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Monday, April 24, 2017

Tackle The Hard Jobs First

We have a pretty good start on our firewood for next winter already. It is the toughest job we have each year so we like to get it done early so the rest of the summer we can do more enjoyable tings. The wood shed is full and we are well on the way to getting our firewood done.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Back when we had the shell of our cabin built the builder put in a traditional staircase. Where you see the "baby gate" should have been a closet under the stairs. However, the stairs went right to the wall you can see by the chair and then made a turn to come down to the floor. If we were only 3 feet tall it would have been fine! We were living in PA at the time so we drove over to the Philly area to pick up all of the pieces for this spiral staircase at and drove it out here in the back of our pick up truck. After we assembled it Bruce covered the stairs with carpeting and voila! We had a way to get to the sleeping loft.

We have had two dogs prior to Echo who navigated the stairs with no trouble and when they got old and knew they couldn't go up and down, they quit doing so. Of the 4 dogs we have right now Echo is the only one that is interested in getting up to the loft but after his fall the other night when the electricity was off and it was pitch black in our cabin, we have decided to block it off so that he won't go up and down any more.

Right now the gate prevents him from doing so....but Bruce is going to put his wood working skills to use and construct a door that will swing towards the hallway. That way when we come down from the loft we won't have to step OVER the gate!

We will post pics when the door is installed.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Yesterday after Echo fell down the stairs he was in much pain in his neck. The vet  gave him Rx for the pain but it did not seem to help him. He panted and paced for 7 hours straight without being able to lay down. We finally had the idea to put the plastic collar on him that keeps him from turning his head to lick the stitches when he has had cysts removed.
That did the trick and he was finally able to lay down. The collar is designed to keep them from licking wounds but it also serves as a way to stabilize his neck therefore giving him relief. That collar has given him the opportunity to recover along with the medicine. He is doing better today but still has pain spasms if he moves his head to the left. We can see some improvement and are happy we finally thought of the collar. Sometimes you just have to improvise.

Natures Beauty

 When we woke up this morning we noted it had snowed lightly over night and created what only nature can create. I went out early to get these photos before the sun hit the snow as it will melt in minutes.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ouch And Urp

 It has been tough around here the past two days. First our girl Sarah (bottom photo) has a final diagnosis of congestive heart failure. Her Dr. wanted to put her on water pills for a week before starting her on heart medication. She did not tolerate the water pill very well and yesterday threw up her breakfast and lunch, partly digested. We called her Dr. immediately and he had us take her off the water pills and started her on the heart medication.
Then last night the power went out briefly and I got up to go fetch the oil lamp for some light in the house. Echo was upstairs and tried to come down when he heard me moving around. He couldn't see the steps and fell down the spiral staircase. We were waiting for his doctor to arrive at the clinic and he was diagnosed with a neck soft tissue injury. He is now on two pain killers but can't seem to lay down comfortably and has obvious pain. Mope's all over the house, can't handle stairs, tail between legs and he looks pathetic. We feel so bad for him and his recovery is suppose to take a week.
Our electric will go out for a moment and then come back on a few minutes later. That happened last night and Echo couldn't see and fell. Two weeks ago the same thing happened to Carol. The electric coop is coming next week to see what is wrong with our system as this should not be happening.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recent Wind Storm

 I have been finally able to get to the other end of our property and was astounded at how many trees were down. I gave up doing firewood to go check on a friends house as we had been asked when we had time to see if there home was okay. The good news is the house is okay but they lost 5 pretty sizable live trees. When he comes for the summer he will have a lot of trees to cut up.
 We went by some other friends house and they too lost a few trees but none fell near the house.

Signs Of Spring

 The above photo is the way the aspen look when they are ready to leaf out. These worm looking things develop and then they fall off and the leaves appear. A sure sign of spring.
This photo shows that the weather is finally nice enough to hang clothes outside on the line. Even with snow still on the ground there is warm (62 degree) temperatures and a breeze that is good for drying clothes.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sneaking a Peek

 Taking a peek at the trail camera. Not real sure about that little box on the tree.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beautiful Sarah

This is our Sarah - the absolute sweetest girl in the world. Not enough room to describe all her attributes. She is currently under treatment for a cough she developed. We will take her to the vet for retesting next week. She is around 13 years old now but still has a spring in her step.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another Long Time Favorite Photo

This little girl is absolutely adorable and if she doesn't melt your heart nothing will. She is simply adorable.

Mountain Sunrise

Living on the side of the mountain we get sunrise but not sunset as that happens on the other side of the mountain. They are all a little different but all are very colorful and beautiful.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Smile

This is one of my all time favorite photos that has been passed around for several years. When I need a smile I look at this and it has never failed me. I hope viewers enjoy this as much as I do....

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mountain Sunrise

 Mountain sunrises can be dramatic and it is worth getting up early to witness these beautiful sunrises.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mountain Life

 Maybe followers of this blog are tired of seeing photos of snow but for now that is all we have. I would suspect that living as we do in the mountains sounds adventurous and romantic to some. Actually for us it is more survival but it also comes with adventure and romance. I do not post these photos to extract any sympathy or empathy. We knew exactly what we were getting into when we bought and built our home here. With the purchase of our property came a HUD report that said our average snow for a winter was 264", which translates to 25' of snow. Our winters are 6 months long so that is a little over 4' of snow per month except it does not come like that very often.

The most we have ever received in the twenty years we have lived here is 72" over two days. That time it took us 5-6 days to dig out. In the past 10 days we received 52" in four separate storms. The snow is up above our windows part way. It looks like a break in the weather and we will be digging out over the next several days as the wind dies down and allows.

Life in the mountains is harsh and takes a lot of hard work to survive. We have learned to "go with the flow" or follow the rhythm of the winters. What it all boils down to is survival in harsh conditions. We heat with a wood stove but do have electricity. Frequently the electricity is out for a day or less during these storms due to the wind. We are prepared for these situations.

Living like we do is not easy by any stretch of the imagination but is possible. It is a life we have chosen for ourselves and we love it. The quiet and solitude can be daunting for some people and not many would choose to live our lifestyle. Not when all you need to do is turn up the thermostat and wait for someone to come plow you out. Today the wind is gusting 15-20 mph so we will wait until tomorrow when hopefully the wind will let up and we can see to clear the driveway. It is blowing large clumps of snow out of the trees and we can't see to throw the snow with the tractor.

Life in the mountains can be rough and demanding but we enjoy it and the other three seasons are wonderful. It is hard work, sometimes dangerous but enjoyable.  We know it is not for everyone - in fact probably only a few. We like to share it with others on this blog and we look forward to going from chest deep snow to cutting, splitting and stacking 9-12 cords of firewood for next winter. I certainly wouldn't want to disillusion anyone about the effort and demands of enjoying a lifestyle like ours. It is a harsh climate but we enjoy it.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Heartworm Risk

Check out the newest blog on Mother Earth News about heartworm risk.

We were under the wrong assumption that just because it was non existent in our area that our dogs were safe. We have changed our thinking on that and we verified the blog facts with our vet before we submitted it to be published.

If you think because of your area your pet is safe you might want to read the entire article as they may not be as safe as you assume.

Storm Four In Eleven Days

 So far in this storm we have 18" and there is still a lot of storm yet to happen. We got the dogs out to go potty and fed the birds and will now hunker down and wait for the electricity to go off - which it has done in the last three storms.
Just another day in the mountains...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Weather Predictions In The Mountains

We are bracing for our fourth significant winter storm in 10 days. Each one has dumped over a foot of snow on us - all wet.... This one is predicted to drop 7 -15" on us. Today was predicted to be no accumulation but I just swept 4" of heavy wet snow off the deck. Predicting if we get any snow or how much is pretty much a guess.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Power Outages

A week ago Friday we had a snow storm that measured 15" and lost power for 13 hours.  Then last Wednesday we had another storm that measured 13" and lost power for 5 1/2 hours. Then last night we had a storm that left 10" of snow and lost power for 13 1/2 hours. In all our time living here we never have lost as much power as in the past week. Not sure what is going on but that doesn't count the short outages in that time span. Hopefully the Electric Co-op will tell us what is going on and if this in now the new normal.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Snow Storms Come Like Waves

More snow happening as I write this. These storms are coming every third day dumping from 15-18". It is all wet heavy snow and storms coming this close to each other don't allow adequate time to get prepared for the next snow.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Stressed Branches

 Branches are stressed from the weight of the wet snow. The branch above usually is sticking straight out from the tree.  Directly below the pine branches are really bent down. Bottom photo shows a spruce tree that normally has it branches that are configured much like a Christmas tree but now are plastered almost straight down.
I just finished clearing the driveway with the snow thrower. A little over a foot of snow total and I noticed some blood on the ground after I passed over the area with the snow thrower. I thought ground squirrels were suppose to be hibernating now, what are they doing digging tunnels under the snow. How am I suppose to know they are there. Ewwww, it was messy going through the augers and impellers. I feel really bad for the little guy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Mountain Snow

 The snow has started. Wet and sticky and it is suppose to increase over night. Only about three inches now but this storm is predicted to dump 15" on us by late tomorrow. Last time I recall a prediction like this we ended up with about three feet. Another storm predicted for Saturday and Sunday. We need the moisture and this type of snow delivers good moisture.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Win - Win

Here is one of my older blogs that appeared in the April/May edition of Mother Earth News magazine. It is a good way to get rid of dead trees to reduce our wildfire hazard by eliminating fuel. It benefits those who need firewood and either can't afford it or get it on their own. Another way is to advertise it on free cycle sites or Craigslist.  Those who need firewood to stay warm in the winter benefit and I benefit by getting it off our property. Something to consider.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Life In The Mountains

Life in the mountains can be challenging at times. Take the last three days for example. Friday we were outside working in shirt sleeves and Friday night we had power outages and thunder snow. With our four dogs - three are fearful of thunder. So at 11:30 PM we were sitting in their safe place in the bathroom together to calm them down. I told them the story of Sarah's blindness and miraculous restoration which can only be explained through divine intervention. The vet's had no explanation and say it is so rare that it couldn't be explained. When retinas totally detach and float loose in the eye any chance of reattachment is pretty rare. Telling them the story in a calm voice kept them comforted for about an hour when the storm passed.

Then during the night the power went out again and Carol came down stairs to light a candle for the dogs to be able to see as they play musical beds at night. Being not quite awake she missed the last step and fell with a clatter. That woke me up but when I looked around all I saw was the dogs walking around. She was down behind the wood box and fortunately she wasn't hurt except for a scrape on her arm.

Finally the power came back on and we all went to bed again. Around 8:00 A.M. it went out again along with the telephone. The telephone came on a few hours later but the power was out for 13 hours. It was a wide spread power outage and the wind has not made its restoration encouraging.

Did I mention the snow - I think not. During this period we received 18" of much needed snow but it was the super wet and heavy type. The kind that when you walk on it you only sink in part way due to its density. Good moisture but impossible to move except by a shovel. Late in the day when the front end loader came down the road it was having to struggle to push the snow off the road. This is the kind of snow that is going to have to melt down. When it finally was light outside the windows were all covered in snow to where we couldn't see outside. We had to force the doors open to get outside. We will be working for days to be able to get around.

The snow is good for moisture and now we don't have to look at those trees that have been blown down by the last wind storm. They are covered under a foot and a half of snow temporarily. The lights are flickering so power may go out again and the weather station indicates more snow may be happening. I doubt it as those stations are frequently wrong but I will get this posted just in case. The wind is still gusting pretty strong.

Life in the mountains........

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Strange Phenomenon

Carol and I saw this cut glass and prism ornament at a craft fair and bought it over 35 years ago. We never imagined that it would predict the first day of spring. We hung it in our triangle window and every year on the first day of spring it casts rainbow images on the wall. For 20 years it has been spot on accurate. On the first day of spring the house is aligned with the sun in just the right direction that it literally blooms rainbows. Some years it may be a day earlier or a day later but when spring arrives this casts rainbows on the ceiling. At its height it will move slightly and rainbows are in profusion and moving all over the front of the house.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nature Has Fooled Our Rhubarb

Who would have thought on March 21, that my rhubarb would be coming up. I don't think it needs to be up yet and so I covered it back up with good rich dirt to protect it. Last year it came up early and the voles ate the little red buds as they came up and I didn't get much after that. I think we only had one pie from it and normally we get 4-5 pies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Winter or Spring???

 Normally our winters last well into the end of May but not this year. Last year around this time we had 161", of snow and this year we have 108",  so far. The temperature has been ranging from 40 degrees at night to up to 65 during the day. So far nature has fooled us, the birds, trees and plants. I saw today for the first time that our rhubarb is poking up through the ground. We have taken the opportunity to refill our woodshed in the photo above.
 Above and below are photos of Carol tossing the split firewood down where I load it into the wheelbarrow and run it to the shed and then she stacks it inside.Notice that she is smiling broadly as she loves doing this type of work.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Providing For Feathered Friends

We like to feed the birds over winter when food is scarce for them. Currently we have mountain chickadees, juncos, hairy woodpeckers, rosy finches, stellar jays and a few others. We feed them sunflower seeds and so far this winter we have gone through 200# of seed. We enjoy having our little feathered friends around and enjoy their antics.  When the chickadees run out of seed they will come perch on the window sill and look in at us until we go out and give them more seed. The hairy woodpecker will start hammering on the house to let us know he needs food. When he does this it drives the dogs nuts as in a small cabin it is very loud.
They are entertaining and when the snow is gone and the bugs start to come out they help control our insect population so we derive some benefit from feeding them. We have already seen robins and blue birds at lower elevations. Soon the snow will be gone and they will disperse but still they hang around the house. We have created good habitat for them and they nest in the trees around the house and in some cases on the house. If this warm weather continues it won't be long before the hummingbirds and song birds return.  Last year we had over 50 hummingbirds and when they run out of nectar they do have attitude. They will dive bomb me and often I can feel their wings brush my face.

Friday, March 17, 2017

May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience, and enough coins in your pocket to buy a pint!
May neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and Heaven accept you.
And as my Irish roommate, when I was in the USAF, used to say: "Me wants to live to be 100 and die in bed - shot by a jealous husband". 
The USAF should have known it was not wise to put two Irishmen in the same room as roommates. By doing so our moral was on top of the world but the others were constantly confused. One Irishman can think up all sorts of devilish tricks but when two are together - run for the hills.  

Dog Stories

I want to thank those followers of our blog for posting their own dog stories in the form of a comment.

THANK YOU especially to those who have adopted a rescue dog. When you adopt you think you are saving a dog but in reality you are saving yourself. That is only discovered after you have indoctrinated the dog into your house and dealt with any issues it may have.

I enjoy hearing of dog stories so I hope readers always feel free to comment on their fur family and their stories.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Double Post Today

Sunrise this morning. I had not slept much over night so I was up bright and early this morning to see this spectacle....

Sarah And The Doggy Doctor

Our girl Sarah is recovering from a trip to the doggy doctor this morning. Sarah is between 12 1/2 and 13 years old and has had some unique problems. About 4 years ago she developed Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS). It comes on very suddenly and without warning. Sarah was chasing a chipmunk in the morning and a few hours later she was totally blind. Both her retinas had fully detached. We rushed her into the vet immediately and were told that only a few dogs a year get this and there is no cure.  An ophthalmologist in Colorado Springs was consulted and advised he had not heard of any reversals. We learned to make life safe and comfortable for Sarah who couldn't see even shadows.

For the first week it was heartbreaking to see her jump into what she thought was the sofa and jump into the wood stove or wall. We had Sarah being prayed for all over the country and we were in constant prayer too. From a blog I wrote a reader said her dog had the same condition and used Bilberry and her dogs sight came back slightly. I rushed the 45 miles to Walmart and bought a bottle of Bilberry in the pharmacy area and started to give her Bilberry that day. Medical Vets believe that SARDS is caused by high blood pressure but they don't know much about it except it is permanent.

Three weeks later Sarah showed sighs of seeing again. We tested her and she could see perfectly. We believe the prayer worked as her sight was fully restored. So as I sit here writing this blog, Sarah is watching me with clarity. Because of her age and dislike of going to the vet we were concerned with her blood pressure going up and that she could go blind again so we gave her a tranquilizer before we embarked on the 1 hour journey to have her seen for a recent cough that has developed.

We were hoping we wouldn't need another miracle for her and that her problem was minor. After two X-Rays, a thorough exam it was determined that she had bronchitis and she now has three Rx's to take. Her heart is sound and her lungs clear but for the bronchitis. The visit to the vet went well as when she is not sedated she cries continually and will not stop. Which is what can spike her blood pressure and we don't want her to go blind again. She has some arthroscrosis to her heart that the vet thought could be heart worm but she tested negative for heart worm in 2005, and we do not have infected mosquitos at our elevation. For her age she is in remarkable condition and we plan to keep it that way.

Sarah was adopted at age four and came with a fear of just about everything. We have never raised our voice to her and with gentle loving care she has been over almost all her fears and is living a normal life. Her prior owner was going to shoot her and her sister for chasing one of his calves. She was rescued just in time and transported several states away to Colorado where we immediately adopted her.

She has had some challenges in her life which we have helped her recover from. We believe she was used for breeding by her former owner and kept outdoors. She has the run of the house here and nary a harsh word has been spoken to her since she became a member of our family. Sarah is the most sweetest and gentle girl I have ever known. She is intelligent beyond description and loyal to a fault. We love all four of our German Shepherds but Sarah is very special to us.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lessons From Echo

I was a volunteer for a German Shepherd Rescue and one day I got a call from a local shelter who advised that Echo had been in their care for too long and was going to another shelter that was not a no kill shelter. Would our Rescue take him. We agreed and I picked him up and transported him to the Rescue which was 3 1/2 hours away. When I picked him up he had feces and matts on him and was an our of control anti social boy.

When I picked him up I learned he had been a stray who had been hanging around a farm where he was fed until he chased the farmers chickens and then he was dropped at the shelter. He had been there for quite a while and no one was interested in adopting him. He was very wary of people and appeared to have been abused earlier in his life.  About one hour into the transport he worked his way into the front seat and laid across the console and laid his head in my lap. He had made up his mind that I was going to be his new owner. I took him to the rescue but he had already bonded with me en route.

Since I investigated the background  and recommended  potential adopters I found a few that would be a good match for him. They would go to meet him but he would not have anything to do with them and remained aloof hence no one adopted him. After being at the rescue for about two months I had a call that he may go to a less than ideal adopter because they needed room wherein I said I would be up there within the week to adopt him.

We went up and introduced him to our pack and he went out of his way to be 'approved' by Carol and our pack. We brought him home and his life has taken a drastic upward turn from there. What a gem he is and how gentle, attentive and loyal. I can't make a move unless he is right by my side. He minds extremely well and goes out of his way to continually please our pack and us. He had rejected potential adopters and was waiting for me to return and take him home.

I learn something every day from Echo. He exemplifies loyalty, responsiveness, patience, compassion and gentleness. There are two ways to train dogs: One is by dominance where you command and dominate to get the behavior you want. Two, by gentleness and love and that is what we do. Our dogs obey us because they love us back and want to do what we want them to do so they can please us.

Our fur family is integral to our family and they are shown every all day every day that they are loved and cherished. In return they are well behaved members of our family. As a family they learn from us and we learn from them.  German Shepherds are highly intelligent and about equal to an eight year old child. While he was out of control when I picked him up and smelled from being covered in feces he would not be attractive to an adopter - once cleaned up, shown some care and concern and given a family he turned out to be an outstanding boy.

I would recommend adoption from a shelter and give the potential family member time and a chance. First  impressions are not always accurate when looking at shelter dogs. It took about one hour travel with Echo when his demeanor did a 180 degree turn around. He was a hidden gem disguised as a feces  matted boy that had problems and was fearful from prior abuse and rejection. He is now a perfect boy and that is possible with any rescue dog.  He is totally content, confident and comfortable who has overcome his past and has become an obedient, loyal, faithful family member. I recommend adopting from a shelter or rescue.  Spend as much time as possible with the dog and don't force the bond but let them bring the trust to you.