Monday, June 30, 2008

Task Complete!

Our new living room color (minus scalloped trim!).

We did it. It was a TON of work, but we managed to move 12K pounds of stuff (furniture and boxes) from our storage facility into our new home. It took two weekends, two trucks, three trips, 4 adults, and a lot of gatorade and water! DH and I did a big chunk of it last weekend, but this weekend we solicited help. The worst item was a 400 lb upright piano. Oh, and record setting heat didn't help, either! BUT, both our garage at the apartment complex and our entire storage site are completely empty. As of tomorrow, we will no longer be paying for either of them. Whew!

We now have 5 bikes in our apartment and it's creating havoc. One of our dogs is afraid of bikes in the house. She's ok with them on the road and will actually run next to one (on the leash) with little coaxing. But, bring a bike into the house and she's terrified. The poor thing is having panic attacks because there are bikes everywhere. We have one on the balcony, two in the spare room and two in the living room. That leaves our bedroom as her only 'safe haven'. Tonight the plan is to make a run to the house and drop off 3 of those bikes and pick up a broom. We still need to sweep out the garage before we can say that we are 100% done. We'll keep the remaining two bikes in the spare room with the door shut, and she should be able to relax.

This week we also managed to get the scalloped trim out of the living room at the house, got the living room and most of the front hall painted, and we got the guest room painted. The next task is to take down the wallpaper borders and prime the basement room. Then we can get that room painted and get the computers & desks moved in and set up. Then I think our bedroom has to be next - or maybe the laundry room....hard to say. So much to do! I'm dying to paint the kitchen, but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself.

We are already seeing some sprouting on the seeds planted last week. All of the squash plants are sprouting and one of the cukes, too. We have lots of corn sprouts in the tilled area, too. Tonight we plan to get the watermelons in, and to plant more corn and more beans. AND, I promise to take photos. I can't believe that I had my camera with me all weekend and didn't get any photos taken!

For the long weekend, our goals are:
  • get the chicken coop/tractor built
  • finish interior painting
  • build compost bin

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Planting and painting

This is a 'before' photo of the living room. It's hard to see, but that trim at the top hiding the lighting? It's pink and scalloped... Nice, huh? I'd also like to mention that this is not our stuff. This photo was part of the original listing - that's the seller's furniture.

I'm quickly learning that my plans to get things done this week were grossly over-ambitious! We have gone to the house each night this week so far, and we've just barely gotten through my list of stuff for Monday night! The garden is planted save for the seeds that we don't yet have (they should be arriving today or tomorrow). The herb boxes are painted and filled - and I'll plant them tonight. I opted to only fill two of them instead of the original 3 because I was running out of Mel's Mix. We are going to make some more, but I figured that two is fine to start and we'll use what's left of the mix to supplement a few of the main boxes that are a little low.

The guest room is almost painted. It took 4 coats of paint to cover the trim, so that kind of sucked. The walls were fairly easy though. The problem is that the new color I'm painting on the walls is EXACTLY the same color as the walls are now when its wet. So I roll a section and I can't tell if it's done until it dries and turns darker. It's a major pain! Luckily, because the colors are so close, we only need one coat.

H finished cutting off the tacky scalloped trim on the overhang in the living room. He's also painted it white, so that is looking much better. We also wizened up to the idea of PRIMER. Duh! So now we are applying primer to all the trim prior to painting it. Hopefully this will save us both time and paint as 4 coats is just too much.

Tonight the plan is to finish up the guest room (one more wall to roll), and start on the living room. I may also consider putting up the primer in the office. Half the walls in there are a dark green, so we figure a good coat of primer will be necessary. I'll also have to take down the border, so maybe I'll do that tonight too. There are wallpaper borders in the second bath, the laundry room and in the room that we will be making an office. Fun, fun, fun. I'll also plan on planting the herb seeds tonight and putting in the grids on the square food garden beds, but that should be pretty quick. Oh, and I'll definitely take photos! I took my camera on Monday night but forgot to take photos until it was too dark. Then I tried on Tuesday, but discovered that my memory card wasn't in the camera. Then last night, I again forgot until it was too dark! I tried to take a few rose photos anyway, but it was too windy and with the flash, they came out blurry. I'll do better tonight, I promise!

So our goals are now to get the guest room, living room and office painted prior to Saturday. Then on Sunday:
  • finish changing out locks
  • plant more potatoes
  • get compost set up
  • paint dining room
  • start on chicken coop

Monday, June 23, 2008

One Third - moved!

We had approximately 2/3rds of the stuff we owned in long term storage from our move across the country. We are currently renting a small 2 bedroom apartment, so most of what we owned went into storage and only the basics are in the apartment. Our plan is to be out of the storage by the end of June. As I mentioned in my last post, we rented a 17' truck on Friday to get this started. H and I managed to move better than 1/2 of what was in storage, into our new home (about 1/3 of our total stuff). This included the washer and dryer, tons and tons of boxes, an armoire, some patio furniture, a couch, a few misc pieces of furniture, tons of garage stuff, etc. H ordered a thing called a 'forearm forklift' from some internet site. It's basically two long orange straps with padded loops at each end. I looked at it and highly doubted that it would do anything for us. HOLY Amazing, Batman!! Seriously. This thing really worked. It made it possible for me to lift equally with H - and for us to get all this stuff into the house (which means up 3 steps no matter what door we enter) with relative ease. It was exhasting, but it worked! Here is a picture of it in use (no, this is not us):

We did try it on the 400lb piano without much luck. Upon reading the instructions later that evening, I think we are going to try again. We were too bent over trying to lift it, so we may still be able to do this. Can you imagine, two regular sized people (one of them female) lifting a 400lb piano? That'll be something, won't it? We'll see.

On Saturday, we helped some friends move. We took the straps with us, and they were just as amazed. It not only makes things lighter, it makes them much easier to maneuver around corners and up and down steps. Anyway, I would highly recommend them. When I searched for the above photo, I discovered that these things are at Linens & Things for only $19.99. Totally a worthwhile investment!! Anyway, the same friends will be helping us move the remaining items out of storage next weekend (including that piano). Then we'll be 2/3rds moved! The final third won't happen until July sometime - maybe even in August. We have the apartment until Sept 9th - so there is no real rush outside of our desire to get this process done and over with...

So on Sunday, we finally made it to the house with a whole day in order to do some work. We managed to finish building all of our garden boxes, got all the soil mixed (minus one little calculation error on my part) and got the plant starts we'd bought into the soil. We also got three of the 6 trellises built and up so that the tomato plants had something to hang on to... We are going back tonight to get the seeds planted and finish the trellises. I'll take pictures then and post them tomorrow.

We are using the square foot gardening method. In a nutshell, this means we are using 6 inch deep boxes (we did one that was 12 inches deep for carrots, parsnips and maybe potatoes), filled with "Mel's Mix" soil and divided them into 1 sq foot sections. Some of our boxes have trellis netting on one side (the north side) for climbing plants. We did 8 boxes (3 4x4, 4 2x4, 1 2x4 12" deep) out near the tilled garden and 3 smaller boxes on the deck (3x1) for herbs. So far, we have 6 tomato plants (different varieties), 5 pepper plants, 1 cuke, and 1 eggplant. The rest we'll grow from seeds. I'm keeping good record so that we can see how things do (including yields when the time comes). The Mel's Mix is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 mixed compost. In order to get mixed compost (since we don't have our own ready yet), we bought 5 different kinds at various stores and mixed them all up on a tarp. Then we divided that into 4ths and mixed in the same amount of peat moss and vermiculite. We'd finished mixing half of it when we took a water break. While relaxing, I pulled out the SFG book to review how to water the mix. When I did, I realized that I'd figured out the peat moss incorrectly. I was using the compressed volume, not the expanded volume. This meant that the mix we made had approximately twice as much peat moss as necessary. Oops. We'd already dumped it into the boxes too...and since they were bottomless (essentially - weed cloth only), there was no way to dump them out and remix. We had to wing it, mixing in more vermiculite/compost by hand until we got a good ratio. What a pain (and what back-breaking work!). Eventually, we got it right. While I planted and tied up the trellis netting, H started changing locks on the house.

Tonight we'll be heading back and our plans are to:

  • get the seeds sown
  • change the locks
  • get two rooms prepped for painting (switch plates off walls, trim taped, tarp down, etc).
  • I also need to finish painting the deck boxes, get them filled and get the herbs planted.

I think we can get this done tonight! Ultimately, we want to get the guest room, living room, basement office, kitchen and laundry room painted before this weekend. That'll leave the two bathrooms, the dinning room and the master bedroom still to paint prior to moving everything from the apartment. And, the exertior will be the first big project after we move in. We'll need to replace some siding to do that, we are waiting until we are living there before starting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Yep, that's what the photo at the start of yesterday's entry is of...blackberries, of some sort. The photo above is obviously apples. Can't wait to see what type!

I took a load of misc stuff from storage to the house last night. I wanted to check on the tomato plants and pick up something I'd left there. I didn't want to drive all the way over there with an empty car, so I loaded up what I could fit - a patio chair (with a small tear in it..grrr), a lamp shade, pieces of the bowflex, and a few garden tools. In other words, not much!

Anyway, while I was over there, I checked on the garden and saw no mole activity yet. Yay! I also saw no signs of birds eating our corn - so perhaps my plastic cup and plastic bag blowing in the wind is working? Upon further investigation into the unidentified berry bushes, I discovered that the same branches that are showing buds are also dead on some ends. The dead parts have dried out berries on them that never got harvested last year. These berries are definitely NOT a raspberry, but some type of blackberry. Now I only hope that they are the delicious edible kind! Oh, and if the berries left on the branches from last year are any indication, we should get TONS of these suckers. Plus, we noticed some of these same plants growning on the opposite side of the yard against the fence mixed in with the crazy grape plants. Again, just futher indication that we are going to be up to our eyeballs in fruit!

Tomorrow H and I are both taking the day off. We've rented a 17' foot truck to move as much stuff out of storage as we can lift with just the two of us. I pray that we can make a HUGE dent in it during the 8 hours we have the truck. Considering that it's a 17' foot truck and our space is 30' deep and already partially moved, I'm banking on getting half of it out of there. Anyone wanna place bets? ;-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Video extravaganza

This is the other 'berry' bush we have - but we have no idea what these are or if they are even berries and not just some weed. Any ideas?

Not much progress to report on the homestead since yesterday. We didn't go over there last night. We did hit the grocery store for some necessities (man, I can't wait until we have our own chickens!) and then I watched a few educational videos. I watched a bunch of ones on spinning yard with a drop spindle. There is a nice spinning/looming store in a town down the road from our new house (less than a 15 mile bike ride!). I'm dying to have time to stop in and pick up some fiber and a drop spindle (or maybe I'll make my own). I'm trying to remind myself that I've got a half-finished knitting project awaiting me in the closet and that this time I year, I need to be OUTSIDE...but I can't help it. It looks so neat!

I also watched a bunch of videos on canning. I'm excited to get started on that, too. We don't have any strawberries planted this year, so I'm going to plan on getting some in next year. In the meantime, I'd like to buy a flat of berries and make some jam. I figure that if I make a half recipe and it sucks, I won't be wasting much. Plus, if I try to can them and fail, I think we can manage to eat a half recipe before it goes bad...or I could try freezing it. Can you freeze jam? We've already got the jars and will need to buy lids and a water bath canner (or some type of rack to use in my big pot). I also eventually want a pressure cooker so that we will be able to can veggies, too. Speaking of veggies - I just bought some swiss chard seeds that I'm anxious to plant. I'd also like to get some parsnip seeds. I'm going to put that on my 'shopping' list.

Anyway, tonight we are heading over to the house. I need to check on our tomatoes and make sure they aren't drying out in their tiny little pots. We did verify that our vermiculite will be arriving on Friday, so we'll get everything planted this weekend...finally! I'm a little worried since it's supposed to rain, but we'll figure something out. I've also reserved a 17' truck for Friday so that we can get as much as the two of us can lift, out of storage and into the house. Then next weekend, when we have the help of friends, we can finish up with the free 10' truck and the rental of another 17' truck. That'll get us out of storage and out of the garage - leaving only the apartment to vacate by the end of August. To be honest, I hope we can move in sooner. It'll be so much easier tending to the garden while living there. Plus, I want to see this stuff growing!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Plastic, compost and over-flowing fruit

Pears! We have pears! At least 2 varieties - maybe more...

Raspberries - of some type. Supposedly heirloom, but we don't know if they will be red or black.

Grapes! We have TONS of these - all over the planned areas and overtaking a fence on the side of our property as well. No idea if these will be edible or not - maybe jam is in our future??

Last night we made a run to Lowes - we needed a longer hose, some more compost, and some more black plastic to kill weeds. After we tilled the garden, we covered what we could with a sheet of black plastic to kill the weeds (the part we didn't plant). We just bought one more sheet to cover the rest of it until we are ready to plant it. My goal is to plant the corn in stages so that we can harvest in stages as well.

We also sprayed a castor oil/water mix on everything we just planted to hopefully discourage the moles. There are mole burrows all over the yard! I've never seen such activity. Hopefully, we can discourage them from feasting on our stuff - there are plenty of other areas they can get food, they don't need to eat ours! I also made a point of watering our little tomato plants. I'm trying to keep them alive until our vermiculite arrives. Keep your fingers crossed for us that it's soon!!

We need to get the compost pile started. We've decided to copy an idea from the square foot gardening book that suggests using wooden pallets to build it. We are going to build two bins, side by side (sharing a middle wall) out of discarded wooden pallets. We will hinge the front of each side (opening out) so that we can easily turn the compost from one bin to the other. Some of the black plastic sheeting we bought will line the bottom so that any plants in the area won't feel the need to suck the nutrients out of our compost while its doing it's thing. Now all we have to do is find a source for the pallets! We keep forgetting to ask when we are at the big box stores...hmmm...maybe I should ask at work? Maybe we have some here from when we get equipment delivered?? Can't hurt to check, right?

I don't think we'll be heading over to the house this evening. I'm working until 6:30 or so and by the time we eat and clean up, it'll be too late to get much done. I think tonight I'll focus on watching some canning and drop spindle videos I've bookmarked. I'm also going to research making grape and berry jams since it looks like we are headed for a bumper crop. In fact, we are trying to come up with creative ways to use all the fruit. It's going to be WAY more than the two of us will ever eat. I think maybe I'll spend some time collecting recipes for using apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes & berries.... Lastly, we are taking a break because we are SORE. My hamstrings and hands are killing me from weeding and raking. H's back and forearms are sore from trying to contol that tiller. He likened it to trying to hold onto a bull's tail! I guess our 'suburban past' is showing a bit...isn't it? Not for long!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Progress! Potatoes, corn and beds...

Plums - one type. Apparently, these are kind of tart. The other type (pictured a few days ago) supposedly make good eating (according to our neighbor). Both make for beautiful trees!

Man, what a weekend! 5 big trips to Home Depot later, I think we are on our way. We bought a wide deck self-propelled mower, a new drill, a table saw, tons of paint, wood for the garden beds and the chicken coop, peat moss, some compost (since ours won't be ready for a month or more), painting tools, new locks for the name it. We also ended up renting a small tiller for a few hours to re-till the bed that the previous owners did a little over a month ago. What a job!

H mowed the lawn (I did about 5% of it) while I prepped some meals for the month. We also moved about 4-6 car loads of stuff but we barely made a dent on what's in storage. We did empty our spare room closet in the apartment, so we will use that space to clear out the items in the garage we will need for moving (the boxes and paper). We'll each keep one bike in the spare room and all the rest of the stuff will need to go to the house. Then the garage will be empty (something we need to have done by the end of June so that we can reduce our July rent).

On Sunday we bought a bunch of plant starts at the farmers market. We bought about 6 varieties of tomatoes, 5 of peppers, an eggplant, a cuke and a few herbs. Then we used the tiller to churn up about half the original garden plot. After it was tilled, I picked up/dug out the remaining weeds on the first two rows and planted potatoes, corn and asparagus (an experiment). We covered the remaining tilled area with a big sheet of black plastic to kill those weeds. I want to stagger the corn rows so that we don't get it all in one harvest, so I'll plant more next weekend. We also want to plant some sunflowers and a few sweet potatoes. I think we may experiment with putting a few rows of beans between the rows of corn (starting next weekend) as well.

We also began building the beds for the remainder of the veggie gardens. We are using the square foot gardening method (see the book in the sidebar). Since a lot of what we want to grow needs trellising, I've set up the beds in a variety of sizes to maximize trellis space. We could not find vermiculite anywhere locally, so we ordered it online. We are hoping it arrives this week so that we can get the soil mixed and get those plants in the ground soon! We do have a perfect place for them though...the yard is really set up well for our needs. They'll be in a wide open (sunny) space to the left of our tilled plot but behind the orchard. This area is also not visible by the road, so it's quiet and private.

Once the boxes are done and planted, we'll get started on the chicken coop. That should be interesting. The plans we have look to be a little vague - but we'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to it, though! It's actually going to be a chicken 'tractor' in that it will be a coop and a run combined, with no floor. We will be installing handles on the base, so we can move it every once in awhile to keep the chickens in fresh grass and keep our lawn and fields nicely fertilized. If it ends up being too heavy, we will install wheels on the coop end. We did not buy the items for the perch and the nesting boxes, but I wanted to see if we could build those with scraps first. We also still need the wire to cover it, but HD was out of the type we wanted, so we are going to look elsewhere.

Lastly, we've got massive weeding to do. The previous owners were getting on in years, and while they kept the obvious weeds at bay, most of the back was severely over-grown. They said that they just couldn't keep up with the work around the place anymore, and now we can see what they mean! Yesterday I discovered that they were basically spraying weed killer in certain spots (along the fence, around the decorative beds, etc) to keep it under control. Anyplace where they could not spray, the weeds are crazy (like IN the plants and bushes). We are making sure that we pull the long grasses and are going to keep them in some semblance of order. I'd like to dry them and use them as 'hay' either in the chicken coop or to feed the goats (once we get them). We also need to get our compost bin set up. We've got a huge grass clipping pile, but I want a nice bin so that our kitchen scraps can go in it and we can start getting some compost made. Of course, we'll have a huge pile of weeds to go in it, as well. My hope is that if we keep turning it, we'll have compost to work with in time for the fall planting.

My goodness, country living is exhausting! :-p

From our plans:
buy all the supplies for the garden boxes and build them - mostly done!
buy all the supplies for the chicken coop - done!
buy a lawn mower - done!
buy replacement deadbolts and install - bought, will install soon
buy interior paint and supplies - done!
buy tomato and pepper plants - done!
start painting interior - waiting for a rainy day
plant potatoes, corn and asparagus - done!
paint the deck (maybe) - held off
long bike ride - no time
move as much stuff out of storage as we can - done!

I feel good about what we accomplished this weekend.

Friday, June 13, 2008


We cannot locate vermiculite anywhere local. The place we'd seen it before wasn't answering the phone yesterday. Last night we drove by and lo and behold - they are closed - going out of business. Lovely. I found a place to order it online last night, but found out today that shipping alone would cost us $120! Luckily, H found a different place today were shipping was only $52 so we placed the order. It's going to be awhile before we get it though, so our garden planting is delayed. I did discover last night that I think we have lavender already growing in the back yard. I believe that's what's pictured above (taken Wednesday evening).
Anyway our plans ~

This weekend:

buy all the supplies for the garden boxes and build them
buy all the supplies for the chicken coop
buy a lawn mower
buy replacement deadbolts and install
buy interior paint and supplies
buy tomato and pepper plants
start painting interior
plant potatoes, corn and asparagus
paint the deck (maybe)
long bike ride
move as much stuff out of storage as we can

Next weekend:

Help friends move (one whole day)
plant balance of garden (if vermiculite arrives)
move as much stuff out of storage as we can
long bike ride
start building chicken coop

Today I'm going to run over to the house and make the final decision on the paint colors (in the correct light) and I'm going to measure the counter tops in the bathroom so that we can accurately price replacements. I'm also going to put some of our stash in the freezer to kill any creepy crawlies (hopefully). I figure that since the freezer is empty, we might as well take advantage of it.
We also need to start planning our massive yard sale. I'm thinking the second weeked in July sounds about right. We've got so much stuff (including furniture) that we just don't need. Hell, I've got enough clothing to open my own damn shop. Since I just don't see myself ever wearing most of it again, I'm getting rid of it. Most of it is professional work clothing. My career is decidedly casual. I'll keep one suit and maybe one dressier dress for weddings and such, but the rest goes. If it's not rugged and durable, I don't want it! Someone else might as well get some us out of it. Plus, if we can make a little cash, that can go towards home improvements.

I just really want to get some things accomplished! Once again, I barely slept last night. The worst part is that I'm not dreaming of 'doom'...I'm stressing about stupid stuff. I truly think that getting a few things accomplished is really going to help me relax...a lot.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Red Pill

So Neo is uneasy with the way the world works. He's been searching for something but he doesn't know what it is. Something just doesn't fit. One day, he gets a FedEx package that starts him on the path to reality. He chooses to take the "Red Pill" and wakes up in the real world. All his illusions about what life was and what it was going to be are immediately and forever changed.

The Matrix - a movie I didn't see until long after it came out on DVD. Not being a big Keanu Reeves fan, I didn't bother with it until my brother put the DVD in once to show me how amazing his sub-woofer sounded. When I did finally see the whole movie, I loved it.

I've always been uneasy with how we as modern humans have been inhabiting this world. Picturing us as a virus to this planet seemed appropriate to me. But I faithfully plugged along in my seemingly normal life because that's what everyone did. That's what was expected of me. What else was there? Sometime late last summer I get an email from my husband containing a link to the LATOC site. Not quite a FedEx package with a phone - but it had the same effect. I opened that link and began reading. My 'Red Pill' came in the form of an education. Peak Oil. How life as we know it is going to change - drastically. Suddenly, all my visions of what my future will look like are different. Everything I've been working towards (because I thought it was important) now feels stupid. I feel like I've been welcomed to the real world and I'm walking amongst those still connected to the matrix. It's sureal, truly.

Some days it gets to me and I just want to scream. Other days I want to slap all the people I know who are not 'in' on this huge piece of information. Sometimes I want to laugh at them. Some days I wish I didn't know about it at all and I could just be blissfully moving along in my silly little oblivious life. The parallel to the Matrix is so spot on. There is no going back. Once you know the truth, there is no 'plugging' back into the system. All you can do is move forward with your new knowledge and make the best of what's to come. In some ways, being aware is worse than Neo's situation because we cannot just be removed from the 'matrix'. We have to live in it and watch it all fall apart, unable to do anything, while we are still a part of it.

Anyway, most days, I manage to just put the big picture at the back of my mind and focus on the things I can do right now. Today, these things are to call the nurseries to find vermiculite, plan the garden planting for this weekend and to get some things done at work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Turning off the brain

This is a view from our back yard. The furthest field is where the buffalo roam (a local Bison ranch). The field just beyond the fence is going to be where our goats will roam. And the area inside the fence is where our dogs will roam. See, we can all live in harmony! That ridge in the far background lies between our home and where we work. That one ridge makes our bike commute either 15 miles long with a TON of climbing...or 19 miles long if we go around it. Getting in shape? Check!
I just noticed a few minutes ago that somehow both H and I missed out on a get-together of other like-minded people in our area from an internet group to which we belong. Damn! Of course, now that I recall, I couldn't have attended that night anyway, it was the evening I worked my 'goofy' shift (a late shift until 10 pm that happens every couple of months). Ah well, the next meeting will be in early July, so we'll do our best to attend that one.

Last week, I asked H to show me how to load the shotgun. I've never fired (or loaded) any guns outside of pellet or bb guns when I was a kid. It occurred to me that having that gun in the house means that I needed to learn at the very least how to load it and unload it. So he showed me that and it seemed simple enough. This weekend the weather is supposed to be very nice, so we are going to go to a local place and do some skeet shooting. I need to start getting used to the idea of firing a gun. I've always been a pretty good shot at 'fake' guns and in hopefully I'll have passable skills. We want to purchase another small rifle, but since we both still have NC driver's licences, we're not sure how that will work. I guess that's just one more thing to add to the ever-growing list of things to do.

Honestly, neither H nor I have slept much in the past couple of nights. It's felt like getting the keys to the house just opened up the flood gates of things to get done and both of our heads are swimming. Prior to owning the house, we could put off items with the idea that most of it couldn't be worried about until we owned the house. Now, not so much. Frankly, it's overwhelming.

Anyway, toward that end, our plans for tonight after work is to load up the car and make another trip out there. I want to measure some of our furniture before we go to see where things are going to fit. Once that decision is made, that'll be less time I waste re-arranging furniture in my head! I'd also like to pick up some paint cards to finalize what colors we are going to put where (again, to shut off the brain). Most of the inside is good to go - there is a lot of cosmetic things to do...but nothing that's so pressing that it will hold us back in terms of moving in. I think I need to make a big huge TO DO notebook so that I can get all the ideas out of my head and on to paper! I need peace in the brain!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our Farmette

We got our keys yesterday evening and immediately ran down to the garage, loaded up the car with everything we could fit (predominantly the paint we've already purchased some other garage stuff) and took a drive out there. The rain clouds parted and the sun began to shine as we pulled into the driveway. Oh how exciting!!

We basically ran through the house like little kids. "Look at this!" "OMG, they left this for us!" "Wow, this is already done for us!" "Let's paint this room green" "Holy cow, this is one clean kitchen!". Once we'd gotten that out of our system, we backed the car into the garage to unload it (in case the rain came back). We started out by carring our items into the house, down the stairs, and through the basement to the 'pantry'. Then I got the bright idea to use the opening in the garage floor billed as a 'mechanics pit' to pass the items through. It worked like a charm. H handed the things to me in the basement and I deposited them on the built in shelves. We got it done in less time than it took us to load the car!

Then we went exporing outside. Most of the fruit trees are starting to bear fruit, so we were able to indentify quite a few. We have multiple apple and pear trees, multiple types of plum trees (the fruit of one is pictured above), and some brand new cherry trees. These will likely be a few years before the produce fruit. We also think we have one nut tree - but that's mostly just a guess. Time will tell on that one. In the far back of the property, we discovered two types of berry bushes (raspberry or marionberry, maybe?) that the previous owners said are some type of heirloom variety. They will be giving us an educating walk-thru later this month. We also found a lot of grape vines that appear to be bearing grapes already. I have no idea what type they are, but wine grapes are super popular in this area.

We talked about where we'll put the two paddocks for the goats and where we'll set up the chicken coop. I realized this morning that we didn't discuss where the compost pile will go, and that has to be one of the first things we set up. Our plan is to purchse the items we need to get the gardens set up either later this week or over the weekend. Gotta get planting!!

Oh, we also met our neighbor (or one of them) and her dog. We only talked briefly (she was getting dinner on the table) but she seemed very nice - and is maybe just a few years older than us? The dog was very friendly and playful and about the same size as our dogs. He's 13 years old, but acts like a puppy. That's what happy farm living can do for a dog, I guess! I think our dogs are going to really, really enjoy our new Farmette.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Almost home

We signed all the paperwork on our new little homestead this morning. We were not prepared to have to pay current oil prices for the oil remaining in the tank, but we managed to scrape up enough to cover it after forking over just about everything we had for the down-payment. I'm a little worried that we just took on MAJOR debt with the economy the way it is at the moment, but we need a place to live and land is not cheap here. It's barely over an acre, so it's not like we went big or anything. The real advantage is that it's already got many mature fruit trees and berry bushes, a nice quiet location, a well irrigation system and a basement. I say that we are 'almost home' because the closing won't be final until Monday and we can get our keys then. Anyway, our plans are to sell one of our cars, put the money towards paying off the other one, and then start paying extra on the house every month. Hopefully we can make a nice dent in that debt while we are still making good money!

Unfortunately, the closing costs and the oil bill set us back more than we had anticipated. We had to drain our little discresionary accounts to cover the main account. Except for long term investments, we are basically broke AND we still owe over $1200 to the moving company for storage of our stuff. Ugh. We do get paid next Friday, we have no credit card debt and all the montly bills are already paid for this month. The bad news is that we now have no money for getting the garden started, buying a lawn mower, or the materials for the chicken coop. We also can't even afford the paint we need to fix up things in the house prior to moving in our furniture! We'll figure it out though...I know we will.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Memories and the future

Most of the time, I try to not think about the future as a whole. Keeping my focus on what I am doing day to day, helps with this effort. Yesterday, I had some spare time while waiting for a friend in downtown Boston, and I found myself wondering. Wondering what Boston is going to look like when oil is $10/gallon. Wondering which of the people I was watching were going to make it, and which weren’t. Which were going to be leaders and doers and part of the solution…and which were going to be part of the problem. Boston is intimately tied to my past and for most of my life, I considered it home. Yesterday, it occurred to me that this is no longer home. First and foremost, home to me is where my heart is and my heart is with my husband back in the Pacific Northwest. Secondly, in a very short time frame, I’ve gotten used to the way things are done in Portland. Boston, in contrast, feels foreign. People don’t seem to be as environmentally aware here. Local produce isn’t as available (it’s here, but it’s not in abundance). Local pride centers on sports teams and history and not on the people, the land and the bounty of the area like it does in the Pacific Northwest. There is a much more obvious culture of consumption here. I notice a lot of BMW and Volvo SUV’s, tons of designer handbags, and tons of people walking around with shopping bags packed full of purchases. There were no notices about conserving water by reusing towels in the hotel (which surprised me). I don’t see recycling containers everywhere like I do in Portland. I many ways, it makes me a little sad. I love it here – I hate to think what it’s going to be like in the not so distant future.

Regardless - being here is bringing back a lot of memories! I've been trying to meet up with a few people, but then when I came to my company's office - I had a couple of surprises. One was that the head of engineering here is a guy I worked for about 7 years ago! I didn't know he'd be here, so we've done some catching up. Secondly, the director of marketing and I were talking and when he found out that I used to live here, he asked where. When I told him, he asked if I knew 'so and so' from one of the towns I lived in when I was in grade school. Of all the people in that town, the 'so and so' he mentioned was my best friend when we were in 2nd and 3rd grade!! What are the odds? In fact, just about a month ago, I was trying to find her on facebook, so I'm so excited to get some contact information for her. And, to make the world even smaller, she's now working in some capacity at the academy that one of my old boyfriend's went to (and who is a coach there now). Seriously, could this world shrink any more??!! Ugh, and then I start thinking about all these people from my past and I wonder what will happen to them when the economy tanks. Bummer.

On a more local note – our closing is on Friday. On Monday, we get first access to our new little homestead! First order of business (besides cleaning the whole place) is to paint the master bath. We’ll also get the materials needed to get the garden in and get the chicken coop started (H is going to build it from plans). It looks like we’ll have to purchase plants already started in order to get a harvest this year, it being so late. Of course, we’ll also have to figure out a way to identify the different fruit trees so that we can begin learning how to care for them. We will also have to spend pretty much all our spare time in June moving. We need to vacate both our garage and our storage unit by the end of June. We’ll still have the apartment through September 10th, but getting out of both of those places will save us over $300 a month. August is still going to be tight as we’ll be paying both rent and our mortgage, but we’ll make it work. In all honesty, I’m really looking forward to getting settled and getting the preps going in earnest!