Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Just Clouds

Posted by: Lynne

The other day thanks to high winds aloft, the clouds were pretty spectacular. 

I have been just posting my photos to Facebook without doing an OtG entry for them, but then you blog readers and non-Facebook folks never see them. So today begins the change! If you don't mind too much, will you please leave your comment on the blog instead of Facebook? That way we can keep track of comments, whereas on Facebook it's transitory. Mind you, you don't have to, it would just be nice. smile

Sunday, October 09, 2016

It’s Snow Fun!

Posted by: Lynne

Destin: "lickety" split through the snow.

The dogs love snow. So, basically this is just a post with photos of dogs enjoying the fresh snow that we got a few days back.

Well, okay, and one gratuitous pic of aspens!

Good smells!

Scary Destin.



Thursday, October 06, 2016

A Sign of Things to Come

Posted by: Rick

We woke this morning to a bit of snow on the ground and a fine powder of snow still falling from the sky. It was predicted, and won't be enough to "bother" us in any way. It is really pretty outside, but a sign of things to come.

This is looking up our driveway.

One nice thing about snow is you can see the tracks of animals. It was clear that a coyote had been behind the cabin walking around sometime since the snow fell, for example.

You can see in the photo above that we've got a large pile of about 4 cords of wood covered by a brown tarp. And, more wood ready to be cut. That was to be today's chore, but may wait for the weekend.

We have continued to make progress on our winter preparations. We now have a second refrigerator running off propane in the storage shed. We will be stocking that shed with supplies for the winter soon. The list is still being refined and we are polling others that live up here year-round how they prepare. I guess toilet paper and pet food are at the top of the list. The wood shed is done--even beyond my previous post--as I've put up some trim so it really looks nice. Just needs paint now. We've ordered the tracks for the Ranger, and they should be here in a couple of weeks. And, we are pondering whether it makes sense to get a snow blade also. Inputs welcomed.

Here are a couple of other photos I took on my phone while letting the dogs out this morning. Lynne may add a photo or two and commentary too, so watch for that.


Okay, Lynne here now! Rick is right, this is just a sign of things yet to come. Last week we had a glorious Indian Summer week of weather. Perfection! Now Mother Nature is messing with us and we've had snow showers that looked like a blinding blizzard but didn't end up sticking much on Monday, high winds and much cooler temps all week long. Good old Mother Nature is sending us a sign that we'd better get busy and wrap everything up that we've started and not as yet finished because if she so desires, she will bring her fury on us. 

Am I ready? Hmmm...not really. Not mentally anyway. I have to admit to being a little apprehensive if I have to be honest. I have this idyllis little scene playing in my head: Rick and I sitting around by the toasty wood stove reading, knitting, maybe watching a movie as the snow falls outside. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing when the weather breaks. Somehow I bet it doesn't really play out like that.

But I do think that we've just about done everything physically that we can to be ready. We need to fill up the new wood shed, get the tracks on the Ranger when they come in and make a provisioning trip to Sam's Club. The rest will have to wait.

The dogs are certainly ready. Destin had a blast in the fresh snow this morning and we had a hard time rounding him up to come inside.

All in all, the beauty up here in the winter will be something to experience. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Wood Shed

Posted by: Rick

I've done some woodworking--small projects, all--but, I've never done what I would call "construction". So, as with many other projects I have to get done up here, I embarked on something I don't really know how to do, relying on advice from friends, Google searches and YouTube videos: a wood shed.

First, I picked a location. Right next to our existing shed that holds the freezer, second refrigerator, and winter food supplies. We keep bird food in there too, along with other things we want access to with a short walk from the cabin door.

Shed location. This is looking south.

It will be (approximately) 7 feet deep, 12 feet wide, and built as a lean-to that is 7 feet high in front and 5 feet high in back. Of course, all good construction projects start with a detailed set of plans, drawn up with the help of a neighbor.

One reason to be thankful for dirt roads, I guess.

The plan is to set six 4x4 pressure-treated posts in the ground around which I can frame the shed. I have a manual post-hole digger, so started digging the holes as the first step in construction. I did okay on the two holes closest to the existing shed. But, the further I moved to the west, the harder the ground got. I finally gave up when I could not get more than a few inches into the ground. It felt like solid rock. So, on to plan B, which was to use pressure-treated 4x4 posts to build skids upon which I would then "mount" the shed. The trouble with that plan is the need to somehow anchor the skids to the ground. The common way to do that is with anchors that you auger into the ground and bolt to the skid frame. If I can't dig a hole, how am I going to auger the anchors into the ground? (It is important to be well anchored so the shed does not blow away in our 100 mph winter and spring winds.)

The answer came from a neighbor who offered to loan me his trenching machine. 

A borrowed trencher and "test" trench.

An astute observer will note that a trencher is for digging trenches, not post holes. But, I could dig a short trench with the deepest part right where I want the post! This trencher could go 24" deep and that is what I was able to do with the first couple of holes. I'd simply dig the trench, set the post, check it for location and level, fill the trench in while blocking the space right next to the post with some 2x4s, and then put some Quickcrete in the remaining hole next to the post! Voilá.

A post hole dug with a trencher.

I could not get as close to the shed as I had originally planned, but this solution was too elegant to care. I just slid the wood shed location over a few inches.

Rick, trenching hole #4.

It was a lot of work to get a trench deep enough where the ground was more rocky. I had to settle with 17" or 18" holes on the far west side. But, I think that will be fine given we set the posts in concrete.

Destin, of course, is a big help. Especially with his love for fresh piles of dirt.

The bed of the Ranger makes a great work platform.

It was a bit of a challenge getting all the posts to the same height. And, really that is not the issue since the ground may not be perfectly level. The real goal is to get the top of the posts level with each other, the front posts about 7' high and the back posts about 5.5' high. Yeah, the wood shed grew some on the back end. I had three 10' posts for the front, and they were sunk into the ground anywhere from 18" to 24". And, there were three 8' posts for the back. I made a lot of measurements for trench depth and post height, and cut the posts accordingly. But, of course, they were not perfect and some needed anywhere from 1" to 4" cut off the top to make them level. However, with Lynne's help, they are pretty much exactly where they need to be to have a square and level wood shed when we are done. (What's an inch or two out of square going to matter, anyway?)

Here are 5 of the 6 posts set. (Note that the shed needs paint. Got to get that done somehow.)

To make these cuts and get the tops of the posts all level, I climbed on a ladder with the chain saw and made horizontal cuts. This is something my mother told me never to do. Chainsaws on ladders are a "no no"! Lynne gave me an earful when she came outside and saw what I was doing. Anyway, it worked and I'm still with all my arms and legs.

If you want to know how this wood shed turns out, you'll just have to click through for "More...".


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oh Deer!

Posted by: Lynne

Rick seems to have taken over posting blogs lately. I guess must be lazy, or maybe it's just that I blogged for ten long years in New Jersy on the now defunct "new" Jersey Girl blog. It's nice to sit back and have him take over that duty.

To start off this post I am using a photo of our bench in the little grove of aspens next to the house covered in our first snow from Friday morning. It wasn't much, just a skiff really, and was gone before you could blink your eyes. We went from wearing gloves and layers of clothing to just a t-shirt yesterday as temps were in the high 60's/low 70's with a bright blue sky. Colorado, ya gotta love it! This is not unusual for this time of year, as you can see in this past post. Three years ago, if you remember, we got snowed in while on vacation here. So, like I said, normal!

But, I am digressing as usual when I actually sit down at the computer and get started. Words just dump out of my brain sometimes. The REAL reason for this post is Bucky. A very beautiful 4-point buck mule deer that decided to visit us around dinnertime the other night.

He was right outside our bedroom window munching away when I saw him. So close to the cabin too! Here he is as seen and taken right from our window. (Solar panels in background, sorry, but they keep us in electricity. The other strange looking object in the photo is our aluminum canoe upside down.) And, normally this area is covered in sage and other native plants but it still has not recovered from being dug up when the solar panels went in earlier this year.

He was not bothered by us taking photos or talking just a few feet away from him inside the house. We knew he could hear us because he kept picking up his lovely head and looking right at us. Not bothered by us at all, he stayed for a good hour. (Love his "eyebrow" facial markings.)

Other animals around us have not fared as well I'm sorry to say. We are down by two more pack rats who choose to go into a trap other than the live one. And, we are down by two rabbits which makes me very sad. One was found not in the trap, but a little way away from it, just lying there (not alive). We don't really know what happened to him as he was unharmed in any other way. The trap was tripped. A heart attack? The other bunny made me even more upset. Bella is a bad bad girl. On one of our walks to the top of our driveway she saw something scurry into the woods. We were thinking squirrel and so was Bella because she was looking up in the trees. She persisted in her search for the animal while we continued our walk. We heard a commotion behind us and Bella came bursting out of the woods with a rabbit in her mouth. She had it by the neck and it did not make it. Too sad. How she managed to catch a rabbit we can't fathom. But she did, and she seemed to want us to be proud of her. Now if that had been a packrat ... whole different story.

Bucky was back the next morning. I went to let Destin outside for a pee break and just ilke he did with Big Boy Moose, he just stared straight ahead and refused to get off the porch. Bucky was in the driveway and not too worried, although he did bound off a little distance, stopped and turned around for another look and when Destin started barking his "big boy bark" and Bucky decided to take off.

He'd obviously been hanging around that same morning unnoticed by us at the salt lick because the game camera captured this video of him. He is welcome in our "yard" anytime.


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