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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Due Date: 2/20/12

Some exciting news!  Amy and I are expecting our second child, a baby boy, with a due date of Feb. 20, 2012.  We have just entered the third trimester and Amy is doing well.

The exciting part about baby #2 is that Ayla is very fascinated, curious and excited for the arrival of her baby brother.  Almost daily she asks Amy if, "Mommy's baby can come out now?"  It is pretty cute to see her start to love on her baby dolls and be their mommy.  For instance, she takes her milk cup and feeds it to her baby.

Exciting times at the Edge!  :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wait...there's an inside to the house?!

April 2011
I have spent so much time on the blog discussing the outside of our acreage, but hardly any space has been devoted to this.  This must change.

As you can see in this April picture, our house has two levels.  The bottom level has two bedrooms and the top level has three.  We currently use the bottom two bedrooms but when the kids can do the stairs they will go upstairs. 

The girls working hard!
Adjacent to the master bedroom is an office space.  Today, Amy finally got her quilting bug again and we set her up in the office.  Ayla has a vanity from her great grandmother that is in the office (for now).  We also have a desk in there.  We are all excited to have a workspace in the office.  I took a picture of the girls working hard at their respective workspaces.  Amy is quilting and Ayla is coloring.  This room might be the most modern of all our rooms as it constitutes the latest addition to the home and has electrical outlets on each wall.  Two bedrooms upstairs have zero!

Painted by Daddy 11/25/11
Lastly, I have included a picture of a framed painting on Ayla's vanity.  You can't see it in the above picture but it is there.  I just painted it yesterday while Ayla and I were having some fun and I decided to frame it.  Probably a little selfish but for some reason I was proud of it and she liked it, so we went with it! 


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Donkeys

In the first of my return posts, I need to inform you all about a significant addition to our alpaca herd.  Donkeys.

In fact, we added two donkeys.  This story is quite a doozy.  :)

Where we live, when the moon comes out it is not uncommon to hear coyotes in the distance.  Way distant, but audible nonetheless.  Our two alpacas, Buzz and Phantom, are wimps and run when anyone or anything gets near them.  Although we have a great fence around them, the reality of hungry coyotes getting in the fence did exist, but the likelihood was small.

Upon further research we learned that donkeys are coyote-killers.  Females especially.  A female donkey will protect her "children" which could be anyone she has imprinted on (ie. alpacas).  Our search for a female miniature donkey was on!  Craigslist produced a hit right a way, but the owner insisted she be sold with her best pal, who is a gelded male.  Of course, Amy convinced me real quick the importance of having them both.

So we welcomed Minnie and Buck into the fold and they have been with us over two months.  In the picture with Ayla you see Buck, who is mostly gray.  Minnie is much more photogenic as she is white with brown spots.  I don't have a great picture of her, so Buck will have to do. 

Minnie is definitely the "alpha" between the two.  She is no-nonsense, pushy and a little rude.  She has no qualms putting anyone in their place, except for me of course.  The alpacas especially dread her and she will nudge them away from food she wants.  Buck is more gentle and is OK with Ayla on his back.  He makes more noise though.  If I were to walk outside right now, he would great me with an angelic "hee-haw" and wonder why I don't come feed him and say hello.

Either way, they add a lot to our little plot, even if they are mostly around for security purposes!  :)

Return to the Edge!

I guess people liked my blog.

People have been bugging me to start blogging again...so I'll give the people what they want.

Why did I stop?  As a teacher, it was easy to get lost in blogging over the summertime but between working a summer job and the school year starting up at the end of July, I simply didn't make time for blogging.

Finally I got another reminder about the Edge and I thought perhaps the time is right again now that the school year is churning and I have more time than I did before. 

But....what do I write about?!  I had ideas galore in the summer, especially during the discovery period of living out here on the Edge.  I think the blog was my comfort tool, it was my security blanket for living out here.  If you read my initial post, when I share my inner-most fears of living out here, and compare those thoughts with my current feelings, they would not relate.  Truth is, I have figured it out and things are OK out here.

I will share some new happenings here in coming posts, including some new additions (teaser alert!) I hope to eventually gain some trust in my readership again.  Thanks!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Alpacas....the trick is keeping them cool...

Keep them cool, but they're livestock! Is what you are thinking after reading the title.  Too true, they are livestock, but not in the traditional sense.  These creatures are pretty new the United States, having been brought over from Peru during the late 80s until 1998. 

Alpacas naturally dwell in the cool Andean mountains.  They are not accustomed to the Nebraska heat-fest that is July.

So how do you keep them cool?  Amy has been opening her bag of tricks (the internet and books) and has devised two neat-o methods of cooling:

-Using 175 feet of hose she tied a garden rod to the fence post and set it on 'mist'.  The Alpacas can mist during the times of the day.  We are trying to keep their fiber nice so we can't dunk them in water, thus a nice mist gives them a break from the heat.

-Running over 100 feet of extension chord from the barn she connected a fan into the enclosure.  We found some old carpet remnant upstairs, soaked it, and combine that with the fan the alpacas have somewhere nice and cool to lay for a while.  I don't think they have figured it out yet, but this option is fairly new.

Other updates: the boys are starting to lower their guard and will get pretty close to us.  When food is brought they almost let us touch them!  In the corner of our fence that we share with the neighbors they have befriended some miniature cows.  The four of them are always "talking over the fence"...I wonder what they are talking about...?

More later!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Five Tuesday #4

Every Tuesday we will post a Top 5 list.  The content of these lists may or may not relate to the typical blog content.  The list won't necessarily adhere to the Top 5 in order of "best to worst".  We hope this will become a mainstay here on the blog and that people enjoy it!

This week's Top '7' List
As we near the release date of the final Harry Potter movie, "The Deathly Hallows Part 2", let's take a look back and give the previous seven movies a proper ranking.  We will go David Letterman style of this one, counting down to our favorite (warning: there are bound to be many disputes, so feel free to post your heated debate in the comments section!)


7.  The Order of Phoenix (2007).
 Although the actors are growing up and a new director (David Yates) enters the game, this movie lacks far to much for it to be considered very good.  First off, it is boring.  


Really.


Boring.

Second of all, it leaves a lot of the book out of the equation and did I mention it is boring?  The soundtrack is also the least exciting and it is boring.  Obviously the worst one.


6. The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).


People either love this one or they hate it.  I do not care for it.  It is also pretty boring and gets to dark to fast.  I understand that this is a dark series, but the third one still should have one foot in the 'cute' door and it doesn't.  Even the few times they are outside, in what should be a pleasant environment, it seems overcast and blah.  


The director, Alfonso Cuaron, brings forth a different feel from the first two.  Yes, we'd all agree that previous director, Christopher Columbus, makes the serious very cute and child-like, but isn't that what the first two were supposed to be?  When you compare those child-like fairy tales to the dark and spooky Cuaron version it just doesn't work.  


Also, this is John Williams final soundtrack of the HP series and also his worst.  Develop some themes, please.
5. The Chamber of Secrets (2002).


 Cute, but with a mysterious story to it.  You can still tell, as in the first one, that the child-actors are getting loads of feedback from the directors at this point and many things seem forced.  Yet at the same time, these youngsters put together a nice story and make us want to come back for more.


The problems with this film, however, centered around the Gilderoy Lockhart character.  He drags down this picture and makes it go boom.  The book is far more intricate and exciting and the soundtrack is just OK.  And Dobby...


 One thing I did like: any time spent in Diagon Alley is considered a good time to me, I can not get enough of that place!


4. The Sorcerer's Stone (2001).


 If this were Amy's list, she would place this at number one.  She cites the innocence, the more sunny-esque ideals, and just the general newness of magic and wizarding is intriguing enough.  The Quidditch scene is considering to be as exciting as the 1999 "Phantom Menance" race scene and is exciting.


Watching this movie today in 2011 feels much older than 10 years, the movie looks much older and the CGI reflects that as well.  The soundtrack is better, but that is attributed to the newness.  


It is fun to watch, but I would be curious how many changes would be made if Christopher Columbus were not the director...


3. The Deathly Hallows pt. 1 (2010).


Great set up for the final movie.  The only reason you can't rate it higher is because it can't stand on it's own as it is only half the tale.  The actors are at their best and more of the story is explored.  Can't wait for the finale.






2. The Half-Blood Prince (2009).


David Yates bounces back after the lack-luster "Order of the Phoenix" and delivers a real gem with "Half-Blood".  A well told story that you finally feel the cast is ready to deliver.  The only thing missing, in my opinion, is the cool storyline from the beginning of the book.  You know, where the prime minister is warned about the coming events.  So cool, but missing.


1. The Goblet of Fire (2005).


Fine, I get it, you hate their hair.  Have you ever seen 14 year old boys that don't have similar hair styles?  Nope.  Getting past that, this is the best of the 7 Potter movies.  


Why?  For me it is because it is the only one that I can happily watch over and over again.  The action, adventure, mystery, spells are all working for me.  Why did director Mike Newell not just finish the series out???


It is fair to say, however, that 'Goblet' could be surpassed by 'Hallows'.  I am excited to see the conclusion!


OK, did I get it right?  Am I an idiot?  Lemme know!

The Alpacas are here!

They're here, they're here! 

First off, sorry for the absence, friends.  I have been busy getting ready for the alpaca, visiting family, and watching as many Harry Potter films as possible since last Thursday (we are currently watching the Order of the Phoenix).

Last Thursday, with the help of Amy's uncle, we put up a new fence on our 450 sq ft pasture.  The picture you see to the left includes that new fence.  It used to be barb wire, however, that is not safe for these curious camelids.  We changed it to the wire fence.

The boys are now officially home.  We will keep Phantom's name and have decided to name the youngster Buzz (OK, Ayla named him after her favorite Toy Story character).  Phantom was born on 5/31/09 and Buzz is unofficially listed as 'Summer 2010'.  So far, they are quite spooked in their new home.

They came from a herd of over 15 alpaca, in an enclosure that was primarily dirt and have moved to a large, grassy area where they are alone.  It will take some adjusting, but they are already making do with the new digs.  Not surprisingly, Buzz has taken the role of 'beta' and Phantom has take the role of 'alpha'.  Buzz will follow Phantom around the enclosure and lay down next to him.  This is an encouraging sign that these two intact males will get along.

So far it is a big day for the boys, but I think they will be fine.  We are working on getting some hay bales and I am planning a 3-sided lean-to for them to have shelter under.

Hooray!!!  They are here!
Buzz on the left, Phantom (with mask) on right


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to my lovely bride of four years. Like many others around the world on 7/7/07 at 7:00pm we were wed in Overland Park, KS. Amy is my everything. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A special thanks to Aunt Betsy!

Last week, avid readers, you may remember the day that a big branch came down in our lawn. Using a hatchet and a little saw I was able to hack it apart. This process only took me three hours.

Well, on our doorstep this morning was an odd-package from Amazon. I looked at Amy (as it was addressed to her) and asked her what she ordered (Secretly hoping for an amazing anniversary gift). She informed me that she had no idea. Upon opening the package a chainsaw sat inside!!! A note inside from Amy's Aunt Betsy: "Happy sawing. You can't live in the wilderness without one. ~Betsy".

So, this post will hopefully suffice as a thank you to Aunt Betsy! I am excited to give it a try (although I am not overly excited for another branch to fall). I will included some pictures of the saw for those of you who are curious later...

Thank you again! - Rob, Amy and Ayla
(Also, happy birthday Betsy!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top 5 Tuesday #3

Every Tuesday we will post a Top 5 list.  The content of these lists may or may not relate to the typical blog content.  The list won't necessarily adhere to the Top 5 in order of "best to worst".  We hope this will become a mainstay here on the blog and that people enjoy it!

This week's Top 5 List
What are Ayla's favorite words?  
Let's get inside the mind of this precocious two year old 
and find out Ayla's Top Five words!

1.  Gully-gully-gully-gully _____.  Using a fun tongue-in-mouth babble, Ayla will accompany a variety of the word “gully” with a name from her arsenal of family or friends.  For instance, if she says, “Gully, gully, gully, gully, Daddy.”  Then she wants something from, or to do something with, or she is bringing something too, Daddy.  This has been fun and cute, but sometimes difficult to understand.

2.  Oooh, Aahhh.  This was created just last night (July 4) as Amy used these words to describe the excitement Ayla should have for fireworks.  Then it became known as simply “fireworks”.  All day, she has been 'gullying' for fireworks.  (She was scared/excited while watching them yesterday evening).

3.  Aha.  Ayla learned long ago that monkeys say “ooh, ooh, aha”.  She also happens to love going to zoos where the only monkeys she knows of dwell.  Combine this information and you get the word Aha for zoo.  So, whenever we go to the zoo, we are actually going to the Aha.

4.  Doo-Doo.   It’s not what you think it means :) ... Amy’s brother is Andrew.  We realized long ago that the name Uncle Andrew would be tricky to say for a baby so we encouraged Doo-Doo.  Not only does Ayla call her that, but we all do.  It is especially funny when we call him Doo-Doo in public.

5.  Woo-Woo.  This is perhaps the most obvious one.  Woo-Woo is fairly universal for train amongst little kids and Ayla is no exception to this.  Everytime we drive into Lincoln we usually see around 30 trains, so we hear quite a few Woo-Woos in a given week.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!!!

Happy 4th of July, the Edge hopes you have a great holiday.  As Apu would say, "celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it".





Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garage....or maybe more?

 On the sidebar of this very blog you see picture of the both the barn and the house.  We know the barn was built in 1889 and our we fairly certain the house was built in 1903.  To me this time differential doesn't make sense.  Why would the homesteaders build the barn 14 years before the house?  That seems backward.

The answer might be right under our noses: the garage.  Old hardwood floors, a cellar door, and chimney.  This was likely the homesteaders original one-room house.  Wood was, as it is now, expensive and Nebraska in 1889 was not covered with trees so they had to save up and wait to build the house we live in now.  Cool, huh?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Phantom Obstacle #2 - - The Barn

Sure, we have a nice 121 year old barn.  But, as you have read in spelunking posts #1 and #2, you know that this barn is not quite ready for animals just yet, especially alpacas.  A lot has to be done.

The north section of the barn is devoted to the alpacas, the central portion will be for the future chickens.  Sometime over the past 121 years this was likely a popular place to house horses.  There is a nice trough in the back of the area and plenty of room for the bigger animals.  Alpacas are much smaller than horses and should live in this space without problem.

The next obstacle is to connect the fenced in pasture area, but we have a plan!
See the gate on the left and the door on the right?  Now imagine a fence connecting the two.
This is the plan.
We have until Thursday!

B1G !!!

The University of Nebraska officially joins the Big Ten today!  Hooray for this amazing day!  Out with the old, in with the new.  Time to turn a new leaf.  No more Texas and Missouri or Colorado.  We will miss thee, Oklahoma and your classy fans.  No more close and easy drives (drat).  Bring on tradition, stability and universities who are like-minded.  Go Big Red!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: 7 reasons why you should read "The Bucolic Plague"

 
"The Bucolic Plague" by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

1. This is an easy-to-read book that makes it's 300 pages look simple.  Heck, I finished it in 8 days!
2.  It is funny and you can almost guarantee a laugh in each chapter.
3.  What stories are better than start-up your own business kinds? 
4.  The book outlines a relationship that grows more tumultuous over time and it doesn't always present the "Happily Ever After" manta throughout.
5.  As the author points out many times, life is a dichotomy between the 'Oprah' way to life and 'Martha Stewart's'.
6.  If you order online through Beekman 1802 you can get a personalized, autographed copy.
7.  Zombie flies, haunted mansions, a herd of goats, and the undying yearn to define the word Bucolic.

This is a must read, I encourage you to give it a try!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alpaca Visit = Success!

Today we made a twenty minute drive to Raymond, NE and met a nice family who is selling the two male alpacas we are interested in: Phantom and _________.  The man from Craigslist (we named him Craig) was very nice and was incredibly helpful with answering our many questions.  The thing I liked the best about this family is they are just three years ahead of us, so to speak.  They moved out of the city to the country and although they work in Lincoln, they use their land.  Including the 15 alpaca they had, they had 3 miniature donkey and 26 chickens.  We even purchased a dozen eggs! 

Phantom is a 2 year old male and has a mask on his face, which makes him pretty unique.  _______ is the youngest and is around a year old.  While I was trying to take pictures of him he would hide behind the females.  He is small and brown with very hair legs.  He does have a name but Craig didn't know it off the top of his head.  He said we could rename them, but I think we'll keep Phantom.

Any suggestions for naming the little guy?  The front-runners include Raul (from Phantom of the Opera), Buzz (Ayla's favorite Toy Story character) or maybe Tate.  We will likely pick them up on July 7 (our 4 year anniversary!).

Phantom
Buzz? Tate? Have any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 5 Tuesday #2

Every Tuesday we will post a Top 5 list.  The content of these lists may or may not relate to the typical blog content.  The list won't necessarily adhere to the Top 5 in order of "best to worst".  We hope this will become a mainstay here on the blog and that people enjoy it!

This week's Top 5 List
The best television shows to debut between 1994-2005.
 We will go David Letterman style on this post working our way from #5-1.
5. "THE OFFICE" (2005- )  Michael Scott, Dwight, Jim, Pam, Jim+Pam, Nard-dog, and many more.  Although it may be losing relevancy as Steve Carrell has left the show, very few would argue that it definitely helped define the last six years of pop culture (how many "That's what she said" jokes have you heard/made since 2005?)  It is a great show and I hope the next season is strong despite there being no Michael Scott.

4. "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT" (2003-2006)
This one was tough to place #4 behind HIMYM, the reasoning has to do with longevity which is directly related to mass popularity.  Although maybe that statement is irrelevant as the show has gained more of a fan base since cancellation.  In fact, it is confirmed that in 2012 they are making a movie that hopefully gives the show a better conclusion.

3. "HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" (2005- )
Still on TV, this show's clever premise centers around New York City architect Ted Mosby telling the story of how he met his wife to his children in the year 2030.  He is surrounded by an awesome cast that includes Jason Segel as Marshall, Alison Hannigan as Lily, Cobie Smulders as Robin and everyone's favorite Neil Patrick Harris as Barney.  It is a must see and never ceases to amaze with it's clever story telling techniques!

2. "FRIENDS" (1994-2004)
"I'll be there for you, because you're there for me too...!" Awesome cast, awesome show, great humor.  This will stand the test of time and clearly is on any sane person's top 5.  I don't need to say much else, the show fends for itself without the use of any words on my end.



1. "LOST" (2004-2010)
"We either live together or we're gonna die alone"
"Waaaaaalt"
"4,8,15,16,23,42"
"Are you a man of science or a man of faith?"

...And we are just scratching the surface.  ABC's hit drama deceptively tells the story of how plane-crash survivors must learn to co-exist on a mysterious island, but all along there is a much grander scheme going on.  Any Lostie knows that trying to explain this show to a Neo-Lostie requires hours of time so the best advice I can give to anyone unfamiliar with the show is watch it: NOW.  Buy the DVDs (Blu-rays), hulu, whatever you need to do, you do not want to miss out on this amazing television phenomenon.  

Agree with this list?  Did we forget any shows?  There are so many possibilities!

Alpaca Update

Amy and I were going to meet Phantom and ______ yesterday with Craig, but Craig wrote us an email explaining that the Sunday night storm flooded his land and he needed some time to get everything back on track.  So, Wednesday morning we are going to meet them.  Thanks for the questions about it!

Up next: Top 5 Tuesday
(lancastersedge@hotmail.com)

Monday, June 27, 2011

4 ways to spend 3 hours

That storm last night blew these branches down!

1. Play a board game
2. Go on a romantic stroll alongside the corn
3. Watch television
4. Using "city boy" tools, hack at a massive tree limb that fell by the barn sometime during last night's storm (see the 'We're Stupid' post for more information).

If you selected option 4, then you have made the same choice I did Monday afternoon.  It was a long and arduous process, but in the end I hacked the tree to bits.  I did leave with a sense of accomplishment, but also some sore forearm muscles.  All using a hatchet and hand saw that was meant for the type of wood you buy at a lumber store.  Here are some pictures of my fun times.
    
These weak city boy tools got the job done!




   







I filled 5 carts full of branches!

We're Stupid.

All day Sunday the weather was weird.  All morning until around 2 in the afternoon it was a dreary and wet day.  There wasn't any rain, but the grayness of the clouds suggested rain was possible.  Around 2 in the afternoon everything had changed.  The sun came out and it was humid...really humid.  However, because it was so moderately tempered in the morning hours nearly all of our first floor windows remained open.

At 6 we left to go eat dinner with family and we left under sunny skies.  Since we live west of Lincoln, storms will naturally hit us before Lincoln, but we didn't see anything on the horizon nor did we check any weather stations or websites before we left for dinner.  Sure enough at 8:30 the rain gods unleashed a downpour that was so furious our deck furniture is not at the same position we left it in this morning.  And of course....

Our house was wet, very wet.  Any window that is facing the north or east side had plenty of water flood in.  The carpet is wet, the kitchen had a puddle that was over 6 feet wide and the amount of water that came in through the north windows seeped into the basement as you can see in the pictures.  All that can be said is....we're stupid.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

1000 visits in 2 weeks!

Dear Edge Fans,

  We are extremely pleased to announce that in less than two weeks over 1000 visitors have come to this blog.  We are pleased and humbled that so many care about us and our journey.  It is my hope that you are enjoying what you are reading and that you will be inspired to create more of a dialogue with us, especially if you have questions or ideas for posts.

  We are trying to grow a fan base and would appreciate you joining our facebook fan page or follow via your google account.  Also, the more exposure the better!  If you would be so kind to post an entry on your facebook page (there is a button on the bottom of each article) then new readers could come enjoy our adventures. 

  So whether you like A letter to the USDA, or an oldie but a goody: The Flies are dumber out here we hope you'll continue to check in on us and our fun times here on Lancaster's Edge.  Here's to the next 1000 visitors!

Rob, Amy and Ayla
lancastersedge@hotmail.com.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Barn Spelunking #2

On June 21, Amy and I rummaged through our 121 year old barn and found lots of excellent (and several non-so-excellent) goodies.  I promised there would be more, so here we are with a second addition of Spelunking.  There is so much stuff in this barn I would not be surprised if this has multiple entries following this one.  Above you can see an old milking cow pail.  The level of rust and breakdown suggest this pail is old and has not been recently used.




Another tool to add to my collection.  Here is a hammer, Amy is pretty sure it was used by farriers (those who put horseshoes on).  This is definitely "primitive" and was built here on this piece of property.  



 A dairy cow's bell?
Here I am holding the last strange object we will post about.  It looks similar to that of a small trident but with only two prongs.  So, it is a du-dent.  This dudent is what evil people or satanic creatures use while they are still in training...but it's probably something else.  Amy's guess is it belonged to a tractor at one point.  She's pretty smart so I'll go with that.

Not pictured:  two trash bags FULL of rusty nails, wires and other old metals as well as many bottles of unmarked glass containers and coffee cans.

Taxes...do we save more living outside of town?

In 2008 an article was published in the Lincoln Journal Star stating the sad, but incredibly obvious truth: Nebraska, Lancaster County property  taxes are among highest in nation!

"As an historically agricultural state, owning more land in Nebraska meant you would have more income and could afford to pay more taxes on that property", [state senator] Tom White said. "That direct correlation is no longer always true".

Too true.  As a one-income, teacher salary family, we agree.

This got me thinking.  By us moving to edge of the county, as opposed to being within city limits, are we spending less on taxes?  Let's look at some data:

According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue
Property Tax Rates in 2010 for living in Lancaster County - .27893900
Property Tax Rates in 2010 for living in the city of Lincoln- .30675800

Property Tax Rates in 2010 for living in Seward County     - .34688200  (our neighboring county)
Property Tax Rates in 2010 for living in Pleasant Dale      -  .40000000 (nearest municipality)

The rates are a little better in the country, but we own more land.  However, if you compare the .16 acres we owned at Sumner to the 5.61 we own here on the Edge we actually pay around $1,000 less per year on property tax...what a puzzle.

The answer is school districts.  It costs are lot more fund a large district like Lincoln Public Schools than it does Milford Public Schools.  LPS expects to collect around $168 million for the 2010-11 simply from property taxes.  I can't find the info for MPS, but I am positive it is much less.

We have already received other types of tax relief in our time here.  Lincoln imposes a $54-per-car Wheel Tax to keep roads maintained but if you don't live within city limits, you do not have to pay the tax.  That saved us $108 a month ago.  Some have fought this before in 2005, but to no avail.  We have had other perks.  If work or delivery is done on our county property, the tax rate is only 5.5% sales tax whereas in Lincoln it is 7%.

Do we ultimately save money living where we do?  No, not when you factor all the gas it takes to go to and fro...But there are, however, some tax reliefs for living here!



Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Overlooking a corn field to the south of the house:
video
This last week we have been surrounded by a beautiful light show.  This video may not do the spectacle the justice it deserves but it is fun either way!

A trip to Pleasant Dale Park

This summer I am getting to be one of my favorite things: a dad.  Yesterday I was browsing the interweb and I stumbled upon this little article on CNN.com.  I would highly encourage you to read it.  I consider myself to be a pretty good father, but this article makes you want to be the best dad you can be.  So, today Ayla (my daughter) and I made a trip to her favorite place: the Pleasant Dale park (or as we refer to it, the PDP).

The 2010 census reveals that Pleasant Dale has a population of 205 people.  There is not a lot going on in town.  The elementary school was shut down at the end of this school year (which is a huge bummer), the gas station is seeking a new owner, and I hear rumors that the restaurant/bar might not be doing great.  What does Pleasant Dale have going for it?  The park.

Rebuilt in 2009 the park is state of the art child entertainment.  There are two main parts to the park, the part that you climb and slide down, and the swings.  We spend an equal amount of time at both locales.  Ayla calls the park the 'Eeee' (mimicking the sound she makes as she goes down the slide).

Main part of the PDP (Pleasant Dale Park)
We love the horses.
We love the horses.  At Ayla's beckoning (and command) even Daddy gets to ride the horses.  There are three total: red, white and blue.  The Red is Ayla's, the white is Daddy's and the blue is Mommy's (again, Ayla has decided this).

Looks like a mirror.  It's not, it represents a choice.


Daddy always has to go down the slides with Ayla.
We climb everything.  Literally.
Tomorrow the Zoo and then swimming.  Now that I have earned my Master's degree, being a teacher in the summer is awesome!

1889 Fun Facts

Honoring the barn's birth year here are some 1889 Fun Facts for Friday.

Jan. 1     The year starts on a Tuesday
Jan. 15   Coca-Cola is incorporated in Atlanta, GA
Feb. 22  Four states added to Union: both Dakotas, Washington and Montana
Apr 16  American actor Charlie Chapman is born
Apr 20  German dictator Adolf Hitler is born
Mar 4    Benjamin Harrison becomes 23rd president of United States
May 6   Eiffel Tower opens in Paris
June 8  Wall Street Journal is established
Oct 8    Moulin Rouge opens in Paris
Nov 21 Gustav Mahler's first symphony, "The Titan" is premiered.
Dec 6   Jefferson Davis dies

Nothing interesting to note in Nebraska history that I can find in 1889.  The marching band at the University was founded in 1879 and the football program was founded in 1890.  Our barn is older than our state's most important commodity!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Phantom Obstacle #1 -- The Pasture

Sorry about the late post today!  Amy and I have been talking a lot about the possibility of owning alpacas and it is still up in the air.  I thought I would share what some of our obstacles are that are potentially limiting this purchase.

The first obstacle is where will Phantom and _________ dwell?  One answer is easy: we have a fenced in pasture in the northeast corner of our lot.  There they can scamper and graze and play and all the while be safe.  However, there are several problems with this space:

On one side is freshlymowed yard, the other side is weed-y pasture land
Problem #1. As you can see the pictures, it is very weed-y.
Solution: That can be corrected with some elbow grease, weeders and mowers.  Cost: nothing, just time and effort.  The process has already begun!

The pasture land.  The barn in the background is our neighbors.

Problem #2.  In this pasture, there is no shelter from the wind and rain.  Alpacas do not like wind or rain and require access to shelter to escape these elements.  We city-folk (I still am one!) naturally say, "well, you have a barn, just put them in that".  Correct, we do have a barn and they will live in the that, but the pasture and the barn are not connected and alpacas do not know how to open doors even if they were.
Solution: Within the pasture we need to build either a two or three wall lean-too.  It does not have to be very big but it does have to be big enough for two alpacas.  Cost: Unknown, but there will be a lot of raw materials involved and then the knowledge of building a lean-too.  Timeline: Needs to be up by Halloween (at the latest) as that is when it starts to get cold.

Old, nasty concrete.
3. As you can see in the third picture there is a lot of concrete remnant in our pasture area, a lot of the 'slabs' can not simply be picked up.  Clearly there was another building here at some point but it has been gone for some time.  No one ever bothered to clean out the space and now we are stuck with the problem.  The alpaca won't eat the concrete, but it is wasted space that could have been graze-able.  
Solution:  Again, more elbow grease and time.  Where are we going to put all the leftover concrete?  Well, a lot of it will sit in a pile behind the barn, however, we are using quite a bit of it to reinforce the foundation of our barn in the northeast corner.  Win-win!
The first haul of many.
There are other issues of owning alpacas that we will discuss, but this is obviously a pretty important one.  We have this space, and although it is not ready for animals it could be in the near future.

What do you think Edgers?  Should we take the 'paca-plunge?!