Thursday, February 20, 2014


Drama can be so boring.

In the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of breakdown here. I don't automatically replace or repair anything that breaks. My first response is to step back and consider whether or not I really need the item. Needs change.

Unfortunately, lately, some of the breakdown has been equipment I rely on. For example, in one day alone, the oven, the humidifier, and the goatcam went wonky.

Each of these malfunctions was a bit bizarre. In the middle of the night, I suddenly realized the oven cooling fan was running. First I thought I had left the oven on all night - which would have been bad enough! - but no, just the fan was running for no apparent reason. The only way I could stop it was to shut the power off at the breaker box. And then go back to bed.

I woke at daybreak with a splitting headache and gritty eyes.The humidifier, which is essential equipment here in the winter, was humming along as usual...but it wasn't actually putting any moisture into the air. Ugh. Groggy but determined, I investigated immediately, and somehow managed to pour a graceful arc of water directly onto the corner of my bed. The corner of the bed, mind...meaning I soaked as much inaccessible area of the bed as possible per ounce of water. I wasn't groggy for long, that's for sure!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may recall when I bought the goatcam last year.

The camera sends live images to my laptop, and I have described it to many other livestock folk as "my best improvement of 2013." It took a little time to set it up initially, but it has been well worth the effort. A hugely valuable tool.

So when the screen suddenly went black - much like the control panel of the oven a few hours earlier - there was no question that I would have to get it working again, or replace it as soon as possible; certainly before kidding season.

It took a lot of downloading, uninstalling, reinstalling, and finally the assistance of the Best Technical Support Person EVER, but the goatcam is now working normally again - yay!

Let's focus on that success for a moment, shall we? 
Goatcam is working!!!  YAY!!! 

The humidifier is sort-of working, if I fuss with it every day. Good enough, til I can drive to the store and buy a new filter in hopes that will do the trick. And a new humidifier if it doesn't. Breathing is really important to me.

The oven...well. The repair estimate is almost $400, and replacement would be over $1100. My adventures in baking have just come to a halt.

Oh, well.
It was fun while it lasted.
Welcome back to the countertop, my dear old crockpot! And at least now I can stop thinking about getting a breadbox. My wall oven makes a very effective breadbox. Luxurious, even.

Beyond these examples of equipment failure, there is of course the weather-related stuff. I've been trying to focus only on the beauty of the snow and ice (and more snow, and more snow and more snow and ice). And the fact that I have running water, which I do not take for granted. And multiple bucket de-icers, which means I now only have to carry water once daily - a wonderful improvement, implemented just a couple of weeks ago! But there's no denying that everything has become physically more difficult, and some things are impossible. Routine chores are exhausting.

But that's okay, that's fine. A daily dose of exhaustion is probably good for me? It's the animals I feel sorry for. They all have adequate shelter and food, but they are bored. The snow has been so deep, for so long now. The toughest hens won't leave the Poultry Palace, and even the most intrepid goats won't venture out of their shelters for more than a few steps. I've waded into the paddock to break trail for the four girls several times, but even in my "path" the snow is still belly-deep on the adults, and chest-deep on the youngsters. Not fun. Not good. They won't do it, and I don't blame them one bit.

The older doe and both boys are in the little barn, and none of them - not even the bold Betula! - will go down the ramps and into their big paddock. They did it once, a few snowstorms ago, but turned right around and came back in and that's where they've been ever since. Three big healthy goats in one big stall, 24/7, for days on end. A lot of pent-up energy is gathering in Goat World, and I wish there was something I could do about it.

Speaking of goats (you'll see the connection in a second), the car has been buried for nine days now. I've tried three times to excavate and move it to a cleared space - because ironically, the long driveway has been ploughed repeatedly (ka-ching!) - but I can't shovel much these days, and some serious shoveling is required to free the Little Green Sportswagon. Hoping for the Big Thaw to help with that one, I'm afraid. And I wasn't worried about this until yesterday, when I opened my last bale of hay and discovered I don't like the look of it. Usually, this would mean a quick trip to a local fellow, just a couple of miles away, and cramming three bales into the back of my hardworking Hyundai wagon. Now I'm wondering if I could get one bale on my little plastic sled and pull it home. Sounds very jolly and little-house-on-the-prairie, but honestly? Not so much. And I don't think I could take Piper (which would probably be so much fun from her perspective that it would make the endeavor seem almost practical) because there are so many unpredictable and loose dogs along the way. I'll have to give it more thought in the morning, when I can take a better look at that last bale and decide whether or not to feed it out.

Of course, it's "morning" already - about 4am - but this is the comfortable part of morning, when I don't have to do anything but think. And blog  ;)

None of these little glitches is important in the grand scheme of things, it's more that the cumulative effect is a bit wearing. It's like the way my computer has become ominously sloooow. And the way Blogger suddenly started bouncing us all to the top of a post every time we try to "reply" at the bottom. (I've now switched to a separate page for comments, which eliminates the bounce but means I can't respond directly to a comment...which I miss.) Or the way Google Chrome is suddenly having a problem running Shockwave Flash, which means a banner across nearly every page I look at, and a lot of sidebar gadgets that are now frozen boxes. (When all else failed, I decided to try using Explorer for blogs now.) Unfortunately, in the midst of all these computer shenanigans, all the personalized font and view settings on my laptop have disappeared, and it is proving difficult to get everything back to read-able again...will carry on, though! Must have my blogs.

And if you, lovely readers and fellow bloggers, have persevered to the end of this post, I hope you have a perfect day with no glitches whatsoever!


  1. Oh, Quinn, reading this made me want to jump in the car and skid my way north over our icebound roads to help you dig out, or something. I've been wondering about your physical ability to get through the extra work this winter has put on you, and wish there were something other than sending internet vibes, that I could do.

    I can suggest that Firefox works a hundred times better than either Chrome or IE for running my blogs, however. When it's not crashing, that is. Zero problems with it, uploading, everything, even when other folks are saying blogger is Not Working. Just sayin.

    Will you get some income from kids? yarn sales? roving sales? I don't really know the economics of what you do, just hope more $$ is in your near future.

    Incidentally if you sell roving, I'd like to know more about that, having a demo giant weaving in my own near future, which I'd like to incorporate raw roving into.

    1. Stay off that ice, friend Boud! :)
      But sincere thanks for the good wishes.
      The short answer about goats' fiber is that, so far, I'm stockpiling it. Unlike sheep with their massive "three bags full"-type production, cashmere goats produce, literally, ounces per goat. Eventually I will probably take it all to a specialty mill and get it back a year later as yarn...but meanwhile, I'd love to hear more about your giant weaving!

  2. Never nice when equipment fails - and decisions have to be made..

    LOL I also use my oven as a breadbox. It's a small gas oven below the two plate stovetop, and is large enough to hold three loaves, but using it as an oven is out of the question - being 35+ years old it won't be economical - which means that my solar oven and our gas bbq have that function in summer. In winter I have my precious Rosie... :)

    1. Dani, I called my propane guy to ask about the possibility of replacing the electric oven with a propane wall oven (not at all feasible, as it turns out) and we had a chat about alternative cooking methods. I mentioned solar cookers (thinking of you) and we both laughed and laughed (I imagine we were both looking out a window at the time). Maybe if I'm still without an oven in August, though! :)

  3. Winter in general is wearing us all down I think, but to have technical difficulties as well just adds to the agony. I'd be mighty suspicious of those goats tinkering with your goat-cam ... I mean they have been cooped up for far to long, and their minds start to get a little creative, don't you think? I know I can't trust my dog if he isn't walked regularly ... major mischief maker then! I think I'd be most upset about not being able to dig out my car. I "gave up" shoveling last year, but there's always areas that need to be shoveled and no one else to do it but me. Hope you get things sorted out soon. Wendy x

    1. Oh, if the goats could reach the camera, there would be no question what went wrong! :) As it is, it's a mystery, and I'm just hoping there won't be a repeat problem.

  4. Hi Quinn, Wish I could send you warm sunshine to thaw you and your critters out.

    1. We're getting some warmer weather now, so anywhere the snow has been plowed, there is now water atop a thick layer of ice. Exciting times! I'm walking verrrrry slowly...

  5. Ugh, that sounds hard - really hard. Hope spring comes soon and things stop breaking!

    1. Thanks, and I too hope things will stop breaking :)
      Otherwise, it's not so bad, really...just a lot of niggling little things one after the other, and being left feeling like I'm spinning my wheels. Which was actually what I did quite a lot of yesterday, come to think of it!

  6. Oh Quinn things sound tough! You are doing such a great job looking after your menagerie in such cold conditions! Hopefully nothing else will break for a while. In the last two weeks we have had to replace our washing machine and fridge freezer - fortunately with good quality second hand ones from the auction where I work, but yesterday the cooker went on the blink and our geriatric car broke down too!

    1. Oh my gosh, Lucy - we must have the same gremlins! And yours are going after all the big-ticket sorry! :(

  7. Oh my goodness. I promise not to complain again anytime soon. It does sound very tough, and I hope that some of those things just fix themselves. Seriously! If they can break by themselves, they can get fixed by themselves, right? :)

    I hope you resolve the hay dilemma - perhaps someone could deliver a bale or two? Oh my. Overwhelming.

    Hang in there.

    1. I absolutely agree :) "Maybe it will heal itself" used to be my approach to many automotive issues. Sometimes I think it worked!
      The good news is, after 8 hours of effort yesterday, the car is now at the bottom of the driveway, by the road, and I will fetch hay today. The less-good news is, in trying to release the car from its icy bondage yesterday, I somehow damaged the exhaust system. Appointment Monday AM for diagnosis; can't wait for this one to heal itself, as the little wagon sounds like a drag racer! VROOOOOOM! Glad the hay guy is so close, and on a back road ;)

  8. Quinn, I am so sorry; having all those things go wrong is awful but at the same time, it's drastic. I rejoice with you the goat cam is!
    A small convection oven costs less than $100 and is an invaluable tool in my it! It means I eat decent meals more regularly. Love my crock pot as well.
    Were you able to get hay?
    Everything has melted here, thank God, and I think we're to have a few days of above freezing temps.
    I am so weary of winter, so weary and am getting up early. I dearly hope I don't get my days/nights confused! -lol-

    1. I am considering buying a countertop oven as a temporary measure, but am still undecided about repairing the wall oven. Space is a major factor. Waiting for more info re warranty on replacement part, but getting the feeling the shop is not interested in the outcome either way...very disappointing, as I have been a customer (infrequent, but loyal) of this small local business for many years. This was a 1K$ oven in 2005, bought after many years of doing without, and it makes me feel sick to think it may not be "worth" fixing!

  9. gulp! that's a LOT of money then and now...and they're not working with you. shame, shame!


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