Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Barn Boondoggle

We decided to build a larger barn last summer, when we first moved here. It’s not that we’re horribly cramped, but if we bring in any more animals, it’d be good to have more space, and also electricity & running water to the barn. As it is now, we have our share of below-freezing temperatures at night, and that means hauling water for the beasties & birdies from the house every morning that it’s freezing.

Late last summer we contracted with a local company to build us a pole barn. All seemed to be progressing well, and we really like the people we’re working with. Together we had come up with a workable plan which would comfortably house our four ewes and their lambs, and allow for some future growth, as well as storage space for equipment. It’s not that we had grand designs or plans for a large operation on our just-under-five-acres, but the sheeple would have plenty of space to hang out on those rare occasions when it rains here (average 36”/year). The existing barn was to be moved to a different site on our property, and that would be pretty much for the birds. (They’ve already taken it over anyway.) Request for a building permit was filed with the county in October, and we planned to begin construction in November so that the project would be complete before our ewes lambed, before the rain got too bad and before we hit freezing temperatures. Well.

It turns out that we live on a critical wetland. Despite the fact that there are no streams, no fish, and no waterfowl here, we were told that we must commission a wetlands study by a certified wetlands specialist before a permit could be issued. We do have a seasonal pond which had been excavated by the previous owner, and drainage from wet areas of the pasture goes to that pond, all of which was delineated by the wetlands specialist. We also have documented two puddles in our lawn, the smaller of which (see photo) is in the front yard, not far from the pasture fence. The proposed site of the new barn is, logically, on the high ground of our pasture, which, fortunately, is relatively close to our house.

Following the submission of the wetlands study to the county, the county planner came out to re-inspect, and brought her co-worker, the mitigation specialist. They told us that since our barn site overlapped a 50’ buffer zone around the puddle (again, see photo) by a few feet, we would need to mitigate by making a 227 square foot conservation easement on our property which would need to be planted with native plants. To ensure that this plan was followed, we would need to post a $1000 bond, and document survival of the native plants annually for a five-year period, after which we would get our $1000 back. Fortunately, we were able to convince them to reduce that amount, as I don’t see how we could possibly have *fit* $1000 worth of plants into a 227 square foot space.

The icing on the cake is that we just got a bill from the county for the planners’ time. *Nowhere* in any of the regulations online or in any written correspondence, or even verbally, was there a mention of the need to pay for the time of the county planners. So here we are, with as yet no building permit, and the expenses continue to mount up. We are spending *nearly $3000* to be told that we could site the barn exactly where we originally wanted to site the barn, and that we would need to plant 227 square feet of natural vegitation to compensate for close proximity to the puddle. (Again, see photo. I can’t believe it either.) The actual cost of the plants for mitigation (ordered from the Conservation District) is under $100. All other costs have been for wetlands study, filing fees for the assignment of savings, allowance for five years of required documentation that the $100 in plants survive, and county planners’ fees. We are now in contact with the county commissioners and department heads.

Beautiful Sunset

February always seems to be the longest month of the year. I know it’s only 28 or 29 days, but still, the ennnnnndddddlllessssss gray gets to me every February, every year. Sure, next month I’ll get to start pruning roses, but at this point I’m chomping at the bit and getting very impatient. The hope of clearing skies was evident a few nights ago and I thought I’d share this photo. I should mention that this is *the neighbor’s* pond. . . not the aforementioned puddle.

Just thought you'd appreciate this.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

R.I.P. Frigidaire Gallery 11-Cycle Energy Star Front Load Washing Machine 2001- 2008

Frigidaire Washing Machine arrived at the pearly gates at such a young age. It was truly a tragic demise, as it first began not spinning when containing anything larger than average size loads, then developed intermittent leaks, and finally, just prior to its end, it could barely render a groan. Transplant of vital organs was deemed futile and not cost-effective, because of its multi-system failure. It is survived by its life partner, Dryer, who struggled with warming issues two months ago, but was revived by glow-plug replacement. Also survived by much older sibling washing machine, Heavy Duty Kenmore, who remains in good health even into its advancing years.

Because dimensions of washing machines have changed since Frigidaire was installed, elimination of some laundry room counters will be required to accommodate its replacement. Condolences may be sent to the laundress, Yvonne.

On happier notes, we just returned from a family visit to Yuma Arizona. Always a joy to see the folks, and this year, we managed to hit Yuma Lettuce Days. Here, Lisa & I are enjoying the salads - quite generous at $2. There were lots of other things going on, including this guy: - truly, the highlight of Lettuce Days.

We visited our camel friends, and I got a lot of knitting done, finishing socks for Doug. These are Trekking yarn, I think my very favorite sock yarn, for its wonderful colors & durability.

We also visited an area of Painted Desert, by Martinez Lake, and hiked the trail there.