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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Firewood Season

Have been  busy getting our firewood in for next winter. Have been spending a lot of time trying to get something done for someone else but have been working on our firewood in between times. Slightly behind schedule but it won't take long to get about 25 trees at the far end of our property and get caught up. About another 5 cords to do yet so hope to have it all done in the next week or two. We have a good workable system set up.
Actually at my age and with creaky and sore joints this has been a much needed break to allow myself to heal. Something I would not have done on my own and it worked out perfectly to give my body a chance to restore itself...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Henrietta

 For those who showed an interest in Henrietta's survival during our last storm be advised that she did survive and is doing well. If her courage and stamina could be imparted to a single human they would have tremendous power. Henrietta is one tough little hummingbird who takes all that nature throws at her and flips her wing at it.

Radon

Check out my latest post on Mother Earth News regarding radon at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/radon-detection-and-mitigation-zbcz1605.aspx

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Aspects Of Spring In The Mountains

 The real spring time is spring time.. Along our property there are springs that burst forth this time of year. They sometimes flow so hard that the water shoots up out of the ground a foot or more. One year they washed a trench in our driveway that was knee deep. I have since directed the water to  run under the driveway in a culvert but it still saturates the driveway keeping it very wet. Click on the photos for a larger version. The springs just started today and fortunately I was working outside when they burst forth and was able to channel the water to where it won't do any real damage.
 The water is channeled down the edge of the driveway to the opening of the culvert on top. The photo below is where it runs out and then down to the ditch along the road and on down the mountain.
 Below  is the hillside along where we park the vehicles. It washes out each year and there is no way to re-direct the water here so we channel it to the culvert. I also keep a thick layer of road base in this area so we don't sink to our knees in mud.
 The following two photos depict the aspen trees about to leaf out. Before the leaf appears there is a long fuzzy worm looking pod that sometimes gets to 3-4" long. They fall off and the leaf then forms.
 These fuzzy worm looking things cover the ground and get so thick that I need to rake them up or they get tracked inside.  Springtime is somewhat different here in the mountains.
Without even going to the other end of our property I know the two springs that run all year long are really pumping out the water now. Those springs come from deep in the ground and the springs that only run for a few weeks join with those springs to put out a very healthy amount of water.

Morning Humor

As I was driving home from Alamosa yesterday I was scrolling for a station on the radio to listen to. I found one that was strictly humor. A woman was telling how people have no sense of humor anymore and are so serious about everything. She related that she was in a hurry to get somewhere and was clearly speeding when a patrolman pulled her over. She said he walked up to her car and ask her if she knew why she was being pulled over. Her reply was - did it have anything to do with the body in the trunk...She said he had no sense of humor.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

More May 17 Photos






May 17, In The Mountains

 Henrietta hunkered down on the shelf outside our window.  She is fluffed up and shivering and wondering what happened...
 Above and below are photos of our first look outside this morning. Here at 9,800' elevation you just never know what you will see when it get light in the morning.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Firewood Time Again...

 Cutting our firewood a cord at a time to save the back and not exhaust us by doing it all at once. This is the start of the season and we are using logs that we previously cut and stacked last year. So when we have our 9-11 cords cut, split and stacked we will start to cut more to have available for next year.
 Above photo is the measuring stick that I use to get all the logs the same size. It's that time of year when we start getting our firewood cut, split and stacked. We have the saw buck and splitter right together to save extra effort and time.
Our Makita electric chain saw really wades through the logs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Henrietta Is Back


Henrietta is a broad tail hummingbird that has to be a senior by now. Each year we wonder if she will return and so far she has. She can sit at this specific feeder just like in the photo for the longest time. Other hummingbirds will come and go but she just sits there. Broad-tails can live for up to 12 years and she has to be close to 12 now.

We recognize Henrietta because of her unique behavior since she is the only one that sits like this for long periods of time and she has a slight twitch which came from the first time we met her. She had been attacked by another male hummingbird and was left near death. I found her and kept her warm and from going into shock and talked to her for a long time. She eventually came around to where she could fly up into the aspen tree where she perched for a long time while she regained her strength.

We always watch for her each year hoping she will return one more time. Well, today there she was in her usual pose on the feeder. She is not afraid of us like the other hummingbirds are when they fly off when we go out back. We have found Henrietta to be a very strong willed hummingbird and over the years her palsy has become better to where it is hardly noticeable any more. None of the other hummingbirds seem to bother her or go after her. I think they all know that Henrietta is a protected guest of ours at the feeder.

We usually have 40-50 hummingbirds during the summer and we can pick Henrietta out of the entire flock. It probably seems pretty silly that we watch for one particular hummingbird to return each year but Henrietta is pretty special and unique. Welcome back Henrietta, enjoy your summer stay...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Signs Of Spring

 I thought I would go out and roam our property today and see just how much damage winter caused to the trees. I had to wander in and out of remaining snow piles like this one which was approximately four feet deep. Where the sun hits they are mostly gone but many drifts remain.
 Our spring (above) is running well and will run harder as more snow melts up higher. Right now it is running about normal but soon it will really pour forth from the ground.
 Here is the view from our swing at the other end of the property and that drift in front of me is about four feet deep also. the photo below was taken of a different angle still sitting in the swing. We still have plenty of snow to melt before we can get into the woods and clean up blown over trees or those that lean against other trees. There was considerable damage this year due to the heavy late snows.

Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9

 May 9, and it is still snowing in the mountains. Not unusual for us here and we can get snow up and through June. They say around Mothers Day is a good time to plant a garden and I have now planted it twice due to the late season cold temperatures that froze the first little plants that popped up during a warm spell. Sometimes I can get away with planting on April 1st but mostly not. Wet snow doesn't hurt the plants but the cold does. It has been hovering around 32-35 degrees all morning. The hummingbird feeder had several broadtails on it yesterday and today they are considering whether to migrate back south again.....

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wild Turkeys


As I was fixing the dogs breakfast I looked out the window and there were some wild adult turkeys heading up the mountain. We have turkeys around various times of the year. They reminded me of a turkey we called Put - Put because she would hang around doing her put put when she wanted something to eat. She would come to the back window and put away until she got our attention so I could carry her out some hen scratch. Sometimes she would come a couple times a day to get some feed. When I would go down the road to our creek to dig worms to go fishing she would follow me and I would toss her a few worms which she also loved.

Put Put stayed with us for a very long time until one day on our walk we had a mountain lion walk out in front of us not far from the house. After that we didn't see Put Put again. I scoured the side of the mountain to see if the mountain lion got here or not and found no trace which led me to believe that Put Put had vacated the area and never found her way back. She obviously went in search of someplace that didn't have as many predators. We have coyote and bobcat but when the mountain lion showed up that was probably the final factor that sent Put Put looking for safer ground.

We were able to enjoy her company for a while and she allowed us to get close enough to feed her and she determined when she wanted to be fed. We miss Put Put and she never lost her wildness so I'm pretty sure she did well on her own.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Toughness


Some things go unnoticed and unappreciated but not this little tree. When we first moved here and started to clear our lot this little tree was only 3-4 feet tall and now it is over 8 feet tall. It was all by itself and seemed in the way but as I looked at it and decided if it needed to go or not - I decided not.

Now it is often buried under snow during the winter and each year I marvel at how it managed to survive with all that weight of snow on it. I look at it often and admire its toughness and desire to survive. It has survived not only the heavy snow, spruce bud worm and been buried for months at a time but survived drought, bag worms, and everything else nature could throw at it. I helped it out with the bag worms but it has fought and survived everything else. I have really come to admire this little tree.

It has survived everything that has been thrown at it and made this little tree stronger. I know - pretty silly to admire a scruffy little tree when we have 11 acres of them but this tree has earned respect. Some day when someone else lives here they will probably cut it down but as long as I'm alive it will be untouched. It has taken on the harshest of conditions and become stronger and I have watched it grow from a small tree to a real tough tree. It has more than earned its place on our property. Some would call my admiration for this conifer tree nuts and they may be right but I appreciate toughness when I see it and this tree is as tough as they come. Bent over but not broken.....

Danger

This time of year when we get wet snow fall that can range from 2' to 4' at a time it can be hazardous when working outside. There are snow bombs that are heavy, semi solid, and when falling from 30-50' high can really do some damage to you if you are unfortunate enough to be underneath one when it gives way. they are very heavy so I don't work under the trees until they have unloaded their cargo.

Our home also has a very steep metal roof so it is best to wait until after it has come off the roof before working along side the house. I have been swept completely off my feet with heavy snow that pins you to the ground before and now I don't get close enough to run the risk. In the last two weeks we have gotten a total of 73" of heavy wet snow. It is not only dangerous to property but it can be dangerous to people too if you happen to be in the way.

While people in other parts of the country are enjoying their tulips, daffodils and crocus and planting their gardens we are subject to heavy wet snow that can collapse decks, roof and damage vehicles. If you happen to be a little careless it can damage people too.

My garden is pretty well shot and I'll have to replant one more time. Sometimes I can get away with planting in early April but not this year. We enjoyed two pleasant months in March and most of April but then the bottom fell out of the weather and now we have deep slush and snow that is very heavy. We may not be done yet. There isn't much we can do with this snow as it is so wet it clogs the chute of the snow thrower, sticks to the shovel and each shovel full weighs a ton. It also fills up the broom where it is not effective. All we can do is sit and wait for it to melt which it will in a few days. In the mean time we will stay out from under those trees and the snow bombs.

Check Codes/Permits First

If you plan to build and be your own contractor it is wise to check the county codes and permit process BEFORE you start. Each county is different and you need to comply as they generally all have the power to shut you down and/or force change that can be costly. Check out the link below:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/homesteading-with-code-requirements-zbcz1605.aspx

I have had several people ask me about building their vacation home or dream home locally. This is for their benefit and hope they will check out the county land use codes first.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Snow Must Go


It is time for the sun to appear and for the snow to go. We had bare ground for almost two months and so I planted my garden. Last week we had 49" of fresh wet and heavy snow and so far this week another 24" and it has been snowing  almost every day. These gloomy days are starting to get to us and we need SUNSHINE. Snowing when we go to bed, snowing when we get up. For a guy like me that loves snow it is even getting to be too much. I'm running out of places to put all this new snow.




Saturday, April 30, 2016

Game Time

We have a little game we play with the dogs called "cereal". Not an original name but fun for the dogs. We toss several handfuls of puffed rice cereal out on the carpet and they go to town scoffing it up. It was a dark gloomy day out today so I decided they needed a pick me up so cereal was the choice. After they have it all eaten up they will still look for more that may have escaped them initially.

Bozley was pretty uncertain to play when he first came with us but now he gets right into the game with the others. They share well and enjoy the game. When they start to get cabin fever and need something to get them up again we will play 'cereal' or 'hide and seek' with miniature marshmallows. One of us will take them outside while the other one hides the marshmallows around the house and then we will tell them 'hide and seek' and they will go in search of those tiny marshmallows. Sometimes we will have to guide them with directions and they know exactly what we are telling them so it is a learning experience too.  Try it with your fur family members and I'll bet they will like it just as much as ours do.

Friday, April 29, 2016

More Spring Snow

 About 16" of wet snow in the past two days which is very normal for our area. Our last snow is usually around the end of May. It is hard to measure the snow because it is so wet it compresses and so wet it settles right down. This is our necessary snow for moisture for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why Am I Like I Am?

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. 
Zig Ziglar

Do you ever wonder why you are like you are? Why you react the way you do to circumstances? I do and I have given it some thought and done some introspective searching. It could come from my past when I was growing up. It could come from my heritage and it could come from making mistakes along the way, my environment and life lessons. I have friends from different cultural backgrounds and while they think and react differently than I do we have many of the same core values and respect each other for our differences. I think it boils down to core values and while I can see many Irish traits as I go through life and the experiences it throws my way I think it is the core values that determine your success and happiness. 

I remember when I was a child that my mother used to tell me if I told the truth I wouldn't have to worry about remembering what I said. I hear that on the TV show from Judge Judy all the time and it is good that she imparts that life principal to others because some people never do learn that. Sig Zigler has it right in his quote above. What he describes is a person with good character. All life lessons culminate into his quote and along the way there are choices and some will be good choices and some not so good. The goal is to learn from making the bad choices and not repeat them again. 

I believe that being of Irish heritage has much to do with my current behavior and the way I conduct myself. It is something ingrained within me that I can't run or hide from. I have a very strong sense of justice and I rail and push back against injustice. I can't seem to keep it hidden and it surges forward and for me to deny that would be like pushing the ocean tide back. Us Irish are friendly and fun loving and don't take life too seriously. It is just the way we are. It is claimed that we Irish like to fight and are heavy drinkers and that is not true. We mostly try to avoid fighting but when the fight is brought to us we will most certainly fight back if the problem can't be resolved peacefully. In short when pushed too far we will fight and we fight hard. 

It is claimed we Irish are all heavy drinkers. Another myth. In our culture we gather at pubs for a little ale to socialize and have fun. Only those Irish who buy into the myth that our breed are heavy drinkers do such. Normally we simply enjoy a brew and good conversation without over indulging. It is also claimed the Irish are a little on the ignorant side but that too is false. Because the Irish are fun loving and don't take life as seriously as some others might that dog just won't hunt. Some of the most brilliant people I have met have been Irish. My roommate in the Air Force was Irish and went to MIT due to his brilliance. 

I think being Irish plays a role in who and what I am and to try to run from it or muffle it only tends to make me something I am not. Like being Italian, French, English or Native American we all have ingrained characteristics that have been bred into us from birth that we should acknowledge. It is this individual uniqueness that we need to be true to and I personally find it refreshing and welcome those who may be different than I am. It is in combination with them that I find growth and value in life. We compliment and contrast each other and in the end make each other a better people. 

In today's culture where diversity is promoted it is easy to lose your personal culture by striving to be like everyone else and hence lose your real identity in the process. I think that is a huge mistake to buy into that falsehood and I'm proud to be Irish and understand how that plays into who I am and why I'm like I am. We can't go through life in a bubble or only surround ourselves with like people and expect to thrive. But that doesn't mean that I have to pretend to be of another culture to prosper. I accept who I  am and surround myself with those who embrace those same core values and also stay true to who they are as well. One only has to look around to see life can be full of illusion and false values but to remain true to who you are as a person will lead to happiness and fulfillment. I'm therefore happy to be Irish and have the core values I have developed over the years. That is just who I am....and I plan to stay true to myself. Chasing after false identities takes a person away from what and who they are. Character can't be bought and has to be earned and learned and your heritage plays heavily into that if you but embrace it.    

Friday, April 22, 2016

Some Tough Pea Plants

 These are some tough pea plants. They were buried under 49" of snow and after I shoveled them out they are laying on the dirt but alive. Green leaves and they have been buried now for one week. The other plants did not fare as good but these pea plants hung in there until I could get the snow off and they could get some sun. I was prepared to pull them out and start over again but they are much tougher than I thought.
 Below are some of the slush/ice/snow piles that I pushed as far as I could with the tractor and blade. Tomorrow I will hook up the front end loader and scoop them up and put them down hill where the run off will go into a ditch and not wash out the driveway. I should have known better than take the snow thrower off but once off it got buried and I can't get to it to put it on again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day Three - Snow Stopped

 Photos from our back ground floor windows after 3 days of constant snow. According to my best calculations we received close to 44" of heavy spring snow over the last three days. Today the sky is blue and we are finally able to get outside and start moving some of this heavy snow. The photo's depict how deep the snow is as it came up about 6-8" on the window and in the photo below the fence is a 6' fence and the ground was bare before the storm hit. Typical spring snow storm.
 Our average snow fall for the winter is around 264" according to the HUD report when we bought our property. So far we have 216," and we can and do get snow until the end of May so we will probably reach our average. Just another spring snow in the mountains.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring Storm

Generally the weather people miss when it comes to our area of the mountains. This time they got it right. I had taken the snow removal equipment off the tractor and now we have between 19 -22" of heavy wet snow and it is coming down with no let up. Yesterday we walked down and sat in the swing for a while and today we are in the middle of a blizzard. This is typical for life in the mountains. When the storm passes over and has finished we will be left with much needed moisture. The sun and rain will melt the snow and it will be gone in a matter of a few days. I'll willing to let nature take its course with it and not hook up the snow removal equipment again.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Covenant Communities

Check out my latest blog at http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/organized-community-homesteading-zbcz1604.aspx

We have been living in a covenant landowners community for 19 years and have made certain observations during that time regarding associations. We have owned property in at least five different covenant communities. Rarely have they functioned as they were designed to do. Covenant communities sound good on paper but fail to take into account being governed by your neighbors.
Often neighbors do not have the temperament or experience to govern their neighbors and don't want to admit it hence causing friction. They also take any criticism or suggestions poorly and become very defensive.

I believe that covenant associations work for condos but not neighborhoods where people interact and don't like to give their neighbor power over them even though they are voted into office. Check out the blog and if you are thinking of living remote I would suggest that you first check out the community that you plan to live in if it is controlled by an association.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring In The Rockies

 Outside working most of the day in shirt sleeves and came in to take a break. Looked out the front window and large wet flakes of snow were falling. Wet enough to stick to the trees and create all the beauty of the mountains. This time of year the weather can change every few minutes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Saving Trees

 Last November I was walking down the road a couple days after the grader went down the road. I heard the grader straining like it was stuck and as I went down the road there were large rocks ripped out of the ground and the road was torn up. It appeared that the operator may have missed the road and ended up in the ditch. Among all the rocks and dirt I saw the above little tree which had been ripped out of the ground and it appeared to be still alive. I brought the tree home and put it in some dirt and watered it down good. I then put the bucket in another larger bucket and packed saw dust around the smaller bucket. I have nursed it along all winter and it hung onto life. Today I took it out and found some rich soil and planted and watered it. I'm hoping it will continue to grow. Since trees only grow a few inches or during a good growth year maybe a foot I will never see it mature but hopefully someone will and it will give them shade and wind protection. I planted it in with some other trees (below) that I planted several years ago. Grow up and be impressive and strong little tree....