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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Season Change

The calendar may not say that it is fall yet but other indicators are pretty clear. The thermometer is just one. Our ground squirrels and chipmunks are so fat that their bellies almost drag the ground as they scamper around. The deer and elk are sleek and have added weight. We do not hear the song birds like we did over the summer and the hummingbirds have diminished in numbers drastically.

The cooler temperatures is good for working outside and it only gets up to the high 60's or low 70's during the day. This is good sleeping weather with the windows cracked open just enough to get the evening breeze. It reminds me of times past when I would visit my mother and sleep with the window open. The morning breeze would gently flutter the cotton curtains and the coolness was invigorating in the morning. It seemed to help me sleep well at night on crisp cotton sheets. That first cup of coffee in the morning always tasted better when the weather was cool but not cold.

I had a face book friend from near Boulder share a photo yesterday of some aspen leaves that were changing color already. That means that we here in the southern Sangre de Cristo's are only about 3 weeks away at most. When they have peak color change we are usually right behind them. They are just beginning to have a little change up there. I'm not sure I'm ready for fall yet but it is without doubt the season I love the most. The air is crisp, everything seems to be making last minute preparations for our long winter and it is invigorating. Beyond the pep in your step the smell on the air of hot pine needles is intoxicating. It is a chance to enjoy the outside because you know soon everything will be covered with four feet of snow or more.

Do we have enough firewood? Check. Snow shovels ready and accessible? Check. Winter clothes ready? Check. Snow thrower ready and serviced? Check. Tractor serviced and ready to go..Oops...must do that in the next couple weeks. Exterior of house and garage ready? Check. Supplies on hand? Scheduled next week. I think that is all except for some incidentals to be ready for the snow which surely will follow the fall season. When you live in the mountains you live by seasons and not days. Fall is the last season before winter which just melted off in May and will soon start again.

While we will miss spring and summer this is the time for last minute preparations and also a time to just relax and enjoy the day and season knowing full well that a long winter is ahead of us. I'm only sorry that this blog doesn't have a scratch and sniff component so that readers could enjoy the smell on the air and coolness also.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer In The Mountains

 While other places in the country are sweltering in the heat with triple digit temperatures we are enjoying nice cool weather. In fact only 6 degrees above freezing. The trees pictured have frost on them.
 This weather makes for good sleeping weather as we curl up in the fetal position under the blankets and the dogs are all curled up with their noses in their tails. This is the very reason we cut and have on hand the 9-12 cords of firewood as it won't be long before we need a fire in the wood stove 24/7.
We usually start to build a fire to warm the house up around September some time and stop in late May which is nine months duration. It won't be long now before the leaves start to change on the aspen trees.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Senior Homesteading

Check out the latest blog for Mother Earth News at the following link: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/senior-homesteading-the-reality-zbcz1608.aspx

Seems I hurt my back carrying the ladder uphill. It needs to get better as I have a lot of outside work to do and the charity is coming again next week for more dead trees. Can't afford to be gimped up now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Most Despised Job Done

 This is by and far the most despised job I do each year. I climb up a 6 foot step ladder to reach a platform where I then climb another 25 - 26 feet to change out the wind cap. I can clean the chimney from inside the house but the wind cap has to be cleaned too.
Last year Carol suggested we buy a second wind cap so all I would have to do is carry the clean one up and swap it with the dirty one and then come back down. That sounded like a good suggestion to me and going up and down once is better than twice.
The platform where we place the 40' ladder is about 7 feet off the ground so it is up there 32-33 feet and from up there it looks straight down. This angle from the ground doesn't make it look as steep as it really is. I wear a climbing harness that I hook to the top of the ladder so if I were to fall it would only be a few feet. I guess my heart is in pretty good shape as when I get to the top of the ladder I have to turn around and face out to switch out the wind caps. At that point I'm looking at what seems a long way down with nothing in front of me but air..

I'm always real glad when I make a trip up and down safely. This is one job that won't have to be done until again next year. You would think a mid 70's man would have better sense but I had it done one year and the guy was scared out of his wits when he had to turn around up there and I hate putting anyone through that again. I could see his white knuckles on the ladder from the ground. As long as I'm able I'll just keep doing it. When it is no longer safe I'll find someone who lacks fear to do it because it is very scary from up there especially climbing up and down using one hand to hold the wind cap and one hand to hang onto the ladder.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Occasional Visitors

 When the dogs all start running around the house at the same time it is because they want to announce visitors. Probably 50 or more in the back yard...




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Canine Home Remedies

These are home remedies that have worked for us in the past. They may not work for all canines but for us they have worked well. Read the entire blog at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/canine-homeopathic-treatment-zbcz1608.aspx

Firewood Strategy

 These are photos of the spar firewood we keep on hand for the winter after this coming winter. We usually burn between 9-11 cords of firewood and we have the woodshed full, and the rest stacked next to the woodshed. I calculate that we have around 13 cords of split ready to go firewood for this winter.
 This is a photo (above and below) of firewood we keep accessible for the winter after this next one. It is why I can get out back and start cutting and splitting firewood while the snow is still falling. If this is an average winter we will use 9-11 cords and I calculate this is about 6-7 cords. That will enable us to have our firewood in for the season after this without having to go cut more and drag, throw, roll or toss it out of the woods.
 This is extra firewood that is about 8' wide and 7' high. The saw buck is on the other side of this pile so all I have to do is pull it out and cut it to length - then roll the log splitter out of the tool shed and split it and toss it down to the woodshed. Voila' we have our firewood ready for the winter after this one. That enables us to cut and haul for the winter after that at our leisure throughout the summer. That way we don't have to rush getting the following season in and since we started at the far end of the property this represents the dead aspen trees from that area. Each year we work closer to the house so it is easier to gather firewood.
This is approximately 6-7 cords of ready to go firewood for this winter. The wood shed on the left side of the photo is full to the rafters and it holds about 6 cords. We should end up at the end of the season with 3-4 cords left and with what we have stored that will be the following winter supply. That firewood represents a lot of work and toil.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What Is Lurking About?

Living in the mountains you must be constantly aware of your surroundings. It is just something you learn to do instinctively. For the past several weeks the deer and other ground critters have been active around our house as evidenced by the photos I have posted. This morning there is not a single squirrel, deer, turkey anywhere. That strongly indicated that we have a predator lurking around but with the tall grass and weeds it would be hard to see. A couple months ago we had a mountain lion (I saw it) around and the other animals disappeared for two + weeks. I may not see it but what ever it is I know it is out there. Even the birds are quiet today.

For any joggers in our area I would discourage them from running down our road as that kicks in the lion's prey drive and they will stalk and attack from the rear. We keep our fur friends close and use extra care when we even go out in the fenced in back yard. 

All indicators are that when the deer leave there is something to be watchful for. The deer and elk usually hang around most of the summer and fall unless something forces them out of the area. It could be a poacher or predator - both are the same in my book except the poacher is a bottom dweller and the predator is doing what it needs to survive. I'll keep the camera handy in case I can get a glimpse of what it is. 

Photo courtesy of Google images...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Triplets

 As I let the pack out into the back yard this morning to do their business I had this mother deer (far right on hill) and three same size deer that appeared to be about one year (+-) old. The two deer were together watching myself and the dogs and the third deer was off a few yards to the left but I could not get all three in the same photo. We were only about 20' apart but I knew if I walked around to get all three in the photo that one or all would bound off so I just talked to them and took three photos.
 If these are truly triplets then it is the first I have seen triplets around our house. They were curious about the dogs which just ignore them and did not bark. Our dogs have been trained not to bark at deer and to just ignore them. Off to my right there was a mother deer on the trail that I use to haul firewood with two little tiny babies in spots. They were so small I couldn't get a good photo of them in the tall grasses.
It could be that what I thought was triplets was actually twins and the mother picked up a third fawn that may have been orphaned or abandoned by its mother. We used to have a doe that hung around our house most of its life and a fawn had broken its leg and its mother wouldn't have anything to do with it. Forced it off to die. The mother (We called her Daisy) adopted it and helped it survive until it was old enough to be on its own. That may be the mother deer that is in the background of the top photo. Daisy protected that little fawn along with her own and kept it alive. It stayed with her well into adulthood. We actually saw Daisy protect that fawn from its own mother who tried to harm it. Daisy was one of the toughest and compassionate deer that we have ever come to know. Daisy was easy to spot as she had a scar put on her side by a mountain lion that ran from her neck to her back leg. Tough - we watched her stomp a coyote who went after one of her fawns once. She was a fearless mother who was also tender and compassionate. That could be the case here if that is her daughter - she could have adopted an orphaned fawn with twins to raise.

Monday, August 1, 2016

How Many Deer

When I went out to refill the hummingbird feeder I noticed some deer right next to the house. I asked them to wait until I went in to get my camera and they did wait. Here is the photo of four deer - see if you can find all of them...

Another Day In Paradise

 A few days ago we had a herd of elk browsing around our house. I was able to get some photos of them from our deck. I don't post the photos or put a date on the photos because poachers have been known to surf our blog and by delaying when I post the photos the animals are long gone before they see them. Sad but true. Also those who like to look at animals if posted promptly head for our road expecting them to still be here. Our road which sees little traffic suddenly is a major thoroughfare. All the traffic scares the animals away and puts them at risk of being hit by a vehicle. I usually wait a few days to post photos of elk and sometimes a month to post photos of bears as people flood to the area where there is a bear they think they can see from their vehicle.
 The above photo was taken this morning of our two hummingbird feeders. There are more hummingbirds perched on the feeder than holes for them to feed. There were about 30 hummingbirds and the feeder on the other side of the house was the same. These little guys have gone through 50 + pounds of sugar so far this summer and will probably go through another 25 -50 lbs. I have to refill the feeders at least two times a day and sometimes more. Putting out more feeders would just attract more hummingbirds. These are mainly Broadtail and Rufus species. With so many they seem to get along well together.
More elk at the side of our house..It is good to have them back again and they will visit us from time to time. The deer come and go often as all the animals know it is safe for them here.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dealing With Packrats

Check out the newest blog on Mother Earth News on how we deal with pack rats aka wood rats. They are perhaps the most destructive creatures we have to deal with. Here is the link to the blog: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/dealing-with-packrats-zbcz1607.aspx

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Angelo for President!



Support Angelo's Campaign and his Favorite Shelter! Go to this link to order a t-shirt...and be sure to check out the video!

A portion of all funds raised will go to Angelo's favorite shelter, Conour Animal Shelter-Upper Rio Grande Animal Society.

You asked for a candidate you can trust! Ewe asked for a candidate ewe could believe in! Angelo can not only herd flocks, he can also herd our country into the future!

Angelo's Dad is Leland Dirk the Author. Angelo co-writes with his dad. He has written several books including: Seven Dogs in Heaven, Angelo's Journey, Rainbow's Edge, 100 Days of Gratitude and Border Collie Haiku.

Connect with Leland Dirks-Author at www.facebook.com/LelandDirks/ and
http://slvhermit.tumblr.com/and check out his books at www.amazon.com/author/lelanddirks.

Angelo's favorite shelter is Conour Animal Shelter, which is a No Kill Animal Shelter serving Monte Vista, South Fork, Center, Saguache, and Saguache County. www.slvanimalshelter.com

Strong And Self Confident by Sakoieta

I have found many times in my life the best way to be able to help others in an appropriate manner was to first make sure that I was strong and positive in the ways I handle any situations in my own life. Understanding this then gave me the ability to help without enabling or taking some one else’s burden as my own.Several times the people who I helped became angry at this until they eventually realized that by my taking on their burden I was depriving them of their strength and spirit in being able to reason in a manner that, as a good counselor should, had them able to free themselves by using their own knowledge and power to do so.

Monday, July 25, 2016

More Photos




Delightful Children And Sponsors

 We had another group out from LaPuente today and this group was from Denver, CO. A Baptist Church group with youngsters from 6-8th grade. What an absolutely delightful group of young people. To all readers these young people were polite, hard working (very hard working) good humored and just plain fun to be around. These are our future doctors, dentists, business people, and other leaders. Having been around the young people all day I'd say our future is in good hands. It would be nice if we left them a good world to take over.
 These young people hauled around two cords of firewood and I never heard a single complaint, grumble or negative comment. These kids were nothing but a total delight to be around and it was touching when they all waved and said 'goodbye Bruce'.   I was sorry to see them leave and it was emotional to see them leave.  The work they did will go a long way to keeping people warm this winter. Little arms and legs lifting  and flipping logs bigger than they were and they worked so well together.
 This old guy was sad to see them go, they were that good to be around..
Another crew is due tomorrow and then Vince, Jasper and Chelsea will have served their year as volunteers and moving on to start their careers or obtain their advanced degrees. Somehow it just won't be the same without these dedicated people and we will miss them greatly. They will be greatly missed.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dealing With Past Experiences by Sakoieta

Life has always contained lessons to help us better ourselves as Human beings. Many times we don’t understand parts or any of the processes that took place to do that. We have both positive and negative thoughts about experiences of the past. It is and has been important to study these at different times in our lives until we understand the lesson that was contained in the experience and how it was part of our learning. Sometimes this is painful and because it may be too emotional we move away from it. When in reality we really needed to spend time working through that experience and gradually feeling our emotions change to where we can now at least understand how it changed us to become more aware, more vigilant, and stronger in thought, emotions, spirit and also physically.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hot Everywhere


I just watched the weather on the news and it is hot from coast to coast and that includes here in the mountains. Normally it is much cooler in the mountains (especially at 9,800' elevation) but not now. People come to the mountains usually to escape the heat but this year with the temperatures in the mid 80's during the day and not cooling off at night it has remained HOT. Houses in the mountains generally do not have air conditioning because it generally is not needed. Why install air conditioning for maybe a few days out of the year when it would be helpful. It is always cooler here with accompanying favorable breezes. This year that is not the case and the only relief is a oscillating fan. It is still and hot and dry.

Because of the elevation you normally work outside and walk slower. On our property everything is on a 45 degree slope so we walk slow anyway. Factor in the heat and it appears that you are frozen in place when observed by others. This is usually the time of year we do our major chores outside but this year it is too hot to do them. Instead of cutting 1/2 to 1 cord of firewood a day I cut one tree and look for a shady place to cool off. The dogs have no energy and this could easily be referred to as the dog days because they don't want to exert any energy. The deer and wild animals are active at night and bed down during the day. For once when we hear how hot it is in other areas of the country we know first hand because it is hot here too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Flycatcher Update

 Every time I go through the basement door I'm only about 8" from the nest and earlier today as I went down to get something from the basement there was mom in the nest. She and I made the usual eye contact and It was almost like I could read her mind. She was telling me she had finished her job and it was time for her chicks to fly and enjoy their freedom.
She was crowding the chicks out of the nest. Sorry for the blurry quality but I was taking the photos from sunlight to shade where the chicks were. There were three chicks huddled together like they didn't know what to do. As I stood there she would fly up to the nest and then fly away trying to convey to them what they needed to do. If that doesn't work she will stop bringing food to them and they should then get the hint. Kind of reminded me of getting teenagers out of the house. If they get the hint they don't acknowledge it and when they do more often than not they end up returning to the nest.

Tomorrow these guys will all be gone except maybe for one that can't get the courage up to fly away. Last year one sat on the shelf for two days before he/she got hungry enough to fly away. I can't imagine the exhilaration that little bird experienced when it realized it was flying and the freedom associated with flight. Another successful brood this year and it is always something to look forward to when the song birds return...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fly Catchers

We have watched this family of Flycatchers go from building a nest to having 4 tiny eggs to two of those eggs hatching. The little weak globs of baby birds barely able to hold their heads up to now getting ready to fly to their freedom. This family has nested on or under our deck for several years and it has been educational watching them raise their young each year. The mom keeps those eggs covered and warm with her own body and then the tiny babies are also kept warm until they grow feathers. Then the endless pursuit of food to feed them until they are ready to fly and be free.

What I find interesting is the babies or young birds will stay in the nest and be fed until the parents know they are ready to fly off on their own. When that happens the parents stop feeding them and usually after a short while the baby birds will fly out of the nest. Last year it took one bird two days before it was encouraged to leave the nest. When they leave the nest they don't return. The first few hours the mom and dad birds will teach them to catch their own food, and the essentials they need to survive then they are on their own.

Once they are on their own they don't return or try to return to the nest. Their newfound freedom is shown as they flutter around the house plucking insects out of the air. It is not only educational but joyful to see them take flight the first time and gain their coordination and freedom. Our two birds are ready to take flight very soon as the photo depicts. They are fully feathered and almost the size of their parents. When they take flight the parents will be there for them briefly and then they are on their own. Very fun to observe each year.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sugar Craving

 We have three of these feeders out for the hummingbirds and they are draining them with mind boggling speed. These little guys have a real craving for sugar water. Each feeding station is full and there are birds swarming around waiting for a place to feed. So far we have gone through what sugar we had on hand and a 25# bag and are into the second 25# bag. They start feeding when it gets light enough to fly around and until it gets dark.
Carol now spends much of her day cleaning and filling hummingbird feeders. We have mostly Broad- tail hummingbirds but a few Rufus also. When a feeder is empty they will let us know by coming to a window and hovering in front of it until they have our attention. They are not only little gluttons but smart also.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Firewood

We are getting our firewood in for the winter after this winter. We try to stay ahead by one year as it gives us a jump start on the following year and also gives us a reserve in case of a very hard winter. We like to get our next winter firewood in early and then spend the rest of the summer and fall working on the following winter. We are pretty much there now so it will only take another cord or two of firewood. Exhausting work but well worth the effort.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

High Elevation Gardening

Check our the latest blog on high elevation gardening at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-at-high-elevation-zbcz1607.aspx
I'm not saying that gardening at high elevation is any harder than other places to garden but it does present a different set of challenges.  Check out what two of the major ones are at the above link.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Pretty Time Of The Year In The Mountains

 We have a family of wrens raising their young in this bird house. When we lived in Tallahassee, Fla. we had a hurricane go through and it dropped 5 very large oak and pine trees on our house poking holes in the roof. When the hurricane was over I milled out the pine trees into wood and this bird house came from one of those trees. I was hoping to get a photo of one of the wrens going into the house with a bug in its beak but they were just to fast to catch them on camera. We have 9 bird houses up around the house and several of them house birds plus one flycatcher that has a nest on top of the electrical meter. Soon the nesting will be over and I'll be able to drop some large dead aspen trees for the rest of our firewood.
 The wild roses are all over around our property and they not only smell good but they are beautiful to look at. We have many flowers or flowering weeds coming up all around our property. There are columbine coming up in places we have not seen them before. Some people plant flowers and shrubs but ours have their own design and come up all over the property..

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

One of The Most Beautiful Places on Earth

We live in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. I have longed to write about our area for years but have refrained from doing so because it seems that some of the residents in our community can't seem to get along with each other. There are solutions to living with the disagreement that seems to have infected our area and still enjoy the surroundings. A few people who like to constantly stir up problems and generate dissension continue to give our community a bad name. Only because I know people who read this blog and are interested in this area am I writing so they may know that living in this community is not only possible but can be highly rewarding. I have always said that people who live in our area should not confuse friendliness for friendship. Living in a community where some try to keep dissension at the forefront requires carefully evaluating those around you and being extremely careful whom you trust or are willing to let into your safe circle.

Being confused over friends and friendship is not new and almost 350 years B.C. Aristotle was writing about friends and their characteristics.  He concluded that there were three types of friendship. One is based on pleasure in another's company (friendship of pleasure).  Another is based on utility or usefulness in association (friendships of utility) and the last is friendship based on mutual admiration or (friendships of virtue). Those friendships of utility are not real friendships because when the good for one and another ceases the connection is broken and they drift away from that shallow friendship. Those who have friendships of pleasure are only friends as long as that relationship is pleasurable. Both pleasurable and utility only last as long as the parties continue to be alike.

Then there is the perfect friendship which subsists between those who are good and whose similarity consists in their goodness. These type of friendships exist where each of the friends wants the best good for the other. These type friendships are rare and are what should be sought. These are the type of friends who like and admire each other in spite of all their individual flaws. Friends that fall into this category uphold each other in spite of differences and just flat out enjoy each other for who they are.

Most of the friendships in our community are of the former two; utility and  pleasure. When your use is no longer needed or one of the parties are no longer pleasurable, loyalties shift to others. In a fledgling community like ours there are many issues and challenges and that means loyalties tend to be in constant flux. If however you seek a friendship of virtue with others you will find that living in our community has its rewards. One benefit is not associating with negative people and being able to identify them. With all the nature surrounding us and the excellent temperatures it can be a good community to live in.

There are times when you may have to stand your ground with those who want to bring you down to their level but if you have your priorities right they are unable to withstand truth, logic and honesty. In fact, they will hate you for those virtues.

Prospective landowners need to enter the community being aware and realize that friendliness does not equate to friendship. If you mistakenly get in with the wrong people your continued happiness in the community can be fraught with constant fighting over nonsense and trivial issues. Some people prefer to try and destroy others because they are hollow people - lovers of self only. Those are to be avoided once identified.

When we do a Google search of our community there are the propaganda sites within our community and hateful people using a public forum to vent life issues and personality defects. That is not our true area and life can be pleasurable if you but enter carefully and test the water before you jump in fully. I publish topics that I believe people like to read about the good in our area but others for their own reasons publish comments that do not portray a good image of our community. It all depends on what you are willing to put into it and how you view friendship. I see no reason to write again about our community and each person will have to make their own choice having now been forewarned - choose carefully and be happy and enjoy the wonderful natural environment.  



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Safety First

I normally don't wear my hard hat when cutting trees because they are mostly small enough to push over or I have a steel cable and come-along on them.  Thursday a little voice told me to wear my hard hat while cutting trees with the folks from the local charity that was getting firewood on our property.

We had been avoiding a particular tree that had broken off in a windstorm about 8' up from the base with the top of the tree hung up in some other trees but clearly broken off from itself. We finally decided to get it down to keep it from falling on an animal or us so we put a strap on the top broken part and I cut the base off. We figured the guys pulling on the strap could pull it away from where I was cutting. As I cut the base off it tilted and the top half came loose and swung down and then separated from the other trees and fell back right at myself. I jumped out of the way but a large limb on the tree hit me on the hard hat. I only got a cut on my ear because of having the hard hat on.

I don't know if the straps tied together separated or if the guys couldn't hold the weight of the 15-16" in diameter tree but it ended up swinging down and then falling right at me. But for that hard hat I would have received a substantial injury I'm sure. I think I'll wear that hard hat more often when working with trees. Lesson learned....trees are unpredictable and hard hats save serious injuries.