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Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Blog Coming - Check Link Below

Keep an eye out for my new blog for Mother Earth News about "High Altitude Living".  Not everyone is made for living at 9,800' elevation. The air is much thinner at this altitude and our bodies are made to function best at sea level. Some people have moved to high elevation only to find out they have altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness can be a miserable disease and if it doesn't dissipate it can lead to a terrible existence. Living in the mountains can be a wonderful experience. We have seen people move either full time or part time to the mountains who had illusions about what they were capable of. Visions of hiking our dirt roads, scaling our mountains, fishing our creeks and streams etc. all when they lack the ability to do any of these things at sea level.

Being realistic about abilities and being prone to altitude sickness can dash those misconceptions and dreams here at high elevation. Keep an eye out for the next blog....

Just posted today - http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/living-at-high-altitude-zbcz1702

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beautiful Morning

 We woke up to some snow this morning (2") and it makes everything look pure and beautiful. I thought it was so pretty it needed to be shared.
 When I went out to take the photos I noticed about 4' away Hairy getting sunflower seeds to pack into the hole he made in the deck railing. He said I could take his photo as this was his good profile. I took the above photo.
 The aspen trees (above and below) are all frosted and lightly covered with snow. Very beautiful with their intricate limbs. I hope you viewers will agree.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Expecting Rain/Snow Tomorrow

 With the nice weather it is nice being outside without a coat, The above photo shows the area before we started this morning and the bottom photo shows it after. The pile of snow was so high that we couldn't shovel the snow from the steps up on it and the snow just kept falling back down. Now we have an area to toss the new snow when it arrives.
I also shoveled off the other side of the house where it had built up over the winter. Now there is room for the snow coming off the roof without piling up on the roof. I also shoveled out the 6-7' of snow where the snow is pushed when we clear the deck. The higher the snow piles the harder it is to move around outside. Also broke up the 5-6" of ice on a platform at the side of the house that we use to access the chimney for the wood stove. Also took several inches of ice off the tarp covering the front end loader.

I think we are ready for the second half of winter. Heavy wet snow but needed to allow us to navigate around the exterior of the house. Also cut down by one of the gates so we could use that gate again and we have a minimum of 12" of hard packed snow in the back yard. It is about this time of year that we cut steps out to the wood shed in the hard packed snow.

Embarrassing To Report

Normally our temperatures are somewhere in the twenties to low thirties in February.  We know our winter is not over by far as we have only received 96" of snow so far this year. There will be more to come but the weather we have been having for the past two weeks is more like spring. It is only going down to the mid 30's at night and we are not even keeping the wood stove going. It was 65 degrees when I got up this morning.

Whether this is climate change or global warming or something else we are taking full advantage by moving the accumulated snow to make room for what may come. It is so good to be able to work outside in shirt sleeves.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hairy and Hairette

We have a family of hairy woodpeckers and their off spring that have been around for many years. It all started probably 15 years ago when one flew into our window and knocked itself out. I picked it up and kept it warm in my hand for probably three hours as I did my work outside with one hand. It finally recovered albeit a little dizzy. After that the family hung around for several years.

The woodpecker in the photo above is no doubt offspring of that injured woodpecker. We put black oil sunflower seeds out for the birds and this woodpecker (Hairy) has pecked a small hole in the railing. We watched him as he went and got a sunflower seed and brought it to the hole and tucked it in the back of the hole. He is keeping a stash for later retrieval which is pretty smart.

When they are out of seeds he will perch on the front of the house and knock away until we bring him some seeds. Yesterday I was shoveling snow out back and the mountain chickadees were all around me as I cleared snow so we could get our gate open. They were persistent and I noticed the feeder out back was empty so I went and filled it up. That is what they wanted and I shoveled the rest of the snow in peace.

So far we have gone through about 80 pounds of sunflower seeds and I have one 40# bag that we have not opened. The birds usually consume around 120# of sunflower seeds a winter season. A costly endeavor but the entertainment is well worth the cost.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Morning In The Mountains

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev'ry morning
God's recreation of the new day

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Photos From Last Fall

 Turkeys just out for a stroll.
 One of my favorite trail cam photos - young bull elk just peeking around a tree at the trail cam..



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Echo Post Surgery

Echo is feeling kind of slow and lethargic following his sebaceous cyst removal. The same vet's have been treating our dogs for many years. We are able to stay with Echo during his surgery. He really likes his doctors and doesn't understand why when he goes to see them he gets so tired. They know all our dogs well and while Echo was dozing during his surgery we were able to talk and describe Bozwell's lameness. Our vet was almost sure that his problem is arthritis and we had already ordered appropriate Rx for him and our vet approved of what we bought and gave us one more supplement to give him.

When we got Echo home he was checked thoroughly over every inch of his body but Sarah, Bozley and Bozwell. He is currently dozing at my feet and is happy to be back home again.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hard Work Part 2

 Two days work is represented in the photo above. The snow was hard packed and heavy. I had to cut it into blocks to move. The ice along the edge of the roof was 4-6" thick and very heavy. This will now make room for the rest of the snow that will surely come.
 This is a 10' high pile of snow. It will have to be moved but not until my sore body has recovered to some extent. The snow piles are so high that we can't throw the snow any higher and it falls right back down restricting the width of the driveway.
 This is the snow that was pushed away and down hill. We had to shovel it out of the garden area and then Carol pushed it out in the open where I could get to it  with the tractor in the bottom photo.
We still have the other side of the house to do yet so it doesn't form ice and rip the stack vents off when it comes speeding down the steep roof.

Now it is time to go out and put some more bird seed out for the birds. I have a Hairy woodpecker standing on the deck rail looking angry so she must be out of food. Next she will start banging on the house to get my attention. Then some much needed rest until I have to take Echo in for some minor surgery tomorrow.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Hard Work - Winter or Summer

Generally once each winter we have to shovel out the garden area and push it down the driveway. I'm standing on packed down snow and the hard packed snow and 6" of ice along the edge of the roof are heavy and deep. We only do it about once a year to keep it from building up and blocking the back door and the door to under the house. Our technique is for me to shovel it out of the area and toss it onto the driveway and then Carol pushes it out far enough where I can get to it with the tractor blade.

I would guess that the snow in this area represents at least one ton and it is hard to lift it is so packed down and heavy. Just another day in the mountains for us and since we have about 40% of our annual snow we shouldn't have to do it again this year.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Homesteading As A Senior

Having received 96" of snow this season can be daunting. So far is about average for what we receive each year and have for the past twenty winters. I wrote a blog for Mother Earth News about how the smallest little bump in the road has significant effects on us older folk. We learn to adjust, adapt and still get the job done. It is much easier when you have a small tractor without a doubt but it still requires a lot of shovel work.

To read the blog go to: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/homesteading-balance-for-seniors-zbcz1701

We go from one season that requires a lot of physical work to another. Now we are in the snow season and this time of year the snow is mostly light but being light that causes drifting so we seem to be constantly moving it from one place to another. Later today I will be starting the tractor up and pushing a couple large accumulations to the down side of the mountain. That requires first shoveling them out to where I can get to them with the tractor.

We consider this one of the most beautiful places to live and to live here we must deal with the harsh winters. We pace ourselves so that we don't over do the strenuous demands. It is possible as long as we plan carefully and stay focused on the task at hand.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

County Disaster

What crazy weather we are having. We had 10" of snow this morning and when I went out at 1:00 PM to clear the driveway it was not snowing and the clouds were breaking up and we had blue sky. The clouds finally went away leaving blue sky around 3:00 PM. I noted around 3:30 it was dark, snow blizzard type and heavy snow.
Then I received the following notice from our county - first one ever received. "Costilla County has declared a weather related disaster due to high wind and snow. Residents are advised to stay home. Those who are stuck because of the snow and have health or other safety concerns may call (719) 480-8719. Please do not call 911 unless you have an emergency". 
I think this notice simply says that this may be a while as the road equipment may not be out working on roads. We didn't even get one of these notices when we received 72" of new snow over two days. 
 

More Snow

Maybe 9-10" of new snow and forecast is more snow through today and into tomorrow morning. Need to get outside and get that shovel working as it is so high that when I toss it up it just comes back down. Throwing the same shovel full that many times is a waste of time so must get at those piles of snow. All shovel work...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mountain Winters

With the wind blowing outside about 20+ mph, and the temperature just below freezing coupled with the inch of fresh snow we received last night today was a good day to remain inside as much as possible. I took the opportunity to do another blog for Mother Earth News about having to deal with a recent 16" snow storm by myself because Carol had minor surgery and couldn't do any heavy work for 9 days. Whew - glad that is over and we wait for another snow storm later today.

From Our Trail Cam Last Fall


Friday, January 20, 2017

Bruce has an article in the Feb/March 2017 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS!! If you click on it maybe you can read it...or pick up a copy at your local magazine stand or grocery store.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wooohoo


This is what us old folks do when it is too windy to work outside. We play...Taken about 15 minutes ago going down our driveway - bob sled style. I groomed the driveway yesterday and last night the temperature dropped to 16 degrees and the wind blew all night with gusts to 30 + mph. That left us with a nicely frozen driveway that I suspect we got up to speeds of 20 mph on. With the wind still gusting and blowing it has a single digit wind chill so we don't stay out too long.

The snow bank that we usually careen off of at the end of the drive and across the road was chunks of ice so when we hit it we didn't go any further like usual.  With the wind blowing and the snow drifting we wanted to get out before the road equipment came down our road. They often take the snow off down to the gravel and that makes it hard to sled.

Probably sounds ridiculous that people our age zoom down a frozen driveway into a frozen snow bank but dang it is fun to do...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Winter Fun

Just came in from grooming the driveway for sledding. When we moved out here 20 winters ago we looked everywhere for a good sledding run. Turns out the very best one in the area is our own driveway. We can sled down the driveway and into the road and then by leaning over we can go down the road. About a 200 yard run all together.  Some of the hills we initially sledded down the walk back was a killer. Our driveway is wide, long and clear.

Those little bob sleds we bought 20 years ago can really fly down the driveway and it is great fun - even for old folks  like us who are in their 70's.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Generator

After twenty winters we finally broke down and bought a generator. It is mainly for being able to plug in the block heater if the electricity goes out. We have lost power two times in the last three weeks due to high winds. The wind has been much worse this year than past years and the electricity has gone out for 5 1/2 and 5 hours each time.

The longest the electricity has ever been out has been 5 days because the crew couldn't get to the disruptions due to high wind and deep snow. It has been out for a day or two at a time but not recently. Now if we lose power and need to clear the snow we can plug in the block heater to the generator and be able to get in and out if needed. We have a few other uses for it as well. We have portable propane heaters to keep the pipes from freezing under the house and the wood stove to keep them from freezing in the house. We also have a walk behind snow thrower and it has electric start so we can use the generator to get it going.

Extra precautions just in case we would lose electricity for an extended time period.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mountain Weather

Just read on the World Journal in Walsenburg that the wind is so strong that I-25 is closed to commercial vehicles and high profile vehicles from Monument CO to the New Mexico state line. Winds are reported to be up to 80 mph and have blown several vehicles over. Wind is strong here too but not 80 mph yet. The temperature is 38 degrees currently and it is raining large drops. Trees are whipping around in the wind but these trees have been exposed to high winds before.

It is always a challenge to know where to trim limbs on the trees so they are not top heavy - where the wind will snap them off - but still high enough to protect us from a wildfire crowning in them.

Wind is always present during the winter time and it redistributes the snow we get. The ground is frozen so trees don't up-root but do break off at any weak spot. I'm sure we will lose a few trees in this strong wind and just hope they don't damage structures. We cut the trees back from structures but leave some close to protect the buildings from heavy wind damage.

The wind may be blowing 60-70 mph in the meadows but here in the trees it will be half that powerful thanks to the trees blocking the strength of the storm. Just another day in the mountains and it is not very safe being outside in the high wind. A tree branch hitting you at 30-40 mph can do some real damage. Even the snow stings and burns when you are blasted with it at this wind speed.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Worst Winter In Memory

I was shoveling the snow out from the side of the house so I could get under the house and into my workshop if needed. I hear this beep beep and couldn't figure out what it was. It turned out to be the son and grandson of the man who was building down the road from us. They wanted to see what it was like in the winter and were planning to go down the road to check their property. Those are my tracks in the fresh 16" of snow to get close enough to talk to them. I was going to lend them our extra set of snow shoes but couldn't find them. They said they would shovel down the road to their property. The 20  year old got about 5' and gave up. What makes this the worst winter in memory is the fact it has been so cold and the snow hasn't compressed so the 67" we have received year to date is mostly still there. The snow was well over his waist so getting through it was tough and to go 1/4 mile would be almost impossible. It would take me a couple hours to shovel to the tool shed to get them our extra set of snow shoes so they went in search of others and will be back.
 In addition to the cold temperatures and snow we have had very strong wind that redistributes the snow. (see above) Carol had a mole removed from her chest so she was told not to shovel or haul firewood for the next 10 days or she could pull the stitches out. I spent yesterday shoveling to the wood shed, shoveling the back yard out for the dogs, shoveling the walkway and the deck. Today I finished up the back yard, shoveled out the three doors on the side of the house where the snow comes off the roof.  About 4-5 feet of piled up snow. Then shoveled out the tractor so I could plug in the block heater. In a couple hours I'll clear the driveway which is much easier since all I need to do is ride the tractor.
The marker pole in the photo is a 6' pole with almost 2' still above the snow. Usually the snow compresses or forms a crust that we can walk on with snow shoes. Not this winter. About all we will have in the way of photos now will be of the birds, occasional cat or snow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Preparing For Winter Storm

The National Weather Service out of Pueblo, CO. has issued winter storm warning for our area. They say wind will be 35 mph with stronger gusts and up to one foot of snow over the next two days. Temperatures will vary between the teen's and mid 20's.It is suppose to start sometime later tonight. We watch the weather closely especially since Carol has to go into town later today for a doctor's appointment.

Weather in the mountains is iffy to say the best so we do our own interpretation of the prediction which is generally more accurate based upon experience. Our prediction is that winds will be 35 mph or stronger with gusts that will shake the house. Snowfall will start when we least expect it and total accumulation will be 1-3 feet with drifting possible. temperatures will probably be as predicted as that is the one area they usually get right.

If I were to choose a career I would choose weather forecasting because it is the only profession which pays well and you can be consistently wrong and still keep your job. Computer forecasts are rarely right here in the mountains where the wind circles and swirls around our mountain. We have gotten 2 feet before and 4 miles from us they get 5".

A better way in the mountains is look out the window. If you can't see anything it is a blizzard. If the snow is going horizontal it is strong wind with snow. If the snow accumulates to half way up the door it is heavy snow storms. If the birds are fluffed up to twice their normal size it is very cold. If they haven't moved off the limb for two days it is severe cold. Sooner or later the sun will come out again and it will gradually warm up and the wind will die down. Then we go out with snow shovels and snow clearing gear.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Winter Silence

 I decided to strap on the snow shoes and hike to the other end of the property. Everything looks different in the winter with a few feet of snow on the ground. The snow muffles any noise and it is virtually silent except for the wind whispering through and above the trees. This view is from  the swing looking down toward the road.
 This is a photo of one of the two springs that run year around on our property. I didn't hike to the other one as it was hard enough snow shoeing to this one. Plenty of snow on the ground and I would have had to break new snow to get to the other spring. Breaking trail can be hard this time of year.
 This is next years firewood pile. It was stacked here so it would be easier to get. It is normally chest high but now with the snow it is barely thigh high..
Snow shoe tracks leading back to the house. Once a snow shoe path gets packed down it is easy to walk on. Get one foot off the trail and it is a much different story. The deep snow is a very good sound insulator and walking to the swing it was very quiet outside.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Diesel Fuel

New blog on diesel fuel can be found at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/choosing-the-right-diesel-fuel-zbcz1612

Wind Sculpting

 One thing we seem to have in the mountains is frequent wind.  The wind sculpts the snow to form some interesting shapes. It also fills in the area's we have just cleared to make getting around outside easier.
 The wind levels the snow in area's normally protected by blowing it into every crevice.
 It also does very precise circles around the bottom of trees. The orange marker at the corner of the photo is a 6' marker with about 3' showing.
I walked down to where the front end loader stopped to take a photo of the road. It looks normal enough but the snow is thigh deep and I'm 6'2", and it has a crust that you break through when trying to walk. Below the crust is granular snow that offers no traction. To walk down the road now we need snow shoes. We find the snow beautiful and it muffles sound so it is very quiet here in the high country.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day In The Mountains

 Christmas morning in the mountains. Electricity went out in the middle of the night during a blizzard with snow, 14 degrees and 20+ MPH wind. The first light revealed mountain beauty. Drifting snow and contoured snow drifts with icicles hanging down. 8" of fresh snow on the ground and power restored as it was off during the night.
 Winter beauty at its best and only right to share with others. More snow predicted for later today so we will be out clearing snow and probably collapse in bed tonight exhausted.
We just finished yesterday clearing snow from the last storm three days ago. It is best to keep up with clearing the snow because when it piles up one storm on top of another it tends to close in on us and it much harder to clear.
Happy Holidays to everyone.....

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sledding

This is our 20th winter here in Colorado. We got these Rubbermaid bob sleds with some money Mom sent us for Christmas and have been using them for most of those 20 winters. We looked all over for a great place to sled and of course our driveway is the place! Be sure to turn on your volume! Fun times.........making memories. Give it a sec to load...you might have to click on it twice.


video

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Guest Blogger!

The following was shared with us by a friend, Robin Gonzales. With her permission we are posting it here. We pray that you have a most blessed Christ-mas celebration.


Christ-mas is such a special Holy-day for our family. My husband and I came from distant families who didn't know Jesus. We both learned of His Precious Love, Life and Sacrifice for us as youth. From the day I gave my entire being to my Jehovah Raah, I have shared the Good News with other young people and children. That led me to becoming a Youth and Children's Pastor for more than 20 years. Today we are Foster Parenting. What a joy it is to continue sharing His Peace and Hope with 2 more young people!

Where am I going with this, you may be asking? Well, what I found is that working with young people brings many nuggets of knowledge. Interestingly, bringing Truth down to an easier basic understanding is sometimes more profound than my Theology courses. So, I am coming to you today as a Child of God. Yes, that's a double entendre. 


~He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his STRIPES you have been healed.  1 Peter 2:24 
~The LORD is my SHEPHERD; I shall not want.  Psalm 23:1

The candy cane is a long-time Christmas tradition. Everywhere we look we see them. They are used as decorations on Christmas trees and, of course, they are one of the most popular of all Christmas treats.


I have heard several stories about the history and meaning of the candy cane. I don't know if they are true, but I do think that the candy cane can teach us a few things about the true meaning of Christmas.


The candy cane is mostly white. White is a symbol of purity. That should remind us that Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God and that because He came to be the sacrifice for our sin, we can become as white as snow.  


As you know, the candy cane has three red stripes.  The Bible tells us that before He was crucified, Jesus was beaten with a whip which made blood-red stripes across his back. The Bible says that we are healed by those stripes. The stripes on the candy cane should remind us that Jesus suffered and died, so that we can have everlasting life.

To many people, the candy cane is a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time or just a piece of candy to be eaten and enjoyed. I hope that this year, every time you see a candy cane, you will be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

We have a couple of yearly things that we do to celebrate Jesus as a family. One of them is family Communion that our oldest son (16) has led for about 4 years. This year our church is doing a Christmas service with Communion. So, we'd told the kids that we would just do it at church this year. We weren't expecting the outrage & protests! As you've guessed family Communion will continue to be a part of our day. The other thing that we have done since the kids were quite little was to have a dessert for breakfast. We started with a basic birthday cake. Then our son (he has an Evangelist's heart) started talking to me about how we could make it more about Jesus and what He came to do for us. Therefore, we decided to make desserts that have 3 layers. 1 is a brown or black layer for our Sin. Another layer is red for His Blood shed for us. The final layer is white for Him making us Pure & White as snow. :-) Regardless of the dessert, we always sing Happy Birthday Jesus at the beginning of our day. Presents don't happen until after Church or our own Family worship time. 

This year, Tristan chose a Strawberry Pretzel "Salad". I thought y'all might like the recipe. It's soo yummy! 


Here's a link to a video of how to make it. Goodness, my mouth is watering thinking about it!  http://natashaskitchen.com/2016/01/29/strawberry-pretzel-salad/

Lord, we thank you that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who keeps us from harm. We thank you that because of His suffering and death on the cross, we have life everlasting.  Help us to remember that we find the true meaning of Christmas in Him! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!! 

May you be Abundantly Blessed!