Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not ALL the Snow is Gone ...

Posted by: Lynne

Yesterday we donned our snowshoes and went to check out the status of the big drift on Avalanche Slope. There was so much snow we could not snowhshoe around the drift safely, so we went through the woods below instead.

In the photo above, there IS a road underneath all that snow, level with the aspen trees sticking out of the snow on the left side. I think it will be awhile before anyone can drive on Hidden Meadows Lane! We've had a lot of melting going on and in places the snow is down by several feet but it hasn't seemed to affect this drift very much.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Looks Like We Made it!

Posted by: Lynne

"X" marks the spot over our land. The cabin is in the trees to the left.

I am being a bit premature here folks, but as Rick's last post indictated, we have made it through our first winter and spring is imminent. We will have a few backsliding moments and snowfalls, which at this time of year can be in feet instead of inches, but it won't last.

I liken getting through winter to a woman's labor to give birth. Now mind you, I've never had a child being that Rick and I chose not have children, but I've had enough friends that have given birth to know something about the subject. At the moment all you can think of is the pain it's causing and in the throes of labor you say I'm never doing this again. But then, finally, your baby arrives and is put into your arms and you forget what you've just been through. Given a little time you will have forgotten all about it and you're ready to do it all over again.

That's about the way I feel regarding this past winter. It wasn't all that bad and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or shall I say, the actual ground where the snow is completely gone. Spring will be just as sweet and welcome as a newborn baby when it arrives (it won't be long!) and we'll forget about the not-so-fun aspects of the winter we've just gone through. By summer it will be only a fleeting memory.

So, yes of course, we are staying on for the next winter. 

Even though it looks as though we have a snowstorm bearing down on us today and snow on and off next week, I can't really complain too much. Like I said, it won't stay around for long. This past week we've had such glorious weather. It gives one hope for more to come. I've been doing laundry at a frenetic pace (two load per day is a lot for us) and hanging it all out on the line. With the brisk breeze, the sun, and temps above 50 it doesn't take them long to dry. When I bring them in they smell so sweet and fresh. I'm almost caught up with the backlog except for sheets and a duvet cover.

We've sat outside on the porch. We've taken walks after dinner. All things that we could not have done even a few weeks ago. Yesterday I even sat on the front porch to weave. It was a bit chilly but not bad at all.

Here is proof of our progress:

Rick standing on propane tank, March 2nd.

Propane tank March 8th

Propane tank a few days ago. wowza.

Snow fence March 4th

Snow fence a few days ago.

Bench in the aspens March 13th.

Bench in the aspens this morning.

BUT ... now that the snow is gone in places we are left with ugly beaten-down vegetation that hasn't seen the light of day since December! It's not pretty. And what snow that is left is dirty and not very pretty either. It's kind of challenge to walk because there are spots without any snow mixed with some pretty deep drifts that are now slushy and we're not able to walk on top of it anymore. So, snowshoes aren't very useful either unless you want to take them on and off. The dogs can't figure out why they are suddenly sinking in places that before there were able to walk on top of. We tend to stick to the roads on our family jaunts.

All in all, it's a pretty good outlook from here on out, even if we get a big snow (which of course we will, always do).

Bald Eagle on Brubaker Lane

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sure Signs of Spring

Posted by: Rick

It is the first day of Spring, and while we will still likely see lots of snow, there are some sure signs that Spring is arriving.

Other than the tremendous amount of snow melting which Lynne posted about recently, there are other signs:

  • There is now more than 12 hours of official sunlight each day. The batteries are getting a full charge by early afternoon.
  • Instead of snow, we have mud. You can tell it is Spring by the amount of dirt on the entry rug.
  • There is the slightest hint of a green hue in the prairie grasses.
  • Prairie dogs are out of hibernation and active. The hawks and eagles love this!
  • Lots of "new" birds are around: Colorado Mountain Bluebirds, Evening Grosbeaks, Robins, Pine Siskens.
  • The owl is starting his evening ritual of hoo-hoo-hooing.
  • People are starting to venture into the area, driving around to see which roads are open. Landowners are assessing access to their cabins.
  • The heater has not run overnight in almost a week. Overnight temperatures are staying well above freezing. (That can change!) It is warm enough for us to sit on the porch for lunch or for an evening glass of wine.

We are watching for other signs, too. More active wild animals; the first pasque flowers (a wild crocus); buds on the trees promising leaves soon.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Snow Fence Experiment

Posted by: Rick

A couple of weeks ago, I strung some 4' high, 50' long snow fence through the trees on the west side of our driveway.

The hope was that this would capture the snow that was clogging up the driveway whenever the wind blew after a snow storm. You can see the fence and the open driveway in the photo above.

There is a "rule of thumb" for installing snowfence in this part of the country based on the typical wind speeds. It is a pretty easy calculation. The area upwind of the fence is call the "fetch". If you have an "infinite" fetch, in other words there is nothing upwind of the fence to catch and disrupt the blowing snow, then the fence should be set back by 34 times the height of the fence to avoid any snow on the area you want to keep clear. With my 4' high fence, that would be 136'. But, I have trees in the fetch, plus did not have the luxury of putting fence poles exactly where I needed them and had to use existing trees to mount the fence. So, my fence is only about 30' from the road. But, I thought it was worth a try.

The good news is that the fence works. It captures a lot of blowing snow.

Just look at the drift it created on the downwind side! That is snow that would be in the driveway.

However, it is not far enough back from the driveway to keep it clear. I need to install an additional fence further to the upwind side to create a shorter fetch for this fence. And, there are still places where there is no fence because I'd need to put fence poles in the frozen ground to mount it. 

In the photo above, you can see the amount of snow the fence is capturing, but you can also see that the driveway is filled with about 2' of snow again. 

We are just going to leave it this way for now. We don't really need truck access to the cabin. This spot is only a few hundred feet from the cabin. And, we can always use the Ranger to ferry from open roads to the cabin. Later in the Spring when we are unlikely to get bad snows and high winds we'll open the driveway back up again.

This coming summer we'll put posts in the ground and put the snow fence up in the right locations. Still, I think the experiment was successful in that we can see just how well the fence can function if placed appropriately.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Happy Birthday to Lynne!

Posted by: Rick

Before you panic in fear that you forgot Lynne's birthday, you haven't. Her birthday is in late December. Since Christmas and the birthday are close together, they tend to get muddled up and Lynne does not get the birthday attention she deserves. So, I've decided we will also celebrate her birthday on June 28th. Why not?

We were recently introduced to the artwork of Tim Cox. And, one painting in particular reminds us of a favorite song from Dave Stamey, "Come Ride With Me". It is entitled "As Good As It Gets".

I decided to buy a canvas transfer of this painting for Lynne for her June birthday. Luckily, I got the last one they had in stock. And, I arranged to have it shipped to our neighbor's address here in Sand Creek Park. The neighbor was then going to hold it for me until I could get it framed and then give it to Lynne later this year.

A week after I saw the payment transaction come through, the painting had still not been delivered. So, I contacted the artist--well, his wife Suzie, actually--and inquired about the shipment. She assured me that the package had been shipped and was delivered by UPS. The delivery notice said "Left at front door". Hmmm.

While we used to have success with FedEx delivering to our door, UPS does not. They leave packages in a drop box at the Wooden Shoe Ranch across the state line in Wyoming. Further, since we are snowed in no vehicle can get to our cabin. There is no way the package was left at our front door. And, the neighbors had not seen it either.

So, I panicked. I contacted Suzie and told her that there was no way it was delivered to our front door. That I would look into it from my side, but maybe she should start a claim with UPS on her side.

The next day, I heard from our neighbor. The UPS driver, probably Roy, saw that the package was way too big to put in the drop box. (It is a large transfer onto stretched canvas.) So, he delivered it to our neighbor's brother who lives in Laramie. The brother had called to tell them he had a large package for me, but addressed to them. Whew.

A couple of days later, my neighbor called me and told me he was coming home from a few days away and that he had the package for me. Well, I stupidly said out loud on the phone "just take it to your house". This was stupid for two reasons. One is that he called me to arrange for me to pick him up in the tracked vehicle and take him home since the road was closed at the "trap", so I could have talked to him about it then. Also, Lynne overheard me and immediately started drilling me with "what did you mean by 'just take it to your house'? What is he supposed to take to his house?", etc. I was busted.

So, I brought the painting home and gave it to her right away. An early, early birthday present.

Living in a small community has these advantages. If the UPS guy can't deliver to us, he often calls and arranges to meet us on the road. Or, in this case he took the pragmatic choice of leaving it with a relative.

The USPS is equally helpful. We knew we had some oversized packages to be delivered by the Post Office the other day. So, I called the postal delivery guy who had previously given us his phone number. I left him a message, "You won't be able to get those packages scheduled for delivery today into our mailbox, or even the big yellow barrel for overflow mail. So, give us a call when you leave Laramie on the Wooden Shoe delivery route, and we'll meet you at the mailboxes." Turns out, using the tracked vehicle to access our truck at Mr. H's and then driving to the mailboxes takes about the same amount of time as the drive from Laramie to the mailboxes. 

We got a call early in the afternoon. It was not from our regular mail carrier, but the guy who delivers on Mondays only. He told us he was on his way, so we rushed to the Ranger and drove toward town. Sure enough, when we arrived at the mailboxes, he was there and hand-delivered two large packages to us. This kept him from having to return them to the post office. And, it kept us from having to drive into town to retrieve them within a few days. 

Where else in the world do you get that kind of service from UPS and the USPS?

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