Getting ready for winter

Written by karen on October 18th, 2014

This week we did a lot of things that anticipate the changing of the seasons. While it’s still in the mid-80s during the day, the nights are dipping into the 40s, and a frost could be around the corner.

First, we finished the repairs on the driveway after the post-Odile floods. This ended up entailing bringing in a whole truckload of gravel. In addition to fixing the damage, we filled the depression near the gate that always fills with water when it rains.

In the garden, we cleaned out some beds and got our garlic planted. (Separate post coming on that.) I planted a few leeks and some winter lettuce; am hoping to get fava beans in this week. We’re also disconnecting the drip irrigation and going to hand watering for winter. (Connected hoses can freeze and break pipes.)

We finished processing apples. Yay! We’re both a bit sick of them. We have found some new delights to make with apples though, including an apple french onion dip that was amazing.

On the houses, I worked on resealing the door frames on both houses. The combination of hot sun, gusty winds, and blowing dust is quite hard on things here.

We had more rain a week ago and are supposed to get yet more this week. It almost seems as though we’ve finally gotten enough rain, but I’m not complaining.


Fig tree

Written by karen on October 11th, 2014

We’ve been wanting to get a fig tree. They seem to grow well here, and we love figs. It’s a good time of year to plant, and our many recent trips to Tucson afforded us the opportunity to pick up this Black Mission fig. This picture shows the size when we planted it. Hopefully, there will be future pics of a larger tree.



My hedgerow in bloom

Written by karen on October 10th, 2014



Homestead math

Written by karen on October 7th, 2014

25 gallons of apples + this little gadget

+ a bunch of jars and some time (thanks to you all who contributed various things to this!) =

(I wish this one were more shippable so I could share with all of you!)





And no, we are not eating this all ourselves! :)


A lesson in resilience

Written by karen on October 6th, 2014

I’m learning a thing or two from my tomatoes this week.

About 10 days or so ago, the javelina came back and decided, having eaten all of his preferred sweet potato greens and watermelons, he’d give the tomatoes a try. He gave two beds a good stomping through and ate as he went, destroying some expensive insect netting as well.

I mindfully reflected on all the many tomatoes we’d eaten, given away, and canned. It was our best tomato year ever. So I declared it the end of the season and tried not to be unhappy.

Going out to start clearing the beds today, I found though that the tomatoes are having a mini-resurgence. Huh.



Flood update

Written by karen on September 22nd, 2014

We are both back home now and are seeing the consequences of the flood here. My email box is full with updates, pictures, and videos. It’s big excitement here.

Cave Creek flooded, and Portal is cut off. There is no power in the canyon for a week or so. Horseshoe Canyon (the one behind us) is washed out and impassable even by four-wheel drive.

Fortunately, we had no damage here. The driveway is a bit washed out (passable with the truck but not the car), so we’ll be working on that today. :) Otherwise, all is well here.

Here’s a video from Portal (you might start watching at about 3:00 or so; sorry for the poor quality; this isn’t my video); those of you who have been here will recognize “downtown” Portal with the library and post office.


Rain – Odile remnants

Written by brad on September 19th, 2014

Karen and I were both gone when the remnants of Odile rolled through the Portal/Rodeo area. Karen got a few warning emails and later a bunch about the severity and miscellaneous damage. I was a little concerned on my way home, however; other than the driveway there’s no signs of damage.

Before I get into the goings on, this is what I woke up to. The most interesting thing in this picture is that the tall grass is all laying down. We’ve never seen this before.


I checked the rain gauge this morning. I don’t think it’s ever been over two inches. It was full. So, five inches plus.


Not a rain gauge, but you get the idea

Not a rain gauge, but you get the idea

There was no water in either house. The ground is very wet and we will not need to water for awhile, but nothing exciting.

The worst spot is the front gate and it’s not too bad. It’s going to need work though. The truck went through without any issue but there’s no way the mini cooper is going anywhere soon.



A lot of our neighbors are trapped on their property. This is primarily due to the runoff coming from Horseshoe Canyon. There’s a rumor that the dam way back in Horseshoe Canyon broke. (Karen and I visited it here) Long after the rain had stopped, there was a roar that could heard far off and the water rose and may have jumped its bank. It’s assumed that was the damn breaking. There was a second rush a few hours later and the speculation is that the damn broke partially and later completely. The last time Karen and I hiked up there it was nearly impassable- on foot. I can’t imagine what it’s like now or if Horseshoe Canyon is even accessible at all.

Highway 80 was closed for a while yesterday from the water leaving Cave Creek. It’s was still about a foot high when I drove through about 1:00 am. I hit significant water on 80 about 4 times.

It sounds like most everywhere there is a bridge the roads have been closed. This would be a good day to have a helicopter.

One last picture of the grass laying down.



Oh the tomatoes!

Written by karen on September 1st, 2014

This weekend we canned salsa, chutney, plain old tomatoes, and a few jars of sweet yellow tomato jam. These will be so good this winter! And there’s lots more coming. We’re going to need more jars.



Beautiful green

Written by karen on August 22nd, 2014

It looks so different here after a few weeks of rain.



And the rain is still coming down.




From the garden

Written by karen on August 17th, 2014

Got our first cantaloupe today…and we’re going to have to start canning these tomatoes.