April, 2009

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Feeling artistic potential

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

We found this old skeleton of a saguaro, which was apparently left by the previous owner on our property. (He was from Tucson; saguaros don’t grow here.)

It’s quite beautiful, and I have an idea to make something out of it, so we propped it up and started using an air compressor to blow out the stuff inside. It is full of dirt, spider webs, insects, rabbit pellets (ubiquitous here), bird feathers, and other icky stuff.

Stay tuned for how this works out.

Random updates

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Here are a few updates on various topics here:

  • The Mini is doing very well here. I only drive it to the airport, and it can deal with the mile or so of dirt roads between our house and the tarmac just fine.
  • The drives to the airport are not bad. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling this month and am doing fine. it’s a much nicer drive during daylight though.
  • The greenhouse is coming along. (It will be screened, not glassed, in, but we’re still considering it a greenhouse.) Last week, Brad got cement and plaster, and this weekend we worked on the corner pillars.
  • We are going to start composting soon. I got several books from the library and have had advice from some of my Tweeple and am excited to get started. We are going to build a 55 gallon drum composter.
  • We are going to be creating and hosting a new web site for Portal Rescue, the local fire and rescue group (and the closest thing we have to any kind of local governance or community group). I’m very excited about this.
  • The wind is still blowing — intermittently, but when it blows, it really is unbelievable.
  • There have been several reports on the very rare jaguarundi in our area. The field service here is setting some “camera traps” to confirm.
  • The cows are coming down from the mountains where they grazed this winter into our valley. We saw a few on our run this morning.
  • We still don’t have a building permit.

Cactus blooms

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

This weekend, we saw another bunch of unopened cactus blooms in the front yard. They seemed just about to go, and Brad got his camera set up in time to capture it. Quite beautiful. (More photos below the movie.)

Before the bloom

Brad setting up (pre-bloom)

Brad checking the results (post-bloom)

More on people out here

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

“People out here don’t like trouble. They don’t even like people. That’s why they live out here.”

– Edward Abbey, Fire on the Mountain

Brad’s going native

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

People out here have a unique style of communication. It’s an incredibly slow, drawling talk that meanders alongĀ  painfully while not really saying or asking anything. It strikes me as though they don’t really want to talk to you at all. A conversation (or a loose approximation of one) starts and goes nowhere; you can talk for 10 or 15 minutes with neither side even introducing themselves much less revealing anything else.

As you might imagine, it kind of drives me crazy. Brad, on the other hand, has taken to it quite well.

This afternoon, on a walk, we saw a man standing at his gate. We approached. He closed his gate. At first, I thought we might never speak. Then one of us said hello. We talked for a while….slowly. He said he’d heard we were building a house and asked if we’d be living there “full time.” (A common question, many people own land here but only visit it for a few weeks a year.) We said yes.

“Well, hopefully, you have a skill,” he said to Brad.

Long pause.

Brad replied, “Well, hopefully I do.”

Baby cows

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Another sign of spring…

Our sadly incompetent government

Friday, April 17th, 2009

If you ever have any doubts about how utterly bureacratic and dysfunctional our government, try moving a business out of state. I may spend the rest of my life trying to straighten this all out. My only consolation is that they will probably never be able to find me out here in the middle of nowhere to haul me off to debtor’s prison. Really, I haven’t done anything wrong, but no one seems able to help me. I am looking forward to the day when our mail stops forwarding.

Hanging on to our hats

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

It has been super-windy here this week, and today was the worst. It blew so hard that glasses in the house shook. We have heard there have been gusts up to 60 mph.

I had to drive to Phoenix today, and on the way to Road Forks, I could see huge clouds of blowing dirt out in the distance. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. (By the way, if you ever decide to surprise visit us, as one of my friends did, don’t take the Portal exit off the highway. It is 50 miles on mountain dirt roads that sometimes aren’t passable without 4wd. Take the Road Forks exit in NM instead. It is pavement the whole way and a very easy, pleasant drive.)

Actually, to the east of us on the 10, there are many signs on the highway that warn of dust storms and possible “ZERO VISIBILITY CONDITIONS”. The signs actually warn you not to stop in a moving lane if this happens…good advice I think. Anyway, we’ve laughed at these signs many times, but today was the first time I could actually imagine that this might happen. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go that way. To the west, where I was going, was very windy but not dangerously so.

With all this wind and seeing the effect on areas that have been overgrazed or plowed, I can almost imagine conditions during the Dust Bowl.

Floor colors and a greenhouse

Monday, April 6th, 2009

This weekend (after spending hours of watching videos on YouTube — this really is the best thing that’s happened to the DIY world since Lowe’s) we did stain samples on the slab. We tried Desert Mountain and Espresso and really liked both.

One thing we learned was that we won’t have to etch the slab first. (In the event that anyone else can use this information, the issue is slab porosity. Because the stain has to permeate the concrete, the surface must be porous. You can tell the porosity by misting water onto the surface. On ours, it immediately soaked right in, indicated a porous slab.)

We have also made a decision about what to do with that odd cabana that is already on our property. We are going to make it into a greenhouse!

To prepare for that, we began digging a ditch around the perimeter (more practice for my backup career). We’ll bury screened fencing a foot r so deep to keep animals from digging in (hopefully). We’re going to plaster the corner posts, which will give us some practice on plastering for the houses. since Stay tuned for more on this project.

Search terms

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

WordPress (our blogging software) provides a web page of interesting stats. The one (and only one) that is frequently funny is Search Engine Terms. It lets you know when people come to your blog from a search engine and what exactly they searched for.

The thing that I find funny isn’t usually what they searched for, but that when presented with a list of possible web sites that match their search, they chose ours. Here’s the last 30 days of searches that ended up at kbranch:

  • ditch digger
  • brad gale park address
  • chiles
  • toyota ranch truck
  • locking mailbox
  • solar panels on water tower
  • green constructin
  • excavation process
  • kbranch
  • mailbox design coeurdalene
  • ranches with water towers
  • set up your own solar ranch
  • off grid water tower
  • solar pumps for ranch
  • hog fire douglas az
  • hog fire maps douglas arizona
  • house design in gale force winds
  • youtube soycrete
  • hog canyon,peloncillo,arizona,map

Ditch digger – I can hardly imagine anyone searching for this. Assuming someone really did, what did they think they would find at kbranch? Were they looking to hire someone? I’m not sure Karen is exactly the body type you expect when you’re looking to hire a ditch digger.

Solar panels on water tower – It’s true we have a water tower and that we will have solar panels. Not that I see them mixing.

House design in gale force winds – This at least I can imagine someone searching for; it seems interesting. Still, you have to wonder how many pages of results there were before we popped up. And then, what could they have been searching for, so tirelessly, that they used what must have been their last hope up clicking on our site. I feel I let them down.

Locking mailbox – I confess that I have spent a lot of time using this exact search. I know what kind of results are near the top-it’s places selling mailboxes. I would be shocked if we’re in the top 5000 results. It boggles my mind that anyone could dig deep enough to reach us this way.

Solar pumps for ranch – This is not so funny, as it reminds me of something funny. Someone (I’m guessing the same person that did this search) sent me an email requesting a quote for a bunch of solar equipment.

Hog fire maps douglas arizona – This is a search Karen and I both did when there was a fire near Douglas. It’s no wonder our site matched this. There was very little information on the fire anywhere.