Monday, November 26, 2012

The Start of an Annual Tradition

Yesterday was a much anticipated day.  Long before we moved to Colorado we had visions of the day we'd spend cutting the first Christmas tree at our new home.  We envisioned walking through the forest in freshly fallen snow, with just a few big snowflakes fluttering to the ground around us.  There would be birds in the trees and squirrels hopping amongst the pines chattering at us as we walked through their home. And then we'd find the perfect tree.  We'd cut the tree telling it how it was the chosen one and then take it home and decorate it with all of our treasured ornaments, while we cheerfully sipped at hot chocolate and munched on freshly baked treats and listened to holiday tunes by the crackling fire...

And guess what? The day didn't go quite like that.  First of all there was no snow-not even a flake tantalizing us as it melted on the warm ground. No sir,  it was probably about 60 degrees and sunny.  Nevertheless a great day for tree cutting.

Kt and I set out to Beaver Creek with our tree permit, and saw safely stashed in the back of the car and followed the many cars blazing a trail to the tree cutting area.  Happily there is room for many,we chose to turn off the main drive and make a stop first, to meet a very famous forest spokesman. Guess who we had the pleasure of meeting? None other than Smokey the Bear!

Selena and KT posing with the famous bear!

 There were some mounted trail volunteers who were dressed in the spirit of the season. Here Kt gives "Mrs. Claus a pet"

And then the search for the perfect tree began. We found a spot all to ourselves and began the hunt:

KT points toward a prospect!

Upon further inspection by her and Selena it is decided it is not the one...

There are trees of all shapes and sizes...even ones that would be perfect for a Charlie Brown Christmas show,

This prospect is too small...
 And then spotlighted by sunlight, in a glade (it really was) we see it.  The perfect tree.
Me, cutting it down ,

Dragging it to the car (it was light)

KT tieing the back of it down (she actually did and it didn't come undone)

Christmas tree hunting is hard work, we had to squelch our appetite at Zoka's -a local dog friendly  restaurant.

We obviously weren't the only hungry tree cutters. This is the parking lot at Zokas.

 And then it was homeward bound where in the evening the true show started....putting up the tree.  This tree has a mind of it's own.  It was happily standing in the stand quite straight so I ceremoniously found the tree topper star and went to put it up top.  Of course it didn't fit.

Me in my sheep pj's trying to get the star on..

  Meanwhile the tree decided enough rough housing and made a break for it. It lurched and shiver me timbers there she went!  And so did I...with a bumpity bump (Frosty would be proud).  Not to be defeated by a tree I got my stool and tried again but KT and I were laughing so hard, this time I bumped my head on the stone mantel. Ouch!  We pushed and shoved for about a half an hour, and the tree was just not having -it refused to stand any more.  We'd get it nice and straight and then it'd begin to sway and we'd grab it quickly before it toppled right over again (which I believe it did several times).  Finally I decided it must be subdued and I hogtied it with some ribbon.  I swore I heard it sigh.  And then we were able to decorate as planned except we had no fire as really was quite warm, no hot chocolate (though half way through I did decide the occasion merited a  ceasar! (or maybe that should be a seizure..)

Kt puts the first ornament on...
The little reindeer are all tired out...watching is hard work!
This one's tired too!

I can hardly wait until next weekend to put the outdoor lights up!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 PDSS Cyber Sheep Show

Look what came in the mail the other day: A certificate for our 2012 Cyber Sheep Show placements!

The PDSS does a great job with this show each year and it's a lot of fun.  Best of all you don't have to haul your sheep anywhere because it's a CYBER show-the show is judged on photographs of your sheep. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A House fit for a King..on a Paupers Budget

Wow. I've been a very negligent blogger this year. I can't believe it's October and I have only eighteen posts this year. So much for documenting the whole move and settling in process. The leaves have all fallen from the Aspens and Jack Frost is threatening to release his frosty winds and cover the ground with his ice and snow. This posed a problem-what to do with Jasper?

 Jasper has not been a good dog this year (yes Santa Paws are you listening-not a good dog). At the end of June he did a dastardly thing-he killed and ate one of our little call ducks, and mortally wounded Harry the rooster. That event has earned Jasper a lot of time tied on a chain. I don't like to tie up a dog but I will not put the lives of my ducks and chickens at risk to the whims of a dog. He probably started off just playing but playing led to death.

 Fencing Jasper out of the chicken coop is not really an option as jumping into the chicken coop isn't Jasper's only misdoing. He has also taken to jumping our perimeter fence. If he feels like going for a swim, one hop and he's over the fence and off he goes to romp and play in the creek. He also has an accomplice-our tenants pup is infatuated with Jasper and follows him wherever he goes, including over or through the fence.

 Last month they took off and didn't return. We searched high and low but the two dog had vanished. A missing dog here is extremely worrisome. We border thousands of acres of forest land and if they disappeared in there, we would be luck to find them again. Happily, a phone call to animal control found the delinquents -they had run down the busy road behind us for about two miles before being picked up. I bailed them out the next morning, and swore an end to their adventures.

 Hence more chain time for Jasper. I felt bad (even though he earned his sentence). Basically he has to be tied dusk to dawn unless I am there to supervise him. And then there was a matter of shelter? I can't leave a dog tied without shelter. I searched on local buy/sell forums but couldn't find a suitable house for him, so we opted to bite the bullet and build him his own mansion.

 Hubby was up for a week and I put him to work. We scavenged a bunch of scrap wood from piles on our property accomplishing two things; cleaning up eyesores that needed to disappear, and best of all sourced materials to build the frame of the dog house. A trip to the local hardware store proved fruitful, they had a bunch of scrap cedar siding they sold to us for 1/2 price. A few hours and many slivers later-Jaspers doghouse was born:

Framing Starts

Size Check

Using the fine woodworking tools


It's taking too long

Setting the house in place...with supervision

The finished product...yes he has a deck!

Cost breakdown:

2x4 lumber-free, scavenged from scraps
Pole skids-found on property
Cedar Siding-$25.00
Cedar roof-$25.00
Misc hardware-about $8.00

Total cost: $58.00!

And just one more thing to add...I've ordered Jasper Christmas lights to adorn his house.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Garden Gate

Yesterday was one of the first days in quite a while where I didn't have plans to be anywhere, or have to work inside at my day job. I have built up quite a to do list of odd jobs that need doing around here and without a honey to help out with the "honey-do" list -the list has grown rather long.

About a month ago I built a yard gate. A temporary closure had been there since we first visited our property. It did the job of keeping the dogs in - for a while, and then the dogs discovered they could squeeze through the gap and it ceased to be effective. A new gate was a must!

I was still humming and hawing about what I wanted to put there but my humming and hawing was accelerated! Being that new metal gates are expensive (about $70.00 for a 4 footer) and don't have a whole lot of eye appeal, I decided to build my own gate.

This gate was my inspiration:

My materials list:
  • 2 pieces of 2x4 (scrap I had lieing around). I cut one into two pieces the desired width of the gate and the other was cut to fit the diagonal
  • 8 Cedar pickets 5/8" thick @ 1.62 each, total $12.96
  • Gate hinge set $14.97
  • Screws-Various left overs I had on hand

Total cost $27.93.


I first cut 2 2x4's to the desired width, and laid out my pickets on them, spacing the pickets so that I didn't have to split a picket lengthwise. I then screwed the pickets to the 2x4's, being careful to measure each as I went to keep them spaced evenly. Once they were all screwed on, I cut and screwed the diagonal board to keep everything aligned.

Then came the task of cutting the arch. I wasn't sure how to do this so opted to use a piece of baling twine as a guide. I lay the baling twine on the gate, and then curved it into an arch. I used a pencil to trace a guide line, took a deep breath and cut the arch with my circular saw. I was very happy with the end result.

Mounting the gate was no fun what-so-ever. My drills were not cooperating. The battery drill's battery was dead and my electric drill's power button kept getting stuck and it would only turn at 1/2 speed. The screwdriver I was using when the drills failed just wasn't strong enough and the tip started wearing. Through a rotation of tools, I finally got the gate hung and latch mounted!

I'm pretty proud of the end result-the gate even swings AND latches!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The plant just doesn't give up...

My meyer lemon that has been plagued with pests actually seemed to enjoy the move to Colorado. It started sprouting green growth all over and even blossomed (second time this year?), seemingly quite happy with its sunny mudroom location. I thought it's problems were over.

Then at the beginning of July, I noticed some leaf drop. I thought I'd let the plant dry out a bit. I watered it well and thought that was all it needed. Imagine my surprise when I get back from ten days a way and almost half the plant is dead! Now what?

Many of the leaves had brown edges so I googled that and couldn't come up with anything conclusive. I touched one and it was sticky. I googled that...and all sorts of articles came up on "citrus scale". I went out to inspect the plant and much to my angst it is covered with scale. How could I have missed it?

The latest nasty on the lemon "scale"

A close-up, isn't it ugly?

Scale seems quite beatable but unfortunately this plague has brought the plant back to or worse shape than it was at the beginning of the scale. Will I ever have a thriving lemon tree?

I wiped down the branches with alcohol, picking off all visible scale and will now mist it with a mixture of fish emulsion and water (1 capful to 16 ounces of water).  Apparently indoor citrus is prone to scale and it is wise to spray the plant with the emulsion mixture when it is brought inside for the winter.  Another lesson learned at this poor plants expense.  Hopefully we'll have made history of this latest pest in short order. I hope the poor tree has the resolve to spring back once more.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trying something new...a ram of a different kind!

Today we bought home a new ram. Brennan our first Ram ever was sold to a new home in May. He sired one of our current lambs and hopefully covered all of the ewes. I don't want a lot of inbreeding and also moving him to CO would have required Brucellosis testing which isn't a huge deal but would have meant more of investment. I had already pretty much decided it was time to change rams.

Potter looking lonely in stall "Where am I ?"

What I didn't know was that I was going to change breeds too! While I love my Painted Desert girls and Brennan was a gentle as could be, I just don't want horned rams. They can do too much harm to a dog in a split second, working them is out of the question. So I've been rethinking my stock plans...

I do like the variety of color in the Painted Deserts as well as their thriftiness. They do tend to be a little flighter than their hair sheep counterparts- Katahdins and Dorpers, showing their Barbados heritage. I would like bigger lambs so my daughter can at least show in the breeding lamb class without looking like she's leading a runt (they lump all the sheep together at our County Fair- they are not broken out by breed so she'll be up against the Suffolks and Hampshires.)

With a bit of trepidation, I opted to try a Katahdin ram to cross over my Painted Deserts. Any color Katahdins are allowed so I can still have color. Their lambs are a lot bigger than the Painted Deserts and they are more placid and they don't have horns. The one thing I don't like with the Katahdin's is how many of the rams are very course looking with big roman noses. I want a pretty head!

A registered Katahdin crossed over my Painted Deserts can give me recordable offspring. When I get to 87.5% Registered Katahdin blood -I can have individuals inspected and as long as they meet hair coat requirements, they will be admitted to the Katahdin registry. This is my new long term goal.

I've found there are not many Katahdin breeders in Colorado. Today I was within a couple of hours of one of the larger breeders and took the opportunity to go see if I could find something there. I immediately found one I liked, but of course he was one of two in the flock that weren't registerable! Figures! I hummed and hawed and then found another I quite liked and darn-it-all-to-tarnation, he was one that had lost his eartag and couldn't be registered either! I finally settled for a ram lamb that though not one of the largest, seemed to be nicely balanced, with a nice head. He's a late January lamb and a triplet.

He's still carrying some lamb fuzz but is shedding out nicely.

I'm hoping he'll add the traits I'm desiring to next Spring's lamb crop (and I'm hoping it will be Spring not Winter-he's going with the girls as I'm not set-up to separate him yet).

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Morning Yard Saleing

Katielyn and I have taken to going Yard Saleing every Friday morning trying to find treasures to add make our new house a home. Today didn't look promising with only one moving sale listed in the classifieds but we set out anyway as it was a nice morning for yard saleing and usually we find more sales on our way.
I was disappointed as we drove out to not find any more sale signs and the corner where we turn into the neighborhood with the one sale, usually is brimming with signs didn't even have one. I was hoping I could find the one sale as I hadn't bothered to write down the address. We drove through the neighborhood and still no more signs. I figured today would be a bust. Finally we arrived at the turn with the sign for the advertised sale and happily there were three signs there. Yeah!
The first sale we poked through the treasures and found, a couple of planter stands for outside (last week we went on a greenhouse tour and now we're determined to dress up the outside of our house!), an old paper holder for my office (needs some refinishing) and a tomato planter (of course I find this today as I just repotted my tomato plant yesterday). We bought these for the princely sum of $2.00.

On to the next sale. We didn't find much there mostly toys and clothes. Katielyn did find a feather boa to dress up a sign she bought a couple of weeks ago. This sale only cost us $0.10 cents.

Finally we arrived at the last sale which was a moving sale. They had lots of interesting stuff but not really what we needed. Katielyn found a folding chair she had to have, and I found a picnic basket that would be good for holding my office paperwork. I spotted a nice wooden cabinet with glass doors behind a pile of boxes and bags and asked if it was for sale and it was! We went inside to see the matching pieces and liked them so we dickered a bit and finally settled on $100 for the pair. Not exactly a steal, but I do like the pieces and can use them. The house was lovely decorated with Guatemalan artwork. I may yet get a nice woven rug bought...we'll see when I pick up the cabinets. I also found a blouse and a bird feeder with character (read needs work but looks nice and old). Total expenditure (not including the shelves which we'll pick up later) $5.25.

Here's our yard sale loot for the day:

Total purchase price $7.35 (missing the feather boa)

We've been doing the Friday morning yard saleing for a while now, here are a couple pics of finds from the past few weeks:

My $5.00 water trough, complete with spigot!

Antique trunk for KT's rooms that we plan to refinish $10.00 (we were offered $20.00 for it before we even left the sale!)

Cute bow holder made from a window frame $3.00

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The green had to go...

I work out of my home. At our new house, my office is shared with the dining room. It didn't take me but a day or two working at the computer to decide the room was too dark. I bought a floor lamp hoping to brighten up my workspace and though it enabled me to work without squinting, the lights glow did nothing for the gloomy walls. The room's only window faces a North-Westerly direction so not much sunlight shines in and the drab green of the walls did nothing to brighten things up. 

So this past weekend the room got a much needed makeover. I think it's a tremendous improvement! My inspiration came from here:

Persimmon Ceiling -Inspirational Photo!

I wanted to add a bold color but was worried too much would be too powerful for a dining room. When I saw the above picture I knew what to do -paint the ceiling the bold color.  I picked up some color swatches and hummed and hawed for several days and finally picked out the two colors I liked. Last Saturday, I took the color swatches to Home Depot and had them mix me up the paint. On the way home we stopped at a yard sale and bought a chest which we squished into the back of my already overly full Ford Escape. Unfortunately, while taking this chest out of the car, a can of my paint rolled out and "poof" it hit the driveway and out spilled all the paint. What a mess. And let me tell you, cleaning paint off a driveway is not easy! I shoveled it into a bag as best I could and covered it with dirt to soak up. Later I took my mostly empty can back to Home Depot and told them my sorry story and they were kind enough to replace the paint. I started the room painting with the ceiling-knowing that it would be the worst part and if I did the walls first it might not get done at all. Here's the starting point:

You can see the drab green wall (left) and the plain ceiling-this is actually a photo of our cat in the pass-through from dining room to kitchen. 

Me, painting the ceiling. At this point I'm thinking "This is very very pink" and am having big doubts!

Here's a shot with ceiling done and wall started. What a contrast!

And finally we have the finished product. I'm tickled with the outcome. A pleasant surprise is how nice the casement windows look against the walls (yes these are old windows and open into the room). The room is very warm and inviting. I can't wait until the dinnerware I ordered arrives and then I can take a picture of the whole room. For now you'll have to settle with this teaser photo (and I can finish decluttering my office corner!). 

The finished colors

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Plums Galore!

Wow. Big Absence -but that's what happens when a writer/homesteader/self-employed person moves! So much to do and absolutely not enough time to do half of what needs to be done.

I'm writing this from my new home office in Bailey, CO with a view of the mountains from my desktop. I still have a million and one things to do but feared my followers might think I'd disappeared on them like many bloggers do.

And curiously enough today's post is about what I left behind in Texas! Look what my husband posted the other day on Facebook:

This is the plum tree I planted 3 years ago -it's absolutely loaded with plums! The year after I planted the tree it had quite a few plums early on, but then the Texas spring storms came and storm by storm my plums were blown off. Finally I was left with two plums on the tree, just about ripe. We went on a trip to CO looking for property and returned a few days later to one sole plum hanging on, the other was on the ground ravaged by ants. Ughh. We ceremoniously picked the remaining plum (well truthfully it may have not been so ceremoniously, more like hastily plucked it off the tree!). My daughter and I shared it and to this day I swear it was the tastiest plum I've ever had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into.

The following year there were many blossoms but no plums survived the winds that the Spring of 2011 brought to Texas.

And this year 2012, what a bounty. I'm praying that I get to sample a few when hubby comes up from Texas in a couple of weeks time. He says each storm we lose a few and that they aren't quite ripe yet...Hang on plums you're almost there. If I don't get to sample a fresh plum, hopefully Jessica will let us sample some of the jam she made from plums she picked from the tree.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gone Quackers

Back at the beginning of February I mentioned how I love my ducks and that I wanted to get some call ducklings. I thought I had found a somewhat local source but it hasn't materialized. I considered mail ordering some as I found a source to order call ducklings from but then I rethought that idea. The little birds are so fragile I didn't want to go through the possible heartache of shipping troubles, not many places ship call ducklings and there is a reason for that -they are tiny fragile ducklings.

I thought about ordering hatching eggs but I am so super busy in March & April that I really didn't think I could devote the time to these special eggs. Hatching call eggs is known to be tricky. Plus I don't trust my homemade incubator that much -it seems to work well but my measuring devices such as the thermometer and the hydrometer are all over the place. Last year at one time I think I had four thermometers in the incubator trying to determine the accurate temperature!

So I was in a bit of a conundrum, no local calls and hatching eggs was out. Then just like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I had an idea. A very good idea . Why not hire someone to hatch the eggs? I had seen ads on Craigslist offering incubating services. I looked again. Hmmmph, no one local. I placed an ad on craigslist but had no response. I contacted my friend Jerry over at the Modern Day Redneck and though he would have liked to help out, his incubators were full and scheduled to remain that way through April. Struck out again. I went back to the craigslist ads.

There was this fellow 65 miles away with lots of experience. I thought about it, and decided, no. Driving there with the eggs to drop them off, driving home and then doing the whole trip again after hatching was just too much. With the price of gas, and my shortage of time, it just wasn't rational. Then I had another idea. And yes another VERY good idea (wow that's two in one week!). Why not ship eggs directly to the hatcher? It made no sense to have them shipped to me, just for me to run them down there. With that, I set the wheels in motion. I discussed this idea with the hatcher, Gary of, he was all for it, so I ordered the eggs.

The eggs had a smooth trip from Missouri and arrived at Gary's on March 21st, all 12 arrived intact. Gary set them the next day. Now came what I find as one of the hardest parts, waiting! At about 10 days, Gary let me know that all 12 eggs were developing. Woohoo. Week 3 going into lockdown, we had 10 that still looked good. I was ecstatic. With any shipped eggs this was a great success rate, but with call ducks it was super! Then came lockdown and hatch day.

Hatching is another of the call ducks weak points. Because of their small stature and small bills they often have troubles getting the egg pipped and then hatching out. On day 26 hatch day, we had 3 pips. One was coming out backwards, it had pipped the small end of the egg. Gary had to help that one or it would have succumbed. Meanwhile another hatched out quickly and then with help the 3rd pipper came into this world. And then nothing. The hatch stopped. Day 27 came and Gary candled and didn't see any movement within the eggs. He decided to carefully open the eggs, because if the ducks were alive, they needed help! Two had pierced the air sac but must have drowned as they were dead, and the rest had quit. We were disappointed but focused on what we did have, three live call ducklings!

The two that needed help hatching were very weak so Gary propped them up in an egg carton so they wouldn't flip over on their backs and hurt themselves struggling. He kept them that way for about a day when they decided to come around and started trying to get out of the egg carton. The other duckling was put with a newly hatched chick for company.

Yesterday, I brought the threesome home. I was shocked at just how tiny the little guys are. The two slow hatchers are teeny tiny. Their small size worries me but they seem to be eating, drinking, peeping, pooping and sleeping just like little ducklings should so I pray that they start growing now and catch up to their sibling who is also tiny but whom looks like a mammoth besides them.

They are set up in a plastic tote with heat lamp in my spare bedroom. I think I've checked them about 100 times in the 12 hours they've been home. They are so stinking cute.

Here are the photos I know you've all been waiting for:

Believe it or not this is the big one!

This is the teeny fella

The golden child!

I realized you couldn't really tell just how small these guys are so I stuck a coke can in with them for a group shot .

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Couple of New Faces

March is always so busy here...Not only is it baby animal time and blooming gardens, it's also income TAX time. I'm a CPA and a tax CPA at that so there is absolutely no rest for the wicked at this time of the year. And it's really hard to squeak time to post. But I thought I'd better get some updates posted, or all the new news will be old news.

There are a couple of new faces in the duck pen -and they're not ducks. I was trying so hard not to increase our menagerie's size prior to our big move, but I succumbed. I just can't help myself. It seems I just have to read the Craigslists farm ads. And there was this ad for a pair of splash bantam cochins -just what I have been wanting. And here they are now:

Meet Harry and Ginny (my daughter is a huge Harry Potter fan and thus christened them).

Harry is quite the ham....

"Did you get my good side" he asks?

It's a little harder to get a pic of Ginny, it seems Harry has to sneak in...see him?

"It's all feathers," says Ginny.