Deck.

We’ve had this idea in our heads for awhile, that after the house was moved to its permanent location, we would build a covered deck on the side of the house. We purposely built our sunroom last year in a way where we already have a door on the side that will lead out onto the deck. As with most of our big construction projects, there’s a few different stages that I’ve noticed as a consistent pattern.

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Posts up.

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There’s the planning stage, which is the fun part. We get to imagine and fantasize and draw out exactly what we want. We figure out how much money we’re going to give to Home Depot (which is always a lot), and how much material we’ll need, and where to store that material until it gets used, etc.

We’ve had our plan for the deck for quite awhile.

Then there’s the ground-breaking stage. This stage usually sucks. This is the stage where we start to notice where things are going to inevitably go wrong, where shit doesn’t line up right, and where we either bought the wrong materials, or not enough of the right materials. Luckily, this stage doesn’t last too long, as once we get going, things start to flow a little easier. When problems arise, there are long moments of staring and thinking, and this is sometimes the point where we crack our first beer.

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If I never have to deal with another rafter again my life will be complete.

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This is right after we pushed through the “let’s give up” stage.

The progress stage comes next. This stage is pretty fun, actually. We are in a groove by now, and we have an understanding of exactly what to do next. For the most part, we have ironed out most of the potential issues and we just… flow. We make a lot of progress, and we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can see what we have actually accomplished.

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The deck – almost perfectly level. The house – not so much.

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Loki “helping”.

Then there is fine-tuning and completion of said project. This stage is usually time-consuming, with a lot more thinking and staring moments, so we can be sure that everything is actually done right. Like, the roof isn’t going to leak, we didn’t forget to screw something to something else, all the walls and bracing are stable, etc. We often add extra screws or brackets or sealant or trim or whatever to said project at this time.

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Plywood up! Do you know how freaking heavy plywood is?

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Metal up! And, do you know how slippery and sketchy being up there is?

Then we actually get to ENJOY said project! At this point we usually smoke a cigar, open a bottle of wine, and get to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing something else that’s totally awesome. Sometimes we add up how much we’ve spent on said project too (but sometimes we just try to forget that part because we just don’t want to know).

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Railing! This part was CAKE compared to the rest of it.

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The deck seriously felt like it would never end at some point. During the “progress” stage, we discovered that just because we had spent an incredible amount of time and energy making sure the foundation of the deck was square and level, the house, unfortunately, is neither of those things. So trying to connect a square level thing to a non-square-level thing was not only frustrating, but added hours of extra work for us. But, like we always have, we persevered. We’ve never given up on a project before, and be damned if we were going to give up now (we came the closest we’ve ever come though. I mean, does this deck really need a roof??).

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Looks rad, right?

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At the current moment, everything is finished except for a gate and some of the fine-tuning stuff. But overall, it’s looking good and we have been able to enjoy it a bit! Sadly, the days are crazy-short now, so we only have an hour and a half or so of daylight after we get home in the afternoon to work on stuff outside.

The most rewarding part: R & I did it all ourselves. Just the two of us. Whew.

I never want to measure angles for a rafter, lift an entire sheet of plywood, or be on top of my roof ever again. (wishful thinking).

Winter is a-comin’!

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After a really hard day of helping.

Catch-up.

Well, it’s been what, almost 8 months since I posted here?! That’s insanity. But, this is a perfect example of how I try to live my life… in the moment. We did accomplish some projects this year, but nothing like last year. We spent a lot more time this year just… chillin. Sitting outside with the dog and the flock after work, and simply enjoying our little piece of paradise.

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The gals.

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Loki and I enjoying a snuggle.

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When I make the chickens take selfies with me.

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Morning coffee bliss.

Today we woke up to our first snow! A dusting, granted, and it is all melted by now, but even still. It was wonderful to see those big flakes drifting down early this morning. Summer ended quickly, and Autumn did not hang around long. The leaves are changing and dropping fast, and the temps are dropping into the teens already at night. We made sure we were ultra-ready for Winter this year! We have nearly 6 cords of wood split, stacked, and covered (most of it is seasoned for use this year, some of it will have to wait until next year). As a comparison, we typically go through 2 – 2 1/2 cords during the Winter. However, this last Winter, we ran out of firewood in March. Then it just kept dumping snow. Thank goodness for our neighbors who let us use their firewood stash. We won’t let that happen again. Lesson learned.

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Firewood splittin’ day!

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Long day.

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Autumn!

This will be our 5th Winter out here! This month we have spent winterizing our property and throughout the Summer we worked on sealing up our house a bit more. We have new siding on the house, all of our windows are freshly sealed, and now with our sunroom, we have plenty of passive solar energy. Over the last week or so we took down both of our greenhouses; two less structures to worry about when we get 6 feet of snow.

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The greenhouse has seen better days. It was time to take her down so we can re-build her next year.

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Partway.

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She gone!

We have been working on a deck as well! We were able to knock out the foundation in a long weekend, and this coming weekend we’ll be working on the roof (the whole thing will be covered), and sometime in the next couple of weeks, a railing. Two other projects for us before Winter really hits: some maintenance on the bird coop (needs new roofing before it gets too much more weather), and we’re planning on setting up a legit solar system on the house. We have all the pieces for a nice solar system, just have to put it together. If we’re feeling frisky, we might put a solid roof on Loki’s run too, we’ll see.

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Deck!

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Loki helping.

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Can you spot the popcorn he’s getting ready to catch?

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Post-stain.

And guess what R and I decided we are gonna do next Fall? NOTHING. No more big Fall projects for us!

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We gave the cornhole boards some new life! Vikings colors with CU Buffs Ralphie logos!

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Just a beautiful CO evening.

We didn’t do a huge garden this year, the weather didn’t cooperate at the beginning of the Summer, so a lot of our seedlings didn’t do well after transplant. We did manage to get a TON of tomatoes and tomatillos. The cucumbers did pretty well, and we even got a handful of okra this year. None of the squash or pumpkins were successful. Can’t win ’em all. The egg supply was AWESOME from the ladies this year! The ducks are still dropping almost every day. They are all doing great and they just bring us SO MUCH JOY. Loki and Cedar are buddies and it is just so comical and awesome when they lay down next to each other. So stinkin’ cute (I wish I had a picture).

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Girls!

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Beggars.

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Mmmmm, cantaloupe.

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Great job, girls.

As I was going through pictures to add to this I realized there was more we accomplished this year, but I’ll save that for another post! Good to be back 🙂

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He hates when I post pictures of him, but I can’t help it. This shows the new siding on the house too.

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Another perfect Autumn day.

Snowmaggedon.

Our little town got pummeled with snow a couple of weeks ago!

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That’s R in the background trying to get some snow off the roof.

We got 6 feet of snow in a week. The office I work in was shut down 4 out of 5 days, and we got to spend that time at home both dealing with, and enjoying, the storm. I don’t even want to think about how much snow we shoveled… just a crazy amount. We were all sore – Loki included. Because he does things like this:

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Goofy dog. He loves it.

A lot of our energy was put into making sure nothing we had collapsed… like the dog run, the bird coop, the greenhouse…

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During a peek of sunshine between snow storms.

Our house stood up to all the snow very well, the woodstove inside heats up the roof pretty quickly and big sheets of snow and ice just slide right off. Since we kept up with it pretty well, we haven’t seen any major damage on any of our structures because of the heavy snow.

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It was awesome being able to snuggle up in the sunroom with the woodstove going, just watching the snow come down. It just wouldn’t stop! We are so happy to see it all too, even though it is hard to deal with that much of it at once. Southwest Colorado has been in such a terrible drought (last Winter we got basically no snow at all), so to see all this on the ground is a relief. We’re hoping some of our poor pines that have been looking so sad come back to life this Summer, and the wild plants should actually flower and fruit this year, providing some much needed food for the wildlife. We’ll actually have a RIVER in town this year, instead of a sad creek! And fire danger shouldn’t be as bad as last year.

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As we were continually trying to keep our driveway clear so we could get out if we needed to, we eventually came across the issue of not having anywhere to put the snow anymore…

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You can only throw snow so high at some point. I mean, look at that! That snow pile is like 8 feet high on both sides! At one point I gave up and starting throwing snow to the other side of the road. Then, of course, the plow comes by and piles up another 2 feet of snow/ice chunks right in front of your driveway. It’s great. Luckily we had stocked up and didn’t have to go anywhere for 4 days. We were snowed in and it was awesome.

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Eventually, the sun came out and the storm had rolled by. I couldn’t resist doing a few  minutes of yoga in the snow…

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The birds handled the storm pretty well – their coop held up fantastic and the chickens got a little curious and hopped out a few times into the snow. One of them even started laying eggs again!

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Check out how high it got next to the house…

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It made for an interesting week for us, that’s for sure. We got a workout and a half and felt extremely grateful for the sun when it came back out. Now it’s March and it has been sunny and in the 40s this week, so the piles of snow are melting fast into big muddy messes!

Springtime is going to be absolutely beautiful here.

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Winter #4

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Happy new year!!

Can you believe this is our 4th Winter out here? It’s hard for us to believe at times. Winters always have their amount of difficulty when you live off-grid, but overall, each year Winter gets a little easier for us. We have a solid idea of how much firewood we are going to need to get us through comfortably, we don’t procrastinate on certain chores we need to survive (like, bringing firewood inside, covering the firewood outside, making sure our water jugs aren’t going to freeze, etc.), and we’ve gotten pretty good at cooking over the woodstove, minimalizing our solar-energy usage, and staying entertained during the long nights of mid-Winter.

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Loki loves it.

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I have to say, I love Winter. I love watching wood burn in our stove, I love watching it snow, I love snuggling up with my boys to watch a movie at night, and I love the quiet down time. We don’t have a garden to tend to, large amounts of water to haul, big projects to work on. I’ve written in the past about Idle Time, and that’s exactly what Winter gives us. We have the time to pick up books we’ve been wanting to read, and I get to pick up my journal again.

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Holy icicle.

This season can be tough on the animals, but it’s good for them in its own way too. The ducks and chickens haven’t been laying since before Thanksgiving, and they’ve now all gone through a molt cycle too. The black chickens molted late, and I worried about them last month when the temperature dropped fast and they didn’t hardly have any feathers! But everyone has survived so far and it’s actually good for them to not be dropping any eggs right now – they need to be storing that energy for the cold nights.

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Loki is fine with whatever, really. He loves playing in the snow just as much as he loves being curled up in front of the fire. We do leave really early for work in the mornings (before dawn), so some mornings aren’t real pleasant for Loki since he gets left outside. But he has survived too. In fact, right now he’s curled up in my lap – spoiled rotten dog.

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Flamingo in CO.

We haven’t started planning much for next year yet, as far as the garden and some other things (we have some big projects on the docket for next year, but no real solid planning yet). Part of that is because we’re still coming down from the high of this year! We accomplished a ridiculous amount of work on the homestead this year – another reason I quite look forward to Winter. It’s like one long rest day after a really long work day (Summer). So, since I haven’t updated this thing since Summer – here’s all of what we managed to accomplish this year:

We built a fence:

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We moved our house (that was a wild day):

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We built another greenhouse:

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We bought new water cisterns:

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We moved Loki’s run down by the bird coop:

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We built a sunroom (truly the biggest accomplishment of this year)!

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Cozy.

We had a busy year. I also started a new job in the Fall which allows me more freedom to be myself, learn from people smarter than me, and really flourish, and continue to improve, in my skills as a leader. It also gives me more freedom to work from home… which is rad, considering I’d rather be here anyway! At the moment we’re getting snowed on pretty hard and there’s about a foot and a half already on the ground. More snow than we’ve had in 2 years! It’s beautiful out.

Anyway, more to come this year! Happy 2019!

July!

And yet again, the year has gotten away from me! I can’t believe it’s already mid-July, how did that happen?? We’ve been totally swamped and busy with projects galore around here… and kicking butt at it. Already we’ve managed to accomplish quite a lot this year. Of course, that means we’re busy from the moment we get up, usually around 5:30am to get ready for work, work all day in town, then come home and work until sunset. But we remind ourselves everyday that we’re working so much to save enough money to do all these big projects we want to do. The project list never gets any shorter around here… homestead projects tend to multiply instead!

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Coffee in the garden.

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A little gnome-juju for the tomatoes.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we scaled back our garden this year. We only have maybe a dozen garden beds growing right now, and really a lot of the stuff that’s growing are flowers & low-maintenance plants. A few cucumber plants, zucchinis, pumpkins, tomatoes, & peppers as well. Oh, and one okra plant. We battled with chipmunks earlier in the Summer, and those little jerks ate most of our spouts. Our neighbor who’s been here forever told us, “chipmunks are not your friend.” The little rodents were getting into our chicken feed as well, eating all their seeds and leaving a great big freaking mess everywhere. As a weird side-effect, they were apparently stashing sunflower seeds in various places around the homestead from last year, and this year we had weird bunches of sunflowers sprouting up in garden beds where we’ve never planted sunflowers. Silly chipmunks. We have allowed Loki to go after the chipmunks when they pop up, and he has “taken care of” 2 of them now. We seem to have less chipmunk issues now compared to a month ago. Good boy.

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Columbines.

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New addition to the family – Boris/Henrietta the Tiger Aloe. I can’t decide if it’s male or female. Ha.

We’ve also had bear issues this year. Since this Winter was so dry, the wild berries & oak around here in the mountains aren’t producing the way they should be. Literally, bears are starving. It’s actually really heartbreaking. Now we have a starving young bear attempting to infiltrate our bird coop. He’s tried 3 times in the last week to get in. THANKFULLY we put so much effort into making that thing a fortress that he has not succeeded. The first night we didn’t hear anything, but the next morning when we went down to feed the girls, we saw a whole bunch of destruction of their outdoor run. We couldn’t be sure it was a bear at first, but something had busted down their run, and pulled at the chicken wire that envelopes their coop. And the girls were quieter than usual and definitely spooked that morning.

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Bear damage.

The very next night, we were woken up at 3am to metal breaking (the t-posts that hold up their run) & chicken wire being ripped at. R grabbed a baseball bat, and I just had a flashlight, and we went outside to investigate. And there was a little skinny starving bear standing by the coop. We ran right at him, R threw the bat at him, and the bear ran off. I went into the coop and our poor girls were scared to death. But they were ok. We actually discovered the next day, as we were looking over the damage, that the bear had broken off part of the roof to their coop, like he was up there and fell off, probably when he heard us coming. He still would’ve had a lot of material to go through to get to them, but he did do some damage. And because of that, we will be doing some re-enforcing of certain areas of their coop this week.

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We then decided to set up some “noise traps” around their coop so if he came back, he’d knock some stuff over to wake us up. We also had our shotgun loaded and ready to take down with us. We don’t want to kill him, we just want to make it very unpleasant for him to be here. We set up a lot of empty beer bottles and other things around their coop, in ways that we would hear if they got knocked over. And lo and behold, he did show up a couple nights later, knocked over a bunch of bottles, and ran off himself before we even got outside. The noise was enough to startle him. We haven’t had any bear activity since then, but we’re still setting up things at night and we’re ready to confront him again if it comes to it. I do feel really bad that he’s so skinny and obviously really hungry, but sorry man, you can’t have our chickens or ducks.

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We feel very lucky that we haven’t lost any of the birds in over a year since we brought them home. And that’s because we did put so much effort into their coop, and we will absolutely protect them in any way we need to. Those girls are as much a part of our family as Loki is.

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They totally know that Loki is their protector too. One of the black chickens has been broody the last few weeks. Broody basically means that she’s incubating eggs… she wants to be a mama. I keep trying to explain to her that, since we don’t have a rooster, her eggs will never hatch (she doesn’t seem to be listening to me though…). She’s sitting on un-fertilized eggs. But, I know from working with birds professionally for so long, that it’s better for them to go through this cycle on their own, than try to break it. So I’m just letting it happen, and she sits in her little nest all day and all night. I assume at some point she eats and drinks, but in the last almost 3 weeks, we’ve seen her leave her nest once. She came out, ate some food, drank some water, had a little dust bath, and went back to her nest. ONCE in 3 weeks. I don’t want to baby her, she knows where the food and water is, but it is weird that she just stays in one spot all day, day after day.

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Broody chicky.

The really funny part is that she even won’t get up or leave if I touch her or feel under her to see how many eggs she’s sitting on. She just fluffs up and growls at me. Have you ever heard a chicken growl?! It’s hilarious. So I just pet her and scratch her and talk to her, and she’s SO mad, but she won’t move. Sometimes the ducks will crawl in next to her and lay their eggs in the same nest, and she moves the duck eggs under her too! One day she was sitting on 3 gigantic duck eggs in addition to her little chicken eggs. Poor little lady just wants to be a mama so bad! I’m hoping she gets out of this cycle soon so she can get back to the rest of the flock. I think the other black chicken is a little lonely without her friend, so when we have the birds out, we’ve noticed that she hangs out with Loki. She literally follows the dog around. Pretty funny relationships they have.

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It’s like West Side Story.

I can’t believe we’ve been living out here for almost 3 years now! Gets better everyday. Monsoon season started last week (yay!), which has literally helped everything around here, from fire danger to our garden to the end of the yearly cedar gnat life cycle. I’ve decided that June is my least-favorite time of year. June is just hot and dry and the cedar gnats are relentless, and everything sucks outside. Then July and monsoons come and everything is awesome again. We have been surrounded by wildfire this season and the rains could not have come at a more perfect time. There have been days when the smoke is nearly unbearable here… smothering the whole town. We watched as dark red smoke blew right over our house from a big wildfire about 60 miles from us. Happily, now those fires are mostly contained and we aren’t consumed by smoke in the mornings anymore.

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Check out that smoke.

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Ok, well there’s a lot more, but that will come in future updates!

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The smoke did make for some pretty sunsets…

“Winter”.

We didn’t have much of a Winter in SW Colorado this year. 6″ of snowfall in one storm was the most we got here at the ranch. Compared to last year when we got 2 feet in one storm, it’s been pretty mild. We’ve gone through maybe a cord of wood this entire Winter season, whereas last year we went through about 2. And now we’re into late March, and we probably only have a few more weeks of nightly fires in the woodstove. Last night the low was 41! Warm.

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“Snow storm.”

As far as the garden is concerned, we’ll be starting some seeds indoors this weekend: tomatoes and peppers in particular. I might start a few herbs too. Last year we jumped the gun and planted some stuff way too early outside, and went to all the trouble of covering it at night and uncovering it in the morning, only to have a freeze in April and everything stunted or died. We learned our lesson.

We also will be re-vamping our watering system this year, but we’re waiting to save some money to get the proper things we need for it. Hauling water in the back of the truck did some major wear-and-tear on Maximus, causing us some semi-expensive repairs 6 weeks or so ago. So we’ll be saving up for a small trailer and a bigger cistern to haul water on said trailer. Until we get that all together, our garden will be on a smaller scale than we’ve had the last two Summers. And that’s not even our big project this year. Our main, big, number one priority project this year is moving the cabin. Which, obviously, is a whole thing. We’d like to accomplish that this Summer, but it’s looking like Fall is probably when that’ll happen. Since we also want to pay off our truck, maybe get a storage shed, build another greenhouse… homestead off-grid life is never a dull moment!

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The flock has been doing wonderful. They’ve been taking turns molting, and for the most part have been laying pretty consistently. The ducks don’t get annoyed at much as far as inclement weather is concerned; they love mud and rain. It took some time for them to get used to snow, but they soon discovered that it’s fun to eat and they enjoy throwing ice chunks around. It’s pretty hilarious actually. The chickens on the other hand, are vocal about their annoyance when it’s not sunny and warm outside. It’s raining outside right now and I’m sure they are not thrilled about it. They make a pretty funny annoyed noise and look at me all sideways when the weather isn’t just right. We get so much entertainment and joy from having those girls around. Our favorite post-work afternoon activity is sitting outside with a couple of beers, giving the ducks a big bowl of fresh water, and letting them run wild. The chickens will dig around in our currently-empty garden beds and dust-bathe and throw dirt around, while the ducks make a racket and make mud out of everything. It’s great.

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Check out those eggs! Soul-fulfilling, right there.

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Cedar, the queenly red chicken.

For the most part, when the weather has been crappy outside (which, honestly, hasn’t happened a lot this Winter), we hang out inside and read and cook and organize our tiny house. I’ve been getting rid of more of our useless stuff around here, downsizing even more. We’ve also been cleaning up our diets, eating more and more fresh organic veggies, fruits, meats, and whole grains, and less processed and packaged food. More tea, less coffee, lots of fresh eggs, that sort of thing. We’ve been feeling pretty good, and the birds get all the leftover scraps. Even Loki gets the occasional egg. Nutrition for the whole family!

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My bestie from Utah knew I needed duck leggings for xmas 🙂

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One of those beautiful mid-Winter days. Wait… where’s the snow?

So right now I’m snuggling with Loki in front of the fire while it rain/hails outside! Doesn’t get much better than this. Tumultuous Springtime is here!

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The ladies having a walk-about.

Minnesota.

So we did something only minorly-crazy for xmas. We had made plans last Summer to see R’s family in Minnesota for xmas (he hadn’t been home for xmas in like 9 years!), and we took the whole family with us! Yes, the dog, the ducks, the chickens, and all!

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Max is packed.

Now why, on Earth, would you EVER bring all your creatures with you on such a trip (we’ve been asked by almost everyone we know)?! Well, because as crazy as it sounds, it was less stressful for us to bring them rather than leave them at home. We’re talking about Colorado in the middle of December, and we live quite aways up an unplowed dirt road. First, we would need someone to trust with our birds to care for them for 2 weeks, over the holidays nonetheless, while we were gone, and second, what if it snows 2 feet?! What if our reliable pet-sitter can’t make it up the hill to the house? Too many factors to think about, so we decided to bring them.

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Such a baby.

To be honest, the girls handled the trip better than Loki did. We had the three chickens in one crate, and the five ducks in another, with Loki riding in the backseat. The truck was packed. Especially since we were feeling generous and got lots of gifts for our families for xmas this year! The trip was 5 hours the first day (from our place to my parents’ house in Denver), then 13 or so hours from Denver to Minnesota.

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Settled in under the heat lamp.

We were able to stay in MN for 9 days or so, which was awesome. We spent lots of time with R’s family and friends, and got to play around with the little nephews; Oliver & Charlie (who we started calling Chaos & Mayhem by the end of the week, they are 2 and 3 years old, after all).

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That’s Charlie!

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R’s parent’s dog, Roscoe! He’s silly.

R’s dad was awesome enough to put together a dog run for the birds in his garage, complete with straw, dog house, heated water bowl, and heat lamp. The girls stayed happy and busy in there for the week, and only by the last couple of days you could tell the cold was getting to them. The last day we were there it was -15 outside, and a balmy 5 degrees in the garage. All 8 of them huddled under the heat lamp as best they could. But they made it through, they even kept laying eggs all week, and were happy when we piled them back in their crates and headed back to warmer climates.

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Where the chickens decided to roost at night.

We got to do some fun stuff like visit a frozen lake, which I’ve never really experienced before. There were already a handful of ice fishing shacks out there on the lake, and we wanted to go ice fishing while we were there, but didn’t get the chance to this time around. It was beautiful out there on the ice. Xmas morning it was  a lovely -20 wind chill outside!

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Frozen lake time.

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Playing frisbee on the ice.

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Happy xmas morning at 20 below!

We had such a great time visiting MN in the Winter. And the little bit of time away from work was nice too. The great thing about our little cabin is we had really nothing to worry about while we were gone. There’s no pipes to freeze or anything like that. It was cold in the house when we finally got back home, but after a few logs burnt up in the woodstove, the place was back to warm and cozy!

What’s a little ironic is one of the reasons we brought the birds with us was in case of harsh weather while we were gone. Which totally didn’t happen. In fact, it’s been an extremely mild and dry Winter here in CO. We didn’t really get our first real snow until last week. And finally, tonight and for the next few days we’re expecting real Winter and snowy weather! Better late than never, that’s for sure.

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Beautiful sunset.

Catching Up.

And… the Fall and beginning of Winter have gotten away from me! Overall, we’re good here; everyone is well and the homestead is just as fabulous as ever. Currently, it’s almost the end of January, and Winter hasn’t even really started here yet. We’ve gotten a few inches of snow here and there, but nothing compared to what it should be. Last week we had some cold nights, lows in the single digits and one night below zero, but now the weather is back to 40s (even low 50s), and sunny during the day, lows in the teens and low 20s coming up this week. What the hell, Winter?! This time last year we had several feet of snow on the ground! This year, nothing so far… Hoping March and April will be snowy months?!

If we don’t get the snow pack we need, fire season is really going to suck this Summer. But let’s not dwell on that right now. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that a few feet of snow will dump on us sooner than later, ok?

So here are a few things I meant to blog about 2 months ago:

We went with a couple friends of ours and their pup hiking, which was pretty rad. We visited a place called the Ice Caves nearby where we live, and what do you know, no ice… but it was pretty fun regardless. Loki and Willow had a good time running around in the woods and in and out of the caves.

I harvested all the thyme from our garden and let it dry in the window:

R built a sweet cabinet! He took apart the table he had built originally, turned it into a liquor cabinet/pantry, and now its even more functional than it was. And looks awesome. The rug was a birthday present from my parents. It actually makes our tiny cabin look and feel more open, less cluttered.

We have a gate now! Back in November I had decided it was time to put a gate up in front of our driveway (finally). This was a project I’ve been wanting to accomplish for awhile, it just required us actually transporting the supplies (the gate itself, two 8-foot 6x6s, and a bunch of bags of concrete), and making the time to do it.

It was a messy project, with all the digging and concrete mixing, but it wasn’t too terrible. Just a couple of days of work and we had a gate up! At the moment it is still adorned with solar xmas lights, which I love.

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After the harvest in the Fall, we started letting the birds into the garden. It’s great because they can till the dirt, eat the bugs, eat the weeds, and poop in it all at the same time! Not only is it extremely entertaining to watch them rummage around in the garden beds, but it’s beneficial to the soil, and good for the birds’ health to be able to forage and scratch and dirt-bathe and do their bird stuff.

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After we harvested our sweet corn (which didn’t do great… hopefully a better harvest next year), we weren’t quite sure what to do with all the green parts, the stalks and such. There’s so much extra foliage that comes with corn. So we dried it and burned it! Seemed like the most appropriate thing to do.

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We pretty much spend most days hanging out with the animals, whenever we can:

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The wild tarantulas come out in the Fall; the males sometimes travel long distances to find females, and you’ll see them walking across roads and fields. This one was caught in a friend of mine’s driveway, and I released him in a field behind the resort where I  work. Good luck finding your lady little dude!

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So there’s a start to catching up. This is what I get for taking 2 months to get a blog together! Hope everyone is having a nice Winter so far, and more updates coming soon!

Shorter Days.

There’s quite a lot of beauty this time of year. With leaves changing colors, plants dying, things decaying, storms rolling in and out, fires in the woodstove at night. It’s much quieter these days up where we live; most everyone that lives up here seasonally is gone for the Winter. Which is great for us. There is a lot less generator-noise and “traffic” (and by “traffic” I mean, like the dozen or so cars that drive by our house every day). The woodstove is being fired up almost every night now, and we love the atmosphere it creates in the cabin. Warm and crackley and cozy.

The one little pumpkin I managed to grow!

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The girls aren’t laying as much as they did over the Summer, but we’re still getting 2 or 3 eggs a day. Cedar (the little red chicken) is our champ, laying almost everyday. And her eggs are big cream-colored eggs that are just about as big as the duck eggs. She is also kind of the loner of the flock; she goes rogue and does her own thing most of the time. She stands up for herself with all the other birds. Cedar is a cool chicken. She’s our star.

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Cedar egg, Black chicken egg, Duck egg.

As far as the garden goes, everything is finished for the season. We’ve started letting the birds into the big garden to tear things up. They’re pretty entertaining. They got to eat up all the greens that were still growing at the end of their season, and have a new big area to explore and scratch up. Even though the birds are more used to us by now, they are still fairly skittish (they’re very different than Amelia was!). Luckily though, they all know where they’re safe, in their fortress of a coop we’ve built. So if they get startled or when the sun starts to go down, they all waddle back inside safe and sound.

Mmm, kale.

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The Fortress.

I find Fall to be a beautiful time of year, when the leaves drop and the plants go dormant for the Winter. Unfortunately, that also means we lose a lot of our privacy from our road, as the front of our property is lined with oak brush, which dropped all of their leaves a few weeks ago. We did, however, stack all of our firewood on that side of our house, so we get a short wall between the cabin and the road.

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Speaking of our firewood pile, we didn’t spend a single dollar on wood this year, just the price of labor and renting a splitter for a day. We have 2 full cords split, stacked, and covered next to the cabin, and at least another cord stacked and covered in another spot, which will have to season over the next year until it can be used next Winter. All of it was free, either from our own property, or from a thinning project that happened in town a couple of months ago, where the conservation crew left all these big rounds free and up for grabs for the public. Since R works for the city, we knew all the details and the areas they were in, and snagged a bunch of it for ourselves. Another wonderful benefit of having a truck!

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Falltime Beauty.

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We have lots of brush to burn right now too, from general clean-up around the property. So we’ve indulged in a few bonfires, both by ourselves and with friends, and generally been enjoying everything about Fall. It’s supposed to rain/snow this week, and while it’s a bit of a downer that the days are getting so short, we’re loving snuggling by the woodstove and getting settled for the Winter.

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See Ralphie flapping!

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Happy happy Fall!

Fall.

It’s Fall now! The garden is just about done now; we harvested the rest of the Fall crops and started letting the birds into the garden so they can eat all the leftover greens, bugs, tear up the soil, and poop in the beds while they’re at it! We’ve been busy getting ready for Winter: gathering, cutting, and splitting firewood, winterizing the house and coop, and just the other day I had to get all of our Winter stuff out of the storage loft. All of our jackets, boots, scarves, hats, comforter, etc. I love this time of year, cool and crisp. We feel ready for Winter and ready for the snow!

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Watermelon radish, cucumber, tomatoes, and greens all from the garden.

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Mustard greens.

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Pumpkin.

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Cucumber and Sweetness melons!

We’ve had a lot of visitors this Summer. Both of our families came to visit, as well as lots of friends swung by. We were even able to take a couple of weekends off, one to get out of town to Silverton & Ouray for a weekend, and another couple of days when my brother and his girlfriend came down to visit. We went out camping in the National Forest, which R and I haven’t done in *what feels like* forever! We basically fancy-camp all the time, so to be out really camping in the woods felt really good.

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Paddleboatin’.

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Outdoor cooking.

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Napa cabbage.

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I enjoy decorating the dog.

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Sweetness melons.

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Garden bounty.

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Juniper rounds.

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The gang.

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Loki’s a good boy.

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Some beauty from the wildflower garden.

We have just a few more projects to complete this year. For now, this is just a quick update until I have more time to really post something. We have been swamped getting ready for Winter. More coming soon!