Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Garden Planning

Like so many, this time of year I get lost in my seed catalogues. I've a wonderful 'seed bank' of seeds to select what I want to plant, and will get more serious about seed saving this year, but I still enjoy haunting my catalogues. I use largely Heirloom, and always Non-GMO seeds and plants, so seed saving will be easily done for healthy plants next year. I've always saved my bean seeds...yellow/wax, Dragon Tongue, and green, as well as a few odd ones I experiment with from time to time, but want to get more organized and spot on saving all the others, too.

I'll be choosing which two fruit trees I want to plant this year, too. I'm thinking the apples first. Because the soil is so nutrient deficient, the holes have to be a LOT larger in order to mix in soil amendments. I also have a thick layer of sandstone under my top layer of soil. Depth varies, so I'll have to deal with that issue, too. I'm thinking about Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious. Will choose two from the three, or...hell...may do all three! I'll do Dwarf trees, not because I don't have space available for a full size tree, but because the shorter/smaller trees will be easier for me to care for and pick fruits.

So, I've selected some seeds to start...most I've planted in previous years, and some are experimental. I like to try different things with different seeds to see how best to utilize them for the growing season. Up here? The growing season is really short, so I'm going to try starting and transplanting a couple of things that I wouldn't normally do that with this year. I keep detailed notes that include soil mix, dates seeds are planted/sprout, where the trays are inside, transplant dates, etc. So I know/learn what works, and what doesn't.
Some seeds I'll be starting inside in the next couple of days.
Seeds to start soon.

More seeds to start soon.
Although I know it's a tad early, I'll be starting my plants inside soon. I want good-sized plants to transplant when the weather permits. I'm uncertain when that'll be...lol...according to some of the planting sites I've looked at, it won't be till June, but I always get things out earlier than dates given...so, we'll see how that goes.
Garden plan
Garden plan

I've always done a lot of planning like the drawings above because it helps me to have something visual to use as a starting point. Notes...notes...notes! I can't rely on my memory...lol...that's for sure.

So, I'll be planting around the shed where I have a nice area to work a smallish garden that has decent sun exposure with some shade for the hotter months. I was going to work my soil mix into the existing soil, but have decided to do raised beds like I had in Illinois. The soil here is extremely poor, and this won't be my permanent garden area...just for the next couple years. So it makes sense to work with raised beds for now. I'll be building up with largish rocks, which are plentiful around here, and some larger dead fall logs...inexpensive (free, as a matter of fact), and using what I have at hand. Of course, I'll have to fence it in...rabbits...elk...etc...would have a field day destroying anything I plant otherwise. I've quite a few T-posts laying around, and the always available chicken wire, too. I'll probably have to get another roll of chicken wire, but there's always a use for that somewhere.
I'll do something like this for the rain catchment set up. Image from www.ecodiy.org

I'll be setting up a couple of IBC totes, along with guttering on the shed to do rain collection. That's how I'll do some watering in the garden. I'll have around 600 gallons for use, so hopefully that'll get me through 'some' of the dry months here. I'm hoping the short monsoons will keep it replenished. Though the monsoon season rains aren't usually enough to water a garden deeply, I'm hoping they'll keep this rain catchment topped off for the deep watering needed.

Funny...I'm finding that to be true for many things...finding a use for 'that' somewhere. Like...I buy kitty litter in those large plastic containers. I've given a lot of them to friends up here for their use, but I found that they're great to use for my chicken feed and scratch. I keep the bulk (several bags of each) in aluminum garbage cans to keep mice out, then refill the empty kitty litter containers with manageable amounts to carry to the chickens. I can think of more gardening uses for these kitty litter containers already! Recycling at its finest. I imagine I'll do that a lot with many items over time.

Thanks for reading...ciao!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mish Mash

Went to visit my daughter in AZ. I only intended to stay a few days, but was there nearly 2 weeks. It was difficult trying to get home because of storms in Arizona and New Mexico. When there were no storms, the mountain roads coming home were still too bad to drive. I took these photos on my way home just outside Strawberry, AZ...

There were still lots of areas on the road with ice, snow, slush, and black ice.

Then I got home...yaaaaay! My shower, water heater, pump, and inside water tank were all installed.
100 gallon water tank to the left; center low down pump; 19 gallon water heater to the right.
 I had originally planned to set up my water this way, but with an on-demand water heater. Then, I decided to just hook up to the well, so I got a small water heater instead of an on-demand. And...no well pump. And...I neeeeeeed running water...thank you very much. Have had the water heater too long to return it, and nowhere else to use it...so, we stuck with that option. Takes up a bit of under-counter  space, but I'm ok with that.

The water tank has an RV inlet that allows me to fill it from outside. Perfection! The Shur-flo pump works great...really good water pressure to the shower. My friends put a switch on the wall for the pump, so it's only on when I need to use it. Actually saw this set up a couple years ago on someone's blog, or Youtube...can't remember which one for certain. Guy turned an older panel truck into an RV, and did this set up for running water. He used a smaller fresh water tank, but same idea. Works really well.
Ahhhhh...beautiful shower I love you!
 I installed the kitchen counter and sink, and hung that cool handmade, rustic cabinet that I found at a secondhand store for about $20. Walls aren't finished yet because I need to have the cabin re-leveled first, and can't do that until the ground firms up quite a bit more. I needed the storage, so began hanging shelves, and cabinets anyway. I can always take them down and rehang once walls are taped and painted. No biggie.

My little $4 Habitat for Humanity sink is perfect!

Sink isn't usable yet...need a few parts to finish, but...can't get in and out of my property to purchase them just yet.
 I've been collecting appropriate stones to use as a back splash behind the sink, and have enough tile collected from various Habit for Humanities for the counter top. Little bit at a time...one thing at a time.
Cool rustic cabinet...holds my dishes so they don't get so dusty hangin' on a shelf.

My little IKEA table folds against the wall. I found this at a secondhand store for $4.99!
 Haven't installed the table just yet. Need to pick up some of those drywall anchors...metal ones I'm thinkin'...when I can get off my property...lol
KiKi on her window shelf.

KiKi chillin'.
I put a wider shelf in the window for my KiKi. She's...well...she's fat, and the window ledge isn't wide enough for her. Sooooo...she has a spot in the sun to laze about now. She actually knocked one of the other cats off of it when he (Tippy) tried to get up there with her. That's officially her spot now!

Pluggin' along...doin' my deal.
Thanks for reading...ciao

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Snow and Mud

Snow comes, melts, and becomes mud. Not just any mud, but this deep, slick, gawd-awful stuff that simply doesn't seem to dry out. My friends tell me that it actually bubbles up to the top...making it that much worse.
Part of my drive, and the path to my coop and run.
Slight incline I slide down each time I try to walk this area...see the slide mid picture.
Gracie doesn't care if it's mud or snow when it's time to play with Wilson.
 When I have to go anywhere, which isn't too often, I leave on the freeze. Driving through the mud is much easier when it's frozen. Sadly, I can't see well enough to drive after dark, so I can't come home on a freeze. I can drive in snow and ice, but this mud? It's terrifying! No control at all when the slide starts. I can actually be moving forward, and sliding sideways off the road at the same time. How the hell is that possible? lol
Gracie loves running in the snow, and will throw it at me with her snout!
I believe we got about 8" of snow this storm.
Behind my cabin.
Icicles on the shed.
Icicles on the cabin porch. These are pointing in towards the porch because snow is melting on the roof.
Beside my cabin.
I enjoy the snow. Gracie plays in it with great abandon! Me? I wander a bit, but have to be really careful...can't see the terrain under the snow, and falling becomes a very real possibility.
I brought the three baby chicks home. Two Buff Orpingtons, and a Black Australorp.
The babies inside the coop.

Eggs I found behind the big girls' temporary shelter.
The broody hen that sits on these eggs.

The chickens are doing well in the snow, and bitter cold. I brought home the younger hens, and have them separated from the big girls. I purposely chose breeds that would weather cold well...and they are. I give them a bit of cracked corn and millet at night to help keep them warm through the night. The two oldest are still laying eggs ...daily...through the cold weather, but have become quite possessive of them. They moved their nest to an area I can't access without climbing under the coop in the mud. One is quite broody, and sits on them throughout the day and night. I'm not pulling the eggs out at the moment, but will in the next day or so...on a freeze.

Snow, mud, and more snow...the cycle just continues as we wait for the next storm to hit.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, November 20, 2015


I was going to post about the mud pit my property has become with all the rain, and about 6" of melting snow, but wanted to acknowledge two really wonderful men.

This has been a sad 3 weeks now. I've lost two male cousins to sudden, unexpected deaths...both due to heart issues. One comes from my Father's side of the family...the other my Mother's. They left behind spouses, children, Grandchildren, many other family members, and friends. Both Bobby and Doug were about 12 years older than me, and though I didn't know them as well as the cousins I grew up with in close proximity, I did know them. They'll be missed.


Bobby was my Aunt Ursie and Uncle Topper's only son (my Dad's sister...both preceded Bobby), and they lived in IN...I grew up in IL. They visited us from time to time, and we went to see them a time or two when I was young. Best of all? During my travels over the years, along with my children, we would stop to visit Bobby and his family in TX, so my children got to know Bobby (and his children), as well. That continuity of family relationships is such an awesome thing.

Bobby was a teacher, scientist, geologist, and all 'round good guy. He encouraged so many of his students with a love of science, and that would include my youngest son. Tommy was very interested in geology and paleontology at a young age, and Bobby turned him onto finding fossils, and gave him a real dinosaur bone and fossilized shark's tooth for his collection. They taught my kids and I how to play the card game "Spoons", which my daughter Sunshine excelled at!! It's an aggressive game...Sunshine broke one of the kitchen table chairs. Visiting with Bobby and his family are some of the more memorable family visits my kids remember.

Doug was my Aunt Donna's oldest son (my Mom's older sister), and they lived in CA. That was a good long distance to encourage very many visits...particularly when Aunt Donna had 10 children, and there were 6 kids in my family. However, Aunt Donna and Mom's brother, my Uncle Mike, was close in age with Doug...they spent a lot of time together. As a teen, Uncle Mike even lived in CA with the Clan (as they lovingly call themselves) for a year or so. Uncle Mike is crushed with Doug's passing...as are the rest of Doug's immediate family.

I remember Doug mostly in connection with his siblings during our visits to their CA home. I traveled a lot with my kids when they were young, and we made several trips to CA to visit Aunt Donna and family. It was important to me that my kids know ALL of their family...even those further away. So, during our visits, the Clan would plan a weekend gathering so we could spend time together. Doug was always so full of life, and humor! A funnier man I've never met. He always kept us in stitches with his jokes, and pranks on his siblings and children. He was well loved, and respected by everyone who knew him...a man of strong principles with family at the center of his life.

These were strong, moral men with incredible family ties. They'll be missed.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Sunday I finally had a nice day here at home where I could get part of the roof on the hen house completed. I covered it with tar paper, and then with flashing around the edges. I used 6" flashing for a little overhang in order to somewhat shield the vent that runs around the top of the coop. Hopefully, that'll cut down on rain and snow that might get inside while still allowing for the vent to do its job venting.

Yesterday saw no work done here at home as I was traipsing around one of the closer towns (60 miles away) for medical tests, and some shopping. Long day...late getting home.

We're possibly expecting our first snow up here...tomorrow night through Thursday. I need to get the roof on, but am not feeling up to it. I fell in the shower/tub Sunday, and hurt my back when it hit the faucet. After yesterday's drive, I'm stiff and really sore. I'll get up there and do the roof anyway, or my work on Sunday will be for naught.

I also start that nasty colonoscopy prep today...through Friday when I have the test.

So many things to do before winter hits hard:

- enclose chicken run with 4' chicken wire
- get water running inside, which includes ordering the water tank, pump, and paraphernalia needed for installation, and having the work done around my friend's schedual
- install septic (hole will be dug this week), and toilet, and pick up the barrels, and other supplies needed for this job
- install shower and kitchen sink/counter
- put up some kind of skirting around the bottom of the cabin to help with heat coming from underneath
- talk to the local fella about hauling water to my place...again...to make sure he's still willing to top my water off along with his
-  I have several medical tests scheduled within the next couple of weeks, and will have stretches of time where I won't be able to do things :-(

My well was dug quite some time ago. The driller finally got ahold of me 2 1/2 weeks ago to let me know he was sending all the paperwork to me, and we discussed the well pump again...my needs, etc...to determine what he would be installing. Still haven't received the paperwork and/or estimate for the well pump. So, I've decided to go with my original plan to install a fresh water RV tank inside (won't freeze) with RV inlet running out of the cabin to allow tank to be filled, a small SHURflo pump, and water heater. I'd already purchased a 19 gallon electric water heater to be used in here, so I won't purchase an on demand to go with this system as originally planned. Will just have to watch my water use carefully.

That doesn't mean that I won't install my well pump. It just means I'm done dealing with this guy, and will put that on hold till next Spring/Summer.

I've had so many situations like this where I've had to shift and change plans because it's so difficult getting work done up here. I feel I rely too heavily on a couple of friends up here to help me get this stuff done, but there's no other way to finish meeting basic needs right now.

I'm feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment, but know this will pass as I scratch off each job completed. With that said, I'm out to finish the hen house roof today. It's just life on life's terms.


Thursday, October 29, 2015


I was going to work on the hen house/run today, but it's raining again. Yesterday would have been a perfect day for this work, but I had to spend the day in Grants yesterday...doing laundry, grocery shopping, running other errands. Any activity that takes me off property has to be done on dry days, too...and I wasn't prepared for the rain today. As a matter of fact, I didn't think it was supposed to rain today at all.

So, I'm taking a quiet day today. Just chillin' here at home with the critters.

I picked up an indoor/outdoor thermometer yesterday, and am monitoring the temp while using my oil-filled radiator heater. Wood stove not installed yet, and heat (when needed) is currently being supplied by this little heater. I ran it last night for a couple of hours, and warmed the cabin up to 73 degrees, after which I turned the heater off. Turned on my heated mattress pad about an hour before bed, then to low when I laid down for sleep. Woke up to a 60 degree temp inside, and 40 degrees outside. It felt colder with the dampness outside permeating the interior...though I was quite toasty while sleeping. So I turned the little heater on along with the ceiling fan on low (winter usage to push heat down with no cooling effect) to take the chill off.

It's a very comfortable, steady 68 degrees in here now, 46 degrees outside. I'll have to do a little documentation of times and temps to see how long it takes, but it seems to do the trick so far.

I have a small 2300 watt generator for power outages, but I don't believe it'll handle the heater on a high setting (1500 watts) along with the compact fridge, and cell phone amplifier/booster (the only phone access I have up here). So, I'll have to test it out on lower settings as well to be sure I won't be without heat when it gets cold.

I'd never used an electric heater of any type prior to this, and feel very cautious/nervous about doing so now. I haven't had to leave it on at night thus far, but imagine there will come a time when I'll have to at some point. That makes me nervous because of my critters. With the small space inside, I worry about them knocking it over at night, and creating a fire hazard. They've shown no interest in it so far, and haven't even come close to disturbing it in any way, but the caution is still there.

And that's my day for today! Well...I think I'll make some fresh bread today.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Realities of tiny house living

I bought my property about 2 years ago now, and moved up here this May. I decided to build my guest cabin first so that I could spend some time observing the property during the seasons in order to develop the property responsibly. The property is sloped...goes from 7200' elevation to 7400' elevation bottom to top. So there are some run off issues that have to be dealt with using trenches and berms. So far, my driveway onto the property has held up pretty well, and we've had a few sustained, heavy rains up here. I'm fairly confident that it will do fine in the long run, however, I'll have some gravel brought in when all the heavy equipment work is completed.

The guest cabin is a Weather King cabin shell...side porch model...12' x 24', which is 288 sq. ft. total. Taking off the 4' x 8 ' porch from inside measurements comes out to about a 256 sq. ft. living space. I did two upgrades to the build: 2" x 6" walls (for better insulating), 2 extra windows...double paned...again, for better energy efficiency. There is no loft (I don't like the look of the loft style, and I'm too old to be climbing up and down ladders in the middle of the night!), so this cabin is limited to the actual floor space.

Moving the cabin onto my property.
The cabin in its permanent place.
Rough insides with initial move-in.
The curtained area is the bath area with the kitchen to the left. The handsome fella is my almost 14 yr. old GrandBoy.
Initial kitchen area.
For short periods of time, guests will be fine. For me, my 3 yr. old German Shepherd Gracie, and 3 cats, the space is definitely tight...particularly in the kitchen area when they all want to be under foot! The reality of living in such a small space with animals is quite a challenge. Paring down belongings isn't so difficult, but walking around can be tricky at times. Scary even!
KiKi (left) and Tippy (right)
Tippy and Bandito (top)
The fine art of learning to share!
The finer art of learning to share!

I'll have to be creative in storage options while living in this cabin once it's completed...nearly there. Built in shelves will make a world of difference. The insulation, wiring, plumbing, and dry wall are completed, though I still need to drywall mud the screws and mud/tape the seams...then paint. I'll have a small wood stove installed, and have already had the fire-roc installed where it will be placed...along with spacers, and some kind of stone/brick backing and floor. Basically, I'm winter ready except for the wood stove. That's on hold for now, and I'm using one of those oil-filled radiator heaters when needed to take the chill off.
Small toaster oven, 800 watt microwave, 2-burner cast iron top electric stove, electric kettle, and my favorite secondhand find for storage.
Tiny, compact refrigerator (a problem as I like to cook/bake, and store the leftovers). There won't be a door on the bathroom...takes up too much floor space. I'll hang a nice curtain there when the painting is all done.
Temporary storage. This corner is where the small wood stove will be placed.
Sleeping area. Bed is a wooden futon frame that turns into a couch. However, I simply leave it down as a bed.

Let there be light! Great sale find at Home Depot...porch light cost was only about $13.
Insulation in the walls is R19...ceiling is R30. I wanted it to be comfortable winter and summer...coldest and hottest times of year. Finding a small wood stove that won't break the bank (this is, ultimately, my guest cabin...not my permanent house) has been difficult, but I think I found one.

Anyway...for me? The real challenge is moving around a small space with my animals. I've stepped on more tails than I care to count! Gracie has to be involved in every move I make...so she challenges me at every turn. I can manage storage...that'll be the easy part. Living in a small space with my critters? Not so easy at times.