Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The first month in Argyle

I am going through a ridiculous amount of socks. It is bloody hot and wearing long lace up boots in 90 degree weather does that (due to snakes also needing to wear for work). We are all coping better with the heat and humidity – it is so damn beautiful here you really can forgive Mother Nature for putting up the heat, but each time that it rains, we all squeal with excitement and go out to get drenched in it!

Fire flies are amazing (or are they called lightening bugs? Is there difference? Not sure yet). Each evening they come out in all their glory to light up the country around them. Prior to Steve’s return to England, we took a late evening walk to a pasture behind the house where it seems they were everywhere, like fairy lights flashing on and off all through the hedges and grasses. (Photo is Garage Remains)!

I am NOT doing well with the snake situation. When they are basking in the sun that is great, when they come flying out of the undergrowth in front of me THAT most certainly is NOT. I refuse to put anything down to rid them, they were here first after all and they do lots of good jobs. Just wish I could stop being such a ‘girl’ about them. They really are quite beautiful and very peaceful, on the whole. Tried to re-build part of a stone wall where there used to be a building behind the barns and found very quickly that I was definitely in a ‘snake’ area – thought after that day that I would be cured once and for all – having seen every shape and size of garter and garden snake I could imagine and THEN when picking up leaves, yup, had one in my hands for a split second before it and the leaves went flying. THEN the big bugger by the barn – that did it. Came inside, sulked, and thought I should maybe invest in a pair of wader type boots that come up to my chest?

Thunder and lightning storms have been plentiful. The weather tends to be warm to scorching hot during the day followed by an occasional storm with lightening at night, a little rain and then it all starts again in the morning. Looking forward to autumn already.

Forgot to mention the birds, they have a blue bird that is electric dark blue with a slight hint of purple, looks like a very expensive taffeta, woodpeckers, little wren sized bright yellow birds, the red cardinals which are vivid lipstick red and hawks. The mail man tells me you can see bald eagles here too (he also tells me there are mountain lions, lynx and the odd bear in the winter)….

The neighbor’s generosity never ceases to amaze me. A gentleman came by today to offer help in delivering 100 bales of hay to cover Pie over the winter period. He will be using a full sized trailer so has offered to bring the whole lot in one go, which will save me five trips with a small trailer. He also suggested ways to keep the water from freezing once the temperature drops below -32 in the winter, which would have been taken should we have had electricity in the barn… have to look at other possibilities for keeping water ice free

Phennie will be off to University soon. Tom will start his enormously long summer holiday and then High School. Steve will be off to Korea and I will just be trying to keep things running smoothly here until his return home. I do miss them both very much.

Barn residents

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Arriving in USA

Arrived at JFK safe and well, only downside being that AA managed to put some of our luggage on ANOTHER plane, so we had to wait a couple of days for that to be delivered to the house.

Steven had organized for a lovely gentleman to drive us all the way up to Saratoga Springs. We were expecting a taxi so Thomas squealed with excitement and awe when he saw a black stretch limo... he then spent the next three and a half hours pressing every button, opening every compartment, drinking every drink, putting the air conditioning on and off, off and on, lights on and off, seat changing and then finally falling asleep in a heap within minutes of our arrival!

We stayed in Saratoga Springs on our first night in anticipation of Steven’s arrival the following day, when we would all meet at the house. We were thrilled to hear that he did manage to get himself AND the dogs out of London, then to Paris and then on to New York with no known problems. Thank you so much to Angelo & Wendy, Mike, Jo, Todd and to Steve who organized all of this, the 'taxi' was a great surprise and luxury, it was priceless to see Thomas' face and his utter enjoyment of it all.

J sadly did not travel well and arrived in a bad state after the flight. We rushed her to the vet and I am pleased to say that after a big op to her twisted gut, she has recovered fully and had her staples removed. Weasle travelled well and they both now 'enjoy' Chipmunks - being their new favored sport.

There were a few teething problems on arrival – no water, no electric, no phone and a carpet of dead ladybirds in the house to greet us BUT WOW – when we pulled up outside the house, I was so thrilled to see that it was so much better than I had imagined. We are surrounded by hills and trees and Mount Murdock which really took my breath away. Tom went off and explored the streams and came home with armfuls of frogs. He has spent most days since, outside exploring. We walked up to the base of Murdock and found a couple of small pastures, some pear and apple trees and what appears to be one hell of a hike to the top. Hope to do that soon.

Thomas started school a week after we arrived and is currently off on a camping trip to Lake Chingachgook for three days – he is loving school and is more enthusiastic than I have ever seen him about anythingSo the work starts. The to-do list is quite long and ever growing. As one project gets crossed off another ten projects appear to be fixed and/or repaired. The water has since been shocked – so we now have safe drinking water that looks like water and not potting soil. Electric is on. Shower & bath now works. Phone is connected, garden is mown – thanks to a wonderful neighboring farmer who caught us struggling with a strimmer and came to our rescue with his tractor mower and sickle bar machine. Ladybugs have been put to rest ‘outside’ the house. House had been standing empty for nearly two years, so considering this, finding only a few ladybugs was really not so bad at all. Barns will need much help and support to make good, but this will have to be a later project as a ‘priority list’ now has to be adhered to IN ORDER, when finances permit further actions!

The acreage behind the barns ends up being a little more overgrown than expected, so tomorrow a bulldozer is coming to remove the Stag horn Sumac trees that have taken root on every piece of land they can find, this will hopefully then become the first of three pastures. We have managed to paint all rooms in the house but one, the kitchen, which due to its high ceilings of 15-20 feet will have to wait until we can get scaffolding in and then have a week off to complete the task, together. Found an asparagus patch, herb garden (which might not be recoverable, but I will try) and vegetable garden in the stone ruins of a previous barn.

Wildlife is amazing: chipmunks, raccoons, beaver, fire flies and deer the size of small horses. Bull frogs, lizards and only one small garter snake, so far. No bears but I will live in hope to see those. Things called Snapping Turtles (for good reason I am told) which look like something from prehistoric times, they are absolutely HUGE.

The Pie arrived on Saturday and came out of the trailer at noon and rolled until about 4pm rolling over and over and over. He looked thoroughly pleased with himself once completely covered in mud. He travelled much better than I had hoped for, having only a small blemish to his nose where he took some hair off. Very little weight loss at all, which is great. New York seems to be to his liking. To Matthew, Marcus and Vicky a HUGE thank you for getting him off safely for this monster trip. I cannot tell you the relief and happiness I felt when he arrived. He is getting a great deal of attention from his new neighbors , four legged and otherwise, who all think he is some sort of giant mystical creature.

Volvo arrived (sadly without Customs paperwork, which will cause no end of problems when I come to register it at DMV) and ‘express’ shipment of household good, does not arrive at all, delayed leaving England due to the Volcanic activity in Iceland.

I have never experience people like this before. Since arriving, people have turned up to the house with cakes, water (when the weather hit 97 degrees and we were without running water or transport on our first day), and machinery to help tame the wild gardens. General help and support is always offered. This truly is an amazing place.