Wednesday, November 11, 2009

rim rock marathon

saturday there will be a marathon, over the monument, one of the most scenic marathons anywhere. this will be the first year it is a full marathon. for years it has been rim rock run, and was only 22 miles long. either way, i won't be running.

it is also a great time of year to view the big horn sheep.. they square off about 20 feet apart, or more, and running forward to crash their heads together..... it makes a great booming, that echos of the canyon walls. november and december are prime time for head banging, and a herd of them live up the canyon. lucky me, just a half hours walk....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

mid october

it is just plain old breathtaking around here.

roses are blooming, grass hoppers are rare (at last!)

strawberries are few, eggs almost a dozen a day. tomatoes are still ripening slowly, a few zuchini left.

cilantro sprouted a few weeks ago, but is not plentiful, the parsley is abundant, arugula is everywhere, the spinach germinated, as did the peas and fava beans, but will not likely bear unless the fall is long and mild. no sign of the kale i planted with the arugula. some germination on the lettuce.

raspberries are abundant,

the dogs are attentive to when i pick raspberries, and come pick them with me. i've picked 2 quarts in the last 2 weeks, and there are plenty left. i should say, i've brought two quarts inside. (kombucha, vinegar, and freezer), and fed the dogs while i picked, and the dogs picked their own too. that's mopsie in the photo.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

various photos

two views of dramatic fall light.

september 2009's biggest project: new lawn, east side, i love it

rags on independent patrol this misty morning. (foreground, tomatoes with their frost protection) we had our first frost even earlier this year than last year's october 10.

prototype paddle boat, for craft shows this fall. i've been planning to make these for years.
i tested this one in last night, one more slight modification needed.
really a very fun toy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

puppies then and now

august 20, 2009

september 18, 2009

since the first week in august, they've eaten almost 100 ponds of puppy chow, and 7 1/2 gallons of goats milk, countless grass hoppers, jalapenos, sweet bell peppers, strawberries and raspberries, tomaotes, pounds of 16 % lay pellets, and what ever else takes their interest. my favorite pair of prescription glasses, various gloves, doormats, the odd sandal, all in the name of research: is it food?

so far, it looks like their life here agrees with them.

they sit, come when called, get back when told, lie down and let the chickens run past them, but not always. sometimes they bounce up and scare the birds at inopportune times. but, for not quite 4 months, these are very well behaved puppies.


after waiting 25 days, then waiting 3 more days, after checking on the web i don't know how many times, and making myself keep my hands out of the nest, the hen brought her babies out yesterday. two little fluffies. tan with black speckles...... see photo.

Monday, September 14, 2009

work day 9/13/9

yesterday was the second work day with jerry. to start things off, i was making lavender infused honey before he arrived, went out to check on something, got distracted, he arrived, and we took a look at the days projects. i hadn't had breakfast, so we went inside, to discover i had managed to boil the honey. it smelled great, and nothing was burned, but there was a lake of almost 2 quarts of honey beneath the pot. that took a while to clean up. then i had breakfast, then we went to work.

basically my new helper worked me into the ground..... not something that happens often. i guess i can develop a new skill, letting someone work without me, while i do other things, or take a break. we got a lot done, and i am down loading pictures from the camera, in hopes i can post one or two.

last time worked, we had built a bed with south sloping soil for warmer soil in early spring and late fall. then, in delivering rock for an adjacent project, i backed the tractor into the retaining wall, and the whole thing came apart... the wall is made of logs. after the tractor bumped it, it looked like pick up sticks. now it looks good again, and is planted with peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula and parsley. tomorrow i think i will plant a few fava beans too.

the other project we started is laying out the future vegetable garden. i usually grow things all tucked in together, primroses and strawberries in with peppers, roses, lilies, salad burnet, peonies, parsley and kale, and like that fine, but the last two years it has been difficult to do the tomatoes, with their particular water needs. i've had a problem with squash bugs on the winter swuash too. I've decided that though i will continue the all tucked together style everywhere else, that i should have an organized seasonal vegetable production area, where things don't get all tangled up. the location is north of the garage, next to the orchard and grapes. i stacked leaves there a year ago. yesterday, we brought water to the area, and dug the supply ditch, and several row ditches, and let the water soak in.

it doesn't sound like much, but it is a lot.

tomorrow i will seed it with fava beans and alfalfa, and white clover and flax. i'm thinking letting them grow in with the vegetables doesn't count as all tucked together...that's just soil cover and weed preventer .....

right this minute i'm having technical difficulties with the camera, so i will post the photos later.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mopsie Meets Skunk

Last night, I worked what might have been my last 3pm to 3 am admissions shift. I went to bed at 4 am. While it was still dark, I woke from a deep sleep to the sound of deep puppy barks. What a voice these dogs have! The barking lasted awhile, and awhile longer, and then, through the window, the very strong scent of skunk.

"Hmmmm", and "Oh dear!"

I looked down from my bedroom window, and could see that my pup was definitely interacting with something, someone, black and white and trapped in a corner which had no escape route. (Hi editor, see how I dodged the preposition at the end of the sentence on that one?).

6 am.

I went and called the dogs to me, and we just enjoyed one another for awhile. The skunk scent was so strong, I could not tell if either of the dogs had been hit. In fact the smell was so strong, it smelled like something other than skunk. I wondered how close the epicenter was. I put my face down and smelled first Rags: just pure essence of puppy. Mopsie was a different story. She smelled like the not skunk smell, the skunk-so-strong-it isn't-skunk smell. Oh dear.

The advantage of having an outside dog is, I went back to bed. I'd distracted the dogs long enough for our visitor to escape. If she becomes a regular visitor, I will break out the trap.

The windows are open to the living room downstairs, and the inside smelled strongly. I turned on the swamp cooler to create positive pressure. The air would be entering the house from the roof on the opposite side from the skunk attack, that was as much as I could do at the time.

At 8 am the phone rang, the tractor rental man was calling to make sure I was done with the tractor. Most of the smell had cleared by then. Lingering traces were still in the living room, but the outdoors was clear.

When Chris arrived at 9 am, I asked him if he could smell skunk, and he said no, except that he had noticed when he greeted the dogs, that one of them was faintly scented.

I really don't know how we could have been so lucky. Maybe the skunk was merciful because it was Mopsie's first offense.

I'm just very thankful.

Things could have been very different, to say the least. You have to put your face right in Mopsie's fur to get even a trace of skunk. No other evidence remains of our visitor.

Just very very thankful.

Monday, September 7, 2009

puppy tales

One night about 10 o'clock, I went out to check the water, maybe to plug the cistern so it would not overfill, maybe to shut the headgate to the orchard. My path took me across the patio and over the fence and to the supply canal. I did what ever I needed to do, and on my return, Rags greeted me with her gutteral rrrrrrr, and wags, and I sat down to rub her puppy body, and generally be together for a moment. I did not notice Mopsie approaching, until a big paw gave me an exuberant swipe from forehead to chin. She forgot herself! That is a big no-no, and we had to get that straight. Then she remembered her manners, and the three of us sat together for some time, loving each other. When I came inside, I put my hand to my face and discovered, ?no glasses!?

Of course I went right out to look for them, but no luck. Even after I turned on every possible light I could not find them. They were my teal green wire rimmed ones with as small a lens as my prescription will allow. They are quite out of style, and I will not be able to replace them. I've had them at least 6 years, and they have had at least two sets of lenses.

For two days, I searched when ever I was in the area, and yesterday I found my crumpled and puppy chewed remains.

Those puppies.

Yesterday, I decided to eat a few grapes on my way down to check on the chickens, and turkeys. I was thinking I would take them to the birds, then ate them myself, and decided I should at least juice them, and can the juice. What was left after juicing, THAT I would give to the birds

I got a bucket and went out to the vines. Rags kept poking her big head into the bucket, and I had to tell her several times before she quit. After Rags was done, there was Mopsie with her big head in the bucket. Finally I convinced her that was not acceptable behavior, and I was able to pick in peace.

I heard some juicy smacking and slurping nearby, and looked over to see the pair of them eating the bunches of grapes right form the vines.

Those pups!

It reminded me that the year Flash and Binker were pups, I had quite a lot of red Russian kale planted in the back yard, and I would pick a bouquet of it, and holding the stems in my hand, would eat the whole bunch as I wandered around in the garden. Flash and Binker would eat the kale too, plucking it from the plant and chewing it up. They also developed a game of pulling cheeseweed plants right out of the ground, which I thought was pretty good.

Flash still eats kale from the plants, 9 crabby years later.

It is too late to keep the strawberries a secret from Rags, but maybe I should not let her see me picking raspberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and all my other favorites.

Monday, August 31, 2009

puppies and peppers

My dear pups are doing well, even so, the challenges of life with puppies continue. this morning i discovered that yesterday in my absence, they, or one of them, did a little pepper research.

first a word about the gardens of the area this year. we had a very late spring. it didn't warm up and it rained a lot. the tomatoes are very late. tomorrow will be the first day of september, and though i have had a few wonderful tomaotes, the crop is still on the vines. plenty of zuchini of course and the other very prolific and fast vegetables. i planted my peppers in the house garden area, and there, they are within the yard where the puppies play and sleep and grow. i much prefer red peppers to green ones, and am waiting for them to ripen. i have plenty of big, ripening sweet peppers. no, that's not right. i used to have plenty. yesterday, the pups had a pepperfest, and the remains are in the lawn.

deep sigh.

they are puppies. this won't be the last incident involving them i am sure. they come, sometimes reluctantly, when i call them. they sit before i place their food bowls on the ground. they will walk on the leash, if we go slowly. they will sit and watch the parade of chickens and turkeys exiting the coop, ut we have a long way to go. and, in preparation for that, as an aide in communication, they are learning that the sound of the clicker is a wonderful thing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

colorado national monument, lodgings

Below are photos of the guest area, two bedrooms and a living room. We are less than 1/2 mile from a trailhead into Monument Canyon, a six mile hike up to Rim Rock Drive, past Independence Monument, and the Kissing Couple, as well as miles of unnamed rock walls and formations, with and without desert varnish.

bicycle friendly farmstay fruita

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guest Ready - Almost

~~~~~~~~~view from the kitchen sink~~~~~~

Today, I got a phone call from the woman I buy goats milk from. She had a referral for me, if I will be ready by Saturday. Ahhhhhh! So close. I was really tempted to say send her on, but, I said no, because I work on Saturday evening, and am still building puppy proof, and Flash proof enclosures. I had to buy my own dog from the pound last after the last shift I worked. By the time I had been gone for half an hour, she had escaped, gone the almost half mile to the highway, been brought back home by the neighbor, got out again and made it to the highway, where she runs down the CENTER of the road, stopping traffic in both directions. She was picked up by a woman who transported her to within city limits, then called the pound. She spent less than 24 hours there. That much was 41 bucks. There was a penalty fee of 50 bucks (goes up with each offense, 500 on the 4th offense) AND a surcharge of 25 for being inside city limits when the dog catcher got her. I would not be cost effective to have her get out while I am at work again, so I am building a very secure pen outside the dog door. And then this evening, the pups found the hole in the house yard fence. I didn't think they would want out when they know I am inside, but independant souls they are said to be.

All of this to explain why I could not just hang the curtains, paint the trim, put up the door knobs, and clean the place between Thursday afternoon and Saturday evening. Still, I cant. Too many variables, three canine variables, and my desire to keep them home and keep them safe.

But this is how close it is. I'm thinking I'll be ready a week from Saturday.

I was reading a post from last August, when I said I thought I would be ready by October of last year. That makes me laugh out loud. There has been a lot to keep me from opening my B&B/farmstay, by last October, but such is the topic for many posts.

For now, I am as I have been for almost a year, "almost ready". I think I'll wait until I'm really ready before I make book any guests.... other than family and friends, you all can come any time.



I've been collecting animals this spring, starting with the chickens, then turkeys that I already mentioned, but then a manx kitten. Jack is silvergrey, sociable and affectionate, a little tom with characteristic Manx I - own - the - world attitude. He's great. I got him because I have too many mice in the field, and they come inside the house and barn. It is too hard to poison them, and Flash and China just don't keep up with them, so outdoor cats are just the thing.

I wanted a Manx female. I still miss my Topaz cat, but the only cat left in the litter was the little tom I brought home, so, I thought I would get a female kitten that could have a litter with Jack. I found kittens advertised in the paper, and talked to the owner. Two generations prior to these have been great outdoor mousers, sleeping in the garage at night, and surviving in coyote country. The mama kittie, called inky, stayed out one night, when the family thought they had put her in, hence the kittens. Inky was a striking cat, with a very siamese-y wedge shaped head and green gold eyes. Very self posessed as we inspected her duaghters. She had had a llitter of five females. Two were spoken for, and though I had intended to get one, and thought possibly two, I brought home all three remaining kittens, who were just barely 7 weeks old. I fed them on goats milk, and soon they were terrorizing Jackie, who is delighted to have some fellow kittens to hang out with. They also are sociable and affectionate, and tear all over everywhere. They even catch grasshoppers. They lash their long tails and jump out to surprise me when I am walking in the garden. I guess maybe i better neuter at least two of the three daughters of Inky, because instead of one manx female outdoor cat, I now have four healthy and active hunting cats outside. All reproductively able. It's a scary thought.

And then I added my puppies. I think I mentioned them in the nine egg post. I wanted to post pictures. There are the usual puppy challenges, they dig, cry, get out, don't come when I call, get underfoot, and are clumsy. But all of it wel in the realm of tolerable, and Oh! how sweet they are, and smart, and funny and cute, and affectionate. Rags and Mopsie. Mopsie being more adventurous and outgoing, comes sooner when I call, digs more, runs more, she is just more active, more of a leader. She was the first to go under the fence, through the other fence, and so forth. And Rags is bigger and quieter. Holly, the breeder, said it is better to have different temperaments in the two in a guarding pair, and I certainly do. They are great company for one another, play their puppy games together. Sometimes they just lie next to each other and bark to each other. They are noticably bigger than when I brought them home a week ago. I can't imagine how much the mother dog was eating to nurse such big pups, and so many. I found a woman with milking goats and brought home 3 gallons. I hope that lasts longer than a week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


It has been a long time since I posted anything, leaving me wondering what would be worthy of breaking the silence, which of course stilled my "pen" even longer.

So why not just start with the everyday? What ever I post about today will begin to tell of what has kept me busy. I got 25 chicks in the middle of February. I ordered pullets. My neighbor wanted chickens again, having lost hers to the neighborhood coyote a few years ago, and I had reason to promise her 10 of the first batch i raised. With high mortality, only 17 lived to see the great outdoors, leaving me 7. We named emily after a friend of my daughter, and emily became a rooster.

In April, I brought home a dozen newly hatched pullets. I had had trouble ordering three of my favorite breeds of chicken. Speckled Sussex, Dark Cornish, and Buff Brahma, but had waited so long to order, that they were not avalaible from . I was thinking I would just have to wait til next year for them, but a few days after the turkey chicks arrived, I was at "Murdoch's", regional big farm supply place, and they had Speckled Sussex, so I got some because it would be no harder to raise pullet chicks right along with the turkey hatchlings, than to raise just the turkeys. And I got some of what ever else they had, because a dozen of one variety makes it too hard to tell them apart.

In June, the 6 February pullets began laying. They start out with small eggs, each hen laying 2 or 3 a week, and work up to 6 or 7 full sized eggs a week. We are coming up on mid august, and today I know for sure that the April chicks have begun to lay, because I had a nine egg day.

I better get my sign out at the driveway. For now, I could put out signs for : SOAP, EGGS, VINEGAR, KOMBUCHA, HONEY.

I got 28 chicks in the middle of June. mostly pullets, but the Buff Brahmas and Dark Cornish are straight run, so I could have several roosters out of that batch, but the hens will be ready to begin laying in October. At that point I will have approximately three dozen laying hens. By then, their egg production will decline for the winter, but next spring, watch out! I'll need buyers for 3 dozen a day.

In order to have this flock of hens with roosters and turkeys, I've needed to get a predator safe chicken house for them. And a play yard too, for the times they can't be out in the fields eating the year's bumper crop of grasshoppers. And, because we are on a mountain lion's circuit, and there are neighborhood dogs, and remember the coyote who waited each morning in the neighbor's orchard for his chicken breakfast? Even with a mighty fortress for the birds to safely roost in at night, I needed protection for my birds.

About a year ago I first heard of flock guarding dogs. There are several breeds, and the one that appeals to me is a Komondor. To know more about them, here is a web page: They don't chase or herd animals, they just hang out with them and make sure things go well for their flock.

I built a fence to keep the dog in, should I eventually find one. The fence is a work in progress, because I need to lay out the traffic pattern, and want to be able to drive into the driveway, and go to the house and garage without having to deal with gates, but the place is "mostly" fenced. In late July I located a litter of pups in central Idaho, at a place called alpha omega ranch. Here is the website and last week brought two home. They did not stay in the orchard, or in the fence, knew nothing about leashes, liked me OK, but didn't necessarily come running when I called ..... I needed a puppy safe pen, which I built less than 12 hours after arriving home. The puppies got out of that, and the next day I build another pen.

So, that's just a hint of all that's been going on around here, and I've begun blogging again. I'll get pictures up later.