Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

After The Fire

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I wrote last Friday about the house fire down the street from us. When it burned, the house was painted a medium blue that was faded and peeling. 
Here's what she looks like today:

The asbestos abatement folks came and stripped her of her last shred of decency yesterday:  those old "cement" shingles that we see so often on these old houses were made with asbestos and have to come off before the final demolition.  The original wood siding is actually in decent shape, which makes you wonder why someone would cover it up.  But, you see, lazy people that don't want to work on their house existed in the early 1900's as well.  Rather than spend their summer scraping and painting, they covered it up with cement siding (the "vinyl siding of their day").
The house had been abandoned for a number of years and we had actually been trying to get it torn down to improve the neighborhood.  The taxes hadn't been paid for years and the city eventually took possession.  They had just listed it for sale for a whopping $19,472!!  Who on Earth would pay that for a house with no services and questionable structure is beyond me. 
I always feel melancholy when I look at pictures of old houses in this sad state.  The house could have been saved at some point if multiple someones had just made good decisions.  Unfortunately, for this one, it's too late.  We'll watch a steady stream of contractors perform their jobs over the next couple of weeks, like ants carrying away their picnic prize.  And then the final day will come where there will be nothing left but a straw-covered lot.
But some good will come of this.  The neighbors are repurposing what they can:  bricks for patios, salvagable wood for decks or other projects.  There are plans afoot for a community orchard or garden on the lot and the vacant one that sits next to it.  As with everything in nature, all is replenished and new comes from old. 

Rolling With the Homies

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm hangin' in the air conditioning with my gang of little furry playas.  And we all get ice cream because.....

It's National Dog Day!

Foster and I on the Internets, circa 1999

Have you smooched your pooch today?


Well, what are you waiting for?!

What a Crazy Day

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I just realized that it's been a week since I posted. Sorry!  I have not been ignoring everyone - I've just been crazy busy and it's been an up-and-down roller coaster for me.  I was supposed to close on the new project Victorian on Friday but it's been delayed due to some title issues that are being worked through on the vacant lot.  We're now supposed to close next Friday.  *crossing fingers*

Plus it's stinkin' hot here again and I haven't felt like doing much.  I was really hoping that Mother Nature would forget that it's August and let us keep the nice, cooler temps in the 80's.  Drat!  Foiled again!

So J. and I spent yesterday morning at another auction where he was stalking one of those walk-behind skidsteers.  I went along because they had a 4 foot John Deere tractor tiller that was practically brand new.  I didn't win it, as it went for more than the 8 foot Land Pride one!  I guess you do pay more for labels (or, in this case, a certain shade of green paint.)  Heh.

Anyways....you have to got to see what else they had at this auction.  

He's a magnificent, sexy beast, isn't he?

My friends, that's Leghorn, the 5 foot metal rooster.  And he was glorious, let me tell ya!  Had he not sold for close to $600, I might have brought him home with us and declared him neighborhood art.   If we're all going to be urban farmers with chickens here in the Lykins neighborhood, then we need a mascot, right?

J. ended up winning the Dingo, which came with several attachments and it's very own custom trailer, at a really good price.  The guy bidding against us came up later and introduced himself as a union carpenter that does desk and landscaping work on the side.  Hmmmm....I told him that we would probably give him a call on this next project.  He even asked if we would call him if we decided to sell the equipment in the future.  Cool....if we decide to sell, we have a buyer already lined up.

After the auction, we headed to Menards in St. Joseph, which is about 45 minutes north of KC. It was the first time we'd ever been to what should actually be called Mecca for DIYers.  As we drove up, I commented to Jim that we should have brought our roller skates along, as that place is HUGE!

I have a VERY strict budget on this new house reno, so I'm looking to cut money anywhere I can.  Menards may be the best friend I need:  I picked up new entry door locks\handles for 1/2 price, house wrap at about 35% of regular cost, and vinyl siding for the addition for 20% of regular cost.  Yippee!

By the time we were done there, J. and I were exhausted and parched.  Lemonade chillers from DQ perked us up for the long drive home and then we collapsed on the sofa to watch a movie.  And then we hear sirens.  And they get closer.  And closer.  And then they seem to stop outside our house.

I open the front door and step out on the front porch to see this.


The crappy blue house 5 doors down from us that's been abandoned for at least 6 or 7  years was on fire.  And I mean serious fire....the flames were shooting up over the roof of the house next door, which is perilously close.  We've all been trying to get Kansas City to tear that thing down for years so I can't say I'm not happy that this happened, as long as no one gets hurt.  My plan is to head down and get some "after" pictures for you later today.

Hope everyone has been well!  I am staying out of the heat today and sewing some new seat covers for our RV couch, so I should have time to make the blog rounds today.  Talk to ya soon!

Let the Canning Begin!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

With the tomatoes and jalapenos outpacing us in terms of what we can possibly eat at one time, I figured it was time to drag out the canner and get to work.  Up on the docket first?  Salsa made from our Early Girl slicing tomatoes.  The recipe we use is always a big hit and I posted it here last year if you'd like to try it on your own.

First the peeling of tomatoes and chopping of the jalapenos.  We didn't have enough jalapenos, we had to use some of those banana peppers that we got from the Farmer's Market last weekend.  As it turns out, we had EXACTLY 4 cups of tomatoes which is what the recipe calls for.  How often does that happen?

Everything goes into a big pot with some chopped onion, garlic, salt, lime juice and oregano.  Then stir it all up and let it come to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Finally, fill the jars (leaving 1/2 inch headspace) and process them in the water-bath canner for 15 minutes.

I've talked to several folks who have said "I could never do that.  I don't know how to can!"  If you want to get started canning, this is one of the easiest things you can make.  Oh, and salsa or other canned goods make great gifts.  Not that I would know, because our salsa seems to disappear around here.  Ahem....

In other news, I won an online auction for several huge tempered low-e glass window panels that J. and I are going to make into a glass greenhouse.  I'm not sure what hotel they were originally intended for, but these are definitely hotel panels, as they have the venting at the bottom where the air conditioner would suck in air.  Perfect for a greenhouse! 

Yums From the Farmers Market

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This weekend, J. and I hit the big Farmer's Market in downtown Kansas City and came home with some yummy, great-looking veggies.  Chipotle was there handing our free $10 tokens that could be spent at one vendor in the market, so everything in the picture was free.  We had the carrots Tuesday night, and the Yukon gold potatoes mashed last night.  The banana peppers went into some of the salsa we made on Monday evening.

I won't say who ate them, but I'm pretty sure those peaches are no longer present in my kitchen either.  And, shortly, those beets and cucumbers will find themselves pickled.  Sometime (hopefully soon!), I'm going to show my sis-in-law how to can salsa.  That should be great fun.

Ya know, looking at that picture, I'm thinking there's really nothing better than fresh produce from the market, unless it's walking out of your house to pluck it right out of your backyard garden.  Who needs a bowl when you can eat blackberries right off the vine while sitting on your patio?

I suspect everyone is in the middle of canning, freezing, preserving and, well....EATING!  What have you been up to?

Don't Mess With the Livestock

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vicious attack sheep says "None shall pass!"

  I want one of these.

Finally, An Answer

Friday, August 09, 2013

After 8 weeks of waiting to hear back from the bank on my offer on the old Victorian short sale, they counter-offered at just over $4,000 over my offer.  I attempted to counter, but the negotiator said there was no room to move because their investor said that's the number they needed to get from the property.

I had less than 48 hours to accept the offer and it expired yesterday at noon.  Flurried phone calls and discussions with J. and the real estate agent, and much hmmmming and hawing.  I couldn't even sleep Wednesday night because of the situation. $4k is just over 25% of my initial offer, so it's a huge increase.  Comparable sold houses and active listings are all over the place, but I'm sure that's true for everywhere because of all the bank-owned foreclosures and short sales.  What finally convinced me to go for it is the fact that properties in that price range go fast, because they're snapped up by investors who want to flip them into rental properties.  There's a big probability that someone else would snap it up at that price since it would now be an "approved" short sale, and they wouldn't have to go through the waiting period that I did. 

Given that the property was last financed back in 2005 for $105,500 and the owners still owe close to $80,000, the bank is taking a huge loss selling it at a price of $19,400. I'll have to squeeze the rehab budget to make up the extra purchase cost, but I'm pretty sure I can get close.

I signed the papers last night and we close on the 23rd.  I'm so excited!!!!

In a Tight Place

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

This is why you should check your garden every day.  (Bad gardener, bad gardener!)

I turned my back for a couple of days while I was busy with something else and one of my Sugar Baby watermelons got itself stuck between the tines of the goat panel that they're growing on.  Now I can't get it out!

This one just happened to be growing on the part of the panel where the tines are really close together.  I briefly thought about it cutting the tine, but I've got a ton of watermelons growing, so I decided to wait and see what happens with this one.  Do you think it will keep trying to grow around it?  I guess I'm going to have to cut it off there if it ever ripens.

I checked the other melons and they're in no danger of getting in this same predicament.

Weird, huh?  Keep an eye on those veggies, guys and gals....

A Good Harvest

Monday, August 05, 2013

Sorry for the graininess of the pics!  It was starting to get dark and I guess the cell phone camera couldn't focus perfectly for these pics.  But I wanted to show that good things do come to those who wait - and I mean 90 to 100+ days.  :-)

We pulled close to 20 pounds of tomatoes out of the garden this weekend.  Those are Romas in the basket above and they are HUGE!  Guess who's going to be making sauce this week?

And the Early Girls were not to be outdone.  The majority of these will go into some salsa.  J.'s brother thinks it's pretty yummy, so I may see if his wife can come over and I'll show her how we make it.  She's never canned before so this would be a fun, easy way to learn how.

In other news...

  • J. and I had fun at the local gun range yesterday where we shot a .50 cal rifle and a fully automatic Tommy Gun.  Talk about fun!  Whoo, boy!

  • I heard back from the realtor on the other house and there's finally some movement.  It's been 7 weeks since we put in the offer on the short sale and the bank has finally assigned a negotiator and is looking at the offer.  Should be interesting to see what happens since the house sold for $105,000 in 2005 and my offer is for $15K.

  • I've been busy working on our old RV.  We bought a late 80's 27' trailer that was in great shape except the upholstery was ugly with a capital U.  We're talking salmon and baby blue paired with faux wood grain cabinets.  I should have taken some before pictures but I was in such a hurry to get started that I just jumped right in.  We put in new laminate flooring and I'm painting those ugly cabinets a nice off-white.  Then it will be time to reupholster the "furniture".  I'll take some pics next time I'm out there.

And, finally, I've got a watermelon quandry that I need everyone's advice on.  But I need to take a picture of it first, so I'll be back with that tomorrow.

Have a fun Monday!

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