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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.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Firewood Season - 2017

It has been seasonable weather recently so yesterday we started to get in our firewood for next winter. The split stacks of firewood in the background will soon be put into the wood shed and the deck will be cleared off for room for the new firewood.

I have stacked a pile of logs up behind the wood shed and toss those down and cut them up on the deck with our electric chainsaw. Balanced on the saw buck is my measuring stick and red tree marking crayon I use. That way they all end up the same length and make stacking more organized.

We cut enough last year where we will have enough for next winter even though this winter is not over for us yet. It is that extra that we will cut up now and in fact we started yesterday. When the weather allows we will cut for an hour or two and by the time the snow melts we should have it done allowing time for recreation.

We still have 2 1/2 - 3' of snow on the ground and by the time it is melted off with the new snow we have yet to receive we will have most if not all of our firewood done. Then during the summer we will cut more at a time of our choosing for the following year and then repeat the process. This time of year is unproductive for outdoor work so we use it to replenish our firewood. That leaves plenty of time this summer to do a little prospecting for gold and fishing our creeks.

It is a system we have worked out over the years and it seems efficient and allows for quality time when the weather is nice during spring, summer and fall.

We have found that the Makita electric chainsaw is ideal for this time of year. It is high quality and since it is plugged in all we need to do is squeeze the trigger and it is always ready. Using one of our gas powered chainsaws requires constant pulling the starter cord to get it running which is extra work. We run a 100' electric cord from the house to the work area and plug in the Makita and we are ready to start cutting.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cowboy Breakfast

Eggs over easy but not runny, fried potatoes with special seasoning, fried spam, biscuits with sorghum and special coffee. Yumm, exactly what we spent two days shoveling to have. Nothing like food cooked outside on a wood fired stove to start the day off well.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Approximately Two Tons

Tennessee Ernie Ford sang a song - 16 Tons. I can now relate to his song:

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

 I/we didn't shovel 16 tons but by my guesstimate we shoveled around two tons. We had to chop it into blocks and then hoist them up out of the way. I think we are now ready for cowboy breakfast tomorrow. When I opened the wood stove door to see if it needed cleaning out I found that it was clean and I had set the fire when I had last used it. Now all I need to do is put a match to it and when it warms up start cooking.

I guess I'll be able to stand up straight again in a few days. Us old guys recover a little slower than young folk.

Recommended Book

I have just finished a book by Anna Twitto who is a fellow blogger for Mother Earth News. Anna has a down to earth clear way of writing about homesteading. I have read several books and I would recommend that if anyone is interested in homesteading that this is the one book to read. It is a how to book full of how to functions for homesteaders. It can be found on

Anna is a nutritionist and mother of small children and her information is helpful for any homesteader or want to be homesteader. She is an excellent writer.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Labor Of Love

Recently when we  invited a friend over for lunch he inquired if it were going to be having cowboy breakfast. We told him no it would be a meal inside cooked inside. Unfortunately that question planted a suggestion and yesterday we thought what the heck, we'll chop through that 6' pile of ice and snow and clear out around the cook stove and have cowboy breakfast.

I have been shoveling for one hour straight and have gotten about 1/3 if the way to the stove. Then I need to shovel out the stove, the equipment box, to the firewood pile and clear an area to cook. This is much more of a task than I thought it would be. It is going to take all day to shovel the hard packed snow and ice away. I have shoveled through the 6' frozen pile and now it is only another 30' through 4' hard packed snow to get to the wood stove.

This may take most of the day and as I progress and grunt and moan I keep asking myself if this is a good enough friend to cut a trail to the wood stove. I guess he is as my break is about over now and I need to move a few more tons of snow.

That shovel is a 5' shovel to give the task perspective.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Post Strong Winds

 Yesterday we had sustained wind of 40 + mph, and gusts much stronger for over 12 hours. Unusual for us to have wind last that long and that strong. Here are some photos of the trees blown down (6 that we can see from the house) and limbs blown off trees that are scattered heavily on the ground. I felt sort of foolish raking our driveway with a leaf rake this morning. I raked up several piles of branches. If not raked up in the dead of winter they stick in the snow thrower chute and clog it up so I needed to get them out of the way.
 The wind was so strong that it blew the electronic sensor for our weather station off the front of the house. It blew a large heavy steel coal shovel out from a protected area under the front steps. Blew several shingles off the garage roof and other things away from where they were kept.
 Above and below photo shows two blown down trees. The front end loader operator who was going down roads pushing trees blown over off the road, told me there were numerous trees on our road he had to push aside.
 The limbs in the photo below had to be removed from our driveway as they would shear a pin in the snow thrower if hit when they were covered with snow. Yesterday is one of those few days that the weather kept us inside. The power was out for over 8 hours but we are prepared for such contingencies so we did okay and caught up on reading and household chores.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Power Outage

Right after I wrote the post earlier this morning the power went out and stayed out for 8 hours. We have the new generator but we did not need to use it as the power was not off long enough. Late this afternoon the front end loader came down the road pushing numerous trees that had been blown over off to the side. We can count 6 trees on our property that also blew over that we can see from our window. Rough day in the mountains with 12-14 hours of 50+ mph wind that blew continuously. We have branches everywhere.

Windy Weather

 Good Morning blog followers:  Today is one of those days that we don't much care for. Wind gusts up to 55 MPH and wind pretty steady at 35 MPH. I was asked yesterday how much snow we still had so I took a three foot ruler out and stuck it in a snow bank. There is 6" about the snow and in places it is deeper than that. I figured that is pretty much average. Our wind gauge says it is blowing 40 MPH and it is 24 degrees so the wind chill takes your breath away. Below is the ground covered with ice because yesterday it was up to 47 degrees and now the ground is covered with ice where the snow melted yesterday. I only stayed outside long enough to get these photos as the wind is to strong to stand up on ice. The snow blowing at that speed really stings your face. Another beautiful day in the mountains. I also didn't want to get hit with a tree branch as the wind is breaking them off and they fly through the air at a pretty good rate of speed.
 Below is the drifts along the driveway that show how deep they are. As I sit here and write this a gust of wind just blew pine needles against the house and the dogs got scared at the noise and it didn't do much for us either. This weather is suppose to last until tonight.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Game Of Concentration

We like to engage our fur family in games when possible. We buy the large bag of Golden Puffs at the store and when they need a change of pace we pull out several handfuls of the cereal and toss it on the carpet. Bozley had walked out of the photo but it didn't take him long when we first adopted him to pick up on this game.

Fifteen minutes later they are still searching for pieces of cereal that the others may have accidentally overlooked. If you haven't ever tried this with your fur family then it worth consideration because they love the game and have a great time playing same. It also gives them a break from the daily routine.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Expect The Unexpected

 Expect the unexpected when living in the mountains. The temperature dropped to 7 degrees last night and the wind blew in gusts up to 20+ mph. With the 6" of fresh snow yesterday and last night it has re contoured the landscape. Above is drifting wind and below is more wind drift as the snow is relocated.  
 The three photos below are drifts that are pretty and were not present yesterday. I have not calculated the wind chill but it is clearly in the negative numbers.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dealing With Mites

Here on our homestead we deal with pesky insects using products that are natural so they don't contaminate or poison us. When we have carpenter ants on the move we dust them around the house with DE or diatomaceous earth.

Diatoms are algae (see photo above)  that when they die have abrasive exteriors and have a negative charge. They are so fine that they are like baby powder and light and minute. Because of their negative charge they are attracted to positively charged mites and insects. Their hard and sharp edges then lacerate the hard bodies of insects and they die from dehydration.

Both myself and our German Shepherd Dog - Bozwell, are allergic to dust mites. We have found a product that works as well as DE that is liquid. It is sprayed onto carpet and bedding areas once a month where these microscopic mites dwell  and because it too has a negative charge it attaches to mites and carries the other inert ingredients to them. Both products are totally safe for humans and pets but when dusting areas with DE it is best to wear a face mask to filter out the free floating diatoms so they don't get inhaled.

We learned the hard way not to dust DE inside as it tends to float and constant dusting is needed. While it didn't harm either us or our dogs it is just too troublesome to use inside. We also use food grade DE just in case.

There are natural and effective ways to deal with pests and these two items seem to work well. We purchase our DE on line at and our allergy spray at

We prefer using natural products as opposed to the more toxic pesticides as we are uncertain how they may effect us or our loved fur family. These products apply natural science to resolve problems as opposed to chemical resolutions that may have adverse effects on our health. Dusting ants with DE one day and on day two there is no trace of them. Both myself and Bozwell are doing better with our allergies by a monthly application of the negative water solution. Both products work well.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Blog Coming - Check Link Below

Keep an eye out for my new blog for Mother Earth News about "High Altitude Living".  Not everyone is made for living at 9,800' elevation. The air is much thinner at this altitude and our bodies are made to function best at sea level. Some people have moved to high elevation only to find out they have altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness can be a miserable disease and if it doesn't dissipate it can lead to a terrible existence. Living in the mountains can be a wonderful experience. We have seen people move either full time or part time to the mountains who had illusions about what they were capable of. Visions of hiking our dirt roads, scaling our mountains, fishing our creeks and streams etc. all when they lack the ability to do any of these things at sea level.

Being realistic about abilities and being prone to altitude sickness can dash those misconceptions and dreams here at high elevation. Keep an eye out for the next blog....

Just posted today -

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beautiful Morning

 We woke up to some snow this morning (2") and it makes everything look pure and beautiful. I thought it was so pretty it needed to be shared.
 When I went out to take the photos I noticed about 4' away Hairy getting sunflower seeds to pack into the hole he made in the deck railing. He said I could take his photo as this was his good profile. I took the above photo.
 The aspen trees (above and below) are all frosted and lightly covered with snow. Very beautiful with their intricate limbs. I hope you viewers will agree.