Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Archive for the tag “rain”

Fall maintenance and repairs

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Autumn sky

It’s been busy month here at MacFinn Farm with some preparations for winter. First on the agenda was the garage/sheep shed roof replacement. When I got the sheep in 2010 I had a local fellow build the sheep shed, which was just a carport-sized extension off the garage roof with a confinement pen. It wasn’t perfect (among other things, the gutter always dripped – right onto the sheep eating at the feeder just inside the shed), but it worked. About 18 months ago I noticed some serious water damage to the edges of the plywood, and then, last winter, big dark spots of moldy rot in the middle. It wasn’t actively leaking, but it definitely needed repairing. I called a couple of roofers and got some quotes, both more than I expected or could afford because both recommended reroofing the entire garage (a 20-year comp at the end of its life span), and due to the condition neither would reroof just the shed portion and guarantee their work. Okay.

I picked the one with the better quote (or so I thought) and we got started. When I had the fellow out for the estimate, I’d asked specifically how long it would take. “One day.” He said confidently to my “Really?”  I thought this was a little ambitious, but hey, they did this for a living, and even if it took two days, I was on board. So the scheduled day came up. I’d planned a couple days off work so I could be home for the dogs. Though the garage is detached, and across the driveway, it’s still upsetting for them to have people on the property. The first day the “big noise” came: a trailer for dumping the old roofing material, and a pile of roofing material, three vehicles and three guys. Then everyone left except one fellow, who stripped the small side of the roof, put down some tar paper and left around lunchtime. The next day I was assured they would start earlier and get it done. The one fellow arrived a little after 10:00 (so one hour later than the previous day), stripped the old roofing off the shed side, put down tar paper and left around noon.

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Nice tar paper job, as the typhoon approached. 

I think I am cursed when it comes to roofing jobs. At this point the job was put on hold, as we had warnings of a storm of epic proportions bearing down on us – a real “batten down the hatches” storm, remnants of a typhoon that made its way across the Pacific and hitting our coastline. The weather reports were full of dire predictions. Great. I had a tarpaper garage roof and a major storm coming. We had some rain (goodly amounts at times) and some wind but nothing like the predictions, which, frankly, had a lot of us shaking in our boots. I found myself getting a little panicky at work, as I thought, and worried, about the coming storm. Thankfully most of the storm petered out and/or bypassed my area and we were spared “The Worst Storm Since The 1962 Thanksgiving Day Storm!”  Whew!

The following Monday I was assured the job would be finished that day. It wasn’t. The next day for sure. I came home to find the inside of my garage had gotten rained on. They were replacing some damaged portions of the plywood – a good thing – but evidently it was during a heavy rain. I got towels out and mopped up the floor as best I could, and cleaning and drying off items that had gotten covered with debris and rainwater. Sigh. Finally, a little over a week after they started, it was done. I am happy to say that despite the timing aggravation, they did a good job. The statement came a week later and I about choked. It was nearly double what I expected. I quickly got out the estimate and looked at it. And realized I misread it. “Option A,” about $1,100 more than just the single estimate, was in addition to the original quote (for doing just half the roof). I read it as a combination of the two–the original quoted amount plus the extra work, inclusive. It was misleading as written, but it was also right there in black and white. Time for a short-term loan. But its secure, looks good, and the gutter no longer drips all over the sheep as they eat.

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Soggy tree moss.  October turned out to be the wettest October on record, and the third or fourth wettest month ever (or something like that). All my whinging about rain felt less whiny after I learned this.

Later that week I had a plumber come out to fix my yard hydrant, which had been leaking for nearly a year. I was afraid it would break entirely and I’d have an emergency (would have to shut the water supply down, which means I’d have no water in the house). And I was afraid to tackle it myself. I dug the hole around the hydrant to about where it joins the pipe underground but didn’t know what to do beyond that. YouTube videos are helpful, but I didn’t feel confident. I saw a guy on Angie’s List that had lots of good reviews, contacted him and set it up for 2:00 p.m. I stayed home from work that day – I’ve had too many sweaty drives home trying to make it to meet a service worker, and figured I’d work from home as much as I could. So 2:00 came and went. Nothing. I finally called the guy at ~2:40 p.m. “Hello?” Did I call the right number? “Is this ____the plumber?” I asked. “Oh, I should have called.” He said, after I identified myself. “It’s going to be more like 4:00.”  At 4:20 he called and said it would be another half hour. Shortly after 5:00 he got here. Thankfully it was an easy job (and I had done most of the digging) and he was able to get it done before darkness descended on us at 6:00. So that’s done, and only cost me $135 more than it would if I’d done it myself (not counting the time lost off work).

Then, about 10 days ago I got in my car to go to work and got to the driveway gate (something didn’t feel right as I went down the drive) to find this.

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Poor Keh-li MissBeadle!  I’m a bad car-mom!

I decided I would be working from home that day. I put the spare on and that afternoon I drove to the tire store. New tires have been on my list for the past 4 months, and I really was for sure going to get it handled the coming weekend – Keh-li MissBeadle just got tired of waiting on me. I went to Costco – in my tire research of the past couple months they seemed to have the best deal. I missed the $70 off coupon by a week (they had a new one in place, but for a tire that wasn’t as good as what I wanted) but it was still a good price. It was a weekday, so I figured it wouldn’t be like a Saturday crazy-time. I was wrong. I re-upped my Costco membership, which I’d let lapse a couple years prior. The tire department talked to me about the tires, I made the purchase and learned it would be 3 hours before they were done. It was closer to 4 hours by the time I got out of there. I shopped for the first two hours, then waited inside, then waited outside. I think they gave my older car to the slow guy, who, as I watched, seemed to have no sense of urgency as he dawdled through the job.

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Keh-li waiting for her new shoon, about 3 hours in.  She looks so vulnerable like this.

Finally they were done. A fellow pulled up to where I was waiting and said “Here’re your new tires.” I looked at them. “Really?”  It was dusk by then and hard to see them well, but they looked like they’d already been up and down my driveway a dozen times or more. “That’s the film on them from the factory.” Or something. I think it was the Silverback Syndrome again, and the fact that Keh-li MissBeadle is obviously a farm car of a certain age – so why would I care that the tires looked all scuffed and smudged (and used)?  Ah well. She drives like a champ now with her new tires – they really feel a LOT better than the old tires, and we can zip around again like we like to.

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Gratuitous cuteness.  Daisy and Farley sharing a pillow.  Daisy is a Rottweiler b—- who doesn’t like “stinkyfarley” much – she resents the fact that he holds the spot she thinks she should have (I have him on a pedestal) and for her to share like this is huge! 

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Back to the weather

I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve gone between blog posts.  It’s been eight weeks and one day since my last entry, on a blue moon.  I was kidding about the once in a blue moon posting, though right now it seems I’m following my own pronouncement.

So I’ll attempt a quick catch up of what’s gone on in the past two months (as if that’s possible for me (the quick part, that is).  We’re in the first few weeks of our wet season.  It held off forever, and with no complaints from me.  A lot of people have remarked that the two months of no rain (not really, but almost) was the longest dry spell they could remember around here.  It was unusual, but didn’t feel that unusual to me.  Just late. Since summer weather didn’t start until mid-July, it just felt like we deserved a little dry weather, after a miserable wet, ark-worthy June.  The garden struggled in that wet gray month, where the solstice came and went without a drop of sunshine, and as one local farmer noted, the plants never seemed to recover.  Our days started getting shorter on June 21st and we still hadn’t had any sunshine, and the plants felt it.  Seeds were slow to sprout, when they did there was no encouragement to grow, without old Sol to warm the soil and combine with the moisture to turbocharge growth.  So this year’s veggie garden was a bit of a crapshoot.

We never had any really hot days, either.  I think we got over 90 degrees once or twice, but nothing to write home about.  The longer I live here (and I’ve spent the majority of my life here) the more I find I’m craving sun and blue sky.  Perhaps it’s just a sign of age.  There’s a reason all those sunbelt states are filled with seniors, I guess.  Perhaps we all get there eventually? Really, though, I don’t mind the cooler temps, nor the snow (not that we’re known for harsh, snowy winters).  In fact, the times where it’s freezing and clear, I’m just fine.  Keeping the chickens and sheep with non-frozen water can be a bit of a hassle, but it doesn’t seem nearly as wretched as when it’s 40 degrees and raining for days without end, the slop and muck becoming its own entity, and every one of us miserable and/or stir crazy with the interminable cold, soggy gloom of a northwest winter.  (Haha, I just mistyped winter without the t and it looked like whiner.)

It’s funny, because the first day of real rain, a few weeks ago – where it really came down and seemed more typical for the time of year, I felt soothed and relaxed in a way I hadn’t realized I’d been missing.  I guess that’s the conundrum of it all.  Or perhaps it’s just the off-kilter rhythm of weather.   Sure, the two months of rain-free sunshine came later than usual, and maybe lasted a couple weeks longer than usual,  but we normally get a good six to eight weeks of mostly-dry spell every summer, and in fact are one of the driest regions in the continental US during the summer months.  But we pay for these two delicious months of weather that is as near to perfect as one can imagine with six months (no exaggeration) of rain and overcast skies, and short winter days that seem even shorter when the daylight hours are gray and dingy with a constant, complete cloud cover, and no hint that the sun even exists.

So while I was happy to see the rain free period last as long as it wanted, there’s also a certain amount of stress around it.  For me it’s mostly due to the feeling that if I’m not making the most of every sunny day, I’m wasting it.  It will be rainy and gray in a few short months and I mustn’t squander this short lived summer sun.  I don’t want to be inside the house, and thus get precious little housework or chores done (an excuse for the lack of blog posts?).  The clutter builds in the summertime because I feel guilty if I’m not outside puttering, or even sitting in the sun, soaking it up in some sort of psychological version of “make hay while the sun shines.”  I suppose people in places like Southern California, or heck, even eastern Washington, would get a giggle over the whole idea of feeling stressed by day after day of sunshine.  It is funny, especially to those of us who love the sun.  There are plenty of wet, cold dark days to come, and I’m already missing the sunshine (though we did get one beautiful day last weekend, and of course I couldn’t stay inside the house – it again felt wasteful to be inside on such a nice day).  Such a weird conundrum.

So weird, in fact, that I’ve contemplated moving away from this area to get away from the weather stress, if not the weather itself.  Not only the endless rain, but the stress that comes with summer days, where it’s light out until 10 p.m. and the guilt around the idea of coming inside before the sun sets.  Yet I’m not into the endless sunny days of places like So. Cal, either.  The overcast and wet is tedious, but so is the opposite.  Day after day of cloudless blue skies, with not even a wisp of cumulus to break up the monotony.  No thanks.  Eastern Washington or Montana sound great – sort of the best of both worlds – until the summer forest fire season.  I’m not so keen on the idea of being in the path of a wildfire, with my home and animals threatened.  I keep returning to Oregon in my list of places to go; down in the southwest corner, or even up in the Eugene area.  When I was looking back in 2008 and 2009 I looked seriously at the Umpqua region.  I remember seeing lots of sheep when I took a drive down there one weekend.

At any rate, summer is definitely over.  The rains have returned, with a vengeance, and the trees are all turning color and dropping leaves like crazy.  I’ve been walking the property for the past couple of months looking at trees I’d like to take down.  Right now it’s a handful of maples and a cottonwood or six.  And maybe three or four cedars.  Just to open things up a bit, for a little more light and a more expansive view.  It gets a little claustrophobic at times.  And removing a few trees would help with the pasture grass – more light to grow grass and fewer leaves to try to rake up that end up smothering the grass.

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