Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Hero: The Scrap Metal Guy

When you move to a new rural location, there are certain people you should probably get to know.  Local sheep and goat people are important, local volunteer fire fighters are helpful to know, and locals who have lived in the area for a long time can give you reams of useful information.  Without a doubt, however, the most important person we have met is our local scrap metal guy.  Rob is a big strong guy with a big strong truck, and he's helping move mountains.  Mountains of scrap metal, that is.

The barn that I'm working on fixing up for the World's Most Famous Goat (Lucky Nickel, of course), was completely full of (mostly) junk, a large portion of which involved scrap metal.  Likewise, surrounding the barn and in the pasture area around it, there was enough scrap metal to build a small battleship...not that I have time, or need, to build battleships.

Here's her barn, from the front, outside!
And here, my friends, is the inside.  Well, at least a few days ago this was the inside.  Yes, in case you're wondering, that is an old bed frame that for some reason is wired to the back wall.

Rob takes it all.  He's even taking those 5 gallon buckets of used motor oil and other fluids (which he pointed out to me make great mouse traps based on the number of dead mice he found in the bottom as he was pouring the buckets into other buckets with lids on them).  The barn is slowly getting cleaned out - I still have some work to do on plastics and some other detritus, but overall, it's approaching a condition where Richard can do some work to seal up the windows (which have fallen inwards) and ensure that Miss Nickel will be safe.  I have been sorting stuff into piles, and Rob takes it after I sort it.  I've nearly got the entire floor cleaned off now.

Rob is taking all the stuff around the barn too, including old, dead tires, windows with rotted frames, plastic barrels, and all manner of other monstrosities for which I have no need, and for which I have no means of simple disposal.  It's not as if you can take old pieces of farm machinery that weigh over 1000 pounds and just pop them at the end of your driveway for removal.  These things require Rob, and he has been at the farm every day for the last 4 days, except Sunday, and will likely be here for quite a few more days in future.
Here's a few of the outside of the barn (from the back) from when I visited in December of last year, just to give you an idea of what's keeping Rob busy.  There's a lot more under the long dead grass that you can't really see in this picture.
Yes, it needs work...
While the barn is important, there are also great heaps of metal and plastic around other areas of the property.
One of these "heaps" was a very dilapidated livestock trailer, mostly rusted out, and absolutely chock full of garbage. I wasn't sure Rob would take it, given its dreadful condition, but sure enough, he hauled it away on his big flat bed truck.  Now, I don't  have to look at this view every morning.  It's too bad I didn't take a closer shot of the trailer - well....why would I want to?
But let's zoom in on this one a you go....somewhat grainy, but a better idea of what I've been looking at each day.
Anyway, it's gone now, and all the garbage it contained.  Also gone were some pieces of machinery that Rob says he believes were forest clearing machinery from the 1950s or so.  Huge, heavy, sad hulks of rust, the sort that would take centuries to disappear.

I won't even get started on the future chicken barn.
So, the cleaning and organizing continues, but things are moving forward, and even though I'm quite sure Rob isn't a blog reader so he won't see my gratitude here, I'm definitely going to be thanking him for a long time to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Then and Now: Thoughts on being busy (and some before/after pictures!)

Since I have moved to this new farm, I have a single word....BUSY!  It is hard to describe exactly how busy I have been, because it's not the same kind of "busy" that I was when I had my patent agent job in Iowa.  That was "brain busy" whereas my current state is "hands busy."  Never in my life have I been so "hands busy" as I am now.

My former job could be very stressful and intense at times.  I was responsible for a huge biotechnology patent portfolio.  I had roughly 700 active patent applications under my direct supervision, some foreign, some domestic.  Some of the work I did myself, from the initial discussions with scientists, through drafting a patent application, prosecuting it with the US Patent Office, and eventually achieving an issued patent.  Some of the work I supervised through outside legal counsel, both in the US and in a large number of other countries.  I used my brain in very different ways.  I had to develop legal arguments to counteract patent examiners at the US Patent Office.  I had to read complex scientific articles and distill them into small nuggets of information, which I could then use to support the patent applications for which I had responsibility.  I had a lot of daily meetings with scientists and business people.  I was busy, each and every day, but I was intellectually busy.

When I used to come home from my job, I would do a little housework from time to time, but it was gentle in comparison to what I do now.  I admit that I am not the world's best housekeeper, but I never let my home descend into utter chaos and disfunctionality.  Now, instead of going somewhere else to work every day, I work at home.  It is a completely different type of work.  I don't really have to think very much about what I need to do, but I am busy, each and every day.  I am physically busy.  I am mentally stalled.

There is SO MUCH to be done here.  I have never cleaned so much in my life.  I have never organized so much in my life.  I have never had to deal with the extent of chaos that I am presently dealing with.  At the same time, I really miss the "thinking" work that I used to do, even though I am just as busy.  I'm not quite sure how to manage this conundrum right now - perhaps it will work itself out.

In any event, to demonstrate how (hands) busy I am, here are a couple of "before" pictures of my current kitchen, and a couple of "after" pictures, to show you the progress I've been making.  Keep in mind that when I acquired the home, all the previous owner's stuff (as shown in the pictures below) was still in place.  Since the owner had some health problems, he was unable to do a lot of the clean-up work, so we agreed to take the house "as-is" and deal with it ourselves.

BEFORE:  Note the....ummm...chaos!  The rather dreadfully brownish-yellow wallpaper (which was originally a white background as I discovered when removing it) was truly horrid.  I determined that it's probably due to a combination of age and smoke.  Even though the house does not smell of smoke at all (I am very sensitive to smoke), I have found old, used ashtrays.  I think that probably 5-10 years ago, both the former owner and his wife smoked heavily.  Also note how you cannot actually SEE the table in the middle of the room, just the stuff that is sitting on it.

BEFORE:  This is the view of the kitchen from the other direction.  Yes, it really was THAT chaotic.  I have never in my life seen a kitchen in such disarray.  I was overwhelmed.  You can actually see the table in this picture.  Well, a little bit of it anyway...  I encourage you to note the rather hideous "harvest gold" fridge and dishwasher.  Let me also tell you that the dishwasher actually was full of dishes, but had not been run in probably 8-10 years.  It was....well...pretty disgusting to empty it out.  The shelves were completely full of stuff that didn't belong in the kitchen, but all of which needed to be sorted and categorized, or disposed of!

BEFORE:  This was part-way towards my goal, but as you can see, the wallpaper was removed but the harvest gold appliances were still in place.  Ugh...

AFTER:  The same view, essentially, as the first picture I posted, but with the dreadful wallpaper removed, the chaos on the shelves removed, the rather pitiful stove removed, and a new stove and fridge (basic models but very serviceable) in place.  Note that in the original picture, you can barely see the woodstove pipe that shows in this picture.  It's going to be removed soon, but for now it just sits there.  My rolling butcher block shelf unit is between the two appliances, which offers additional surface space for chopping, etc.

AFTER:  This is after the harvest gold fridge was removed, and my metal shelves were put in place until we find some replacement cabinets we like.  It's not perfect, but it is a long way from where it was.  The wallpaper is gone, the chaos is gone, there is a semblance of normality.  The dishwasher was removed yesterday.  We'll have a new one installed in short order!
So, this gives you an idea of what I've been busy doing.  I feel good at the end of each day in some ways, because I can see the difference I've made.  At the same time, this is very new to me, and it's taking me a lot of time to adjust from corporate life to this "removal of chaos" life that I have chosen.  Stay tuned for progress!  This isn't the only room that has gone from chaos to (relative) normality.

Friday, June 24, 2011

We're Back!!! And the tornado that wasn't!

Guess what?!?!  WE HAVE INTERNET!!!!!!  Yes, it's true, my lady is back online.  She is so excited she could just about fall off her chair.  But then she would not be able to type, so it's best that she keep her cool and remain seated.  The unfortunate news is that I, Lucky Nickel, goat diva and quite possibly the most famous goat in all of Nova Scotia, am not yet at the farm.  This is because my lady says it is very important that I am safe, and the barn is not safe for me yet because the nasty beasts could still get in there.  She needs to continue fixing it, and she is very busy fixing a great many things right now.  Do you know what....she even has BEARS living near the farm.  When she first told me, I thought she said "bares," which might be naked goats!  I did not want to see any naked goats!  That's rude!!!  But then, she said "Oh Lucky Nickel, not bare, BEAR!"  She told me about these big scary animals with black fur that would eat a goat for breakfast!  Yikes!!!  In case you don't know, this is what a BEAR looks like!  We found a picture on Wikipedia for you!
All goats should "Beware of Bear" if they are smart goats.  So, until my lady fixes the barn, here we have another interesting story for you about tornadoes!  Stay tuned for more frequent blog posts now that we are reconnected!  There are so many things to tell you about....

As you all know, unless you are new to our blog (in which case, welcome!), my lady and I lived in Iowa for nine years prior to moving here to Nova Scotia.  As a result, my lady is very familiar with tornadoes.  She hasn’t actually been in one, but they have been close by to her home.  She’s used to hearing the warnings on the weather radio, watching the radar on the internet, listening intently for further warnings, watching the clouds, and scurrying down to the basement when she thinks it might be necessary, and also making sure that the rest of the goats and sheep and I were all in the barn.  This is really not a big deal for her, since she has been doing it for years, and naturally she still has these things in her head even though Nova Scotia doesn’t get tornadoes.  Recently, my lady had a “not a tornado” experience.  It was before she had the internet and so this is a little bit in the past, but it is still a good story.  I have to tell it to you because she is too embarrassed to do so. 

There had been a thunderstorm in the morning and she was busy inside with the everlasting cleaning and organizing of the new farm house.  The thunder and lightning had been significant, and at one point, it was so dark that she had to put the candles on in the kitchen because the bulbs in the strange and not-very-illuminating kitchen light had bitten the dust the night before.  She says the light fixture came out of the pre-goatian period of history, which was a long time ago, maybe even when there were dinosaurs.  Her man friend had gone into the big city and had a shopping list with him, which included new bulbs.  These are not ordinary bulbs you know.  They are strange tube bulbs that are in a circle shape, so it’s not as if she could just go to the trusty light bulb box and screw in a new one.  No, these are weird bulbs.  Anyway, she put on the candles and watched the weather and said to herself that it was a good thing that the roof didn’t leak.

Later, the sun came out, and it was quite windy, so my lady decided she was going to go outside and tackle a bit of the thing she says used to be a flower bed, although now it is just a huge overgrown patch of forage.  I should be eating it for her, but she says I would eat the flowers too.  So far, she says that she has uncovered a nice large hosta, some daylilies, and a Centaurea (which some of you probably call Basket Flower or Bachelor's Button other common names depending on where you live).  She was finishing vacuuming some dead fly parts where they had gathered in a window sill, and then she realized that it was raining, but it was only raining on one side of the house.  She went to the windows on both sides, but sure enough, only one side had raining happening on it.  This was not because of directional rain, such that there were raindrops on only one window.  No, no, she’s smarter than that.  She noticed that the rain was pinging on the metal roof of the barn on one side of the house, and she went over and looked at the barn roof, which was getting wet.  The car, on the other side of the house, was clearly dry.  This was quite unusual.  In any case, the flower (forage) bed plan was shelved for the time being.

Yet again, the rain (on one side) went away, and the sun came out, and it was windy, so she decided to go out to tackle the flower/forage bed.  She put on her gardening clothes and went outside.  She was out for a brief period when suddenly everything went very still, and the wind stopped, and that meant that she was positively covered in mosquitoes and black flies.  This was a sort of instantaneous effect, based on the weather, which was really irritating.  She says she can only garden when it is raining or windy due to the insect pressures.  She went back inside the house after about five solid minutes of garden clearing.  She went back upstairs to continue vacuuming dead fly parts (not her favourite task, I might add).  Of course, it was predictable that the wind would start up again right after my lady came inside.  She was quite frustrated by this point, so she sat down with a glass of wine at the kitchen table to rest herself.  Then, things got a bit odd with the clouds.  The clouds were moving in two directions at once, and sort of looking swirly, and my lady thought about the sudden stillness, and then the sudden wind, and the weirdness of the weather in general, and she said “Oh dear, I think there must be a tornado warning.”  She said this because she’s used to being proactive about tornadoes, and when the weather does odd things, it’s a good bet that there’s something brewing.  Of course, she didn’t have the internet at that point, so she couldn’t check.  She also didn’t have a radio because she hadn’t unpacked the clock radio yet, so she got a bit flustered.  She wandered from window to window observing the sky, the increasing wind, and the darkening, and she said to herself “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear….” and she noticed a piece of plastic outside was doing a little swirly dance and she got even more flustered and went around closing all the windows and the screened door and she kept looking for funnel clouds. 

In a flash of insight, she said to herself that she would call her parents, who could look on the internet and tell her if Iowa had any tornado warnings.  Satisfied with this clever plan, she walked towards the phone.  On the verge of picking up the telephone, she had an even bigger flash of insight, realizing that in fact her parents were a mere hour and a half away, because she didn’t live in Iowa, and that furthermore, she lived in a place that didn’t get tornadoes.  At this point, she felt quite mortified by the entire tornado business and she sat down again with her glass of wine and tried to console herself that she wasn’t, in fact, losing her mind.  She then watched the blustery, but relatively mild, thunderstorm roll through, after which the sun came out, and it was a bit windy, but she abandoned any thought of continuing with garden clearing and simply played a few rounds of solitaire on her computer and heated up a bowl of soup for supper, because everygoat knows that soup is good for humans who have, even briefly, forgotten where they live.

Thanks for sticking with us through our non-internet-connected period.  We are so excited to be back, and ready to bring you loads of new exciting stories!!!  Love and goat tail-wags to everybody!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A very quick post

This post is just to say....I have not fallen off the edge of the earth!  Since May 30, I have been completely and entirely without internet connection of any sort.  I was supposed to get hooked up last Tuesday, but when they came to the farm, they found that the cables were from 3 generations of "cable types" ago, and were not suitable for the internet signals.  I now have to have new cable installed from the road to my farm because it is over 400 feet to the road, which is too far for the signal to travel.  I haven't been given a firm estimate on when these cables will be installed.  Subsequently, the house cable guy needs to come back to actually hook the cable from the final pole on my driveway up to the house, and then do the internal wiring stuff, which is another whole day, and they only work in my area on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  So, all this is to say, I do not have internet and it may be a few weeks before I get it, which is tremendously irritating for me.  However, it's life as I know it right now.  I shall be back online just as soon as I possibly can.  In the meantime, I am just posting this during a quick visit to my parents, where I am borrowing their signal!

Since I won't have access for a bit, if you comment on this post and you don't see your comment showing up, it's because they don't post until I moderate them first, and since I can't get online to moderate, I can't get them to show.  I'm not ignoring anybody, really!!

Soon you shall hear about all the adventures and of course all the latest news from Lucky Nickel, goat diva!  In the meantime, I don't recommend visiting right now - there are mosquitoes big enough to bring down small aircraft and they seem to think my house and yard are their ideal home.

Hope to be back soon!