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Monday, June 17, 2019

Tour of Burned Area

We took a ride around the area yesterday to see if there was any life in the burn area. This photo was taken from the back and other side of our community. It shows the green surrounded by black trees that is our area. We are in the patch of green on the left side. We had a few acres of trees burned and more ground fire but the ground growth is coming back - not the trees. I would estimate about one third of our property burned. 

The bad news is that a bristle cone pine tree that I measured and calculated was over 2000 years old was burned and destroyed. Others around the area all burned but were not as old as this tree. The tree is one we would visit each year and not all in our area were even aware it was there. Now it is destroyed and no longer worth visiting. It had under its branches two dug out areas where an archaeologist said the native Americans used it to conceal themselves where they could see wagon trains coming through the mountains and which ones they would attack. He found evidence and artifacts there but left them where he found them. They attack the wagon trains that were less able to defend themselves. The ruts of the wagon train route used to be visible but are burned also. 

The good news is that as we were driving around we saw a cow elk with a tiny baby that couldn't have been over 2-3 days old. The cow ran off and the baby couldn't keep up so it hid behind a burned tree while mama waited for us to pass by and re-claim her baby. She stood there patiently waiting for us to go by to be reunited with her calf. The little baby was all legs and very tiny with spots but with the new ground growth for the mother to eat it will grow quickly. She was alone which is common when they have just given birth. She will rejoin the herd when the baby gets a little older. Had we been a predator I have no doubt mama would have been angry and all hooves slashing away. As it was we just eased by and everything went back to normal..

Friday, June 14, 2019

Chillin

Bozwell just chilling with dad while mom is in town grocery shopping. When the sun reached the other end of the sofa he got up, turned around and lay in the sun. Life is good........
Yesterday he got a pet-a-cure (toe nails trimmed) and brushed all over.... He provided filler for the birds that are nesting now....

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Done....

 Finally - we have our firewood in for next winter. This probably doesn't seem like such a big deal to others but as we get older cutting, hauling, splitting and stacking this much firewood is to us a relief. It requires a long time, lots of effort and knowing we have enough firewood for next winter to keep us warm takes a lot of pressure off us and frees us up to do more enjoyable things as summer nears.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Firewood

Today was spent doing what we hope is getting in firewood. We cut several dead aspen trees and then tossed the cut logs down the mountain to where tomorrow we can get they loaded into the trailer and haul them home with the tractor. These were all standing dead and had dried perfectly for prime firewood.
We hope that this will give us our quota of firewood for next winter. We need about one more cord to be sure we have enough for the entire winter. This winter we burned from October and as late as today. We will probably add to our wood pile as the summer goes on but for now this should be all we need.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Saturday, June 1, 2019

One Tree Equals Firewood

That one tree we worked on for two days to get pulled out of large pine tree produced 3/4's of a cord of firewood. We cut it to length, hauled it to behind our house, split it and tossed it down to be stacked to dry out for next winter. Just one tree but it required a lot of work. At this elevation it should be dry to burn in 6-8 months.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Tracks

 Going down the road after a fresh rain reveals what animals have been visiting us. These were fresh this morning....

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lightning

Last night we got notification from Accu Weather that we could get lightning for the next 30 minutes. I looked outside and didn't see any storm but within a couple minutes there was a flash over the house and a bright flash inside and bang which we thought came from the wood stove. I checked the breaker box, outlets, appliances, chimney, phones and found no indication of a lightning strike.
Finally I went to use my computer and no internet. Yup, sure enough the bright light and loud pop was the modem. All the lights were out on it and when I smelled it it was clearly fried... Carol went into town to shop this morning and picked up a new modem at the telephone company. We are back in business now.
Amazing that a weather prediction in State College, PA, could accurately tell us when to expect lightning. No other damage found but that large pop and flash of light sure brought us up out of our chairs.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Taking Difficult Trees Down


 This aspen tree burned off at the bottom and was hung up in the top of a very large pine tree. With a come along and 60' steel cable we worked for two days to pull it out and down. We pulled the base about 50' and it finally came loose from the tree it was tangled up in. The aspen was about 75' long and proved to be a tough customer... but it finally came crashing down. Now we will cut it up for firewood. That is me sitting on the tree about 20' from the top...

Monday, May 27, 2019

Ash And Soot

Some might assume this is a storm moving in that obliterates our view of the mountains. That would be a wrong assumption because this is a ash blowing on the wind. The wind picks up the ash and soot resulting from the Spring wildfire and it completely blocks out the view.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Trees Down

We have a crew coming out to cut up and remove these dead trees so those who can't cut their own firewood will be able to stay warm next winter - which we hope is not as severe as this winter was.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Struggling Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds are struggling to get enough sugar water with the weather conditions. It is blizzard outside, snow, wind and 24 degrees. I am rotating the hummingbird feeders and bring them in by the wood stove to thaw out. Then it is time to switch them around again. Those little guys must be wondering if they didn't get their wires crossed on migration time this year.

So far we only have a few inches of snow but it continues to come down steadily. This has been an unpredictable winter here in the mountains. So far we have received a total of 288" of snow and it is hard telling how much this storm will dump on us. At this point I'm just hoping I don't have to replant my garden as the tiny plants were just poking through the soil.

I'm thinking it was good when the snow had all melted away earlier that we spent our time on getting the firewood in because we are using that wood now.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

ETS Heating Systems

This is the controller for the new ETS (electric thermal system) that we bought. The unit in the photo is direct wired to our electric meter box and tells the unit when to come on and when to go off. It heats during non peak hours and therefore we get a discount on our electric bill because of that. When the heat comes on during non peak hours it heats ceramic bricks in the unit and those bricks store the heat until it is needed. Highly efficient and so far has done well for our small cabin.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Good, Bad of 31" of Heavy Wet Snow

 Heavy wet snow tends to topple trees and up root them. Two aspen trees broke in half and this pine came up by the roots.
 Under ground water flow leaks out of the mountain and generates sheet flow down our driveway. When it is finished in a couple weeks we will repair the driveway.
 The above wall was cemented in place and the power of the water collapsed the wall and continues to stream out of the side of the hill.
The aspen trees are dropping the long worm looking things that will now allow the trees to form leaves in a few days. When the leaves appear they quickly develop into full sized leaves and the entire landscape (except for the burn scar area) will be green again. These worm like things are falling constantly and the ground is covered with them.

Another good sign is the three feet of snow on our garden box has melted slowly over the past 5-6 days and the spinach, lettuce and radish are just popping up through the soil. If we don't have another calamity it appears we will have a good harvest later this year. The rhubarb is also just starting to show itself after being covered with 3 feet of snow.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Potential Hazard In The Making

In the 22 winters we have lived here there is only one storm that was worse than this storm. That was the time when we got 6' of snow over a two day period. So far this storm has dumped 31-33" of heavy wet snow on us and more is expected today and tomorrow. Due to the wet nature of the snow when the sun comes out (if ever) we are concerned over the mud/ash slides that will accompany the melting.
The temporary springs are running and the bottom of the snow has 3-inches of slush.
As the rest of the wet snow melts it could start the ash and mud to start down the mountain closing off roads. The snow had already melted and the ash/dirt was wet and slippery and it won't take much to get it all moving downhill where it would pick up debris and momentum.
Dealing with the blowing ash has been a problem but mud or ash slides could be more of a problem.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Whoa....Wait

The snow was all gone and now this late winter storm has gone on for over a day. So far we have 19" and it is predicted to snow until tomorrow some time. Getting a little tired of snow as this is total accumulation of 273" for the snow season. See prior posts which show the snow gone and now we are starting all over again......

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Aspen Trees

One of the unique features of the aspen trees is that in the spring time they form what looks like woolly worm things that eventually drop off and then the leave develop where they were attached to the tree. They present an unusual sight for a week or two and then the next thing we see is leaves. Not sure what they do or what they are for but the above photo reveals the visual of this stage of the Aspen tree. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Independence

Hummingbirds: We often see them and they all look pretty much the same. They dart in and out from the feeders we put out and we marvel at the iridescence and agility but we can't tell one from the other. We were able to distinguish one broad tail hummingbird from the rest because she had tremors resulting from an accident many years ago.

We believe she may have flown into a window as we found her laying on a snow bank. We kept her warm to keep from going into shock and tended her until she could fly on her own again. We noticed when we let her go she was shaking and had tremors that she had her entire life. We could distinguish her from the other hummingbirds due to this behavior plus she would also go the one port on the feeder. 

We called her Henrietta and she was always the first to arrive in the spring and the last to leave in autumn. Because we could clearly identify Henrietta we were able to observe her over the many years she came to our home. Our feeder was kept near an access door and the other hummingbirds would fly off when we came and went out that door Henrietta would remain and trusted us. Henrietta taught us much about her breed and herself.

Hummingbirds come to the same feeder each year and on their migration route they know each feeding station along the way. Henrietta was very happy to summer at our home and was very comfortable being in close proximity to us. We had kept her warm when she was injured and from going into shock and cared for her until she recovered. We talked to her and we told her what I tell all the birds we comfort when they have had an accident: "God has a special purpose for you so you need to recover and fulfill that purpose". 

Henrietta had a long life and in late August, just prior to migration Henrietta appeared to be sick and she went to perch on the feeder and locked her feet and sat there. We suspected she may be dying so I stayed with her for about 30 minutes while she passed. We then took her off the perch and placed her in a cherry heart box and buried her at one of her favorite spots. Henrietta showed tremendous determination and grit to die where she had been most happy for so many years. We believe that she also knew that we would take care of her after her death which is what we did. This tiny hummingbird that weighed less than one ounce demonstrated her independence, grit, and determination to die in her most comfortable place. I wish I knew more people that had her qualities. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Do Not Procrastinate In The Mountains

 Above is my garden box where I planted seeds yesterday. I initially planned to plant today but I had some extra time so went a day early. This is why this time of year it is hard to make plans ahead of time and to do things when you can. I planted yesterday so I would have enough time to service the tractor and do firewood today. Clearly neither of those are going to happen. Too slippery to do firewood and the ground is too wet to lay on slush to change the oil in the tractor. Instead I plan to make donuts today for the next month and stay inside.
The spring is still running with force and I have previously followed it up the mountain to its source. It comes out of an 8' cliff about 3-400 yards up the mountain. I need to check on it daily to make sure that debris has not washed down and clogged the culvert that goes under the driveway or it could wash the driveway out.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Underground Springs Spring Up

 Each year we have springs bubble up out of the ground. Not like the two we have that run all year along but temporary springs that come forward with force for a couple weeks.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Good Start On Firewood

Finally enough break in the weather that we could start getting firewood in for next winter. Cut and split and all it needs is stacking in the woodshed. A few more cords and we will, thanks to our new ceramic heater, have our supply for next winter. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Photos Taken Yesterday

 Out spring is running well now.
 Snow is slowly disappearing but today we have 5" of fresh wet snow today. 
Parts of trees blown apart when the wildfire happened last summer. The trees got so hot the sap boiled inside until if formed gas and exploded from the trees.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Controller or Brains For Heater

The electric company came and installed a 'brain' or control box that tells the new electrical thermal heater when to run and when to draw power during non peak hours at a less rate than normal. It is connected directly to the electrical meter. So far it runs when it is non peak hours at a lesser cost per kilowatt hour than we normally pay. The unit is guaranteed for 5 years and we pay an additional $30. per month that includes any service calls that we may require.
It seems to me it is a pretty cost efficient method of heat and should take much of the burden of cutting, hauling, splitting and stacking so much firewood. We have it set where it comes on during the early morning hours and when we get up the house is a comfortable 66-67 degrees. We can then get a wood fire going and it gets the house up to a comfortable daytime level. We just let the wood stove burn out after supper so we no longer have to feed it throughout the night. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

How Sad

How sad for the French people and the rest of the world. Coupled with all the other churches burned down in France it just makes it even worse whether caused by accident or not. Sure hope this does not spread to the USA or we will have a major civil war on our hands.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Popeye

I love to fish and when I was in the USAF I had an opportunity to fish in a protected lagoon where the water was so clear you could see down 50-75 feet. I was stationed in Bermuda and when I would take the bus to town I would always stop at a retired military persons house where they had converted their front porch into a small restaurant. Their house was on a lagoon that had an exit out to the ocean. The exit was about 12' wide and 25-30 yards long. They made a hamburger that was to kill for as it was a meal in itself and I always took that opportunity to enjoy a home cooked meal other than mess hall food.

I was told I could use their old wooden boat anytime I wanted to go fishing in the lagoon. I invited a friend and we got some bait and went to use the boat. We decided to hand line over the edge of the boat and we could watch our bait below us. Next thing we realized was the tide was going out and we were being sucked toward the exit of the lagoon. We started rowing hard but the tide kept pulling us out the inlet. The friend tried to use an oar to stop us but the old oar broke and next thing we knew we were out in the open ocean.

We used the one remaining oar to try to get back to land to no avail. Next thing we knew we were seeing a stove pipe type channel marker with the number 17 painted on the side of it. Later we learned that the 17 stood for 17 miles and marked a shipping channel. We tried to get to it but couldn't with one oar. When we looked at the island we only saw Bermuda when we crested a large wave. The old boat took on water and we used our tee shirts to bail. After we passed the channel marker we saw a freighter where one of the crew was using flags to signal us. They radioed the coast guard and when we saw the coast guard ship the guy who let us use his row boat had a power boat and got to us first and towed us back to safety.

Being caught would be a court martial offense and my barracks buddies helped me peel my tee shirt off and treated my raw back so I could continue to work. We escaped detection but my back took quite a while to heal. I was so grateful to my flight members for getting me through the efforts to discover who went to sea in a rowboat but unfortunately I was called Popeye the rest of my time on the island. Had that freighter not spotted us I expect we would have become a statistic. I am a good swimmer but 17+ miles was way beyond my ability.

Monday, April 15, 2019

New Heater

For 22 winters we have cut, hauled, split and stacked firewood. Always between 9-12 cords. This year we used an extraordinary amount of firewood. We usually have 9-12 cords in case of a severe winter and this year we used more than usual. At our age it gets progressively harder each year to get that amount of firewood in. We knew this and that is why we started harvesting firewood at the far end of our property so as we became older we wouldn't have to go so far for firewood.

We still plan to harvest firewood but don't think we will require as much with the new electric thermal system (ETS) an electric heater with ceramic blocks that are heated at night and store the heat for the day time. It is the most efficient source of heat we could find and is energy efficient. We drove to Walsenburg and brought it home last week and got it installed (Carol and I) today. With the shortages of propane gas each year it seems that was not the way to go.

This unit will heat 900 sf, and we can use the wood stove much less now. It is not the primary source of heat but it will supplement the wood stove which we still love. The ETS is electronically controlled and cost $1,300.00 to purchase and about 2 hours to get set up. Carrying it upstairs was the hardest part and the remainder was going step by step with the directions to get it ready to program. We are hopeful it will take some of the strain off getting firewood this year for next winter.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Book Review

We had Mike Huckabee as a guest speaker at the church we attend on-line and his new book was mentioned. Now after reading his book it very closely follows his topic at church. It has his down home humor, easy way of speaking and non-offensive approach to life, dying and legacy. With Mike Huckabee what you see is what he is... His logic makes good sense and he speaks to everyone regardless of your social, economic, religious or political persuasion.

I found it a good book and not easy to put down. It seems to me it has a message for everyone. I would most certainly recommend it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Winter Is Not Done Yet

 The top photo was taken prior to the recent cyclone bomb storm which shows all the soot and ash on the snow. I was outside yesterday when the wind was blowing prior to this storm arriving and I could feel the grit on my teeth and my eyes were scratchy.  The new 10" of snow at least will cover the soot and ash for a few days.
 The worst of the storm must have missed us because we only received 10" of new snow. According to my measurements that is a total for this snow season of 242" which is 22" under our average according to the HUD report we received when we bought the property many years ago.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Other Side Of The Mountain

 We drove over to Walsenburg this morning to pick up a ceramic heater from the co-op. I had Carol take these photos of the other side of the mountains that we can't see from our area.  Above photo shows the wildfire burned up to the timber line on Mt. Mestas on LaVeta Pass. This is the burn scar coming from east to west.



Friday, April 5, 2019

What A Difference A Wildfire Makes...

 The top photo was taken two years ago today. The bottom photo was taken today looking out the same window. Today the snow is layered and covered with soot from the wildfire.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Sciatic Nerve Pain

At my age you would think I would know better. NOTE TO BRUCE:  "Don't shovel heavy loads of wet icy snow at the end of the snow season." 
Sitting on a heating pad seems to help and in a few days it will go away but in the meantime it is sore for sure. Have done this before as we like to get an early start at cutting up our reserve pile of firewood. Seems every year I end up like this and every year I remember after the fact.

One year I went to one of the two chiropractors in Alamosa but instead of treating the sciatic problem he focused on my neck. Medicare allows 12 visits and on the last visit I told him my low back still hurt and I finally got him to work on that. One treatment resolved the issue but he milked medicare for 11 unnecessary visits.  If I end up going back I will go to a chiropractor that 'listens' and one that will treat the affected area.

We got 3" of very heavy snow yesterday but it is melting rapidly so I'll not concern myself with removal of it. In the meantime I'll sit on the heating pad and take it easy. Stretching helped a little but unfortunately it just takes time.