Thursday, March 21, 2013

We are moving again.

We are packing up our stuff and getting ready to move again and leave this wonderful Earthship in our past. The owner of the Earthship is coming over from Australia and wants to live in his house for a while. Like 6 - 8 months. So, we had to find another place to go with our little farmstead.

We thought about moving out to our land, and what that would entail...some sort of power, water, shelter, fencing for the critters and so on. A lot of work in a short time. We'd have to find an RV to live in and figure out how to make a workable office with power and internet for R's work-at-home, computer based job. Lot's to do and a lot of money to do it, for it to be workable.

Meanwhile, we kept our eyes open for rentals, and one lucky day we found it! A farmhouse with 25 acres and irrigation, a barn/garage, and a pond. Perfect. And affordable. It's across the border, back in Colorado and about an hour from Taos, although from where we are now, it takes us two hours to get there.


We are excited and have already moved a few things up there and began fencing off a pasture for the llamas. There is enormous potential for a huge garden and we may be able to put in hay on 17 acres, which will keep our animals fed for the whole year. And, there are trees...big old Elm trees, which will provide lots of shade around the house.

Pond...Guadalupe the duck will be thrilled.

The house is small, with no bedrooms to speak of (there is a sun room and a living room that could be used for sleeping), but still bigger than an RV. And it has power and a well. I sooooo look forward to a long soak in the bath tub. And the kids can retire their bath tub/water trough for the real thing. It's a small house, but I think we will be spending a lot of time outside anyway. We can make it work, at least for a while. The kids are small enough still to share a room, and the era of the big house is out and the small/tiny house is in. This house is badly designed, but still a workable 900 sq feet, which is about the size of the house we are going to build on our land. Another experiment in living and learning.

Ute Moutain....defunct volcano....or is it?

The house sits on the Colorado/New Mexico border. Stick your hand over the fence and you are back in New Mexico. It's at the base of Ute Mountain, which worries me a bit, if that old volcano becomes active again. I'm sure it'll be fine.

This week has been crazy with packing and moving and we even managed to fit in a day trip over La Veta Pass to Walsenburg to pick up a stock trailer to haul the llamas in. It was a great deal and the trailer is nice enough. The trip over there, not so much, as we encountered a storm at the top of the pass that had me turned around, facing the kids in the back so I would not have to see our descent on totally iced roads. I hate  that mountain. That was the pass I hit ice on on our last move, and flipped the trailer. Horrid. But, by the time we had picked up the stock trailer, the storm had blown out, and the ice and snow had all melted. Our return trip was wonderful.

Happy Ass Stock trailer

We headed over to ALamosa to check it out on our way back home. There is a Big R there, which is handy, and the City Market has a few organics. We didn't get a chance to check out the Co-op store (it wasn't open) but I'm hoping they have even more organics and maybe even some of the specialty foods we buy for the kids' special GFDF, soy free diet. If not, Taos is still an hour from the farmhouse, and we know we can find everything we need there. Plus we can keep our egg customers and take eggs to town on our shopping trips.

There is so much to do still to get ourselves transitioned into the new place. We have to move all of the animals and take down the barns and chicken coop, remove our raised bed planters (R wants to keep the dirt) and move more household items, which is a lot easier with a 16 foot stock trailer. This time we will not be renting a big truck. But, that means more trips and more gas. Sure hope that income tax return comes in soon.

So tired of moving and moving. At least the packing and moving the "stuff." The adventure of a new place is always welcome. We just need less stuff.

The snakes above the door have been up to young snake antics. I swear these little ones learned from that adventurous Verdi, the little, wild green snake that wanted to do crazy things in the children's picture book of the same name. We have had to pick them up off the floor and put them back in their little crack several times now. No fear, these wee ones. Wish they were big enough to start taking care of the mouse problem. I like them, as much as one is able to like baby bull snakes. I am the snake handler, but I won't miss the snakes in the house one bit. I wonder if there will be any up at the farmhouse?

Baby Bull snake saying hello.

Now, back to packing....

Monday, March 11, 2013

A day chasing llamas.


Been feeling pretty discouraged lately with no creative inspiration. Although, I have been working, slowly, on my fat lady sculpture...Goddess sculpture...I'm trying to embrace myself and come to terms with my own body. She, and I both are works in progress.

We have been out to our land a few times, trying to avoid the mud days, but racing through the bad spots in the road. The mud on our pallet shed has held up well to the weather, considering it was only the first coat. There is some signs of weather hitting it. The snow and wind come from the southwest.

And back at the Earthship, the llamas got out one morning, or at least when Richard went out to feed them, they were gone. Panic!! Where do you even start? We bundled up the kids and warmed up the car. I think it was around 10 F that morning. I  stood outside calling "Llama, llama, llama, llama," at the top of my lungs. Yeah, like here kitty, kitty, kitty, but the boys will usually come in from the field when I do that. No llamas to be seen, anywhere. Richard got out the binoculars...nothing. For miles around. Just sage. So, where do you start looking for seven wayward llamas in miles and miles of sage?

I put a post on Facebook, hoping some one in neighboring communities might have seen them. Richard started to call the neighbors. I rounded up leads and grain to entice them with, loaded the kids in the car, and then Richard told me one of the neighbors called and the llamas were at his house, on the very edge of our development.

We drove about three miles to get to the escapees. There they were, Turbo standing on a little hill being the proud guardian of his herd. I rolled down the window and started my here "llama, llama, llama..." call and they all turned to look at me, ears perked up. But no one came running. The neighbors came out and basically just stood there, not knowing what to do or how to help. Richard got out the pans of grain, and then they came running. Yippee. But getting leads on them...nope.

They were lead shy and balked at the sight of the leads. Richard managed to wrestle Vader and keep his arm around his neck while I snapped on a lead. Thankfully they had halters on. One boy caught, but no one else wanted anything to do with any of it and in fact were beginning to wander away. So I took Vader and began walking. Turbo started to follow, and then Frosty. My boys. The brat girls followed for a minute, and I thought I'd have to walk that llama the three miles home, in the cold, while the rest followed.

But no, the girls got spooked by Richard waving the grain at them and they turned around and began to wander off into the sage. Now Turbo looked at them, looked at me and Vader, looked back at the girls and took off...for the girls. And Frosty decided to follow him. And Richard was following them with his pan of grain. I was left with one lone llama, some frozen toes and two little kids in the car, yelling "here llama, llama, llama."

So, what now? The llamas and Richard were headed into the sage, and the road didn't go that way. But I could cut them off via Renegade road (the road around Two Peaks that our development has tried and tried--to no avail-- to keep the people on the other side of the hill from using).

But I still had a llama and two kids in the car. So I tied that llama to the bumper and drove real slow down the road. So slow, it was painful, as I wondered where the llamas had gone, and if Richard was getting frostbite. Eventually the neighbor where the llamas ended up was behind me in his fancy Mercedes, and I thought, oh good, he's coming to help. Maybe he can find Richard and get him in the car before his fingers and toes fall off. So I pulled over at another road and got out to wait for him to drive up, and on he went, right on by, with a little wave, speeding up as he passed me and my slow walking llama. Okay, fine. I stood in the door to the car and searched the horizon with the binoculars. Nothing.

So, I got back in and drove my walking llama to the crossroads, wondering if I should just take him home and tie him up. I decided to tie him to a post at the crossroads. He was panting from his walk/run behind the car. I gave him a pan of grain and left him there in the sage, hoping if the other llamas saw him, they'd head that way.

And we were off, four wheelin' it down the Renegade road, but I could not see the llamas or Richard anywhere. So I headed off road and through the sage, hoping the ground was still frozen enough to not be mud. It was all good. I love that Kia. I was swerving around sage and big rocks until I reached the end of the clearing. Unless I wanted to drive over the sagebrush, I was done, so I stood in the door way of the Kia and looked again, and they they were! And then they were gone. Over a small rise. The flat landscape around me was sure full of hills and valleys...enough to hide seven llamas and a six foot four inch man.

But, for the second I saw them, I could see Richard herding them with his bowl of grain back toward the road. I didn't know it then, but they were following the fence line of our development. So I headed back through the sage, aiming for the road, bumping along on the icy dirt. I caught up to them, but Richard was waving me on, telling me to go home (really he was telling me to cut them off so they didn't go in another direction).

So, I took off, hoping to get to my tied up llama before the rest of the herd did. I planned on using him as bait to get the others to go home.

And we were back to driving slow, walking Vader behind the car to the road behind our house. When I got back on our property, I couldn't figure out what to do, so I left the kids in the car and the llama tied up and went to inspect the electric fence lines. How was I going to get the llamas back in when they showed up? Richard was still herding them down the road, chasing them with his grain (reminded me of another day, in Colorado, of escaped llamas as Richard ran behind our two boys, waving grain at their butts).

So I found a spot in the fence that was pretty broken down. It looked like a herd of buffalo went through the fence. I disconnected the remaining lower lines and ran back to Vader. Now Richard and the llamas were headed down our back road. I had to get Vader back on the right side of the fence before the rest got there.

It was timing. I almost didn't make it. I got around the fence when Turbo saw Vader and started running, the girls, and Frosty following him. I tied Vader to the barn and snuck back through the fence line. And they all came running, reunited with Vader, but not interested in the pans of grain I had put down around the barn. And they all headed right back out through the downed lines, in the other direction. Crap, I'm thinking! But Richard tells me it's okay, at least they are in the area now, and he grabs a bale of alfalfa.

I jump in the car and drive around the house to the other side to herd them back into the yard. It's just those pesky girls. The boys are eating from the alfalfa bale in the pen. Vader is still tied up at the barn. I scare the girls into turning around, or maybe they were headed back to the alfalfa anyway, and park the car at the fence line, thinking I can get the wire back up while they are distracted. I have my daughter get out and stand in the hole behind the car. The car is the fence at this point. The llamas are only interested in their alfalfa.

We get the lines back up, in spite of the fact that I had parked the car on one of the lines. The llamas were all back in. We decided to herd them into the corral panels and contain them while Richard checked the fence line. But instead we spent the afternoon going down to our land to get the other four corral panes we had stored out there so we could keep the brat llamas fenced in for a while.

It turns out we have to move (another story) and we don't want to chase llamas around the countryside anymore. We picked up our unused roll of field fence from our land too, thinking we could make a more sturdy pen. I am not a fan of electric fence.

No one lost their fingers or toes. It was a day of adventure--and comedy-- indeed. I wish I had thought to grab the camera in my haste to get out the door and find those llamas. I sure did have fun driving through the sage (I rarely get to drive anymore), and almost felt like the cowgirl I used to pretend I was when I was a little girl. Yeehah!