January 18, 2012

Signs of The Money Pit?

Oh my, it is getting worse...

Tomorrow I am off grocery shopping in Tucson, and after the car is unloaded the trenches across the driveway will be dug. Most of the water pipe is in, Dan will do electrical to the barn and shop/shed tomorrow.

January 17, 2012

Pruning day

It was blustery and cold yesterday, but I had a great time outside. My friend Phil came all the way from Las Cruces, New Mexico to give me a lesson in pruning fruit trees. I had done my best last year to give the trees every opportunity to set fruit, but frankly, I had botched the job. Pruning is not something that is easily learned from a book or the internet. It takes a professional, with hopefully some teaching skills, to get you on the correct path. Thankfully, Phil is both (ex)pro and teacher.

Because of all the explanations, and because the trees were a bit out of hand, it took most of the day to prune the orchard: 3 peach trees, 3 apples, 3 pears, an apricot, a fig, an Italian plum, an Arizona walnut and a pecan. And 4 mistreated grapevines.

A peach tree before.


And the result.

I look forward to seeing my gorgeous little trees set bloom and leaf, and perhaps we may see a little fruit this year. If not, there's always next year.

January 15, 2012

Could it be?

It is Wings Over Willcox weekend, the annual birding festival in our nearby town. People come from all over the US to do some birdwatching in this valley because it is a birder's paradise. We regularly see all manner of raptors and song sparrows, but prominently featured during WOW are the sandhill cranes who overwinter here. They roost in the Playa and feed in the now harvested corn fields.

Today our cycling assignment called for standing intervals which require some hills, so we set out for Dragoon. We had barely gone 15 minutes when we were treated to a magnificent flyover by hundreds of cranes. We admired their formations and beautiful cries, but continued cycling. Then we noticed that our cadence counters on our cycle computers stopped functioning as the birds flew over. Could it be that some of them carried transmitters that interfered with ours?

Seeing the cranes made the ride, which is always enjoyable, very special.

January 13, 2012

Plumbing project

Most of the trenches have been dug, so we set out to buy plumbing parts this morning. It will take dozens of connections, some of which were not bought in spite of a comprehensive list, and more than 500 feet of pipe. There are still 6 frost-free faucets on order.

The guy at the hardware place accurately guessed that we live more than 10 miles away (it's actually 30 miles, one way). I wonder how many more shopping trips this project will take. It is the nature of plumbing projects.

And all this without the new conduit and electrical wire to shop/shed. That's next, before the trenches are filled in.

January 12, 2012


Why, oh why, are dogs' lives so short?

Today Zach passed away. He was not my dog, but belonged in Dan's family. I loved seeing him on family visits and loved loving him. That boy could soak it up like no other dog I have ever met.

I will so miss him.

January 11, 2012

Do over

The beginning of a new year: always a good time to make plans for the upcoming seasons. What improvements should we make to the ranch so that we will be able to live here when we are old and feeble (heaven forbid), what to plant in the garden this spring and fall, what are the cycling plans?

It helped that a leak appeared in our underground watering system to the barn to kick it all off in style. Project #1: replace all water pipes from the house to the other buildings. One cannot foresee everything, I suppose, and when we moved from the city to the country we had no clear vision or experience in how to optimize outdoor watering schemes. Now we do.

So deep trenches are being dug with Tonka Toy, the little digger one of our neighbors owns, bigger diameter pipe will be laid, and frost proof faucets will be installed. It will be great and wonderful.

Meanwhile, there is no water other than at the house, so we pulled hoses to the barn because carrying buckets would be a real chore, and horses drink a lot. Thankfully the garden and the orchard do not need a lot of irrigation right now, and I can carry the chicken founts from the house to the coop.

It looks like a disaster right now, but after the new plumbing is installed and the walkways repaired and re gravelled, we will be set for the rest of our lives. As far as water to the outbuildings is concerned that is.