Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can we keep 'im? Can we?!

So we have this white cat that runs around the neighborhood with his 348653876 other stray cat friends, living the good life in abandoned houses up and down our street. Most of them are pretty scared of any humans, but there's one in particular that has been really friendly to us. I say friendly because he's the only one that comes and eats the food I put on the back deck for him. Sure, he hisses at me, but I know it's a love-hiss.

About 10 months ago, we found some clumps of white fur in our front yard, and no sign of this white cat (lovingly named Snowball, as opposed to his black-and-white counterpart, Dirty Snowball) anywhere. In fact, we hadn't seen him at all since that day, so we assumed he either ran away or was killed.

Yesterday, I was surprised to see what looked like a thinner, less fluffy version of our old favorite stray cat, running around our giant litter-box-of-a-back-yard. I called him over and he instantly ran to me, but stopped short of grabbing distance. I grabbed him some food from our cats' bowl and he happily ate it on the back deck.

I'm still not sure if it's really Snowball, in some kind of post-apocalyptic, Mad Max kinda rebirth, or if it's just one of his kin. Either way, it's good to have a nice outdoor cat around again.

Sarah and I have this plan to take him with us when we move. Wish us luck on that.

In other news, we go to closing on this new house on September 7th. I know, right? Where have all the updates been from "We're looking at a house" to "Oh, we're going to closing next week"? Well, I get a bit superstitious about these things, and to tell you the truth, it could still all fall through in the next week, but I'm feeling optimistic today. Once we get settled into that house -- as long as everything goes through alright -- you won't be able to keep my mouth (fingers?) shut about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The tree is gone! Free at last!

For anyone following along at home, the one thing keeping us here at this house is a giant oak tree that fell during the tornadoes of April 27th. For almost four months, we've been battling with tree companies and my insurance company over who is going to pay the $15k+ bill to remove the tree, fix the fence and the retaining wall that all got damaged when the tree fell.

It is with a smiling face that I sit here typing this right now, because the tree is finally gone. The fence and retaining wall fixes will be the easy parts, but that tree was the one thing keeping us from moving out and finally using this property as a rental.

So I've decided to share some photos of today's tree removal:
When they started, they had to bring in a bucket truck to get the large limbs down first.

We also had another tree cut down because it was leaning after the storm, although still alive.

And there you have it. My back yard looks like a sandbox, but at least it's minus one large oak tree. I can't explain how happy I am about this, although I still have some work ahead of me. I'll need to level some low spots in the yard and replant grass seed. I'll probably also need to get a new fence installed before I can rent the house out.

On the new house front, we're at the wait-and-see stage still. The farm we're looking at has been inspected, surveyed and a final offer has been accepted. Now we wait for the loan paperwork to process and keep our fingers and toes crossed that nothing goes wrong there.

One thing I've learned through all of this? Don't ever buy a house with a giant tree in the yard ever again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weening myself from technology

Growing up, my mind has been in a constant battle. I love the outdoors, survival techniques, roughin' it, and being as sustainable as possible, but yes, I also love technology. I love everything to do with the latest gadgets, and I grew up tinkering with everything from Radio Shack 150-in-1 Electronic Project Kits to classic cars.

But over the years, my desires have swayed much more towards the natural side of things. Luckily, I spend most of my imaginative energy thinking up ways to merge the two. This includes adapting old farm technology to modern sustainability practices, peppered with the latest gadgets and upgrades to make it all just work better. I think about this every day, and can't wait to finally implement it.

But this requires a filtering of this new technology. I don't believe that every modern machine is a good thing, and I really believe most of it is ruining us. Ironically enough, I write about video games and hi-tech gadgets for my day job, and it's really something that I don't see myself doing forever. But seeing this hi-tech side of things makes me only yearn more for the simpler side of things.

Lately, there's been this trend in the gaming and hi-tech world for malicious-minded people to hack into the accounts of gamers and tech-savvy people. The security of smartphones, computer networks, gaming accounts, and more are being compromised at an alarming rate, allowing cyber criminals (for lack of a better word) to steal personal information on these people. I've had three game accounts infiltrated in recent months, and just yesterday I discovered that another account was hacked, allowing these criminals to purchases hundreds of dollars of products with my bank account.

I won't really dwell on how much that knocks the wind out of your sails, but it DOES reinforce this deep desire I have to distance myself from being so connected to the internet world.

I'm fascinated by technology, but I don't NEED to have every latest gadget, and I think that self control really helps me put it all into perspective.

So as I look forward to inching closer and closer to buying my dream farm, I remind myself of why I'm doing this. It's not about dying with the most toys, it's about providing sustainability for the generations to come. I want my children to have food to eat that wasn't created in a lab, and I want them to have an appreciation for the way life was meant to be lived.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Getting closer to the dream

This has been an insane two week period.

First, I'll get the unfortunate news out of the way. After another predator attack, we were left with only one baby rabbit. Ironically, this is the one that lost one of his legs during the first attack, but he seems to be better for it, and showing no other negative effects. He can hop around the cage with the best of 'em, and doesn't seem to have any infections or be in any pain.

But soon after this, the mother of that litter died as well. With no injuries on her, we're still scratching out heads as to what happened, but I have a hunch. Either it was the intense heat (heat index around here is 100+ daily) or it's the mosquitoes.

See, we have some pretty scary mosquitoes around this house. With two vacant properties on either side of me, the little buggers seem to treat this block as a major metropolitan area, and my yard is the food court. Those poor rabbits spend most of their day swatting their ears at the mosquitoes that literally cover their ears. Since they're in the shade, it makes it even worse. I just think a mosquito carried some disease from a stray cat or raccoon and brought it to the rabbit.

But despite my ongoing adventures of raising rabbits (poorly), I do have some potentially exciting news.

Last week, we put an offer in on a house. The house is a mini farm with six acres, three outbuildings and a price that can't be beat. The sellers are going through a divorce, so the husband wants to sell (per their divorce agreement) and the wife doesn't, because her grandfather build the home in 1960 and it's been in the family ever since. I can completely understand her reluctance, but it keeps me in a constant state of worry that she'll back out of the negotiations at any time. Sure, that may be a tactic, but I believe it's still genuine sadness on her part. Divorce is a crazy time (I went through one seven years ago that completely destroyed my life, and the financial after-effects are still being felt today), but their agreement says they must sell the home.

Anyway, we're in love with the property, but are preparing ourselves for the worst. There are some legal issues that have been discovered (one of the outbuildings goes slightly over their property line), but they're looking to get that resolved and we've already agreed on all other conditions.

So say a prayer for us that we get this house -- and if we don't, something similar soon! It will be the first step in a life we've been dreaming about for many, many years. And it sure would add a lot to this blog!