Art of Proprietation

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New Residents

These are the newest residents at in the household. No they don't get Cynthia's room. In fact, they don't come in the house at all. But Cynthia had been looking forward to meeting them. Part of the glorious summer Cynthia missed.

These are Saanen dairy goats. I got one from breeder and two from a friend. The little one we call Stu. Well, Stew, really, but we like to be subtle about it. More about that some other time.

The two adults are females, both are milking now. Between the two of them, we get about a gallon of milk a day. That may sound like a lot to some households, but both my wife and I drink milk with meals and our son will soon enough. Three people drinking milk adds up pretty quick. And we are getting a little help from the juvenile, he drinks about 2 lbs of milk a day. Someday we hope to have enough ambition to make cheese and yogurt.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Chickens and Gas

This is my gas powered chicken. It is a small tiller powered by a very small 2 stroke engine made by Mantis. I think of it as a chicken because of the way it runs around in front of me scratching the earth if I am just cruising to a new site for tilling. It is very much the size and reminiscent of a chicken. It does a great job busting sod, tilling raised beds, between exisiting plants or just general flat out tilling.

I grew up using my dad's rear tine pony made by troy built. At the time it was the cadillac of tillers, so to speak. It was powerful and would take you for a run if you put the tines down hard enough to lift the wheels. And I thought it was the best thing to happen to gardening. Not that I was much of a gardener at the time. Times have changed, I guess. Now that it is my house and my garden, I do much more intensive gardening. I like raised beds that save my back. I keep things packed in tight so I am not weeding much open space. But this tiller is definitely my choice for anything from busting sod, like this picture, or if it is tilling the long soft beds in my well established garden below.

I have been building these raised beds for the last five years. The pictures don't show it, but the paths between the beds are nice gravel paths. This is because when I started, the dirt was about 1 third gravel. And not pea gravel either. Lots of chunks that got stuck in the tines of either the "little chicken" or my dad's pony. I have been sifting the soil for the last five years, moving the sifted soil to the raised beds and the using the gravel for the paths (and other projects, there was a lot of gravel). This area was the streambed of a glacial river and if the soil isn't gravely, its sandy.
At this point, the soil is pretty easily worked because it has lots of organic content and the gravel has been removed. The little chicken just powers through this and easily handles the tight quarters. I wouldn't dare take the pony into these beds for fear of collapsing the side walls of the beds. Anyway, I like my little chicken.
And this has to do with running the rooming house why? Well, maintaining the house and grounds are a major part of managing the household. The gardens add an attractive homey feel to the house. They help people feel at ease here. And, it attracts the kind of tennants I enjoy having around. That's what it has to do with the rooming house. It's an adaptation of what your highschool guidence councelor said.
And having the right tools makes all the difference. I like this mantis tiller. I like my shindowa string trimmer, although, to be honest, I don't trim the edge work. If I can't do it with the mower chances are it grows. And I really like my mower, an older 48 inch bobcat ransom walk behind mower. I used to use a 24" selfpropelled mower and I had a lawn tractor. Both of them took three hours to dow the lawn. With the bobcat, I get it done in about an hour. It's about size, and manueverability. And I bought these items on the advice of others. That's another thing that comes in handy, good advice.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A new lease on life

Well, not for me.
But for someone, anyway.
With Cynthia's passing, the cycle has begun anew. I am again in search of a tenant. Or resident, as I often like to refer to them.
Step one is always to prepare the room for a new resident. No matter how good the last resident was, the room will need a thorough going over. After taking care of anything left behind, I will need to go through and strip any linens, vacuum rugs and pull up the rugs and vacuum the floor. It is amazing how much dirt a throw rug can hold. I often need to go through several cycles of vacuuming both front and back of the rug to knock the dirt out them. And dust the room, look for cobwebs. There might be maintenance items that have been waiting for the right time. For the master bedroom, it was cleaning the windows. And boy did they need it. Here's a before and after. And trust me, it was a lot more dramatic in person. I won't get into details because I don't want to be embarrassed about the state they were in, but let me say again it was dramatic.
Step two is to advertise or respond to enquiries. I have a couple websites I advertise on even if I am full on the prospect that I will have an opening. The best situation would be that I have someone to take over a room as soon as it is available. The reality is that rarely happens. But I do get lucky on occasion. Today was interview day. I already had the room all cleaned up, so I took the time, about three hours, to clean the double hung windows and the storm windows. It's the sort of thing that you get done and say wow, what a difference. But then you realize that the prospective tenant will never notice. The windows should be clean, you would only notice if they weren't. Anyway, felt good to finally get around to cleaning the windows, even if no one will notice.
No big earth shattering events. The person who came by today is thinking about a future transition and they are not in an immediate need for accommodations. They are thinking several months down the road. There is a good possibility that this room will no longer be available by then, but something else maybe. It is worth talking to someone, even if nothing will come of it now. And it gave me the impetis to take care of some much needed maintenance.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A sad day in Mville

Something happened recently that I have been waiting for a long time.

At various times in the past, I have had tenants who where not in the habit of taking good care of themselves. I worried that I might come home and find they were no longer in residence, so to speak. This spring, one of my tenants was diagnosed with a fast moving cancer. The prognosis was not good. Her physician felt it was a year at best. It didn't turn out to be nearly that long. She lived only a little more than a month past that diagnosis. Two weeks ago, she asked me to take her to the hospital where they admitted her to the hospice unit. There was hope they could get the pain under control and they would release her. She died eight days later.

Since she had no family locally, it was left to me to go through her things and box them up. It was a painful experience. There had been hope that she might last through the summer. It was to be a glorious last summer for her. To be taken easy and experience the country life here. I feel deep regret that she missed the new growing season and sunny afternoons lounging on the porch.

Cynthia, you are missed.