A week on the ranch (February 14 -February 20, 2011) - Blogs - Frugal Village Forums
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madhen

A week on the ranch (February 14 -February 20, 2011)

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by , 02-21-2011 at 10:19 AM (629 Views)
It has been a busy week on the ranch! A winter storm blew in and has been keeping things interesting: rain one day, snow the next. I have burned through a lot of wood to try to keep the house warm! I have also had a chance to practice cooking on the wood stove, and have been having fun experimenting with different foods.

Despite my efforts, my electricity usage is up this week. Unfortunately, the lower the mercury drops in the thermometer, the higher my electric bill goes! I have been trying to cut back everywhere I can, unplugging a freezer downstairs, not using the baseboards, but when I have to plug in multiple heat lamps (at a usage of approximately 6-7 kW each per day), just to keep pipes and pets from freezing, remembering to unplug the coffee pot isn't enough to counter the power drain. The best I can hope for is a little warmer weather, so I can go back to being under 40 kW a day. (As opposed to 60 kW, which I hit on Saturday.)

I got into a cleaning kick this week, and while I made little progress during the work week, both because of my schedule and a cold, on Friday, I started to see actual progress. This motivated me to spend the weekend really concentrating on the house and trying to not be distracted by pretty shiny things (and I was relatively successful), and I actually feel pretty good about my home right now. I realize that one thing that depresses me, however, is the livingroom carpet. It is a wall-to-wall affair, old, stained, frayed in one corner, and just makes the whole livingroom look dirty, despite having it professionally cleaned. I am one more stain away from just ripping the whole thing out. I think even bare subflooring would look better than that carpet does. My goal is to have one whole floor of the house done in laminate, but I suspect that will cost me in the $3,000 range or more, so it will be a while before that happens.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the house, and about how I live here, and I think I treat it kind of as just a place to lay my head. I don't treat it as a home, and after a couple of decades of being forced to move every couple of years, I act as if I won't be staying here very long. So I don't do anything to improve the house, even though the few things I did do (put laminate in the bedroom and painted the walls on a few rooms) really made me feel better about the place. So I have started what I call my "home remodel journal." It is a place to both record what my dream renovations would be, and also what my "vision" for the house and each particular room is, what I like about the room, what I hate, what pieces work and which ones are just throwbacks to an older life or donations that I have carried along from move to move but don't really want. I have been participating in the home project a month challenge, and I jokingly refer to several of my projects as creating "a ______ oasis," such as a "backyard oasis" or a "deck oasis." But in a way, I want to design each room to be its own oasis, working with the other rooms, but having its own raison d'Ítre as well.

On the health front, I returned from Tennessee with a little souvenir I had not planned - several extra pounds of fat!!! Because I was fighting a cold this week, I didn't really get out to exercise at all, so I am about three pounds heavier than I started the year. Time to reverse THAT trend!! My health club sent me an email this week about a six-week challenge that starts in March. I think it is a body fat reduction challenge. I am going to check it out this week and probably sign up for it. I am also in a "challenge" (although I don't think there is a winner or loser) with QM on the "Lose-A-Pound-A-Week Challenge" to try to get to our target weight of 125 by the middle of March.

I have also entered into the mysterious (to me) world of yoga. I started watching a podcast on iTunes called Yogamazing, and for the last couple of days, I have been ending my day with about twenty minutes of my version of yoga. (It would probably make a real yoga instructor cringe, but it works for me.) I can't say I enjoy it, any more than I enjoy taking my vitamins or drinking enough water every day, but I do think it is helping me to relax and let go of the day's conflicts, so I am going to keep it up until I no longer feel that way or I strain something.

The animals on the ranch are riding out the winter storm. I've had the donkeys and goats out on pasture all week, and even though I have been supplementing with pellets on rainy days, I still see the herd out in the rain, munching away. The goats are naturally protected by their coats, but the poor donkeys get soaked through, and I have been thinking about buying them some turn-out blankets to at least keep their bodies dry. They have shelter, but they have to make a choice between staying dry and eating pellets or going out in the rain and getting fresh grass, and the grass wins out every time.

The dogs have been going a little stir-crazy, not being able to go out in the rain. I let them out once, when the sun finally came out, and they got a good run in, but it wasn't nearly enough for either Riley or Crash to burn off all the energy they had been conserving. I have been trying to keep them occupied with food/foraging toys and short indoor games of fetch, but I am a poor substitute for a good long run. I think I am going to try taking Riley to doggie daycare with Crash this coming week, just to see if that helps Riley to get a little stimulation and exercise on rainy days. (Chewy is a couch potato and would probably enjoy having the bed to himself on afternoons when Riley and Crash are gone.)

It appears that I have a breeding pair of hawks living in one of my oak trees. I have seen them all week, and watched them drive out a third and much larger hawk. I have mixed feelings about having hawks nesting on my property. I love hawks and think they are beautiful and majestic birds, and I wouldn't mind a little reduction in the ground squirrel population, but I also feed the wild birds, including mourning doves, and know that nesting hawks would be a death warrant for a lot of the birds who visit my feeders/bath on a daily basis. Not much I can do about it, but still a concern. The only other down-side to having a pair of hawks living on my property is that my parrots go nuts every time they see one of the hawks glide by. I have been living with parrot alarm calls all weekend, and finally had to put a blanket up on one window, just to keep Herbie (my Hahn's macaw) from having a fit!

Lots of vet visits coming up. All three dogs are in need of a check-up, and I have to refill their flea/tick meds and also Chewy's arthritis meds. Chewy is also due for another laser treatment. Girl needs a refill on her meds, as do Buddy and Dusty. Happily, they just had their check-ups and annual vaccinations, so they are good for the year, except for worming. I have decided to make a concerted effort to address Herbie's plucking, so I need to get the avian vet back out. We did blood tests some years ago, with negative results, but the plucking continues, despite massive changes to his routine. I am tempted to just put a cone on him until he grows his feathers back in, to see if that will break the cycle.

My new "stupid feral cat" continues to evade me, even though he is actually more tame than Schroedinger was. He won't go anywhere near the cat trap, and he is still limping, so I am at a loss as to how to trap him and get him to the vet. I have just given up on it for now, and continue to make sure he has food, at least.

All the fruit trees are starting to bud, reminding me that spring, then summer, is just around the corner. Good thing to keep in mind when the weather is grey and the sun is nowhere to be seen. I do love February, though.

And finally, lessons learned this week: cold weather and energy conservation don't mix; sinus congestion and push-ups don't mix; having a career and having a dream home don't mix, but I'll never have the latter without the money from the former!

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Updated 02-21-2011 at 10:46 AM by madhen

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