On Progress, or the Lack Thereof

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted, and I guess 7 ish months is quite a while. I didn’t mean for the silence, for the distance, for the broken communication, it’s all my fault. Really, it’s me, not you!



Yeah, it’s been a while. I really wanted to be able to update on all the awesome progress around the house and there just hasn’t been a whole lot. Life is busy and demanding, and trimming looooooots of trees with a dinky little handsaw just won’t cut it. But, I figured I’d drop in and write a little something, maybe in an effort to convince myself that I have done ‘something’ if not ‘all of the things.’

Progress on El Palacio del Pollo: 1/4 done with the first round of clean out. Barely a scratch, but a scratch none-the-less.

And about the main drainage ditch around the back corner: I’ve made ‘some’ progress. I’ve dug more out, taken a sage brush or two out, and I’ve begun to lay some stones. But, as the current state of drainage is suggesting, I’m just not quite there yet. It’s directing the water away, and yet everything is still just saturated. It probably has something to do with two rounds of 6″ of snow that melted incredibly fast.


And regarding “Jackalope Lake:” I usually love rain, but it tends to collect in the side yard and it makes life miserable for me and the dogs. Last year we kind of carved out a bit of a ditch just to get some of the water moving away, but this year I did manage to dig it out a bit more. It’s not awesome, but it is pulling some excess water away, but it could be better. My ultimate plan is to dig a channel and put in a series of drainage pipes, and cover them with gravel. The other option is to turn the entire side yard into a dry stream bed type thing, and while I love that look, it just isn’t what we want or need. If plan A fails, though, I’ll look to it as plan B.

I haven’t really begun to ponder spring/summer projects yet, but my lack of a fenced in yard has really been on my mind this past year. I really want to put one in, and I’m confident I can get it done with minimal help, but it will take a good long while. I will continue to debate this in the coming months, but I’m really hoping to get moving on it soon.

As for my remaining winter projects: trimming the trees- I’ve started, but because I only had a hand saw, the progress was slow and labor intensive. I recently bought myself a rechargeable reciprocal saw (I know, I know, but *enter multitude of stupid excuses here* so 😛 ), and I’m really hoping to get out soon and start making awesome progress with this.


Shoe racks: I’m designing a couple of DIY industrial-style shoe racks. I’ve got the measurements taken and the pipes mostly picked out. I just need to make the final measurements and selections and figure out the wood and stain components, and they should come together pretty quickly (I think).

The plant cave: I’ve made no progress here. I’m hoping to acquire a table saw before getting this one done, but we’ll see.

The laundry room: again, no progress. I need a contractor to get rid of the $%^& gas line before I can really do anything. I’m still trying to figure out the cabinet situation.

So yeah, lots going on, but not a lot in the form of progress here on the ranch. /sigh

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The average high for our area is around 70 degrees for the month of May, and the average rainfall is less than half an inch.

The last two weeks would like to spit in the face of those averages! It has done nothing but rain and be chilly. I’d say our highs have been closer to 60ish, and I have no idea how much rain we’ve gotten, but we’re saturated. Today is the first day in over two weeks where no rain is forecasted and the temps are actually supposed to be above normal. It’s really nice outside, but I haven’t seen the sun in so long that I have an almost vampire-ish reaction to the sunlight. (HIIIIISSSSSSSS)

So, what’s this got to do with JHR? Drainage, of course! Jeremy mapped out where our abundance of water is coming from. We basically have two streams coming down from either side of a mountain behind the house. One empties into the existing stream bed, and the other empties into our side yard and goes down the driveway (slowly destroying both in the process). I raised the question “Why didn’t the previous owners do anything about this second stream?” which Jeremy answered with “They most likely didn’t get the same amount of rain we’ve been getting these last few years.” You know, because global warming and stuff.

So, enter our recent ditch digging efforts. Jeremy has cleared out a good sized ditch near the bottom of the driveway that empties into (one of the) streams where it meets the road. I’ve been working on digging around the house. We haven’t been able to really test our work until the rains started, and even then, we needed enough rain for the streams to start running again. We finally got our chance this weekend. The results: we’re on the right track!

We woke Friday morning to a steady rain that finally tapered off. My ditch near the house wasn’t quite far enough to direct the water towards the back, so it wasn’t doing a whole lot of good at that time. I grabbed a shovel and decided that I was going to create some sort of path for the water or die trying. Even though I had to fight the mud and rocks, it was pretty easy to get a small waterway carved and get the water moving.

Now the water can go into the stream bed or around the back. Obviously it isn’t near done, but I got more done in those 30 mins of digging in the mud than in hours of digging dry dirt. I need to widen and deepen the ditch and I plan to line it with rocks. Maybe I should just go dig some more when it rains again…

Jeremy’s big ditch was also helpful, but we had to do a bit of emergency water directing a bit uphill from it. Here’s hoping we can keep the water from spilling over into the driveway again. He plans to fix the grading and to add a small trench right down the middle.

That’s the new ditch on the left, and the stream it empties into on the right. Unfortunately, there is no culvert under the main road here, so in the past this stream has done quite a bit of damage to the road. They just added lots of road base and the main road is super nice now, and I’d hate for it to be damaged again. We were informed that there were plans to add culverts, and hopefully fix/improve existing culverts. No ETA on that yet.

We need to get our drainage issues squared away so we can finally fix the driveway, and more importantly, start work on an awesome yard! Yay! More dirt moving in my future! Can’t wait!

Oh! And here’s a shot of Jackalope Creek roaring away! You can’t beat the sound of a running stream!


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – April 2018

Seeing as spring is trying its best to make an appearance, I’ve been thinking about what to *attempt* to get done this summer. Obviously the ditch in the back southern corner of the house is pretty important, as I can’t do anything else with the yard until that is in. But, here are some other things going on outside in what I am thinking would be a fun seasonal-ish topic: the good, the bad, the ugly.

The Good

The trees are trying so very hard to sprout some leaves. I’m not sure if they’ll be blooming much, seeing as it’s already creeping towards May and we still have bare trees.

The Bad

We’ve got a couple of areas of sadness. First, one of the fences seems to have had a disagreement with a horse.


The post is broken off at ground level and not fixable. The boards are held in with peg things (I’m no expert on fence construction) and I can’t get them out without breaking them. I’ll have to figure that one out. But now we have an ugly, broken fence that I’m worried will damage the not-broken parts when we get a good gust of wind.

Next, the barn is going on 25 years old (as is everything on the property) but I think it was the most neglected over the years. The wind has been taking its toll on the doors.

I first thought an animal was to blame for the first picture, but I didn’t see the block there until I saw it up close. I know that getting this barn back to usable condition would really help the property value and potential sell-ability, but then again, I can’t muster the energy to think about how to fix it. It’s in rough shape. At this point I’m just waiting for doors to start falling off and siding to blow away.

Next, out here we have Junipers (super flammable!!) and Piñons. It’s important that we keep them trimmed (the ones close to the house at least), but we can’t trim the trees in the warm season due to some lovely beetles that easily spread. The Pine Beetles eventually kill the tree that they call home and it needs to be removed, but carefully, lest the beetles find new homes nearby. It’s a big issue out here, they’re killing trees left and right in some places. In our time here we’ve only had to cut down one tree. Unfortunately it’s time once again.


It’s a shame because this is a pretty big tree, and since they grow pretty slow, I’m guessing this tree has some years behind it. Plus, it sits on an island in the creek bed and is just plain awesome. Sadly, it’s got to go.

The Ugly

While the barn is in somewhat rough shape, the chicken coop nearby is still in pretty good condition. One of the kids has been talking about wanting chickens and I think it would be a lot of fun. Sprucing up the coop will be a lot of work, but we are fortunate to have a good start. My plan is to work on it slowly and hopefully we’ll be ready for the birds next year.


Next, we have an issue that isn’t new to us, as it was present when we bought the house, but it is freshly annoying every time I look at it. Did you know that birds really like styrofoam window trim under the stucco? Yup.


I think the best thing to do is just take what’s left off and repaint. But that sounds very not fun, and it’s really not causing any problems other than it’s ugly, so we’ll probably continue grumbling about it for a while longer.

And last, but not least, my garden boxes are pretty darn ugly at the moment.

I need to clean them out, remove the lattice, make new/better anti-animal cages, set up the sprinklers, and plant. Luckily our seedlings are kickin’ butt and it looks like we’ll have a nice garden this year.

An Attempt At A Garden

These past few weeks have lacked a few things, namely time and good enough health to allow my attention to fall upon this blank page. Now that the spring break camps are over and I’m not running the kids around (as much), and also now that my latest cold from hell has mostly gone away, I’m finally able to write a little bit. I was hoping the last two forecasted sky rivers would help me out with a topic or two, but they both fizzled out- YAY!! Unfortunately, my current project still isn’t done and ready for a post, but I am almost there. I’ve decided that I’ll start the next inside project while I work on finishing up the previous one.

BUT! We do have a bit of progress with something! Seeing as it’s mid April already, we’ve got our seeds started for our garden! AND! They’re doing well! This really is awesome-sauce because I have a black thumb, as they say. I love plants, but I can kill a cactus in the desert, so….

Anyway, I had the kids choose a few seeds and help me plant. I know not all of them will do well in our climate, but I really enjoy the challenge of keeping plants alive, esp from seeds( …even though I’m not so good at it).  Once it warms up, we’ll be able to plant them the carrots outside.

Other than the plants, the garden also needs a new anti-squirrel device because the lattice currently on the planters is falling apart, and it doesn’t cover the top. I also need to find the automatic sprinkler- it’s hiding in the garage.

That’s pretty much what’s going on lately.

So We Got A Bit Of Rain

I had never heard of an “atmospheric river” until we moved up here. According to the NOAA:

“Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.”

So, it’s basically a river in the sky, and of course what goes up, must come down, right? When one of these sky rivers comes our way, we know to be ready for wind and rain, and lots of both. Last year we had quite a few (the wind was scary even for me who likes the crazy wind), and this plus the large amount of snow we got last year helped our drought immensely. This year, eh, not so much. We had rain in November I think, and hardly any snow.

Enter March! We’ve had a few small bouts of snow, but last weekend, we woke up to a foot-plus of the fluffy white stuff. Finally! And then it melted- fast. Usually the snow here melts super slow, but this year it’s as if we were back in TN and it melts almost as fast as it accumulated. So now the ground was completely saturated and the creek was flowing, and then the sky river moved in. I woke up Thursday to this:


As the kids would say, “R.I.P. driveway.” There are three pipes running under driveway right here, but we were unable to unclog the third. Still, good grief. I’d say it’s about 4 ft deep in the middle, and it was MOVING. Needless to say, the driveway is in horrible shape. On the plus side, though, the ground is so rocky here that only parts of the driveway are mush, other parts are very rocky, though not always small rocks.

To make a long story short, we have some pretty big drainage issues. We need to figure out these issues and then fix the driveway. We also need to come up with a plan for the culverts down along the road, but that is going to involve working with the neighborhood association, because they need to fix culverts and pipes on their end. Sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, because since this past storm has done quite a bit of damage, they’ve already got their work cut out for them during the dry season.

My plans for the side yard include a ditch to divert the water around the house and into the creek, but that doesn’t solve all of our issues. I am, however, looking forward to not having a sizeable lake where I usually take the dogs out…