Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Fast Does a Pine Tree Grow?

Posted by: Lynne

This little pine tree in our "front yard" started itself as a seedling. We've been keeping track of its growth.

Here is the first pic we took in 2010:

I thought we had taken once per year but I can't for the life of me find one from either 2011 0r 2012.


Here is 2013:

And last year, 2014:

It's coming along nicely!

NOTE: for clarification, Rick is 6"2" to give you an idea of scale.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Grass Seed and FedEx Delivery

Posted by: Rick

Well, it starts.

We know we are going to have lots of issues with our address. Our legal address is not serviced by the Post Office, so we have to get mail some other way. I'll go into that later.

However, I am told by my neighbors that FedEx will do deliveries right to the cabin (assuming the roads are open). And, UPS is supposed to do the same, but usually leaves packages at a drop box at the Wooden Shoe Ranch in Wyoming, about 7 miles away. Our neighbor recently filed a complain with UPS that their driver was taking the short cut of using the drop box rather than make the drive. (Not sure I blame him or her, but their service is supposed to be to the residence.)

I ordered some grass seed by phone the other day, and paid for FedEx delivery to my neighbor's address, which I am assured they use for home deliveries all the time. I just got a call from FedEx in Cheyenne and the conversation when something like this:

"We have a package for you, to be delivered to 100 Hidden Meadows Ln, Laramie, Wyoming." (I'm substituting our cabin address for the neighbor's address to keep it private.)

Me: "Okay, good."

"However, we can't find that address or any driver that knows anything about it. It appears that the actual location is in Colorado!"

Me: "That's right. But, that is the address my neighbor uses for home delivery with FedEx. And, I'm pretty sure they have had success."

"Hmmm. Never heard of that. Delivering to a house in Colorado with a Wyoming address. Can you call your neighbor or have him call me to try to figure this out?"

And, so it goes. I'll email the neighbor. Meantime, the (very friendly) FedEx guy was going to try to see if deliveries came out of Fort Collins, Colorado instead of Wyoming.

The good news is that we don't need the grass seed for a couple of weeks and we will likely have time to sort it out. The bad news is that this is probably foreshadowing a lot of hassles coming in the future.

A footnote on the grass seed. We plan to seed the areas where the slash piles were burned. I bought 3 pounds of Dry Native Mountain Mix and 1/2 pound of Rocky Mountain Wildflower seeds from Pawnee Buttes Seed located in Greeley, Colorado. I recommend them highly.

Note: Please read the comments for the whole story.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Feeding Time

Posted by: Lynne

With only two weeks to go before we leave for the cabin (yikes!) my mind is already there. My head is whirling around trying to take that in. So much to do before then!

I thought it might be fun to post what feeding time used to look like. I have to wonder just what were we thinking with such a crew of dogs and cats?!

(from back: Millie, Bode, Bart, Sailor, Daisy, Alex, Indy & Heidi)

(Left to right: Vincent Van Goatee, eBay, Two Shoes & baby Sam)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Property Taxes

Posted by: Rick

One of the reasons we can't retire in New Jersey is the property taxes. Our house here is roughly equal to what we had in Ft Collins, CO before we moved. And, the property taxes are about four times as much. On a fixed income in retirement? Just not possible.

So, I was pretty disappointed to get the Larimer County assessment of our property values at the cabin this year. Our taxes up there will go up by about $400 per year, or about 25% assuming the mill levy stays the same. 

We are very remote and there are no "comps" to use for valuation. So, I think they value our property in comparison to sales in Red Feather Lakes. Okay, our legal address is Red Feather Lakes, but we are miles and miles away over a mountain ridge. There is no comparison. They have paved roads. Year around access. Electricity. A post office! We have none of that.

I've protested, of course. But, don't expect any relief. A neighbor protested several years ago, going all the way to a hearing in Denver. The local assessor did not show up, but called in and testified by phone. She insisted that the use of solar panels for electicity was a "homeowner's choice" and that the last time she was in Sand Creek Park she saw power poles. Also, that every time she'd gone up there the roads had been open. That is just crazy. There are no power poles for miles and miles. And, if she'd come up in the winter, she'd see that the roads are all closed and not maintained.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Tuesday Musings

Posted by: Lynne

Like Rick said in his post, it's disheartening to have had only one showing and no other interest in the house in the month that it's been on the market. We want so badly to be at the cabin that I fear we are losing track of taking every advantage of where we live now. We both feel like we're just marking time here, plodding along day after day. Our bodies are here but our hearts and souls are at the cabin. So, I just told myself to "buck up" and take things as they come. There are much worse places to be than where we are right now. Besides, it's early days for selling the house. Just wait until the pool is open and it looks like a private resort in our backyard. We just have to get them to come!

Our yearly cabin trek is fast upon us! In three weeks we'll be heading west. We decided to go in the Spring this year instead of Fall for several reasons. For one, we just want to go. For the most important one, we need to get busy and kill all the Canadian thistle that is threatening to take over our newly cleared meadow. Since they did manage to get in and burn the slash piles this past winter, the ground is ripe for the thistle to take over. Once it does there is no getting rid of it. Killing thistle is first on our list. We'll also plant a native grassland mix of grasses and wildflowers that we planted way back when the cabin was first built. Sam (above) is posing with posies all picked from around the cabin. I don't expect to see this many flowers in bloom in early June (especially the columbine which bloom later) but I hope the trees are leafing out.

We're not sure what vehicle we'll head out west in -- Big Red or Lex. Big Red certainly knows the way, but Lex is a complete rookie. Lex is smaller than Big Red so I'm not sure that he can hold all the stuff we have accumulated to take with us. I think we'll have to do a trial pack to see if we can fit everyone and everything in. Lex is more luxurious for sure and we are anxious to see how he handles the dirt roads. But if we leave Big Red behind in New Jersey will she pine away? She's made the trek soooo many times.

It will more than likely be another "working" vacation and not all play and jigsaw puzzles. Grant from Laramie Heating will most likely be coming to install our new furnace. Poor Grant! He's always been the one to come and rescue our furnace woes: everything from extracting dead squirrels out of the exhaust pipe more than once, to it just plain not working. A new furnace is definately called for. I know we have more work-like things planned in preparation for moving but right now I can't recall them.

I need to start looking at all the notes we made last year about what have in the way of stocked grocery items and make some lists. We also need to look at measurements we made last year and see if some of our things here are going to work there, such as my favorite pine dresser which I am hoping is going to fit beside the bed now that we've rearranged the bedroom.

Time to start planning for the trek!


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