Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Septic system failure & repair June 2016

Sometime back last summer I noticed there was a sinkhole behind the shrubbery under our bedroom window up against the foundation of the house. I called Michael's attention to this and kind of left it to him to decide how urgently it needed to be dealt with. Honestly I was probably too busy with the garden and riding the horses to think too much about it.

Winter came and went and we got some snowfall then a lot of rain. The first time I went behind the shrubbery to install the hoses for spring I was shocked at how big the hole had gotten and showed Michael. It was actually big enough that I started thinking it might be a hazard - as in someone might fall into it!

Finally weeks later the much awaited day of Michael & Kane's departure for fishing in Canada for a week had come. Interestingly, all of the toilets in the house and both bathtubs started behaving strangely that morning: burping, making bubbly noises and then all of the drains stopped working. We plunged and things seemed to clear up but that didn't last long ... Luckily I had made a Monday 8am appointment w the plumber for him to come by and give us a hand.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Michael's new Pool Table - May 2014

Michael shopped and visited people's pool tables for maybe a year or more before deciding on this one, which had been sitting in someone's basement unassembled and unused for a long period of time.

The person who owned it was moving and didn't want to move the table. Michael was offered a great deal on the table if he was able to bring some friends and haul it away. Michael didn't realize how good of a deal until we had a professional come to set it up in our basement yesterday.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Warlock the black cat found us November 2013

The story of the stray cat who adopted us just before one of the worst winters in Chicagoland on record. Below zero temps almost daily, feet of snow, ice storms, sleet, hail. It was an ugly winter for cats living outside. But not this stray cat. This stray cat, who started out sleeping on hay piles and eating mice, now four months later sleeps on satin pillows and delicately nibbles wet cat food from crystal bowls. This is the story of Warlock.

Warlock's story, in photos. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Prowicz / udonet network backup plan, March 2014

Prowicz / udonet network backup plan, March 2014

We have had backups in place for a while, using the main Windows 2003 server and an external WD 1.5TB USB connected disk and DirSync which runs nightly and sends any new files in our main directories to the USB disk.

This is an ok, better-than-nothing but not shockproof system.

I have decided to integrate two projects into one:
1. Create a backup system for our local network
2. De-commission and remove our single remaining Windows server (W2003)

What do we need to backup?
  • Digital photos and scanned photos going back to 1996
  • 150GB
  • Slow growing
  • Hours of person time to rip and catalog
  • 22GB
  • Fast growing
  • email Local folders, personal documents, household finances
  • 150GB 
  • Medium growing
  • Local copies of OS archives, applications, etc. 
  • 60GB
  • Does not grow; new replace old retaining 2-3 versions

Throwback Thursday ... back in time to May 14, 2005

Throwback Thursday ... back in time to May 14, 2005

In May 2005, Kane was five years and six months old and our garden had been in full swing in our backyard in Des Plaines IL for about 4-5 years. I have posted elsewhere on our web site about our native garden which is comprised of mainly Cook County indigenous plants. We started with those because Laura was a bit of a black thumb (i.e. she killed pretty much every plant she had touched up till now) and figured the natives would be hard to kill. Mission accomplished! as you can see from the photos.

In May 2005, our pond (shown) was about three years old and was pretty mature. Pond building story and more photos are available for those who'd like to find out all about building a backyard pond. This pond was rather small, as it needed to fit nicely into our city-sized standard lot, fully surrounded by our 6' privacy fence (the neighbors on both side were slobs/hoarders of inanimate junk; we also backed into a highly trafficked alley.) We loved the privacy fence.

Kane loved spending time near the pond and so we spent a considerable amount of time making sure he knew how to swim and tread water in a local pool in case he ever accidentally fell in. We did try to keep him under surveillance at all times but he is a typical boy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Purchase of Lady Luxury, Lucy, LuLu Bean

Elaine and Dax, Grace and Sugar, early 2004
The story of the purchase of Lucy starts way back in mid-2005 when we first moved into our current home, Prairie Corner Farm. Laura (me) had decided that it was now time for Elaine and Grace to join Pony Club since we finally had a horse property and enough room for everyone to keep a mount affordably.

Elaine was 12 years old and had been taking lessons and showing our Appaloosa, Dax, for about two years or so already and was content. Grace was almost 11 years old and had been using a friend's older quarter horse mare, Sugar, for two years and had lots of success, but we were unable to bring her with us to our new home. So Grace would need a new mount.
Elaine and Dax, Grace and Sugar, early 2005 with Egon
We started shopping early on for Grace and were having trouble finding something appropriate. The problem seemed to be that all of the horse sellers that we called were blatant liars who didn't care at all if my child got killed riding their rank animals. Week after week, I would call the listings and ask the same questions: This will be a horse for a 10 year old child who is just an advanced-beginner rider, a very petite rider. Would your sale horse be safe for her to ride? "Oh yeah, fine sure come and check him out!"

We'd arrive to find either a crazy Western horse that had no idea how to trot or canter, was used to having his head tied to his chest or a 16hh+ Thoroughbred straight off the track who still had his racing plates on. Suffice it to say, it was a long stretch weekend after weekend being disappointed at not finding a nice child-safe mount.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dax's left hock ... and right suspensory/deep digital flexor tendon ... and negative palmar angle (Part I)

Dax, my Appaloosa, was a little bit of an impulsive "adoption" (aka "purchase") in November of 1997. My good friend Barry Fript, a well known area horse professional and dressage trainer said to me at the time: "Absolutely do not buy that horse!"

Regardless, and probably stupidly, I went ahead anyway and even the transaction itself was not without its own obstacles and intrigue - much like our life together since. For details on how it all came about and some of our fun history, see my blog entry from Nov 1997: http://www.udonet.com/laura/info/1997spotted_fever.html and follow the links.

Dax: 4.5 Elaine 5.0 Me 34.0
Dax was 4.5 years old going on five in Nov 1997. In September of 2013 that makes him twenty years old and he and I have been together for 15.5 years. A lot has happened in that time and a lot of the early days are captured in my web site. I fell off updating our web site in early 2001 ("life got in the way") and since then several kids have Pony Clubbed him, including my older daughter, Elaine, who was actually the last child to use him seriously for eventing, fox hunting, pony clubbing and just general riding and schooling.

Grace, my younger daughter, also rode and used Dax with a lot of success after her pony mare, Lucy, passed of stomach cancer. That was a long two years of recovery for both Gracie and I and Dax filled in nicely for Grace on a lot of things she liked doing at the time. We always used to say to Grace before going out on cross country: "Just imagine that Lucy is jumping along with you guys, just in front of Dax's nose and leading the way!" Funny that Grace was one of Dax's only riders who was ever able to propel him all the way through a course without trouble ... 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chicken coop project, September 2013

We have recently purchased a chicken coop, which is "on order" and currently being built. One of our best friends, Jeff, is an incredibly handy guy with tools and meticulous to the nth degree.

Being a currently out of work engineer and looking full time for job, he volunteered to be our vendor for the coop and set off to learn everything he needed to know about backyard chicken keeping in order to bring himself fully up to speed as an expert chicken coop builder.

Once the chicken coop is completely finished it will be painted barn red to match our newly painted barn with a dark brown roof and white trim. Jeff will dis-assemble it at his location, then re-assemble at our location and we will install it to the prepared site which will be leveled, underlaid with predator mesh and outlined with secured railroad ties (we haven't worked out all of the precise details on this yet; Laura is still working on that.)

Hopefully we'll have the footings and predator mesh installed this week or this coming weekend in preparation.We have a spot in the yard for it quite near the horse barn and close to a set of three large evergreens. It's a high and dry spot.

We are planning to purchase 8-12 Dominique chickens (hens only!) which are a heritage breed. We haven 't decided whether to get started right away (this fall) with adult hens or wait until spring and get started with baby chicks. Laura likes the idea of raising the hens from chicks but of course everyone else in the family is just ready to start gathering eggs ... right now! Hens don't start laying until they are several months old. The other option is to purchase six hens now and then six chicks in the spring, which would probably be a good compromise.

not our chickens! this is a stock photo.

From Wikipedia: "The Dominique, also known as Dominicker or Pilgrim Fowl, is a breed of chicken (Gallus gallus) originating in the United States during the Colonial. It is considered America's oldest breed of chicken, probably descending from chickens brought to New England from southern England during colonial times. By the 19th century, they were widely popular and were raised in many parts of the country. Dominiques are a dual purpose breed, being valued for their meat as well as for their brown eggs. They weigh 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kg) at maturity. In earlier times, their feathers were much sought after as stuffing for pillows and mattresses." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominique_%28chicken%29)

The finished chicken coop will resemble the coop pictured here, which is the coop as built by the plan designer. It is about 6'x6' in footprint for the coop only, has a 14'x6' enclosed, attached chicken run, is elevated and has six nest boxes with a perch in the front and a rear-access door from the outside (for collecting eggs.)

what the finished coop will look like, just add paint.

the finished coop per plan, showing the nest boxes.

Onto the progress photos! Naturally the coop started out as a big pile of lumber, which was delivered to our chicken coop factory. Here is the coop on Sept 3rd

chicken coop, Sept 3rd

Two weeks later the coop was partially assembled and taking a bit of shape. September 12th.

chicken coop, Sept 12th

chicken coop, Sept 12th

the chicken coop factory owner, Jeff

A few days later I got another update, showing the assembly thus far. September 15th.

chicken coop, Sept 15th

chicken coop, Sept 15th

More updates and the final reveal to come next month. Watch this space.

For more about us, come to udonet.com. Click on "Pets" to visit our family's small hobby farm.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Prairie Corner Farm - Horse Stall Signs

The horses at Prairie Corner Farm all have their own, custom-made, stall signs. Not that they spend much time in stalls, but we couldn't let that stop us from making sure everyone had a stall sign.

For more about our horses and farm, visit our family web site

Clyde's stall sign is one of the cutest; made from a photo of Clyde

Dax's stall sign from when Elaine was using him for Pony Club, she was into the "punk plaid" back then.

Junior's stall sign; although I provided a photo and advised the painter that he was something of a  homely pony, this is the sign we got back.

Sugar's games pony stall sign. Very cute, by a local person.

Noble's "anime" stall sign, with dragon wing behind. By the same person who did Sugar's sign.

I love Lucy stall sign. Lady Luxury, LuLu, Lucy. Our most favorite pony of all time. Sadly no longer with us.

Lovag's stall sign. The children all seem to be completely unable to see the jump as a wide oxer.

Troika's stall sign. Super cool, by the same local person who did Sugar and Noble's stall signs.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Little garden by the pool, and the pool - end June 2013

The little garden by the pool is not very exciting but it has certainly improved our enjoyment of this area of the yard so far this summer vs. previous summers.

We find ourselves taking most of our meals out here and Laura enjoys doing blog posts and Facebook sitting on the patio closest to the wireless router in the evenings after dousing herself in Off! and pouring a nice glass of wine.

(click on the continue link to view the photos)