Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

I've been away for the while due to Christmas, the prep and the aftermath... feel like I have a lot of catching up to do with everyone's blogs! Things are getting back to normal, though, and it feels good. I've had a chance to reflect on this last year and turn my thoughts and energies towards the coming year. While I know January 1st is just an arbitrary marker of time, I do enjoy a little reminder now and then to gather, inspect and regroup.

I prefer to stay away from the term "resolution" cause if I don't follow through, I tend to feel I didn't jump high enough. I like the phrase "New Year's intention". That way I can do my best to stay focused and motivated, but if something gets in the way, or life moves in another direction, then there's no grade below a C! I think the healthiest motivator is pure desire and I try and remove the bonus prizes. I liked someone's quote recently of "follow your passion, not your pension".

So, with reflection, this year has had a lot of joys and a lot of scares. A bit of a roller coaster ride for sure! The housing market has continued to decline which has made the selling of our home more difficult. We still are going to list it when the workshop is fully constructed, but aren't holding our breath for an offer that will lead us to sell. So, whether we sell or whether we have to stay, we're trying to make peace with either outcome. Positively, I have learned a lot more about my horse and horseback riding. I'm gaining a lot of valuable skills that will forever be with me. I've established myself here in this town as a mental health therapist, and even though I'm not making a ton of money, I have my own business and a lot of freedom with scheduling. I built a chicken coop and got chickens and that was months in the making and something I'm very proud of. I get enjoyment each and every day from Jack and the girls! My partner's resurgence of melanoma was one of the down turns and now we're sitting with stage 3C, but besides the surgery to remove 6 positive lymph nodes by means of a modified radical neck dissection, all the treatment has been holistic with no chemo or radiation. So, far so good, and the current health and energy levels for both of us are high! Juicing about 8 fresh juices each day is part of the treatment my partner partakes in, as well as watching what foods are eaten. It appears to be working, as mountain biking and running daily are back in the daily routine! So, that's a very rough outline of my past year. I could get more details, but don't want any folks nodding off!

As for this year, I'm excited. I like feeling like a kid about life and all the things I want to do. I am considering a couple of things for the new year. One is the possibility of getting honey bees and hive(s) on my property to have and sell a little honey. I've been looking into it and if I could build the chicken coop and take care of the chickens, I think I can take care of some bees. Another possibility is raising a few turkey. I don't eat meat, but am considering raising one for my family and a few for friends for when Thanksgiving comes. I am adamantly against factory farming which most people here support when they buy their Thanksgiving turkey, so if I can humanely raise a cage free, organic turkey and prevent them from purchasing a factory farmed one, then that is in line with my vegetarian values.

One thing I'm DEFINITELY going to do is raise some chicks. I am hoping it can be done naturally with one of my hens and hope one goes broody in the spring. If not, I'll get a small incubator. I look forward to the challenges and joys that will bring.

Getting my shop all constructed is first on my list and we'll be starting on that as soon as this cold front passes.

Giving a garden one more try is also a definite - esp. now that I have chicken manure for fertilizer and saw someone who has a thriving desert garden and saw how they kept the rodents out. I hope to plant in spring.

I also hope to grow my business a little so I can save a bit of money and hopefully go on a real vacation. I haven't been on a vacation aside from an extended weekend in several years.

So, these are the things that are top on my mind and they are my intentions for the New Year. I'm feeling very grateful and very energized and motivated. There are many more things I want to do, but the list might start growing too long, so I wanted to put the big ones down. I love the feeling of getting excited about life. There's so much to do! I feel grateful for this little 5 acres out in the desert and if we're prevented from moving, we'll just do the best we can with it.

I would love to know what your intentions/resolutions are for the New Year - please share!! And, for now - I hope everyone has a very safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Almost Christmas Everyone!

Well, I'm up bright and early and getting ready to head a couple hours away to have Christmas with family.  Tonight my parents have their 50th annual Christmas Eve party.  There's usually about 75 people there and it's a lot of fun.  I go down early and help them out.  This will be my last post till after Christmas and I want to wish everyone a very safe and Merry Christmas!!  

I want to start saying hello to new folks who jump on to follow my blog (Inger at Desert Canyon living does that and it's nice) - so, hi Peggy and thanks for adding my blog and welcome!

This photo is of Sherman the Boxer a couple of years ago when we got a nice snow here.  I thought I'd put it up cause it fits the season!  No snow yet, though!  Only rain so far, and today it's gonna be blue skies again.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Clear Skies!!

The skies have finally cleared!  Yay!  In the picture above you can see the move which is still up this morning.  It's been several says since I've seen that.  I'm so looking forward to being able to be outside some today!  As of last night, I'm off work until after Christmas, so the timing is great!  I'm sure the chickens will be very happy to not have to be in the rain if they want to venture out of the coop.  They'll have some sunshine to accompany their chicken activities!

Speaking of chickens, when I got home for work last night right before dark and went to close up the coop, one of the chickens was in the nesting box.  I thought is was the hen who hasn't been feeling 100% and I have noticed that this rain has taken her down a notch or two after she was starting to show good signs of improvement.  I figured she was too weak to get up on the roosting bars so I left her there knowing that inside a nesting box would be about the snuggliest place for her.  This morning when I went out to open the coop up, I realized it wasn't the hen (Gertie) who has been a bit ill.  It was another hen and I think she feels 100%.  I reached under her and pulled out two eggs.  So, I'm wondering if she had gone broody?  On two eggs?  A Rhode Island Red in December?  Hmm... any thoughts from you chicken experts out there?  Well since I'm not planning on chicks till Spring, I reached under her warm, fuzzy body and took the two eggs. 

In the meantime, the dogs have decided they want to sleep in a bit more and wait till it gets brighter outside before they go enjoy a rain free day!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain!

It's been raining here in the Southern California desert for several days now.  (and most of Southern California in general).  While I know we need the rain, enough already!  I shouldn't complain - I could be in several feet of snow and freezing winds!  Nah, not really complaining.  The only thing that's hard is convincing these dogs to go outside and go potty!  They start to go out, do a quick u-turn and want right back in.  They are forecasting two more days of rain and then it should clear by Thursday.  Actually, that's good cause Southern California can have a lot of damage if it rains too much with mudslides.  The rain will make for beautiful wildflowers this Spring out here in the High Desert.  I am enjoying staying in after work, listening to the pitter patter and reading or playing on the computer. 

And, since the chickens can't have outdoor recess while it's raining, they decided they might as well lay eggs. 

Also, my two babies (the Plymouth Barred Rock & Easter Egger) that I had segregated for a while have finally gotten brave enough to come mix with the rest of the hens!  They have been staying up on the perch after they came out of "segregation" and jump down to feed and water when the older ones go out to the run.  Today I came home for a break and they were out with the big girls holding their own!  Yay!  I'm excited for them to start laying, but that will probably be a couple more months.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some of the Gifts I've Made.

This year I've tried to make a lot of gifts myself.  I think it means much more to give a simple gift that time and effort has gone into.  Not that time and effort don't go into a gift bought from a store in the form of time spent at work, but there's something about a gift made in someone's home with their hands that, to me, mean a lot.  I remember when my grandmother Mammaw was living and she would often give me jars of her homemade jam for Christmas and I LOVED it!  This year, among some store bought gifts, I'm giving some canned items I've been making over the last few months.  Among them are Bread & Butter Pickles, BBQ Sauce, Salsa and eggs from my chickens.  This weekend I'm going to make one final canned good and I think it might be sweet relish.  Also, I'm making about 3 or 4 homemade apple pies the day before Christmas Eve.  I've enjoyed all this a lot and actually look forward to giving these items more than the store bought ones.  I had fun making labels on my computer for them and named each item after one of my chickens.  "Lazy Dog Ranch" is the name of my place here and it's just the prototype of when I get my "real ranch".  The name was inspired by my former Pug Carlisle who was a master at exerting minimal energy!  The sad little tree you see in the above photo is the only one we get this year.  It's a living tree at least but since our new Pug, CJ is such a TERROR, we knew the tree would be toppled and strewn all over the house. It's strange not having a large tree, and not having it where we normally do, but at least we have all the stockings up in the living room with some lights around it!  It's pretty festive.  Below is salsa named after my hen Miss Osie.

Followed by Rooster Jack's BBQ sauce! (you can't read it all the way, but the fine print at bottom reads, "use on everything but chicken".

My favorite - bread and butter pickles!

Also, many folks are getting some fresh, organic eggs and these are the carton stickers I've made. 

Below - I know it's not so traditional, but our TV is usually moved and tree put here.  This year, since there's no big tree, just stockings and lights - but it works!  Troy, the Chihuahua found wandering the desert even got one.  His is the one with the "T" on it.  ha ha.  Hope you all are having a great time getting ready for Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Big Slow Down...

This is going to be a short post, but want to give an update.  There has been a big slowdown in the shop due to poor workers AGAIN who don't know their stuff and/or don't show up.  My folks who have all the experience and thought things were under control headed back down to San Diego 3 hours away and then the workers just fell apart.  What they did do on the roof is shabby at best.  I did some research last night and discovered how many major mistakes they have made and the whole thing has to come off.  It hasn't been sheeted, so that's good.  But, the ridge, joists and rafters all have to come down.  I have studied it and it's not rocket science.  I'm taking the whole thing down and we're going to build the roof ourselves.  It might not get done that fast, but I'll learn, we won't waste any more money on poor "help" and we'll have the satisfaction.  So, the shop is gonna be a while yet.  So far, just four walls and electrical all run.  Patience...  and patience with workers.  I don't understand in this economy when people say they need work so bad why they can't even show up, or if they do show up, why they are so bad.  Ugh. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Four Walls Up!!

Today was a long but very productive day!  Above was early this morning and we were prepping the ground for the foundation.  "Poor man's foundation" - since I can't afford to poor concrete for a proper one, we layed the plywood shop floor on 2x6's and since it hardly ever rains here in the desert, it will last much longer than I'll ever be here!  It's plenty solid and we got it level.  I do have to boast about about the California weather and say that it was about 70 degrees today with a slight breeze.  Below is a picture of the floor after we got it all into place.

Alas, we have the first wall up below!  My mom and dad and their friend came up.  My dad used to be a contractor and his knowledge is handy.  I also hired a 19 year old young man who was very polite, knowledgeable himself, STRONG and luckily did now wear his pants below his butt crack for all of us to see.  Ugh, can't stand that look!  Will it ever end?

Below is wall number two with my mom joking around with hammer above my head.  Spirits were up as the progress was good!  The "homie" graffiti will be covered with some T-111 - don't you think? 

Wow, wall number two again.  Whoo hoo!  We have the windows and they will go in close to last.

Prepping for wall number three below.

My dad having a little rest and fun below.

Wall number three!

And, by 4pm, we had the final wall up!

Tomorrow, the 19 year old is bringing 2 of his friends because the pitched roof is VERY heavy.  We are hoping to get the roof and if time permits, also the carport started.  I'm so excited!  That pile of lumber is actually turning into a shop.  Well, it's going to be a short post, but I wanted to put this up.  It's gonna be an early night for me!  Also, my 6th year anniversary today!  Yay!  Believe it or not, it was a fun way to spend it. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Raising the Roof (Part 3)

The adventure continues!  First off, I have to say the Mexican workers we hired from the Home Depot parking lot were awesome.  As I said previously, they did more work in 2 hours than the "Craigslist crew" did in two days.  They had the shop and carport down and loaded on a trailer in record time and brought it to our home an hour and a half away.

Here's a pic of them taking all the sheetrock, some siding and the roof off.

Below is a picture of them loading everything up.  Our little trailer was there also and it is loaded full of stuff.  Goodies in my book, maybe junk according to others.  Shop lights, work benches, cabinets.  They would have been thrown away and they will go to good use when the shop is up.

The next pictures are of the shop on my property.  It's here!  I can't believe it!!  Isn't it beautiful?  Ha ha.  I bet you all are saying, "oh, no... what did you do?"  "Why?"  "What are you thinking?".  Ah, just wait!  This weekend, the foundation will be prepped, the walls will go up, insulation and siding back on, electrical put back and it will look like a structure instead of pile of wood.  Now, don't go placing bets with one another, okay?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Raising the Roof (Part 2)

This will be short as I'm tired and not in the best of mood.  I've been gone all day.  Long story short - the people we hired said they would have the workshop down in one day and back up on our property the next.  Well, Friday went by and they asked for another day.  Saturday went by and still not down.  This morning (Sunday), we called the man who we bought it from and whose property it's on and he said it was only about 20% finished.  Keep in mind, the man is moving Wednesday, so the workshop has to be gone by Tuesday.  Uh, we can do that math.  We called the guy who was supposedly working for us and he was all full of stories.  We drove up there (an hour and a half) and not only was it 20% done at most, but they were taking all the siding off and the windows out!  What were they planning on doing, driving us down a truck full of lumber?  My partner called the man and fired him (we did pay him a $300 deposit but felt we had no choice).  Okay, now what?  Here we are on a Sunday with $500 out for a shop we bought and $300 lost to people who were completely unreliable and lacking knowledge and integrity (they consistently weren't showing up on time and Saturday only stayed 3 hours to work) and an hour and a half from home.  My partner had $700 left in the original budget to get this thing taken care of.  So, we drove to Home Depot where the Mexican men hang out for work and drove some back to look at the workshop.  They said for $700 they would take it down and deliver it to our home but would not reconstruct it (The roof will be in two pieces cut at the ridge cap, the carport roof cut in two, the 4 walls and floors).  So, they got their tools and started working like crazy.  They did more work in 2 hours than the other joke of a crew did in 2 days.  My partner is meeting them back up there in the morning bright and early and they are to bring it back tomorrow.  As for putting it back together?  My dad (age 76) who is 3 hours away was a contractor and he and my mom and a friend of theirs will drive up and we are gonna get that thing put up next weekend with the help of a neighbor or two, I hope.  If all goes well, we will come out on budget and only be a week behind, ha ha.  But, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed cause a lot can happen in the meantime and there's a lot to be done.

I'm also not in the best mood cause I have a sick hen.  She wasn't able to get up to the roosting bars with the other hens this evening after I had come come.  She is wheezing some, her eyes look glassy and she is listless and inactive.  I put her in a carrier, put a towel down (her toes are curling some) and put her in the second bedroom where she'll be warm for the night.  I'll check on her in the morning.  I don't do well with sick animals and I"m angry at those people who took our money and had no idea what they were doing because I was gone all day while she was sick. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Raising the Roof (I Hope!)

Okay, first off, I'm hoping you all have the same sense of humor I do.  And, I hope you find the following story about our weekend adventure as laughable as I do.

I have no idea how the following situation will turn out, but of course I'm telling myself it will be good.  I'm no sucker and usually am conservative about business deals.  One thing I have been very unhappy about with my current house is that it has no garage.  I don't care about parking my car in one, but have no area to use all my tools and can't create or build anything.  I had to build my whole chicken coop out on the desert floor.  I have a small shed with electric and literally climb on top of things (like my compressor, the bicycle, table saw, etc.) while trying to get to something else.  Frustrating beyond belief!  Well, my partner found a workshop with attached carport on Craigslist yesterday.  The workshop is 12' x 16' and the carport is the same making the whole setup 24' x 16'.  It is built with the same construction a house is, is wired with electric, is insulated, has windows and sheet rock, a man door and a sliding door going into the carport.  It cost about $8000 to build about 5 years ago and my partner bought it for $500.  The problem is how do we get it here?  So, we ran an ad on Craigslist to have someone take it down and reconstruct it here on our property.  My partner talked to a man on the phone and he sounded very friendly and professional.  They met (the workshop is about an hour from our home) this morning and he looked and acted professional and knowledgeable.  The deal was that for $1000 he would do all the labor.  A heck of a deal!  Especially considering I don't have any money to spare.   If it was up to me to purchase it, I'd be without a workshop for a long time to come.  Yay!  Super excited!  Early Christmas!  (it's my Christmas present)

And... then... this morning... my partner met... "the crew".  Oh, my.  5 other people...  the main man's wife who has purple braided hair, 3/4 length sweat pants, halter top with red socks and house slippers and long red painted finger nails that wave around a lot.  There is also an adult child who my partner wasn't sure was male or female - sideburns and fingernails, no breasts but seemingly a "package" down below.   Chalk it up to California?  Then there are two skinhead looking fellows and one guy who just kinda hung around with his hands in his pockets seeming a bit lost and not sure what to do with himself.  Would this make you a bit nervous?  Well, apparently, they are just as nice as can be... very polite and well mannered.  So we went ahead with the deal.  I wanna give everyone a chance and a lot of people really need the money these days.  So, we're going with it.  They are supposed to come down tomorrow late morning with the workshop broken down and reconstruct it.  I joked about how they have their deposit money, cancelled their prepaid 7-11 phone and are driving away with our workshop laughing as they zoom down the road.  Well, it's given us a lot to giggle about.  I hope we didn't use poor judgment.  We wanted to give them a chance and, again, since the main man really seems knowledgeable, my partner rolled the dice!  If all goes well, we'll have a workshop and carport tomorrow late in the day or Sunday morning.  If it doesn't go well, ... well, not sure what we'll have!  But, we'll get ready to buy them pizza for lunch tomorrow, be great job hosts and cross our fingers.  Wish us luck!  I'll be back soon with pics and the rest of the story.