May 25, 2014 -

Cleaning the Larger Grainery

One of the many projects on my list for the weekend was cleaning out the larger grainery so that I can use it for storage. It was a good weekend for doing it as the weather was clement and C&C were out of town so I could borrow tools without inconveniencing them.

I did not bother doing the smaller grainery that will be a shed because it’s much too open. I won’t touch it until Charles has time to help me block the existing entrance, put in a new door, and we get a roof on it. The larger grainery has some access points, but is reasonably weather tight.

Before I started cleaning, I had to be able to walk around the grainery safely, which was hard to do as there were lots of wires holding heavy pieces of metal hanging from the walls and ceiling (which is where I confess that I have a nice bruise on my forehead from walking into one…). The wires were to keep the walls straight and true against the pressure of all the grain being stored.

Charles had thought to offer me bolt cutters, so I was able to deal with wires, a job that wasn’t too difficult on the ground where I had leverage, but was a little more perilous up a ladder. His bolt cutters are sharp!

Once the grainery was safe, the fun began.

Cleaning was tedious and had many steps. The first was dousing the entire structure in a bleach solution. This is because there was mouse poop everywhere and mouse poop carries the deadly hantavirus. I was advised by Charles, our local pest control officer, to wear a mask and gloves and to get rid of as much of the poop while it was wet as possible, seeing as the virus gets released into the when the waste is disturbed. The wetness holds it down.

Once the bleach was applied, using a handheld sprayer (picture below), I swept as much as I could and then I used my shop vac. I kicked myself at every stage for having forgotten to borrow C&C’s much larger one, but my one-gallon model was good for doing the top of the walls since I could lift it.

During this stage, I found two dead mice and at least two live ones. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate to put down mouse poison as it would be stupid to do all this work only to have mice move back in!

Next step was pressure washing, twice. Both times, I wound up with more huge piles of mouse poop on the floor, blasted from every nook and cranny! I knew that I was never going to get the place 100% clean, so after the second pressure washing, I did another pass with bleach on the ceiling, rafters, and walls.

Then, I shop vacced the floor, gave it a final pressure wash, and let it dry. Once dry, I swept and shop vacced again, then did a final pass with the bleach.

That done, I moved in some pallets on which to rest stuff, moved all the crap out of my yard into the building, draped a tarp over what I didn’t want to get wet as there was rain in the forecast for Saturday night, and added a lock to the door for show.

Whew!

When I went in the grainery this morning, it was nice and dry despite the overnight rain, and while I can’t say it smelled nice, it was definitely fresher in there!

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May 22, 2014 -

The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

Three summers ago, I started my transcription business. I could be considered a success in that it has grown steadily and I haven’t filed for bankruptcy yet. But it’s been a slog of mostly boring files and many, many clients who can’t understand why a transcriptionist deserves to be paid a living wage.

This winter, I knew I was cresting. I had a solid portfolio of reliable clients, mounds of experience, but the income I was making wasn’t commensurate with the amount of work I was doing. It was time to get really serious about finding better paying clients or give up and get a J-O-B. I’d put in too much effort to start over and I love having freedom over my schedule, so off I went in search of better paying clients.

Tired of general transcription, doing business webinars and the like, I knew that I wanted to do legal transcription, trials, police interviews, etc. However it’s a field that is hard to get into if you’re not already involved in the legal world. Thankfully, I’ve steadily gained verifiable legal transcription experience, enough to sell myself as being an experienced legal transcriptionist.

So I started cold emailing firms that do legal transcription. I especially wanted to do law enforcement work, typing up witness and accused interviews and statements, more than doing trials. I also really wanted a Canadian client so I could work in familiar jurisdictions and see how the Law works on this side of the border.

I got a few replies, most being from people looking for a slave. I continued.

And then, without fanfare, I won the freelance lottery jackpot.

I am now subcontracting for a Canadian firm that does the transcripts for several major police services in a particular province, as well as a number of RCMP detachments.  I’m still very much at the beginning/probation stage, but the company owner is confident that I will be a good match for the company and already has me booked for the next two weeks.

Like another client I picked up in the fall, this company schedules a week at a time. With two such steady clients, my days of sitting around waiting for work are done. I can see my week at a glance and fit in personal things much more easily. I have a few other clients who surprise me with small projects and that income will now be a bonus, not part of my main income stream.

So I finally have the work I’ve been hoping to get and a measure of certainty in my schedule and budget. That should be enough, right?

Well, there’s the cherry on the proverbial sundae. This company pays professional rates, rates that are going to change my life.

I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead learning the ropes of my new contract, but doing so in six-hour days, five days a week, after a winter of 50-hour plus weeks, with plenty of time (and sufficient funds) for Haven projects that will get me away from the computer, this steep learning curve sounds like a pleasant distraction more than a chore.

To paraphrase myself:

Building a business takes time and patience and ambition and determination. Gazing out at my beloved Prairies, I smile and know that it is worth the effort.

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May 21, 2014 -

Rethinking the Boardwalk

Last year, I used pallets to make a boardwalk from the door of the RV to the truck. I intended to do the same thing this year, but soon realised that it was a waste of yard space.

I couldn’t figure out a cozy corner for my friend L’s Marshmallow and then clued in that if I removed the pallets, smoothed out the gravel in front of Miranda, and trimmed some sucker growth, I could have a really nice landing spot for smaller RVs (I have room on grass for bigger ones!). It would also be pretty much the spot where L parked last year, which he found very satisfactory.

So between work spurts today, I hauled and raked gravel to make a level surface along the back of the passenger side of the RV and then hauled the super heavy pallets with almost no space between the boards to make a deck.

I think I earned the biscuits and stew I have prepared for dinner. 🙂

 

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