Friday, September 27, 2013

Here, kitty, kitty...

Yeah, I could have used a photo of the word Hell with icicles, but I love Alan Rickman as Snape.

It did happen. Hell froze over.

My husband has fallen for a cat.

Yes, a cat.

The problem is that he is a dog person. No cats. I have never seen him show any affection for any cat. I remember him telling his kids how to "play" with their mother's cat by wrapping its feet in aluminum foil. He can't stand the semi-feral cats that breed on our neighbors porch. Litter after litter since we've moved to Winchester. They wander through our driveway, sit on our trucks, and tear up our trash.

Until now, when the last litter produced a kitten that likes Ghon. She greets Ghon when he comes home from work. She meows for him - and he meows back. She has a strong little motor, purring intensely, and constantly when he - gasp - holds her.

Do you see this? He is playing with it. He is SMILING while holding a cat!

I too have always been a dog person. I was raised by dog people. I have seen a few cats that I've thought were cute or cool, but I've never wanted to own my own. The kids love dogs and cats equally. They would love a kitten.

But our dogs, yeah, they don't like cats. We may or may not have had something to do with encouraging that dislike.

Ghon and I talked about maybe needing to get a cat for the farm. His sister-in-law said she never had a mouse problem while living there. She had at least two cats. Ghon's father and mother-in-law did have mice - and no cat.

I hate mice and snakes, and the farmhouse has both.

Since the cats were bred, born, live at, and fed by the neighbors, we casually asked if they would mind if we take one. We were told to take them all. Thanks, but no thanks. Our neighbor did share with us that the cats would be good for the farm - they've found dead squirrels, a shrew, and two black snakes on their porch.

The cats will kill mice. They have killed snakes. I am totally in. I want a cat. That cat. She has a sibling that looks a lot like her, but she is a bit more aloof. She's comes over and meows at us, but not close enough for us to pick her up.

Being a dog person, I can't say I completely get the cat mentality. I think I've learned over the years that this would mean that aloof cat would likely be demanding for food and otherwise pretty independent. It would probably sleep under the bed or in a separate room, whereas Miss Meow Meow, let me rub all over your calves and roll on your feet and let you hold me would probably sleep on our pillows and come running when we come home. Hell, she already does when Ghon comes home.

As if the giddy face wasn't enough, Ghon actually had me buy cat food and a bowl today. He plans to start sucking up to the cat even more.

You cat people are going to have to tell me if any of this is true, or if it will work.

I have no clue on how to litter train a cat. I am a little nervous to just take her to the house and throw her in with a litter box and bowl of food. Especially with the hole of dirt still in the living room. I can see it becoming a huge litter box. But I'm intrigued by the idea of finding some dead mice though. I really don't care to see them alive or dead, but dead would make me happier.

So again, cat people, let me know what to do here. We can't bring her into our current house for the dogs. I'm even a little nervous for our parrot. This gal will definitely be an indoor cat, but we are still contemplating an outdoor cat too. I suggested one of her siblings, as she got a little sassy with look-a-like when I tossed out some treats today. But how do I keep them from agitating chickens - or do I even need to worry about that?

Please, leave your comments here on the blog. At the end of the page, click "leave a comment." Enter your comment and you can select your google profile or use Name/URL as your identity and just add your name. Please. Tell me what to do with a cat!

Now, with all that cat nonsense behind us, take a look at what Ghon did on Wednesday!

Before and after. Top right is the only section done. I LOVE the color of the floor. Clear seal all the way!

Tuesday night I ran out and picked him up a belt sander so that the floor sanding process could go a lot faster. Well, turns out it didn't really make that much of an impact. Maybe a little, but it was still very time consuming. After cleaning out the mudroom the last round of chick brooding, he sanded for a bit then went to work on the road up the mountain. He cleared back about a quarter mile of roadway for the truck or Dad's Ranger. Of course, he also found a spot to hang his new tree stand.

Want to know what else he found? Lots, and lots, of bear poop. He's seen a bear on the property before and was able to capture some pictures of it on his trail camera last year. He's seen evidence in the form of destruction and poop. Never enter the woods unarmed...

Ghon works all weekend, but I am planning to get to the farm to relocate some Rose of Sharon. I think they are pretty trees, but still can't stand them lining the driveway. We'll see how far I can get with the kids running around.

I took off work next Monday and Tuesday. Monday both Ghon and I will be working at the farm. His goal is to cut some fallen trees into shorter lengths then split and stack. I understand how hard this work can be, and am actually looking forward to it. He also said I can use the chainsaw. I'm a little worried and a little bit more excited about that.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The post you almost never read

I wrote the post below a little over four months ago. I held onto it, never publishing it. It still angers me, but something just feels right about publishing this post now.

I'm angry about something. Very angry. I was going to blog about it last weekend, but decided to wait. I needed to take a few actions first.

I'm still angry. I was going to blog about it today. But my horoscope tells me to not take a negative path about a situation that is tempting me to get all worked up. That instead of choosing a negative path, think of a positive way to deal with the situation. So that's what I'm going to try to do.

This happened. This big freaking pile of trash happened. I don't think I ever talked about the trash pit. There was enough trash left behind in the yard, the attic, and the workshops to deal with. In the back of my mind (and Ghon's & Cindy's) we knew it was there and needed to be dealt with. It was next on the list.

But it got bigger. And we got angry. Someone drove onto our property and dumped their trash. The previous owners had dug a trash pit to dispose of larger items rather than taking them to the local landfill. TVs, furniture, coolers, microwaves, coffee pots, kitty litter buckets and other junk filled the pit.  We asked the owners to stop dumping it there, we'd rather haul it out of house if it wasn't going to be disposed of at the landfill. So it seemed to have stopped.

Until about two weekends ago [Note: this happened approximately May 4, 2013]. The pile got bigger. The blue recliner was moved from the top of the pit to in it. There was room to back into the pit  but those trash cans are now in the way. The pile was not so high on the right.

We saw tire tracks backed into the pit.

We called the Sheriff's department and filed a complaint.

And now, we'll start wading through the trash and dispose of someone else's junk. Again. So yeah, I'm angry. But to turn into something positive, I will have more outdoor time. More time with Cindy. More time cleaning out someone else's trash.

OK, so the bright side, check out our pear tree!
Pears! Our tree has pears!
I keep telling Ghon and Cindy that when we get to landscaping (2014 LRP), I want a snowball bush. I always loved the one my Aunt Dot had at her house in downtown Baltimore.  I thought it was the coolest bush and couldn't wait for it to bloom every year. I asked about them at a nursery somewhere and was told they were hydrangeas. Wrong! I do like those too, but snowballs are awesomeness. Last weekend before I left, I took a look at the front yard and found it. A snowball bush!! I am so excited!

I have a snowball bush! I have a snowball bush! Aren't they pretty?
9/23/13: So there you have it. Someone trespassed on our our property and dumped their trash. By the time this was all uncovered, it was not really safe enough to dig through. Too many dangerous critters could be lurking in there, and frankly, we might just need another dumpster to clean it all out. Staying safe and saving money for the concrete were the priority, as well as other outdoor projects. Therefore, this big heap of trash still sits. I try hard not to look at it because it makes me so angry. Maybe this fall, but more likely next spring, this disgusting hole of trash will become a weekend or two project. We never found out who added to the pile, and likely never will.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bugsday Party & Penny Progress

Despite best intentions, Ghon didn't get to the farm to work on Saturday on his day off.

It was Bugsday Party time!! Jonathan and Genevieve's birthdays are only 9 days apart, so for as long as possible, I plan to have their parties together. This year, we had a bug theme, and invited their friend Jaxson to celebrate, as his birthday is the day after Genevieve's!

The plan Ghon hoped for was to party in the morning (after he mowed grass at the farm and took Jonathan to Tae Kwon Do) then head to the farm to dig for rocks on the mountain top. Thankfully for the party's sake, but not good for Ghon's plans was the forecast of rain. We had the party at 11:00, started clean-up around 2:30. The rain started light, and let loose after we got home. Ghon still wanted to rock hunt in the rain, but I convinced him to stay home for the afternoon.

Spider, ladybug and caterpillar cakes.
Bug themed food. Not shown: Spaghetti worms.
Jonathan & Jaxson - the birthday boys, and many friends!
Making caterpillars, fun on the merry-go-round.

Blowing out candles and playtime!

Our friends Kathryn and Cecil not only came to help us celebrate, they brought pennies!

Thank you! 133 pennies - I'll give you $1.35. Not getting the 3 pennies back. :)

Our friends (and the kiddos Godparents), Larry and Charlotte came back to the house to help us unload the kid loot, as well as Cindy, Kathryn and Cecil. After visiting and constructing new toys, we had a light dinner and settled into the basement with the kids. We ate popcorn, drank lemonade and punch, and watched "Despicable Me." It was a great day!

Sunday brought us pancakes at the firehouse, shopping, and penny processing! I took all the pennies from Kathryn, Laurie, and my Dad from a few weeks ago and transferred them into the metal container we found in the farmhouse attic and have been using for pennies. It's a little hard to see, but that can is getting full. I think it's time to empty out my Kermit and have Ghon count them in the machine at work. Together, we could be getting close to a floor!
Before and after in the penny can. Try to use the black ring at left to gauge depth.

Monday is Ghon's day off, and the weather should be decent, so fingers crossed he gets to dig some of his rocks.

This week, I also found a chimney sweep that does work on the side, so we are hoping to have him help get the insert installed when the time comes. Pennies, partying with friends, and concrete - has made for a great week!

SIDENOTE: As hard as it is to do, we are selling Ghon's 1968 Pontiac LeMans. We haven't had the opportunity to drive it as much since moving to Winchester, and the sale of it will fund a lot of work in the house. So if you are interested, or know anyone that is, let me know.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Living Room Progress

Alert the press! Major progress in the living room!

If you have been keeping up with progress inside the house, you know there hasn't been much happening for the last four months or so.  Any time off work has been spent working outside. We've had gardens to tend to, chicken runs to fence in, and of course, acres of grass to mow. This week however, was different.

Ghon contacted the stone mason we used to tear out the old fireplace and clean the log wall in the living room to talk about next steps in the living room. For sure, we knew we needed to have concrete laid to form a foundation for the wood stove insert. Ghon also wanted to lay a small concrete foundation wall to provide support in the middle of the floor. The room is so wide, finding timbers long enough to support the floor is a challenge. If you recall, the reason most work halted in the room was due to the rotten beam found in the house during the demolition. This new concrete foundation would allow us to put the necessary supports in, lay the floor boards back down, and continue forward progress: adding the stairwell, perhaps adding new windows, reframing the walls, electric, drywall and viola - a room!

As much as possible, we are planning to do the work ourselves. Well, ourselves and any friends and family we can trick into manual labor. Or, call it as it is, we aren't rich, and we will do what we can when we can based on time and money. If we can figure it out, Ghon prefers not to pay anyone to do the work.Which is why we hired a stone mason. And will have a professional roofer. And a professional electrician.

But Ghon figured he could build the forms and lay the concrete.

Then had some doubts.

Then figured it out.

Then just flat ran out of time. Our stone mason, Myron, had told us he could do the work - so we finally decided to let him do it.

Monday was prep day. Ghon picked up the re-bar needed and dropped it off at the house. Ghon cut out the rotten log from the floor. The crew cleared the area, built the forms, and prepared for the concrete.

Quick reminder of what the floor looked like before...

Two floor beams were removed and the concrete forms built.

Concrete delivery was scheduled for Thursday. Both Ghon and I were at work, so Myron and his crew were awesome enough to take some pictures of the delivery for me, as well as video!

Myron, our awesome stone mason, the cement delivery truck, backed up to the front porch, and preparing for concrete delivery!

On my way home from work, I stopped by the farm to see the work completed. I took a few "after" pictures. The concrete was also at the right drying point that I was able to etch our name and year into the center beam.

Concrete! The hearth, a center support and a support along the old bathroom wall to support the cross beams.

Forever etched in the house!
Ah, sweet progress. For Myron to move onto his next steps, we need to continue a rock excavation on the mountain. All of the stone that will go into the base of the hearth and the chimney will come directly from the farm. With the concrete set, we will now be able to put the cross beams in place, then start relaying the floor.

Forward momentum is so exciting!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Take that bad guy!

Ghon had off work Friday and headed out to purchase ammo so I could take some shots with my new handgun. I never expected him to pick up 250 rounds. For me. And 200 rounds for his 1911. And 40 rounds for his .243. That was a lot of ammo. And a lot of money.

I guess he wasn't feeling too motivated today, as usually he works at the farm on his day off. He did a little mowing and did pull some stone down from the top of the hill that will be used in our chimney and hearth in the house. But that was it.

After I finished up work for the day, I headed to the farm to finally shoot my .40 caliber handgun.

First step, was to make a target.  I didn't have a marker, so I made it with pen. Ghon thought it looked silly and said I wouldn't be able to see it. So I outlined it with duct tape. 'Cause anything can be fixed with duct tape.

Ghon was a smarty pants and used spray paint to make his target.  Or bad guy as I kept calling them.

Seriously, what kind of bad guy smiles at you?

After making the targets, I had to learn how to load the clip.

Then, how to properly line the sights to the target.

And then mantra Ghon has always taught me, "squeeze, don't pull."

I did decent with my first few shots. See that bad guy on the left? Ghon's happy bad guy? Yeah, he's not too happy any more. Then it seemed I was all over the place. According to Ghon, seems that I am closing my eyes as I pull, sorry, squeeze, the trigger. Yeah, sounds kinda stupid, and I didn't even realize I was doing it.

In the end though, the distance I was shooting at we deemed to probably be even further than our longest hallway, and the furthest I should every be shooting if for protection. And my shots were good enough to take someone down. If you look at my bad guy, he is sort of a little person. I'm sure with a big bad guy and more mass to aim at, I'd do just fine.

After all the bad guy shooting, and even me taking a few shots with Ghon's 1911, I picked up the kids from daycare (no, they were not around for the bad guy take down). We flipped some burgers and fed some chickens, and met with an electrician I found that will do side work to help us out at the house when we are ready. So that was progress to!

As for Saturday and Sunday, the kids and I were plenty busy. Saturday we had Tae Kwon Do, a Safety Fair where the kids were fitted for new bicycle helmets (free!) and I picked up gun locks (free!) and a ton of other free fun, a pirate themed birthday party, dinner out with Pop and BJ, then I went grocery shopping.  Sunday we had a big breakfast at home, cleaned bedrooms, vacuumed the upstairs, had the kids wet mop the floor, rode bikes, made cookies, played hide and seek, I won 3 out of 5 games of CandyLand, we fed the chickens when Ghon came home then....crashed. Busy, but very fun weekend.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hummingbird Farm gets a Gorilla?

What an amazing weekend! Here's a quick snapshot of what we accomplished at the farm last weekend.

Yep, nothing.

Ghon worked all weekend, shooting a wedding on Saturday and at Best Buy on Sunday. The kids and I had a very busy weekend as well. Saturday we started with Tae Kwon Do class for Jonathan, stopped by Lowes, then off to meet some friends at the park. While we were there, more of their friends from daycare came to play. A few of us had lunch together, then the kids and I were off again, getting Ghon's truck washed, frozen yogurt, shopping at two stores and finally home. After dinner, we did go feed the chickens, but that was all we did at the farm!

Sunday we drove out to Baltimore for a birthday party. It was the kids first pool party. Although Genevieve held onto me most of the time, they both did pretty good. It was her first time in a big pool, and the first time for Jonathan in close to two years. When we came home, we were able to visit some with their big brother Eric. After the little ones went to bed, Ghon took the oldest to see the farm, as Eric hasn't seen it since we purchased it.
While we were out on Sunday, we did see a farm close to ours with new donkeys. The kids both decided we needed to have a donkey. Then Jonathan asked if raccoons could kill gorillas, and since I said no, he has come to the conclusion that our farm must have a gorilla. I told him we already had two monkeys. He changed his request to a chimpanzee for a short bit, but later told Ghon as well that we must have a gorilla.

Sorry Fin, we will not be getting a gorilla.

Chicken update: Ghon installed the automatic door about 4 weeks ago. On Sunday, we lost our first chickens. Saturday night, the kids and I were there late to feed the chickens. We didn't stay to watch the door close, but everyone was accounted for and inside. Monday afternoon when Ghon went down, we were missing two. We've had a hawk hanging around the farm, so we think after a month of predator free nights, we may have lost those two to a daytime hunter. Guess it's time to consider a roof for the run....

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weekend Away from Hummingbird Farm

Labor Day weekend. A holiday that Americans get to take the day off work and honor their work ethic by doing one of three things.

  1. Working. Ghon works retail. He, like many other retail employees, had to work.
  2. Working. For me, Labor Day brings a day off from my career position, but usually just means I have an extra day to catch up or do more mom/housekeeper/shopper/bill payer duties.
  3. Drinking.  
Obviously, neither Ghon or I were partaking in much drinking on Labor Day. Nor were we working at the farm.

Original plans for the weekend did have us spending the day at the farm on Saturday. At the last minute, a friend asked us if we would help out at the chili cook-off in Harrisburg PA. Help out as in serve as the Chief Judge (Ghon) and Scorekeeper (me). We already had plans to serve this role on Sunday in Hanover PA. Knowing this event needed some guidance, we agreed. Friday evening, we loaded up the truck and headed to Harrisburg for the night.

The entire weekend was hot and humid. It gets a little boring for the kids at the chili cook-offs when we run the judging area. I can't run them around to do things, they have to stay close, and they never seem to have the toys they want once there.  The cook-off in Harrisburg is part of their Kipona festival, and close to the chili area was a kids area. They organizers have a ton of volunteers, and a 15-year old boy walked the kids down to the area to play some games and let the kids go down the big slide.

Fifteen year old boys do NOT have the same discretion as mothers do. That should come as a no brainer, right? Of course it does. However, I was not aware that the kids area had a game where you could win goldfish. Jonathan was so proud of his big win of three goldfish. The weekend challenge became how to keep three fair fish alive when we weren't going to be home for over 36 more hours!

Carnival fish. Free frisbee. I enjoy the frisbee much more than fish.
After the cook-off, we drove to Hanover PA for the night to be close to the next chili cook-off location. Once in the room, we ordered pizza, I got the kids bathed and we freed the fish. Into a chili judging cup.

We relaxed and watched the Smurf movie and chowed down on pizza. The kids seem to be taking after Ghon and I, and not really caring to eat when out in the heat all day, as none of us had any proper lunch or snacks, but tore up the pizza. I was playing around on Facebook on my laptop when I saw something leap out of the corner of my eye. I thought one of the kids threw a toy until Ghon yelled "GET IT!".

A fish jumped out of the cup, from the top of the refrigerator, and landed on the floor.

It took me three tries to scoop his slippery butt up off the floor and put him back in the cup. I then took a plastic plate from the pizza, pierced a few holes in it and gave the fish a lid.

They survived the night.

Sunday morning, we packed ourselves and the fish (back in their plastic bag) back up, and headed to Wal-mart, where I picked up a cheap plastic container, with a screw lid, to keep the fish safe at the cook-off site.

When Ghon and I were married 1999, it was the same day as the cook-off in Hanover. No, we did not get married at the cook-off. Obviously though, we often spend our anniversary weekend at a chili cook-off. The chairperson for the event remembered from last year that this was our anniversary and gave me these lovely flowers as a thank you for spending the day with them.

Anniversary flowers from the PA State Chili Chairman
If you look close, you can also see the fish in their little plastic home.

After the judging was underway, we were visited by Ghon's niece Jennifer and her daughter Megan who currently live in Florida. They were visiting with Cindy and her other daughter Krista. The visit was very brief, but it was great to see them all. I don't think they've see the kids in about two years.

Cousins visiting from Florida! Great to see you Jen & Megan!
A juggler made his way near the judging tent, and I asked him if he could show Jonathan some juggling. Not only did the two get their own show, Jonathan was also part of the act with a plate spinning on his finger.

The kids received a personal juggling show at the judging tent.
The kids favorite booth at the cook-off was the airbrushed tattoos. By the end of the day, Jonathan had four tattoos and Genevieve had three.

Also by the end of the day, despite all best efforts, all three fish died. After the first one went, we told Jonathan we would get him a replacement. Then we had to replace them all.

The kids were tattooed multiple times and helped give out the awards.

Remember my plea for saved pennies? Our friend Laurie was amazing this weekend. On Saturday night, she showed up at our hotel room with an orchid for me and a bottle of bourbon for Ghon as a thank you for helping out at the Harrisburg cook-off. On Sunday, she approached the judging tent with a big ol' jar of pennies!

Ghon had the jar still in his truck when he went to work Tuesday so he ran them through the coin counter at the end of the night. This represents roughly 17 square feet of flooring!!! Thanks, Laurie!!

Thanks for contributing pennies to the kitchen floor fund!
On our way home Sunday night, Ghon and I both saw a post on a Facebook Yard Sale site for a .40 caliber pistol for sale. I've always wanted my own handgun, and although I am not entirely sure why, Ghon says he would feel safer with me having one. After some conversations with the seller, I became the new owner on Monday afternoon. It is Ghon's anniversary present for me!  I am itching to purchase some ammunition and try it out. I've shot a few of Ghon's guns, but I am no expert. Virginia is an open carry state, but I plan to take the necessary course so I can apply for a concealed carry permit.  I plan on learning everything I can, and perhaps even taking some kind of gun safety course, even before thinking about doing any kind of open carry business.

My anniversary present - a .40 caliber pistol! In pink! Watch out people - I'm packing heat! Well, sort of.

So there you have it. A weekend away from the farm, but the farm still benefits: pennies and an armed matriarch. As noted, Ghon worked all day Monday, and I had the pleasure of shopping, doing laundry and of course, picking up my pistol.

Since Ghon had a late shift Tuesday, thankfully he was able to mow the grass before heading into work. The new lawn tractor has really decreased the amount of time it takes.