Archive for the 'New Mexico' Category

The orchard

Ken has gone on a bit of a gardening kick this year. So far he’s planted 150 strawberry plants, five rows of beans, six rows of corn, several native melon plants, several squash plants, six watermelon plants, four apple trees, and two cherry trees. The man does nothing by halves. This is all well and good when one lives somewhere where things… you know… grow. With actual dirt (not gravel), water that falls from the sky, and a manageable number of wild animals that also want to eat anything green. But no, this is New Mexico, so anywhere you’d want anything to grow you have to add organic matter to the soil, you have to water everything (by hand, with a bucket, if the irrigation system wasn’t designed for all this – which it wasn’t), and you have to enclose everything to keep out the voracious animals.

Hey, if it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun. Right?

So, because we have a herd of deer and numerous birds, if we hope to ever get any fruit whatsoever off of a fruit tree, it must be completely enclosed. So, we had to build an orchard enclosure. Thus follows the tale of the orchard enclosure.

A proud man and his baby apple trees.
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Digging holes. Don’t let this fool you, I dug a lot of holes too. Just no photographic evidence.
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Holes for the trees done!
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So, not only do we have to build an enclosure, it has to be designed and built as a timber frame structure because this is what Ken wanted. Which means that Ken hand shaped mortise and tenon joints on the end of each board. This is a very time consuming project, but hey, it’s his time, not mine. However, if you were to ask me, there’s a reason that screws and drills have been invented.
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Structure laid out and ready to put up.
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Fruit tree holes dug and amended. We have to do serious amending in order to get anything to grow in the gravel around here.
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Vertical poles set up.
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So getting all the poles fitted together with their respective mortise and tenon joints and pegs put together up 12 feet in the air with only the two of us was incredibly difficult. At one point a 2×4 dropped on my head. There may have been tears shed. It was not a good sort of a project. I may have proclaimed that I would never ever help him build another timber frame structure as long as I live.
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However, what does not kill us makes us stronger, and it eventually stayed together on it’s own with the help of many, many straps.
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Since, Ken has built a gate and enclosed most of the structure with deer netting and chicken wire to keep the deer and birds out.
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The apple trees are thriving, and haven’t been eaten by anything since Ken got the netting up, so it seems to be working. Those better be really freaking good apples.
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Happy New Year+25 days

Hope the first month of 2015 has gone well for everybody. Looking through my pictures, I’m still catching up from October while my sister and brother-in-law were here.

We took them mountain biking, as we are wont to do.
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I love mountain biking. I’m hoping we do more of it this year. I think there’s a good chance, because a friend from grad school is talking about a trip to Moab, and if we’re going to be even close to being able to ride in Moab with him we need some practice.

We also spent the day in Santa Fe, which is quite pretty in the fall with the trees turning color.

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This statue has been in NM off and on for a looong time. I guess the Spaniards actually took her with them when they got kicked out by the natives for a few years, then brought her back when they came back.

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This is the face of a man unconvinced that the train to Santa Fe constitutes a time-savings. It took forever. But, we didn’t have to try to park in Santa Fe, so I guess that’s a plus.
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Fall camping

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We took a camping trip in the Manzanos in October. It was quite lovely, the trees were turning color and it was cool but not freezing cold.
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Ken, the dogs, and I hiked to the top of the ridge. Because that is what we do! It was pretty windy.
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My cousin once-removed is the kid who gets to ride his bike at the campground who I was always SO jealous of when I was growing up. Having five kids doesn’t lend itself to bringing bikes camping, I guess. And then his dad carries the bike uphill! That kid might be a bit spoiled…
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There was plenty of chatting and story telling accomplished. Here’s a story generated on the trip: Amongst us we had three sort of largish dogs, and we had them off their chains so that they could play together, which they were doing nicely, until a guy walked by to go to the bathroom and they all decided they needed to eat him (instigated by Heidi, of course.) People had been walking by fairly regularly and they’d been ignoring them, I’m not sure what it was about this guy. Poor guy. We managed to haul the dogs away, and they didn’t bite him or anything, but they sure sounded angry. We are bad dog owners.
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This may be the quintessential picture of my uncle: sitting next to a campfire telling stories that are probably based in truth.
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My cousin and his son playing the ukelele and singing together for us was pretty precious.
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Man, writing this post has made me want to go camping. My aunt and uncle are coming into town again in a couple of weeks, think I can talk everybody into winter camping?? Probably not…

Prickly Pear Fruit Sorbet

We have multitudes of prickly pears on our property. Actually, we have a lot less than we did, I pulled out two dumpsters full of cacti in late September. However, there are still enough remaining to make as much prickly pear fruit sorbet as a body could desire.

You have to pick the fruit with a tongs, because they’ve got the tiny little spines that are impossible to see or pull out, but will remain painful for days and days. Here’s my modest harvest.
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After you pick them, you hold them with tongs and scrub them off under water with a stiff scrub brush. This removes the evil spines. You then puree the fruits in a blender and strain out all of the seeds. As a gross side note, something, maybe raccoons, like to eat the fruit, because during late summer there are turds around that are completely composed of cactus seeds. I can’t imagine how they manage to eat the fruit, maybe they have their own version of an under-water scrub brush?

Once you have the juice, you mix it with sugar and lime juice, then freeze it in an ice cream freezer. It is a very pretty color and has a nice flavor. There was something weird about ours, it didn’t freeze the whole way. There was some substance in there that had a lower freezing point than our freezer.

I didn’t get a picture of the finished stuff, but it just looks like a dark pink sorbet.
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It was pretty good, I think I’ll make it again next year.

Parental visitation

My beloved Mom and Dad came to visit us back in July. I have a sneaking suspicion that the real motivation for the particular timing of the visit was to see my brand new first cousin once removed who lives in town, but they did actually spend most of the time camping with us. Guess if I want to see them more I should have some kids…
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We had a great time camping. We did a lot of fishing, went to a classic small-town 4th of July parade, hiked up to some alpine lakes, played games, visited with my Dad’s aunt and uncle, and enjoyed the sights (and relatively cool weather!) of Northern New Mexico.

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I like Mom’s style packing up the tent. It felt like sort of a whirlwind visit in the midst of building a shop, remodeling the bathroom, and Ken having a new job, but we had a great time with them.

Memorial Day Manzanos camping

You may have guessed by the way I’ve not been posting anything that I have a backlog of things to write about, and the thought of getting caught up is just too daunting. The time has come. This was our camping trip over Memorial Day. That’s how far behind I am.

When we arrived, there was some fairly sizable hail on the ground. We felt thankful that it had hailed BEFORE we got there.
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This is why they call it robin’s egg blue. So pretty! Ken accidentally scared the mom robin off of her nest and felt really bad. She came back through.
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There were so many beautiful birds around our campsite!
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We went on a hike to the top of the ridge. Dogs love hiking.
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The dogs were VERY excited about the cows we met along the way.
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This forest had burned a couple of years back.
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We didn’t quite get to the top of the ridge, because there was a very ominous and close crack of thunder and we had to turn around and scurry down the mountain to shelter. It’s a good thing we did. No sooner did we get back to the camp, than it started to hail. A lot. We sheltered in the car.
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I told you it was a lot of hail.
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Oh dear.
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Happily the sun came out when the storm was over and we dried everything out.
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Including Klaus.
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So we might be bad people. We let our dogs tear up this meadow in search of some rodent. They never caught it, but man was it funny to watch them try.
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Heidi got a little bit chilly that evening. She needed a blanket and to be snuggled up to the fire. What a pansy dog.
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The next day we drove up to hike along the ridge. It was a beautiful hike with some beautiful views, but the windfalls from the fire were numerous and made for a lot of scrambling up and over. I think I counted over 100 that we went over.
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From the ridge we could see the clouds rolling in, and by time they were looking like rain it was pretty late in the afternoon, so we weren’t going to have a chance to dry everything out before night. So we chickened out and went home. Which is a nice thing you can do when you’re camping less than an hour from home… And you know what? That was a good decision. It rained ALL night, and my bed was dry and I wasn’t sleeping half an inch or less from two big, wet dogs.

Final bits of the Gila trip

Ken is super allergic to poison ivy, and we noticed on the second day of backpacking that there was baby poison ivy coming up next to all the rocks in our camp, and we’d been sitting and stepping in it. I hadn’t thought to bring the poison ivy scrub (when will I learn? Or maybe when will Ken learn, he’s the one who’s so allergic…), so we had to go in search of some when we were done hiking. That hadn’t been part of the plan, so good thing we’re flexible. We headed back to Silver City and found some Arby’s, poison ivy scrub, gas, and these.

Nothing like lobster tail, steak, peas, and french bread after eating dehydrated food for a couple of days. We were very full.
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We camped at a group camp that night. It was a sorta weird place, just a bunch of fire pits in a very flat Ponderosa forest. But it was free, and there were only two other groups camping there, so it worked for us. The next morning we drove out the impressive road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

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The cliff dwelling hike is very cool, totally worth the $3 entry fee.

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I think we should explore this part of the Gila some more in the future. There’s a bunch of rivers which come together in this area, and you can hike up various ones. We did a bit of a hike up one to see a hot springs. These are the sorts of hikes where you cross the river a whole bunch of times. And it’s not a shallow little stream, this was high enough to come over the tops of my boots.

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We left that area in the mid afternoon and drove back to the south-east, spending the next two nights at the Black Range Lodge, a bed and breakfast in a very cool old building. The owners were very friendly, and the building and grounds are full of character. We had a nice stay, doing some hiking and finally seeing some lupine close enough to take a picture. We had driven by some, but not hiked by any previously. I think they might be one of my favorite flowers.

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We headed home on Saturday so we could go to church and get ourselves sorted out before we went back to work. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing trip. If only we could take more 9 day trips to the middle of nowhere!

May 2018
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