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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fordham University, New York City.

One of the true joys in my life is being able to donate firewood to LaPuente in Alamosa, CO. Several times a year the volunteers from Americorp that are assigned to LaPuente bring groups from all over the country to cut, haul, load and carry off firewood for those in the valley. Today Nick (front right with the chain saw) brought 12 students from Fordham University and each time he brings a group of volunteers I think there can't be any greater and harder working young people anywhere. Then there was today and here I go again. Some outstanding young people who were such a delight to be with. In fact as they drove away down the road I was missing them already. I think I'll be missing this group for quite a while. I believe standing behind Nick is Cat who is with LaPuente but I don't know what her job title is but hope to find out on their next trip here.

They came all the way across our country to cut fire wood for people they didn't even know. If all the younger generation is like those LaPuente brings out then we old folks can rest easy as our future and theirs is in very capable hands.

We see on the news, read in the newspapers all the evil in the world and then I get to spend a few hours with young people with a good work ethic, a good heart to volunteer to help others and I will sleep good tonight not so much from the hard work but knowing our futures are in very capable hands. We have been doing this for many years now - providing dead trees - and each group seems to eclipse the last. From the junior high school youngsters to the college students to the seniors in their 70-80's, these are people of compassion, integrity, and a giving spirit.

Nick also brought along a most pleasant young man named Danny (not in the photo), as he was doing a video taped documentary of the firewood project for LaPuente. What a privilege to be able to contribute to the documentary. Danny was very professional and I'm sure when he finishes the documentary and it gets posted on the web site that it will draw many more outstanding volunteers into their worthy programs.

As readers look at the photo on top - take the time to look at each face - I think you will see as I do a secure and bright future for our country. Some truly outstanding young people who no doubt have great things ahead of them.........

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Unexpected Surprise

 I woke up this morning to 4" of fresh snow. I wanted to post photos of same and when I took my camera outside to get a few photos there were two deer heading to the tops of the aspen trees that broke off in the recent heavy snow storm. The tops have leaves that are about half developed and a good source of food for the deer.  Several trees broke off so there are numerous piles of limbs and tree tops for the deer.

This is why it is so hard to maintain a garden at 9,800' elevation. It is nice for a day or two and seeds germinate and then we get 4" of snow. Last year our last snow was 5/28, and that was 5" of wet snow. I ended up spreading seeds 3 times before they were safe to grow and that reduces the growing season considerably.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A day Later

Friday night we had two inches of snow and today the ground was dry and I grilled a hamburger out for lunch.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Have You Questioned How You Survived This Long?

Have you ever wondered how you have lived so long with the dangers you have faced along the way? I have and one particular episode comes to mind that taught me several things. When I was in the USAF, I was given a two year assignment in Bermuda. While there I met a retired USAF Sgt. that lived on a small cove with an outlet that discharged into the ocean. He supplemented his retirement income by converting his porch into a neighborhood restaurant which I used to attend as often as possible. His wife's  hamburgers were out of this world with a nice thick slice of sweet Bermuda onion on them.

I got to know the old Sgt. over time and he found out I liked fishing. He offered his row boat to fish in the cove if I wanted and said I could bring a friend. I brought a guy I knew that worked in the mess hall and liked to fish. We were fishing in the cove and not paying any attention to the tide which was going out. We were being drawn closer to the outlet and the closer we got the more the pull on the small boat. We could not row hard enough to stay in the cove. We were sucked out of the inlet like someone flushing a toilet. The guy with me tried to jam an oar against the rock wall and broke the oar. We then only had one oar.

We were suddenly out in the ocean with the big rolling waves. We started to lose sight of the island and were doing a lot of frantic bailing. We went past a stovepipe marker that had 17 painted on it. Shortly after we passed the marker we saw a ship and a guy with flags trying to signal us. Not knowing the flag language we had no idea what he was saying. Shortly thereafter we saw a coast guard cutter heading our way and another long boat that was the old Sgt. bearing down on us. He got to us first and we tied up and he hauled us to safety. The 17 on the marker represented 17 miles and we were totally helpless and barely staying afloat in the ocean.

I ended up with a severe sun burn  on my back and the base commander was looking for who had done this. My barracks mates took care of me and covered for my sunburn which was an Article 15 offense. I learned that having friends that would step in and save you were important and that having friends that would keep silent on my behalf and care for me by having to help dress me were equally important. My back was raw and oozing and my flight members had to carefully peal my T-shirt off me each day and treat my raw open wounds.

I have heard people in our community say they would not stop and help someone in need if they didn't like them. Having had the experience I had I would never consider not helping anyone - like them or not. It also taught me loyalty such as my flight/unit members demonstrated by helping me and protecting me. Everyone one in my unit knew it was me including my commanding officer but no one told, possibly because they saw that I was suffering enough with a raw back.

But for divine intervention by having that passing oil tanker at the right spot to see a tiny boat the size of a small dot in the ocean we would have perished without a doubt. The Lord was watching over us that day even though I did not know him then. By all rights we should have perished at sea but that incident changed my life in many ways and I realize I'm fortunate to be alive.

Getting A Garden Started Is Hard

 Two more inches of snow overnight which brings us to 248" this snow season according to my count. Our average is 264" but we have had quite a bit of rain mixed in. It was 26 degrees when I woke up this morning and I thought I should get these photos before the sun came up to far and it all melted off.
 This above photo is for my wife who is in Florida now for a graduation ceremony. One week ago we were eating one of my cowboy breakfasts at this spot and it just goes to show how fast our weather can change. Below are the aspen trees across from our house with the leaves developing.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mmmm Good

Rotisserie chicken...yummm...  Where else could you pick up the phone and call the local grocery (20+ miles one way) and say: "Hey Gerald, doing chicken today?"  Then get an affirmative and tell them to put your name on one. At the appropriate time head to the grocery for that delicious chicken. They have rotisserie chicken at several locations in Alamosa but none are as good as Gerald makes. I wish this blog had a scratch and sniff feature because the aroma is simply scrumptious.
It just seemed like the right choice today  as it is overcast outside, cool temperature and I woke up to 1" of snow this morning again and tonight and tomorrow is winter storm watch.

If we get the storm expected I'll have a delicious chicken left over in case we lose the power again. Driving in to get the chicken also gave me a chance to take a detour past one of my favorite places to prospect. It is a good place and as expected the water is rushing hard down the creek. That is running strong enough to carry gold to this location and when it stops running so hard I'll take a special tool I use to extract the gold.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Garden Hazards

 Growing a garden at this elevation is challenging to say the least. Just when you think it is suitable to start your garden the weather throws a challenge your way. Last year I started the garden three times before it finally caught and grew. Coupled with the very short growing season and all the critters that like to feast on vegetables and having and maintaining a garden requires constant vigilance and tons of determination.
When the seedlings finally germinate and come up they need to really grow fast as the intense sun at this elevation and cool days and nights tends to keep them from maturity. Native plants thrive here as they have adapted over the years but new plants tend to have a much more difficult time. The top photo are earth boxes where I grow herbs and the bottom photo is one of my garden boxes where I grow leaf vegetables.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

When The Springs Bust Loose

 When the springs burst forth they just keep running harder and harder until they suddenly stop. The springs are numerous and keep our driveway wet for a couple weeks. They come out of the mountain in so many places that it is hard to divert all of them. There are several by the house and an equal number at the other end of the property. Only two of them run all year long.
 Almost hard enough to put a tiny raft in and do some white water rafting....

Friday, May 12, 2017

Another Power Outage

Yesterday at 8:10 A.M. our power went out. It had been out during the night for a couple hours but this time after several hours it did not come back on. We finally had restored power this morning about 26 hours later. We learned that our generator does work for keeping the refrigerator and freezer going so we did not lose any food.

Apparently the heavy snow storm we had took down trees and the linemen were having trouble getting to the breaks caused by the trees due to flooding and road's washed out. We have never in our lifetime had snow as heavy as this latest storm - it was like shoveling wet cement.

We went to Monte Vista this morning for a tractor repair part and noted the creeks flowing well over their banks and running hard. With the 1" of rain coupled with the heavy wet snow it is just to much water for the creeks to carry off. Just another day in the mountains.

After snow like this there are snow bombs that fall off the trees and they can be big and heavy. I was raking the snow off the roof yesterday and got hit by one. Took me some time to get the snow out of my ear where it was packed in tight. If losing around 50+ trees in the high winds about a month ago we lost even more in this heavy snow. The weight was to much for them and the tops broke off of several aspens.

New Helper

Carol has wanted to help  me for years with the cutting of firewood. I had her limb down trees last year with an ax but it was just to hard for her. I was in picking up a tractor part this morning and happened to walk by a chain saw display. There was a very light Echo limber with a 12' blade that she said fit her hands perfectly. The price was right and since it was a good fit I think I have a new tree limber.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017

 Life in the mountains can be tough. I just cleaned up 5 trees that were blown over in the wind over the winter and have about 30+ yet to go and last night we received the heaviest snow I recall. We had hail for about 1" and then very heavy snow for the next 12". When the sun came up and we were able to look around we noticed that there were trees broken off and laying on the ground from the heavy snow. The conifers seemed to lose some limbs but the aspen were either broken in half or just toppled over. It seems that our summer is now decided for us and it will be cutting up and mulching trees.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Always In Our Heart and Thoughts

This is a photo of our first German Shepherd Dog "Ben". This was taken toward the end of his life and we were camping and he loved to lay on the grass and sniff the air. He passed on 10 years ago today and we still miss him terribly. I don't think we ever get over the loss of a pet that we love deeply.

Let The Springs Burst Forth

 For all the years we have lived here there has only been a handful where springs didn't burst forth from the ground. Top photo is where the spring runs down to the culvert I installed under the driveway. Before this was put in the spring would wash out the driveway up to 2' deep. Now it runs through the culvert to the downhill side of the driveway where it then runs to the deeper ditch and down the road to another culvert where it disperses down the mountain in sheet flow.
 This is the exhaust end of the culvert running under the driveway. It comes out pretty strong. The remainder of the springs run down the driveway in sheet flow.
The last photo is where it comes down the mountain and goes across the ground. We have followed the spring up the mountain where it comes out in a rocky wall. It will run for a couple weeks and then suddenly stop as fast as it starts. We need to keep people off our driveway so they don't make a tire rut where the water will then run and cut a  channel in the driveway.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rainy Day

It has been raining all day and we have according to the weather rain gauge 1/2" of new rain.

Fear of Thunder

 According to the weather prognosticators we are in for a week of daily thunder storms. That normally is not a big problem because we like the moisture which is welcome in our semi-arid  state. Unfortunately two of our fur family are afraid of thunder. We have tried everything from calming aids to thunder shirt and nothing works. Echo wedges himself between the recliner and the table and Bozley gets in a corner or the bathroom.
Bozley does not like his collar much but he likes to go into the breakfast room where we don't notice him and we don't want him to get after his stitches and have to go back to the vet and have them redone. We don't use the 'cone of shame' because they catch on everything in a small house. When it is thundering we put on classical symphony music and that seems to calm them somewhat. He doesn't know it yet but he will have to wear this collar for 2 1/2 weeks until the stitches come out.

Monday, May 8, 2017


Bozley continuing  his deep sleep after having a cyst removed from his knee. When we adopted Bozley 1 year 10 months ago he came with a 90 day supply of prednisone for a "hot spot" on his knee. I checked the area and we have been watching and checking that area very frequently but did not see anything that could be bothering him. We have treated the area with neem oil and until last Friday there was nothing visible.
Last Friday Carol noted a small cyst forming. This is the first it has appeared where we could see it. We did not give Bozley the prednisone as we did not see a hot spot. It was a cyst below the surface that did not appear until Friday and the prednisone would not have helped that condition at all.
Bozley will not be troubled with the cyst again. The cyst was easily removed and the stitches will be taken out in two weeks.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


I know that it sounds ridiculous but the hummingbird on the left has a long history at our house. She is the first one back each year and the last one to leave. This has been going on for many years. She sits on the same spot and on the same feeder in the very same way each year. Several years ago she had an accident where she flew into a window and she holds her body differently. Carol found her and kept her warm and cradled in our hand until she revived.  She was found in a snow bank and still she survived the window strike and the cold.  After she survived she has had this different body posture that stands out to us.

She is a senior hummingbird now and we can easily pick her out of a bunch of hummingbirds easily. It is hard to explain the happiness when she comes back year after year. She flies hundreds of miles each year to her winter destination and then flew back to the very spot on the feeder each spring.

Seeing Henrietta back each year really lifts our spirits. We look forward to seeing her again each year but we are fully aware that one year she will not return and we will actually mourn her when that time comes.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Birthday Boy

 Bozwell is 10 years old today and calculated in human years that would make him 66.  He has has his problems medically over the years but we have most of them under control now and he is active and healthy.
 If there is a snow bank he loves to lay in it. Of all our fur family he love the snow more than any of the others which is good because we have plenty of snow..
His favorite position for rest on the sofa which is positioned where he can watch the entire house and what is going on.

Jack of All Trades - Master of None

My latest blog for Mother Earth News covers the skills needed to be more self sufficient when homesteading semi-remotely. Check it out at:

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mountain Living Lesson #1

 The weather predictions are important when you live at high elevation. Snow was predicted for last Saturday and they believed the accumulation would be 5-9". As it often does this time of year it ended up being 38".
That is a lot of snow but the end of April and the month of May the temperatures fluctuate wildly. They also predicted warm temps after the snow storm passed. If you are not used to this much snow it can be daunting and mild panic can set in.
We are used to it and we let the sun Sunday and today work for us. That snow melted down to 2-6". We did our shopping in town the day before the storm arrived and now all we need do is be patient and wait for it to melt. As can be seen in the photos we could easily get out if needed and since we don't have anywhere to go for a few days all we need do is wait and let the sun do our work for us.
38" to 6" in two days and all we did was shovel a path through the 38" to under the house where the generator is stored if the power went out - which it didn't.
Where we shoveled the path and shoveled out the back yard for the dogs it is mostly bare ground now and all thanks to old Sol....

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Last Snow Photos

 It has been snowing all day and I figure we have around 28-30" so far. It is still snowing and still blowing and it will be days before we can dig our way out.

24" And Counting......

 Just came in from shoveling off the front deck. I guesstimate there is 24" as I looked down on where I had put the snow thrower it was covered and it will handle 24". All that was showing was about a foot of the exhaust chute. It is still coming down hard and the wind is blowing it in all directions. I take comfort in knowing that our spring flowers are down underneath somewhere. That is why it is so hard to garden here at this elevation. Last year I planted on three different occasions.
When the snow gets over 24" like it is now there isn't much we can do except keep a path open to get under the house if we need to. The snow just comes over the top of the blade and the tractor rides up on the snow and gets stuck. I actually stood in one spot and shoveled for 5 minutes without moving my feet.
This is actually quite routine for us here to get our big storms when the rest of the country is having spring rains and enjoying their spring flowers...
Probably only a matter of time before the electricity goes out too.

The Storm Has Arrived

 The storm arrived as predicted. So far at 8:00 AM we have 13" and it is suppose to continue through the day. Currently it is coming down at around 1-2" per hour. Had to shovel out the back yard so the dogs could go out and do their business. They are long legged boys and the snow was up to their sides in places as the wind is blowing and it is drifting as it continues to come down.
 We have not lost power yet but wanted to get this posted in case we do lose power. Enjoy your spring and all the spring flowers.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

No More Falling Downstairs For Echo

When the power went out Echo tried to come downstairs and ended up falling and ran up a sizable vet bill for his soft tissue injury. If he can't get upstairs he won't be falling downstairs. We had an extra panel from the screen that goes around the wood stove so I did a little modification and made the gate out of the spare panel. I have a spring attached that makes it a self closing gate. No more spiral staircase accidents and injuries for Echo now.

Above is Echo wearing his improvised whiplash collar. His neck has healed now so it is finally off and he can move more freely. That collar ended up giving him just enough support to be able to lay down and rest. Before the collar he paced all day; would try to lay down but couldn't, and panted from the pain and apprehension. With the gate up he should not have to go through that experience again.

Spring In The Mountains

 We woke up to 9" of new snow this morning and yesterday we were sitting in those lawn chairs enjoying the 60 degree + temperatures. I was planting flower seeds in our window box yesterday and today it is 22 degrees. Yesterday the roads were dry and I was out cutting some of the trees that blew down in the past wind storm and today I can't find the trees as they are covered with snow. We do not complain as we can always use the moisture.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tackle The Hard Jobs First

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017


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

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

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

We will post pics when the door is installed.