Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Progress at Last!

I can't believe the shop is essentially finished!  All that needs to be completed is paining the faschia.  I finished the electrical, put the trim up and we have it roofed.  We did hire a young guy to do the sheetrock while we left for the weekend.  It was great to come home and not see exposed studs and insulation any more!  So, I'm slowly starting to move my tools in.  Yay!  On Easter, I drove down to San Diego to suprise my family with a visit and my dad gave me two more tools - a nice router table with a high quality router.  I have a router, but no router table and now I can keep one handy for hand use and keep the table one set up for use without having to change the router in and out.  He also gave me a nice quality board planer!  This is cool.  Now, I can take boards and set them to whatever thickness I want and run them through the planer.  The other thing he is giving me I couldn't get in the car and I'll have to get it later.  A really nice quality Grizzly drill press.  Wow, my lucky weekend!

 I have a lot of stuff sitting on the floor right now because I need storage mounted on the walls.  I'm trying to find some kitchen cupboards from someone doing a remodel and who are getting rid of their cabinets.  I think they make much better shop storage than shelves.  So, I'm on the hunt for that!  The next thing we will start is the attached carport.  That's phase 2.  One thing at a time.

The not so baby chickens are doing great!  I can't believe they are 9 weeks old today!  Looks like I have found a home for one of the roosters and I'm working on the finding a home for the other one.  I'm waiting just a bit longer to make sure they really are roosters, but I'm pretty certain. All four are very healthy and doing great.  It's exciting to know that I'll have raised the hens from birth (well, momma hen did) and that I will have seen them all the way from being IN an egg to laying eggs!

I've started insulating the coop for the hot summer approaching.  I know - spoiled chickens!  I think they need all the help they can get.  Last summer it got up to 112 and it's hard on them.  So, I'm insulating all the walls and ceiling and hoping that will help them some.  You will really think I'm off my rocker when I tell you I saw a portable evaporative cooler (swamp cooler that uses virtually no energy and cools great in places like the desert with very low humidity) good for rooms 100sf or less for under $100.  I'm thinking of putting it in their coop, pointing the draft away from them and towards the wall and cooling their coop.  Jury is still out on that one.  
I also think I may have solved my squirrel problem.  I buy organic layer feed at $23.75 and the squirrels were feasting on it!  I bought what is basically a treadle feeder from ebay at a great price and it looks like it's working.  The squirrels are too light to open the feeder, but the chickens can.  I haven't seen a squirrel in there for a few days but here's one from about a week ago panicking and trying to find a way out of the run!

I was getting very frustrated with the garden's lack of progress with soil testing, building the structure, etc, but the last couple of days seem to be showing promise!  It has been unusually cold here this Spring and I think it just hasn't been warm enough.  We've had a week or so of warm and what did manage to sprout seem to be taking off now.  I'm gonna monitor and hopefully I'll have something worth taking pictures of very soon!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Palm Springs Tram to San Jacinto Mountains for the Weekend!!!

view towards desert floor

Sunday was Amy's birthday and instead of a gift, I decided to give a "day".  About 45 minutes down the mountain is Palm Springs, CA.  It was in the 90's on Sunday down there and in the 80's up where we live.  At the base of the San Jacinto Mountain range in Palm Springs, there is a tram that takes you up to 8500 feet in a rotating tram car.  I thought it would be fun, but we had a blast!!  The tram car had some open windows and the ride, views and experience were fantastic!  We went from mid hot desert in the mid 90's to snow and forest in less than 15 minutes.  It's just what we needed.  Surprisingly, even though a lot of people take the tram, visit the restaurant, bar and lodge on the mountain and go on the "nature walk", very few took real hikes and we saw virtually nobody while hiking.  There are miles and miles of trails and some campgrounds to hike into (no cars) and if you go far enough there are some U.S. Forestry lands with primitive back country camping available.  We hiked for almost 3 hours, lost the trail due to the snow, but went off trail heading back to the origination since we were taking a loop and did find the orignal trail.  Even though there was snow, we were able to hike in warm weather clothes cause it was almost 70 degrees.  Nice!  After spending most of the day there, we took the tram back to the desert floor and stopped by a casino in Palm Springs, spent about 15 minutes there and won about $10.  We then went to our favorite Palm Springs restaurant called "Native Foods" which is all vegan and mostly organic.  Delicious!  Came back up to our home and watched a big, beautiful almost full orange moon rise over the mountains just before sunset.  The sunset was spectacular also as there were a lot of high, thin clouds.  So, my plan to give Amy a great day was a huge success!!  For anyone who comes to visit Palm Springs, the tram is a MUST!

Approaching the Lodge

Amy during the Ride Up.

The bluest Bird I've EVER Seen!

Just Me Being Goofy.

Me Throwing a Snowball - Notice the White Blog Top Center - I Hit Her, too!

Amy Posing With the Most Pathetic Snowman Ever!! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We got the pathology results for Amy yesterday.  Melanoma.  Crap.  Stage 4 melanoma they say now and the lovely prognosis that always goes along with that.  So, that's the story.  It's a weird place to be in - being given this news about something that is supposedly lurking around a corner but knowing you have to go along as if most everything is the same and FEELING the same.  So, some talks have to be had, and some decisions made but life will just go on as usual for now.  The weather is beautiful, the chickens are growing up, the hens love the weather and are laying lots of eggs and the shop is getting the final touches.  So, I'm grateful for all that.  I'm not gonna dwell on this part of my life but will just give some updates if any changes take place.  For now, it's back to life and all that Spring in the desert entails.  I hope everyone is well!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I feel really close to being back in the swing of things!!  We are just trying to be patient regarding the pathology results and we should hear by the end of tomorrow, I hope, but one never knows.  We'll get the call when we get the call.

Spring is here!  And, in the desert that means it might be crazy windy!  Today the winds are strong and it's close to 70 degrees.  We essentially finished the shop...  all I have to do is put trim around the windows, doors and the corners where the walls meet.  The sheetrock is finished and we roofed it before Amy went into surgery.  So far, so good, as yesterday we had rain and today is windy and no leaks and no missing shingles!

I'll have inside pictures soon - I just don't have any on the computer right now.  I've started moving things in there and it's soooo nice!  I know longer have to climb over tools and things are organized.  Yay.  In a month or two, we'll put the carport up that will be attached to the side opposite of the window you see in the photo. 

The garden is doing so-so.  The weather has been so erratic.  When I planted the seeds, it was in the 70's and right after planting, dropped down to highs in the low 60s with cold nights.  Some of the seeds didn't germinate as I think it was too cold.  The kale, chard and pickling cucumbers came up along with a few beets.  So, I have started some seeds indoors.  Again, weird weather.  The highs are supposed to be in the low 50's this weekend!  Unheard of for the high desert. 

Sherman the Boxer caught his first squirrel ever after years of trying.  He was lazily walking towards the chicken coop/run after I went in the chicken run and a squirrel was in there stealing my organic chicken feed and ran out.  Well, he practically ran into Sherman's mouth and I honestly think Sherman was was pretty shocked he had caught it!  I turned my head and it was quick and there were no squirrely noises emitted.  My feed is only lasting half as long as I have a TERRIBLE squirrel problem.  But, I found an automatic feeder on ebay that is opened by weight.  It's basically a treadle feeder and the feeder is supposed to open when a chicken stands on it but not open with a squirrel's weight as they weigh much less.  I should have it in a few days.  I really hope it will do the trick and think it will!  The chickens are great but I'm worried because I have found a few "stick tight" fleas on my dogs' ears the last couple of days.  Stick tight fleas can be a real problem for chickens as they attach themselves all around the chickens' eyes and they can become swollen shut and even blinded.  I'm organic and don't want to dust my chickens with seven dust or anything toxic.  I am going to give the coop and run a good dusting with DE as I've heard that's a good preventative, but not a guarantee.  I am really hoping the chickens don't get the stick tights.  They are bad up here in the summer and looks like the season has started. 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and thank you so much for hanging in there with me while I'm going through what I'm going through!  I have loved all the comments and well wishes. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Surgery is Complete and Hope is High

First of all, thank you everyone for all the kind words, prayers and well wishes.  I'm sorry I am behind reading your blogs but do know I will be back to them soon.  Things, as you can imagine, have just been a bit crazy.  If this last week didn't give me an ulcer, I don't think anything will, ha ha.

Yesterday was Amy's surgery and her gallbladder was removed.  In light of the circumstances, I think it went very well!  They were able to do it laproscopically and she refused to stay in the hospital overnight so we are in our San Diego studio that she has to rent for her work.  The doctor said he didn't see anything else inside that looked like cancer and can't even be certain what they found in the gallbladder is cancer.  There was a "sludgy mass" about an inch or so in diameter in the gallbladder and they are sending it out to pathology and results should be in in about a week.  So, I am hoping it's not even cancer.  Wouldn't that be amazing?  My optimism is working overtime. 

So, we are heading back up to Joshua Tree today and are just going to relax this weekend. 

The shop is almost completed and I'll have a post soon of the progress.  It's being sheet rocked inside today and I get to move stuff inside this weekend!  Looking forward to a worry free, relaxing weekend.  I hope the weekend is also good for you all.