Monday, November 6, 2023

Blue Skies and Tailwinds


All is well. Changes have been falling steadily this fall. New season, inbound and outbound farm animals, and overall smooth sailing have been the flavor of the season for me and my crew.

Sometime earlier this calendar year my vision for my place and my animals gelled. Goat dairy based on Alpine Goats. No more moo cows. No more meat goats. Careful management of male goat offspring. Better physical resources for goats. Early on I was planning to build a new building, then realized I had a building already but it was being wasted storing junk. 

In October changes in population happened. In the middle of October I drove to Silt, CO to buy two registered Alpine nannies. Same age as Marilyn the Alpine I have from the stock sale in Fowler. I bottle fed Marilyn so she is sweet and easy to manage. The two new girls, Polly and Greta are possibly even sweeter. Tina who I bought them from runs a very mellow dairy operation.

I had three Boar nannies, but took them to Fowler October 28 and sold them back to where I bought them. I made a little money, probably almost enough to pay the gas for two round trips to Fowler. But they were wild. Wild goats are a pain in my ass. They are impossible to manage. And Boars are meat goats. You can milk them, but they were not part of my vision. And now I have two bottle fed babies and these new Alpines who are perfectly behaved.

Finally, the day for freezer camp for my steers arrived. I borrowed my neighbor's ancient trailer, made of lead and iron, and loaded up the boys. Chuck went right in after the morning grain I put in there for the purpose of chowing down like every other morning. Brisket the Angus wasn't freaked out, but was hesitant to step in. I texted Andrea and she came over. Three minutes later he was on the trailer.

My Tacoma hauled it surprisingly well. It's rated for around 5500 lbs towing capacity, but we had to be well over halfway there. The cows were at least close to a ton. The trailer was at least a ton. On CR 1A there is one grade that's pretty serious. It's less than a mile long, but it was a slow pull for me. But it's all done, the truck didn't explode, the drive was made, the trailer was returned and the boys were dropped off.

It was a little emotional. It was nothing like losing a dog or cat, but bittersweet. That they were so trusting was helpful but also made me feel like I was disloyal. I didn't want to have to drive them nearly an hour on account of their stress, but surprisingly it didn't seem to bother them. I pulled the trailer into the drop off at the processor and coaxed them out. They didn't seem frightened. Maybe a little relieved to be off the trailer, but not freaking out or anything. Which was good.

I went home and constantly checked for them in the pasture for a couple days. I have 5 of my neighbor's steers here and they were all together before Chuck and Brisket left. For a couple days I'd see one walk up to the water tank and check to see if he was one of mine, then remember. 

Last week I put together a spreadsheet of people who want to buy the meat and posted a notice to Facebook. Nikki who manages the Ark-Valley Humane Society for which I sit on the Board of Directors reached out, interested in a quarter since her husband's hunt had come up empty. I had been thinking of giving close friends a brother-in-law deal, but then I considered the staff at the shelter. They are like my children. I offered them a crazy-low price. So Nikki is taking one and there's another one and a half going to staff. That makes me feel great.

I'm keeping a quarter, one of Chuck's. He was a dairy calf, and it was visually obvious that he was an inferior beef cow compared to Brisket the Angus. His other quarters are going to the shelter staff. The Angus is going to friends and acquaintances. I intend to drive up to Westcliffe when they are ready and then go deliver quarters. Hopefully only 1 quarter will ever see my freezer.

It's all a relief. Pieces of the vision are falling into place. I now have a small herd of very manageable goats. This winter I won't have to witness my boys' suffering in the cold and enduring long dark nights. I won't have to constantly worry about their water freezing, and/or that I adequately drained the hoses. I can finish my barn insulating early this week if I get off my ass and do it. Then on nice days I'll work on sealing the outside of my house so the wind doesn't go right through it.

My firewood kicks ass. I've had 8 or 10 fires so far, and it's a remarkable difference compared to the Cottonwood I burned exclusively last year. It lasts. I can get it going and load the firebox with fuel and it doesn't need to be fussed with for over an hour. Almost no ash. Pleasant aroma.

It's all good. At least for now, it's all good.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

My Dad

My dad died this morning.

Dr. George Purvis was born March 30, 1933 at home in an uninsulated farmhouse in rural Bent County Colorado. This part of Colorado along with parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico were part of the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression.

He lost his father, Francis a week before his 9th birthday. He and his younger brother Dave were raised by their mother Delma and relatives.

He went to Colorado A&M in Fall of 1950 to play football and avoid the army. The Korean War was raging and sending home dead or badly damaged soldiers. He actually wanted to join the army when he graduated from high school but was only 17 and his mother wouldn't sign the papers.

After he graduated from college with a degree in Agriculture he was drafted and went to the army. He complained about it, but also described a life with two buddies both called Ray that was pretty awesome.

He met my mother and they were married within 3 months, in September of '59. They had two girls while he went to grad school at what had become CSU. He left with a Masters Degree in Food Science. And two daughters, Amy (1960) and Beth (1962).

He entered a PhD program at Ohio State but became disillusioned with the position and found a job at Gerber Products Company in Fremont, Michigan. While working there in 1964 I came along. My sister Meg came in 1966 and they called it a wrap.

Gerber wound up sending him to Michigan State University where he got a PhD in Infant Nutrition. His career was stellar. He eventually became a Corporate Vice President and the Director of Research.

He left Gerber to form a consultancy (just him) and he worked for a couple foreign governments and the US Agency for International Development.

During his life he traveled the world. He had a marriage that lasted until my mother died in November of 2021. He never lost his facilities and he never had to go to a nursing home. His life was a success by all measures.

Rest In Peace Dad

Friday, September 15, 2023

A Red Fork


Aight, shit's getting real with this little scooter. Getting parts is a bit of a bitch with these guys. I was trying to find heavier coil springs for the crappy stock rear shock and was striking out, so I decided to take the gold-plated option and order one of the killer EXT rear shocks endorsed highly by fullfacekenny of the Just Riding Along show, a podcast published by friends of mine. The good people at EXT put on the weight of coil you want and tune it based on your weight and riding intentions.

Was the shock cheap? No it was not. But it arrived promptly after I ordered it and I'm sure it's going to be badass.

My rear wheel shipped from eastern Canada. A very simple headset part was almost impossible to find. So that basically ate the end of most of August and first two weeks of July. Now I'm pretty much complete other than stuff I can get locally.

I have to dish the rear wheel and spent an extra hour while in Canon City yesterday to acquire a motorcycle spoke wrench. With that enticingly knobby rear tire dragging on the chain, until that's done it's un-rideable.

But damn, I'm excited. My buddy Matt (also on the JRA podcast) came over last night to set the headset and install the fork. I've had this thing for 6 or 7 weeks, and now it's close to being ready for the purpose it was purchased for. Which is getting my lazy body way up into the aspens on singletrack.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Toy Update

 Here it is, a full 30 days since I announced my toy. Well it came! And I put it together! It wasn't too exciting at first. Not too powerful, not too fast. Then after googling all over the interwebs I found a video that showed a combination of button presses. Hurray! I did that all day right after it was built. There was also a vid that showed cutting a wire up inside the beast. Huh?

Couldn't be right. But then a support question I'd sent to the outfit I bought if from was answered. "You need to cut the wire" it said. Huh, go figger.

Cutting the wire changed the whole world. This thing rips. 

Bad news is that it needs a ton of upgrades. I've gotten started, but it moves slowly because it's hard to find what you need. So far it's stock except for pedals being lowered using a kit that was surprisingly not cheap. I have a 21" front wheel like a real moto. Also a tire and tube, which I mounted using my remedial skills. And I pinched the tube. So I ordered a Baja No Pinch Tire Tool (look it up). Should be here this week. My very good friend Matt got me hooked up with a bro deal on a prior model year brand new Rock Shox Boxxer DH fork. Boom!

As it is stock it's tiny. One of the reasons I didn't post a follow-up after it got here was that I made the dreadful mistake of trying to do some challenging stuff. As soon as the wire was cut I was rarin' to go. Long story short, I crashed. Three times. Creek crossing 1, whisky throttle and down in the creek. Rocky barrier, whisky throttle and down. Creek crossing 2, you can guess.

The stock position is cramped. Like an old school YZ80. And I hadn't gotten familiar with the throttle, which is on the touchy side. And it's light and powerful. It weighs half what my Yamaha WR250R weighs. And it has basically a mountain bike wheelbase.

So it's going to be big fun but it's going to take a minute. By this weekend I will hopefully have the new fork and front wheel. Once I have that I'll get a new handlebar. It's just a mountain bike handlebar so I can just go pick one at Absolute Bikes where I still have store credit.

What do I still need? A bigger rear shock coil spring. A better rear tire, probably on an 18" rim (stock was 19 front, 19 rear). Maybe better pegs. The stock ones are pretty blunt. But with the 21 up front I may be ready to throw it at some trail.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

New Toy on the Way

My life since I moved to the country and got livestock has been pretty boring. Enriching for me, but boring for others. This blog for example; the more of my current state of being and activities I share, the fewer readers. My readers liked reading about how I got caught in a hailstorm at 12,000 feet while on a hopelessly ambitious mountain bike adventure. Firewood, not so much.

By the way, my firewood is a completed project. Yesterday I split the last bit and tarped the enormous pile. Which is neat, but don't go away! That's not what this is about.

I have been mumbling about doing this for a while and now I've done it. I just ordered a Talaria Sting R MX4. I already have a motorcycle. It's a Yamaha WR250R which looks like a dirt bike, but is really more of an ADV or adventure bike. It's awesome for exploring the vast network of dirt roads in Colorado. But it's heavy and underpowered. And it doesn't have sophisticated suspension like a YZ250 does. I like it, and I'm keeping it, but it's not a singletrack bike. This new sled is going to be a game changer. 

Battery driven electric. It only weighs 145 lbs. My Yamaha is 300. It's lighter than a Yamaha YZ125 2 stroke which weighs 210, and that's about as light as it gets for a gas powered dirt bike. But what's really compelling to me as a rider is that there are no gear selections, no clutch, no constantly monitoring your RPM for power band and appropriate gear selections. Just apply throttle for go, apply brakes for slow.

Stoke is high. I can get on the Rainbow Trail 3 miles up a county road from my house. Can't wait.

Maybe having and riding it will make my blog readable again.

Monday, July 17, 2023

A Day in the Woods

 I got another load of wood! It was awesome. In ways.

This place I'm gathering is not Forest Service, it's in a subdivision called Trail West above Buena Vista (which I pronounce "Bee Vee"). The woodcutters have been cutting it to stove length and stacking it. Many of the stumps have been cut down to be able to drive over. But not all of them.

I got a solid load on the trailer and was ready to exit the premises. I made a bit of a mistake in route planning. A stump, not huge and not really high, presented itself as a problem. I failed to give the stump his due. First he destroyed my trailer jack. I mean, fixable. But not optimal. Then he caused my trailer's axle to stop. Hard stop. I did a little 4-wheel low struggle for control, but it was a fail. The stump was winning.

So then I decided to wage war on the stump. I produced the only saw I brought (!?), my cordless Milwaukee 16". I had to work on it with the trailer in the way. The stump proved to be an incredibly dense piece of wood. Like a chunk of granite. Sweating and swearing I worked that fucker, then thanks to awkward angles the chain jumped off. I went to get the integrated tool that's used to disassemble the saw and saw that at some point in the past I failed to put it back where it goes. OK. Game over on making the stump pay for its insolence. 

Out came my truck's emergency jack. I jacked up the trailer as far as the jack would go and put a vertical chunk of firewood in place to hold it up. I put a rail of tree wood under the tire on that side. Then I put the jack on the floor of the truck and yanked that fucker out of there.

Trailer seems fine other than the jack. Like I said, fixable.

Drove the hour home and parked the rig. As I walked past the truck on the drivers side I saw a stick in the front tire. I pulled it out. Air started to leak out.  

Sad panda.

But what I nice load of wood!

As a wise man once said, "Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, the bar eats you."

Saturday, July 15, 2023



After a wet May and a mild June, July brought the heat. Not news to any of us really, because it's been on the news. 

So far it's stayed at or below the low 90's here at Casa Cabras Pequeñas, but that's hot as fuck at this elevation if the sun is shining and you are not in shade. The Weather Service is forecasting 99 for Monday. 95 for Tuesday.

The sun seems so damn powerful right now. It has been increasingly hot from my own perspective, and of course I could be wrong and it's just like it's always been. 

I saw Sheree, my dermatologist recently and she asked me if I wear sunscreen, and I immediately blurted out the truth, "I hate sunscreen." She didn't scold me, but told me to get and wear sun-protective clothing. She said J2, our local tech clothing company was selling some nice ones. I got a hoody and started wearing it when in the sun. I have been working, splitting firewood, fixing fences, etc and I try to start early. But I sweat buckets, especially wearing the sunproof hoodie. I just went the other day and bought another one. As little as I enjoy wearing it I do wear it and having only one means it's always going to be sweaty and nasty.

The dogs sleep through the middle of these hot days. The moo cows refuse to come out from under a bush that overhangs the ditch. They stand or lay in the ditch in the shade all damn day. My goats amaze me. In the middle of the day they lay in the open sun even though shade is available. Nutty. 

So far this post has been me bitching about the heat. But no, it's going to continue with me bitching about how completely in denial the human race is about climate change. I mean people, New York and Vermont major unprecedented flooding. Mississippi flooding. Canadian wildfires flaring. Fatal heat across the southern part of 'Merica, certainly Mexico though that doesn't make news, and now I hear Europe. Massive losses of Antarctic ice. 

People. It all has to fucking change. Until we can figure out how to make travel carbon neutral, we ALL need to do A LOT less of it. Next winter we need to take Jimmy Carter's advice and put on a fucking sweater. I think we're reaching a tipping point, which is an event or series of events that cause a trend that was moving gradually to begin moving rapidly. 

This is on my mind. Sorry if it's tedious. If you got all the way here, thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Problems for young people to solve. A geezer's perspective.

There are some big doozy problems in the world nowadays. Global Warming is the likely winner among existential disasters coming down the pike to kill and destroy.

I know, some readers will with every justification put up an immediate thumbs down about me delving into politics and bummer shit. K. Sorry.

I wanted to point out some things that the younger generations are going to need to deal with, particularly here in 'Merica. I'm not going to do the obvious and bellyache about climate change and how much nicer it was back when I was a whippersnapper. I choose to bring up some things that should be obvious but obviously are not.

The United States Senate

A great deal of power resides in the Senate. The Supreme Court nightmare we have right now is a direct result of Senate power being used by ideologues who are not representative of the United States' population.

The Senate is un-democratic. Every state gets two representatives. California gets 2 and Wyoming gets 2. I lived in Wyoming for four years and married a native (oops). I promise you, it is a FAR simpler place than California with far simpler problems and culture.

The framers of the Constitution could have never imagined that we'd have a Wyoming and a California. Or a New York and a North Dakota. In their world, it made sense for each sovereign state to have a strong voice in that body. But damn. So many low-population, low-tech, less educated states have an equal say. Which is, for example, why we can't do anything about guns.

One of two things needs to happen: the structure of that body needs to change to be more representative or the big states need to break themselves up.

Driving and flying

First-world people and Americans in particular feel very entitled to travel around as much as they can afford to, as if there were no side effect. We drive stupidly big vehicles, we're willing to drive them really far even for just a weekend, and when we go to work we go by ourselves in those big honkin' F350s. 

Air travel is out of control. It's a HUGE consumer of fossil fuels. If you fly in an airplane especially for pleasure more than once every couple years you are having a big impact on the planet, even though nobody really talks about that.

The freedom to own your own vehicle has been part of first world culture for over 100 years. Generations of us have loved our freedom buggies. I have owned 11 of them, Eleven! I have lots of good memories from tooling around the American West in my various rigs.

The material, water, and carbon cost of manufacturing internal combustion or electric vehicles is a significant portion of their total lifespan cost. If you buy one new off the lot, depending on how efficient it is the carbon cost for it's full lifetime will already be 30-60% incurred. If it's gas or diesel and you put gas and oil in it and burn that up, and tires, etc. for 10 or 20 years and 80-200 thousand miles, the consumptive output of greenhouse gases will be on the same order of magnitude as what it took to build the damn thing.

Now we've glommed on to the idea that the electric vehicle is our savior. We'll be able drive anywhere, for any trivial reason whenever we want. Like always. So we all need to sell our dinosaur-juice rigs and get shiny new EVs. We'll scorch earth to provide a new EV for every first world driveway on the whole planet. And all the internal combustion ones will still be on the road until utterly worn out, blowing blue smoke.

Time to change this paradigm homo sapiens.

As I say, this is for the new generations to solve. All of it. Fixing the Senate could help us do things like clean up the Supreme Court, who went on their own scorched earth tirade this week. Solving the travel-on-a-whim problem would change the way the whole world works in a way that I think would slow us down and make us more thoughtful. And cleaner. We would focus on being here rather than on going there.

If we don't do anything radical to turn around our carbon problem, blue death may come from the sky to find us all and end the problem. Floods have already shocked much of the world. And fires. I've seen it change in my 50+ years observing. It's changed. But especially in the last 10 years. It's changing faster now.

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 29, 2023

A little VT125 beta


Vapor Trail 125 Ride Breakdown

A little break from what the New & Improved Teamvelveeta blog. Just gonna publish this. I wrote it back when I was still a bike rider and a manager within the vast Vapor Trail 125 organization. So, just because I'm publishing this now doesn't mean I'm not still a fat slob who doesn't ride peddly bikes any more. 

As of the writing of this, for the sake of reference:
Aid 1 was near where the Colorado Trail hits a dirt road, above Chalk Creek.
Aid 2 was Snowblind.
Aid 3 was Monarch Pass.
Aid 4 was Marshall Pass.
Mini Aid 5 at the western terminus of the Rainbow Trail.


The course of the Vapor Trail 125 is pretty well described on the official website (, but what's it like to ride it during the event? How far between Aid Stations? Where are the biggest challenges?

This document breaks down the ride from Aid Station to Aid Station, giving a rider some idea what the day will be like.

How I arrived at this description: I sliced up the GPX file I recorded when I rode the course on my own early in August of 2013 and analyzed it with my gps software. I am not fast, my sustainable pace is generally barely fast enough to make the event cut-offs. When I did this I was going with no support, so that cost me some time. I was on a pace that would have gotten me through cut-offs, but not by much. So this is kind of the analysis of a slowest possible finisher pace.
  1. Start to Aid Station One. 26.5 miles. Between 4000 and 5000 feet of climbing. Took me a little over 4 1/2 hours moving time. Some pavement climbing, then a dirt road climb that is quite mild, but with an increasing grade. Nearly 3000 feet of climbing. Better be there in two hours or less or you're already looking marginal to finish. Then it's Colorado Trail, a very rugged and technical bit of it.
  2. Aid One to Aid Two. 33.5 miles. Between 5000 and 6000 feet of climbing. Took me a little under 7 hours. This is a big section. Through the night, coldest temps, most remote part of the course. This is the first and most important real test of the event. Leave Aid Station #1 ready for a long, cold, dark ride that you'll remember forever.
  3. Aid Two to Aid Three. About 2,500 feet of climbing 14 miles. Took me 2:15. Aid #3 is where you'll have access to your drop bag. This is the Good Morning section. The main feature is the climb to Old Monarch Pass. It'll be getting warm, so you'll have that to get used to. It's a fairly mild climb, but a long one. It's about 2500 feet of gain. Just a little on the tedious side. Wakey wakey!
  4. Aid Three to Aid Four. 10 1/2 miles. About 1000 feet of climbing. Took me an hour and 40 minutes. Monarch Crest Trail. This is a piece of candy that always seems to go by easily even when exhausted.
  5. Aid Four looping back to Aid Four. 11 1/2 miles. 2,500 feet of Climbing. Took me 2 1/2 hours. It's a little inner loop, so you visit Aid Four on Marshall Pass twice. This loop is what cracks many of the riders who don't finish. Be prepared for a honkin' big effort from a tired body. This little test is probably the most often-discussed part of the course at the after party.
  6. Aid Four to mini-Aid Station at the Rainbow TH. 7 3/4 miles. About 800 feet of climbing and then a long descent. Took me about an hour 15 minutes. This is mostly candy. The climbing isn't bad, and it's broken up with lots of nice descending.
  7. Last mini-Aid Station to Finish. Rainbow Trail then pavement down the highway to Poncha Springs and on a County Road back to town. Around 20 miles, a little over 1,000 feet of climbing. Took me a little over 2 hours.


So it's 5 aid stations, 6 aid station visits.

Saturday, June 24, 2023


I burn wood in a stove for heat in the cold months. The economics of wood-burning require that the burner get the fuel for a minimum of cost, in either money or time and effort. It takes effort not only to get the wood but to keep the fire going. At least every 20-30 minutes I have to get up and tend the fire. If the fuel ain't cheap, you might as well turn up the thermostat and sit your wide butt into a chair and pay the power company for the BTUs. 

Buying split, seasoned wood doesn't work unless you get a brother-in-law deal. Normal market price would make me pay over a grand for a winter. Bad juju. You really need to acquire and process it yourself. Find a source of raw wood that is cheap or free, hopefully that's been limbed and gathered. 

For last winter's burning season I had primarily cottonwood that I salvaged from down by the creek. 

Back in July of 2016 the Hayden Pass Fire burned a very large percentage of the Big Cottonwood Creek drainage. In places it was a very hot fire, burning even the dirt. My place was far from the burn, and firefighters kept it away from all the houses even the ones 3 miles west toward the fire. But in July 2018 the creek flash flooded.

My creek, which is half a mile from where it dumps into the Arkansas River, is one that you could almost jump across at lowest water. Never any more than knee deep. But it was more than knee deep that day.

It devastated the stream bed and vegetation along the way. Root systems of trees, primarily cottonwood and willow, were torn up. All of this happened almost 4 years before I ever owned the place, so it was not an injury to me. However, cleaning up down there has been a very large consumer of my time.

Probably 20 or more years ago a tree house was constructed between a cluster of cottonwoods on my place maybe 20 yards from the creek. The floor was like 20 feet off the ground. The trees were all dead, from the flood or the copious hardware that had been driven into them to hang the little shed. It was a hazard and an eyesore. I was trying to figure out how to get it down with killing myself.

Then early in 2022 the wind took care of the problem for me. It fell and became gravitationally safe. But it was a huge pile of debris. In April of 22 I broke my right fibula and mangled my ankle by yet again using poor judgement with my motorcycle. So the logs and debris laid there for much of the year.

The Tree House

'How does all this relate to firewood sir?' the curious reader might ask. Well I'll tell you. There was lots of crappy old lumber, sheet metal, windows that shed broken glass all over and hardware like lag bolts. But there was also about 6 cords of cottonwood logs. In addition to the trees that were holding up the tree house there were two others I felled and one huge one that came down on its own.

I blocked it and hauled out what I could that way. Some of the blocks were too heavy for me to lift into the truck so I took a splitter down there and split and hauled them. There are a number of them still down there that I can't even lift onto the splitter myself. Remember, the economics are thin on this deal. If I get a hernia and need surgery that's going to blow the whole thing up.

As firewood, cottonwood kind of sucks. It burns hot, and it's a very clean wood with little sap. But it generates a lot of ash. And it's kind of stinky. On a really cold day when the fire is burning from pre-dawn through evening the coals pile up. They are very durable. I've almost needed to go get the steel bucket and a shovel to take them outside so I have room for fuel in the firebox.

This year I have a good strategy and I'm starting early. First, I met a guy who runs a fire mitigation crew. He works with property owners to thin their woods to help with wildfire. He called me once and I went to his site that day with my trailer and came back with about a cord of mixed ponderosa, juniper, and piñon. It's green for the most part, but I processed it right away and put it under a tarp. 

Also I bought 3 cords worth of fuel gathering permits from the Forest Service for $10 each. That's to be a good guy, and in the rare case that anyone from Forest is even at the gathering site to check your permit. If I want I could easily take 10 cords. But 3 is a lot. That's about what I burn in a while winter. 

I brought home a load of mostly aspen last week. Aspen is very good, but not my top favorite. That is juniper, followed by high country fir and spruce that have been standing dead for a while. I've been processing it off the trailer for a couple hours in the morning before it gets too hot.

It's hard work. But I'm trading my labor directly for BTUs rather than paying a public utility to burn fossil fuel on my behalf. Now that I've given up on participation in society and I've stopped mountain biking, I need to put my labor somewhere and break a damn sweat once in a while anyway.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


Fred came to live with Vicki and I (and cats, goats, steers) in January of 2022. In the last post, I described his genetics, but specifically he's half Great Pyrenes, 23.3% Australian Shepherd, 17.3% Border Collie, 9.4% Miniature/MAS-type Australian Shepherd.

He's probably around 100 lbs and strong. He has forced adaptations one after another. He was probably a little over a year old, maybe 15-16 months when I got him. On day one he got my butter from the counter. Adaptation #1, butter goes up into the cabinet. If it's on the counter, it's probably going to be his.

Then there was extensive poop eating. Then there was the car chasing. Every time he encountered a new kind of livestock he would try to play with it and then bark at it when that didn't happen. My neighbors have horses, pigs, sheep, and chickens. They have a beautiful pair of Pyrenes sisters as guard dogs for the sheep. Every one of them has been barked at extensively. Luckily my neighbors on both sides are very patient. And Fred doesn't chase. When he first got here he barked at my steers. He barked at my goats when they came along. 

Ever since the morning when he chased off the lion, his urge to be protector has surged. 

The day before yesterday I needed to go into Salida for some things. When I got home he'd tried to dig his way out above the dog door. I hadn't finished up the job, and you could see daylight through a small gap. He opened up a hole in drywall that was 18 inches wide and close to 10 inches tall. Big mess, but also a sign of change. In the 18 months he's been here, he's been locked into the house when I leave because he'll try to follow me otherwise. Now he's lost his tolerance for that.

Yesterday I had to go into town again (to buy a set of tires, ugh). While I was gone he pulled the trim off the latch side of my door, dug for while, then figured out how to unlock it. He got out. 

About 45 minutes before I got home there was a big thunderstorm. He was out, and close lightning strikes made him bolt. A neighbor came to the house with his four wheeler from a mile up the road to tell me Fred was up there. While we were talking I saw Fred running for home. The scared dog ran right into the house and up to the bedroom to sulk on the bed.

So, he's forcing another adaptation. I don't think I'll be able to lock him in for any reason. Which means I'll have to teach him to not follow me when I leave.

Such a wonderful friend. And such an incredible pain in my ass.

Friday, June 9, 2023

My Home


I live about 25 miles east of Salida now, on a 3.3 acre place. I'm on Cottonwood Creek, and my eastern property line is the middle of the creek. This is facing west, with a nice view of the northern part of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

I have great neighbors. We get along, cooperate, and respect each others' privacy. We get a little bit of ditch water, and we have to communicate about that.

There is a community here, but very small. Houses are pretty well spread out up the creek. To the east of us is a big area of rugged BLM land of the piñon/juniper variety. No houses for miles in that direction. If you go 3 miles south up the creek you run onto BLM land, then State Trust, then Forest Service, then the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area. To the west is ag land and disbursed residences. Half a mile north is highway 50 and the river. I'm at 6600 feet elevation.

I moved here in March of 2021. I have a cheap security camera setup, 3 cameras with motion sensors. I have seen fox, coyote, bear, lion, skunk. The most troublesome are the lions. Especially for a goat rancher. In early March a lion took one of my goats, a nannie named Maude. I bought her from a stock sale with her sister Marilyn and bottle fed them for about a month then weaned. When you bottle feed an animal, you will forever have a special relationship. It made me sad, but it was because I didn't put them inside that evening until twilight.

Later last month my oldest cat Butters didn't come home. He showed up on the security cams in the week following, so I thought he might have made it and would show up one morning. But it's been a week and a half. He's always been independent, and he just would not come in that night. And the lion has come back at least once since Marilyn was taken.

These videos were captured by my home security cameras. They are close to my house, in the 2nd one he walks 10 feet from the door I use to come and go. Roughly 4:25-4:30 am. 

At the beginning of 2022 I adopted a shelter dog, a boy I call Fred. I had him DNA tested to confirm my theory that he had a lot of Great Pyrenes blood. Yep, half. Other half is a combo of Australian Shepard, mini Aussie, and Border Collie. Those herding breeds may have provided Fred with some of his abundant intelligence, but his personality is 100% Pyrenes. He's a goddamn magician. He finds things, makes things disappear, he gets into and out of locked things. Leave it on the counter? Sure, it's Fred's now.

Pyrenes were bred to be livestock guard dogs. Since he had figured out that an open window with a screen in it was just an open window, I knew I needed to get him a dog door. I mean, he's already destroyed some screens. And in summer the windows are open, period.

So that morning was one of the first when he'd figured out the dog door. I was asleep, but I woke up because of the racket outside. He went out there and started barking his big, bad dog bark. 

To see what happened a few minutes after my cameras by the house picked him up, one of my game cameras captured a fleeting glimpse of him heading for the woods and willows down by the creek, and he wasn't waiting for Fred to catch up to him. To see the action you have to look carefully at the lower right. He's gone within a second.

My home is in a wild place. Salida gets some fat lazy bears that want to cruise the alleys for garbage, and deer so tame and stupid you could punch one in the face if you want. Here the deer are wild and wary. We also have bighorn sheep, and elk now and then down from the high country. Lots of cows and pasture land. Irrigation ditches running with cold water.

No pizza. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Well, here we are.

The last time I posted to this blog was July 6, 2018. Since then things have happened. Things have changed. That's how it goes. Things do change. As an old-adjacent person, I find that they have been changing real real fast. But again, I'm old-ish.

So! Where to start? First of all, I don't ride bikes any more. Like, for the last almost 3 years. I just set new hooks and hung two of the bikes that I still have, covered in dust like some kind of loony's showroom-quality 1975 AMC Gremlin in a barn in Arkansas.

Point is, I rode the bikes hard for decades. I spent a lot of hours grinding away at Rocky Mountain climbs. I carried and pushed bikes up and over big land masses. Crappy late 80's and early 90's rigids and hardtails with pointless forks. Then better 26" hardtails. 29ers starting in 03. Some really nice 29" full suspension bikes. I did great things on a 2013 Giant Anthem aluminum. Also on Lenzsport Leviathan 4" bike from the 07 timeframe. Fond memories of a 2016-ish Yeti ASR.

But now, fuck it. My body hates peddly bikes. They hurt. I miss being fit. But I think about how much time I spent since I started doing this shit in '88 grunting and wheezing and trying to ride techy climbs clean. Fuck that shit. In that respect I am more than old-adjacent.

Now for me it's about animals. During the pandemic Salida became a zoom town. Real estate prices went apeshit and lots about the town I'd lived in for 20 years changed. I sold my house in town and bought a place halfway to Canon City. I own and live on a piece of land with a little irrigation water. 

I worked at a raw milk dairy back in 2021, milking cows, feeding cows, straining and refrigerating milk. I found out that I like cows. The dairy shut down, but I had a chance to buy a bull calf out of my favorite milk cow, Sophie. I got him at 3 weeks old and bottle fed him. I call him Chuck. He's a steer, because my pair is the only one allowed here. 

In order to have a herd for Chuck, I got goats. Two 1-year-old wethers and two bottle feeder babies. Come to find out goats are not a herd for a steer. They don't even really like each other. So I got another steer. His name is Brisket. 

Along the way I found out that goats are easier than moo-cows in terms of work and expense. And they have more personality. The amount of land I have is a little limiting for moo-cows. So this summer of 2023 I will fatten Chuck and Brisket on grass, and in the fall they'll go to freezer camp. After that I will become a fulltime goat rancher. I now have four young nannie goats who will be bred this fall. Goat babies!

Five years that included a pandemic have past and I'm a different dude. And fatter. I have a motorcycle, a Yamaha WR250R. She and I went on a 86 mile jaunt in the Arkansas Hills this afternoon. We were turned back from plan A by rain. But it was a good ride nonetheless. 

Life has entered a new phase for me as the pandemic slowly recedes into the past. It's way less weird to be a hermit in Coaldale surrounded by space and animals than it was being one in Salida. In my life here I often go days without speaking to anyone other than the critters. I MacGyver my way through obstacles because there's nobody else here and not much help even to be hired. Is it good? I don't know, but it suits me. I think that may be the best we can do.