Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Drip, drip, drip, drip...

If you will remember back with me to my second post, "Let the Lists Begin!", number two was ripping out the carpet in the dining room where there was a past flood from a burst pipe. When the house was built, Quest plumbing was booming. Well, obviously this particular type of pipes render themselves useless and if they aren't leaking now, they will eventually. Not only are they susceptible to freezing and breaking; but in our case we have problems year round, and particularly in the summer. Living in rural areas means that we have well water from a water service. In attempts to keep water up and flowing for all the summer demands in a great expanse of an area, the service pushes water through to the houses at a very high pressure. Since we have crap plumbing that means that pipes burst, particularly at the joints.

Our philosophy on dealing with the plumbing has been to replace the pipes as they need to be repaired. We can't really afford to overhaul the entire house. So naturally in the few months we have lived there we have had two and a half water leaks!

I say two and a half because in our attempts to quasi fix the second leak to get by until we could properly repair it that weekend, we managed to send the leaking water back up the outside the pipe...
through the wall...
and into our kitchen floor.
I was less than thrilled when we noticed we couldn't keep the water off the floor and thought it was coming through the sheet rock. We really didn't want to have to cut into the wall to repair pipes.

Repairing the second leak was not much fun, it was a joint that had broken and was dripping steady and fast, but not catastrophic by any means. Robbie came out to the house with me after a visit to our local Lowe's and a few hours later it was an issue no more!

The first leak however, while very contained and non-damaging came at an inconvenient time and made for a very frustrating morning...
the next day...
You see the pattern, it was 2 days before we could fix the issue.

John was in the shower, we were running late getting out of the house (per our usual Monday routine) and I still needed a shower too. Then I hear him yell my name in that voice that means he is really mad about something. He couldn't get the shower to turn off! Apparently the valve in the shower wall had corroded and was not going to shut! To turn off the shower we had to shut off water to the entire house!!

Then, because of our work schedules we couldn't do a whole lot each day to repair the issue. By the time we got off work, stopped to get parts (key problem in the delay in fixing the issue was buying the wrong parts), and got home and into the wall to find/fix the problem meant we were well into the evening when we found out we needed more/different parts. We live 30 to 45 minutes from the closest home repair store. Once you get off work, get home and get good and started in a project - those stores are closed. : (

If we didn't need to replace the carpet before... we sure do now! Just to finish the living room set up so we can move the stacked junk to their respective homes allowing us to empty out the dining room so then, and only then can we rip out the carpet! (We still aren't sure what we're going to put down on the cement slab)

"What on Earth are you doing?!?!?"

"What on Earth are you doing?!?!" Was the startling exclamation from John when he walked in one evening after his run to find me on the floor of our dining room smearing Joint Compound all over the walls. Actually, his comment was something more along the lines of "What the H. E. Double Hockey Sticks.... are you doing?" But I thought 'Earth' was a nice replacement. : )

Sometimes I will get a burr in my saddle and start a project, whether or not it is a good idea. The area that is our dining room is the space that was both the living and dining room when we were kids. The room was going to absolutely have to be painted and there are some spots that really needed repair from various toys, old nails etc creating holes.

When John left for his run I was mentioning that I might go ahead and fill in the holes with Joint Compound. Well, I didn't like what it looked like and said, oh how hard could it be to texture the entire wall? I had seen the texture style done at a couple of different houses and knew they did it themselves so I figured I could do it too.

Using cheap plastic putty knives and a large bucket of Joint Compound I smeared heaping amounts of the putty on the walls in varying, short choppy strokes. What I didn't do however, was tape my door frames, baseboards or remove fixtures. Speaking from experience, you should always do this!! I have now added another step to this lovely project since I will have to sand the compound off our pretty wood wall plates, frames and baseboards.

Also, if you plan on doing this project yourself; I recommend using smaller amounts of Compound to start with. It isn't fun to have to go back over if it looks too light but, it sure beats the sections that I got carried away on and have now cracked. This is not really a project that can be split between two people. I tried to let John do a part of one wall and it isn't that he didn't do a great job, because he did!! It is just that if you don't match the patterns in the texture (although there is no "real" pattern, it is all just random) and make the same strokes it doesn't look the same at all! I had to go back over what he did and work to make it match my work.

So, if you have been paying attention to my posts you are probably as impressed as I am that it appears that (**for the most part**) I did a DIY home improvement project from start to finish. Well, don't be. : (
Remember how I was telling you that there are neat little stacks of boxes and piles of our belongings throughout the house where we haven't been able to really "move-in" for stuff we still need to move out etc. Our walls reflect that perfectly. I'm texturing 2 walls in the room since one of those walls runs from the dining room into the kitchen and I thought it would look awkward if it abruptly stopped in the kitchen (where we still have hideous wall paper) or only one wall was textured in the kitchen. The shorter of the two walls has a very large entertainment center sitting against it that will eventually be moved out (very heavy, giving it away on craigslist in exchange for labor to get it out of my house!!) so I could only texture a quarter of that wall. On the other longer wall there are entire sections that are textured from the ceiling down but toward the base there are box shaped sections of non-textured walls where I couldn't get to them for our stuff. : (

It's like we can't do anything constructive for all the projects that we need to get to but can't for various reasons.

As I've unpacked those boxes and found homes for the items I've continued texturing down the wall, it will be finished eventually I assume.

In the unlikely event that you too are texturing your walls in segments: If you taper off your compound you can pick up where you left off over lapping into your pre-existing textures without a difference.

**UPDATE** We have finished one whole wall!! - John was out of work between jobs for a week. We were stressed about it at first, but it turned out to be a huge blessing! He was able to get so much work done on the house!! With him being home during the days while I was working he got so much stuff unpacked, boxes consolidated and stuff we don't need in the house moved to storage!!

That freed me up to finish the long wall. We're still blessed with having our large ugly entertainment center in the dining room and that is putting a krimp on my ability to finish that wall, but one day it will be done! I have hope!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goat Killer!!

As I mentioned in an earlier post we have 8 goats on the property with us. I was less than thrilled about this fact when we were first moving out there, but now they are much more like a pack of 8 dogs with horns. They all have names and personalities of their own! John and I have grown to love the varmints!

Meet the Goat family! The first three goats my brother Robert brought out there were Lucy, aka Nanny (because of her breed (female pygmy) and she is a momma goat) and her two sons Fred and Ricky (ha, ha, ha... the joys of pre-named goats!). Then he added two Nubian goats, Clifford and Lady. For those unfamiliar with goat breeds (and I would pretty much expect you to be unfamiliar with them...), a Nubian goat is a European breed of goat - they are very large! About the height of a big miniature horse, their heads come up to about the height of my shoulder. Then came the misfit pack, two fainting goats (Rupert and George) and a really cute three year old pygmy goat named Cooper (by far the most pet-like of the pack).

Clyde cooling off on a hot day.
Living out in the rural parts of Texas means that dumped dogs are a common-place feature. Very frustrating but a reality. We had a black and white blue heeler mix come up to the house as a stray. She is such a good dog! We couldn't help but fall in love with her despite all my insistence that we wouldn't take her in. We let her hang around our two dogs, Clyde (a boxer - our rescued dog!) and Chloe (an AKC registered Chocolate Lab) in the back yard while I put up fliers in the area thinking that surely she was just lost. For goodness sakes, she is housebroken and other than a particularly pesky habit of chewing things (like my undergarments!) she is a great dog!

Well, Chloe and Pepper (yes we named her... and yes, before you ask, we still have her) both like to chase our goats; and when they did it together, they were very good at herding them. We weren't terribly worried about it. Pepper obviously has a herding instinct and therefore was bred to know not to attack... or so we thought.

I was leaving to see friends and looked out in the yard (we always do a goat head count to make sure they aren't getting in trouble) and saw that all three dogs were on the defensive, seven very angry goats were protecting a very dead looking Nanny/Lucy. I was terrified!!

It had been about 3 hours since I was last outside doing stuff so for all I knew this could have been going on for three hours! (We can't hear a lot from the pasture into the house) I got John and we went to see if there was anything we could do as I called Robert.

Nanny's neck not long after the attack
We were pretty sure she was going to die. The dogs had ripped her neck up. We could clearly see muscle and tendon tissue. She had lost a lot of blood. Then there was the minor detail that it was a holiday weekend... getting a large animal vet to even look at her (ie a house call) is now going to be $200 + . Robert works with a retired vet so we called in a favor, which was really more like we were sending him pictures and he told us what to do. We wanted to try to let her live. Once we got her out of the pasture and into the large "dog pen" area she was doing better immediately, translated, she could stand up and her beating calmed. We decided to give her the weekend, if she didn't greatly improve we would have her put down.

We stuffed the muscle tissue back into her neck and repaired what we could with butterfly strips. Then cleaned the wound with peroxide, disinfected with alcohol and covered in iodine. Next came a generous helping of Triple Antibiotic Ointment on sterile patches and then we pushed the hole closed by wrapping an ace bandage around her neck. The tears of the skin were not clean enough for stitches and we knew it was going to be essential that the wound close internally first. All this was topped off with a heaping shot of penicillin (the shot to her hip brought more of a reaction than any of the other treatment did surprisingly enough). Rinse and Repeat... we re-bandaged twice a day for a week.

She was obviously on the mend. We managed to get maggots in the wound at one point, which turned out to be one of the best things! They ate away the dead flesh leaving only healthy and we caught the little critters early enough that with a squirt bottle of peroxide and a pair of tweezers we were able to get all the maggots out in a matter of 3 days (we had progressed to only needing to change the bandages once a day).

After a month of great attention and care Nanny was back to normal! She had gained a healthy weight (She had been a little underweight before the attack), was eating greedily and the wound was healed to the point of appearing to be an external cut. We laid the fence down in such a way that when she was ready she could go back to the herd but they couldn't get to her (we weren't sure if they would accept her again or if she would be on the bottom of the 'pecking order' and get beat around). A week or so later she hopped over into the main pasture and never looked back!!

We continued with shots of penicillin and re bandaging her wounds to keep them clean and monitored.

The day after Nanny was attacked, Pepper slipped through a gap in the gate and got a hold of Cooper. Fortunately John had only stepped inside to get his phone when she got into the pasture so he only suffered some superficial scratches to the neck and back. I'm sure it didn't feel great but we weren't concerned with whether or not he would live. We moved him into Nanny's pen and treated his wounds as we did Nanny's, but he was healed in about 2 and a half weeks.
Cooper likes to get himself int things he can't get out of...

If you don't believe that goats are smart and have individual personalities, then you need to come see ours! Cooper milked his injuries for everything he could get! That goat ate more sweet feed than I have ever seen another eat! All of which was hand fed of course because he refused to bend down for food from the ground. At first we thought it was because his skin wasn't stretching for him to bend where there were scabs, but we eventually caught him eating when we were inside...he just knew he could be hand fed!

Pepper is quite the cutie.
Now this raises the question of what to do about Pepper...
I first had the instinct to shoot the mut... I know a lot of people who would have. However, we had taken in the dog, we assumed responsibility for her. For heavens sake, we had gotten her shots! I didn't feel it was fair to shoot a dog for acting in their nature. It was simply a matter of she can not be around livestock. She is great with kids, cats, other dogs... her only issues are things she thinks she needs to herd.
Well, we have livestock so we obviously can't keep her.

I called my dad and he said he would keep her until we could find a new home. He too understood that she is a good dog, just not the dog for us.

I talked to all our friends I could think of that wanted a dog and would be in situations that she would thrive. I felt it was only fair to be honest about why we were giving her away - and I can't fault them, but no one wanted her. They all felt that she posed too high a risk.

We had mixed emotions about handing her over to a shelter... we quickly shot down the idea of any shelters that had "kill" policies. Then I looked into giving her up to ASPCA. We researched the process and we would have to pay over $60 for them to take here, some of which was a non-refundable "deposit" of sorts for them to consider the dog. We were willing to do this if we knew she wouldn't be put down and had a chance for a good home. BUT, ASPCA won't take dogs that are strays, they say that they support reunification with their homes they were lost from. We explained very kindly that she had clearly been dumped and we couldn't keep her, that she didn't "cooperate with livestock" and needed a "home in town". If you ask me, they knew we weren't going to dump her and they didn't have room for another dog.
This is the only "no kill" shelter in the area so we were back to square one.

She was doing just fine at my Dad's house and John and I enjoyed playing with her when we visited (multiple times a week), plus she had fun in his back yard with my brothers two dogs, Midnight and Bobby. For the time being we decided that she would just stay there, we planned to build a completely separate and secure fence and bring her back home eventually.

Chloe is the sweet Chocolate lab
Well, the past week has been pretty crappy if I do say so myself. Chloe died last Saturday.
John came home between work and going to see my brother march in the high school half-time performance in another town to feed her and Clyde. If we fed the two of them they would stay in the yard with no problems.When we got home late that night she wasn't there. This was very unlike her to leave at night. Even if she were out in the neighborhood she was just a holler away and would never be gone at night.

We were very worried. We looked for her for a couple of hours with no luck. The next morning John was running in the Susan G. Komen 5K so we were up very early and were taking a different route than normal to town. Along the way we found her, she had been hit a few miles away from our house - which is soo much farther than what she would go if she were out in the past.

Clyde doesn't do well by himself, so we've brought Pepper back out to the house for now - keeping her separated from the goats is a chore, but it is helping Clyde and of course we love her.

Unfortunately we lost Nanny. We don't think it had much to do with the wound. She had been healed for over two months with continuing treatments of antibiotics. For a couple of days before her death she was acting strange. We thought maybe she had worms (aren't livestock fun!?!) so we moved up her treatment that was scheduled for a week later. She was a very old goat, about 10 years old, so as sad as it was - it was to be expected.

Pepper has 9 adorable puppies now!! Long story, but being a stray we weren't certain if she was 'fixed' - the vet that gave her shots with all the other dogs said that he believed she was from what he could tell. Well, no, she wasn't. A fence jumper came to see her and a couple of short months later we have a zoo in our living room floor!

Monday, October 3, 2011

So much time, so little done.

Yes, I know that it has been 5 months since we last posted, so you would assume we have made amazing progress on the house... yeeeahhhhh, not so much. Since we both work and have other obligations we stay pretty busy. Also, not many of these projects are one person adventures.

We got moved in with only a few casualties. We killed a bookshelf, frustrating but cheap to replace (since it was walmart furniture to begin with), and we lost a lamp. Based on the way we moved (remember that whole trash bag technique - I don't recommend it!) not too shabby.

Project number one was setting up the bedroom! It is absolutely amazing how much furniture we have fit into a very, very small room. (Read: 2 night stands, a jewelry armour, a small chest of drawers and dresser... oh and let's not forget the bed it's self). I'll have to post pictures to express the enormity of this accomplishment! This little project came with challenges of its own. When we officially moved into the house there were very large aquariums and a love seat being stored in the room. We couldn't put any furniture in it, particularly the queen sized bed. The first night I slept there John worked an overnight shift and I laid in a chair with my feet propped up on an exercise ball. Not the best nights rest.

Then there was the construction of the bed frame.... I have a wonderful younger brother who I do believe could fix just about anything. All three of my brothers are really quite handy! Josh had put together the bed when it was delivered to our first house, all I had done was hold parts where he needed me. Why on God's green earth did I think that I could handle holding large heavy pieces of frame while connecting others when I didn't even know where to put them?!? It took a week to coordinate our schedules for him to come and construct the sucker for me (John was still working 2 jobs - I didn't have the heart to ask him to do yet another something for me). And Wait, There's More! We misplaced the hardware for the headboard and foot board. Which turned out to not be such an awful thing. They became our ghetto clothes racks!

Clothes racks you ask? There is only one closet in the entire house... it is in the end of the house we currently aren't using. Due to stacked furniture and boxes and all kinds of junk my brothers and I need to sort through from our childhood, we can't even get to that closet right now.

The kitchen is set up, and just as I feared, there is sooo not enough space for all my stuff! And I really don't have that much "stuff". I was able to pick up some dresser drawers off craigslist that are painted in funky colors that I think are fun. I filled them with the things that are seasonal or only occasionally used in the kitchen and have put them in the waisted space between the cabinets and ceiling. Best of all, it was FREE!!!

The dining room is a large open area with our hallway of a kitchen divided off by a bar height counter top. It is currently serving as our living room as well. The couches are still stacked in the other end of the house, aka what will be our living room.
So translation on the dining room is: the chair (my bed that first night), exercise ball, the TV, our table and a stack of chairs. The table has one dining chair and one office chair pulled up to it and sits next to a neat stack of end tables on top of the coffee table with boxes placed in the cubby-like holes the legs create. NOT ideal, and driving me NUTS!!

We pretty much brought it on ourselves with how we moved and didn't wait to take care of some of these known space problems (like getting rid of the pre-existing stuff before adding our own). But after this much time. I am ready to have a "HOUSE"; or at least a place to have my couch on the floor, where I can sit on it rather than, where the couch currently presides; on top of a bookshelf and stack of boxes. : (

I will do my best to catch up on some of the 5 months of events. Most of which are interesting learning experiences in their own right, all of which were time consuming set backs.

To no one's surprise, we are Living & Learning!