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!

Signs That Spring is Coming

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My, how times gets away from you.  I meant to post these pictures on Monday and here it is Thursday already! But I do have a wonderful excuse - I received a promotion at work and I've been a busy bee organizing all  my new responsibilities.
We're in the middle of a streak of 60 and 70-degree days right now, so it certainly is starting to feel like Spring.  That and Daylight Savings Time that started on Sunday.  Over the weekend, J. and I took advantage of the nice weather to get out of the house.  And so did the chickens.

Cruella demanding to know what we are doing in her yard.

They were fascinated with the work we were trying to do in getting our equipment ready for work.  The old Cherokee had thrown a shoe right before it got super cold and it had been sitting and waiting for a nice day when we could work on it.  It's 17 years old so things are gonna break, I guess.

With the chickens getting in our way help, J. issued a diagnosis of a bad power steering pump. 

Now, I'm not mechanic but I do know that those ball bearings are supposed to be nicely packed and evenly distributed so I'd say that's the problem.  The parts are less than a $100 and I was able to use a coupon to get them for 40% off so it didn't hurt as much as it could have. What did hurt, though, is that you have to use a special tool to put the plastic pulley back on the pump or it will crack.  As luck would have it, the tool was checked out at our local Auto Zone so we'll have to try again this weekend.
In other news, J.'s mother had her second knee replacement so we went to see her several nights ago.  She's doing well and will be up and running in no time. I'm STILL dealing with these back issues that are keeping me on the sofa.  After a round of 2 more steroid injections in my back last Friday, I've been in more pain now than before I got them but it's starting to come down.  The orthopedic doc wants to do 2 more this Friday in an effort to get all the inflammation out.  Cross your fingers for me.  I've gotta kick this thing so I can get our garden planted and start work on the $1400 house!

We are Modern Day Homesteaders

Thursday, March 05, 2015

This is from From Scratch magazine, a daily e-zine devoted to those of us who have better things to do than sit in traffic all day.  According to them: "You are the modern homesteader. Whether you have 1000 acres or live in an apartment – homesteading is an attitude. A lifestyle. A journey."
Amen. And I'm so happy that we have neighbors that feel the same way about a simpler life, even if it's right in the middle of the rat race called Kansas City.
If you want a printable version of this to display in your house (or barn?) just click here.

Solar Panels and Snow

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Drat. Winter just won't leave!  Since Friday, we've gotten about 3 inches of steady snow that has now tapered off into semi-sunshine.  I guess I can't complain, since they forecasted up to 8 inches.

But snow on solar panels means we get no electricity production until it melts off.  Zip. Zero. Zilch.  With the array  over 12 feet wide and almost 10 feet in the air on one end, we've had to be rather creative with how we get the snow off the panels.
Luckily, I was able to take advantage of an awesome deal that Home Depot had a couple of weeks ago on this Snow Joe telescoping roof rake.  Normally, $39.99 and we caught it for $17.99.  I pity the poor people that actually have to get out and use this thing to get snow off their roof!  But it works really well for our panels, as it telescopes out to 21 feet and is really lightweight.  The scraper head is made of a poly material and is a nice 24-inch length. The only gotcha is that it has a tendency to catch on the panel frames.  Once it's warmer, J. is going to rig it with a squeegee edge that should fix that problem.
On Thursday, we generated 56.02 kilowatt hours.  That's way over what we projected our peak power production would be (45 kWH). And it's still winter.  I can't wait to see what peak we hit in mid-summer when the sunlight hours are longer and sun is right overhead.
Time to go cruise everyone's blogs and see how they're whiling away winter's end.  Stay warm, everyone!
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