Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shoveling with One Arm

The heat is unpleasant, but the wind seems to be my biggest foe.  It seems every time I get hurt, it's because of the wind.  You may recall that there was a bit of a debate over the design of our hay barn.  I was being pulled in so many different directions on that topic, but I was already over budget and had run out of money by the time I realized that the design did not fit my needs.  I was trusting people who have lived in this area to make decisions on the design based upon local weather patterns.  I was so exhausted from moving, and I just wanted to get my horses moved in with me at the new house.  I figured I'd find out what did and didn't work, and fix whatever needed fixing, later.

The whole point of the hay barn was to keep the hay dry, but because the sides did not extend all the way to the ground, and because the rain comes in sideways with most storms around here, I've lost a lot of hay to mold.  I was told I only needed to keep the rain off the top of the stack, but the person who made that argument didn't consider that 80% of the time the top of the haystack would be at a level below the siding.  I started using tarps again, but the desert sun, whirlwinds, and dust storms are way harder on tarps than the Sierra ice and hurricane force winds that I am used to.  The tarps only last 1 to 2 months before they start ripping.  

So, my husband was climbing on top of the haystack to attach the less ripped end of the tarp to the stack, and his foot and entire leg slipped through a hole, spraining his calf muscle.  Around that same time, I was trying to tie the gates open in the barn so that they would stop swinging in the wind, and I twisted my arm in such a way that a muscle in my forearm got caught on the metal plate holding the bones together, stretched, and then went TWANG!  The pain got worse and worse over time, so I'm assuming that I either sprained or tore that muscle in my forearm.

That means I've been shoveling manure with one arm.  Today I figured out how to use my thigh to pop the fork up high enough to dump the manure in the wagon.  I can't put any pressure or weight on the arm.  I can still use it for light work and my fingers move fine, but all lifting is out of the question, which is really a bummer because I had just started a weight lifting regimen to try to build up my muscles so that I can burn off calories more effectively and be stronger for trail riding season.  That's typical.  All I have to do is start taking care of myself, and I instantly get injured.  And since my husband got hurt at the same time, I have no back up to help with the chores each evening.

Tonight I heard a neighbor's horse scream followed by a crashing sound followed by a woman yelling, "Help!  Help!  Help!"

I ran toward the voice, knowing that I was going to have to trespass through three backyards to reach her.  Fortunately, I then heard a gate open and a man's voice say, "What did you do?"

I knew she got her help, so I was able to return to my chores.  Unfortunately, a big dust storm enveloped me before I could finish giving Lostine her supplements, and I had to run inside.  

Anyway, back to the hay barn...  I am now so officially fed up with hay problems and tarp problems and wind problems and rain problems that I'm ready to invest in the last batch of sheet metal and framework to get that hay completely covered.  I'm trying to hire a local contractor to do it, but he's pissing me off by stalling with questions.  He waits several days, sends me an email with questions, I respond immediately, then he waits several more days, only to send me another email with more questions.  It's almost like he's treating my project like it is an afterthought.  

He's got me out there taking pictures and measurements and emailing all this stuff to him, and he's already taken up several hours of my time, where had he simply driven out to my place to look at and measure the barn himself, he could have had the preparatory work done in a few minutes.  I specifically told him not to expect my measurements to be accurate, yet he's still asking for measurements from me.  I can easily predict that he will cut something the wrong size and instantly blame me.

So, now my husband is looking at what it will cost to buy the materials and tools to do the job himself.  I'm sure he won't want to be doing it with an injured calf muscle, but at the rate this contractor is going, I suspect my husband's calf muscle will heal before the contractor ever gets his estimate to me.  Why is it so hard to find decent help around here?  I thought someone could have this job done in a couple of days, but it's been two weeks and it looks like I'm going to have to spring for several more tarps if I don't want to lose another several hundred dollars in hay.  Of course, the tarps themselves will cost a couple of hundred dollars, so I suppose I lose either way.

I'm learning that there's a reason why a lot of people around here pick up just a week's worth of hay over the weekend.  I don't have the time, patience or strength for that, but if I don't want to keep losing money in moldy hay, I'm going to either have to develop the time, patience and strength to pick up hay each weekend, or I'm going to have to find a contractor who can finish this barn for me without sucking up all of my time and patience in the process.  

At the same time this project is going on, I'm trying to find a decent real estate agent to sell my other house before my property management company goes out of business.  They've lost about 3/4ths of their staff and agents and only have a small handful of listings for sale and rent.  The timing of putting the house on the market is crucial.  I suspect we will have to give the renters their notice, and once they move out, I won't have anyone taking care of the lawns.  So, I have to wait for the lawns to go dormant before kicking the renters out.  I tried hiring a gardening service in the past, but the timers they used to turn on the sprinklers were broken and my lawns died.  The idiots kept mowing my dead lawns and never stopped to think that something was wrong with that picture.  

Since I can't water my lawns from 750 miles away, I have to rely on Mother Nature to do it throughout the winter.  And it would be really awesome if I could find a real estate agent who will actually visit my house once a week and turn on the sprinklers if it hasn't rained or snowed in a while, and then return a few hours later to turn the sprinklers off, or at the very least call me and let me know if my lawns are dying so that I can hire someone to water them.  My last real estate agent promised to do all of that, and failed miserably.  He also misspelled every other word in the ads for my house and let the workers leave their trash all over my property.  Obviously, he never expected to sell the house, so he never bothered to make it presentable.

Right now I am pretty irritated with the renters and the property manager.  The renters have been calling in for repairs every other week, and the property manager just keeps taking those expenses out of my share.  I have explained to the property manager that the renters' demands for repairs are excessive, and there shouldn't be that many problems with the house because I sunk a ton of money into fixing it up and making it like new before they moved in.  If things are breaking, it is because the renters are breaking them, and therefore the renters need to pay for them.  But alas, the property manager won't return my calls.

The latest fiasco involves the air filter.  I had told the property manager to relay to the renters that they will need to change the air filter in the living room every 4 to 6 months if they want the heating and air conditioning to be effective, and if they want to keep down their electric and gas bills.  Well, I don't know if the property manager didn't relay that information to them, or if the renters just chose to ignore my warnings, but here we are a year after they moved in, and they called for an air conditioning repairman to fix the air conditioner because it wasn't keeping them cool enough.  He said there was nothing wrong with the air conditioner, but he found that the air filter in the vent needed changing because it hadn't been replaced in over a year.  Those filters only cost about five bucks, but guess who got stuck with a $95 bill to have a professional troubleshoot the problem and change the filter?  

That's right.  It got taken right out of my till.  So, I'm putting my foot down.  Not only am I demanding that the property management company return that money to me, but that the renters pay the bill and start looking for a new place to live.  Unfortunately, I first have to get someone to answer the phone or return my calls.  Something tells me that is going to require a miracle.


lytha said...

something happened this week that fits --sort of-- with this post.

my man was rear-ended a few months ago, destroying the back end of our yaris. (but totalling the offending car - go toyota!) so he got a rental car. before he returned it, he topped off the tank to avoid gas charges. well the renter sent him a bill for 9 euros for gas used. he was pretty mad but didn't know what to do about it. until yesterday, when the police sent us a bill for a speeding ticket, complete with photograph of the driver and car at the site of the speeding camera. but it wasn't my man, and it wasn't me. and the date and time read 3 hours after he delivered the car back to the rental agency. AHA! but..how dumb for the rental place to tell the police the car was in our hands when it was not! anyway, that explains the gas spent. now my man just has to say, "look at the photo of the driver and the time. not me!" how perfect is that? well, i guess we'll see how it hashes out...

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Oh lord...Don't even get me started on renters! Arrggghhh!! LOL

Part of the reason I get so mad is because I was like the model renter...Maintained the property, fixed what I could on my own, never destroyed anything and paid my rent on time. And now people act like they are doing YOU the favor of living in your house. I don't think so!

BTW...I didn't know if you ever check back after leaving a comment, but I wanted you to know that Mesa Verde now has a LOT of sites to visit that do not require climbing up and down steps. I don't even think they do ladders anymore because of the safety issues. So if you ever want to take a road trip up this way...It's an awesome place to go. Bring the horses...Cortez has a super nice facility with pens and stalls, an outdoor and an indoor arena and hook-ups for campers/trailers. :-)

Cheryl Ann said...

Aren't property "managers" supposed to MANAGE one's property? It doesn't seem that hard...We have to replace our filters every MONTH here where we live...sand, dust, dogs, cats...

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Well, fortunately, the property manager did call me back after calling the renters first, and she decided after hearing both our stories that the renters will have to pay the bill and I will be reimbursed for the charge. It's only fair, right? People will always push until you push back, and once they realize you have boundaries, only then do they make an effort not to cross them again. But there has to be consequences that affect them, otherwise they will just keep on making selfish choices.

Laura Lee Evans said...

Bummer about the hay barn fiasco. Hope it doesn't cost too much to get it how you want it. Having a water tight, windproof barn to store lots of hay in would be a nice relief I'd think. Never know when hay prices might jump sky high!

And your renters, oh my goodness, I feel your pain. Property management companies aren't much better either.

Our rental house has been sitting vacant for nearly a year because I just don't want the headache. Seemed like every month there'd be SOMETHING wrong and they'd want discounts off the rent. The last thing was them flooding the basement --probably with their watering system on their grow operation-- and telling us the mildew it created was black mold and they needed all new furniture and dr bills paid. Eye roll. They were only there 5 months.

I gave them the vacate notice and they took us to court for not helping with their moving expenses. They didn't win of course but what a nightmare.