December 29, 2013

My favorite wash

Another hike out the back gate. It is a little longer than most, a little over 7 miles, but very doable before lunch and it is so worth it. The wash is beautiful, with varied plant life, birds, a natural bee hive (unfortunately every year there appear to be fewer bees in it), and it has amazing rocks.

It is obvious that there used to be a lot more water going through it as the walls are quite high and there is evidence of small waterfalls.

We scrambled out where the walls were not too imposing and bushwhacked our way to a hill top and down to one of the forest roads home.

December 26, 2013

The day after Christmas

The weather being beautiful and feeling the need for some activity after a wonderful and delicious Christmas, we took on Deer Saddle (so named by me to differentiate it from all the other hills "out back"). It is a short hike, but a tough little number that, at least in my case, involves going forward on all fours in a few spots.

The view from the saddle is spectacular. The Cochise Stronghold is right before you, and from the hill east of the saddle there is a nice view of our valley. We both took pictures, but mine do not convey the grandness of the landscape nor the steepness of the climb. The whole thing is only a little over 5 miles round trip. Leftovers were waiting for lunch at home.

December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to all

From our house to yours ...

December 19, 2013

Natural Bridge (Chiricahua National Monument)

Over the years we have done this hike a couple of times, always in the winter because the trail is very exposed and would be hot in the summer. For some reason I come here in honor of my dad, whose birthday would have been this coming Saturday. He would be 104 years old. Whew! He never visited us in Arizona (he passed away in 1996, long before this adventure), but except for the elevation changes of the trail (he was a flatlander after all), he would have liked it here. It is very, very quiet.

The hike is at the beginning of the Monument, where the rock formations are not as spectacular as further in, but the photos should give an impression. It is the only trail where dogs are allowed, so there we go.

A tarantula enjoying a bit of sun.

In 2011 the Chiricahuas, including the Monument, burnt long and hard, which is one reason we have avoided the place lately. Evidence of the fire are everywhere, and the pines in the valley at the end of the hike are almost all gone except for the very end. Mom is working on the repairs however, and there were new grasses and small little pines already growing.

We had lunch at trail's end, at the view of the Natural Bridge, and it was a grand day.

December 15, 2013

This morning

The last couple of weeks it has been cold on the bike, a persistent northwesterly wind blowing which also means a headwind the entire (uphill) way home. Today would have been fine as there is little wind, but yesterday we had already decided to go for a little walk instead.

Just out the back of our property and around Blacktail. It had been awhile, and it is always a nice hike. Dan brought the new tripod, I took my trusty point-and-shoot.

We found the place well-trashed by cattle here and there. It does make you wonder about the Forest Service giving out grazing permits in a desert. But oh, I forgot, their motto is Land of Any Uses. It takes about 10 years for nature here to restore itself. Hope for rain, and keep those cows off.

Sunrise over Blacktail.

On the backside, Dan taking a shot (see his website).

Em, the Ham.

December 12, 2013

I am just a country girl

We went to get hay this morning, which makes me feel like a rancher. This means a trip to Willcox, 30 miles away, and even though there is not a dedicated Starbucks, there is "coffee" for on the way home.

December 11, 2013

Horse water

In the spirit of continuous improvement, we addressed the issue of providing water to the horses.

Over the years we have had a number of schemes, from having plastic garbage cans, which are difficult to clean and waste a lot of water, to smaller buckets with floats, which were also difficult to clean but wasted less water unless the float was stuck, which happened frequently.

The smaller buckets also froze, so we hauled water in the winter. This was not that big of a deal as we have water plumbed to the barn, but may become more of a problem when we are "old".

So we went for the gusto: the Cadillac of horse founts: Ritchie. There are two of them, both provide water at either end. One fount is shared between Cody and Buggs, the other one is between the arena and Bueno.

Thanks to Dave, our neighbor, for loaning us his Tonka Toy to dig new trenches. Next came running new water lines and electrical as these founts have a thermostat to keep them ice free. I am so grateful that Dan knows how to do all this stuff and does it well to boot.

Today we set the forms for the base, made and poured concrete, and this afternoon we installed the founts. I thought the horses would be all over them to check them out, but it was as if they already knew and had quite frankly expected nothing less. What took us so long to do it right anyway?

December 6, 2013

First snow

We had a day of rain again. Lovely! I am serious! There is a world of difference between a day of rain and 6 months of drizzle, or close to drizzle. I spent the day inside, putting up some Christmas decorations. It got cold overnight, in the 20's as a matter of fact, and this morning there was a wisp of snow on Mt Glenn.  But we are back to sun, so I spent the morning outside and Dan hung the outside Christmas lights.

December 2, 2013

Garden cleanup

After last week's rain we got some frost. Not enough to damage the winter greens, but the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil are toast. Today is a gorgeous day, shirtsleeves on December 2, and a perfect one to do some cleanup before other projects demand our time.

Even Shawna joined me for awhile outside.

Still some tomatoes and peppers for human consumption. The rest went to the chickens.

I did not think it worthwhile to show photos of the "before", so here are just some "after" ones. If major frost threatens all I need to do is throw some frost cover over the beds.