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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Dirty Job Done Again

One of the dirty jobs required each summer is cleaning the chimney, wind cap and wood stove. It is one of those jobs that I put off until I have worked up my courage to climb up the ladder 30+ feet to take the wind cap off. Since our house is A Frame construction that is almost a vertical climb. I wear a safety harness but none the less I can't attach the safety rope to the top of the ladder until I get to the top. Then I have to turn around facing out to reach the wind cap and there is nothing in front of me except air and my heels hooked on the ladder rung. I always give a sign of relief when I make that climb and the wind cap having been cleaned is back up and in place.

 I can do the remainder of the cleaning from the ground but that climb is daunting to say the least. I've been doing it for 17 years so I have to guard from being over confident. The photo above is scaling the soot and creosote from the inside of the wind cap. Then I also have to run a wire brush up through the chimney from below to clean the chimney. Clean the wood stove which collects a lot of ash in its tight  spaces and put everything back together again.

It is always a relief to have this 2-3 hour job done each year because no matter how careful you are it is a dirty job. Now it won't be required again until next year. Whew!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nesting Fly Catchers

 Each year a family of fly catchers nests at our home. Some years they nest on top of the electrical box, other years in other places. This year they built their nest under our deck. We have watched the mom fly catcher sit on her three tiny eggs until they hatched and then watched the helpless little birds be fed by the mom and dad. The last couple days they have become too large to fit comfortably in the nest but they still hung in the nest.

Over the years we have observed their behavior and how scary it is for the young ones to actually take flight. Shortly after I took these photos two of the birds took off on their own leaving the third one in the nest by itself. It is hard for them to leave the protection of that nest and the closeness of their brothers and sisters and being cared for by the adults. It seems each year mom fly catcher lays three eggs and her hatch rate has been perfect so far. We have watched this process happen year after year.

For about 2-3 weeks the adults feed those babies until they have developed fully and are ready to be on their own and experience the freedom of flying and fending for themselves. We have also noted that once they leave the nest that mom spends a little time with them teaching them how to catch their own food since they have been fed up until this point. Watching them take flight for the first time is interesting. They initially appear dumbfounded with their new freedom and just sit and wonder how that happened. Pretty soon they are free from the restraint of the nest and forge into the great unknown flying from tree to tree in search of food.

We have also noticed when they are ready to leave the nest that they crowd each other tightly in the nest and that mom quits feeding them as often and tapers off feeding them altogether. Soon they are hungry and that serves as additional motivation for them to leave the nest. Once out of the nest mom gives them the final lesson needed and they are on their own catching their own food. It seems to me that this is repeated over each year exactly the same. It makes us realize just how perfect nature really is and that we can learn a lot simply by watching and observing. One of those lessons is that when they have finally taken flight, received their advanced education they do not return to the nest. They either make it on their own or they fail. Mother fly catcher has given them all she can and the rest is fully up to them. While it may seem heartless it is actually the most loving gesture that a mom can give her offspring. They end up experiencing the true freedom of life without restraint and their wings carry them through the future.

Many of us humans raise and nurture our young, send them off for advanced training, then they come home again and sometimes stay for very long times. Maybe we should observe the fly catcher and other birds and take a lesson from them. Adult children who are dependent on their parents never truly experience the freedoms of life they are meant to experience. I'm sure those little fly catchers will make mistakes and some may be serious mistakes but they also are living true freedom once they depart from the nest. Dependence is good when you need it but can cripple you when you don't. Lessons to be learned from our feathered friends.

The Value Of Listening by Sakoieta'

One of the best lessons I learned many years ago was the value of silence and listening. Really listening to someone. It was not half listening so I would know how I was going to respond, but seriously getting my mind into the mindset of the speaker I was listening to so I could, if I had to, very respectfully ask for clarification of something they had said so I would not be misunderstanding their words, or intent and not so I would be able to respond with my thoughts. It was listening without even thinking of speaking. It is very seldom that I run into people anymore who really take the time to listen. Most people want to be heard and need to be heard in some cases very much. But we also need to learn again to listen so we get the full meaning of what is being really spoken by the words being used, the tone of the words and the body language that goes along with it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What Goes Around Comes Around by Sakoieta'

Everything is in a circle. Whatever we set in motion comes back and often can shock us with how quick it can return and the impact it can have. It causes us to be careful with what we invest our time and energy into. Even a word, time, actions or other things, even a dollar must be "invested" or spoken carefully and in the right spirit because the investment will return to us. Such things teach us to stop and think, to consider these things. I have found and experienced that when I have had material needs, a single dollar that I gave to help someone out in their time of need has often returned from unexplainable sources and in a multiplied fashion, sometimes many years later. Everyday even the way we treat people with kindness is an investment and though at times it may seem wasted or insignificant, when we have really need it, it returns to us as well and we learn how important it is to keep living in, and "being" in a good way.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Changed Life

Has a single event or item ever changed your life? Put a thought in your mind that grew and grew until it became a reality? Check out the latest blog in Mother Earth News about how it changed my life and landed us where we are today. I can even remember where I bought that initial edition - Woolworth store off Lee Road, Orlando, Fla.
Sometimes you read something or someone tells you something that sparks an idea or has an impact on you. Read about it at:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life Choices - by Sakoieta'

Life is full of choices we all make. Some we make too fast without really taking the time to see the good and the bad consequences that may occur because of our choice. There are many things that come to us that were dressed in bright colors or fancy words. We chose and then later regretted our choice. We sighed, we cried, got angry, and saw that it was only something we had chosen that had no substance. Time, thankfully, teaches us wisdom and hopefully we learn not to make the same mistakes more than once. In the end it still comes down to the basic freedom we have to choose. We need to always try to choose wisely. Often it is not an easy path we have chosen, may not be easy to walk and may even at times be impossible.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Why We Like The German Shepherd Dog Breed

Saying we like and prefer German Shepherd Dogs does not mean in any way we don't like other breeds or the mutt. German Shepherds are large dogs that sometimes intimidate people due to their attitude, appearance and behavior. They often seem aloof or suspicious towards strangers or other dogs but in reality that stems from their high degree of intelligence. They look and evaluate before moving forward. To sum up a German Shepherd in one word it is intelligence. They constantly amaze people with their intelligence. they are so intelligent that they can problem solve.

They are devoted and extremely loyal. They are often used for police, military and guard duty. They make excellent family companions and unless trained otherwise they are friendly, gentle, and loving. they are good around children but can be protective and because of size can bump small children down. They are currently number three on the AKC most popular breed list. I have personally loved the breed since I was a newspaper carrier at age 12. They were the only dog who would not chase me on my bike.

Our three all have totally different personalities. Bozwell is contemplative and solves problems. His intelligence is so great that we often have to be careful what we talk about as he has a vocabulary equal to an 8-9 y/o child. Sarah is more with drawn and shy. She loves attention but only if she is ready for it. She is very cautious but also highly intelligent with a large vocabulary. Many dogs understand a single command like sit, stay, down, come etc. Sarah along with our other two understand more complex requests in the form of a sentence or series of sentences. Echo is reserved and a follower. He will wait and evaluate before he engages in an activity. He almost turns himself inside out to please us and has never failed to do so.

German Shepherds seem to be believed to be barkers. Not ours. The ones which bark seem to be the ones trained for police work, military use or lack basic training altogether. Ours are very alert and let us know if anything is around but do not bark more than one or two barks to make sure we know something is amiss so we can investigate.

That pretty well sums up why we love the breed and more specifically our three. It is hard to imagine life without them. Most people underestimate their intelligence and therefore lose a great deal of companionship. We talk to our three all the time and they hear and comprehend what is being said. If a normal dog knows 150 words a German Shepherd is capable of learning 1000. An average dog may fetch their bone but a German Shepherd would relate better to "Where is your bone? Why don't you go find it and bring it here".

German Shepherds are fearless and will easily sacrifice themselves for you. If challenged they will not back down. They also do not like rough treatment. When the census taker came around he ask if he could come in and sit down to write. I told him we had three large dogs so he could come in but not to pay attention to them until I told him it was okay (they look and evaluate). He sat on the couch arm and when Bozwell did come up to him he ;unexpectedly grabbed him by the muzzle. Bozwell backed away and I told him not to do that again. Well it happened again and I told him more forcefully once again to not do that. What do you know but he did it again and this time Bozwell took matters into his own mouth so to speak. He grabbed his arm (he had on a winter coat) and without bruise, tearing cloth or breaking the skin he held his arm firmly with adequate pressure. 750 lbs per square inch can get peoples attention. He then let the guy go on command and the census taker commented that he now saw what I meant by not grabbing him by the muzzle. Lesson learned, but his next lesson if Boz didn't correct him would be me throwing him off the deck for rudeness and plain stupidity. I'm not sure why he didn't think my telling him not to do something was insufficient in the first place.

German Shepherds are great problem solvers and very gently for their size providing you do not get rough with them. Ours have never had rough treatment or harsh words. As a result they are gentle, loving and excellent family members. We just have to be careful what we say because they understand far more than most people would believe. Yelling or harsh words is probably the worst thing you can do as they react to that fearfully. They are a breed worth considering if you want and can deal with a highly intelligent canine.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Special Relationships

We have a special relationship with some of our wildlife. When we first moved here a doe we called Daisy came around with her two fawns and took a liking to us. Then the fawns came back a few years later and one male would walk right up to me without any fear or hesitation. That was Junior. Junior lived to old age and didn't come back one year so we assume he died. Now his younger sister by several years also an off spring of Daisy comes around and will get within a few feet of us.

We don't know who Juniors or his sisters dad was but we strongly suspect he may have been a traveling man. We also have a female black bear that would raise and train her cubs at our house. When we see a bear now we often wonder if it is one of her cubs. Contrary to what is in the media and other sources we have found the bears to be very good neighbors. Far more respectful than most of the two legged kind that lives here in this little paradise.

We enjoy living with our wild neighbors and having them accept us as part of their environment. Check out our latest blog for Mother Earth News at: It is all about Junior and our experiences together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Daisy's Daughter

 I have often spoken of Daisy who was Juniors mother and while they are now passed on, this is Daisy's daughter. She recognizes my voice and who we are and shows no fear what so ever. She was only a few feet away browsing on the lush vegetation over the septic tank drain field. When I went out to get Carol some garbage bags to carry the laundry home in from the laundry mat in Alamosa this sweet girl just kept on eating not 8' away while I went in and out the gate. When Carol went down to get the Jeep to leave for town she glanced up but did not cease eating. Amazing when deer trust you enough to let you within a few feet of them...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Birds Are Nesting

 Above is a fly catcher that can put a serious dent in our fly population. Ever since we have lived here a family of fly catchers has nested somewhere on our house. This year is under the front deck and we are eagerly waiting those three tiny eggs to hatch. Those babies will be hungry and keep mom and dad busy depleting our current abundant fly population. These birds are so agile that they can take a fly in full flight.

 They need to get with the program though as we have half a dozen wren (above) families nested in the bird houses put out for them. We also have a couple families of western tanagers (below) near the house also. Those fly catchers are going to have to compete with all the other birds gobbling up insects.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mountain Beauty

 Above and below is today's sun rise.  Great way to start out the day.

 Columbine are in bloom now and we see them all over our property.

 Wild rose grows just about everywhere on our property and sure smell good.
 Pretty little yellow flowers which I couldn't pass up.
More wild rose.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Bruce brought this beautiful bouquet to me when he came home from Alamosa yesterday....

Seeing The Invisible: by Sakioeta'

There are many things in this life that we get to see, touch, hear and taste and as such we truly know it exists. We also need to remember though that just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We just don’t see it and so it is hard to believe it might exist. What we cannot see we often don’t understand. I have found this often with the things that pertain to the Spiritual world. Unless it becomes evident to where people get to see it in action or doing it’s work they often do not truly understand it or accept it as being real. It usually takes an event that "opens" their eyes that gets them to finally begin to "see". They suddenly begin to understand what they have never believed in before. Too many others never understand it because we fight the idea, trying to avoid believing in something only to have it suddenly become obvious. We are spirit encased in a vessel, we call our body, to carry us on our travels while we live on the Earth. To some knowledge of that may be the starting point of belief.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Colorado wild flowers.........

Focus by Sakoieta'

I was taught that when we do things we should always try to do things with little or no chance of distractions affecting us during the process. In other words learning to focus. Paying full attention to something should be like using a powerful camera that automatically adjusts the light setting and picture style for the most potent outcome. Inattention or not being able to focus is like sleeping on the job and the camera then produces a fuzzy or out of focus image. So what do we want? To continually have our work produce fuzzy images that are still a bit identifiable and still allows us to get by for a time or sharp clear images that show our work at it’s best. Someone may claim they are an excellent "photographer". They may have the right personality, the right look, the right smile and the right lingo to make you believe them. This may work for a time but eventually we get to the substance and if the substance doesn’t measure up to the hype we see that the hype was also deceiving not only to others but also to themselves. Give the things you do your full attention and focus. Give it substance, make it real, make it work.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mist System

It took about 50 minutes to re-install the misting system to the only vulnerable part of the house; the deck on the front. In case we had a wildfire (which I hope never happens) the mist system would keep the front deck next to the house wet without draining the well. The deck is elevated and there is no fuel around it so the misting system would protect from flying embers.

It was recommended when we had our wildfire audit two years ago and it made sense and was logical so we purchased a system and installed it. All is needed is hook up the garden hose and turn it on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where Are The Monarchs?

Sometimes it is not so much what you see but what you don't see. Last year we only saw a few Monarch Butterflies. Maybe only one or two and so far this year we have not seen a single one. I have read several articles that contend that herbicides are destroying the vital habitat of the monarch. Having not seen any so far this year it may not be so much theory as fact.

Spraying herbicides has a couple problems. One is that the over spray or wind drift from the spray sometimes kills weeds not intended. Two is that herbicides are non discriminatory. Those deep voiced ads on television for products like Round Up are appealing but how many read or take the time to read the directions on the spray. It comes ready mixed and in its own sprayer so why bother to stop and read anything; it will kill weeds and that is the goal: "kill weeds".

The monarch relies on the milk weed to survive. The eggs are laid on that specific weeds broad leaves. Round Up and other similar herbicides kill broad leaf weeds and that includes milkweed. Why don't the monarchs go to other weeds to lay eggs you may ask. Because it is the components of the milkweed that gives them the energy and strength to survive and reproduce and those components are not found in other weeds. So as we spray tons of weed killer on weeds we have slowly destroyed the habitat of the monarch to the point that we have not seen a single one here this year.

Monarch butterflies are nothing short of a miracle. Not only are they the only insect that migrates but their transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is nothing short of remarkable. When the caterpillar spins the chrysalis around itself it emits an enzyme that reduces it to a liquid inside the cocoon. The various parts of the butterfly anatomy then come back together to form the butterfly one part at a time. When the butterfly has developed within the cocoon and emerges it hangs from the chrysalis for several hours until its body pumps fluid into the wings to make them strong. The metamorphism from caterpillar to butterfly still puzzles science. They understand the process but not how it happens consistently. That is why we should do all we can to preserve the monarch butterfly. If we could duplicate the process the caterpillar goes through to a butterfly perhaps it could assist us in ways not yet understood. Not to mention that it is a beautiful butterfly that still mystifies us. While we know the process we don't know specifically how that process occurs. If we could duplicate the process who knows where that could take us.

Regretfully we have seen fewer and fewer monarchs each year and now this year we have not seen a single one. Maybe that is because people are so intent on "killing" weeds that they have not considered the monarch.  I hope I have not previously seen my last monarch.  

Sweet Pose

Sometimes photos don't require much being said. This is without doubt one of those photos and a rare trail camera photo.

Monday, June 23, 2014

More Trail Camera Photos

 We were hoping to catch a photo of a bear as we have seen signs around but no bear went in front of the trail camera. Some of these shots of deer are classic shots.

Especially like this one..

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Recent Wind Blown Down Trees Fits MEN Article

Recently in the above Mother Earth News article I mentioned that through out the summer we add to our future fire burning season to get a head start.
With the wind we have been having lately several trees have blown over and we have gotten about 1 1/2 cords of firewood from those trees. Since we have all the firewood we need for next season this is a good start for the following season.
This usually happens every year where dead and sometimes live aspen trees fall down and we ;use them to get a head start on future wood burning seasons. With the wind gusting 30-40 MPH today (third day) we may have even more trees to fall. Will have to go check the property to see later today.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Treating Family Members Right by Sakoieta'

Something I noticed a little while ago, it is interesting how people will often treat strangers with so much kindness, respect and tolerance while at the same time almost crucifying their own family members or friends. It’s probably true that because we may see these strangers and people only briefly in our daily routines that gives us less reason to be irritated with them. Where as we see those we are familiar with on a more frequent basis so we let our annoyances and irritations show without much thought. In this whole situation we often forget that those we love and who are dear to us, family, friends and relatives are still the most important and we also expect them to be tolerant and respectful towards us...more so than we may be of them. Patience, tolerance and love are all born of the spirit, where as tension and irritation is of the mind. We should never respond to strangers with more respect, concern and tolerance than we do our loved ones, friends and relatives.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Yum, Good.

When the snow melts the rhubarb springs forth and nothing grows as fast as rhubarb although the weeds seem to compete pretty well. This is the first of what I hope is many rhubarb pies this year. Four stalks made the required number of cups for the pie. Barring disaster we still have many pies in the three plants growing. It also freezes well but in the freezing process it shrinks in volume. The photo shows the pie just as it came from the oven and now our self discipline must kick in while we wait for it to cool off.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Playing Cereal

We have a game we play with our dogs called "cereal". When we announce 'do you want to play cereal', our dogs get super excited. They will all sit patiently until I get the bag open and toss out a hand full of puffed rice. We try to buy cereal that has low or no sugar content. We toss a few handfuls of cereal out on the carpet and the dogs maneuver around each other trying to get as many of the pieces of cereal as they can.

It is a nice break in their routine day and something they love to do. If you are looking for a fun thing to do with your dog or dogs try this with a safe non sugar cereal and it won't be long when you too say 'cereal' that fur friends will go wild in anticipation...