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Drone cowpokes

Tuesday, November 14th, 2023

Every once in a while, we’ve had cows get on our property even though it’s fenced. Sometimes a delivery driver leaves the gate open or something else random lets the cows enter.

Last week I looked up from my bed to see a large black momma cow and her baby grazing on our otherwise unmunched grass and felt dread at having to chase them off. (Cows here are very skittish, and chasing them without benefit or horses or dogs is challenging.)

But last year, Brad came up with a new solution to the challenge that works great — a drone!

This solved the problem in minutes, rather than the hours it used to take. Much safer too.

drone’s eye view

A new phase

Friday, July 21st, 2023

We are now finally free of all of our landline phones. When we moved to Arizona, we had three. And for a variety of reasons, both business and personal related, it took a while to get rid of all these, but now it is done.

When I drop email, you’ll know my metamorphosis is complete! :)


Sunday, January 1st, 2023


Sunday, September 4th, 2022

** 10/16/22 update – The rain has continued, and we got about .25 ” this weekend. (Other areas nearby had more, some over 2″.) This is by far the longest the monsoons have gone on in or time here. Recording this for future reference.

10/24/22 update – first freeze this week

Well, it’s been an odd year here for a variety of reasons. As I’m looking at the blog, I realize that several interesting things have happened that haven’t been written about so I’m doing a catch up post with some highlights.

  • After years of waiting, in January, we finally got Starlink internet. It has surpassed our expectations and really changed life here increasing our up and download speeds by about 20-40 times. As a result, we have also cancelled one of our landlines. And we are now in a position to have both electrical power and phone service when the usual service here is down. 
  • Our rain water catchment system is up and operating. We have a 1550 gallon tank behind the house. It feeds a 550 gallon tank that is next to the garden. With the incredible monsoon this year, both tanks are now full.
  • The monsoon has been one of the best since we’ve been here. They started early (June?) and are still going into September. We’ve had over eight inches of rain in that time.
    Everything is green, green, green, and the canyon behind us has a healthy stream flowing.
  • The intensive garden bed we planted did well. We are eating greens, beans, peppers, and tomatoes. There are a few big watermelon and pumpkins yet to be harvested. The zucchini never fruited but have many blooms which I am eating. In the beds we didn’t plant out, Brad put in a bunch of cowpeas which are thriving and will make the soil more fertile. 
  • We put in a motion cam at our front gate which has yielded some fun photos of wildlife.

This year we are thinking more than usual about how much we value the life we have built here. It is a beautiful life in an amazing place.

Wonders of nature

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

There are many wonders to living close to the land (and far from other people) as we do. Among them our connections to the seasonality, awareness of the night time sky, and of course, sightings of wildlife.

For the 13 years that we have lived here, we have seen signs of what I was sure was a badger. Very sharp and long scratch marks in the dirt, occasionally clawing at a wooden door. But we never saw a badger.

Finally this morning, laying in bed, I heard something that sounded strange. I got out of bed, and right in front of the house, I saw it — the elusive badger. It was beautiful. Not too large and with a bold stripe running down its back all the way to the tip of its nose. It moved slowly and seemed uninterested in me as it looked right into the glass doors in our bedroom and then slunk over toward the other house and eventually out into the bush. Pretty great way to start the day.

Here’s a quick update on other things here: it is very hot and dry and windy as it often is in the spring. They are talking about a bigger than usual monsoon, which is rumored to start in mid June. We’ll see.

Being unsure what the future holds, we have cut back on the garden. Instead of our normal 10 or so beds, we are focusing on one bed and trying the intensive gardening idea that I have read much about. The idea is to plant a whole bunch of different things all densely in one bed. Since we usually have so many beds going, this hasn’t really made sense in the past, but this year I thought it might be a fun experiment. We’ll see how things go.

It’s so hot and dry, that the birds, especially the quail, are scratching up everything that’s watered. I know it doesn’t make much sense to plant things before monsoons, but it amuses me and keeps me busy so I do it anyway.

In the meantime, garlic is ready to harvest.

Books read in 2021

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Here’s this year’s list with bold for my particular favorites. This was the most books I’ve read in one year in a while. I did join a book club this year, which expanded the things I read. I read several climate change related books, and some mindless crime drama to escape the horror of the world. I also read a fair amount of nonfiction related to local food and farming as a result of a work project I did on the same topic.

  1. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
  2. Lost Light by Michael Connelly
  3. The Narrows by Michael Connelly
  4. The Closers by Michael Connelly
  5. The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
  6. The Dayton Book Guys by J. Bradford Tillson Jr.
  7. The Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
  8. The Overstory by Richard Powers
  9. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
  10. Horizon by Barry Lopez
  11. Coming Home to Eat by Gary Nabhan [reread]
  12. Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey
  13. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  14. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
  15. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
  16. A Peace of My Mind by John Noltner
  17. A Full Life in a Small Place by Janice Emily Bowers
  18. The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt
  19. Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert
  20. The Way of Peace by James Allen
  21. Escape From Kathmandu by Kim Stanley Robinson
  22. Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  23. Greyhound by Steffan Piper
  24. Underground by Mark Rudd
  25. Vegetables Unleashed by Jose Andres
  26. Eating Wildly by Ava Chin
  27. Everything I Want to Do is Illegal by Joel Salatin
  28. The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux
  29. Reclaiming Our Food by Tanya Denckla Cobb
  30. Accidentals by Susan Gaines
  31. Win by Harlan Coben
  32. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
  33. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver [reread]
  34. Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert
  35. Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
  36. The Quiet Girl by SF Kosa
  37. Sooley by John Grisham
  38. A Time for Mercy by John Grisham
  39. A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
  40. We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [reread]
  42. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  43. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  44. A Bittersweet Season by Jane Gross
  45. Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas Tallamy
  46. Glorious Boy by Aimee Liu
  47. The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko
  48. The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
  49. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
  50. Kiss the Ground by Josh Tickell
  51. Foundation by Isaac Asimov [reread]
  52. Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov [reread]
  53. Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl
  54. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov [reread]
  55. Varina by Charles Frazier
  56. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
  57. Later by Stephen King
  58. Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben

I’m not ready for winter

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

It got into the 30s here last night, but apparently not quite cold enough to freeze the garden. We still have tomatoes and melons on the vines and are hoping for a couple more weeks before the first frost.

Fortunately, it’s still in the 70s during the days. It’s pleasant enough to have the windows open during the day, which is quite nice. (In the summer, we close them to keep the hot air out.)

With all the garden bounty, we have been eating well and also canning, freezing, and otherwise preserving all we can. It will be nice to have all this food throughout the winter.

And we have about 400 heads of garlic and lots of greens in the ground for winter.

September in the garden

Monday, September 6th, 2021

It is September, and the monsoons are still going. This is the longest they’ve lasted while we’ve been here. Portal just broke a record for rain set in 1967. The mountains are green, and the grass is getting waist high. There are tadpoles in the puddles, frogs jumping around, and turtles all over. It is truly marvelous.

The garden is doing well. We have had the best tomato harvest in years, and I am canning and freezing sauce and salsa for the rest of the year, as well as enjoying fresh tomatoes with every meal. 

The weeds are phenomenal as well. I’ve spent many hours this weekend trying to clear out beds to start on fall planting. And this is the year of the caterpillars. (Each year, there is something that seems to thrive to an unbelievable degree. This year it is caterpillars of every color and stripe, including hornworms.)

The loveliest time of year

Monday, July 26th, 2021

This morning here was one of those times you could think you were in the English countryside. Cool moist air, low fog, wet dew on the thick green grass, cows softly mooing. It was just beautiful.

Contrary to the predictions, the monsoons have been strong this year. (Last year, we had almost none, causing fairly widespread concern here about the future.) We have had several very heavy rains, and in fact, some areas are having flooding. The plants here are very happy, as are we. In particular, we have been worried about our treasured oak trees and are glad they are getting a good deep drink. The animals are celebrating as well, and we have been seeing frogs and turtles as well as some very healthy looking coyotes.

(PS You may have heard me say that other times are the “best” times of year. There are many here!)

Next steps

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

The monsoons are in full swing. We pretty quickly filled up our first 550 gallon rainwater catchment tank. And fortuitously, we were able to find another used tank.

This one is 1500 gallons and is 8 feet in diameter and about 6 feet tall. In trying to move it, we first had to drain all the water. (Water is very heavy; the tank is heavy but manageable with a little thought.) We quickly learned though that most moving trucks and trailers, including ones from UHaul, etc., are 5 to 7 feet wide. This posed a problem.

We searched and searched and talked to all kinds of people (including tow companies, who wanted an exorbitant amount of money to do the move), before finding a neighbor with a large flat bed truck who was willing to help us.

Here are pictures of the move.

Next we’ll be working on a gravel bed to mount this on and then plumbing between this and the other tank we got for overflow. 

In the meantime, we’ve been watering the garden with rainwater from the first tank, and our plants couldn’t be happier.