What’s New?

Well this little creature for one thing ~IMG_20160526_074238It’s probably a long-tailed weasel. Jason got pretty close when he took this picture and the weasel wasn’t at all afraid. After reading about these guys it was Jason who should have been afraid! On DesertUSA it says that this cute animal is known as, “nature’s psychopath.” Apparently they’re vicious predators. Still, we felt very lucky to see this one on our morning walk around the land. The males usually stake out an area of about 40 acres for their territory and we only have 16 acres. Of course it would be best if they don’t stake out any territory too near us since they do this by dragging their body over a firm surface which causes their anal glands to release a “…strong, foul, musky odor…”. Um…no thanks!

The Bluebird eggs still haven’t hatched. Jason waits for the mom to fly away and peeks at them sometimes.

We’ve gone to Santa Fe a couple of times. I love the sorbet at Ecco! They always have new flavors. Jason likes the watermelon, but my favorite was sangria.

Red berry & Mango. Yum!

Red berry & Mango. Yum!

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That sorbet was almost as good as the real sangria at Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saw bunnies again in Santa Fe. These two were behind a fence on the lawn of a high school for the arts. Young people are often out front dancing!FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender[1]

 

 

 

 

Jason’s surgery still hasn’t been scheduled. He’s doing fine though, eating healthy, resting and trying not to work too hard.IMG_0262[1]

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Here he's fixing a hoe in his pajamas!

Here he’s fixing a hoe in his pajamas!

 

 

Jason did get that big rock over to the house site. I like it because now I can always see where the front door will be some day!IMG_0270[1]

The well house is almost finished.

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Yesterday I stapled in hardware cloth to keep mice out. Then Jason put up the plywood walls. So now it’s even closer to being finished!

The blue thing in the well house is the pressure tank. There’s a plastic diaphragm in there that’s pushing down on the water and keeps it between 40 and 60 PSI. The big excitement was when Jason turned the water on at the well house and it came out at the pipes near the Tin Can and at the garage site. So it actually works! On Thursday we took some of the water to Santa Fe to be tested. I tested it myself and it tasted great to me!

Our neighbor dug the leach line for the septic tank and used the back hoe to push the rocks we bought into the trench. Now there are 2 1/2 feet of rocks in the trench. Next Jason will put in the pipes. First there will be 20 feet of four inch solid pipe. Then there will be 130 feet of four inch perforated pipe.

Remember my trenches? His are a lot straighter ~ but then he is a professional!

Remember my trenches? His are a lot straighter ~ but then he is a professional!

Our food is holding out – except for the fresh vegetables. The little fridge isn’t doing too well since it’s warmed up a bit. I actually had to throw away some broccoli and a few mushrooms this week. That hurt since it takes almost an hour to get to the store and organic vegetables cost about $1,000 each. I can see a vegetable patch is going to be pretty much a necessity out here! IMG_2833[1]

I did make a good dessert one day. It isn’t exactly one of the glorious banana puddings (Nilla Wavers!) of my youth, but for a healthy dessert it was yummy. (Just silken tofu, Kite Hill almond milk cream cheese, coconut extract, agave and a banana with a sprinkle of sucanat on top. Baked in the microwave for six minutes.) I’m trying to make sure Jason eats enough protein during this wait for his surgery so we’ve been having a lot of sneaky tofu!

Lucky is doing very well. Yesterday he rode in the back of the pick-up for the first time. I was going to walk to the trench, but at the last minute I decided to hop in the back myself. Good thing! Lucky was so scared he was shaking. I had to hold him on my lap until we got across the field. On the way back he was pretty relaxed though. I guess he’s starting to become a little bit more of a country dog. (But he’s still our baby!)IMG_2832[1]IMG_0276[1]IMG_0297[1]Here’s one last new thing ~ we have new driver’s licenses! I think I look depressed (I’m not). Jason thinks he looks weird (no comment). I guess we’re really going to stay awhile!IMG_2889[1]

 

Stories with no pictures ~ Pictures with no stories

Sometimes things happen that don’t fit into the theme of a particular post and sometimes I get frustrated with my formatting and don’t add all the photos I had intended to include. So this is just a catch up entry where I can note a few occurrences, make corrections and add some photos.

Occurrences:

  1. One day, when Jason and I were on our way back from Las Vegas, a huge rattlesnake crossed the highway right in front of us. It was 4 1/2 – 5 feet long and taking its time.
  2. On our next trip to Las Vegas we saw two trucks pulled over by the side of the road. Two men were outside chatting near the trucks. As they spoke one man casually reached into a grocery bag, pulled out a huge rattlesnake and tossed it into a field. It was very much alive.
  3. Apparently the hotel where we stay in Santa Fe is haunted. When we had the car serviced the guy who drove Jason from the dealership back to the hotel mentioned that his niece works at the Drury. She showed him a video she took with her phone of small objects, a spoon and a salt shaker, moving around by themselves. Jason asked the guy if his niece was scared, but he said, “No. For us that kind of stuff is sort of expected.” He’s Zuni. The hotel used to be a hospital.

Corrections:

  1. Nine mile hill does not gradually rise for nine miles. It rises for six miles. The hill starts at the nine mile marker outside of Las Vegas.
  2. There are not “guys” at Floyd’s. There is only Floyd. I was confused because another customer was in the shop on the day Jason was there and weighed in on the probability of Jason being able to haul the trailer with the Ditch Witch up nine mile hill.
  3. Night doesn’t always fall hard here. Lately it takes forever to get dark. I’ve fallen asleep twice while it was still light. Also we don’t marvel at the stars every night. Sometimes it’s cloudy ~ but the clouds are interesting and beautiful!
  4. I now think it’s funny that I cheerfully wrote, “I think the bathroom will be the first project!” That makes it sound like we were putting in some new tile or a sink or something. I had no idea what is actually involved in getting water out of the ground and to the point where it comes out of a faucet with the twist of a handle. I also had no idea what was involved in getting the water you don’t want anymore to go away.

Photos, etc.:

Here’s an example of my last point. Three times Jason and I have gone out to “shoot elevations.” I’m not sure what we were doing exactly, I just held a tape measure in different locations – near the septic tank, on top of the septic tank and in two places far from the septic tank. One time Jason bent the tape measure, one time he attached it to a huge, long piece of wood that kept trying to blow over and the last time the tape measure was normal. The first time Jason set the thing that looks like a camera (he says it’s a transit) on the electrical box and complained that he didn’t bring his tripod. The second time he set the transit on his truck and complained that he didn’t bring his tripod. The third time he had built a tripod and he didn’t complain. After we do this he makes notes like this:

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This is just a small part of getting a flush toilet. Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn’t just keep the outhouse!

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The orange is some kind of Desert Paintbrush. We have the most of these!

Flowers ~ I don’t remember there being so many flowers on the land. Maybe I wasn’t here at the right time or maybe I just wasn’t looking!

 

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The bluebirds haven’t hatched yet, but we did discover that there are hummingbirds out here. I had just decided there weren’t any living on the land when one showed up! Now we’ve seen a few!

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This bluebird decided to sit on the tripod Jason built!

This bluebird decided to sit on the tripod Jason built!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food ~ I went about $10.00 over budget for food this month. Next month will be more challenging because I’m subtracting that $10.00 and I’m pretty much out of wine! We did have some good meals this month. Guess which plate is from the night Jason cooked dinner!

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(Did you guess Jason made the quesadillas? That’s right! Haha)

 

Clouds ~ I love the clouds!

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It really looked like a giant ghost!

 

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And then there’s Lucky ~

He actually had to go to some bother to get the pillows exactly like this!

He actually had to go to some bother to get the pillows exactly like this!

 

Bad news & Birds

So here it is May 17th. It’s in the mid-40’s, there’s an icy rain falling and Jason is outside building this:

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Lucky’s scrapes are almost healed, but he started licking one. That’s why he has to wear the blue collar.

It’s a little house for the well. It will be insulated so the water in the pipes won’t freeze and it will have a door so Jason can check the pressure gauge and get inside to fix things. I helped pour the concrete pad!

Mostly I just mixed concrete. It was fun. It reminded me of baking!

Mostly I just mixed concrete. It was fun. It reminded me of baking!

First it looked like this...

First it looked like this…

... then it looked like this!

… then it looked like this!

 

 

 

We poured a pad for the hot water heater too. This will have its own little house too.
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Last week the septic tank was delivered. The guy who brought this over makes them himself. It weighs 6,000 pounds!

It's the septic tank!

Jason and I had fun walking around on top of the tank. It came with a filter that has to be cleaned once a year. I thought it was a pretty fancy thing to be hidden in a huge concrete box!

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Here’s the filter!

This cool truck set the box down like it was as light as a feather ~ and exactly in the right spot!

This cool truck set the box down like it was as light as a feather ~ and exactly in the right spot!

Next week our neighbor will come over with his backhoe and dig the trench for the leach line. It will be about four feet deep and about 150 feet long. Twenty feet of that is just to get the leach field away from the septic tank. The rest will be covered with gravel, but only 2/12 feet deep. Then we’ll put in four inch perforated pipe. At that point the inspector, Kandee, will come out. If everything’s good we’ll cover the pipe with more gravel. Then we’ll cover the gravel with a filter fabric and dirt. At this point we’ll need to get the Ditch Witch again and dig two trenches to the garage/guest room and to the house site. I don’t know what’s after this and I don’t want to ask Jason. Every time I say, “Yay! And then we will have a real toilet!” He says, “No. We still have to…” So apparently there’s even more to it than all of this! Stay tuned…

We’ve pulled some big weeds and cacti and trimmed some dead branches off of trees over the past week. This all got brought up to the shed for a compost pile. We’ve had a food waste compost bin for awhile now.

...Jason made the bin in about five minutes!

Jason made this bin in about five minutes!

The bad news is Jason is back in atrial fibrillation. He was diagnosed with a-fib about a year ago and had a cardio inversion. The cardiologist said that this procedure might not correct the condition for long, so neither of us was terribly surprised that his heart is irregular again.

We found a good doctor at the nearby Mora Valley Community Heath Services clinic. He’s from the San Francisco Bay Area! He heard the a-fib right away and referred Jason to a heart specialist in Santa Fe. Jason met with the cardiologist yesterday and will go back for an echocardiogram on Thursday. It looks like Jason will be having an operation called a mini maze pretty soon. We’re trying to get the water and toilet in before he has the procedure. Having to use an outhouse while recovering from surgery seems a bit much!

A-fib is supposed to make people tired and I guess Jason has had a bit less energy than usual. Still, it’s amazing he’s gotten so much done and he’s as cheerful as ever! He was very happy to discover this creature the other day.

Some kind of horned lizard?

Some kind of horned lizard?

We made another discovery recently. I kept telling Jason that I heard something in the Tin Can bathroom area. It was like a crunching sound. Once, when I was washing up, it was so loud and close that I tossed my shower gel and ran out of the room. That caused Jason to investigate, but he didn’t see anything. Then one night he heard the sound and decided it was under the trailer. I said, “What kind of stupid animal would move in under the Tin Can?” I wasn’t trying to insult the animal, but there’s 16 acres and a shed to hide in so why would anything want to move in right below us ~ especially when there’s a dog living in the Tin Can?

Jason said, “Well it’s either mice or a chucho. That’s all we’ve seen.”

It was birds making a nest!

It was birds making a nest!

imageThis explains why Lucky didn’t seem to be concerned. He doesn’t care about birds. I think he knows by now that there’s no point in chasing them! The bird was certainly not stupid either. I mean if you were an egg-eating predator would you know that there’s a nest in here? The birds had to fly up under the Tin Can to get to a flat area in between the bumper and the trailer. To see the nest you have to open the section where the yellow wire is coming out. We’re resisting looking at the nest and waiting to hear some little peeps!

 

The Internet, the Pump & the Treasures

IMG_0235Here are the treasures! We pulled these rocks out of the septic tank pit and from the dirt piles.

Here I am climbing on the dirt piles looking for rocks.

Here I am climbing on the dirt piles looking for rocks…

...and in the pit!

…and in the pit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture makes the pit look deeper than it is – it’s only seven feet deep. However, I should mention that one should never venture into an unsupported pit more than four feet deep. It could cave in and bury you! I only got to do it because Jason was watching. I was surprised to see a mole peek out of a hole in the pit. It must have moved in right after the pit was dug because moles don’t live seven feet under the ground.

This is the biggest rock we found. We tried to roll it up two sticks into the back of Jason's truck, but it was too heavy. It probably weighs 250 pounds. We'll use "Come'alongs" to pull it into the truck and put it over by the house site.

This is the biggest rock we found. We tried to roll it up two sticks into the back of Jason’s truck, but it was too heavy. It probably weighs 250 pounds. Jason plans to use “Come’alongs” to pull it into the truck and put it over by the house site. What will we do with it there? Visit us when the house is finished and see for yourself!

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This is like a Ditch Witch, but it makes a very thin trench and backfills it at the same time!

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I don’t know what Antonio is doing.

Further excitement ensued when Daniel and Antonio came out from La Jicarita Rural Telephone Cooperative and laid the DSL cable and the tubing for the fiber optic cable that is coming soon. Daniel said the fiber optic is ready, but “it has to be heated up.” I don’t know what that means. I just know we’re no longer burning through lots of data! Also we don’t have to connect my phone to the computer to watch our show anymore. The internet cable is ready for the garage with guest room too. The guys who did the work were very nice. When he left Daniel explained that they had to dig one small area by hand and said, “I hope we didn’t mess up your pasture.” I never imagined I would have a pasture, but I guess I do!

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Jason put the pipes into the tripod when it was on the ground then he walked it up. The silver thing is the pump.

We’re a lot closer to having running water now! Jason dropped the pump into the well. This sounds really easy – like you just toss the pump down a hole. Of course it’s not like that at all! The well is 125 feet deep and the pump runs on electricity so you have to put the pump at the end of long pipes for the water and attach electrical wire to the pipes. Jason built a giant tripod to hold the pipes upright while he taped on the electrical wire and connected them to each other.

The tubes are 20 feet long. He wrapped the ends with Teflon tape before he screwed them together.

The pipes are 20 feet long. He used six of them.

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He’s connecting two pieces of pipe. It doesn’t smell bad. He’s just wearing a mask because he has allergies!

This si a ?. It keeps the pump from just spinning around in the well.

This is a torque arrestor. It keeps the pump from just spinning around in the well.

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Here’s he’s wrapping the end of the pipe with Teflon tape. The green, red and black wire is the wire for the electricity to the pump. He used electrical tape to tape this on every four feet.

Rope holding the tube up?

The rope attached to the stake is to help lower the pump and the pipe and can be used to pull the pipe and pump back up.

It looked cool when a tube was waiting to be attached!

It looked cool when a pipe was waiting to be attached!

All done!

All done! Easy peasy!

This was Jason’s first time installing a well pump! He used the instructions on the pump and did some research, but he also just laid awake at night thinking about the best way to do this. Pumps have a five year warranty, but most people say they get seven or eight years out of them ~ so I guess he’ll get to do this all again some day!

Of course we can’t work (or watch other people work) all the time. One day we went to Santa Fe for no reason. We didn’t do any errands or anything productive at all. We took Lucky on an interesting walk in Hillside Park. There’s a path that winds up a hill to the old location of Fort Marcy. The Fort was only in use for about 20 years and has been abandoned since 1868 so all that remains in a small dirt mound that supposed to be part of an old wall. Along the way there are plaques that tell all about the history of Santa Fe. It was good that our outing had this physical and educational component because otherwise all we did was eat!

It started with chocolate sodas and a cherry chili truffle from Kakawa.

It started with chocolate sodas and a cherry chili truffle from Kakawa.

Then I had two types of sorbet ~ pineapple and sangria! Next …

...Jason had corn from a vendor on the plaza. I just had a bite.

…Jason had corn from a vendor on the plaza. I just had a bite.

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to take some treats from Chocolatesmith back to the Tin Can.

I love their green chili pistachio bark! We also bought some mocha almond bark, a cherry chocolate, a coconut chocolate and a chocolate covered orange peel.

I love their green chili pistachio bark! We also bought some mocha almond bark, a cherry chocolate, a coconut chocolate and a chocolate covered orange peel.

 

 

Of course we had to have some real food too! We picked up burritos from Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill before we left town. Everything I’ve had from this place has been great!

They warn you that they're slow. No problem...

They warn you that they’re slow. No problem!

And people wonder what vegans eat! haha

They make a yummy Margarita too! And people wonder what vegans eat ~ haha