Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lazarus Girl...
Appropriate title, I thought, seeing as how I really do feel as though I am returning from the dead...so much has been going on lately (both good and bad), that I haven't had the time, energy, or motivation to really speak to anyone or update our websites...Alas, so it goes...
The biggest news is that the barn is about a week or two from being totally finished! Today they are installing the lighting fixtures in the downstairs, and then in the next couple of days we will be having our final building inspection (hurray!). Ryan and I have been incredibly impressed (and slightly jealous when viewing our own "handy-manned" house) with the quality of work of our contractor, if not necessarily his attitude and treatment of his customers. Whenever people ask us about him, Ryan and I always reply that while he does EXCELLENT work, we just don't enjoy dealing with him. Anyhow, I am including two shots of the outside of the barn. I would have preferred to obtain better images, but it has been pouring rain outside lately, and that just isn't conducive for good picture-taking. I will try and get some indoor shots of the barn next weekend if possible. In any event, the downstairs consists of my small 10x10 work room (with a window overlooking the donkey pasture), a large workshop, a full bath, a 10' wide breezeway, and four generously-sized stalls. The upstairs is a nice 800 square foot loft, which has absolutely breathtaking views of the vineyard next door and the mountains in the distance. Sliding glass doors in the loft open up to a large deck, which overlooks our very-near-future dry doe pasture (for our nigerian goats who are not in milk). My grandparents have asked me to pick out colors / paint the interior, as they have loved the bold color schemes I created in the main house. People seem to either love or hate the colors in the house - there generally isn't an inbetween. For me, after living in drab white apartments for so long, the bold colors of my own home were a welcome change. I love it, and I think more people should experiment with rich color palettes. The other reasoning I had behind my color choices was the thought that I needed to create rooms that could stand up to and compliment my bold antique pieces. I would say that I did well in that respect! In any event, I am thinking of pearly pinks and delicate blues for the barn interior, offset by deep gold accent walls. I already have the colors picked out, but haven't had the opportunity to go down and purchase the paint cans.
The one downside to the new barn is that we are forced to re-do the fencing a bit - which is actually a good thing in the long run. However, with the high cost of fencing, we are attempting to reuse as much of the old stuff as possible. I must say, carefully taking down 100+ feet of fencing in the POURING rain and cold does not make for a fun weekend...but, we need to re-fence so that we have four separate pastures for the new barn stalls, as well as a second fence line which separates the Valley View Vineyard fence from our own. I am TIRED of dealing with drunken idiots who can't read the big bright red signs that say "Please Do NOT Feed the Animals!!!" Time and again I have had to chew people out for feeding rhododendrons to my llamas and PREGNANT donkeys. Wow, talk about high blood pressure...I am not taking the chance with my nigerian dwarfs! I will be incredibly happy (and much less stressed) when that second fence line is up, separating the vineyard and the pasture by a good seven feet (enough space to prevent rhododendron feeding, as well as to be able to get a wheelbarrow in there to pick up fallen leaves and such and keep the area clean).
Speaking of donkeys, it's so hard for me to believe that Cappuchino is already in her sixth month of pregnancy!!! Donkey gestation period is generally 11 months, though it can range from 11 to 13 months. So in another 6 months, we are going to have a bouncing baby donkey! Our little "Zatarra" will be so adorable, I just know! Chicklet (our other pregnant jennet) will be due sometime in mid-July 2009. Her baby will be named "Jacopo."
With the barn nearing completion, we have started turning our attentions back to the remodeling of the main house. First item of business: completely tear out and re-do the kitchen. The nice thing about appliance shopping this time of year is all of the holiday-related sales! Ryan and I are going to raise the ceiling in the kitchen, put in a new wall/doorway to separate the kitchen and dining room (right now it's more of a bar-type set up), and move the stove. Instead of a drop-in stove, we will be switching to a wall-mounted double oven and separate cooktop. With the bed and breakfast in our future, we figured it was a good idea. We also plan on purchasing a warming drawer, which again will be handy while running the B&B. We still plan on putting in a full bath downstairs, but if we have to, we may just end up using the full bath in the downstairs of the barn until we can afford to tear up the basement...I can't say it will be enjoyable to run back and forth in the cold and rain whenever we want to shower, but we will do what we have to. Also on the remodeling list: replace all carpeting with hardwood floors, tear out and remodel both bathrooms in the upstairs, and tear out two closets and turn them into walk-in libraries with built-in book shelves (one of Ryan's projects). We are still keeping our fingers crossed for a May 2009 opening...
With February fast approaching, our thoughts have been turning toward our pregnant nigerian does, and hopes and prayers for safe and easy kiddings. We do have one problem child that we have been contending with: Breeze. We have been unable thus far to get her to settle...it's been quite frustrating. I bred her again to our prize buck, Suede Boots, earlier this month. If she is open, she will come back into heat next weekend. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will be pregnant! If not...*sigh*...Poit has grown up into a monster goat, and has earned the farm nickname of "Tank Girl." Hard to believe, looking back at the pictures, that she was once a 3-lb. munchkin!! She is now almost 10 months old, and will be ready for breeding soon...Poor Ryan is a bit traumatized: his little baby won't be a "baby" anymore!
With the barn so near to completion, there has been a general sigh of relief around the house. The situation with my grandparents (my grandfather, especially) has been stressful at best, and Ryan and I look forward to having a little bit of breathing room again. Grandpa's dementia has been getting steadily worse, and it's difficult to watch him lose his grip on reality. You can always tell when it's coming on: he starts getting a glazed look in his eye and begins to get cranky, and then it hits and will usually last anywhere from 3 days to a week. He turns into a raging jerk, and it's scary to watch and deal with it. For example, the other day during one of his episodes, he went to make coffee: he put water in the machine and coffee in the filter, and then never put the carafe in, so coffee spilled all over the counter. Grandpa didn't even realize, and actually completely forgot that he had even MADE coffee. My grandmother was the one who found it and cleaned it up. The worst episode by far has been this past week though. He started screaming and told Ryan and I to get out of his house, and how we were stupid and all sorts of awful, hurtful things. It was VERY ugly, and this bought lasted about a week. Then, like all of his previous episodes, one day he woke up and was completely fine, acting sweet as punch and as though nothing happened. It's scary and stressful for all involved, and I have to say that when Ryan and I agreed to take care of Grandpa, we really had NO idea what we were getting into...however, that being said, I would, given the chance, absolutely make the same choice all over again. Because, as Ryan and I are realizing more and more, it's not so much about taking care of Grandpa as it is helping Grandma. She is the one who really needs us, and I fully plan on being there for her as best I can. It's all a learning experience for me, and it's hard to hold your temper when a member of your family is being a raging jerk...harder still, to tell yourself that this jerk-person isn't really your grandfather...*sigh* Across the street, our neighbor's wife finally passed away a couple of weeks ago. She had had Alzheimers for SIX years, and hadn't even been able to recognize her own husband in the end. Though a sad event, it was a relief to all parties involved when she finally did pass away. The neighbor's grandchildren, there for the funeral, came over to our place to look at the animals, and Ryan gave them an extended farm tour to try and get their minds off of the funeral.
I have been improving by leaps and bounds on my floor loom, and have been weaving scarves and blankets for selling (and giving out as gifts). I joke with Ryan that I must have been a weaver in a past life, because it all comes so naturally to me. I have never been able to sit down at something I have never done before, and teach myself without any outside assistance. It was scary at how easily I managed it, and I have been so thoroughly happy ever since! Right now I am working on a delicate scarf, weaving a very intricate "Periwinkle" pattern. I hope to sell it at the Central Point Elementary School Craft Bazaar on December 6th. We will be having a booth there with our soaps and other goodies (& homemade pumpkin pies!). Speaking of fiber crafts, I was SO excited to have found a pair of antique weaving cards in good condition at the local antique mall a couple of weeks ago. Normally, these cards (which look like very large dog brushes) cost $65+ EACH. I purchased mine for $32 for the pair - a true steal! Unfortunately, that now means that I can no longer procrastinate on spinning the 4 hefty trashbags full of fiber sitting in my garage. Damn. Like I needed another project! *laughing*
I have taken to collecting antique sewing machines, and have been blessed to find for cheap (or in one case FREE!) many turn-of-the-century sewing machines, as well as working industrial-grade machine (for stitching upholstery, denim, etc). My latest prize was a Minnesota machine in its original (and rare) parlor cabinet, circa 1920. Pristine condition! Found it at a garage sale in Medford...
The rainy season appears to have finally reached us, and thus our harvest season has ended. I am still working on processing and canning my pumpkins before they go bad. Thankfully for me, pumpkins keep quite a while in the cold...still, we have had to purchase another chest freezer to accommodate all of the pies I have been making, as well as our 1/2 cow and 2 lambs from a rancher just up the road! One thing is for sure, we will not go hungry this winter! I have also taken to making candles, so now we can have our own candles for this winter. Ryan and I have been making more soap batches too, and recently finished a wonderful one called "Blood Orange" for those citrus fruits with the blood red flesh. It's a GREAT soap for oily skin as well as (surprise!) doing your dishes! Ryan and I have found that the citrus soap really cuts through grease! Next weekend we plan on making a double batch of our very-loved "Cinnamon-Orange-Spice" soap. One batch we will cut into bars and sell, and the other batch I am planning to use to barter with my neighbor for four of her potted magnolia trees. I want to get a head start on landscaping the front patio area.
With the recent hard-times, survival has been on everybody's mind around here. Not in the "run away to Wolf Creek and live in a shack with 50 rifles waiting for the anarchy" type of survival - just a general stock pile for when things get rough and there isn't much money around the house. Ryan's work has been doing massive lay-offs, and, while he has thus far escaped, we figure that it's only a matter of time before he too loses his job. With me still unemployed and unable to find work, it's a scary thought, especially due to the fact that we have 4 people and a farm to support. While I make soap and weave and do other things for the purpose of selling, most people just don't want to buy things right now. I am wondering if, with the new president, people will spend more or less this holiday season?...In any event, we are thankful to have a roof over our heads and plenty to eat.
Well, I suppose that's about all for now. I wish you the best this holiday season.
Take care,