Thursday, August 30, 2012

That House Thing and Stuff.

Remember that house I said we were going to start building and then said nothing more about because shit just kept breaking.

We're still working on it.

We are currently getting septic approval. Most of it has been to damn boring to blog about. It involved a lot of us sitting in various peoples offices, reading pamphlets, diggings holes, and watching the septic inspector dude draw things on his white board while I pretended I had comprehension of drain field rates. We had inspectors come out and poke at our soil and we ran tests and cursed a whole lot.

Basically our soil is crap.

So are going to have to install the more expensive system which we cannot install ourselves. Which is both bad and good. Bad because it will cost more money, we will have to pay more to maintain it, and it will mean more inspector type people will be tromping around and looking at the ground while making that 'tut tut' noise under their breath.

The good because we don't have to install the system ourselves. Also, it will work. This is a very important point, as WV gets kinda twitchy about people pooping the creek. We can have this system installed and rest assured that it will work. And it if breaks, it's someone else's fault.

The value of that cannot be overrated.

I am still bouncing between excitement about the house and oh my god I will finally have SPACE, and the sweet terror of oh my god I have to BUILD this thing. It's like emotional ping pong. So I have a constant refrain going in the back of my mind that basically sounds like this:

I can't wait till I have my own bathroom connected to the bedroom so Scott and I and the Farm Sitter and anyone else don't have to use the same bathroom. I have always wanted a guest shower and fuck I have to install that. Do I know anything about that? I wonder what kind of moisture barrier I'll need. What if I fuck it up? What if I run out of money and I have to shower in the lawn with a bucket? What if it EXPLODES!?


I'm fine.

Luckily my favorite discount store had just gotten in a whole bunch of books about home building. I shit you not. They had books on framing and wiring and installing tile. I snapped up those four dollar books like they were made of crack (this analogy assumes I am addicted to crack( I am not actually addicted to crack.))

So right now at our mobile home there are books on every building subject under the sun laying around with book marks and highlighters crammed into them. Because the only way to make sure our house is done right is to learn as much as we can before we build the damn thing. You should always be thinking about the next step while you are working and knowing which floors need to be reinforced for tile work and which rooms need the most outlets and where the light fixtures are going to go all has to happen now.

My brain hasn't been this full since collage.

It hurts.

So I am a bundle of nerves. But it's okay, because I, ah, I, um, look it's not fucking okay but it will be because at the end of all this I will have a house.

I hope.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wiring Harness are the Devil.

Yes. We did it. And by we a mean mostly Scott. And my Uncle. I just handed them tools and cleaned grounds and provided an extra pair of hands*.

The first day was spent removing the old wiring harness and putting in the new. That was exciting. I will point out that Scott's idea of labeling every single wire was the best idea ever in the whole history of ever. There was no guessing. However I have to point out that without my Uncle we wouldn't have known what half those fuckers were in the first place.

I will also take this moment to point out that disassembling the steering column is probably a form of torture in several less civilized parts of the world. Even worse, of course, was putting the damn thing back together.

Let me explain.

There is this, trapezoid thing that makes the car start when you turn the key. No I don't know what it's called. It has no name. It deserves no name. It sits on the steering column and connects to this line that runs from the key. So when you turn the key it flips a switch in this box and the car starts. Except it's a sweet bitch to get in.

Which we did at least four times.

I put it in and took it out, Scott put it in and took it out, and it wouldn't work. We poked at it and tested the wires and criticized each others putting-the-damn-thing-in-technique. Every time we would take it out Scott would grab it and do arcane things to the switch while muttering. By the end of it he was hunched over the switch like Golum, muttering the dark litany “ accessories, lock, start, run.”

It took us a while to realize that that it was wired backwards.

Because that's what you get when you use second hand wiring harnesses. So we pushed and shoved and cursed and still managed to get the wheel back on slightly crooked but fuck it who cares, until at last we had everything wired up. Everything was where it should be. Most of the crazy wiring from the former owner was gone, replaced by this new beautiful and clean wiring harness. Flushed with success we connected the battery and flipped the lights on.

Nothing happened.

Well fuck. We tried everything. We replaced the switch, we replaced a bulb. We cleaned the grounds and traced wires and did unfathomable things with the one working multimeter we could find. Which in a stroke of luck I still can't comprehend, was made specifically for automotive use. Scott bypassed things and stuff and poked at wires and got zapped and swore and still the lights remained dead.

So we called my uncle.

And being the saint he is, the next day he came over with a bunch of his tools and together we begin again. It became rapidly apparent that having my Uncle, the ex auto mechanic, was like suddenly being given a cheat code to your fucking car. He pointed out things that we needed, things that we did not need, and things we could do to make it run better. I mostly watched while they tested things and cleaned switches and cut apart the old wiring harness and were dismayed by things and occasionally I would bring them sockets. After some struggling and cursing and despair and some “holy crap why is this HAPPENING!?” We found the problem in one blinding beautiful moment of understanding that was as clear and clean as water from a deep, cool, well.

It was a bad bright switch.

You know, that thing that I did not even know that cars had. That thing. It was bad. So then we had to drive around to all the auto parts stores in town. There are four in our tiny, tiny ass town and none of them had the part. So we undertook the great journey to the other town where we pulled into the store and saw that what looked like redneck town had set up a shanty village in the grassy area before the auto parts store only to realize it was a massive yard sale. It was ceramic ducks and baby clothes and Nascar blankets as far as the eye could see. No I didn't get any pictures. I might not have come back out alive.

But they had the part!

We drove home like the motherfucking champions that we were and installed the part. With me standing in front of the truck Scott installed the damn thing and flipped on the switch.

The lights came on.

You would think that seeing the giant square lights of on old truck flare into their typical reedy life from deep within the grill would not be a very inspiring sight. But it was. It was like when you see rain coming from a long way off over the earth and you stand and wait for the wall of cold droplets to hit you and the rain comes over you like a sheet and you feel a joy mixed with awe at the sheer endless scale of the world. It was like the moment when you watch the sun come up in the mountains or over a lake and the sky gets lighter and lighter and a tightness forms in your gut for reasons you don't understand and then the first edge of the sun comes over the world and you feel a chilly sense of wonder and think how small and yet wonderful this whole thing called life really is.

That is what I felt when those headlights came on.




It is these moments we keep close, gentle readers.

It is these moments.

*A very invaluable service when the two mechanics are doing some sort of twisted car yoga under the dash,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fixing the Truck.

A while ago we discovered that the headlights on the truck had stopped working. And by discovered, I mean, we left somewhere at dusk and the dark was a whole lot darker then it should have been. So we did what we always do, we poked around the truck until we found what was wrong.

In short, everything.

The previous owner was a young teenage boy. He had, in his infinite wisdom, redone some of the wiring so that he could put in a killer sound system. Did I say some of the wiring? I meant all of it. Let me put it this way, the instrument panel lights were LEDs zip tied to the dash and wired into who knows what, only one thing of the three things that runs to the ground was plugged in, and every time the parking break was set the oil gauge went to zero.

After much mucking about with switches and wires, we came to a conclusion. We were going to have replace the entire dash. Which was going to cost us a lot of money.

But we were in luck. While complaining about our miserable luck to my family, it turns out my uncle has an older truck of near the same make sitting a fucking field somewhere that we were welcome to come rob for parts. Presumably because he loves me. Or maybe he just wanted to see the looks on our faces as we struggled to remove a dash from a car that was filled with dead mice and pine needles.

Either way.

The next day, full of optimism and hope, we loaded up out tools and a camera and drove over to his house. We found the truck sitting in a grassy patch along with about, oh four other vehicles. It was old, rusted and blue and very intent on keeping all it's parts in it thank you very much. So the three of us stayed and fought the dash out of truck. We pulled out all the instruments and components that our truck was lacking. As we were putting our hard won prize in the car my uncle asked if we wanted the wring harness too.

For those of you that don't know, the wiring harness is like the wiring in the walls of your house. It's the bunch of wires and plugs that everything on the dash that you need to work plugs into. So the lamps and TV's and junk in your house is like the dash, and the walls wiring is like the wiring harness.

It's pretty much just as difficult to remove.

So we said no we don't need that, got home and discovered that yes, we did need that.

Let me put it this way. It took us an hour to remove the dash. It took us so long to remove the wiring harness my aunt made us all dinner. Imagine trying to get a bundle of wires out of a big jagged metal tube. Also imagine that the wires are running through and hooking to all sorts of things within the tube. And that the tube is mounted under a table. And you can't cut any of the wires. And you can't see what you are doing. And you have to take a picture of every motherfucking step because if you will not remember the wire orders or what went to what and you will be super fucked. Not even regular fucked. We also labeled every wire too.

Taking a wiring harness out of a vehicle is like trying to take an octopus of a close sided cheese grater with out cutting the octopus.
Of course we still have to get the wiring harness out of our truck, before we can even think about putting the new one in, reassemble the dash, and pray. Oh, and all this has to get done before the it needs to be inspected.

Sweet fucking Jesus.

Pray for us.

Pray for us all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's Been a Year.

It's been a year since I started this blog. A year of cursing and life and death and going to work and having the breaks fail and pushing myself to fix up this place if it motherfucking kills me. When I started this blog I figured that no one would read it. I didn't even tell any friends and family, not even the husband, that I had started it. I figured that would be the equivalent of showing everyone you meet pictures of the cat art you make out of dyed macaroni pieces.

You just don't do it.

Plus, I figured that I would have stopped writing by now. You know, since I have this farm and a job and a husband and my free time consists of 'time I spend between the shower and bed after the sun goes down.' Somehow throughout this insane year I have found the time to drag my tired ass to the keyboard and write on a consistent basis.

I know, I am surprised too.

But I was even more surprised that people started reading this blog. And that they liked it. That was the holy-shit-complete-strangers-are-telling-me-good-things-about-myself-that-almost-never-happens moment.

So I wanted to thank all of you, beloved readers.

Now at this point most bloggers would say they would love to thank you all but that can't think of a way to do that but fuck that shit because that is lame as hell so I painted you all a ghost chicken.

There is no need to thank me. Okay, maybe a little.

Ta Da! I think someone out there might have a new desk top background. Or a bullion board decoration. The only thing you can't do with the ghost chicken is resell the image in any form. Other then that, think of the many uses!

Terrify small children by placing the ghost chicken on the ceiling over their beds and telling them it will pluck at their face if they are bad! Leave small copies of the pictures laying around the house to confuse guests and spouses! Put the ghost chicken staring into a mirror to reclaim it's lost raccoon chewed soul! The uses are endless really.

So this is my gift, from me to you.

Use it well, gentle readers.

Use it well.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Raising Chickens in the House

So I have hit a point where there are currently seven young chickens of various ages in my living room. I got the part where I was getting so many peeps I stopped blogging about it because I am a terrible blogger I was really fucking busy.

Or course not all of the peeps I got made it, one died of an impacted crop, one from a mystery illness and another from having the crap beat out of it by the adult hens because fuck that peep that's why. It also turns out that one of them developed a nasty cough and I shoved everyone on antibiotics because that is what the feed store said to do and in the country feed store = animal vet.

So it's been exciting.

I finally had to break down and go buy a bigger plastic bin to act as a cage because the five peeps that are together insist on growing a whole lot. My advice to anyone else who is thinking of raising peeps and has no outbuilding* in which to do it is,


You know what chickens like to do? Eat and poop. Poop and eat. I am torn between admiration for my little guys and a desire to see them in a baking dish. Everything is dirty and my living room is filled with feed sacks, waterer's, chicken meds, paper towels and heat lamps. It's like heating your house in the summertime! Yay.

A typical day involves me cleaning out their cages. Then a few hours later I've found that one of them has managed to bump the waterer and is now standing in a poop swamp. After I fix that one of them will manage to rip up all the bedding and shove it in a corner in her quest for hidden goodies. Then the peep without a real feeder will dump all the food on the ground and dust bathe in it and then refuse to eat it. If I refill the feeder she will take another dust bath. Repeat until I get fed up and cut her off where she will become the saddest peep ever.

You know what, how in the fuck do people do this with human children? Seven chickens is enough to drain every single maternal instinct out of my body by noon. Afternoon I have to coast on Holly's deep and abiding love of all animals.**

So I have been fantasizing about the day when I can turn them all loose to be bullied into submission by the older chickens.

There is also nothing quite like being jerked out of a sound sleep by a peep fight. They don't really fight, they just sort of posture. Pretty much exactly like people do. Heads extended to the max and chest puffed out. They look like two teenage boys trying to get in a fight in a Denny's parking lot.

I stagger blearily into living room after hearing loud peeping only to see two peeps hopping around, chests almost touching.

“You want a piece of me, huh? Huh?

“Yeah! Yeah!”

“Do ya?”

“Watcha gonna do about it?”

At this point both of them are wore out because it's the middle of the fucking night and chickens do sleep at night (mostly) and both their heads start to droop and then they lay down right where they were fucking standing and go to sleep. Often on top of each other and I feel like I have been woken up to watch the cutest shadow boxing match ever.

Then I go back to bed and dream of chickens.

Mostly cooked in cream sauce.

*I have a rule called no unattended heaters in outbuildings at all ever. I think most people would think this is a bit over the top, but do you know how flammable hay is? Answer: Really, really motherfucking flammable.

**Except guinea hens. Fuck those guys.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How to Can Food In 12 Easy Steps.

How to can food in 12 easy steps.

Things you will need:

A working stove, fresh produce, a recipe, a big pot, a little pot, a sink, some clean towels, a ladle, a spoon, a mega shit ton of jars and lids, metal tongs, and a timer.

Optional things include:

Labels for the jars, counter space, a willingness to laugh at yourself and potholders.

Step 1.

Make sure you have necessary ingredients for canning. If making Jam or Jelly you will most likely need pectin and a lot of recipes for jam call for enough sugar to murder several diabetics. Also, do not optimistically assume you will have enough jars. You must have more jars then you need or you will find yourself either driving to the store at breakneck speed or eating jam for dinner for three nights in a row until your teeth ache.

Step 2.

Prepare your fresh ingredients and add them to the big pot as per your recipe instructions. Set timer so that you will not over cook the ingredients you slaved over growing and picking in the hot ass summer sun.

Step 3.

Wash each of your jars and lids in hot water and rinse in warm water. If you forget to rinse jars in warm water you might be in for a 'surprise.'* Set timer.

Step 4.

Forget about timer. Almost drop jar you are washing when it goes off. Scramble to shut off heat and stir your glop. Proceed to step 5.

Step 5.

Realize that you were supposed to have put the lids into boiling water before placing them on jars. Scramble to boil water with tea maker before your glop gets cold and you are fucked.

Step 6.

Reread directions and realize that they meant only the lids and not the rings. Try to fish rings out of boiling hot water before timer goes off again. Burn self while trying to get rings to cool off. Began to contemplate why you wanted to can your own food in the first place.

Step 7.

Have contemplation time broken by sound of timer. Carefully bring your jars over and arrange them for ease of filling. Grab ladle and began filling jars. Immediately spill a bunch of your glop over half the jars. Overfill first jar so that you have to try to dump it into another jar. The glop, and therefore by extension the jars, will be burning hot. Burn hands for the second time.

Step 8.

Wipe down the rims and threads of jars with a clean cloth or paper towel. Jars will be as hot as the surface of the sun. Any potholders you may use to ease this step along will become sticky or filthy as fuck all. Proceed to Step 9.

Step 9.

Carefully try to fish lids out of boiling water with a pair of tongs. Come to conclusion that this is impossible. Come to conclusion that lids do not want to come apart and also do not want to come out of the pot. Wrestle each lid out while cursing the cold uncaring universe that brought you to this point. If you have enlisted help in this endeavor, this is an excellent time for them to make sarcastic remarks about the how jars are cooling off and you are taking forever. Lid jars.

Step 10.

Add rings. Burn hands like a motherfucker. Remember fondly when you used to have fingerprints. Use non sticky potholders or clean towels to tighten the rings and invert jars for five minutes.

Step 11.

After five minutes turn jars right side up and leave for 24 hours. Curse wildly as you try to clean up because hot water plus finger burns equals oh god sweet Jesus motherfuckers. Find out that glop will harden like motherfucking epoxy. If making jam learn that this is the stickiest substance known to man.

Step 12.

After 24 hours test jars. You can label them at this time. Resist urge to label jars with curse words. They should be uniform in color and the lids should not have any give. If lids pop they must be refrigerated and eaten with a week or so. End up with way too much of whatever you made. Give some of it away. Give a lot of it away. Resign self to eating a shit ton of whatever you just made. Weep softy into your burned hands, drink heavily.

There you have it! How to can food in 12 easy steps. Be sure to catch the other tutorials such as How to denail a board in 10 easy steps.

* I've heard if you miss this step the jars might explode. (Cold jar, boiling food you figure it out.) I've never seen it happen, but then I've been really careful about that. I like to keep explosions in my kitchen to a minimum.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Heat the Terrible Heat!

So the past couple days have been my battle against the heat. It is fuckall uncharacteristically hot here. I moved to the top of this mountain because it was cool and nice up here in the summer and then I find out that was a lie. A terrible, terrible lie.

At least this mobile home has ceiling fans. Although the window screens are a goddamn joke. Some of the windows have no screens at all. They look like they have never had screens, they have no grooves for the screens to slide into. They are the unscreened, a race of terrible half windows doomed to roam the earth letting bugs into peoples houses until the earth finally reclaims there shattered remains.

Luckily, I was at the feed store the other day and saw they had a bunch of those separate window screens that slid out to accommodate any window size. So we bought a bunch and shoved them into the windows.

At last a glorious breeze! Air flow motherfuckers.

Then the sun went down.

Since I do not live like the Amish and go to bed with the sun, I realized that these screens, while effective during the daytime, are not so effective at night. Let me put it this way. Have you ever walked into your own kitchen only to have the Ride of the Valkyries start up somewhere in the back of your head as you gaze at the many insects swooping and diving and skittering around your kitchen?


Just me?

Okay. So there were, conservative estimate here, about a million moths. What was even worse, though in my mind, was the even bigger moths pressed against my now very flimsy looking held-in-with-only-the-pressure-of-the-widow screen. They were flapping there huge wings against the screens and clawing at it with there tiny forelegs. Now, I like moths, they are the butterflies of the night. I will catch them and put them back outside if I find one because I think they are beautiful. But I learned something.

Their eyes glow red at night.

This is one of those things that you don't come to fully appreciate until you are one flimsy window screen away from having one of them in your house. I learned this by having a Luna moth land on the window and gaze at me with it's blood red glowy eyes. If you don't know how big a Luna moth is just look at your hand. Yeah, about that big. I have always loved luna moths, until this moment. I took this disturbing bit of news like that sane rational adult I am.

And by that I screamed “oh my fucking god it's Mothman!”

But even worse then Mothman was the discovery of the devil bug. I have no words for how badly this bug terrifies me. Even worse then the giant green chipping grasshopper things, even worse then the vampire mosquitoes.

It's this long thin bug with big wings, and giant set of double pincers. I cannot convey to you the horror of this thing. It's shiny where it should not be shiny and it's wings are greasy and unwholesome looking. It also has a way of twisting it's head around defensively if you get too close. This bug looks like something Satan would send out in the middle of the night to murder innocent children. If Harry Potter had to fight one a giant one of these things he would have terror peed himself.

And they assault my house every night. You know, the only part of the day where it's not a bazillion degrees outside and I can't justify running the AC. Yeah, that part.

So if you need me I am going to be sitting in the corner with a fly swatter and some raid, awaiting my nightly assault by the Evil Insect Forces of the night.

Oh they're out there people.

They're out there.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We Fixed the Water Pump.

So we fixed the water pump. I can take a shower. A shower. I can wash my clothes. It is the glory of glory's.

It was normal morning, I went out to feed all the hungry mouths and then returned to the house to ramble blearily through the rest of my morning chores. I had just sat down to look at the wonders of the Internet when I remembered I had to still do the thing and leapt up again. Except passing through the living room I glanced out the door and saw giant water pump box sitting on the my porch. I did that double take thing where your body kinda keeps going because it was intent on moving but your brain can't process what you are seeing right so the end result is that it looks like your legs are trying to out walk the rest of you. Graceful I am not.

After bringing myself to a halt I walked over to the door and peered out. No truck. I had not heard a truck. I looked back at the box. It continued to be very, very real.

I came to the conclusion Harbor Freight must have teleported the damn thing.

Okay. Right.

So I call to Scott and we began the process of hooking up said water pump.

It was an adventure.

First of all, our water pump lives in box that has been dug down into the lawn. Which is great. It beats the hell crawling under the structure you live it to deal with that shit. Except my Dad had wired the damn thing weird and then we couldn't get that one bit to come loose and then we couldn't find that magic white tape stuff you put on the pipe threads. Yeah. It was an adventure of cursing and we have no money so going to town was not really an option.

There also a lot of me climbing down into the hole.

In the end we persevered over the demon water pump and got it installed and then I did a shit ton of laundry. A shit ton.

And then when I go to take a shower, a shower you guys, I can put on clean clothes.

Ah the luxuries.

The luxuries.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Breaks Broke.

So the breaks on the car broke. Like really broke. Like went dead in the middle of the fucking Save-a-lot parking lot after Scott was done shopping broke.

Do you here that sound people? That's the sound of me sliding towards insanity. Weeee!


Luckily the car fixing place was right across the street from the food place* although with no brakes Scott still had to get it towed. The driver told him that it was the shortest distance he had ever towed anybody, which was good because our insurance doesn't really cover things like 'getting towed any distance.'

So he rented a car to drive home, after he called me to discuss options such as hitchhiking and walking. And of course the one relative that lives close enough to give us a lift, that is also not on vacation right now, has just had surgery and can't drive. Weeeee!

I wasn't along on this adventure. So I did what I always do when I'm stressed and at home while bad things are happening that I have no control over. I cleaned. I cleaned like all the demons of hell were behind me. I cleaned like had become Sanitizer the God of Clean and was smiting the unfaithful before me with me vacuum and my staff.

It was probably a good thing that Scott got home before I had started on the windows.

So it turned out a break line had rusted through. Which, isn't even a thing I knew could happen. This is also after we spent a bunch of money on new rotors and pads and junk like that. We also missed a day of work that would have been very good money because it's hard to get to work when you have no car.

So. Um. I'm broke. Actually we may have passed broke a little while ago.

Just to recap, I have no water and no car.

Oh boy, they just called. Everything line wise on the car is shot. Like they are talking about having to fabricate pieces shot. Like this is more then I am willing to pay for this car shot. Luckily, we never did sell our old Mazda, although we will have to charge the battery up and clean it. So we are just out a car. For good. Which is sad. Very sad. Although it is funny that since I live in the country, I have spare vehicles just laying around not doing anything.

So the short of it is, we are kinda fucked.

If my blog was more popular, as in read by more then ten people, I would totally start selling off my art at this juncture.

Except I really can't do that either because my internet is a piece of shit and is highly inconsistent and I would sell stuff but not be able to log into Paypal for a week and everyone would hate me but rural areas don't need internet right?

Anyway, if you need me I'll be starting my slow descent into madness.


*It's a small town.