Schmidt Homestead

Our new home in Woodburn, IL

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Norman has decided that he likes coming inside the trailer. A couple of days ago he began following us everywhere we went, including inside. He enjoys attention and being petted, and he’s basically acting normal – for a cat. He absolutely loves Zeus and follows him around rubbing against his legs and nose. Zeus seems irritated by him, but he’s too nice to do anything about it. He keeps walking away, but Norman follows him. While Norman rubs all over him, Zeus looks at us like “Will you DO something?” This morning when I got out of the shower, I found Oliver and Stacy on our BED! Steve and I are taking this afternoon off to get some things done around the property. We’ll be ready for trick-or-treaters, but I doubt anybody will come all the way up to our house.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Steve picked up several Gravelys from a local guy. He was pretty excited about them, and got one working on Saturday.

While hanging out laundry Saturday morning, I looked down and saw a little field mouse nibbling on something right by my foot. I grabbed the closest thing I could find to put it in, which was an empty cat litter pan. I scooped up the mouse in the pan – it didn’t even try to run away! It just so happened that the neighbors came by at that time with their kids, so everybody got to see the mouse. The kids wanted to take it home for a pet, but Natalie (the mom) said no. After the neighbors left, we decided to give the mouse to the chickens. We put the whole pan in the chicken tractor and left the tractor lid open so we could watch. The girls got very excited, but didn’t seem to know what to do with it. Hazel pecked it a few times, sending it running around the pan. Oliver saw what was happening and climbed into the chicken tractor. He helped himself to ‘playtime’ with the mouse. It actually played dead until he whacked it around some. The chickens freaked out over the cat being in their tractor, so we took the pan with the cat and the mouse out and set it in the yard. Oliver proceeded to torture the mouse. Eventually he flung it into the yard where he played with it for a few minutes before it managed to escape.

Saturday night we went to the annual pumpkin carving party at Emily & Jeff’s house. We got to see many people who we haven’t seen in a while. Steve carved a couple of pumpkins, and I carved a birdhouse gourd. I couldn’t believe how hard the gourd was. It’s nothing like a pumpkin.

We made a run to Costco Sunday morning while we were in SL and spent way too much money. Then we picked up a dishwasher at Lowes. We don’t have it hooked up yet, but hopefully Steve will get it done soon.

When we got back to BH last night, we could see that we had frost Saturday night. The gourd and pumpkin leaves are all black and shriveled. We picked all the tomatoes that had begun to turn red and put a tarp over the main patch last night. There are still lots of green ones, and it’s supposed to warm up for the rest of this week, so we’ll save as many as we can.

Friday, October 26, 2007

We turned on the furnace in the trailer last night. It smelled for a few minutes, but wasn’t as bad as the propane guy suggested it might be. We stayed nice and warm without using the electric heaters, so hopefully it’ll be able to keep up this winter.

We had both Oliver and Norman inside last night. Norman is improving with us every day. When we got ready to put them out for the night, Steve got Norman, but we couldn’t find Oliver. We searched all over the place, and finally I walked into the bathroom and flipped on the light. He popped his head out of the toilet! It was dry, because the dogs had drunk the water down really low. We’re not sure if he was looking for a drink or just hanging out. It gives me a case of the giggles every time I think about it.

It’s been chilly here at night – upper 30’s a few times. I busted out the Cuddl Duds last week, and I’ve been having to bundle up when I go out in the morning to let the chickens out and feed the kittens. This morning Norman gave me an earful. I opened up the barn, and he came out talking up a storm. He led me to the kennel and basically said “Feed me!” He’s very lovey-dovey when he’s hungry. I was happy that he was interacting with me. I think he wanted to come inside after he ate, but he couldn’t quite get up the nerve. He sat under one of the cars and watched us all go inside, but when I called him to come too, he stayed put.

Its’ been drizzling here for several days. With the cold, it’s pretty gross. On days like these, I’d prefer to hibernate at home and maybe bake cookies or play games all day. The rain is supposed to move out sometime today or tonight, so the weekend should be clear, but below 60.

Tomorrow night is Emily’s annual pumpkin carving party. We’re looking forward to it, as always. I’m going to take a couple of our birdhouse gourds to carve. I like trying something different each year. While we’re in SL, we’re going to try to get a dishwasher for the trailer. I’m tired of doing everything by hand!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I’ll probably be making another batch or two of salsa and spaghetti sauce (our favorite) this weekend. I don’t know how much longer the tomatoes will be coming in, but I plan to take advantage of it as long as I can! I counted 36 jars of various sizes and contents in the cabinet this weekend, and that was before I made 6 more on Sunday. It also doesn’t include anything we’ve given away or eaten or the pickles that we have to keep in the fridge!

We’ve finally had some fall weather and rain here as well. We haven’t turned on the furnace yet, but we’ll have to in the next few days. For now, we’ve been fine with an electric heater in our bedroom. The rest of the trailer stays warmer because of the stove and electronics in the main area and the other bedroom being on the south side.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Orion came up Thursday night, and Steven took off work Friday. They spent much of the day tearing out the breezeway between the old house and garage. It looks much different – and better. They loaded up the trailer with scrap metal and took it to the scrap yard. Got $68 for it! They salvaged as much wood as they could and began setting up the new chicken coop.

On my way out of the office Friday, the realtor who we hired to give us an appraisal on the old house caught me walking out the door. He gave us a report showing the value of the house as $7500. I didn’t think that was bad, since we only paid $53,000 for the property.

Saturday Steve’s friend Dan came out to help with the asbestos removal. We showed him the wrap around the exhaust pipes, and asked how to remove it. He said “I’d just take out the whole pipe.” So that’s what they did. It didn’t take much time at all. Afterward, the guys played with Steve’s stunt kite, and then we picked yellow tomatoes. Orion, Dan and I picked for about a half hour and ended up with two gallon buckets full of yellow tomatoes. Dan stuck around for the first showing of the new Transformers movie at our house.

Sunday we didn’t do much. I canned some whole tomatoes (with cherry tomatoes) and yet another batch of yellow salsa. Steve took care of a couple of ‘honey-do’s’ for me. It was extremely windy, so I had a difficult time hanging out laundry. I eventually had to retrieve several pieces in the yard, and the sheets were the last straw for the fraying clothesline. Steve and Orion had to repair it, and this time Steve included a piece of old garden hose as reinforcement where the clothesline rubbed against a tree.

Norman has been getting much more friendly lately – especially around feeding time. Last night he kept running around my feet, so I scooped him up and took him inside for the evening. It was the first time he had been in the trailer in a couple of weeks, and the first time he’s been free to come and go. He did pretty well, and only hid from us once. He really likes the dogs (rubs against them and such), and he’s improving with us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We had our propane tank delivered yesterday. They brought the 500 gal tank with just 25 gal of propane in it. I guess they can’t haul a full tank. They’re supposed to ‘top off’ our tank in the next few days. Our stove works, but they recommended that we not turn on the furnace until after the tank has been filled, because the furnace burns gas much faster than the stove, and there’s a chance we could run out (although its not likely this time of year). The propane guy also converted the stove and furnace to propane hook-ups. They were previously set up for natural gas, so the stove had HUGE flames when we cranked it all the way up. We could boil a pot of water fast, but it probably wasn’t the safest way to go. Now we just have small ‘normal’ flames.

We went out to dinner last night for our anniversary. We got ourselves a couple of movies and tickets to the Last Comic Standing tour in a couple of weeks. We decided to keep it simple this year, since we have so many other things going on.

We got some much-needed rain today. The dogs and cats wanted to stay inside, but the chickens were running around in it like it wasn’t there. There’s a big storm coming thru this evening as well.

Orion is coming up this weekend to help Steve with some projects. Steve’s friend, Dan, is coming to help us get rid of the asbestos in the old house on Saturday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Friday afternoon, Bob came by my office and told me that he had Oliver’s sister if we wanted to take her. I went over to his house Saturday morning, and he caught the kitten for me. He flipped it over and said “hey, this is a male!” Long story short, we took Oliver’s brother. He looks a lot like Norman, instead of Oliver. I put him in the dog kennel, and he began running laps around it looking for a way out. I forgot that I had left the second kennel door unlatched the day before, and when he bumped into it, the door flew open. He took off. Of course, I couldn’t catch him. The good news is that he’s still hanging out in our barn, and last night I saw him inside the kennel eating. Norman is still sticking around also. I managed to catch him this weekend and hold him for a few minutes. He wasn’t too thrilled about it, but he didn’t put up a fight. Oliver is still Oliver, and now he’s found a better place to sleep than the beanbags - our bed!

Saturday I made my first attempt at canning salsa from scratch. I chopped jalapeño peppers and about a million little yellow tomatoes, as well as a half dozen other ingredients. It took HOURS, and I got FOUR pint jars. We haven’t tried it yet, but if it’s not the best salsa I’ve ever eaten, I’m NEVER doing it from scratch again.

Yesterday I helped Steve dig a trench and run the phone line from the barn to the trailer. He hasn’t gotten everything hooked up on the ends yet, but all the underground work is finished.

Also, we moved the chicken tractor yesterday. We’re getting ready to build them a permanent coop behind the barn, so we wanted to migrate their ‘home base’ toward its future location. Well after dark last night, they still hadn’t found where we moved the tractor. They were running around crazy making all kinds of noise and looking for places to roost. Stupid chickens. Hazel tried to jump onto the front of the 4-runner, and Gertrude managed to nest about 7 feet up in a tree. We moved their tractor back to its normal location, and Hazel made her way inside. Gertrude was settled into the tree just over Steve’s head. Somehow he was able to grab her out of the tree, wings flailing and squawking up a storm. Once he got a good hold on her, she settled down and we petted her before he put her back in the tractor.

Our propane tank is supposed to be delivered tomorrow afternoon. We’re looking forward to being able to turn on the heater in the mornings.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We turned Norman loose yesterday afternoon. He was still running around the barn last night, so hopefully he’ll stick around.

Monday, October 8, 2007

We took a suggestion from Mom, and we renamed ‘psycho kitty’ after Norman Bates from the Psycho movies. We brought Norman and Oliver into the house Saturday morning to get Norman used to being around us. We left the dogs outside, so they’d leave him alone. He was a little skittish, and he kept going to the kitchen window and door wanting out. All was well until he figured out that he fits underneath our stove! I couldn’t believe it, and apparently neither could Oliver, because he had a look of surprise on his face when Norman flattened out and slithered in. I got down on the floor and looked under the stove just in time to see him disappear behind the cabinets. He stayed behind the cabinets all afternoon. Steve walked up to the front door once, and saw Norman sitting in the kitchen window, but by the time he got inside, Norman had retreated back under the stove. That evening, we were watching TV when suddenly Zeus jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I knew that meant Norman was out, so I got up. Sure enough Norman and Zeus were nose to nose. I grabbed the yardstick (the only thing I could find) and propped it in front of the stove opening to keep him from going back in. Soon Norman was surrounded by Zeus and Stacy and Oliver, and he was completely fine with it!

Sunday we let Norman and Oliver back into the trailer with the dogs. Norman figured out that he could climb into the kitchen chairs, then jump onto the table. Unacceptable! I threw him off the table 3 or 4 times. If he doesn’t get the message, he’ll lose his indoor privileges. I told Steve I felt like I had a preschool in my house with all the animals running around. Every time I heard a noise I wanted to jump up and see if anybody was getting into something. Eventually Norman knocked over the yardstick and disappeared under the stove again. I asked Steve to cut me a strip of wood to block off the stove, so I had it ready the next time he came out. No more kitties under the stove! He’s warming up to us, and now when we put him in the kennel he sits against the front, rather than hiding in the back corner like he used to. We’ll turn him loose sometime this week & see how long he sticks around.

Steve spent most of the weekend working on disconnecting the phone line from the old house and running it to the barn. He borrowed a trencher for the tractor from Bob. It saved us a lot of time, but it still took a while to find the old line and get the new one run. Now he needs to run another line from the barn to the trailer, so we can have a real phone inside. Maybe we can work on that next weekend.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Last night I picked up psycho kitty! I expected him to turn into a shredder, but all he did was melt up against me. He was obviously scared and unsure, but he was calm. I walked around the barn (with the dogs closed outside) talking to him and petting him for a few minutes, then put him back in the kennel. He has super soft fur. He didn’t purr for me, but at least I’m not afraid to handle him anymore. We’ll work on him this weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

We finally got rain last night! A big storm came thru and gave us 1.4” overnight. We lost electricity a little after 9, and it woke us up when the lights came back on around 12:30.

We heard from the asbestos inspector about the old house yesterday. He said that he found asbestos in the window caulk in the downstairs addition (the previous owner’s bedroom) and on the exhaust pipe from the furnace. That was it. It just so happens that we like the windows from the addition, and Steve planned to take them out to reuse in a greenhouse. Also, Steve has a friend in the jeep club whose job is to do asbestos removal. Steve is going to talk to him about coming out to help get rid of what’s on the furnace exhaust. Sounds like it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Oliver's vet visit went well. I asked about his snotty nose, and he said that since Oliver came from a place where there were a bunch of other kittens, it was like a preschool. One kid gets a bug, and before you know it everybody is sick. He said it was likely a virus that will just have to run its course. As long as Oliver keeps eating well, we shouldn’t worry about it. I liked that plan.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed the chickens wandering around the side of the barn. A few minutes later I saw the dogs headed in that direction. There was a big ruckus of chicken noise, and the chickens came running toward the bus (their safe place). The dogs were trotting – not even running – behind them. The dogs weren’t acting like they were chasing the chickens, it was more like they were HERDING them. I’ve heard of dogs doing this, and we hoped that ours would figure it out.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Soon after we turned the kittens loose a few weeks ago, Murphy disappeared. We haven’t seen him for a couple of weeks, so we went back to Bob’s for another one. Bob picked out a white kitten with dark grey spots. He said the kitten was really friendly, but we haven’t seen it so far. He’s older, bigger and stronger than Oliver, and he didn’t take to the move very well. He’s been very UN-friendly to everybody except Oliver. We’ll give him a week or so then turn him loose. If he sticks around, that’s great, but if we don’t see him again, I won’t be too upset.

We had a lot of wind this weekend, so Steve got to fly his stunt kite several times. He’s getting pretty good with it. I tried too, but I can’t control it as well, and it kept crashing.

The chickens stirred up a little garden snake yesterday. Steve found them in front of the garage looking at the snake like they didn’t know what to do with it.

We went down into the basement of the old house to empty out anything that we wanted to save. We used the tractor to lift an old cast iron sink out, and we carried out several baskets/buckets full of china and other glass items. Everything was covered in dirt and crud, so I gave it an initial wash-down. There’s quite a bit of china, although it’s nothing fancy.

Also, Steve finally got the well pump working. Now we can water the garden from the well, and not have to run hose from the faucet on the other side of the trailer – not to mention paying for the water.

I’m taking Oliver to the vet this afternoon. I wasn’t planning to do it, but his snotty nose has gotten worse rather than better. When he sneezes, it’s like being sprayed by a dog sneeze, and droplets get caught all in his whiskers. I’m constantly wiping his nose and eyes, and when he breathes you can hear that his nose is all clogged up. This way he can get his shots and have his ‘cold’ looked at.