Drawers Not Good for Toilet Paper

December 22nd, 2009

So we cleaned today after guests left the Weston House. Every now and then we find something gross (usually compliments of the people) such as 3 days worth of dirty dishes, or poopy diapers (people with toddlers are the worst!). But now and then we find something funny - which is usually compliments of the visiting critters. Today - and I’m not sure what possessed me to open the drawer - I found a little mouse’s castle.

One of the challenges of having a log cabin built in the 1830’s, is keeping the critters out of it. Since long before 1979, it was seldom lived in, and even after 1979 (when the Weston’s bought the cabin), there haven’t been that many people in it full time. We are out in the country, surrounded by fields and near the woods, and the critters (sometimes chipmunks and squirrels), usually mice, think the house is a really nice place to live.

The drawer under the sink (which is an antique dresser base), is where I usually keep the hair dryer. The top drawer has been altered to allow the plumbing for the faucet to pass up through the dresser top. It doesn’t have a back - so I guess it is pretty easy for the mice (and we do do pest control when we know there are critters) to get into. Anyway, someone left a roll of toilet paper in there - and the mousey built himself a housey! The pile was about the size of a layer cake - thank goodness there weren’t any babies in it!

This incident was beat only by the time a couple years ago when I found a little racetrack that a mouse had constructed - inside a loaf of bread in the cabinet. Pretty amazing that those little critters can eat that much in a night (I’m guessing it must have been a party for the volume of bread they carried away). It was hilarious, there was a little hole in the plastic bag, and then a huge ring inside the bag, but on the outside edge of the loaf, all the way around - like a racetrack.

Needless to say, while cute and entertaining perhaps to me, these incidents call for “pest control”….thank goodness for D-Con.

The Season of Christmas Carols

December 22nd, 2009

The Christmas Carols started this year a day or two before Thanksgiving – that’s when I heard my first one. Then we got slammed with them right after Thanksgiving, such that for several days 2 out of 3 songs I heard on the radio were Christmas Carols.
And you know, while I like Country music the best, and even recently have acquired a taste for “teenager” music from artists like P!nk, Lady GaGa, Nickleback and dare I say it – Britney Spears (ugh), I like Christmas Carols. They’re great songs to sing along with – after years of hearing them on the radio, the words don’t change so you can feel confident that you know them. They also do add to the Christmas spirit.
And I do believe in Christ-mas!
And I love Christmas Carols!

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2009

Well, here it is another Thanksgiving - and I was thinking that this really is the time to give thanks for all that we have. Looking back it’s been a great summer. I had a couple of months when I was fearing I might loose my job, because my project ended suddenly, and I had to work pretty hard to find another one. But I made it through, found another project and still have a job - THANK YOU!

Our business, in spite of the economic downturn, has done pretty well this summer. We’ve been really busy - have had every weekend booked since mid September - THANK YOU.

Back in May, we lost our little puppy, Gigi for 4 days, and then she was found. While we were searching for her, and had just about given up - we went to get another Great Pyrenees becaues we didn’t want to be without. Then some neighbors found her and called, so we got her back, and then we had 2. They’ve grown to be great big huge, but lovable beasts which we get a lot of pleasure from every day - THANK YOU!

H1N1 has been going around, and so far (knock on wood) no one in the family has gotten it - THANK YOU…..

The sheep had good healthy babies this year, we had little death loss - THANK YOU!

My father-in-law passed away this fall after having broken a vertebrae, but he didn’t suffer long - THANK YOU

And the weather hasn’t turned cold yet! THANK YOU…..

We’ve got lots to be thankful for…

Fall Colors are Happening Here

October 4th, 2009

Ok, so it is the 4th of October, and we’ve had a dry and cool summer. We had our first frost last week on Friday - hard frost. It killed a lot of the soy-beans that hadn’t quite dried out yet. I think they were mature, and hope they’ll be ok, but none-the-less… it killed them.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that Fall is here - and the trees are really starting to turn. I am never really sure when the peak of the season is - and it’s not quite here yet, but it should be here within a week or two I’d say based on the frosts and what I’m seeing outside my window. I expect it’ll be as pretty of a fall as it always is - sometimes we wonder when it’s dry because it seems some trees loose their leaves awfully fast…. but somehow Mother Nature always comes through and puts on the most gorgeous color show - EVERY YEAR!!! I think she’ll do herself proud again this year…. I hope to get some good fall pictures. I’d better start carrying around my camera on my drives!

Great time of year to drive around and see the countryside.

Website Management

October 4th, 2009

I went to this convention on Friday - for non-profit organizations, and how they can use technology to help manage their overall costs. It was put on by Groundwork Group. It was really interesting. I’m not a non-profit, but there was still quite a bit of information that may be applicable to me and my own website. I was fortunate enough to sit in two workshops, one put on by Ricochet about how to use social media as a way to reach more people. I think I may try twitter and see what happens…. it looks like an interesting philosphy on getting customers. The other session was about how to drive more traffic to your website (which is by the way, what stirred me to write this blog). It was put on by a couple of great women who run a company called “People to My Site”. From them I got a lot of really good information about how to optimize my website for Search Engine visibility to improve my ranking of my website. I plan on going out an trying some of the things they recommend with my own web administrator - who by the way, is a great website administrator and designer in the central Ohio area: DKG.net You should go there if you want to develop a site - his prices are reasonable, and he’s really easy to work with.

PayPal is Making me Mad

September 13th, 2009

PayPal has me mad enough this morning that I’m thinking about cancelling my account with them. I have a PayPal account so that people who want to pay with a credit card can - because otherwise I pay $30.00/month at my local bank for the ability to run the transactions through them. I don’t have enough volume to justify that cost - so PayPal is more “cost effective”. But now, not only is PayPal taking 3% of my transaction as a fee, but now they are holding up to 20% of my transaction for 60 days. Their reasoning - to protect themselves in the case of a dispute between my customer and I.

So I called them this morning - and got someone in Customer Service in the Phillipines. I’m sick of all of OUR jobs going over seas to save these corporations a few bucks - so I asked nicely to be transferred to a CS representative in the United States. I got a “we don’t have any CS representatives in the US”. So I got aggrevated and told the guy I wanted to talk to someone in the US. He gave me apparently the only number he had, which was for Legal in the US. Of course they will only talk to Law Enforcement…. so I had to call back to the Phillipines.

The second call I made, I was really pissed - not only did I want to complain about the revolving hold policy, but now I wanted to complain that I am pissed about CS only being outside the US, and that I got the runaround when trying to talk to someone in the US. Which I’m sure in the long run will make no difference at all to PayPal…. but it has made me think. Do I want to do business with PayPal? Can I afford to have some of my money tied up for 60 days?

I take credit cards for the convenience of my customers who feel safer doing that. I’ve been using PayPal because it WAS the most cost effective way to take them. So now, what do I do - put down my foot and stop taking credit cards through PayPal? Is my piddly little amount of money enough incentive for them to move the jobs back into the US, or to stop doing the rolling hold?

I feel better for having complained, but just wish that my voice would make a difference.

Maybe I’ll appeal to any of my readers - next time you get customer service outside the US, complain! Maybe eventually the companies will care about what their customers say…. And beware of PayPal holding your money! And for small business owners, save us a little money by writing checks instead of using credit cards - because we’re usually forced to pass the cost onto our customers.

Summer Is Upon Us

June 7th, 2009

I guess Summer has arrived - you know that old saying “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun”? Well, I’m thinking that it should be more like “Time Flies when You’re Busy”. I’m wondering where the spring went to - while it’s still beautiful here, and we’ve started feeding the humming birds, the time has just flown by. Here it is Jun 7th already - and Frank’s got most of the top of his barn filled with hay already. He is going to do more hay today - cut several days ago, and now ready to bale. May was a busy month here at the Weston House, we had reservations at the end of April for 3 of the 5 weekends, and ended up renting 4 - with a last minute drop in Turkey hunter. That worked out well, we were empty. They were a family from Germany with two toddlers and a black lab. Great dog - obedience trained - but didn’t speak a word of English! Then we had a whirlwind of groups of young couples with babies or toddlers. They loved coming over to the farm and petting the horses noses. Laurie and Rose both happy to comply. Ellouise (last summer’s bottle fed porch sheep) is still a great hit because she comes down to see us, and let’s total strangers pet her, unlike most of the flock who are paranoid of strangers. She’s raising her really cute little white ram, but he’s not friendly like her - he’s a real sheep.

Anyway, the people have been happy at the house, but the time has just gone by so fast. I look down at my computer date, and can’t believe it’s already June 7th and where has the time gone? Rach finished school for the year, and now is working on plans to meet up with friends over the summer. I guess that’s the way it is when you’re busy!

Is it really snowing?

April 28th, 2009

We had an absolutely wonderful weekend, for April - Mid 80’s for temperatures, and yet, at our house it snowed. Well, it wasn’t snow exactly, but when you look at it from the road, my side yard is covered in white. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that what looks like snow is really hair. Dog hair. It was hot, so we decided to shave both Great Pyrenees. You’ve heard me talking about how much hair they have as they are shedding - but when you shave them (which we do with sheep shears, by the way), you really see the hair. I kid you not, it’s a patch of ground probably 15 feet by 15 feet with almost 3 inches of hair on it. And what is even more hilarious than to see the snow, is to watch the dogs and the cats when we do this.

Maybe I was just hyper sensitive about it because I started thinking about writing this, but it seems the dogs were extremely embarrassed by the de-hairing almost immediately. They both stood by resolutely while we did the shaving, but once released galloped across the yard and rolled in the grass. The funniest thing is to watch Rocky - who is used to having this incredible pom-pom like tail above his back, now seeing this thing that looks like a rat tail over his back. He looks at it like, “OMG what the heck is that?” Then he realizes it’s his tail when he sniffs it, and goes about his business, until he spots it again later, and goes through that all over again. Even the cats have been on alert, “What strange dog has mom allowed in the house today? Hummm, it doesn’t smell like a strange dog…. but I’m not going to get too close.”

Anyone who’s seen Rocky knows he’s a huge dog - and while we keep telling people he only weighs about 120 pounds no one believes us - well, stop in to see the huge “rats” (as Rachael calls them) and without hair, you’ll see why he only weighs 120. You’ll be surprised that he still has huge feet, and a huge head, but has really nice long graceful legs and is really a nice fit, and trim dog under all that hair.

It’s just a shame we couldn’t make a fur coat out of that hair - but at least the birds are happy as they hop around picking up clumps of hair bigger than they are…. They are saying, “Wow, what nice nest lining this will make - and our eggs will stay so warm, even if it snows.” Seriously, I heard them all…..

I just love spring

April 12th, 2009

Today is my last official day off, after having a week at home, I have to go back to work tomorrow. And yes it is Easter today! Happy Easter to all. I’d like to say I had some prolific or philosophical thoughts about Easter this morning, but I don’t. I was only thinking that it’s really been a great week to be home. Rach only had Wed - Friday off from school, but it’s been nice having her at home for 5 days. Weeks like these really help me appreciate the farm and where we are.

Even as I sit typing to you all, the sheep are loose in the front yard, and the air is filled with the little baaaha’s and the Mom’s answering BAAAHA’s as the silly creatures can’t ever seem to all be finding each other at the same time. They are really wonderful to watch. I sat on the front porch for a few minutes watching them. The babies are so absolutely adorable.

Frank even let the big dogs out with the sheep. That’s a bit comical to watch as well, since the ewes are pretty protective of their babies, they head straight for the dogs, and since the Pyrs are not agressive, they veer away leaving the sheep in peace. What great creatures the dogs are!

Well, bye for now, and best wishes to all for a Happy and Family Filled Easter.

We’re Holding our Breath Waiting on Ellouise

April 10th, 2009

We’ve thus far had about 65 lambs. That means all but about 6-7 of our ewes have dropped their adorable little lambies! Ellouise was one of the smaller ewes when we put them all with the rams in the fall, and now she’s holding out on having her lamb(s). We are anxiously awaiting the time when she goes into labor, and are all on pins and needles. We worry a bit about the young ewes because they do sometimes have trouble giving birth. We’ve had a good season so far this year, with little death loss, and only 1-2 instances of really bad motherhood. A couple of the ewes have gotten impatient themselves with waiting and have tried to steal another ewe’s babies. It’s a bit of a challenge to keep a 140 pound ewe who thinks she’s a mom, from stealing another ewe’s babies. I have at least one sore muscle to prove it after trying to separate an alleged thief from the object of her desire yesterday!

Anyway, Ellouise did go back to her antics this week, took a walk around the property with Frank, the Great Pyrenees and the current Weston House guests. She toted her fat little belly all the way around. Still no babies popping out so we’re still waiting…….. I’m posting a couple of pictures of fat little Ella in the Farm Views Photo Album. Only because it’s pretty funny to see a sheep as wide as it is tall.