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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Life In The Mountains

Check out a blog on Mother Earth News about the 20 year reflection of living in the mountains full time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Rainbows Inside

 We have a cut glass ornament with a prism hanging inside it that we have in the front window. At certain times of the year it creates little rainbows that float all over the front of the house. It is very pretty and we have enjoyed its rainbows for many years.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


We were out for a ride and saw this tree along the way. It is covered with fungus almost all the way to the top.  Unusual to suddenly come upon...

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Life is tough for Flycatchers sometimes. We have had the same family of flycatchers come  back year after year and nest in the same place to raise their young. They always seem to lay three eggs and have been successful in raising their young. I found one that apparently died when it attempted to leave the nest this year and yesterday one flew into the window and subsequently died. I held it for a long time trying to keep it from going into shock but after an hour or two it died due to its injuries.

That leaves one left from the family this year and we are hoping it survives to come back another year. This is the first year we have not had several families of western tanagers nest around the house. I wonder why they didn't come back this year but perhaps life is hard on western tanagers too...

Also our bat population has diminished from 6 to one this year so when the bat migrates to the south it too may not return next year. We love our birds and bats as they keep our fly and insect population in check. Hopefully others will take their place....

Pet Cemetery

We have set a small area aside for a pet cemetery where we can bury our faithful fur families cremated remains. We have ordered three memorial markers for our deceased fur kids and when they get here we plan to bury the ashes of our best friends.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Bat

Several years ago we had some bats so I made them a bat house that we put up under our front over hang. We had about a half dozen or more bats that migrated here every year and over the years they have slowly diminished.

I was concerned that they were all gone because I had not seen any this year. A couple nights ago I was out in the back yard at dusk with the dogs and a single bat was flitting around eating insects. In the past the bats have eliminated our population of mosquitoes. This year it is feast time for the bat that survived all these years. We are happy to see even one bat return albeit late in the summer.


Our flock of Broadtail and Rufus hummingbirds number approximately around 50. It is hard to tell for sure as they zip around so fast but on the three feeders they sometimes perch side by side and take turns at the feeding holes. 

We use 4 cups water and 1 cup of sugar. We have 2 gallon jugs that we rotate. We put 12 cups of very hot water in it, add 3 cups of sugar and shake until the sugar is dissolved. There's a 12 cup mark on the side of the jug so we don't have to measure the water every time. We have 3 feeders out and it will keep us busy until September 1!!!!!

We do not use any red food coloring as we understand that is bad for them. Mixed in this flock is Henrietta who is the first to arrive and the last to leave. She has been coming around at least 10 years and we can usually tell her from the rest as she has a slight tremor from a collision around 10 years ago. Carol found her in a snow bank and held her until she revived and warmed her with the warmth of her hand. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cake Donut Recipe

Here is the recipe. I use a deep fat fryer and take them out of the hot vegetable oil about 20 seconds before I let them dry on paper towels. They make about 20 the way I do them. Yumm..........


  1. In a large bowl mix the sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  2. Add eggs, milk and melted butter. Beat well.
  3. Add 3 cups of the flour, beating until blended. Add one more cup of flour and beat well. The dough should be soft and sticky but firm enough to handle. If you feel its necessary, add up to 1/2 cup more flour.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for *at* *least* one hour.
  5. Remove your dough from the fridge and begin heating about 1" of oil to 360F in a large metal skillet.
  6. Working half the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/2" thickness. Cut out circles using a doughnut cutter or large biscuit or cookie cutter. For the center, I actually use the cap off my martini shaker ;) to cut the holes.
  7. Gently drop the doughnuts in batches into the hot oil. Flip them over as they puff and turn them a couple more times as they cook. They will take about 2-3 minutes in total and will be lovely and golden brown all over.
  8. Remove from the oil and set them on paper towels or brown paper bag (that removes all the fat, you know).

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Improving Skills

Because I have to take one medication with food and I get up early I usually take it first thing in the morning with a cake donut.  For years I have bought my cake donuts at City Market but recently they stopped making them. Donuts from their bakery were especially good but for reasons known only to them they decided to take one of their best sellers off the market.

I decided to make them myself and obtained a recipe from the internet. My first effort wasn't that good but this time with some adjustments they came out excellent. (see photo above) I remember as a kid that cake donuts were a special treat when my mom would make them only she called them fried cakes. What ever you call them they are good and I don't need City Market now. Takes about 1 1/2 hours to make them and to me the home made ones just taste better anyway. Yummy........

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trail Camera Photos

 Photos from our trail camera last year. I just downloaded 127 photos from recently and now can't find them in my computer so these are from last year.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Momma and babies

Carol was walking the dogs down the trail this morning and there was Mom and her two little guys still in spots. They were pretty uncooperative about getting all three in the photo but here is Mom and two little ones.........You have to look carefully to see the second one...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sarah Jane McElmurray 
2003 -2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Front End Loader Is On.

 FINALLY I got the front end loader attached. Thanks to Paul's comment and one I got by message from Stephen on Facebook I was able to figure it out. Thank you both of you for your help. The hydraulic hoses are all color coded and the two that refused to attach went to the largest hydraulic cylinder on the loader. I had loosened the both those connections to let the pressure off, turned the tractor off so no additional pressure would accumulate, put the control lever in free float to make sure there was no pressure on the unit. When that did not work I loosened all the connections and re tightened them to see if I could get the connections to work. Still to much pressure and after probably 6-7 times I gave up until I got he suggestions which got me to thinking a little differently.
I went out this morning and loosened the connections to the two troublesome hoses and let them remain loose. I then tried the hose connectors and viola they went on just like they should. Then I tightened the loose nuts back and finished hooking it up and it now works again. Thanks to you both for sparking the thought that was necessary to get the loader hooked back up and working.

The loader is a labor saving attachment that cleaned out an area where the dirt collapsed onto the driveway in the spring when the ground was saturated with moisture. It took me a little over 40 minutes to clear it up and if I had to do it by hand with a shovel it would have taken half a day and I would be exhausted at the end.

Now I can spread the rest of the road base in needed areas of the driveway and move some rocks out of the way. Saves my back and also much faster.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Our board walk out the back door has a couple boards that are failing due to all the rain we have been getting. I went into Alamosa specifically for pavers to replace the wooden walkway. Big R always has had in the past 20 years a couple pallets of pavers out front but this year they had them in the side yard instead. I needed 14 pavers and they only had 13 plus a broken one. On to Tractor Supply where they have had them out front also but this time they did not have a single one. One last place to look, and I drove way to the other side of town, to a landscape business that has several types. When I got to the turn off to the store they were redoing the road and I didn't see any way to get to the business. I could see the business but the road was closed with tar all over it.

I came home from a total bust on pavers and had drove 95 miles plus to accomplish nothing. Then I tried to attach the front end loader to the tractor. After bleeding the loader hydraulic lines to take out excess pressure but still the hoses would not connect. Two of the four hoses would connect but two would not. A $2,400. tractor attachment and it won't even work. It has been a problem since I bought it and hence have only used it four times. One time I had to have the dealer attach it because of the same problem. The dealer charges over $360.00 to come out and that is without lifting a wrench. As they scratch their head, review their messages, ponder the problem the meter is running.  It is just better to let the loader sit instead of paying over $300. to use it each time I need it. I think I just need to go back to bed and stay there... and the front end loader can stay in its bed and rust away. Arrrgggg

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lyme Disease Blood Test

Got the  news back from the blood test regarding Lyme disease that was taken last week. The test was negative for Lyme disease. This is why it is so important to get medical attention quickly after a bite is discovered. The sooner you get on antibiotics the better the chance of being in the 80% of those who are cured. The disease needs to get arrested and destroyed before it can enter the bloodstream which is at 4 weeks. Once in the bloodstream it is far more difficult to destroy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Senior Fur Family

There are special challenges with our fur family members as they become senior. Our Sarah is no exception and has congestive heart failure and arthritis. Getting a balance of Rx for the both of those is an ongoing challenge. We had her arthritis in check and then she started coughing more so we needed to help her get rid of the fluid in her lungs. 
She was prescribed Furosmide as she can't tolerate Lasix. I gave her one Wednesday when I came back from town and one Thursday. We noted Thursday that her limbs were very weak and we thought her arthritis was flaring up. Until I searched the web for side effects.
She had become so weak with just two days of Furosmide that she couldn't get up to drink or go outside to relieve herself. When we realized that muscle weakness was a side effect of this drug we took her off it completely. It stopped her coughing but she was so weak she could not walk or get up the two steps to get water. We carried her water and food to her and now must look for alternative treatment.
Happily today she is returning to normal and could go out and actually took a walk. Prayer has been answered and she is one tough girl. The struggle goes on but she is pretty much restored to her normal self. She went from barely being able to move to her more normal behavior. It is just like a roller coaster with senior fur family members. Up to the heights one day and down in the cellar the next. Sarah is somewhere between 14-15 and like most seniors has her good and bad days. It is good to see the happiness back in her eyes today. Tomorrow will bring what tomorrow will bring. Going through her senior time is very much like an emotional roller coaster ride, but one in which we want the best for her and to give her end of years quality of life. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mysteriously Absent

 For many years we have had several Western Tanagers nest and hang around our house and this is the first year we have not seen them. The Flycatchers have their nest in the usual place and when I go to get my tractor out I can see little heads just above the rim of the nest but no Western Tanagers this year at all. We have not seen the pine siskins, finches or juncos either this summer. The later birds all eat thistle and the association has a big thistle spraying project going on which is killing the native as well as invasive thistle.  Remove the food source and the birds will move on to where there is more ample feed.
For as many years as I can recall we have had bat families roost in the bat box under the eve of our house situated high up. This is the first year we have not seen any bats. With all the agriculture hazards and old mine collapses the bats may be in peril too. In past years the bats have kept our mosquito population at almost zero. This year we have ample mosquitoes for many bats if they would only show up.

I believe the absence of certain species of birds and bats is not coincidence but I'm not sure what the cause is.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hard Work

 We have been working almost every day on hauling brush, cutting trees that were blown down last winter. This is the biggest and last tree that we need to deal with. We still have a couple loads of limbs to haul to the burn site and we will have caught up to where we were at last year.
Above is a photo taken years ago and we are wondering why we have not seen any bears this year and only one last year. It could be because in the summer residents in our area drive up and down our road looking for them which drives them to other areas. We have not even found one pile of bear skat this year. In years past they were regular visitors and would eat the wild grass right up next to the house. Not so much now. Sad...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hail and Fireweed

Rare storm yesterday with 1" of rain and hail in 30 minutes. Had several washouts that required repair but we get a storm or two like this every year so we are used to dealing with it. A little back blade with the tractor and its back to normal again. We needed the rain but because it came down so fast and hard much of it was sheet flow and it moved on down the mountain.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Contributing Firewood

Another load of firewood for LaPuente (the bridge) to come load up next Thursday. The trip is already scheduled. This will be the fourth load of firewood this year. Hope to provide more throughout the year. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wild Flowers Blooming

 Above is Indian Paint Brush that is now blooming.
 Columbine are coming out all over the area. I used to think that the rose was my favorite flower and it still may be but the columbine comes in a close second. These are unique and beautiful...
Lupine is everywhere I look and is beautiful..

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tick Bite - Lyme Disease???

After hauling brush a week ago I noticed this on my arm and after taking a shower following mucking out our creek this morning I took a shower to get the mud off me. This time when I noticed it on my arm a bell went off and I looked up tick bites with lyme disease. Sure enough it is a match but I must have scratched the tick off almost after the initial bite through the sleeve of my shirt. Looks like I'll be making a doctors appointment early next week...Haven't heard of lyme disease ticks in our part of the country but this says otherwise....but, I'll let the doctor make the diagnosis.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Good Memories

When we woke up this morning it was a cool 46 degrees outside with a slight breeze blowing into the house which triggered one of my favorite memories. I was visiting my mom and the bed was right near a window and I woke up and heard the birds singing outside the window and a cool breeze was blowing in the window with a fresh scent. Laying in the crisp sheets which had been line dried made it hard to get up that long ago morning. It seems that some of the best memories don't cost a thing but linger in our memory for a very long time. The cool breeze coming into the house this morning made it seem I had gone back 50 years in time to that morning again. Ahh, memories that are always at the back of our mind and just need a little tug to make them real all over again.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fresh Fish

I went fishing with my friend Skip this morning and we caught a nice mess of fish each. While walking along Wagon Creek road I met these two ladies from Tennessee and Florida and it turned out they are readers of this blog. Hope you enjoy your stay and don't forget to order one of Gerald's chickens at Old Fort Market (379-3482) when you read this. Yummm.....

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mystery Plant - Carol

When we hiked to the top of the mountain behind our house a few Sunday's ago we saw a plant that we did not recognize nor could we identify. Today as I was walking the dogs down the trail behind our house what to my wondering eyes should appear...but that same plant and it was in bloom! Now it is identifiable....Pinedrops...(Giant Bird's Nest) Pterospora andromedea

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sarah's Friend

 This is the third year that this doe has come around on a regular basis to visit Sarah. She will come up to within two or three feet on the other side of the fence and they will sniff each other. This has become a regular ritual and she is content with either myself or Carol being out there too. These photos were taken after all four dogs went out for their morning potty break and the doe did not leave.
We let the dogs out one at a time and they do not bark or charge the fence but follow Sarah's lead in just going about their business and the deer is as calm as can be. She does not come to the fence to sniff the other dogs - just Sarah whom she clearly trusts. This behavior says a lot about animals and how they interact with each other.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dealing With Senior Dogs

Our dogs are all senior with the oldest (Sarah above) being 13 years old and the youngest being 7 years old. The other two are both 10 years old. With becoming senior comes predictable ailments. When we go into a physician we can usually describe what is causing us problems but our dogs are not able to do that so we must be very observant to see they are treated properly. Recently and suddenly Sarah did not want to climb the two stairs leading into the house. It took some sleuthing work but we finally figured out that she may have been stepped on at night.

She sometimes likes to sleep on the bed in front of the couch that Bozwell is on. We concluded that she was sleeping there when either he or Echo got down and stepped on her. It could also be a combination of arthritis and injury. When we figured it out we contacted our veterinarian who suggested we give her arthritis medication and also give her a Rimadyl 100 mg. per day. The transformation was almost immediate and remarkable. She was back to her old self and eating well again. We believe she had both injury and arthritis and now she is on Duralactin and Cosequin DS as recommended. She now hops up on the couch and bed without any hesitation. She is also on Enalapril 10 mg, two times a day for her congestive heart failure.

Bozwell also has arthritis and the Duralactin/Cosequin DS (double strength), plus wild Alaska salmon oil capsules and oregano once daily, The salmon oil and oregano are for skin health and a stronger immune system. Carol tells me that when I prepare their meals three times a day that I look like a chemist with all the ingredients for each dog individually. In addition to kibble they get chunky beef and gravy. We were told Bozley was a poor eater when we adopted him but he gets his special combination also and it turns out he is a wonderful eater.

In summary our dogs are unable to speak regarding what ails them but close observation will generally give a clue. They need to be able to live out their senior years in healthy and happy lifestyle. These treatments give them the desired pain free mobility they need to have that life.

Wild Flowers Have Started

 Indian Paint Brush above, columbine below.

 Wild rose above, yellow flowers below.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dirty Job

One more job to cross off my summer to do list. Cleaning the wood stove and chimney.  Our Jotul stove is either 5 or 6 years old and it was also time for service. The gaskets in the top, front door were getting very compressed where they would allow air to leak in and harm the efficiency of the stove. So all gaskets were replaced and the inside of the stove was vacuumed out wire brushed and cleaned for every speck of soot and creosote. Over the years it must have been moved slightly so we also leveled it up.

We ran a chimney brush up the chimney and managed to get it cleaned without making a mess. Checked the chimney wind cap and it didn't look bad enough to climb up there to swap it with a clean one so left that for next year. Total cleaning time was just three hours plus which included a power outage of 2 hours sandwiched in the middle of the project. The power never goes out at a convenient time and this time went out with soot all over the hearth. No way were we ready to clean the chimney with the power out so we had to wait so we could catch the creosote and soot with the shop vac.

We are ready now for another winter and have our firewood already done and dried out  enough to get us through the winter. As I look through my summer job list I'm already down to just a couple more tasks and the list will be complete. Cleaning the wood stove and chimney are never one of our favorite jobs and to have that done is refreshing for us. The stove will go almost continuously for 8 months so our window is narrow to get it cleaned.

It always worries me when we are able to get our job list done early like this. Not sure what may come our way but we will deal with it if it happens.