Monday, January 31, 2011

My Getaway & Current Project

It feels way too long since I made a post!  Well, I had a great time going on my little getaway to Quartzsite, Arizona.  Only a long weekend, but a good and needed one.  There is the annual swap meet out there for a couple weeks and it's huge - I think the biggest one in the country.  My parents and their friends go out every year and we wanted to join them.  There is plenty of BLM land out there and you can get a space by yourself and stay up to two weeks in the RV no questions asked for free.  So, there were about 14 RVs in our group and not many others close to us.  The nights were dead quiet and days were warm and fun.  We left and towed our trailer with our two motorcycles in it.  Since there is so much BLM land, there are tons and tons of trails for motorcycles and we wanted to explore.  Also, there is only one road into the swap meet and sometimes the traffic is backed up more than 30 minutes, and with the motorcycles, we took the back way through the wash with a trail up to the main road, and BOOM, we were there and could squeeze the motorcycles in to park anywhere. 

I didn't buy too much, but I did get a nice Wagner 9 cast iron skillet and two old metal milk containers.  Aside from that, just odds and ins and a fun time walking around. 

Below, we're pulling out from home. 

This is a pic taken at sunrise right outside our RV with the moon setting.  It was a beautiful morning.

Amy and the boys.

My dad (far left) and mom (in red sweatshirt in front) and some friends.  We drove out to look at the Native American hieroglyphics.  If you look closely at the rock above, you'll see them.

My dad (76 years old) riding my motorcycle around our group of RVs.  Big smile on his face.

Amy riding ahead on one of the trails we took on the motorcycles.  We have dual sports, so can take them off and on road.

One of the hills we climbed.  It was a beautiful view.

Me being goofy.

Another destination on our bikes and I'm next to a huge Ocotillo just starting to bloom.  It was already in the low 70's there.

Well, I put CJ the pug in here just because he's so darned cute!

Since we've been back, we just started to work on the shop again.  I don't know if you remember, but the "hired help" we got to put the workshop up turned out to be utterly dismal.  So, we decided to do it ourselves.  This weekend, we started on the roof and we put up the ridge and the two outside rafters which are the most difficult.  I think we will get all the joists and remaining rafters up this coming weekend.  We're gonna get this thing done if it kills us!!  So, below is the beginning of our roof.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award - Me? Ah, Thanks!!

"Old Dog" over at Yellow Dog Farm blog - - gave me the stylish blogger award.  I'm touched and am happy he is enjoying my weekly (for the most part!) ramblings about us out in the desert.  I hope other people are, too!  I started this blog less than a year ago not knowing if anyone would read it and I keep getting more comments and interactions, and it's a lot of fun.  Thank you!  So, as part of this reward, there are 4 things I am asked to do as a recipient:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award (that's above!!) Thanks Old Dog!!

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers

4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!


1. I've been vegetarian for 22 years, vegan for 8 of those and only recently added occasional raw, organic dairy to my diet.

2.  I'm a mental health therapist in private practice.

3.  I day dream a lot about being on a many more acres than I'm on and having many more animals than I do.

4.  I'm a Libertarian and for the most part don't trust the government as far as I can throw them (but, I do like Ron Paul).

5.  I went to school in the thick of the Redwood forest in Northern California at Humboldt State University (undergrad) and am a hippy at heart (well, not always politically, but lifestyle-wise).

6.  I believe in hard work and community support when things get tough.

7.  I NEVER buy food at a mainstream grocery store unless I have no alternative and buy local and organic.

And here are my other blogs I'd like to give the award to!  Check them out - they are ALL GREAT!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Quick "Hi" from Quartzsite, AZ

Just a little hello from Arizona.  This is our free camp spot on BLM land.  There's so much land that you can find a nice place with few folks around you.  This is as the sun is coming up and you can see the moon setting in the picture.

Had a good time yesterday and went into the swap meet.  Found a nice Wagner 6 cast iron skillet for a good deal and got some other goodies.  Today we are going to go exploring on the motorcycles on some of the endless trails around here.

I can't check on other blogs while here cause my internet time is limited due to me being on a broadband stick.  I'll definitely catch up when I get back!  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend coming up.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Garden Design!

What a beautiful weekend it was!  I'm sure those of you in the Midwest and East Coat don't want to hear this, but it was in the high 70's here Sunday.  Nice Santa Ana!  No wind - just perfect conditions!  So, I got back to work on my garden area.  Gardening in the desert is not easy task.  Below, I'm sinking posts for a totally enclosed garden and there is also metal lathe (cheaper than hardware cloth) that runs two feed down all the way around the garden so the small rodents can't dig under and get in.  Chicken wire is not satisfactory, as some of the critters can easily slip through those bigger holes.  Luckily, we got big rains two or three weeks back, so the ground was soft to dig a trench.

The garden isn't huge, but should get me started and I think I should be able to grow quite a bit.  It's about 16 feet by 12 feet and 6 feet tall.  It will have to be completely enclosed with hardware cloth - sides and top to keep birds and rodents out.  I've been prepping the soil in this area for a few months.  It is set right behind the chicken coop.  That way in the fall, I can let the chickens into the garden when it gets late in the season, they can have lots of treats and they'll fertilize it.

I also started a compost bin and that sits right behind the garden next to where the gate will be.  I got some old pallets and put in some alfalfa that got scattered and had been sitting in the feed area of my horse for over a year.  The bottom layers were already composting and turning a dark brown.  On top of that, I put some remnants of our juicing.  We juice over 25 lbs. of organic carrots a week, so we have tons of fruit and veggie pulp to put on the compost pile.

The chickens found their way in it and had a great time.  No problem as they'll just leave their own "stuff" and that will speed up the compost process even more!

Below you can see the posts for the garden.  I'll be planting in mid to late March.

Just a different view.  I really hope it works this time!  I have tried to grow things 3 seasons in a row and have been unsuccessful, but I'm going the extra mile this time! 

It's MLK day today, and I'm working but gearing up for midday Wednesday when we take off in the motorhome!  We have new neighbors and they are WONDERFUL!  Nice family and the two kids (11 and 13 years old) are soooo excited to take care of the chickens and gather eggs while we are gone.  It's so good having nice folks who you like and can trust with your stuff.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hodgepodge Post

This was a great weekend and 2011 is turning out to be great.  I've put a lot of intention into it and so far, so good.  First off, Sherman the Boxer graduated!  He is officially a "ranch dog", ha ha.  Being that he is over 9 years old and chases EVERYTHING in sight, I didn't think there was any way he could be around my chickens without killing them.  But, I guess after seeing them through the fence every day for over 2 months, he has figured out they belong here!  Yesterday, I took him out on leash while they were out free ranging and I couldn't believe he just acted as if he cared less.  More interested in playing with sticks than chasing chickens.  I was out there all afternoon and he was perfect with them and I feel confident that another dog or coyote will not get to them while he is out there while they are free ranging.  Yay!  It was great to see.

Above, Sherman is not so sure about Jack puffing up on him.  Trying to ignore him, I think and pretending he doesn't see him!

Above, Sherman more interested in playing with the little stick he found and this time, Jack is not so sure about Sherman.

Below, I put Sherman in the coop run with the chickens - "let me out, mom!"

We also started to take the roof off that the "hired help" started.  Boy, they made a mess of it.  We are going to roof and finish the whole shop ourselves.  Got the walls trued up, and the roof removed.  It was a good start.

Below, is my omen for a great garden this year.  It will be my 4th year trying and growing a garden in the desert is very hard, but I think I have the recipe!  The chicken manure will really help.  I had to dig a 2 foot trench all the way around the garden area where I will put hardware cloth to prevent the rodents from digging under and in.  While I was just finishing up the trench, I saw this lone lady bug just sitting on the desert soil where I piled it up. It's my good luck lady bug!

No pictures, but I also got the RV ready for a trip we're taking in about a week and a half.  We're going for 4 days to Quartszite, AZ.  We dry camp (we have solar and are self contained) out on BLM land and it's really nice.  They have the biggest swap meet in the country every year.  It's a lot of fun and we're looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Need Some Feedback, Please!

There's a lot of background to this, so I'll try and make it short.  For those of you who don't know, I was vegetarian for about 13 years, vegan for 7 or so and now although mostly vegan, I do dabble in some raw organic butter, cheese and sometimes my wonderful, fresh, chicken eggs!  I became vegetarian many years ago when I heard about the modern meat industry, factory farming and the inhumane conditions in which animals were and are raised in.  So, I stopped eating meat for ethical reasons, then it became for health and even environmental reasons (again in response to the factory farming, not the small time rancher or homesteader).  I have nothing against people eating meat in general.  It's mostly about what meat people eat and how the animals are raised and the deplorable conditions in which most animals live their short existence. 

So, here is the making of my dilemma. 

Part 1. My dogs eat meat.  And, I'm now having to buy factory farmed meat at the grocery store for them because I certainly can't afford to feed 3 dogs on Southern California's "Whole Foods Market" organic meat prices.  I don't know anyone in the desert who raises many animals except a friend who does raise sheep but even that is too expensive as she has to buy all the hay and grain since there is no pasture in the desert. I did feed them her meat for a while, but with a third dog now, it's too expensive.  I'm not going to buy commercial dog food as I think the quality is illness producing for dogs over time. 

Part 2. I want to hatch some chickens to have some more layers and have the experience of watching chicks grow. 

Now I get to the heart of my dilemma...  My chicks will consist of a lot of ROOSTERS!  My mom grew up on a farm and said she would come up and "do the deed"  when the roosters get to the age where they can be killed.  Rationally, when I turn the feeler off, I say to myself that that would be a nice solution to the dog food problem - I could have more layers, feed my dogs organic, healthy meat that came from "happy chickens" and even give or sell a few birds to friends around here.  Then the feeler kicks in and I feel terrible and guilty.  But, the rational side yells, "but you're doing it any way every time you buy meat from the supermarket and that's much worse!!".  Obviously, I can't have my mom come up every time I want a rooster killed, ha ha.  So, I'm having this ethical, spiritual, emotional dilemma!  Can I do it?  What would I feel like after I killed them?  How attached would I become?  How do you NOT get attached... or is that wrong  - to detach?  Is this okay?  I guess this is what happens when you get a kid who grew up in the city loving every animal who came her way.  Now, I'm seeing that life behind the scenes isn't so pretty and choices aren't so easy. 

I would love your feedback regarding my confusion.  I think it will really help me!  Also, would love to hear the experiences of people who have gone through or go through this as part of their life.  Thank you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Great Start to a New Year!

I had a great 1st.  Woke up and had some leisure time with coffee and caught up on blogs.  Then went and rode Mickey and "played" (term used loosely) a game of polo.  We had a great ride and even though it was cold, there was no wind and the sun was out.  Then, I went and let the chickens out free range since I was going to be working around and in the coop.  They had a great time picking at all the fresh grasses that have come up from the previous rains we had.

Below is a picture of my Easter Egger named "Tutu Evans".  If you remember, I bought her and a Plymouth Barred Rock and they didn't have all their feathers in and had to be separated from the rest of the girls.  They are holding their own now, and Tutu Evans has grown up to be quite pretty!  Neither of the new ones are laying yet, but it won't be long

Below Jack looking handsome as always.  I had to do some changing of their feeders.  I have been going through feed (and I get organic feed and it's not cheap) like crazy and realized that I'm feeding all the desert's rodents as well.  Small chipmunk type critters are getting in and during the day I found a squirrel as well!  So, I have hung the outside feeder and then even remove that when they go in to roost at night and put it in their bin where I keep their loose feed.  The other feeder in the coop I mounted up on the wall where the chickens can reach it, but not the rodents.  I think it will work well.  Hoping I'll get many more days out of my feed bags now!

Below is Miss Osie, the Plymouth Barred Rock I got with Tutu Evans.  I'm so excited for both of them to start laying.  I'm going to hatch some of Miss Osie's eggs because I read that a Barred Plymouth Rock hen crossed with a Rhode Island Red rooster will give you  "Black Rocks" - a beautiful bird and a good layer.  Mostly black with some red markings.  That's one of the projects I'll do in spring and I'm hoping one of my hens will go broody then so I can raise them naturally.

Below you can see before my homemade feeder is just sitting on the ground.  Learning curve - I guess it's a no brainer the rodents came to get meals!  I have it suspended well now and I'm confident it will just be for the chickens.  They are also spilling less now when they eat.

The other project I started yesterday was my garden.  This will be the 4th year I'll have tried.  But, I am very confident now.  I saw a woman's garden who has done it successfully and saw what she did.  She told me she went almost two feet down with hardware cloth and the entire structure is also enclosed by hardware cloth.  Although a little costly, it's the ONLY way to keep birds and rodents out while having a desert garden.  Yesterday, I got the two foot holes dug for the posts.  The garden is going to be 16' x 12'.  Not huge, but enough to grow a decent amount.  The garden will share a fence with the chicken run and I will make a little door for them to go in and eat up and forage for when one season is spent and I'm getting ready to plant for the next.  I also have been tossing the chicken manure in the soil for the last two months so I think it will be well fertilized.  Wish me luck!

For dinner, we had black eyed peas and lots of other tasty things to ring in luck and prosperity for the New Year!

Tutu Evans and Miss Osie.

Miss Broody is still broody.  I feel so bad - she really wants to be a momma!  But, dang, it's too early in the year and too cold! 

A little sign I got for Christmas.  Fun.