Sunday, July 29, 2012

working title

Sorry for the gap in entries.  Still missing our camera, so this will be another text-only post.

In the week since our last post, we've gotten a fair amount of rain.  Almost every day, there has been a lot of cloud buildup, and while not everyone has gotten rain everyday, it has precipitated somewhere in the area almost everyday this week.

So the desert is as green as it gets, chock full of flora and fauna.

We recently completed our chicken tractor and put the meat birds in for finishing.  The tractor has a footprint of about 50 inches by 16 feet, and is entirely made of steel.  The main body is welded cattle panels, with angle steel reinforcing the center against sag.  The whole framework is wrapped stem to stern in chicken wire, with a 4x4' door panel for access.  It doesn't have its wheels on yet, so it makes a good harrow to drag around.

The birds are all six weeks old, and the meaties will be ready for the freezer in four weeks or less.

We've also finally started setting tile in our bathroom.  We've been sitting on the tiles for months now, and have bought and returned a couple of incorrect items -- a mastic that needed an additive not sold in our area, a premixed mastic that turned out to be much cheaper at another store -- and we still need to figure out if we will use the grout that we have.  

But the important thing is that we have one wall tiled! And it looks great!  Although on the next wall, we will be more diligent in randomizing the tiles.  We had a few too-similar tiles end up too close together.

A few projects are in the planning stages and hopefully we will begin working on them in a few weeks.

The biggest one on the list is routing electricity and water around the homestead.  This will mean purchasing a whole lot of wire and speedy-line. We will also need to rent a machine to dig a trench from the workshop, to the barn, and to the house.

Part of that project will be getting at least one big tank, maybe two, and setting it/them on the north side of the workshop for rain catchment.

We are also eager to install an evaporative cooler in our house, and we think we may have found just the right one for our little 300 square foot space.

Building a porch has been on the To-Do List forever, but recently has made its way closer to the top of that list.

And there is so much more, but we can cross those bridges when we get there...

Thanks for reading :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rain, Mud, Stuck

Had a few adventures yesterday....

Made a small shopping trip south in the AM, then went to visit Diamond Dave and Pepper.  All the dogs had fun, and played in the mud puddles while humans stuck their heads under various autos' hoods.

Then headed up farther north to look at a new friend's broken-down Subaru.  It's hard to be out here in the desert without a vehicle, so we wanted to help as much as possible. Unfortunately we had to give our friend some bad news about the timing belt jumping a tooth or two. 

We headed home at dusk, but made the mistake of trying the back road.  Thanks to the recent rain, the road is a mud pit.  We made it about a mile or so while the road was dry, but hit the first mud patch and got stuck fifty feet in.

After some hooting and hollering, we hoofed it back to a customer's house and made a distress call to our good friend Terry. In typical chivalric style, he came and got us and brought us back home.

We're headed out now to try and yank the old girl out of the mud and back onto dry land.  Bringing the backup camera, so we'll post photos of our embarrassing episode soon.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rain & Pizza

Quite an exciting day yesterday. We ran around the ranch doing automotive repair, then came home and hosted a small pizza party for our friends and neighbors.

Suffered a loss, though, as my camera crashed onto the rock floor and bit the dust. We'll probably send it to Canon for repair, if possible. But that means that there are no photos of our friends eating pizza, and no photos of the big rain storm that crashed the party.

It was a good, strong storm, but since our rain gauge bit it in the hailstorm, we did not get a measurement of rainfall.  Enough to start the creeks running and flood the road in spots.  The storm also brought the temperature plummeting, so everyone was freezing cold in tank tops and shorts.

We've had a few sprinkles this past week, but it was nice to finally get hit with a full rainstorm.  Everything is greening up and new growth is everywhere!

Last photo before she bit the dust.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Desert in Bloom

The bug bloom is huge right now, thanks to the return of the rainy season. The cone-nose bug above wanted to get into the house and eat us, but was out of luck thanks to the magic of window screens and silicone caulk. The yellow-ball flowers are from a whitethorn acacia.  They are quite common in our area, and easy to spot when in bloom, thanks to their bright, safety-yellow flowers.  And the chubby caterpillar will grow up to be a sphynx moth, after pupating underground for a couple of weeks.

Can I go to work with you?

Although the area is pretty quiet during the summer, we've been plenty busy with solar work. But it is nice to go into town and have some fun during the summer, when all the turistos have checked out until cooler weather.  Just last night we had a blast celebrating our dear friend Debbie's birthday. Nothing proves true friendship like standing up in a bar and singing karaoke in front of friends and strangers.

Gypsy Jess belts out 'Just a Girl' at La Kiva.

Also managed to carve out some time for a bit of landscaping, or more specifically Xeriscaping. Just some pretty rocks and a few cacti for now, but we're far from done.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012


We're back from a long weekend spent relaxing and adventuring at the Chinati Hot Springs, five hours away in Ruidosa, Texas.  We'll be posting an album of photos from the trip on our Facebook Page, if you want to see more of this gorgeous area.

We had a great time and met so many wonderful new friends. Strong and sassy West Texas gals Maddie and Sierra kept the whole operation running like clockwork while the full-time managers took a vacation of their own. We look forward to seeing Maddie around Alpine, where she has just bought the old Richie Hotel next to Murphy St. Raspa Co. and La Yarda.

Geologist lovebirds David and Stephanie found their way to Chinati all they way from Fort Worth, and seemed to be loving the every minute of their stay in the Big Bend.

David and Stephanie promised to come visit us in Terlingua soon, and were curious about acquiring property in the region.  They already have the smarts, the skills, and the passion to thrive out here ... just need to work out some details!

While in Presidio, we stopped to check out the High School's very large PV array. We wanted to see the famous Big Ol' Battery (BOB) which is supposed to supplement the overextended power grid in the Big Bend, but it wasn't as easy to find as we had thought.

The Presidio rocketry team also recently had the great distinction of being selected to have their project sent to the International Space Station via the Dragon spacecraft in September:

Presidio High School Student Project Will Fly To NASA’s International Space Station

The rocketry team participated in a NASA launch of a different kind back in 2010:

We also made our first trip to Mexico (I know, we should be ashamed that we've been here three years and this was our first trip) where there was much to see -- including lots of flags, fliers, posters, and other political ads for the recent federal elections.

It is a little disappointing to see the PRI back in power, but we can hope that their strong-arm political tactics are behind them.  In any event, the people have spoken.  Democracy can be messy, but that's kind of the point.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot springs oasis

We're celebrating our 1 year anniversary at the Chinati Hot Springs in Ruidosa, TX.

We'll be offline until Monday, possibly longer.

There will be lots of photos, so stay tuned.   :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

snake eyes

Been an exciting day so far. In case we had forgotten that it is now the rainy season, nature scheduled a few reminders.

First thing in the morning, we spotted another viper.
This one is a western diamondback, with very pretty markings. Just two feet long with seven buttons (do you count the first, the black one?).

Our chicks are doing well, and this Friday they will be four weeks old.  That's almost halfway to slaughter, for the meaties.

Foxy Lady has accepted her large brood amiably. She has gotten so large now herself, that we worry she may break a leg.

And the rain has been wonderful.  We got a solid rain yesterday evening, a light sprinkle this morning, and another downpour began around 2:30 this afternoon.

Even more rain may be in our future, and we're hopeful for an exciting and lush rainy season.

Desert Marigold

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rain Snake

Rainy Rattlesnake
Currently sprinkling here, with some thunder and lightning.

Went out to get some rain photos and found this oddly patterned little rattler.

Some say it's a baby Mojave. Some say it's a full-grown Desert Massasauga.

Monday, July 2, 2012


This morning we were stunned to find that the fox (undoubtedly the same one that perpetrated the Massacre) had tried to break into the coop again!

And he/she was REALLY working hard!

The main hole dug by the front door was five feet long. 
After inspecting the paw prints in the dirt piles and the scratches on the stucco, we're pretty sure the varmint is a fox.  

If anyone else has experience and wants to share an opinion, feel free to comment.  
Soon we'll have a wifi camera on the coop, so we'll have definitive proof.

Three other, smaller holes were attempted on the back side, but there was no chance at all of breaking in by digging. Presidio Gallena flipped that fox the bird.