It is a veritable Winter Wonderland here at the Ranch!


We have multiple feet of snow covering everything right now. It has snowed most days for the past couple of weeks or so. Last Saturday we got a solid foot of fresh powder. The berms on the side of our road from the plow is nearing 5 feet. And the plow doesn’t even come until the rest of the county is plowed first (I’m only exaggerating a bit here). It is absolutely beautiful out here. Quiet. White. Cold.


Our awesome woodsy-cabin.


Can’t even tell there’s a house to the right of the truck!


The current greenhouse situation.

Now-wouldn’t ya know it-SUN is actually in the forecast for the next several days! We haven’t had a full day of sun in over a week, which is extremely unusual for SW Colorado. Late today the clouds burned off, and those big beautiful blue skies showed themselves! And with that comes… COLD NIGHTS. Low last night was a whopping 1 degree. Low tonight: -2. You bet we’ll be keeping Johnny Woodstove stoked all night. He’s already been going all day. While it’s really damn cold outside, we’ve been keeping the cabin at a comfortable 70 degrees. Woodstoves are the best.


Note the indoor firewood pile, the tea kettle, the winter boots, the fire going…


Looking at all the animal tracks in the snow has been pretty entertaining. There’s a long trail that goes down through Amelia’s Meadow, obviously made by a large creature. Probably a deer, but the prints we saw in the road are pretty big… maybe an elk? There’s definitely some rabbits that live under our lumber pile. Loki’s cast stump makes some pretty funny prints too.


Buddies by the bird feeder!


Definition of Beautiful.

While our driveway isn’t super long, it is a lot of shoveling to do by hand. Honestly, getting out of the driveway in the mornings is the most treacherous part of our drive into town. Just a few inches off to one side, and we’re in the danger zone. The Cliff Side, if you will. So far we’ve been ok, but we did take a snow day from work the other day when it was just too much to deal with that early in the morning. We had lots of fresh snow from the night before, and well, sleeping in and not shoveling at 5:30am sounded pretty rad.



I love that this is where we call Home.

Also, my birthday was on Tuesday, and it snowed big beautiful snowflakes that morning! R doesn’t particularly love Winter like I do, but my happiness rubbed off. My Mom sent me this AMAZING scarf for my birthday that I now can’t get enough off. Good find, Mum.


At Sunset in my new amazing scarf.


And we did.

We’ve been spending our snow days mostly by the woodstove, drinking wine or beer, or bailey’s and coffee in the mornings, watching the snow pile up and dreaming up plans for Spring and Summer. We have some lofty goals for this year. Just a few: root cellar, deck, move the cabin, sun room, rainwater collection system, outhouse, solar shower, garden expansion, ducks & chickens, and pizza oven. Yep, just a few things we want to accomplish. Anybody want to come stay for a few days and help?! We’ll happily provide beer, food, and a free place to camp! In any case, one of my personal goals for this year is to keep up with this very blog more. So, you’ll be able to follow our progress right here 🙂


The view from our loft window the morning of my birthday!



For now though, our firewood supply is plentiful, our cabin is cozy, our land is so beautiful I can’t even believe it’s ours sometimes, and we have a pretty solid handle on surviving without electricity or running water in the dead of Winter. Seriously, what’s not to love?


Super Broken.

Loki update!


So we decided to take him to our local vet, who we haven’t visited before. And we have previously chosen not to take him to the vet for various reasons, namely: Loki’s an asshole with strangers, and we like to practice holistic healing with both ourselves and our animals. But, he did have a busted leg, so we thought it best to take him in. We muzzled him before bringing him in the office (for everyone’s safety, really), and the vet wanted him straight back to the x-ray table.


Cute cast.

R and the vet put Loki on the x-ray table, and they took the first picture of his leg. From my standpoint, just outside the door, I watched both the vet and the tech cock their heads simultaneously as the image came up on the screen. Then the tech asked, “what’s that?” Followed by the vet asking R, several times, “how long have you had him?” Then we got to see what they were seeing. Loki has a huge metal plate and pins in his leg. One long pin that runs the length of his leg. We had no idea he had metal in his leg!


All we know about Loki’s past is that he was in a “house that was raided,” and showed up at the sanctuary with multiple gunshot wounds. He’s missing two front toes, and has scars all over his legs and one on his nose. His really-scarred leg is the one that’s broken. So apparently when he had surgery after being shot, he was made part-bionic too!


The vet took another x-ray from a different angle, and you can clearly see both of his leg bones snapped, just below his knee, that metal pin is BENT, and the plate has slid out of place. Whatever happened to him (I’m really thinking hit by a car now), really busted up his leg! Our options were: knock Loki out, vet tries to bend that pin back straight, crank his leg back together, and cast it. Or: drop $2000 in surgery to open up that leg and fix everything. Even the vet was all, “I’d just cast it.” That sounded good to us. So he knocked Loki out with a quick shot, tweaked his leg into place, and casted it. While he was out, I asked the vet to go ahead and give him his rabies vaccination (which has been expired, and we haven’t taken him to get it renewed because – see first reason above), and he got his nails clipped. Then a shot of morphine for good measure.


Loki was STONED for the remainder of the evening! Happy boy. Lucky for us, this vet practices Chinese herbal medicine, and prescribed a strong bone-regeneration herb for Loki, as opposed to antibiotics or pain meds (which we really didn’t want to give him). So, a cast for 6 weeks, 4 herbal pills a day for 6 weeks, and he gets to come to work with us everyday. He’s been sleeping a lot, chewing on his cast a bit, and has even seemed a bit depressed at times, but he has a little more pep now and has started eating more regularly. He didn’t eat breakfast for over a week, until a few days ago. R and I realized that he’s probably had this EXACT cast before, and that’s gotta bring a pup down…


How he sleeps now. Also, writing on his cast says, “Roki Roo!” and I added Hearts for Healing 🙂


Classy plastic bag.

So now we’re a week and a half into this cast business, 4.5 more weeks to go. It’s actually been kind of nice bringing him with us during the day; it’s a good excuse to to take a walk to check on him, and when it’s cold and blowing snow, or raining, it’s comforting to know he’s not locked up in his run outside by himself. He’s warm and cozy in the truck.


Cloud collar of shame.

The vet told us that Loki is one tough dog. Not only snapping two bones, but doing that much damage to his leg, metal plate and pins and all, had to hurt. And he hardly whined or cried at all after it happened. Now let’s just hope the cast holds up for 4.5 more weeks… it already has duct tape around it!


Isn’t he just the cutest.


Loki had an incident.

While we’re at work during the day, Loki stays outside in his 10×10 dog run. He’s got a nice insulated doghouse and besides the weather being really cold in the mornings when we leave him, we haven’t had any problems. Sunday when we got home from work, the door to his run was off the hinges and inside the run, and Loki was curled up inside his doghouse, not wanting to come out. R eventually coaxed him out, and he limped his way into the house, not at all using his back leg.


His run when we first put it up… it has a roof on it now. And the door is knocked off.

Once we got him inside, he got up onto the couch in front of the woodstove and I started a fire. I was watching him closely, and noticed that he was showing symptoms of shock. Shaking, cold, sticky gums, unresponsive. We wrapped him up in a blanket and I texted my former boss from the animal sanctuary in Utah where we used to work. She helped walk me through what to do for him, but both her and I had this sinking feeling that Loki might not make it through the night. I’ve worked with animals for a long time, and I’ve seen animals in shock not make it more than a few hours. We were concerned. And you have to deal with the shock before dealing with any injuries, so we weren’t even thinking about his leg at this point.


Getting warm. Surviving shock.

We spooned water into his mouth and made sure he was as warm as possible. I also managed to get a hold of a 24 hour emergency vet in town (who was busy with a sick horse), who gave me an ibuprofen dose for Loki and said to call him in the morning if he wasn’t any better. After a couple of hours in front of the fire, Loki was looking brighter and more responsive.


Splint and bedrest.

He made it through the night and we brought him with us to work the next day so he could have a nice R&R day in the truck. The shock was gone and he was tired but more himself. He even barked at strangers. Since he was feeling better I was able to feel up and down his hurt leg, and felt a break. R felt it too. Loki’s leg is definitely broken. Thank goodness he’s not a growly, bitey nightmare when he’s in pain.


My buddy.

So today is our Saturday from work and we’re home all day. Besides doing normal off-grid-Winter-stuff, like moving firewood around, shoveling, and generally keeping the house warm and tidy, today has also been a good day for Loki to just rest and we can keep an eye on him. We also splinted his leg. He got a little grumbly when we started messing with it, but he was ok. He’s been really tired and sleeping a lot. Poor guy. He’s summoned to bedrest!


Sleepy and healing.

It’s going to be a long few weeks. He’ll be coming with us to work everyday for the foreseeable future, mostly so we can keep an eye on him and his movement will be restricted. I’m just happy he survived his night of shock. And no, we have no idea what happened to him. Maybe he just got tangled in his run door, maybe he got out and got hit by a car… who knows. There was no blood or punctures or anything like that. Whatever happened, if he was out, he managed to limp his way home.


Feeling better the next night.

Things can always be worse! Loki is home and alive and ok. With a broken leg, but he’s managing. Dogs are good on 3 legs. He can even get himself in and out of the truck still. So keep up some good thoughts for our Loki Monster… Poor broken pup.

And with the animal losses we’ve experienced this year–Sweet Amelia, Archie, and Zeppy from last year–we just couldn’t handle Loki not making it!


Feeling nostalgic… We miss our sweet duck, and still have hopes that Archie will make it back home.


This was our 2nd xmas off-grid, but this year my family came to visit! They stayed in our neighbor’s cabin, but we mostly hung out in our little cabin. It was so fun, and everyone got to experience living off the grid in the Winter! We cooked every night over the woodstove, including an awesome turkey xmas dinner and green bean casserole, and made jell-o shots in the snow. We all tried, and very much enjoyed, nog-a-sake’s (egg nog and sake) with a dash of cinnamon, and whiskey, red wine, and ciders. Delightful.


Fam at the cabin.


Jell-o shots in the snow!


Bro making green bean casserole.

We’ve had a few snow storms, leaving a few inches of snow at a time. The layers of snow build on each other and leave beautiful white blankets all over the trees and the roads and the landscape. Our house is holding heat a lot better than last Winter, and we usually only have to re-stoke the fire once during the night to keep the place warm. We get it going before bed, then throw a couple pieces of oak in there around midnight, and it’s usually in the 60s when we get up in the morning. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes to get out of bed when it’s warm in the house. Getting ready for work seems not so terrible at 5.30am when it’s warm inside.


Snow blankets.

One thing I really love about this season is xmas lights. Since we don’t have electricity, or a solar system, I figured I’d have to miss out on this particular joy until we could afford it. Then I did some searching online, and what do you know, solar xmas lights exist! So I took it upon myself to buy two strings of xmas lights, one white and one blue, to decorate outside. Each strand came with its own little solar panel. On a full-sun day, the lights will last all night, and even still be on when we get up to leave for work in the morning. They turn on automatically when the sun sets, and back off at sunrise. They’re AWESOME. They make my little heart so happy. We’re the only ones out here that have xmas lights. We’ve already gotten, “did you guys get electricity…??” Nope! Just another awesome solar gadget for me to get obsessed with!


White lights to the left, blue to the right, along the driveway.


My white-light pine.

Loki’s been having a blast in the snow, the snow shovel is his favorite Winter toy. He even runs outside and hits it with his front paws, because we apparently need to be told what he wants! His life kind of sucks during days we have to work, since we leave him outside in his run before the sun even comes up. By the time we get home, the sun is going back down, but he survives. His doghouse is small and cozy and full of fluffy blankets. And lucky dog gets to snuggle with us in front of the fire at night.


R playing with Loki.


Snowy new year.

Overall, life has been really good to us this Winter. Compared to where we were this time last year, we have few complaints. We’re taking the quiet of Winter to plan for projects in Spring and Summer, and work at our silly day jobs and save money. We’ve only had to dig the truck out of a snow bank once… maybe a guard rail alongside our driveway might be in our future. That snow piles up fast, and it is hard to get out of. The side of our driveway trapped the ol’ Subaru last Winter, and got a hold of Maximus last night. Not fun. Guard rail.


My lights at sunset.

But here we are! Still smiling through the snow and the cold. Living off the grid has its challenges for sure, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Xmas was awesome here at the ranch, and here’s to a bright and beautiful 2017! Snowy and cold here on this side of the world.


Sleepy buddy.