Sunday, September 4, 2016

How to ride a goat

When approaching a moat, and it's so chilly you need a coat, be sure you are atop a kick-ass goat!

I didn't actually ride her, but I did visit. This cute girl belongs to my new neighbor who finally arrived from out West. It was nice to finally meet in person after several years of blogging and a few emails. I know I'm going to learn a lot about so many things. I already learned several things about goats (including I should have taken a video of how to put the harness/leash on this girl).
Sometimes the beauty is hard to capture but I try

This storm rolled in hard and fast but didn't leave snow on the peaks.

It's been stormy most of the weekend with several hours of nice weather. We took the sunshine as an opportunity to paint the front door red, from it's yucky white. The garage is getting organized with racking and containers, already making a huge difference when trying to find a tool. Rock and I have about 7 miles of hikes done and I did a nice 4 mile high altitude run. During said run I managed to step in-between two rock and tweaked my ankle a little so I didn't run today.
Rock being sort-of patient while I take a photo

2nd meeting with the Amish neighbors dog, Rock was great.

Exhausted, both of us.
I made my first ever applesauce, didn't realize it would take so long (or use so many apples) but it ended up being tasty. Could have used some more sugar but with honey crisp apples I wanted to play it safe on the sweetness. We canned some and used some on grilled pork chops. We managed to get some more jam canned up (strawberry, blueberry, peach) and unless I run into a great deal, I think the jam season is done after all of this weekends work.
Stacking jams!
We have a lot of jam, probably 75 jars or so. Next canning will be salsa and pickles but that's a few weeks away, we have some other plans for the next couple of weekends. Since we will have a lot of salsa (think jam numbers), we are going to try and figure out different ways to use it in cooking. It wouldn't surprise me if this winter has us sitting on 50 jars of pickles but those seem to vanish faster than anything so nothing to worry about with those.

The wind has hopefully blown the clouds away so I can marvel at the heavens tonight. Amazing.

Friday, August 26, 2016

What season is it?

After a few weeks of really hot weather, it seemed that spring showed up again. Rain, and more rain, and some more. Hail, rain, wind, thunderstorms, rain, hail, etc.
Did I mention snow yet?
Waking up to 42 degree weather is exciting, the mountains still have a dusting of snow on them for almost 2 weeks straight. I slept so well because I had all the windows open and it was certainly chilly inside, I had to be brave when it was time to get out of the shower. We have some warmer weather coming again next week with temperatures back in the 90's. For now we are enjoying the rain, the green scenery and the creeks/streams with 2-3 times the normal volume for August.

It's mouse season. We think they made a nest in the fireplace, they are in for a surprise when we clean everything one more time before we need to light it up. We've eliminated a few in traps but they are small little creatures with light little gentle peanut butter licking tongues.

It's also canning season!
Peach jam or maybe it's witches brew!
I scraped the pot and shoveled it into my mouth... so good.
Colorado peaches were .98 per pound and we snagged 20 pounds of them. That will eventually net us 28-30 pints of jam. Honey crisp apples were in stock at Costco and 1/2 the price I could find anywhere so grabbed 2 dozen and I currently am cooling 7 pints of apple slices in a very light sauce. Blueberries I found at a local supermarket and they actually looked really good so 8 pounds of those are going to be jammed up.
That's a whole lot of action going on inside this weekend. Outside it's going to be dry enough to seal the deck and replace the railing boards. I'm not sure we have enough time but there are 24 hours in a day, why not make the most of them all. We also need to run, eat and hike Rock around.

I made it back to the gym after Las Vegas and several days off. I had some great workouts. I've been getting octagon cage rounds once a week and doing really well. When sparring full on MMA against people 1/2 my age (and younger), it's nice to see improvement. I also got my first Jiu Jitsu belt rank promotion, very unexpected and a pleasant surprise. I've set high expectations for myself.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back from the land of zombies

I'll admit, I sort of enjoy going to Las Vegas. I've been about 70 times in the last 15 years and I always do have a good time. It's not the "free" drinks, it's not the gambling, the shows, the food... it's watching the zombies walk around. It's a great reminder that most of the population is just horrible at just about everything.
My friend and I had every intention of running each day and the first day our run was amazing. When I say amazing I mean horrible with the temperature landing at 108 so we didn't make it very far. It's been a while since I was in a combat load in serious heat and I forgot how sucky that heat and humidity is. I decided that we would run in the morning but it was 92 degrees at 5am so that didn't work out. Being a complete sucker for punishment I went running in the afternoon by myself and I was just as miserable as the first day. It was only 106 out but I think the humidity was higher so it was another 'why did I do this' moment.

Back home I have cucumbers to pick and I did enjoy my first tomato sandwich. It's been relatively cool around here (compared to Vegas for sure) so it looks like the garden might spend the next two months providing a lot of vegetables. We have a good supply of canning jars but are keeping an eye out for sales, I think about 120 jars is the magic number we are looking for. We are going to can a lot this year.

The valley is really green this year and the water is still flowing at a nice volume. The yard has almost recovered from the painter trampling all over the place and parking on the grass. We mowed a section by the leech field but everything else still looks good 6 weeks after the last mowing. It was nice and cool in the evening when the clouds rolled in but sleep was fitful due to allergies and hay cutting.

We replaced the storm door for better light and airflow. The entire top slides down giving us at least 20% more screen window area. It's nice to have a deadbolt on this door, obviously glass is easy to bust, but one more obstacle doesn't hurt. The replacement took about 90 minutes but that was about 15 minutes of me not following the instructions before I got 'talked to sternly'. In the winter it will let a lot more sun in as well. Weatherstripping is needed in a few spots for a better seal but this is one more project crossed off the list.

I'm sure we added a few more projects but that's life for us. These things take my mind off work and work has been a real shit-show for a few months now. My income is down about 30% and I'm still struggling to keep a good attitude most of the time. Whenever I bring anything up that we need to change/discuss I'm told to wait a few weeks and those weeks have turned into months. It's a good thing I still enjoy what I do, and that we aren't buried in debt because that provides options. I've gotten a few job offers but I'm loyal and the horse is still able to be ridden. These are times when I enjoy watching the sprinklers, more than ever.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Incoming! Lettuce seed!

On the way out of the yard this morning I noticed the lettuce seed pods are opening, very exciting.

I think I planted this lettuce maybe 4 years ago and haven't had to replant since then. I usually save 2 plant tops full of seeds (a few hundred seeds or so) and the rest I let fall on the ground to begin anew. This means we have fresh lettuce in October and again in April. We have seed stored at both houses and will keep adding to the collection.

We are being patient with the garden, the tomato plants aren't enjoying the last couple of weeks of heat so no new growth, and no new red fruit. The few ripe ones we had I didn't get to enjoy on a sandwich because someone picked them and gave them to father in-law. I over acted and dramatized that I was slowly being killed by starvation.

Cucumbers are doing well, minus one plant on each end of the row. We should have an abundance of pickles. I need to visit Ace hardware in town and buy 5+ cases of jars. They always have the best selection and prices for canning supplies. We don't get the fancy jars although sometimes they are tempting as we give a lot of them away as gifts. Twice the price has always stopped us from doing it.
I did run out of jelly (in the fridge) so I conquered a pile of laundry in the basement and got myself some peach jelly that we canned almost 3 years ago. The jelly, salsa and pickle supply is still well stocked and with any luck it's numbers will be doubled by years end. The peanut butter and peach jelly sandwich was amazing and could have only been better if it was cool enough to make bread.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Training with strangers

Early to rise...

I headed about an hour outside of town for some training with a lot of patriots. There were several hundred people who said they were going to attend so I grabbed an ammo can of 5.56 and drove on out (everything else is always loaded up). Great chance to meet new people, make contacts, and get some range time in.

I drove into the big field where everyone was parked and a lot of groups were camping. Someone at the entrance gave a weak attempt to stop me, apparently I didn't look like I belonged. Great, I just drove in and already I'm an outcast. There were about 200 or so people so odds were good I'd find some people who knew that it's your actions and character that define you, not clothes/gear.

Once I parked I headed over to the registration area where most people were gathered. I missed the flag ceremony but hit the group pledge of allegiance. Since I chose not to participate and that got me some hateful glares. Registration went smooth and I headed back to the car to get my gear assembled for the first group class, Intermediate Pistol. I had said good morning and/or hello to dozens of people and not one single person responded.

A few minutes later I was changed and geared up. The parking area was about 1/2 a mile from the class/range area so it was a nice walk to get the blood flowing and body moving. Everyone I passed tossed a greeting out, the same people who minutes before ignored me, amazing what a change of clothes can do.

Intermediate pistol: The instructor passed 2 pistols around for everyone to check out, mainly to s showcase his grip texture. If you don't have a good grip, your accuracy can suffer especially in follow-up shots. Makes perfect sense. The first pistol had a safety barrel, the second one didn't. 18 people in this class and only 1 person besides me cleared them when they were handed to us.
Next up was practice changing magazines, that required empty magazines, not something I had with me so I didn't participate. Since we were in a circle, those practicing the change ended up pointing their weapons at each other instead of the ground.

Once we lined up to shoot paper things seemed to be smoother but unfortunately I did ask one of the assistant instructors to please get everyone back on line so I wouldn't get shot in the back by the people standing 8 foot back from the line. After seeing some targets with no holes and the instructor telling us that there would be a lot of dead patriots, I opted to leave the class. In total I sent 38 rounds at the target, 37 hits (the one miss was from a 4 shot attempt off-hand going for head shots). Time for lunch.

Advanced shooting: This course was about moving from cover to cover and engaging certain targets while you were in certain positions. One of the instructors ran the course so everyone could see what the goal was. There were friendly and threat targets on the course including one hostage target pair. I forgot to switch my safety off once they said go but that was an easy remedy. I ran the course twice with my AR, once with just pistol. I was the only person out of about 20 who would scan for targets even though we knew were they all were because it's supposed to be realistic. If you shoot a target from position A, before you just run balls out to position B you need to make sure it's clear and you need to keep your weapon up and ready at all times. We were supposed to finish the course, get a weapon clear check and run back to the staging area but I ended up being the only person who could actually run back.
This was an advanced course and if what I witnessed is advanced, I'm very afraid.

Dinner was a couple hours away so I thought it would be great to talk to people and get to know some of the locals while I waited. Since it was hot out, I decided to get out of my sweaty gear and relax in my regular clothes. Doing so put me back in the 'nobody wants to even make eye contact' category again so after an hour of trying unsuccessfully to mingle/converse I left. Hopefully some of the contacts I made (while downrange obviously) will pan out into good relations.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Operation 'not another splinter'

When we first got the cabin I picked up one of those fake grass carpets for the deck, the boards weren't exactly smooth and fun to walk on. The wind took that carpet and flew it off to the middle east, all those staples didn't stand a chance.
I wanted to try the carpet idea again, this time with wood strips on the mountain side of the deck to keep it secure. I was outvoted so we've lived with the deck for 2 years but last weekend I decided it was time to fix it instead of always wearing shoes. Sometimes it's just nice to walk outside in my pajamas and drink some tea while the sun rises on the mountains.

It was a hot weekend with a little bit of rain (most of it circled around and missed us) so we didn't start on the railing. I ended up being one flooring board short but a trip to the local hardware store will fix that next time we work on it. Railing boards are in the woodpile so this project will be done shortly. We ordered a new storm door to replace the battered one shown in the picture and also have some storage racks coming in for the garage. Time to organize everything into bins! Making things easier to find means they are also easier to put back where you got them.

We still have one woodshed cat, typhoid. Not friendly, doesn't like us... perfect. It really wont like us when we start on project 'get the damn wood put away'. I like project names, it makes them seem more exciting.

Steaks, buffalo steaks, burgers, biscuits and gravy, ice cream. A good weekend of food and hard work. The laundry needs to be swapped out and 13 Hours is sitting in the DVD player. Right now it's very quiet and the dozen+ hummingbirds are going to town on the sugar water feeder. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here come the tomatoes

We've counted the green tomatoes and are up around 150 with a ton of flowers and growing season left. It's very exciting, $3-$5 a pound at the store, this will save us a lot of money.

The cucumbers are growing tall and fast, they should start to bear in the next week.

The lettuce has begun to go to seed for the 3rd or 4th year (we forget) so we will have some more fresh lettuce in another month.

The only thing we did different this year was buy a timer for the garden hose. It waters the yard and garden for 20 minutes each night at 6pm. No more, oops, we forgot.

Life is 'fruitful'.