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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. If you are on the road traveling - stay safe. We all have so much to be thankful for if we just step back a few moments to reflect on all we have been blessed with. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.....

Sunday, November 18, 2018

NOTICE

When we had to evacuate for two weeks and did not have internet access most of that time I got behind in comments. It has been a real chore trying to catch up because we get a high volume of solicitations, people trying to scam readers, anonymous, and submissions in languages that I have no idea what they are. Many are from the far or mid east. Then there are those which Google identifies as not valid or can't ID the address and they kick them out.

Sorting through all  those comments takes a lot of time and I personally have fallen behind in posting comments. I apologize to followers and readers if your comment hasn't been posted promptly. Finding and posting proper comments is labor intensive and catching up is even more labor intensive. I have posted as many comments as I could tell were proper and not something trying to lure readers into some financial or sex scam. I will try to keep up on comments better in the future and apologize as your comments are always welcome.

Refinishing a Chair

Before I retired the company I worked for wanted more upscale and modern furniture in the office. I was going home one evening and saw two wooden arm chairs and this chair in the dumpster. I checked with the manager who said I could have them as they were just throwing them away. I brought them home with me and over the years I have refinished them one by one. This one is about ready for a coat of stain. Between snow storms and being sidetracked by the last storm for several days due to the 36" of new snow.

I started this chair last year but couldn't get into it until just before the last snow storm. I have sanded and scraped and sanded and scraped. It is just about stripped are ready to refinish. Each one of those layers of paint came off reluctantly but come off they did. These are well made and very solid chairs and comfortable to sit on. Now being stripped down and when refinished they will be a nice addition to our home.

Monday, November 12, 2018

In The Dawn's Early Light

 We woke up to 7 degrees this morning and an additional 21" of snow on top of the 13" I cleared last night. So this storm gave us 34" total of much needed fresh snow. This is going to take a few days to clear away and much shoveling.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Snow, Snow, Snow...

So far 13" and still coming down hard. The weather prognosticators said a total of  8" expected. So far this winter the weather professionals are 0 for 3. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cowboy Breakfast

With a foot of snow on the ground it is once again safe to cook outdoors so I made cowboy breakfast for my soon to be birthday bride. Tomorrow is her birthday but there is snow in the forecast so I made her breakfast today.
Fried spam, over easy eggs, potatoes with my special seasoning and hot apple cider.  Came out well even though it was 20 degrees outside.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Re-Purpose

Read our new blog for Mother Earth News about re-purpose throw away items. It can be found at:https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/re-purposing-zbcz1811


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Re-filling our newly made firewood holder

We figure making two trips per week from the woodshed is better than making 21-28 trips and the sled in two trips fills up the newly fashioned firewood holder. Having it a few steps outside the back door makes it much easier to get firewood.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

19" And Still Snowing


...20% of what we got last winter!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Junior

The best way to tell Junior's story is from the very beginning. Right after we moved here full time I was out picking up limbs and a doe came up and I started to talk to her. She had twin fawns in spots and they were playing around for much of the day. A couple years later we noticed a buck (Junior) standing outside the fence looking at us through the window and then at the bird feeder hanging in the back yard.

I went out and he didn't run off or act alarmed so I got an ice cream bucket and went down under the house and put some bird seed in it.  Junior followed me and when I came out he walked right up to me and commenced eating out of the bucket while I held it. Junior officially adopted us that day.

We had a long close relationship with Junior and his friends he would bring to visit that lasted for years. I would rub his nose and scratch his head and he would make small mewing or purring sounds. When my shirt sleeve would get tangled in  his antlers I would tell him to hold still while I got us untangled which he always did. We would spend many days together and I would talk to him and I slowly realized he would understand some of what I was telling him.

During the rut he would go off to court the ladies and come back exhausted. He would stand by the fence like in the photo until I came out and then he would lay down right next to the fence trusting me to look out for him while he slept. I could walk right by him and he would open an eye - see who it was and go immediately back to sleep. We had a level of trust for each other that is rare between a human and wild animal.

There are so many stories about Junior that there wouldn't be room in this blog to tell them all. He stayed around for many years and our trust for each other grew each year. The last time I saw Junior was in his senior years when he brought a rather large herd with him. I walked through the deer and he came to me and we spent a few moments together with the other deer probably wondering what was going on. I don't know what happened to Junior but I miss him terribly. Deer live up to 15 years in the wild and Junior lived all of that.

It is not often that a wild animal will put forth the effort to adopt a human as a friend but he did in my case. We understand that Junior was one of the fawns that hung around those days when I was cleaning up brush. His twin came around for several years but never never developed the intimacy that Junior did. It was a rare friendship that  I am happy to have experienced.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Re-Purpose

The first year we moved here full time we went for a hike out back of our house and found some elk antlers. They have been laying outside on the ground for 21 years and I needed a hand pruner to cut off low limbs as it is hard to use a pole saw on low limbs. When I bought our 12' pole saw I bought two extra blades for it. As I was going through my shop I found one unused blade and thought if I had a handle for it I could make a pruning saw.

Then I remembered the elk antlers and thought one of them would make a good handle. So I fashioned the elk antler into a handle and it is nice and strong and I have a pruner. The blade is a $20.00 Marvin blade that is sharp as a razor and nice and strong. Now it will be much easier to trim low limbs..

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Misty Morning

One of the benefits of getting up early....

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Premiere Intelligence

This is Bozwell, 11 1/2 years old and perhaps the smartest fur family member we have ever had. He will study us and what is happening around him and react accordingly. He has the ability to study, evaluate and act properly on what he has discerned. I used to think that our prior dog Ben (also a German Shepherd) was intelligent but I believe Bozwell's intelligence parallels Ben's.

When we lived in Pennsylvania we were in a small community of 101 close density homes on top of a hill. There was a small strip mall at the bottom of the hill and the Pizza Hut drivers would use an alley to leave and deliver their pizzas. We would have to cross that alley to get home from our walk so I trained Ben his left and his right so he would look both ways on command before we would cross the alley. Even after we moved to the mountains I would tell him to look left or right he would do so.

I also taught him to look at the clock and tell time and when I would tell him I was going to the dentist he would always inspect my teeth when I returned. Bozwell is equally as intelligent as Ben was but he prefers to study us and figure things out for himself. In addition to having canine family with all their normal instincts it is a double reward to have them super intelligent to boot.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Aftermath Of A wildfire

Part two of the "Saga Of A Wildfire", has been published and I invite all readers to check out some aspects of the aftermath that you would not envision. It can be found at: https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/saga-of-a-wildfire-part-2-zbcz1810

Morning Sunrise In The Mountains



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Natural Spring Exit

We have a spring that comes up on our property and runs all year long. This is where the spring exits across the road. It has been so cold that it has frozen where it comes out of the culvert. It forms exquisite patterns where it freezes but the phone camera doesn't pick them up. One year I plan to take some Jello down and put it in the other end of the culvert if I can get down there before it freezes. I think that will make for an interesting photo..

Bear Track And Not The Donuts..

 Living remotely as we do on the side of a mountain (unofficially called bear mountain), we often encounter wild animals. This time of year after a fresh snow we see tracks and find the animals are around us but we never see them. Such was this morning when Carol took the dogs for a walk down the road. She found bear tracks a few hundred yards from the house. Yesterday I went out for a drift fence behind our wood shed and found fresh coyote tracks. 
Often the dogs will sniff the air and sometimes do a warning bark and we know something is around but won't see it. Now with snow on the ground we see tracks and wonder how we missed seeing the animal. Sometimes we get the feeling we are being watched (and are being watched) but don't see any animals. They could be behind a tree watching us or up in a tree watching us or laying on the ground watching us. We have become very used to co-existing with the wild animals.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Next The Snow

First the cold and next the snow. Predictions vary from 8" to 15" depending on which weather prognosticator we listen to. At the beginning of winter we go out in heavy winter clothes and at the end we go out in shirt sleeves. Funny how our systems and tolerance to cold changes over the duration of the season. Same temperature and snow but totally different reactions...

Winter Arrived Today

Pretty cool this morning and a sign that winter is finally here.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Donuts Day

A Rx I take says to take with food so each morning I have a donut and  coffee. We used to buy our donuts at the grocery in Alamosa but they stopped making plain cake donuts. The baker said they were good sellers but the bakery manager decided to discontinue them. So I now make them myself and today I made 37 along with donut holes. DELICIOUS.......nothing like fresh cake donuts or fresh baked bread...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ash/soot

When ever it rains and the rain water collect on a surface we find soot and ash in the puddle. You don't see it in the air but it is there and the rain washes it down to the ground. No doubt that we are breathing it but we can't tell.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

First Snow

 First snow of the season. A light dusting of snow does improve the view of black trees on the ground. The forecast calls for 1-4" of snow today. It will not last as snow this time of year generally melts off in a day. It is a welcome sight however....

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Christmas Cactus

The internal time clock of our Christmas cactus is off a couple months.  It is blooming early this year and set next to the African violet it is stunning in the sun light. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Spooky

It is currently 31 degrees outside and the clouds have dropped down to ground level in an inversion. This creates a real spooky atmosphere with all the dead trees left standing from the forest fire. It is also very quiet outside and we don't hear even a bird chirping.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New Mother Earth News Blog

Check out the newest blog on Mother Earth News regarding having a plan, sticking to it and the achievement of a dream.
https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/achieving-a-dream-of-remote-homesteading-zbcz1810

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Post Wildfire Annoyances

There are numerous petty annoyances post wildfire. One of which is each morning the dogs do their duty in the back yard. The back yard has ash and soot blown in from areas that are totally burned. This time of year the wind blows every day and the pine needles blow along with clouds of soot and ash with the wind. We recently had a picnic at our picnic table and we were constantly picking pine needles out of our food.

Above and beyond that the back yard is covered in pine needles and the dogs poop tends to roll down hill picking up the needles as it goes. When we go out after they have finished to clean up the dog poop we often miss it as it is covered in needles and blends in. We try to keep the back yard raked free of pine needles and leaves but with the wind and so many falling from burned trees it is next to impossible.

Another problem is we keep the house closed up but the wind blows the soot and ash inside the house anyway. Each morning I wipe off soot and black ash from my laptop computer. Sometimes more than once a day. Carol is constantly dusting the black ash off the interior of the house. I wash off the sidewalk and tractor and the next day they are black in color again. When or if we get snow this will stop temporarily but if it is just a few inches it too will blow away and the remaining snow will be black.

Our teeth and skin is always gritty and our eyes are irritated from the clouds of ash blowing in the air. The dogs need constant brushing to keep it out of their fur. Our electronics are malfunctioning because of the soot and ash getting in the components. None of this is covered by insurance because it is cumulative and not a single incident so the deductible applies to each single incident. We will be thankful when we finally get some rain or snow to wet this non-stop black/grey dust down. It limits our time outside doing work that needs to be done and it irritates our eyes and lungs. It is currently as dry as it was when we had the wildfire and it would be easy for another one to start if there were anything left to burn.  End of rant.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Wall For Erosion

We have lived here for 21+ years and during that time the area where we park our vehicles has each spring sprung leaks and flowed out into the driveway. As a result the driveway get spongy and soft until the spring flow of water stops. The flow of water erodes away the wall area where it collapses into the driveway. I decided it was time to finally slow down the flow of water or maybe stop it all together. So we collected a large pile of flat rocks of various thicknesses and diameters and I built a stone wall to hold back the erosion and maybe the flow of water. As I gather more flat rocks in the months to come I will build the wall higher if it needs to be higher. 

The part of the wall that leaks water the most I cemented the stones in place and the other area's where it doesn't seem to leak water I simply fitted the stones together without benefit of cement. The larger stones are on the bottom and the ground leveled off to make them level. Now to wait for spring to see if it works or not. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Firewood For Neighbors

Students from Adams State University in Alamosa having lunch after loading two trailers full of firewood that will be processes and distributed to local people by LaPuente. LaPuente has a program where it provides firewood to those who are unable to obtain it themselves or can't afford to purchase it. It is delivered to those qualified free of charge. We are happy to be able to participate in the program by donating our dead trees so others may stay warm this winter. It has already started to get colder at night so the program is already in full swing.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Making Life Easier

 We are always looking for ways to make life easier. My rear tractor blade broke the weld seam for the second time last spring so I ended up purchasing a new rear blade. I took the old blade apart and when I looked at the two supports I thought I could re purpose the supports. When the wildfire burned some of the fence supports and a couple of the 4 X 4's I envisioned reusing some of the salvage fence parts and the rear blade supports.
Every winter we have to walk uphill to get to the woodshed and often several times a day. Using the old parts from the rear blade and the fence salvage I was able to fashion a firewood holder that we can put just outside the back gate. No uphill trips and only half dozen feet to walk to get firewood. When the wood holder is empty we can use our sled to bring more firewood down where it will be covered with a tarp to keep it dry.
This item will mean less walking up hill to the woodshed and less shoveling to access the firewood. Life is easier...

Signs Of Fall

We are two days away from autumn and this is indicative of fall in the mountains... Foggy and temperatures in the mid 40's and the aspen showing their gold leaves.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hurricane Florence

For anyone interested here is a link that gives live views of Hurricane Florence approaching land. I hope all those in the area have evacuated as the flooding is going to be very bad...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deG4NxkouGM

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Walk To The Swing

 We took a break from college foot ball and walked down to the swing and these are the photos we took along the way. Today for the first time it smelled like autumn and not pungent smells from the wildfire.






Friday, September 7, 2018

Trail Camera Photos

The young elk above is peeking around the tree looking for poachers. As is my custom in past years I don't post trail camera photos around or near hunting season. I discovered several years ago that poachers were monitoring this blog and when I posted current photos they were concentrating on our area. The problem is even more acute now that the woods have burned away and we live in a small oasis of green trees where animals would be from time to time.

We have had some close calls with hunters shooting in our area and I don't plan to be shot at again. We take extra precautions during hunting season and this year we will be more alert for poachers. It is the time of year we are outside more with our dogs and we don't want to be shot by a careless poacher. Therefore to discourage them we only post old trail camera photos so they can't use our blog site to focus their illegal poaching.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Lot's Of Activity

 Lots of activity around the area where I put the trail camera. This area gets a lot of traffic and I'm never disappointed when I put the camera there. It is a sort of cross roads for the animals due to the abundant grasses.


Carol went to Alamosa this morning to grocery shop and on her way out she saw this herd of elk just down the road from us in the meadow. That was about 2 hours ago.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Carol's Photo Of An Aspen

Another photo taken by Carol of an aspen tree changing color at the far end of our property.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Autumn

When does Autumn officially begin?  When the hummingbirds and songbirds migrate south? When the temperature drops steadily down to the low 40's at night or gets up into the 60's during the day? When the squirrels are spending all day burying pine cones which they will remember 90% of their locations? When my garden stops growing? Or, on September 23rd when it is marked on the calendar?  At our location I don't think it is when the earth, moon or sun line up in a certain position but when the animals and birds and surviving aspen trees indicate it has begun.

 They are predicting an especially cold and snowy winter for our area this year and it appears we are off to an early start with all the signs around us. Our preparation for winter is nearly done so bring it on. We  only have the garage left to apply stain too and everything else has been done even with the two week hiatus during the evacuation this summer.  We can always use a little more firewood but that will come in free time as available.  All the indicators reveal that fall is upon us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

When Will It End?

Many people believe that following a traumatic event like the Spring Wildfire that once you are back into your home (if it survived) everything is back to normal. That is a common misconception and quite natural. The reality however does not line up with common belief. The after effects of the the wildfire have as they say in the law arena has a long tail. The after effects linger on for a very long time post wildfire.

The fear of a heavy rain brings with it mud slides. The wind picks up the ash and soot and it penetrates everything. It has been dry for several weeks now and the ash and soot have made everything black. Our sidewalk is black, our deck is black, the soot that lands on our vehicles is black, the rhubarb leaves have a black cast to them, everything inside has fine soot on it. No matter how often you dust it still finds its way into the house landing on furniture, carpet, shelves etc...

There is nothing that is not affected by the remains of the wildfire. Day in and day out we are reminded of the trauma. We spend twice as much time dusting but to no avail. We feel it on our teeth, our skin, see it on our clothes and every little breeze that happens we see it as a dark cloud raising up from the ground. The lingering effects from the wildfire has a very long tail and there is no relief in sight.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Degenerative Myelopathy - Cauda Equina Syndrome

 Degenerative Myelopathy or DM happens in some canine breeds and is most prevalent in German Shepherd Dogs. It is an insidious and debilitating disease that is basically not treatable. It is a slow degenerative disease that is thought to have genetic markers but it is not known for sure. It is the slow destruction of the white matter in the spinal column that effects the utility of the back legs loss of use of same. From a dog parents perspective it is simply horrible to see your loved canine slowly - inch by inch - lose control of their back legs. The prognosis is poor and most dogs are euthanized within 6 months to 3 years. Two of our dogs have been diagnosed with DM and it is progressing and will progress to the point that one day they will have an accident (slip or fall) and then won't be able to get up. When that happens it will be a rear support of dog wheelchair. It is heart breaking to see them inch toward that eventual day. 
One of our dogs is worse than the other and when I took him in for an X-Ray to see how it was progressing the vet saw a fist size tumor in an area that was not operable. His prognosis is not good but he remains in good spirits and the vet said to take him home as he was not in pain and enjoy the time we have left together. We don't know how long that will be but we keep activity as normal as possible for him and enjoy our time together.

One of the problems is that they lose their bowel control. He can be laying on his bed sleeping and out will pop a piece of poop that he is totally unaware of it happening. I let him out often during the night but that does not always work out. Just this morning he came back in at 4:30 A.M. and one slipped out as he was heading back to bed. This can be frustrating and annoying but he can't control it and that is no reason not to clean up after him and let him get the best remaining life possible.

He struggles to get around but his attitude is good and we do not want to send him across that rainbow bridge before the appropriate time especially for an annoyance that he can't help. As long as he is without pain and can ambulate (albeit with effort) we want him to enjoy the remainder of his days. When that ultimate day arrives we want to know that he has had all the life has to offer and that the future for him is absolutely bleak and he has no quality of life left. Until then we will enjoy his personality, loyalty, love and devotion all which have been without flaw and unwavering.

We hope between then and now that he will not have an accident that will speed up his demise. His back legs seem weaker each day and his tumor continues to grow slowly. When we adopted him it was much like a marriage 'for better or worse until death do us part', and he is entitled to at least that. Making that final non reversible decision is not going to be easy and when we must we need to know it is the right thing for him and that we have done all for him and not hold regrets.

This ugly disease is going to claim two of our three dogs and until it does we want to continue to give them  the best quality of life possible. Perhaps by writing this it will help someone else who is going through or will go through life with this disease some insight and guidance. My heart goes out to anyone whose dog has or will have this terrible disease as it is so hard to see them degenerate little by little each day. We have tried different so called remedies but none have worked and the disease progresses. Both are very senior dogs and for senior dogs the options are very few.