Sunday, July 24, 2016

Gumby green to tomato red


Some of you will remember the screen door I had someone make for our semi-Victorian house in NJ. In its first lifetime, it was Gumby green. Somewhere along the way it was repainted turquoise, not quite as bold as the Gumby green. I needed something funky to break up the overall dark cedar color of the house.

When we decided to move up here, I did not want my funky custom-made screen door to go to waste on someone who might not appreciate it, so I brought it here to use on the screen porch in the back. The turquoise did not work with a blue-gray house, so I painted it "Tuscan Red" to match what I had chosen for the front door. A nice enough red, just not outstanding.

I am not sure why I had such a hard time choosing colors for this house, inside and out. I think part of it was the time constraints—fast decisions and so many to choose!

The exterior color choices were limited to what was available in Hardie Plank, the cement-based siding we wanted on the house. Because we went with vinyl windows instead of wood, trim was pretty much limited to white. I still like the "Evening Blue" siding that we chose, but have been unable to find secondary colors that look good with it. I just found out when the painter redid the back porch ceilings in the sky blue I did in the front (also on the porch in NJ) that The Husband does not like it at all... (Sorry Hub!)

So, on a whim, I found a new paint color "Red Parrot" for the screen door, that is just a shade darker than the orange Adirondack chair we received as a gift. I like it so much on the screen door (the test run) that I am going to repaint the front door as well. It is the color of a ripe New Jersey tomato, a perfect funk to add to the greyish siding color. I think the little scroll ornaments in the corners have been purple since Gumby days, so I might just leave them that color.

Now where will I work in some other colors? Hmmmm...

And, for this color-saturated post—how about these fresh eggs we had for breakfast this morning! Even the lightest one is a whole lot more vibrant than what we used to get in the grocery store. Can't do yellow eggs anymore. Give me all pretty, and very healthy, orange eggs!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Portraits of pooches on porches and such



Nice are the mornings where the pooches are napping and I can get things done on the computer. Or I get nothing done other than drinking tea and watching week-old episodes of Good Morning America on Hulu. Those are good days too.

Woody normally spends his mornings out in the comfy chair in the sun, or when it is really hot, he digs a hole in the dirt and sprawls out there. But on a cloudy day like today, with rain on the way, he will sit on the porch in the other comfy chair and keep a watchful eye on us in the living room.

If anything looks even mildly interesting, he will just have to come back in.

Cyrus does all of his napping indoors. There is way too much going on outside for him to close his eyes for even a second. In fact, the curtains in the living room windows are working. I get more sleep at night, and Cyrus can actually snooze a bit in the morning.

In case you haven't noticed, I am a big fan of sleep—theirs and mine!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Patriotic pigs






Red, white and black? Well the piggies were not "born on the 4th of July" but they came to Lester's Flat today.

The husband is tired of the cute names and wants to go with something simple. For today at least, they are John and Mary. Mary is the redhead, John the big black spotted boy. I think we are going with only 2 this year.

I am happy to have hungry mouths for all of the whey from my cheesemaking efforts. The freezer is full—half with whey, and half with the pork from last year which is buried at the bottom. And the freezer in the old fridge (now in the basement as well) is chock full of whey too. We have been dumping it in the garden (supposedly good for the plants) and feeding it to the dogs.

Also pawning off the goat cheese on anyone who will have it. I still haven't mastered the art of making hard cheese, but am hell-bent on winning that battle.

Nice to have the pigs to suck up all that whey from my efforts.

Welcome John and Mary!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Deer spotting



The weeds (mostly goldenrod) are growing taller making it more difficult to see the deer in the yard. That's not to say that Cyrus can't spot them on a clear night, moon shining, at 3:30 am.

Lack of sleep does not agree with me. Let's just leave it at that. So after several nights of interrupted sleep, I went on Amazon and purchased some frosted window film for the 5 living room windows. I thought I could use it at night and remove it during the day, but the manufacturer said no, definitely not. So I cancelled the order and went with some silver sheer curtains that I used to have out in The Dump. So far so good, at least to get us through the night. I just can't stand having the windows covered up during the day.

Curtains down, The Husband spotted our little spotted fawn this evening before the Cyrus caught on. He went out and took these blurry photos of fawn and mama together. Blurry being the fault of lousy telephoto on the little Canon, not Husband's fault.

Note to self: Buy a better camera sometime soon. Missing a lot of good photos.

Update: Cyrus has not yet made peace with the crate. It seems only Woody is comfortable sleeping in there. So the Cyrus-house-training process continues. Not going well. Good for a week or 3, then again a double dose today when I was gone only an hour and a half.

Note to self: Next time get a puppy and train it properly. Or how about an old, mellow, already house-trained, lovable dog?

We'll see. Probably we will end up with another badly behaved beautiful wacko sweetheart of a pooch or two. Just like the two we have now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Something other than dogs



Eight Happy Goats

Left to right in the big photo: Mr. David Bowie himself, getting to be a big boy now. Soon we will have to separate boys from girls or we will have a little too much action in the goat barn. :) Then, Miss Blossom Dearie, named for the singer, but looking just like her dad, Charlie. Rosie, the white Saanen mama between her 2 girls. Lovely Rita, turning out to be a redhead, just like her namesake, the lovely Rita Peters.

Next photo: Rico was initially named Rita, until we found out he was a boy. He was born just a day or 2 before Rita came to visit, and we asked (while she was holding him) if she would mind us naming her (him) Rita. Oh well, good intentions. He is looking a bit crazy in this pic, probably because those crazy horns are pushing against his skull. We'll have to get them trimmed soon. Then Mr. Bowie with the crazy ears looking adorable, as always. We won't be trimming the crazy ears.

Next photo, left to right: Lucille, the black Saanen mama who started this little herd. She's the oldest of the bunch, and the best milker. Jack behind her, munching on hay, next oldest. Then Crazy Rico, Redhead Rita, Blossom way in the back, and Bowie with his head in the manger. Beatrice, on the right, also looks just like Charlie her dad.

We have that plastic calf hutch, in the last photo behind Lucille, just in case anyone needs to be separated from the rest. So far no one has earned a trip to the isolation booth. Just 8 very happy boys and girls...as it should be.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Fire in June and the crate training


The WoodMan says "It should not be so cold in June. We should not need a fire in the stove (but I love it)."

It's just plain cold here and I refuse to turn the heat back on in the middle of June. A wood fire feels pretty good though. 77° inside, 48° out.

These are new pics of Woody in the crate. From all the recent photos of him, you might think he was a nice calm sleepy hound. He isn't, but he is so much improved from when we first got him and he was the one barking like a fool at the deer. And barking like a fool for no reason. And running off for 6 hours at a time.

Woody likes the crate.

Cyrus does not like the crate. He wears the fur off his nose trying to ram his way out. You can see the slobber marks on the floor surrounding the crate from him working himself into a lather. I will keep trying a bit longer at getting him used to it, but am almost ready to give up.

Maybe Woody is trying to show him that it is a perfectly comfortable place to be...at least when the door is open.

We haven't had a deer and fawn siting since about 5 am. That also gets Cyrus in a lather, trying to charge through the windows to get to the deer. In addition to the slobber on the floor outside the crate, look at the window behind the crate. They all look like that at dog level. If it isn't deer, it's the ducks (which we don't have anymore). If not deer or ducks, groundhog or cat or any other critter.

I will simply have to be patient with my boy like I was with Woody. Some day we will have 2 well behaved boys who are thankful for being rescued.

Some day.

PS: Sorry Husband. It must be true. All I ever talk about is the dogs.



Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cyrus and the iris, plus a few other goodies for The Husband who says I have too many dog pics up here



We have fawns!

We heard Bandit (Don's dog) up on the hill being pummeled by a doe last weekend. Trained bird dog that he is, he was following a grouse and happened upon a doe and her baby. We haven't seen too many deer here at the bottom of the hill recently, not until a day or 2 after Bandit's adventure. Then, as Cyrus has been pointing out, there is this one doe who has just been wandering about by herself. Only she wasn't actually by herself. It's hard to get a good pic without a good telephoto lens, but here are 2 that came out OK. Tiny, tiny fawn baby!

This deer post is for The Husband who has been saying the blog is a bit too dog-centric. Perhaps he is right about that. Just so happens they are the best posers and always present. Woody spends the nice days sunning himself in the backyard. I use that time to sneak Cyrus out for a power walk—something recommended by the trainer—all walking and no sniffing. Then the WoodMan gets his walk while Cyrus goes in the crate for 20 minutes or so. Not loving the crate, won't even touch any of the special treats I put in there. Woody goes in the crate when I let Cyrus out, and steals whatever Cyrus hasn't eaten. Cyrus doesn't care, he is too upset about being crated. There is no way I can leave him in there for longer periods of time while I am in work. I'll just have to keep on plugging with other ways to convince him that the house is not his bathroom.

We are still having some crazy spring weather in mid-June. I even fired up the woodstove a couple of times this past week when it was down in the 40°s at night. The apple trees did not have a good year for blossoms, so we won't get a large crop this year, but the little garden in the backyard inside the dog fence is doing very well. Even though the painter knocked off one of the iris stems before it bloomed, this is the first year where my NJ transplant is doing well. Semi-wild rose (right of the iris) that we bought from someone up here looks like it is going to bloom like crazy for the first time too. Chives to the right of the rose, lady's mantle that we bought at the Heritage Plant Sale at the Farmer's Museum to the left of the iris.


Last pic is the MonkeyCat on the dog bed in the music room that is really supposed to be the human bed in the guest bedroom. Beware B&E when you come to visit, you may have some nighttime visitors!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hope you have a lovely Memorial Day!


Appliance rant #47

When we built this house, I intended to buy the best appliances we could afford. The problem with that was that there was no money left in the budget when it came time to buy everything new. I haven't really (that I remember) done much ranting about my appliance nightmares on this blog, but as my dear husband will tell you, don't ask if you see me in person!

On second look: http://lestersflat.blogspot.com/2010/04/frigidaire-fridge-fiasco.html This will fill you in up to the point where I got the working black Frigidaire. Only problem with that one was that when you close the fridge door, the freezer door pops open. Not fun, but not worth a call to Mr. Dreadfully Chatty Repairman.

SO, my dear husband gave in to my request for a new fridge because we need a second one now to hold all the goat's milk, cheese, whey and fresh eggs. Happy Birthday to me!

New GE was delivered Saturday. Frigidaire goes in the basement to hold all those goodies.

New GE works perfectly.

New GE stops working Monday morning.

Freezer is still freezing, fridge temperature is rising. It's a holiday. At least Lowe's has people on duty at their Customer Care center, but all they can tell me after 40 minutes on the phone with 4 different people is that it is a special order and it will take at least 4 weeks to get a new one.

So turn the gauge all the way up to coldest and we'll call you tomorrow morning to see if that helped. If not, we'll get you a loaner fridge until your new one comes in, in a month if you're lucky.

Are you still with me? Are you ready to hear about the brand new Maytag dishwasher and oven—the only 2 brand new appliances that I did buy for the new kitchen? Already replaced the dishwasher, need to replace the oven.

I won't bore you with the details, except that now I can cross off Maytag, GE, Kenmore, and Frigidaire from the list of brands I would purchase. Not too many left to choose from!

Will it be a jinx if I say that I still love my Bosch washer and dryer (2010), Bosch cooktop (2015), and Samsung dishwasher (2015)? Oh, and that Kitchen Aid toaster oven is a blessing!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The training of Cyrus

In case you don't make it through the whole story below, let me explain that the crate training is supposed to be for Cyrus. First, the Monkey Cat was in there investigating. Then, Woody decided he would take a nap in there. Cyrus was in there for all of about 2 minutes. It's a gradual learning process...for both of us...

In an effort to control the use of the house as his bathroom, I took Cyrus to a trainer on Thursday. I have always believed that I could do without a trainer. I have read way too many training books, and gleaned all I need to know from them, or thought I did. I learned the most from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training by my former Rowan classmate, Pam Dennison. But all of the books that I have are focused on training a dog, not untraining a dog. None of them had a solution for adult dog messing in the house that did not involve the use of a crate.

So I knew going into this that the trainer, Teresa, was going to suggest a crate. A conversation with Pam on the phone also had that as the solution. But I have been avoiding bringing the crate back in the house for lots of reasons. It takes up too much room. There's no good place for it that isn't by a window. After the first few weeks of messes, Cyrus behaved himself for the next 3 months. The crate was full of young chickens out by the coop. Then Cyrus made several messes again, I retrieved the crate, cleaned off all the chicken mess only to have him behave again for 3 or 4 more weeks. I thought the ducks right outside the window were causing him to get excited and that was causing the problem. We got rid of the ducks and he was good again for several more weeks. More messes...

Anyway, I have been fighting this losing battle for too long. I did not have much hope that I would learn anything useful besides being convinced to use the crate, but Teresa had some good advice that I am going to record here for my benefit. I expect I will forget too much if I don't write it down.

So here's what I learned.

Don't make a fuss when leaving or coming back in the house. This is probably my #1 mistake. I always tell pooches I am "going to work" and give them cookies when I am leaving. I make just as big a fuss when coming in (minus the cookies). If Cyrus left any messes, I scold him for the mess and make both dogs go outside, presumably to make a mess out there. If there is no mess I praise him and tell him what a good boy he was.

Teresa says do nothing/say nothing on leaving or re-entering. Just act as if they are not even there. This solves one of the mysteries: why is The Husband allowed in and out without any complaints from the pooches? Because he does it exactly right and makes no fuss at all (on any of the 100 times a day he goes in and out the door).

Give Cyrus more boundaries. Sounds like what you would say to the parents of a 3YO child. Makes perfect sense. Perhaps I took the positive training a bit to the extreme. Always praising him when he was being good, but not really defining what the "being good" part was.

Teresa says even if he always behaves when I am with him in the house, give him a certain spot where he should go lie down when told. Leave the crate door open and have him go in there sometimes for no good reason other than I said so. Take him for "power walks" instead of allowing him to sniff and pee on everything out there. Pee when we go out the door, then no sniffing, no peeing for the rest of the walk.

Give Cyrus more exercise—mental and physical. This is the most time-consuming and definitely the most obvious solution. I knew this. I will just have to try harder. Apparently once-a-week runs up at Don's house are not enough.

Are ya ready for more pooch visits, Don? Put some more beer in the fridge.