as well.  Stay tuned.

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Slow progress…and my messy life.

When I was a toddler, I was notorious for making messes.  I was the baby whose highchair sat on a plastic drop cloth.  On spaghetti night (my favorite!) I ate dinner in little more than a diaper, and I was taken straight from the highchair to the tub.  I would have spaghetti in places my parents wouldn’t have thought possible, including in my hair.

Since then, things have gotten better, but, if I’m being completely honest, I never grew out of the mess making.  I rarely eat without dropping food on myself.  I can’t cook without creating chaos in the kitchen.  I am positively incapable of doing barn chores without turning myself into an absolute hot mess (and “hot” is probably wildly inaccurate).

So you guys can maybe imagine how painting turns out for me.

Two days ago at a restaurant:
“You have a mark on your face…?”
“Oh…I know.”

Yesterday at work:
“So what color are you painting your cabinets?”
*I search over my arms for a second, find a relatively large swath of paint, and point.*
“That color.”

So far, I have sacrificed two shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of jeans to the painting gods.  I have found paint in my hair, but only once so far.  I have also gotten paint on the floor, the countertops, a mirror, and the walls.  (As well as on various limbs I  can’t seem to scrub hard enough.)

But…so far…I am digging the new cabinet color.  When I finish, which is a while off with my schedule, I will show all of you, but in the meantime, if I happen to cross your mind and you wonder what I’m up to, there’s a really good chance it’s painting…

DIY: Renovating the kitchen

So, as you all know, we have been undertaking massive renovations on not one, but three houses.  Right now, the most important to me is the main house at the farm.  It isn’t terribly functional yet, and it is the one we’re planning to live in.  As such, we’ve kept busy with constant projects.

The thing is, there is a bizarre-o event that takes place when your house is updated: Suddenly, the rooms you thought were fine, the one you thought you could deal with, start to look shabby.  In my case, that room is the kitchen.

Originally, we thought we would use some of the equity in our Heights house, once it sold, to re-do the kitchen.  Later, when realizing the inherent troubles that come with attempting to heat such a large house with propane, it became obvious that the reasonable thing to do would be to use the money to put in geothermal heating.  Given that gutting and reconstructing a new kitchen will probably cost us our arms, legs, and firstborn child, I decided to deal with the kitchen as-is.  It became the “one day” project.  One day, when we have less debt and fewer projects that HAVE to be done, I will get a new kitchen.  I have no issue with that, but the more we updated around the kitchen, the more dated and out of place the kitchen started to look.

In addition, it isn’t terribly functional for my purposes.  The oven works, but is quite small.  The stovetop has one working burner.

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That’s when the crazy voice inside of my head–let’s call her my Inner DIYer (ala Mother Hen’s Inner Comedienne )or Di–began to follow me into the kitchen.  Every time I crossed the kitchen threshold, she was there.

I’m pretty sure I first met my Inner DIYer when I was seven, and she convinced me to cut my own bangs.  That turned out about as well as you might imagine.  Since then, she has gotten me into a lot of trouble…

“You know what would be nice in here???”

“What?” I mumbled, paying very little attention to her and sorting through likely the millionth llama halter that I probably don’t need.  (Hopefully I will check “donate extra llama halters” off of my list eventually, but at the moment, it’s just one more thing I need to do.)

I have to be honest, it’s dangerous to let Di talk to much.  She has big ideas that will quickly unleash chaos.

“A coffee bar.”

“No.”

“But why???  All you would need is a small island, and like, a few other things, but it wouldn’t be that hard…probably.”

“Because you’re pointing to the washer/dryer…”

“Oh yeah.  Those would have to move, which, by the way, is totally cool because you don’t want house guests to see your dirty underwear on the way to the sunroom ANYWAY!  Besides, think about how bad your barn clothes smell!  Do you really want that in your KITCHEN!  Your food is here.”

I glanced up.  She had a point.  I mean, who wants dirty underwear in their kitchen…and my barn clothes are pretty bad…and Jeremiah’s shoeing clothes are way worse.  Gross…

Di grinned.  She is excellent at reading the room and always knows when to push an issue.

“Know what else?  If you knocked down the wall in front of the washer/dryer, you could put in a breakfast nook.”

“What about the coffee bar?”

She shrugged.  “It will probably still fit.  Or you can just put it in the sunroom.  You’ll be repainting, right?”

“This room?  No.”

“Because you’re in love with the orange and blue floral wallpaper?”

“Because it would require me to REMOVE the orange and blue floral wallpaper.”

“But just think of how good it would look.  I mean, I wasn’t going to say anything, but this room looks ridiculous next to the new dining room.”

I glanced around.  She had a point.

“And it’s dated.”

Also true, but holy cow, whining much?

“And really, I mean, I know it looks small now, but this is a big space.”

I looked around, confused.   “It really isn’t.”

“No, you’re looking at it all wrong.  You have to sort of wipe the slate clean in your head.  Just, like, mentally remove all of the cabinets and appliances…and the washer/dryer.”

It took a moment, but once I did that, I realized she was right.

“So,” she continued, “if you take out this island with the cooktop,” (she slid a finger across it like it was going to infect her with unimaginative design or something) “which only one burner works anyway, and  you took out the cabinet where the stove sits and replace it with a standard oven, you can maximize floor space and open the floor plan.  It will look way bigger.”

“If we take out the island, we’ll have to replace the floor.”

“And…?”

“And that’s expensive and time consuming.”

“Well…yes.  BUT, you could wait on the floor.  Put a rug down in the meantime.  You don’t even like the current floor so who cares.”

“That’s true…but really it’s the cabinets…”

“Yes?”

“I mean, if I could only change one thing…”

“Yes???”

“I would change them.”

“I knew it!”

“But it would be WAY too expensive.”

She scrunched up her nose and looked around.

“We’ll paint them.”

“Oh god…”

“Yeah, I saw it on Pinterest.  Can totally be done.  And it’s going to look great.”

She grinned.

“But first, the we’re going to take down the wallpaper.”

 

 

So, we’ve been tearing down wallpaper (big thanks to my friend Vicky who helped me remove almost all of it), sanding cabinets and prepping for paint, both on the walls and the cabinets.  And we’re discussing tearing out the island, putting in a few new appliances, a new backsplash…

Maybe a breakfast nook…

This is the room I wasn’t going to touch.

 

 

The one where we moved in and then moved back out again…in less than a week.

I spent the morning riding a 17.3hh Friesian Sport horse.  It was a nice change of pace to do something purely for the enjoyment of it, not because it had to be done.  My lesson went exceedingly well, and I left feeling positively gleeful.  That was also a nice change.

The past few days have involved a lot of…erm…poo…hitting a really big fan…metaphorically speaking.  (Probably literally as well, but that’s just life in a barn that runs fans.  We don’t like to think about it too much.)

August 22nd marked the first night actually sleeping at the ranch.  (If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting so much, that’s why.)  Over the past week, we have been nearly frantic with packing, then unpacking, painting and cleaning, and, of course, all of the things that we have to do every day to keep the animals happy and the farm running.  Our moving day began with a massive thunderstorm, then progressed into one of the hottest, most humid days of the summer.

And that was the good part.

After moving to the ranch, Jeremiah and I started to get ill.  First, I blamed my allergies.   My eyes were itchy.  I was sneezy.  (Incidentally, “Sneezy” is one of Jeremiah’s nicknames for me; I call him Grumpy in return.)  I had a vaguely sore throat.  Jeremiah had a headache.

Allergies, right?

But then it got worse.  I was fatigued.  I had stabbing pains in my abdomen.  My eyes went from itchy to burning (as in, I couldn’t even wear my contacts).  My sore throat became almost unbearable.  Jeremiah’s headache progressed from mild to near-migraine.  We both started having respiratory problems.

Turns out, the house has some issues.  We discovered the first issue when Jeremiah went downstairs to light a pilot light in the water heater.  To get to it, he had to make his way through one of the rooms with the previous owners’ belongings.  When he did, he discovered that the downstairs bedrooms have some serious mold going on.  That would explain my increased allergies.

The next day, when his mother came over and commented on the moth ball smell in the house, Jeremiah explained that moth balls are all over the place in the house, and that we had been removing them as we cleaned upstairs.  However, there are tons of them in the basement as well; we can’t remove them until the previous owners’ belongings move out.

She started thinking.

About an hour later she sent the two of us a text explaining the effects of moth ball poisoning.  Actually, it’s naphthalene poisoning, but you get naphthalene poisoning from moth balls, so moth ball poisoning.  Turns out, our symptoms read like a checklist of the early effects of exposure to naphthalene.

Did you know that moth balls are incredibly toxic?  Yeah…me either.

They can make you very sick if you breathe the vapor they produce as they break down.  They are also highly carcinogenic.  They can burn your retinas.  They can cause cataracts.  Turns out, they can even put you in a coma (but I’m pretty sure you would have to stir them up in your tea for that to happen).  Either way, nasty stuff.  If you have kids or pets, you probably shouldn’t have moth balls, and if you choose to use them, make sure that they are in a sealed container, like a garment or blanket bag.

But I digress…

Once my mama-in-law sent over that information, we started packing up (again).  Let me tell you, repacking household items only days after you had unpacked them is depressing.  I have no words really.  The first thing we did was load our pups into the car and take them to my mom’s place.  Tomorrow, I will bring them back to the Heights house, as we are temporarily set up again over there, but for the last day and a half they have been having a sleep over.  After that, we packed up the necessities and high tailed it back to the other house.

There is a plan in action to clean up the mold and the moth balls, so this is far from permanent, but for the time being, we’re back to managing the ranch from across the river.

This sort of thing is often referred to as a bump in the road.  Over the past few days, our road has gotten pretty darn bumpy.

The good news?  (And there is A LOT of good here.)

First, we figured this out RIGHT AWAY.  Long term exposure to either the mold or the moth balls can cause pretty nasty damage, so it is a huge blessing that we figured those things out when we did.  Props to Jeremiah’s mama for putting two and two together.  (Also, in case you were wondering, we’re both way better now; it took about 12 hours of being moved out of the house for pretty much all of our symptoms to go away.)

Second, we weren’t fully packed up, and a lot of what we unpacked can stay until this is remedied.

Third, we hadn’t moved any of the small critters.  The cats and hedgehogs were still in the Heights.  The moth balls could have caused serious problems for our hedgies delicate respiratory systems, so it’s fantastic that they won’t move in until this is cleared up.

The cats last night.  I think they were pretty happy to have us home.
The cats last night. I think they were pretty happy to have us home.

Fourth, even though it made us sick, living at the ranch gave us a bunch of time to get stuff done.  Half of the upstairs is newly painted.  The exterior of the house is about a quarter painted.  We got a bunch of cleaning done.

The house before Jeremiah started his work on it.
The house before Jeremiah started his work on it.
Slightly different angle on the same part of the house yesterday.
Slightly different angle on the same part of the house yesterday.

Finally, we both got a good taste of what it is like to wake up and be able to meander up to the barn to take care of the animals.  No drive.   No rush.  Bliss.  Even with all that has happened, I cannot wait for the day we can do that every morning.  I just have to get past a few bumps in the road first.

(SNEAK PEAK: Our fourth wedding anniversary is coming up in a few days.  I cannot wait to introduce you to…ummm…I mean show you…my present.  Stay tuned.)

 

The last few days

The past few days have been exceptionally busy, even for me.  With my guy gone (for the last four days) I was handling everything from the house and dogs to the llamas and horses (including our new boarder).  And that was on top of preparing for vacation, hammering out the details of an aircraft sale, and all the normal house chores, like dishes and laundry.  We did get a $60 city code citation (apparently our grass was too long at the Heights house) while he was gone, and the sump pump stopped working without me noticing (so the basement at the Heights house flooded…a little), but those issues aside, I would say that I successfully negotiated the craziness. Mostly.  I mean, everyone is alive and well.  And I had help.

For the past few days, I’ve stolen Jeremiah’s little sister (who is still in high school) and dragged her out to the farm with me.  She loves the horses and the llamas, and they love her.  Plus, the feral barn cat (who I aptly named Will Ferrell (Feral)  because you get to say things all day like “Will Ferrell is peeing in the garden again” or “Has anyone seen Will Ferrell in the barn today?”) has befriended her and lets her pet him.  He will let no one pet him.

Despite all of the relative craziness, we’ve gotten a lot done.  Cleaning the runs outside of stalls, planting, and finishing up a good chunk of my tack room…the two of us have been busy bees!  (Side note, I’ve decided I’m keeping her.  She is a lot of fun to have around and so helpful!)

The last few days:

Cleaning pastures.

Totally clean llama run!  It won't stay that way long...and I refuse to post a before.  Just appreciate the after.
Totally clean llama run! It won’t stay that way long…and I refuse to post a before. Just appreciate the after.

 

New shelves for the tack room.

Unfinished wood crates.  Soon to be the shelving in the tack room.
Unfinished wood crates. Soon to be the shelving in the tack room.
Finishing and staining the crates.  I won't lie, this step took us several days.
Finishing and staining the crates. I won’t lie, this step took us several days.
Mostly finished
Mostly finished
End result.  I think I will add a few more crates to this in the future.  But it's done for now!
End result. I think I will add a few more crates to this in the future. But it’s done for now!

A new kitty tree for the tack room.

Started in a box with visual instructions.
Started in a box with visual instructions.
Putting the pieces together was a trip.  I think I had to take pieces off again and restart three times.
Putting the pieces together was a trip. I think I had to take pieces off again and restart three times.
Finished product!
Finished product!
She wasn't really impressed.
She wasn’t really impressed.

Helper

She spent 5 minutes watching us from just outside the room.
She spent 5 minutes watching us from just outside the room.

Oh – And this!

We found tadpoles in the kiddie pool!
We found tadpoles in the kiddie pool!

And now I’m off again!  There’s plenty to do at the farm before we leave tomorrow (and I’m still working on that sale), but, starting tomorrow, I have a few days of vacation from everything.  I cannot wait!

OH – And just a reminder. You can like almostfarmgirl on facebook now. (facebook.com/almostfarmgirl)