Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Round ‘Em Up!

Yesterday, Lynne looked out the window toward the meadow and saw that a bunch of cows were back. They have been around for a couple of weeks, but mostly down in the bottom of the valley where we can hear them, but not see them and surely not try to round them up.

We let Bella and Hailey out. Hailey likes to bark when she is excited. She gets excited just going outside. I'm not sure she ever even saw the cows, but the noise she made along with Bella's attempt at herding the cows drove them out of the meadow.

At first, most ran down into the valley. But, after a while they all came back up and crossed the meadow to our neighbor's land.

The phone rang. It was David. "We got about 12 cows here at the house! We are trying to drive them up to the road and then south through the gate and onto forest land. You need to get up there and keep them from going back into your woods and meadow."

So, Lynne and I jumped in the Ranger and took off. Well, Destin joined us, reluctantly. By the time we got to the road, we could see David herding the cows with his jeep across our south parcel toward forest land, so they had not come back toward our meadow.

We joined the chase and drove the Ranger up to where there is a gate in a barbed wire fence that marks the boundary between private land and the forest. Lynne and I opened the gate so it was ready for the cows.

Meatime, David and Deb were herding the cows on foot now. Deb, had just unsaddled her horse or this job would have been easier. They had their Austrian Shepherd, Shilo, with them. Not sure if he helped any, but he added to noise and general fun time we were all having. Between me, David and Deb, we managed to slowly move the cows toward the gate. One cow spooked and went right through the barbed wire fence! Another refused to join the herd and went the opposite direction. The cows came to the cattle guard on the road and milled around some. We just let them figure out on their own that there was an open gate adjacent to the cattle guard. Sure enough, as soon as one cow figured it out, the others followed.

That's 11 on the forest side of the fence, but one more looking on from a distance on the wrong side.

I think the three of us must have walked a mile or more back and forth and up and down to try to get that damned stupid cow pointed the right direction and moving along the fence line toward Lynne. I guess I got too close at one point and spooked her because she went right through the fence, breaking a post. At least all 12 were now on forest property. (We set the post up and repaired the fence the best we could.)

Destin was not sure what to think of all this. We never let him out of the Ranger, but he acted like he'd like to get in on the action. Maybe, someday.

I had sent an email to the cows' owner after we drove them out of our meadow. He was out of state but promised to have Richard come get the cows. I sent him a new email telling him where they were. But, I bet as I write this they are plotting on how to get back on our property.

When we got back to the house, there was a package that FedEx had delivered sitting on our stoop. We had to laugh at that. While we were out on our round-up, FedEx had driven in, delivered a package, and left.

August 2016 Retrospective

Looking back, August was a month of progress with a hint of change. We made progress toward our winter preparations and full-time living. 

The propane generator was delivered (although it still needs to be connected to a yet-to-be-delivered propane tank, and wired into the house).

I've been working on insulating the shed, and I put up shelves so it can be a place to store supplies such as canned food, dog and cat food, extra dry ingredients like flour, rice, beans, etc. I got some UHT milk and cream out there already. And, we bought a Sam's Club membership (the closest is in Cheyenne, Wyoming) and we'll stock up before winter.

We will have a propane fridge out there along with the freezer. We bought the freezer a week or so ago.

You may question the wisdom of an electric freezer in an off-the-grid cabin. But, my logic goes something like this: once the freezer is cold and filled with frozen goods, it probably won't run much. The hotter the ambient temperature, the more it will run. But, the hottest ambient temperatures are in the summer when we also have the most sun to provide power. In winter, the shed will likely be quite cool (even after insulating it), and the freezer won't run as much. We'll see. Turns out, propane appliances are very expensive while the electric versions are much more affordable. Experimenting with an electric alternative may save us a lot of money.

Storage in the barn is in good shape too. I've installed some shelves (with more hand-built shelves to come) along with some clothes wardrobes. We now have a place to put seasonal clothing.

I've decided I have way too many clothes. So, some additional organizing and pruning needs to be done. I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and a long-sleeved shirt pretty much every day. I try to wear old worn out and stained jeans when doing "dirty" chores, then change into a nice pair for just hanging out around the cabin. A t-shirt is sufficient when it is sunny and especially if I'm doing any work. A long-sleeved shirt may be needed if the sun gets to be to much on my delicate skin, or if it gets a bit chilly. I'm sure I look like a hillbilly when I go into town because I don't dress "special" for that trip.

Turns out, now that we have a washing machine, I could probably live with 4 pair of jeans, 4 to 6 t-shirts, and similar number of long-sleeved shirts and a week's worth of underwear. I also need one or two pair of nice slacks, a couple of dressy shirts and a sports jacket--not sure why, but I think I need these things. What I don't need is the two or three wardrobe boxes of Hawaiian shirts, dress pants, short-sleeved shirts, and other sundry clothing that I will likely never wear.

We will need to switch out summer shirts for flannel in winter. And, find a place to put sweaters and coats.

The wildlife is both leaving and coming. The hummingbirds are about gone. They come around Mother's Day and are gone around Labor Day. Where we used to have maybe 50, we now have 3 or 4. It is sad to see them go. (See the hummingbird video below!) But, the shorter days and cooler weather mean other animals are on the move. Wildlife that seems to go away for summer is back. We are seeing more moose and deer, even a few elk already. Coyotes howl and bark at night. The Great Horned Owls make their variety of calls almost every evening. We are seeing lots of hawks and eagles on our drive into town and back (along with many antelope). Hunting seasons start soon and somehow the animals know the schedule, so they will disappear again soon for a while. Did you see the game camera shot of the mountain lion from a few weeks ago? 


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Legally Colorado

Today, we got up a bit early, showered, fed the dogs, brewed some coffee, and took off in Big Red (our 2002 Suburban) for the "big city". We took Cherokee Park Road to Highway 287 and then down to Fort Collins. The goal of the day was to get our Colorado driver's licenses and register Big Red.

I had done a lot of web research and thought we were in pretty good shape (with a few exceptions).

First stop was the emissions testing facility who could also provide us with a VIN verification, needed for the truck registration.

Next stop was the DMV to get our licenses. I knew we needed to establish our identity (passports worked for this); legal driving credentials (our NJ license worked for this), and our residency. And, for some reason we had to show that our Social Security number was, in fact, ours. 

Establishing residency--that we are living in Colorado--was the stickiest issue. Typically, they want at least two forms of proof of residency and they have to be within the past 12 months. Utilitity bills, rent receipts, etc. all work. Really, almost anything that is mailed to YOUR NAME at YOUR ADDRESS is okay. 

Nothing gets mailed to our address. Remember, there is no mail service to our Colorado address. Instead, we get our mail on a rural route in Wyoming. Hmmm.

I was able to show my W2 with my legal name and Social Security number on it. Check. Passport to establish ID. Check. I had an invoice from our home owners insurance that showed the "covered address" and it was addressed to both Lynne and me. Check. And, I had a property tax notice that, of course, had the physical address. Check. I was in!

Lynne happened to see a different "agent" and that did not go as well. First, she has no proof of her SS number. How many people still have that little cardboard card with their number on it? And, she had no W2 or other proof of her SS number. However, she was "still in the system" from having had a driver's license in Colorado 10 year ago, and they accepted that. Along with her passport, ID was established. Check.

The problem was that the same documentation that got me through, did not work for Lynne. Turns out the tax notice (along with some other documents like building inspections, etc.) were all addressed to our living trust, not us as individuals. My agent had accepted that, but Lynne's (and the supervisor) did not. We did not have that second piece of documentation that Lynne lived at our address.

I got a bit hot under the collar about this. "I got my license. I used these documents. Why can't she also use these documents? She is my wife! She lives with me!" Nothing worked. They would not budge. 

I showed them our Certificate of Trust that shows that we are both trustees of the trust and thus the trust and us are the same. If you did not understand what I just said, don't worry, neither did they! And, the trust documentation is from 2012, so more than 1 year old, so not valid for their purposes...

They suggested we go to our bank and have them print some kind of document that showed our physical address (since they are required by law to have it). But, all our bank accounts are associated with the living trust. Won't work.

I kept jumping back to the front of the line to suggest another alternative to the supervisor. "What if I write a rental agreement here on a piece of paper, renting our property to Lynne? Then, I sign it and she has the document she needs?" (This has worked for others, we hear.) Nope, it would have to be a legally drawn up agreement, etc. etc.

Finally, the supervisor saw our Colorado State Farm insurance card for Big Red, that I had in the same stack of papers I was riffling through to try to prove that my wife lives with me at our home with no mail service to its legal address. He suggested that I call my insurance agent and have them print out "something" that shows both our names as well as both our addresses (legal and mailing). I called our agent in Loveland. She emailed me a screen shot from her computer that showed this info. I took my phone up to the front of the line and showed the email message to the supervisor. He bought it! Actually, I think he was pretty sympathetic to our problem (off the grid, no mail service to our legal address, mailing address in a different state, stuff in my name instead of both our names, the trust owning most assets, etc.) and just wanted to get rid of me. (People were getting irritated that I kept jumping the line to talk to him.) I don't think he even looked at the email message. Click, click, click on the keyboard and Lynne had her license.

The truck registration went pretty well. I wanted to use our old plates from 10 years ago, but they were too old. Too bad. I could remember that license plate number! The agent was a bit confused by two addresses, one in Colorado and one in Wyoming. But, she got us through the process and we still got a pretty cool license plate number. And, it turned out we did not need an emissions test since we did not live in the city limits. (Very weird to me, but okay.)

Lunch at Culvers. Washed the truck. Gas at Jax and we headed home.

Next step is to register Lex. But, that should go well given we've learned the ropes.

We now have (temporary) Colorado driver's licenses!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What’s for Dinner? Puffball Parmesan!

Yes, you heard right. The other night for dinner we picked a couple of the puffball mushrooms that grow at this time of year at the top of our driveway. And yes, these are the same mushroom that if you let them go they become those powdery things that are so much fun to step on and watch the brown spores explode all over the place. BUT, if you catch them when they are still young and firm they are completey and wonderfully edible. No joke! 

One of our mushroom books had a recipe for Puffball Parmesan which sounded really good to us, so we went for it. We've never eaten puffballs before so it was kind of an experiment. And hey, we didn't even have a frozen pizza standing by just in case it was inedible.

The recipe called for making a tomato sauce with green peppers, onions, garlic, whole canned tomatoes and tomato paste. 

We cut up the puffballs into "eggplant" like thick slices, then they got dipped in egg and coated with grated parmesan and bread crumbs (and savory, salt & pepper). Into the frying pan they went until golden brown. Then in they went to the casserole dish in a single layer, sliced mozzarella, and the tomato sauce was poured over them. More parm on the top.

And here is how it looked coming out of the oven.

And on the plate before it went into my mouth and got eaten completely up.

I have to say it was so DELICIOUS! Very meaty and eggplant like but with a delicate flavor like I imagine tofu to taste (although I've never had it). You would never have known you were eating a mushroom. The sauce was wonderful and I think we'll use it on other italian meals. Although our mushroom book said that sometimes they can cause indigestion we had no issues whatsoever. I have more issues after eating fast food! It's too bad they only appear at this time of year and not on a regular basis. They grow really fast so you have to catch them before they get too big. We'll be having them again next year for sure. Care to join us for dinner?

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  • Thank you for many years of wonderful reading.  I wish you both all the best.…

    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Alica Humphryson on 03/06/2018

  • Lynne and Rick, I’m sorry to see that your blog is going by the wayside!…

    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Steve on 02/26/2018

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    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Tom on 02/06/2018

  • Marsha, I’m afraid not. We won’t be blogging anymore! We need more privacy!

    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Lynne on 02/03/2018

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