Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mountaintop removal, Funder style

I wasn't really thinking about it when I started, so there's no before picture.


Do you see the wavy dirt line about a foot up the wall? That was where the sandy ground was piled against the wall of my barage. I moved it all away from the wall and reorganized my junk heap.

This is why you don't want dirt touching your wood! >:(

The siding is rotten and there's fucking bugs living in it. Maybe they are termites. They're horrid no matter what they are. At least it's the barage and not the house, cause the termite mitigation budget is sitting at $0.

There's so much here that was built correctly and not maintained right.

There's dirt on the back wall of the barage too, but not nearly so much. A lot of junk to move to get to it, but I'll get it done.

On to more cheerful things! The sunrise was glorious.

Jabber and Cersei continue to sleep very near each other. Apparently I woke up, thought this was cute, and took the picture at 4:47 am.
More snuggling

The thought of those bugs eating my barage was really harshing my buzz* and preventing me from properly enjoying my Vikings game, so I went back out at halftime. The bottom plate and the bottoms of the studs are rotted for maybe 10'. I found some more matching siding in the upstairs, so I should be able to fix this pretty cheap. I feel better now.

I hate bugs. :(

*no actual buzz involved

Friday, October 29, 2010

Post birthday post

My Facebook peeps all knew that yesterday was my birthday, but I didn't get around to posting anything about it here. I had a lovely birthday at home - cooked a delicious ribeye steak and a potato - what a treat. My mom sent me an awesome picture of Dixie, decked out in endurance gear - I think I know where I'm going to hang it, and once I do, I'll take a pic for yall. G got me a bunch of awesome clothes. I am one of those people who hates to shop and just wears the same clothes til inappropriate holes force retirement, so it's just wonderful to get clothes as presents. Thin pretty sweaters, a Vikings hoodie, cute sports bra tanks, and a pair of black fleece lounging pants that attract dog hair like nothing I've ever seen. My dad says he sent a birdhouse but the post office appears to have lost it, so he's sending me another one. Both packages will probably arrive on the same day. (Edited to add: My parents are married and my dad mailed both boxes from the same post office at the same time. So it's kinda funny that only one showed up.)

On my birthday, I was lounging on the couch. Cersei was lounging with me. Then the kitten invaded our couch and made herself at home. Cersei was totally appalled and begged me to get rid of it.

The kitten looked totally innocent. I told Cersei that the kitten wasn't hurting anything and she should get over it. Then I scratched her head while the kitten persisted in looking innocent.

I ignored them for a minute and they went to sleep together. D'awwwwww :)

I think the wild quail or sparrows are coming and scratching up Dixie's poop. I pick her paddock every day, even though my compost doesn't seem to be doing too hot - I think she should have a clean place to live. Sometimes it looks like this:

But most of it looks like this, all broken up:

Any ideas?

The wicked and suicidal chickens are now confined in a separate chicken run. They are incredibly pissed, but I think after three tries I've got their wings clipped enough that they can't escape (and kill themselves). I look back at old pictures and they sure have grown. Still no eggs. >:(

One of the Dollies really looks like a rooster to me.

The three banties are tiny. They're wily too.

I finally got the trim in the den mostly finished. One whole half of the room is totally done, and tomorrow sometime I'll paint the other half. I think it looks fabulous and I'm really happy.

I took a video of the tiny goats so yall can see just how tiny they are. They are superior pets, way better than the big goat. Inquisitive without being pushy, friendly without being needy, tiny and funny looking and affectionate. In the video they were eating some goat mineral stuff but decided getting scritches was more important.

Tiny baby goats from Funder on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Yall, I have lost thirty pounds. Today I went through my panty drawer and tossed all the too-big undies. (I'm keeping all the too-big clothes - it's almost winter, time to layer!) Yay for primal eating!

I don't look as awesome as Tamara, because I'm not nearly as hardcore as she is. But if you're like me, you're a little intimidated by how hardcore she is. I'm telling you about my own experiences to show you that you can get good results by being halfass primal. Well, more like three-quarters-ass.

I don't usually eat grains (wheat or corn) or legumes. Every now and then I'll desperately want a slice of crispy New York style pizza (Nu Yalk 4 lyfe) so I'll go get one. I don't avoid sugar like the plague - when I think about it, I have a tsp of local honey, which is supposed to help with pollen allergies, and I still have an on-off again relationship with the dreaded Red Bulls. I do consume dairy - heavy cream in my coffee, and cheese when I want cheese. If I was a cavewoman I'd totally catch me a cow or a goat and tame it.

I eat meat, fruit, nuts, veggies, and cheese. I am rarely starving, and I think I eat fewer calories now than I did before, but I don't try to keep count. Yes, it's all expensive, but I eat so much less that I think I'm coming out ahead.

Eating out sucks. There is almost nothing that you can grab for lunch - you have to think ahead and bring food. Your spouse can be a help or a hindrance - my husband is doing the traditional low-carb thing which overlaps really closely with primal eating. A SO who insisted on eating grain-y things in front of you would really suck, so you have to have support.

I never get the starving low blood sugar spikes anymore. I have coffee with cream for breakfast, then I have to remind myself to grab a snack for lunch, then I eat a totally moderate dinner. 1/3 lb of meat doesn't look like much - we always wail about it when we start cooking - but I'm perfectly full on it.

I don't formally exercise, but I do stay busy, as you may have noticed. A lot of heavy lifting! I am stronger now than I've ever been and I just generally feel awesome. In fact I feel so awesome that I have no plans to ever go back to eating "normally." Primal is highly recommended by me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Their goal in life is to die

Over the past few days, I've realized that the chickens' only goal in life is to die in the most improbable fashion possible. Finally, last night, one of the Dollies realized that goal. Godspeed, little idiot.

Let me back up. The chickens used to be ground chickens, but as they've matured they've learned to fly a little better / more often, and they'd been flying out of the pasture. So three nights ago, I snuck in the coop and clipped the wings of 12 of the 13. Number 13 was somewhere outside - she'd flown over the fence and didn't trust me enough to come back through the gate, and of course she couldn't remember how she got outside in the first place.

Anyway, the first 11 chickens went smoothly, with each hen getting progressively louder as I picked her up. The 12th chicken pitched an enormous fit - she screamed like she was being gutted, pecked and clawed at me, and flapped her wings. But she was a banty so this was really not effective and I got her wing clipped anyway. I put her back on the perch, but she screamed and flapped and fell down. I picked her up, she exploded again, and I thought well fuck it, you can sleep on the floor then.

The next morning I came out before dawn and fed, then came back out shortly after dawn to start digging that trench. I heard a shriek as I walked over to the coop to let the chickens out, and when I came around the corner I saw the same idiot, still lying on the floor, getting pecked. Seriously, her flockmates had decided she was dead and were pecking at her head. I shooed them away, picked her up, and took her in the house. I couldn't find anything wrong with her (other than some tiny peck marks on her head) so I took her back out and set her free. She limped off. I consulted my more knowledgeable chicken friends and left her alone - the next day, she was totally fine. I really think she wrenched her leg fighting me, then laid down to die that night.

I also caught the stray that night, clipped her wing, and returned her to her "friends."

Yesterday I walked out of the barage with a piece of the box, to test-fit it, and one of the Speckled Jims was sitting in the fucking stock tank like a damn duck. I fished her out, and she was shivering, so I took her in the house and blow dried her. Yes, I sat on the floor with a chicken and a blow drier under a towel and marvelled at the absurdity of my life. She also recovered fully.

Last night two things happened: I forgot to put the chickens in the coop, and it froze. So all the nonheated water had a skim of ice on it. So...

This morning, one of the full size Dollies was floating in the stock tank, dead as can be. Go to the light, little hen!

I'm going to chicken wire up one of the sides of paddock and move all the retards to THEIR OWN PEN. I'm sure their deathwishes will eventually triumph over me, but I'll make it harder for them to die, anyway.

Let it snow

Or rain, or whatever it wants to do. My electrics are pretty secure!

First, I double-checked my connections and sealed up the outlet box. And there was light!


Then I built a little box to cover the charger and the outlet. It took all day and a lot of thinking, but very little money. All the materials (aside from the hinges) is stuff I found in the barage.

Roofed it with two pieces of a shingle and some poultry netting staples - I didn't want to go buy a box of roofing nails just for half a shingle. After these pics, I smeared clear outdoor silicone caulk over the staples and all around the edges and overlaps.

When I left to go buy the shingles, I declared War on Funder's Sinuses and bought two more kinds of drugs and one of those sinus irrigation kits. Eeek.

When I came back, I dithered around for a while and got a door hung to my satisfaction. The trim is a) cute and b) hides the tips of the hinge screws that poke through.

I forgot to level one dimension of one part of the box, and it's a glaring flaw to me but hopefully not to everybody else. Oh well, it's incredibly hard to remember to level everything and I'm very happy with the box.


I had to cut too much of the side wall to notch around the brace wire. I need to cover that with some tin or something.

Here's the money shot, with bonus Dixie. I love the way the clouds came out - like a watercolor.

Cersei is a digger-dog.

The sinus stuff worked, btw - I slept GREAT last night. Which is good, because calamity struck overnight...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How (not) to do it

Astute observers of my pics might have noticed that the fence charger was plugged in to an extension cord which ran out of the back door of the barage. This is not an optimum solution, but it's ok for a couple months in summer. I knew I needed to fix it before winter.

I believe that one of the most important steps of any home improvement projects is setting the scope. There's Doing It Right, there's Rednecking It Up, and there's a lot of variants in between. Running an extension cord to the fence charger is definitely redneck. Running Romex in buried PVC pipe out to a waterproof outlet box on the fencepost is the optimum solution.

After an extensive cost/benefit/manpower analysis*, I decided to do it halfway right. I already had the PVC pipe (inherited from the previous owners), so I only needed the box, outlet, and PVC connectors. I got a few things along the way and picked up the last stuff I needed at the hardware store yesterday. I got started on my project this morning, and almost finished before it started pouring down rain.

I had never personally done a project like this before. But I've done variants of each part, and I was totally confident that I could do it.

I wanted to go from just to the side of the doorway to the hinge post.

I tied a line

and dug a trench. The sagebrush was surprisingly easy to get out! I had to uproot three roots, and I found one tin can and one rotten leather glove. No rocks, no clay - it's super easy digging.

Then I dry-fitted all the PVC. I used the mason's twine as a (cheap) substitute for fishtape, and I ran it through each piece as I dry-fitted them. If you tie a nut on the end of your string, you'll have something a) heavy, to move the line through the pipe, and b) a handy place to tie the wire when you're ready to pull.

If you're Doing It Right, with Romex, it doesn't matter which end you start at. If you're halfway rednecking it with a frankenstein'd extension cord, you have to start at the terminal end.

It enters the barage in a very tight little hole I drilled in the wall. When it dries out again, I'll silicone caulk that pipe, just as a DIR touch.

Ready to glue

Looks pretty good!

PVC is easy to cut with a hacksaw. You want to run a knife blade around the inside and outside of your cut edge, to remove burrs and smooth out the cut. That's way more important for water pipes, but I did it for my electrical pipes anyway.
If this were a water pipe, or if vehicle traffic came through, I'd need to bury the pipe much deeper. But it's a pipe full of air, and the heaviest thing that goes over the pipe is a horse, so it'll be ok 8" deep.

I was hungry, so I went inside and had some nuts and watched a bit of football. I deeply regret that now - when I came back out, the Lonely Mountain was almost invisible:

I got busy glueing pipes together. PRO TIP: PVC solvent will melt vinyl gloves. Polyvinyl chloride, yo. Oh well - it still kept the primer mostly off of my hands. To glue PVC, you just smear purple primer over both parts, then smear PVC cement over both parts, then shove them together, twist, and hold for 30 seconds. For extra security, smear some cement on the outside of the joints, too.


I was pretty sure that PVC cement would melt my phone, too, so no pics of the actual process.

By that point, it was spitting rain on me and extremely windy.

I went in the house and checked the radar.

Oh. Shit. It's really for reals going to rain all day.

I dashed back outside and mostly finished up. I unplugged both ends of the charger extension cord, then lopped off the female end. Stripped the outer sheathing back, twisted one of the wires to the nut on the mason's string, and wrapped the whole thing in electrical tape, to make it slightly more aerodynamic. Pipedynamic. Whatever. I sprayed it with some WD-40 for good measure.

It was surprisingly easy to pull the wire through the pipe. I shoved the wire in with one hand and pulled the string out with the other - had to pull very hard to make the second 90* bend, but it worked!

It rained harder and harder as I glued the last bit of pipe connector, attached the weatherproof box, wired the cord to the outlet, and assembled everything. Once it dries back out tomorrow I can double-check the connections and plug stuff back in, but for now it'll be ok. I even got part of the trench filled back in before my husband came out and shooed me into the house to dry off - he filled in half the trench before he got cold too.

It looks amazingly professional. I am very pleased. Now I can plug the charger and tank heater in! And best of all, it'll be really easy to Do It Right when I can afford to buy 100' of romex and get the electrician out to tie it in properly.

Tomorrow or later this week I'll build a box to cover the outlet and the charger. There is a plastic shoe box duct-taped over the charger right now, sigh. Oh well - it sheds water!

*I checked my bank account and my pockets, then wandered aimlessly around Home Depot writing down prices of stuff.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

EvenSong is way too late

It wouldn't have been fixable from the top anyway. It wasn't bolted to a post and the whole thing wiggled alarmingly. And years of calcium deposits had completely frozen all the screw together bits. It broke off in the ground :(

G and I took turns digging an enormous hole. I went to the local hardware store twice, and we spent over an hour puzzling out how to cut off the water. I even crawled around under the entire house looking for a shutoff valve. Pro tip: flip the circuit breaker labelled "pump", then drain the tank. D'oh!

Actually capping the pipe was ridiculously easy. And the best part of all - the water CAME BACK ON!

Another expensive catastrophe nimbly avoided.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Woe is me


That's a leaking frost-free hydrant. It's going to freeze Monday night. I gotta fix it.

The awesome guys at my local little hardware store sold me a repair kit for ff hydrants and answered my questions, so I'm headed out to dig it up and try to turn off the water. G is convinced that the hydrant water comes through the house - and that's the correct way for it to be - but I'm not so sure. I hope I can turn off the water tank thing in the garage and not have to go turn off the well. I am really not confident of my ability to fix this. I will muddle through somehow but it's totally new to me.

Today Banders the King of Fluffy discovered the duck toy and gave us this centerfold shot.


No rest for the wicked

I am on day 4 of the Autumn Nighttime Sinus Headache series of 2010. This happens most years - I get a horrible bad sinus headache when I lay down to sleep. This leads to me sleeping propped up on the couch, getting half-ass agony sleep because as I slump in my sleep, my head hurts worse. It really sucks.

Every year I try new remedies for it, both traditional and modern, but nothing seems to help and it eventually goes away on its own. Then I usually forget that such a thing could ever happen to me until, a year later, it does.

The weather turned off gross today. I think it's gonna rain...

I have some outside chores to do before the rain really starts - scrubbing the tanks and installing the de-icer - then some puttering to do in the barage.

Last night Jabber decided that Cersei's duck toy was a good full-body pillow for her. :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a ride

Yesterday I went for a ride. I realized that it was the first time in over a year that I just took my horse out for an amble, with absolutely no goals of any kind. It was pretty pleasant - I'm sure I will be bored by the end of the year and ready to train again, but for now, we're just pleasure riders.

I'm not going to Lake Almanor. Lack of funds. :( It sucks, but there's always next year.

I am continuing to get a lot done around the house. I finished painting the hall - it is such a soothing warm color. And I got the crown molding up, caulked, and halfway painted. I am trying yet another version of the slow hay feeder, and I think it's working - it's been four hours and Dixie's still out there nibbling on hay. And I put the numbers on the house!

Cersei is three years old now, and just like magic she's calming down immensely. She was never a bad puppy - well, aside from when she ate the windshield wiper knob in my truck... or the iPod cable... or the box of packing peanuts.. Ok, she was a good puppy with some spectacular lapses in judgment. But now she's much more content to sleep all day. Deciding between bed, couch, and sunbeam on the floor is serious business. Of course she came with us on the ride yesterday - she's still totally game for fun stuff.

I should finish the back story posts. And I should update yall on the crazy primal diet - the tl;dr is yes, I'm still on it, and I feel great and very strong. But right now I'd rather stretch out on the couch by the woodstove and read a book. Better posts coming soon!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Picture show

Love that goofy horse.
80s glam rock hair

An example of a caltrop plant seed thing:

One of Dixie's rolling spots.
Good place to roll

There is grass coming up in my pasture and my yard!

Yesterday my husband and I hung crown molding, and it actually came out pretty nice.
Yes!  We rule!

I used a lot of Liquid Nails on this wall - it appears to have no studs at all.
Who needs studs? Not us, they're for LUZERS!

Coping out the back of the trim
Coping the back

This room looks pretty classy now :)

Retrospective - Here's what it looked like when we started.

And here's the doorway when I'd just gotten the walls painted and the casing up.
Liquid Nails

Friday I painted the hall, but I didn't take pictures of that. And the hall's only mostly finished. Really I wanted to get the crown up yesterday because I had to have my husband's help - I can paint and caulk any time by myself.

I'm so tired! And sore, and it's going to rain and there will be football soon... nap day incoming.