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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! 


Looking Like A Very White Christmas

 It is looking a lot more like a white Christmas with the additional 7-8" of fresh snow... It is not very cold (31 degrees) so it is heavy but that represents water content for when we need it next spring.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Flexible And Stay Calm

We had 20" of fresh snow and went out and plugged in the block heater and started the tractor to clear the snow. Went about 20' and stopped. This is the second winter we have had this tractor and we had the same problem last year when it got colder. The diesel gelled and apparently it won't run again this year with our cold temps. I have fresh fuel and have treated it with the anti gel that the dealer recommends.

Even with all that it still gels and won't run. Tomorrow I will have to drain the fuel tank, replace both fuel filters and refill the tank. That will be labor intensive and may take most of the day because the sub frame and snow thrower will have to be taken off first. We cleared the driveway with our small walk behind Sears snow thrower. We are wondering if it would just be better to get a second walk behind snow thrower.

We bought the tractor with the snow thrower on the front to not have to walk behind the snow thrower we started with. Our old tractor was the same model and brand and we never had a problem with it not running the 12 years we had it. The new one runs fine except in cold temperatures. We are a little sad over having a pretty expensive tractor to move the snow with and have to consider buying another larger walk behind snow thrower.

We bought the new tractor because the old one was getting up in age and we 'thought' having a new one it would be more reliable. We are trying to stay flexible and calm and make the right decision. There has to be a solution to this fuel not flowing properly and maybe we will have to keep both vehicles outside and put the tractor in the garage and keep it heated with portable propane heat.

A tractor that will not run in cold weather is not much use to us so we have some hard decision to make in the next few days.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

We shoveled out some of the fenced in area for the dogs and so we could get to the woodshed..........


Looking at the back of the cabin.......


Snow!!

Surprise - Finally

 Woke up to -4  degrees this morning. We watch the National Weather report carefully and they had predicted that we would have 2-4" inches of snow and single digit but not negative degrees. The temperature was around the low 40's yesterday and when we went to bed around 9:00 P.M. last night it was 33 degrees outside and 77 degrees inside. It had dropped to 60 degrees inside and -4 outside. We do not pay much attention to the weather service predictions as they rarely get it right for our area.
 This is what we woke up to this morning. Because the temperature was 33 degrees when we went to bed the bottom 6-8" of snow was wet and heavy. The top portion was fine granular snow and while not as heavy as the bottom it too had weight to it. Total so far has been 15" which gives us 29" year to date accumulation. More snow is predicted for today and tonight so it could be another 15" or 1".
 Living in the mountains you do not rely on the weather predictions but stay flexible so we can handle what does come. They predict heavy accumulation and we end up with two inches or when they say 1-2" we may end up with three feet. Not faulting the weather predictors with their computer models but they are wrong for us more than they are right. Weather forecasting in the mountains is very hard to  get accurate. All we want to know is if snow is headed our way and then we prepare to deal with it.  
This male Hairy Woodpecker is hunkered down on the side of a tree out front. We shoveled a walkway to the wood shed to bring in more firewood and then shoveled an area for the dogs to go potty. Then I shoveled off the deck to get some fresh sunflower seeds out for the birds. Carol shoveled the walkway down to the driveway. That took a couple hours and then it was time for breakfast. As cold as it is outside the birds will need to eat to keep their strength up. This woodpecker is conserving energy by hunkering down on the side of the tree.
We have enjoyed being able to walk around anywhere we wanted to go with only a couple inches of snow on the ground but it did not last and now we will deal with winter for the next few months. We enjoyed the pleasant temperatures in mid December when usually we have much colder temp's and 4-6' of snow.
All the new snow and cold has not deterred the deer however, we observed a small herd out to the side of the house while we were shoveling this morning. They don't mind the cold as they have very good coats this time of year and their hair is hollow so it provides excellent insulation. This snow will probably force them down to lower elevations soon.

Bobcat Tracks

 Yesterday I went down the road where they do not plow to check for fresh tracks. We had a dusting of snow over the 2-3" that had accumulated on the road. I found this bobcat track and the route it had taken down the road. I'll post the photos I took this morning in a few minutes.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Carol saw these beautiful colors in the clouds on her way home from Alamosa today. As she drove into our area the colors just got brighter and brighter. Awesome!







Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Scene

I took a walk down the road to check for tracks (only deer and bobcat) and as I returned I thought this was a serene photo. What is different this year from other past years is that instead of having 4+ feet of snow we only have ankle deep snow. We have received 14" so far this winter which is quite abnormal. It is amazing that I could walk down the road as usually it has several feet of snow and I need snow shoes to get down the road. The road is plowed to our house but the part of the road I walked on is usually not available to us.

The snow will come but the later it arrives the bigger the chance it will be more at one time. In the meantime we will enjoy the ability to still walk around the property and down the road.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What Does This Little Guy Have To Worry About?

Nothing, absolutely nothing.....
Neither does this little guy......

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Deer Activity

Yesterday when I walked to the end of our property I found a lot of deer activity. Today when I walked down there I found even more. The snow is only ankle deep now having evaporated or blown away and it was 42 degrees outside. Nice day for a walk so I took advantage of the opportunity. Hard to believe it is December and this nice outside at 9,800 feet elevation.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter Photos From The Mountains

 The above photo is the culvert that drains the spring from up on our property which is the  photo below. The spring comes from deep in the mountain and runs all year long which is why it runs all year. The deeper in the ground the source the more even the temperature of the water. We have a second spring that runs all year also but it freezes before it can get very far down the mountain. It fans our on the ground and freezes.

 The above photo is where the deer and elk are eating the aspen tree bark. I walked around and found several places where they pawed the snow away looking for grasses to eat. Below is a photo of the swing where it is pretty cold to sit now days.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Baby Elk

We had a request to post a photo of a baby elk and after going through many photos I couldn't find one but this one has  a young elk on the left in the photo. We once had a single cow elk that was hanging around all alone and as it turned out she gave birth up behind the house but she was not part of the herd. Even though she gave birth here we didn't see the elk baby as she kept it pretty secret. What we saw were small hoof prints to indicate they were around but she did not choose to share her baby like some of the deer have done in the past.