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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.

Friday, August 24, 2018

One More Trail Camera Photo


Then And Now

 Above is last year and below is this year...doesn't look like we will enjoy the color's this year like in years past. The wildfire sure changed things and we hope that next year those aspen trees will have leaves again and while the conifer trees won't come back - maybe the aspen trees will.

Spring Fire Aftermath

 There used to  be a railroad bridge here but it burned right out from under a railroad car that then rolled down the hill leaving the cars attached to it with their wheels off the tracks. Instead of building a replacement bridge they put in a culvert but those two cars are still off the tracks stranding a line of railroad cars on this side track.  We drive past these stranded railroad cars each time we go in our out of our community. There is no shortage of views to continually remind us of the destruction caused by this wildfire.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Elk - Trail Camera



Not A Pretty Sight

I have not posted here for a few days due to a continuing intestinal problem that seems to be cycling through our fur family one at a time. This is now the third cycle and it goes from Bozley to Bozwell to Echo and starts with normal bowel movements but then goes to mushy to the squirts. Yup, that is far more information than the reader needs but we are dealing with it.

Carol is in Alamosa with stool samples for the vet (not a nice part of their job) to see if we can find out what is going on. She is also picking up the supplies the vet recommended to help calm their intestinal systems down. We  figure they picked up something while we were evacuated in the form of a bug and we need to stop this cycle.

It is hard to get a good nights sleep because when the dogs move around we get up to let them out not knowing if they are just changing position or need to go out to go to the bathroom. With three elder fur family members and two with disabilities we don't take chances.

Those motel's are handy and convenient that take dogs but they are breeding grounds for various diseases in my opinion. The floors are kept as clean as possible but we could tell there were issues in the carpet and that is where the dogs lay. Hopefully we can get a handle on this problem soon. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cooler Temperatures

Each morning it is getting cooler. Good sleeping weather for sure.

Trail Camera

Went and retrieved the sim card from the trail camera and it was blank. I thought I would have some good photos by now and it turns out I turned it off instead of on last time I mounted it. Checked the batteries and they were good but it won't work unless I turn it on. Sorry - it will be a few days before I can check for photos. With our area being in a green oasis we now have a lot of animal activity.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Second Chances Are Rare

It seems to me that our community is on the teetering edge of getting a second chance. An opportunity to be a better community having failed at the first attempt. The Spring Fire destroyed 134 homes in our community and people for the most part have left to go their own way. Coupled with the many whose undeveloped lots were destroyed who will likely now not keep or develop them the cost to community is in my opinion catastrophic.

It was just over 21 years ago that we were en-route to our 'new' community with expectations of a friendly, caring and cooperative community that would meet the raw beauty of the environment where we planned to retire. Our expectations included neighbors working together with each other, cooperating together as in going together to facilitate contractors or service providers coming to our area and sharing the travel costs. Living in a remote area we don't have all the providers a larger community would have. For example hiring a chimney sweep would require going to Taos, NM, or Colorado Springs. 2-3 people could use the same service and share the mileage costs making it better for all.

What we found when we got to our 'new' community was quite different from what we anticipated. Divided groups who were not given to cooperate with each other, disputes and infighting for control of the association, backbiting and a more hostile community than we could have imagined. It was so bad that we finally chose to stay by ourselves and not even try to contribute or engage the community. The backbiting, gossip and efforts of some to destroy those who did not agree with them or who they couldn't control made self imposed seclusion a necessity for our survival.

The Spring wildfire raged through our community destroying about half the homes and many will not rebuild or maintain their property. Old power struggles, character assassinations and gossip mongering seems of little consequence now that the community has been torn apart by a wildfire. Dreams have been destroyed, lives have been seriously disrupted, old alliances have been ripped apart and the community is left in shock and disbelief as the number one fear has now come to pass.

As leadership now struggles to put the community back to some semblance of what it once was it seems to me that this could easily be a 'second chance' to have a much better community. Second chances are rare and when opportunity for a second chance appears it should not be wasted.

To start again on having a caring community will require some to put old grudges aside, leave old hurts in the dust and ashes and change their attitude in moving forward. A viable community should be inclusive of ALL members and not a fractured community. It will be up to every member whether they are willing to do this and move forward together or if the same old mistakes will simply be embellished and perpetuated. Egos, grudges, hate and divisiveness will have no room in a new and improved community that will serve all the members and not just a few. People will need to work side by side to have a friendly and cooperate community.

From what I have seen thus far it appears to be status quo as to the same old community. I believe instead of jumping right into trying to restore the community the leadership should instead step back and do some thinking on what the community should be and work toward that as a goal. Members need to do some soul searching and identify where they need to make amends and change their attitudes. That doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has to like each other but what it does mean that they need to 'get along' together and work first of all on making a more caring community and not the hateful one that existed prior to the wildfire.

The landscape is now very ugly but the residents can brighten it up with proper attitudes toward each other and becoming more adult. Those are my observations and that is my opinion. I think the status of the community needs to be addressed first and then the physical restoration. Leadership and members need to take a look at what was a fractured community and what they desire it to be in the future.  This point in time is a "second chance to get it right". A second chance is not something to be taken lightly or wasted.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Visitor

Early morning visitor just passing through this morning. He walked around the house and then ambled off down the mountain.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Emotional And Psychological Impact

Check out my latest blog for Mother Earth News about how going through a wildfire impacts your mental well being. The blog can be found at: https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/spring-wildfire-2018-zbcz1808

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Large Moth

Here is a very large moth that decided to perch right outside our under the house entrance. That T1-11 is 8" wide to give some  idea of the size of this winged insect.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Consider Economic Projections:

While visual reminders each day keep the Spring Fire and its destruction in our mind and can be depressing there are other considerations to evaluate. Current and future economic considerations.

This wildfire destroyed about half the property in our community. There are 3,364 parcels and half would be 1,682. Not all those are developed and 134 homes were destroyed. Most people can figure out that it will be decades before their property will show any semblance  of what it was. Likely unless they are very young they will not see it within their lifetime. Thus far their investment is from $3,500.00 to $7,500.00, and they now have a destroyed piece of property that will not be what they hoped for. They face the prospect of future property taxes and association dues on something that is greatly diminished in value.

So what do they do?  Some will pay taxes and dues and hold the property for their grandchildren to enjoy in the future. Others will most likely cut their losses and walk away knowing that they can't recover their investment. Any investment opportunity will definitely be long range. If half those owners walk away the loss of dues and taxes will be impressive, not to consider the costs of either the association or county recovering the land by foreclosure.

This wildfire will impact us all, some directly as it has already done and others indirectly. Mostly people are now deciding whether to rebuild on a devastated piece of property or to cut their losses as best they can. If they rebuild they will be surrounded by this devastation for many years to come. The association and county are obvious losers since they have the same obligations but do not have the same revenue base to pay for the obligations. Roads to maintain, equipment to maintain and fuel, salaries to pay, insurance costs and buildings to maintain.

But what about local businesses and merchants?  They will have less customers as those whose homes were destroyed will be relocated which will translate less profit. By the time the community is restored they will have indirect losses. Operating on a low margin of profit can put some businesses out of business with the loss of customer base. Businesses look ahead to growth not backward at less customer base.

So everyone in the community and area is going to be impacted by this wildfire. We can either stay in a depressed state or pull together to build our community back and make it better in the process. One way is to support local business where ever and when ever possible. Another way is to encourage those who lost their property to rebuild. The climate is the same - it is just the landscape that changed. Some of the deed restrictions no longer apply due to the devastation. Make it more desirable to build back and that will depend on the association and the county. Formulating new strict and restrictive rules is counter productive. Relax the rules and help people - don't hinder people because in the long run it will be the association, county and those whose homes were not destroyed that will indirectly pay the price.

It just seems like simple economics to me.....

When Does The Pain Stop?

 Many falsely believe that when we returned to our home things were better. These photos reveal what we see each day. While we are in our home we are in a small green oasis but when we leave our home we see nothing but destruction, wind blowing ash and the ditches full of ash washing down the side of the mountain. It is more than depressing and is a visual constant reminder what the new normal is going to be. The photo below is what we see each day across from the end of our driveway.
 It is hard to keep a positive attitude when we are reminded visually each day of what happened. Many say the trees will come back and while that is true at the slow rate they grow at high altitude it will be decades before we see new trees. I have trees that I planted 12-15 years ago that are only 5-6' high and they are situated where they get daily water. It will take decades to reforest the miles and miles of burned scorched earth. The grass has already come back but the trees will be a long time and certainly not in the next 20-30 years. Majestic mature trees will take much longer. We have trees that when counting the rings are 125-150 years old and all they are now is charred and laying on the ground. So when will things get better?  Not anytime soon for sure. Grass and weeds have come back but are only carpet for black, charred dead sticks that used to be majestic healthy trees.
The sludge that runs down hill and fills the ditches along the road and then over flows the road continuing on down the mountain comes with each rain storm. When does it stop?  When all the ash that blows in the wind is finally washed down the mountain. Constant reminders of what has happened to the community and will continue for decades. When does the damage stop? Probably not for a long time and our daily visual reminder will keep the wildfire current probably for the rest of our lives. This is the sad reality and anyone assuming everything is now alright because we are back in our home is mistaken. Our daily reminder is something that we can't un-see. The normal we used to know is now gone and will not return in our lifetime. We have no idea how long it will take for us to adjust to our new normal.

Finding A New Home

With the loss of miles of habitat the adaptable pack rat is on a quest to find a new winter home. Unfortunately that brings them to our little green oasis and they dig their way under the back of our home. I set live traps and so far this year we have relocated 5 of them.  They are destructive little rodents and will nest under hoods of vehicles using your wiring harness as nesting material. We keep our hoods propped open to keep them out as they like enclosed areas to make their nest. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hidden Dangers

 Large trees that have burned off under grown or at the base fall on a regular basis now. Ash pits are something to constantly be aware of as sometimes they look like normal ash covered ground but when you step on them you can go deep and break a leg very easily.
 Wind blown ash fills them in with light fluffy ash and they are in reality a hidden danger. It is hard to walk in the woods looking for a large tree that is burned off at the base and only held in place by a thin margin or splinter of wood. You have to be looking around and down at the same time.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Conundrum

Conundrum: noun, a confusing or difficult question or problem.  That is what our community has now a conundrum. The Spring wildfire destroyed 134 homes in our community - approximately half the homes in the community. The fire has gone and as the photo above reflects this is all that remains of 134 homes, dreams, lives and security. Scorched earth,  what used to be trees now reduced to pointers to the sky all black and charred.

People have gone from shock to discouraged and demoralized. As my friend Joe and myself drive around the community to survey road signs that were destroyed we go by these burned down homes. So far less than a handful of people are making any attempt to clean up the debris on their property. Why you might ask...good question.
Because the State and Federal authorities (bureaucrats all) have regulations and rules that prohibit a clean up any way but their way. The tin roofs have to be "washed on site" before they can be moved to a central location. The ashes from what used to be homes has to be wet down, double bagged in 6 mil. bags or enclosed in 6 mill sheets of plastic in a dumpster on all sides. As anyone knows wet ashes are sticky, heavy and will cling to a shovel. They are just plain a mess to deal with. Now add the goggles in the hot of the day with flies, a hazmat suit, rubber boots and gloves and guess how long you can endure this procedure.
Thus far the bureaucrats have not determined how to dispose of the cement from foundations. Based on the above two procedures it is a sure bet it won't be practical.
FEMA finally showed up and they have given us one day to provide them with the name and telephone number of those who lost their homes. Also to advise if they were insured, under insured or not insured. With people now scattered to the four winds it shows how interested they are in helping.
So this is a conundrum as to how to deal with bureaucratic procedures and plan to rebuild. Is it any wonder why people are discouraged and are more than likely going to take the insurance money and walk away.  Some already have made their intentions known and done so.
So what happens to the debris on their property in 1-3 years. It stays right there and it should be no surprise that they won't pay HOA dues or property taxes. Where does that leave the HOA and those who remain? Where does that leave the county and its significant loss of revenue? Well the bureaucrats don't much care if the county, HOA or anyone else has to continually suffer as they have their regulations and those rules and regulations identify their self importance. If a community fails or the county suffers that is not their fault. So how do you deal with these myopic bureaucrats? You don't because they are unwavering.
Supposedly this is done to protect us from asbestos. Asbestos was outlawed in the early 70's and the oldest home in our community was built in 1986. So where does this asbestos come from? Not a concern for a bureaucrat, the regulations are clear.
So having read this far you can see the conundrum, except in this case there is no solution and people are continuing to be victimized. It will be the slow death of a community. Paradise lost. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Tiny Feathered Hero

For more years than I can now remember we have had a family of flycatchers nest somewhere on our home. Last year was under the deck, the year before it was on the electrical meter and this year it was next to the door that goes under the house. Her two chicks had just hatched prior to the wildfire.
When we evacuated she was on the nest with her two little guys and I wished her well.
When we got home two weeks later one of the first things I checked was her nest. Two little heads were popped up looking back at me. Then a few days ago I noticed one of the little ones in my garden giving it his all to fly more than a few feet. Each try he made it a little further and finally he fluttered off to his new found freedom.
That mama flycatcher is to be admired as she withstood extreme heat and smoke to stick with those little guys and raise them to be on their own. The heat on the house was intense and the smoke had to be thick and choking but she stuck with it and got those little guys airborne. With the grass fires around the house she must have been terrified at times but through it all she stuck by those little chicks. Another hero if you ask me......

Mud Slide Photos And More

 This is Beekman Road just outside the Forbes Park gate where the ditch is 4+ feet deep. You look into the ditch and there is an orange cable laying on the bottom that was washed up. Not sure if it is telephone, electric or something else.
 The above photo is Wagon Creek where there used to be native cutthroat trout but now it is just sludge. The sparkling water is gone but mud and sludge replaced it.
 This is the main road at the bottom of the big hill as you come into the park. The end result of a major mud slide.
There is a green strip going up the mountain and our home is at the front of that green strip. A miracle created by divine intervention.....everything is burned on both sides of us.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hey Nute

Had one of these guys in the front loader bucket when I went out yesterday.  Picked it up and put it in a safe place.

Love That Sun

Last year we had a garter snake up behind our house and to keep it from being hurt we moved it off the trail to safety. This snake has apparently taken up residence under my garden box and this morning was warming up in the sun when I noticed it. We have more than our share of voles and I hope this guy will reduce the vole population for us. We think it is the same snake but it has grown to over double its size from when we last saw it.