Sunday, December 7, 2008

Billy Ray's Got Wood!

Billy Ray isn't the name we write on his checks, but it's been his nickname since his early Vail bar-tending years at The Club. It has something to do with that bit of wall art bearing the title "Billy Ray's Pool Hall" - you've seen it. Or maybe you'd had too much to drink to remember; that happens at The Club.

Billy Ray used to do our snowplowing, and he still provides our wood. He always brings a smile with him. I always have a beer for him & his crew.

King of the Mountain! Billy Ray & his gorgeous girl are moving over one valley this winter so he's trying to get all his wood out there so there will be no need to do deliveries in February. He also just bought a fancy lil' dump trailer than hauls two cords at a time. So dump he did, and then he stacked before I got a chance to take a picture of all that wonderful wood in a dog-tempting climb-me-now kind of pile. Maurepas, on the right, felt there was enough challenge remaining and fought off all contenders.

Ted Ted had to check out the stacking. I think he was really looking for another place to lift his leg.

We've definitely lost a lot of porch room on the wrap around, but Maurepas & his litter mate Manchac got right to the point: too much shade. All those stacks blocked some of their favorite sunning locations. Manchac & Maurepas

I heartily sympathize because the lounging spot in front of the glass-paned door is where one of my favorite chairs gets a great winter midday beam.

That will definitely be the first wood to burn.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Teeka, our baby Reindeer

Looking for a way out.Teeka has been very elusive since she was born this May.

Today was her first day to be separated from her mother for the late afternoon and evening. The calf & mother honk to each other, and Teeka ran about the pasture honking for Mom after the ladies had left for an evening display and round of reindeer rides at "A Grand Holiday" in Glenwood Springs CO.

Wanna play some reindeer games?Teeka calmed down after a bit and soon was up to her mischievous ways, sneaking out through the pasture gate to visit all the other Ranch creatures. She can't get back in the same method of egress, so she circles the pasture and ducks back in through a drainage, which oddly enough, she cannot escape through. So in & out she played, driving her dad, Magnus, nuts, because he was totally distraught that his bevy of beauties had all left him behind. And then there goes Teeka, off to start some reindeer games with the other animals!

MWAH!
To see how she has grown, here's Teeka when she was just a day old, un-named, nose to nose with young Ruby, about 7-8 weeks at the time. Check out that "Hello World!!!" kiss.


Holiday Trees

There's Ted!This will be the third holiday season at the Ranch and at last we have trees that sparkle with light and color. I have been shopping yard sales, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore & every deep clearance I've seen to stock up on options.

I did however forget to keep an eye out for grounded extension cords.

You can never ever have enough extension cords at a ranch.

As the storage shelves in the pump room overflowed with supplies, Kristin became infected the holiday spirit bug. We planned which trees, and lamenting our lack of solid color strings, we decided to do the tree trunks in a single color and the branches in white.

Kristin has been wrapping for weeks! What wonders she has created! Thank you!

The Largest Egg Subscription...Yet.

That's a lot of eggs!
Last week Kristin & I were packaging up our newest order and we were amazed by the amount of counter space this single order covered. This is a weekly subscription! Never before have carton returns seemed so crucial financially to our new endeavor.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things that Make Me Smile #1

I love finding cool things through a friend of a friend.

Doggie in a Truck

Saturday, November 29, 2008

O'Meallie Egg Nog

12 large eggs separated
2 cups sugar
1 pint milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 fifth rum
1/2 fifth brandy

Mix egg yolks and sugar until creamy in large bowl. Add milk, blending slowly. Slowly stir in spirits. On one side whip cream to stiff peaks and fold into mixture. On other side, whip egg whites to stiff peaks and then gently fold into mixture. Grate fresh nutmeg over all.

Enjoy with true abandon.

This halves well.

Behave.

A Day to be Thankful

Thanksgiving was beyond lovely at the Ranch.

Kristin & I cooked and baked at a steady but not demanding pace for days before so on the big day all we had to do was the Turkey, the Egg Nog, and the green beans.

Before that we had oodles of turkeys to process for others. We had a crisis of how to clean the gizzards, not usually our job but we found a wonderful web site, not for the queasy. But let's not think of that..back to easy & peaceful.

Our Menu:

Beginnings: O'Meallie Egg Nog - made with our eggs, various cheeses, fruits, and crackers & nuts.

The Meal: our turkey from the Ranch, moist as could be; apple stuffing; stuffed mirlitons, sweet potatoes on pineapple slices; cranberry chutney & green beans buca lapi.

Dessert: Creole cream cheesecake - creole cream cheese made from scratch & chocolate truffle torte. All also made with great quantities of our farm eggs.

Around the Table: Kristin. Jared, Jim, Keith, & myself, and all the animals that were allowed inside.

Perfect.

Funniest moment: seeing all the men try to keep the fluffy clouds of joy from the eggnog off their facial hair.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Great Hen Escape

Devilish gals, they learned how to open their door and go a wandering. I arrived home to dozens & dozens of hens everywhere. Poor bugs & worms, they stood no chance.

It took two people, two dawgs & one llama to corral the wenches. Good thing it was coming dusk. Or we would have stood no chance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ranch Views

I'm amazed at what we see without leaving the porch. I've been sorting photos and these are keepers.

A Full Moon Full moon rising in September over the Gore Range, and swiftly, too.

Rising
And we get rainbows. These arrived five days later.

And a Double!

Seeing Double

The Wind Turbine Base #1

a MOUSYou don't have to be a little boy to enjoy Big Dirt Moving Equipment. Keith brought his toys out and just happened to be on hand when the permits came through for the Wind Turbine. When you have Machines of Unusual Size, digging a hole for a 14' x14' x 4' base with working space and a walk-in & drain-Working the Holeouts in a mere hour or two.

Keith has his two trusty assistants with him at all times. Look closely in that cab. Who do you think is really operating that Cat?

Woof!Look closely. Click on that pic on the left.

So after missing a week of beautiful weather the concrete crew arrive to set forms in a snow flurry. Layers of #7 rebar are woven into the form. Number 7! You don't want to be tapped by #7, much less thwapped.

Positioning the bolts for tower base takes precison and finally a template assured accuracy and the concrete trucks are called. Unfortunately it's Jared's birthday and he's not here as he has to renew his CDL. Three trucks loaded with 28 yards off some very high tech blend come rolling in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Live Life With Alacrity™ Pom-Toons

AKA Pomegranate Martoonies.

Recipe by popular request.
  • 500 ml or 2 cups excellent vodka
  • 500ml or 2 cups 100% pomegranate juice
  • The juice of one thin skinned lemon strained, preferably a Meyer's
Stir. Store extra in freezer.

Shake in ice, and serve in chilled martini glasses.

Notes:

If you serve this as a featured cocktail at a party, pre-mix large batches. Anyone sipping one of these will never conceive that it's not 90% alcohol. Don't let amateurs mix these. Immoderate behavior will result. (Even at the recommended dosage, odd behavoir may result.)

Leftovers freeze well. In the summer you can scoop this out as a frozen drink.

Forget the Cointreau, or any other filler. Stick with the good stuff. Don't mess with perfection.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Isn't it iChronic?

It must be the coming holidays. The phone's been popping with messages, email is full. People are reaching out to find me. I've even received, hold the presses, snail mail, hand written, no less.

What I feel, is, well, missed and beloved. Which is a very wonderful way to feel.

Lovin' on Rory
I'm a poor correspondent. I don't call folks. I email when I have a random thought. Okay, I'll even admit I abhor buying gifts at appropriate times; I'd rather give when something or someone moves me. But I wasn't always like this, except for the gift thing.

I've turned into a bit of a hermit since I broke my back, and it's because of pain. Living with chronic pain is an undeclared war as no one wants to talk about it or recognize it. Only the people living closest to you can stage an anti-war rally, and that might just be moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Pain is an embarrassment, a weakness. No one wants to sit next to the old man that goes on about his lumbago, his prostate cancer, and his arthritis. Boring! It's not a conversation, it's a death sentence. Argh!

"How ya' doing?" is a loaded question because no wants to really know. "Medium" is usually my lowest answer because if I was worse, you wouldn't have any contact with me. And so I disappear.

And so I'm living a mostly invisible life.

I've got a few hours a day and I use them. If I over-do I pay for it by losing days. My mind is rich with scheming. reading, physical therapy, icing, a little piano, training dawgs, heat packs, dreaming of ways to be finacially safe, dove releases, napping, zoning, more ice packs, couch surfing on the internet, and always, pain medications.

And as my mama taught me, when there is nothing nice to say, don't.

So mostly invisible.

But here online I am very visable, in my best togs. And here is where the best parts of me & my world are on display. But you should see behind the curtain. You should know that this Oz is an illusion made real by hope, and more so by my fellows at the nonprofit & the Ranch. They are my limbs, my friends & family, my support system. Without them I'd be lost. And certainly without clean laundry.

I thank you all.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The WTF

Between the Ranch and Town, we have a mess of refrigerators - 4.5. And we are actively seeking deep freezers. Several, in fact.

The Town fridge is serious, pretentious, spacious stainless so only the sides have magnets, cartoons & such frippery that tell you a bit about the occupants. Strangely enough, it has more attached personality than any other form of cooling about...until lately.

But only one Refrigerator has a name, the WTF - the White Trash Fridge. He adorns the wrap around veranda of the log cabin on the Ranch. But of course, he holds strong beverages, weaker beverages, mixers, and as an oddity to him, but regular occupant, homemade stock.

The WTF longs for but two things.

Most importantly he seeks a mate, an old open-hearted tub wringer-washer to host a wealth of ice and long-necks. If the union is fruitful, a few ginger-ales and Coca-Colas would be a welcome addition. But the Ranch life doesn't make for many introductions, and the Fence Post or other agricultural publications haven't sported many personal advertisements that have led to a successful match.

Secondly, the WTF wants art. Bonifide fridge art, the kind attached with sassy and even utilitarian magnets.

The WTF began life in a fancy condominium in Beaver Creek Resort and became accustomed to the finer things in life. After a remodel, he was downgraded to a barely above a mobile home park condo development called Sunridge II. He languished there for some years, though he lived with a sexy ebony Jenn-Aire range and an avid home chef before they all three upgraded to much superior townhome development. You see the WTF was an Energy Star and he traveled with the home chef just as did the Jenny range. But the WTF was upgraded, and it was a racist decision. He was the wrong color, beige - a near almond. He didn't match the new place. And he landed on the porch of a Ranch because he was an inch to wide to fit inside in the primitive kitchen there. So high, then low, raised again, and then brought lower than a trailer park - a porch! And he lost Jenny in the bargain. "Jeeeeeeennnnny!!!!"

And for two years he has languished. A few deer jokes have been taped on his doors. Something about gas costing more than per gallon than beer, nothing of class. The snowblower has been a mean and fickle in her rounds, so no hint of romance.

Woe.

Without the logs stacked against his side he'd be alone. At least the view is lovely.

Gore Range

Photo by Keith F. Galloway.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The 7 Egg "4 Egg Omelette"

eggcellent source of proteinYoung hens are a work in progress. Their eggs started small and are gradually increasing in size. Our girls are doing a great job for us. At first the white layers were throwing down the biggest eggs. I can now actually eyeball small, medium, large, and extra large now. Our brown layers are catching up with the added bonus of providing double yolks!

In the Deep South where I grew up, double yolks are traditionally good fortune - how appropriate - our first two egg subscriptions start this week. Big happenings have risen from a little Egg Money.

I still find it a tad silly to use half a carton to make a four egg omelette, but you can't fob the wee small eggs off on your new clientele.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jack in a Wheel Chair

After almost almost two months of Friday afternoons of bookwork & dog interaction on the Ranch, it was time for a Field Trip. Our Quickie wheelchair was all serviced and the tires pumped to prime pressure.

I selcted two dawgs for this trip, Bo'sun and Katie. Bo's is an excellent puller - for me. Katie has been prepped, but has never been tested on real sidewalks.

Jack, our young volunteer, has never been in a wheelchair, but he does ride a unicycle. He thinks it's going to be easy. We head to Broadway in Eagle, the kindest ADA main street in the entire Eagle Valley. We park on the South end, unload and I show him how the chair assembles. I pop him in and send him off, no dog to help, for a tour, from the bottom to the top of the street and back. I want his impressions.

Jack isn't as swift on the circuit as I thought he would be. I figure he is getting the hang of the chair. Upon his return, I want to know what he's learned:

  • The sidewalk slants towards the road.

  • People won't meet your eye.

  • He already has a blister on one hand.

I'm pleased, Jack has learned more than I wished. I thought it would take another hour to get a blister. Jack also admits that he crashed twice already. I'm not about to admit how many times I've done that.

We take a moment and I play the dog for Jack. I show Jack how to position his elbow and how to follow me as I lead. Then I instruct him how he can turn by moving his hand left and right, not moving his elbow, and the wheelchair turns. We crack up because it's so easy when we are doing it, but later when he tries with a pup, it's not so smooth.

So next I match Jack with Boatswain. Bo's is an amazing puller, but he's my baby, and always looking for approval from me. But Bo's has a bond with Jack that is awesome, I don't think this is going to be a problem. I lead off with Katie before them.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Jack & Bo'sun go off for a Broadway tour alone. This time no one avoids his face, they smile. Bo's helps him not to slide towards the street. Jack doesn't trust the elbow turns and gets another blister.

But Jack gets it. When you have a dog, people connect. Assistance dogs aren't just physical assist, they make a social connection. Everyone wants to greet you, meet you. From being a pariah, you become a celebrity. We made a side trip into the Eagle Pharmacy - the Everything Place, and ran into several teachers from Jack's school as well as one of my fellow patrons of physical therapy.

It's Katie's turn. She's totally toy-centric, so I grab a stick. Bo's & I and quick-step ahead with the stick; Katie goes nuts. She's pulling! Off they go around the County building loop. Um, I think she just pulled Jack OVER. Oops! Or was that Jack hot-wheeling again?

Now I made a deal with Jack that he would study his copied text for his day out. I get home and all those sheets are still on my dining-room table. We are going to fix this.

It's Halloween and I had my first normal in years ghosts & goblin night at Jack's parent's house. I helped spread webs and black lights. I admired weak and terrific costumes. After living where no Trick-or-Treater ever dared, it was wonderful to see the flood of costumes. I really liked the Ghost-Buster and the lil' Cinderella.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

82 Dove Pick Up

Kristin & I are hunting out a log cabin with a green roof; this should be easy - we live in a log cabin with a green roof. I believe they must have had a sale on them in Collbran though. Suddenly Kristin sights an appropriate roof adorned with white doves, "Looks like our place!" and we start to climb the incredibly steep driveway.

Paul & Nancy's place is a veritable aerie. Two large flocks of doves are out exercising, or should I say, putting on a Broadway Review. We stand on the new deck overlooking a sheer drop to a vast basin with a pond. The birds fly below us, even to the deck, and then up above the mesas & mountains. White contrasts against greens, browns, and blues, the two flocks weave and warp. One flock has some grey feather markings that flashes nicely against the all white grouping. I've never seen so many doves flying all at once, so aware they are performing.

And it's okay that I'm coveting because we've come to buy a mess of young birds. 74 in fact. And 4 breeding pairs as well. That's 82 doves from this special and highly recommended loft.

Checking out other folks lofts is always fun - what are they doing better? We got some ideas we'll share later.

Loading was swift. Paul has some very agile hands. Both Kristin & I learned a new way to grip the doves so as to easily hand them off to each other. Paul shared so many tips & lore I had a hard time keeping my count straight. I'd mess up my count a hundred times over for each bit of knowledge shared. Kristin was the middle handler so she never missed a bit of information. I really wanted to switch locations with her, but I was handling the birds outside and was more familiar with the baskets we were loading with both hands full with doves.

After washing up Nancy treated us girls to a hand treatment from her BeautiControl® line - instant manicure & cuticle salve, and I'll tell you, my hands are still very happy. We also got to play Trick or Treat with a monstrous bag of candy. I'm so glad the servings were minute. We all got a good laugh about never getting T&Ters in the country...but still buying candy...just in case.

Getting late, never enough time to hang with new wonderful friends, we hit the paved roads hard and fast.

While we were gone Jim, with the help of Jared's step-dad, Keith G. tidied up the loft bay we need to off-load this wealth of birds. They mounted perches and secured doors & bobs. No one was here when we arrived but we were in awe. Sure we'd like to have everything all painted but that can wait until we are creating a cash flow - this is a sweet loft!

Enter the 82.

The Breeding Pairs were the first to venture out, and the first to pick the highest perches. The Young Birds, having never been out of their own loft, in a basket, nor having ever traveled, were baffled, and took some time to exit. Eventually we helped the last ones out. Only one bird sustained injuries in transit.

Then it was Musical Perches.

That's fine for Young Bird kindergarten but we humans were mighty hungry and weary. The new kids had plenty of food and water in their new quarters. We dimmed the lights so they would rest, but light enough so the boogeyman would stay away and they could keep flying & vying for their perches and bid them all sweet dreams.

But I did the math.

Jim said they put up 80 perches.

That means two will be sleeping on the nesting bench tonight. That's right, just a bench, no boxes there yet.

Life is so not fair.

Grand Mesa Road Trip

Road Trip!

Kristin & I were off to stock the dove loft with a plethora of new birds.

But on the way we took a detour.

Exiting I-70 at De Beque, in lieu of the Cutoff heading South, we opted for V Road, also known as Sunnyside Road. Any road that Google Maps says is 17.7 miles and has a travel time of 43 minutes has got to be worthy.

Now we've seen red rock, and white rock, and grey, but pinks? purples? Click on some of this pics for a more detailed view.

The road started out quite well maintained. And we saw a bit of traffic - it's oil country out here. Then we hit a fork, decided to stay on the better road. We passed an encampment of cowboys, tents, a trailer & horses and waved. They must have started placing bets on how long it would take us to switch back, because we soon dead ended at some pumps. Some 15 minutes later we were passing them again, this time to hearty waves and smiles and we took a left on the road less traveled.

And the road disintegrated.

But the season was perfect for off roading in a Subaru wagon - everything was very dry. We went through deep washes that would have been terrific in mud if only we had been in Dad's Jeep. The switchbacks around deep ravines were dramatic. The remnants of massive boulder falls on both sides of the track were intimidating. Have I mentioned the purples?

At last we passed a sign. But I had to stop and turn around to read it. So that's where we'd been!

Grand Mesa National Forest. Well, we'll be back.

Next time in a Jeep!

The road gradually improved. We started seeing oil workings again. And we popped out on CO-330, not far from our destination in Collbran. You'll notice there aren't any links for this trip, that's because this section of Grand Mesa National Forest, located in the Plateau Valley area, and this particular road aren't marked in any of the online scenic byway or forest literature. But the locals sure know about it!

PS - Upon refection an in a later edit, this post of DG's needed to be referenced here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Sweet Ami, Ted

How many ways am I linked to this wonderful hound named Ted?

His mom, Nadine Lober, is one of my oldest and most dearest friends in the valley. She's on the board of With Alacrity, our nonprofit for assistance dogs. She is our veterinarian.

Before Ted, Nadine was Mom to Ami, the dawg that showed me the way to service dogs. Actually it was Nadine that showed me the way by sharing her dog when I was housebound. By dropping off Ami, she knew through my love for her pup I'd scooch down the stairs on my butt and get Ami outside when he asked.

Ami lead to Gladys, my first full time certified service animal. Gladys changed my life completely.

In 2006, Nadine and I lost both Gladys & Ami to cancer.

Gladys had picked our pup, Boatswain, four months before she passed. Nadine would later come to meet Ted when she assisted in whelping his litter of Ridgeback-Labs. Katie arrived on Christmas Eve 2006 to complete the crazy trio. Katie would be the mama and boss of our nonprofit. She's not a mother yet, but she is the Boss.

Ted's been coming out to Camp Alacrity often while Mom finally takes some well deserved vacation time. Bo'son welcomed him in as a brother. Katie had her reservations. Poor Ted had to go through fiery hoops to win her approval. At last Katie laid the crown of acceptance upon Ted - he was approved!

Ted's a different dog out here. At home he's totally tied to Nadine's side. He won't go out to play unless she goes too. At first Ted was that way with me while he was here, but the pack won him over.

At the Ranch, or Camp as it is for Ted, people aren't No. 1 All the Time, one is allowed to Go out and Play. As long as the whistle home is respected - GO PLAY! Yes, schooling is important, but free time to use one's imagination is almost a lost art in which we believe heartily.

It was so delightful to watch Nadine realize her pup wasn't in the house while we were visiting. He was out playing until the very last minute. Ted had been happy to see her drive up, but when he realized they weren't leaving just yet, he went back out to play. Of course, when Nadine went out to their vehicle, Ted was ready to go home, because There is No Place like Home.

Mama Mia, It's a Cria!

Around noon today Kristin was chatting with her best friend on her cell when she glanced out the window onto the South Pasture and was a tad baffled. Was that Katie getting close to Mya, our llama that isn't all that friendly? But wait, Katie looks nothing like a skinny poodle, she's a trim American Labrador. What is that with Mya?

Could it be a baby llama?

Those are due in the spring. And what with all the trouble we've had with that toxic weed death camus, we'd given up on having a cria. Could it? Could it be? Kristin hung up on Julie and ran over to the Big House. Jim was about to have lunch. I was in bed fighting a fever. We all bee-lined for the pasture.

About that time Ande, our male llama figured out he had some competition; he'd been playing reindeer games over in the excavation hole for the wind turbine. Jim covered the cria. Kristin scrambled for the baby shots, and I, well, I tackled Ande. Honest. Ande was already after the cria. I grabbed him by his coat and took him down. Male llamas are known for kicking the crias so the females come back into estrus. We know from the previous owners that Ande did this last spring ('07) and I'll be damned if he was going to do it again.

I cursed Ande, telling him that Jared & I had saved his life last winter when he was choking on his cud and we intubated him and cleared his passageway, Ande owed me a life, dammit. Ande didn't try to kick me after my outrage. He laid there stubbornly, refusing to move, even after Jim got a lead on him. I don't blame Ande - I'd been pretty persuasive. Finally Katie came to our aid and helped Ande to his feet and we escorted him to the BOQ, otherwise known as the house paddock.

I took a nap. With a thrice sparained ankle and a whooping head cold, I was toast. Two hours later, I limped back into the pasture with my camera. Cria was standing steady & nursing!

The puppies are totally intrigued with the cria. Mya is usually a very standoffishish critter but she's learning who her friends are. Mya's ears are normally pulled way back in a very bitchy attitude. Motherhood must agree with her. Her cria will grow up amongst reindeer and puppies and as the only cria - with what breed will the lil' critter identify?

The reindeer were honoring Mya's space, but did you think the labs would?

Please notice, Mya's ears are quite forward!




Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Place Like Home

The Beav was a great place to roost, but there's no place like Ranch Alacrity.

- The Doves

NPLH = No Place Like Home

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Doves do have a Bedtime

Well, I learned a big lesson. When you say what time is the latest that you will release your doves, stick to it. Be firm.

I fudged by some thirty minutes. I was attending a Vail Valley Partnership function at the Dusty Boot and they wanted to announce the release...but it wasn't timely. By the time the doves were announced twilight was fading and the doves decided to bunk down in Beaver Creek Village for the night.

These are some savvy birds, heated streets, warm rooftops, a totally cozy environment to be had. It made for a poor release, but I totally deserved it. I'm just glad the doves have such a grand place to hunker down.

Best meets: Jenny Schechter of Heartland Payment Systems - I have hopes of having her volunteering with the assistance dawgs- we talked about going for a "roll"; Ken Pearson of Alpine Construction & Remodeling - I was intrigued with his CAPS certification - Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist; and best of all I ran into Lynette Horan of HR Services of Vail and I got a good report of her puppy now on Ester C! Lynette also won a gift certificate from the Dusty Boot but there was some confusion - seemed there were several Lynettes in the audience, but we made sure they had the right one!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Finest Dove Photograph

That I have ever experienced! I was googling "dove release vail" and right above our site, on search page one, I can proudly type, I found this, the most amazing How do I Dove Thee™ moment.

I'm beyond awe. These photographers, Andy & Angie Wood, have created the perfect indelible memorable magic moment. Not only can I wish that we at Doves of Vail can hope to have an opportunity to work with them someday, but Kristin is already wondering if she & Jared can save enough to engage them for their future wedding at Ranch Alacrity.

The Incredible Edible Egg™

That's the trademark of the American Egg Board.

A singular incredible egg was of monumental importance on the Ranch today because it was our very first from our young flock of hens. Kristin located our first nugget of gold, but since she was mid ranch tour with Jared's visiting family, she set it aside for later gathering. Inappropriately, or appropriately enough, the dawgs dined on our first egg.

Oddly, it was a plain ole white egg. Most of our gals will lay brown and rainbows. I suspect the layer was one of the exotics with the feathered legs that arrived early in the year with the cocks, a surprise chick thrown in for every so many birds we ordered. That makes sense since they are a month or so older than most of the hens.

Nevertheless, celebrate with a round of the American Egg Game.

New egg layers will lay just about anywhere except in their roosts. This egg was laid in the water bath! Our eyes are peeled now, pun intended. The next eggs are for the humans that feed and care for the flock.

I have souffles on my mind. Mmm, a chocolate souffle, no less.
And egg money.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Young Jack

We have a young volunteer at the nonprofit that is simply irreplaceable. Jack is 15 and wise beyond his years. He's also so very much his age.

Jack adores all the animals here.

That can be difficult because we plan to eat a mess of them, quantity-wise. His job here is to help with the assistance dogs. (We don't plan on eating them!) But I know it's tough because we have plenty of chickens and turkeys...We also have llamas and reindeer, peafowl, laying hens, cats and of course dawgs, and they are all here to stay. Jack would prefer to be vegan.

Jack has been a lovely surprise. He grasps the teachings for dogs easily but he has many layers. We break the rules of social conversion and talk about politics and religion. And it's very stimulating. We don't fight, we debate, and compare references. This kid is an old soul. We segway through many topics but we always seem to get the core curriculum of the nonprofit's week accomplished. Amazingly, we always have a word to look up every week, to the the benefit of us both,

Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

~Bob Dylan

What's interesting is that when I watch him with his own dog, he doesn't have the same touch that he has with the dawgs here.

We have to work on this.

Log Jam & Lumber Festival

How can I say how grateful I am to Habitat for Humanity ReStore of Eagle County?

For all the the advancements on the Ranch I've been buying raw lumber from them, averaging 10-30 cents on the dollar. It all depends on whether we pick it up from the donor site, saving them transportation costs, or we pick it up at the ReStore.

Habitat usually sells at 30% of value. If you haven't shopped Habitat, you should.

I'll be honest, we often get more lumber picking it up on site because we load up and then they tell us they have more for us, just come back!

One of the most wonderful things is that we get to go into the most reclusive, exclusive neighborhoods, and it's so lovely to see these areas. How else would we see them when they are behind security gates?

Are we Permitted?

After months, and I do mean months, of awaiting approval from the county planning commission, at last our wind turbine has recieved all of its permits.

That date was 25 September 08 and you can see what day it is today.

Our hole was properly dug in half a day by Keith, our amazing excavator, on 6 Oct, after the gang from GridFeeders came out and plotted out the exact location. on the Friday beforehand. It's still a great big hole. We're still awaiting the contractor to frame in the concrete and then we can pour.

The wind is blowing hard. There's just no Las Vegas ding to it. No turbine in the air yet. Gridfeeders has as much as I do invested; this is their first pivate wind turbine in this county. Hurry! Hurry!

Being first is very difficult.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ouch!

I''m sore.

But not near as much as I thought I would be! No shooting up recyclables today, but I definitely want shooting back in my life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shotgun Separation

We're coming up on our 2nd anniversary at the Ranch in a month or so and finally I was the one to scare the coyotes off.

Yip. Yip. Those damn creatures like to creep in on our stock. Rory, our wonderful reindeer/stock dog will do battle with them. Boatswain, Katie & Ruby are good backup dawgs. However, when the coyotes come up the drainage and Rory starts to go down the drainage, it's usually time to fire off a shotgun.

We don't subscribe to killing coyotes. There is too much research that proves that it culling coyotes ultimately increases their population.

But 'Yotes don't like the sound of shotguns, and it puts an end to their predatory action for the evening. Usually Kristin is the first to stand out on the Looking Rock over the creek drainage and fire out above the mesa.

Kristin was a very tired camper. She's been sound asleep for hours. Rory was getting closer to the creek. Yip. Yip. Yip. Rory still has scabs from his last encounter. I looked in my closet - nice clean 20 gauge. Looked in the secret place for shells...box full, but aged.

I haven't fired a gun in years but all that hunting training came back in a flash. Out to the Looking Rock I went. Chambered, safety off, up to the left eye, aimed high, tightened the core, slow pull on the trigger. *Boom* 'Yotes silent. Even remembered to lower the shotgun before unchambering because this gun ejects across my face and I wasn't wearing glasses. Katie retrieved the shell and handed it to me. Good girl.

I forgot how much I adore that smell.

All these years I've been afraid to target practice because I was afraid of the kick on my back! I may think differently tomorrow, but what kick? I've got a mess of recyclables I want to aim at tomorrow!

Maybe it's cleaning all these chickens and turkeys that has me in a hunting frame of mind. I've never cleaned domestic animals before, always wild game. But now I have the smell of cordite in my nostrils.

I'm a Louisiana girl, so don't worry. If I shoot it, I'll eat it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Proud New Member

Gosh, I feel like such a grown up. All of us do out here at the Ranch. This is HUGE.

When asked why we wanted to join, I said "networking - it gets lonely out on a ranch." I was more than slightly serious and a tad joking. Out here, you can forget what the rest of the world is up to without the Internet. So the Alacrity Family joined today and immediately an invitation was extended to a down valley mixer...tonight, just three hours after our courted faxed application was received.

Kristin & I headed to the hosting venue, Colorado Business Bank in Eagle. Kevin Armitage and his crew were wonderful. The location was very inviting and cozy. Imagine a bank with a pool table instead of a conference table - now THAT will get you thinking out of the box. Kristin & I felt a bit shy, so instead of making a big deal of a training release of the doves, we just released before heading in. A handful of folks were out enjoying the fine weather, and like the wonderful grapevine VVP is, we were told we could not do that again without an announcement for all to enjoy. Okay, okay, we won't. EVER. Without announcing again. We promise.

Katie Clementine & Boatswain, both service dogs' attended. Katie had the first hour and then was just overwhelmed - she' still in training. Then "Bo'sun" came aboard; he was ready to flirt with all the pretty gals. The catering was done by Zack Stone, originally of The French Press. Bo's made his first official evening outing in the Valley at the French Press and I think his nose recognized the quality of food a few seconds before I did. Zack now has a new restaurant in Eagle - Angelino's. Bo's & I both can attest the food from the new place is as tasty and wonderful to the nose as the French Press.

I met so many wonderful people. Rebecca Ruck greeted us at the door; she was one of the lucky few to see the doves. Rebecca is the main reason we joined. We have many mutual friends and we are both in the right place at the right time. Kudos to Rebecca! Kathy Calton of All Mountain Bookkeeping, Inc. was the first old voice to call my name - we go back, gosh, near twenty years to Vail Associates. I used to be her ski instructor. Her girls also were out for the doves - Kathy wasn't even married way back then! Her girls were awfully grown and elegant and very kind to my dogs. Time does pass!

I met names I read in the papers that I feel like I know. The VVP gang was very welcoming. One ambassador was a realtor and I love the blurb on the back of his card: With each successful real estate transaction, I pledge to give a portion of my earnings to a local charity of my client's choice. Well, Robert, I hope you tell your clients about With Alacrity!

Two more shout outs from me. Lynette Horan of HR Services of Vail - you kept Kristin & I in chat for longer than anyone. Whether you like it or not, you are going to be included in the Ranch Alacrity Family, you and your "little" dawg" too. Michaela Foucheux of 4 Eagle Ranch, one of our closest neighbors, it was wonderful to meet you and we look forward to the festivities this weekend - Wild West Day! Of course we'll bring the doves.

Gosh and this mixer was only TWO hours!

Monday, September 22, 2008

When a Hen becomes a Cock

We've got a mess of chickens on the Ranch. The boys, the meat birds, have a separate area until we decide who gets to join the hens. Our girls day range and last night moved into their new fancy heated coop for the winter.

About a month ago we noticed that one of our hens was looking mighty much like a boy. The hens are younger than the rest of our flocks, and he was the right size as the girls, so we figured out of all those day old chicks we received, maybe one was miss-sexed. By now he should have pronounced male features but nope, so we just figured maybe we have a gay chicken, or more likely a transgendered bird. Something to comment upon but not something we actually thought much about.

But yesterday while wandering the glorious Net, I discovered this, Sex reversal in chickens, at the University of Florida Extension Service. Several things intrigued me. It's not a technical read, so pop over there if you're curious. Who knew if a left ovary gave up the ghost, secondary male characteristics could occur? Our Hen isn't really a Cock, but sort of, but most probably sterile in either case.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

West Nile

My dad's been ill, and the Docs finally know what it is. Dad's a lucky guy. He's in the danger population for contracting the disease but he has triumphed. And now he's immune for any further infection.

Now that he's healthy again, I like to tease him that he's the only being I know to have had West Nile.

And he has yet to see the Pyramids!

5 Yards Free!

The forms went up for the foundation walls on the large pigeon loft - 20 x 30 feet, 2 feet high. The foundation was artfully decorated late at night by roving reindeer feet; it's a shame that no one will see their contribution except on clean-out days.

The turkeys also threw in a creative contribution on the last of the heated bird pads. At least those will be visible! Every dawg made an effort to leave a mark, but their efforts were not covert enough for permanent results.

Jared was scheduled to arrive with concrete at 2pm. Just prior, he called with the grand news. The delivery before ours had over ordered, and his boss had already said that any returns would be donated to the Ranch! Jared's job with B&B Excavating has already garnered us some very kind discounts on concrete, but free concrete for Doves of Vail? That's not even our nonprofit! I executed a very awkward gimpy glad dance and hooted & hollered in a rather jubilant and juvenile way. This is cee-ment I'll be thrilled to watch set.

Yes, Cee-ment. I have to practice saying concrete. Cee-ment gets you laughed at here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Dove Loft & Hen Houses

Foundation has been laid for the Big Loft for the Doves, when it's fully finished it should house several hundred.

Our goal this fall is to have over 100 trained doves prepared for spring season events, especially weddings. So our loft needs to be closed in and prepped for our trainees, and then over the next year we will finish it out to accomodate the young birds and adoptees. The foundation has been laid and the base wall will poured tomorrow.

We have three heated Hen Houses in the making but only one, perhaps two will be fully fuctional this winter. Our hens will have have radiant heating so they will lay all winter. Hens like 50°-80°F for laying eggs. We hope to be the only Ranch with naturally raised hens consistantly laying eggs this winter.

Mind you, we don't even have radiant heating in the log cabin!

Peach-palooza

Right there at the junction on Hwy 6 & 131, where the Wolcott Yacht Club is located, was a farmer with boxes of Western Slope peaches. I couldn't purchase a box because I haven't had cash in hand for months. Nor could Jared or Kristin. But Jim Did; $13 for 25 lbs!

If we are what we eat, we are walking peaches. I'm surprised that if we open our mouths there isn't a southern drawl were there isn't one naturally. But then again, these are Western Colorado peaches.

Tonight I made a peach pie with a lattice top. I'm not too proud of the lattice but after baking it looked perfect. That I couldn't get a picture before it was consumed says it all. I'm not really a pie gal but I had seconds and I was not alone.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How do I dove thee?

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach." Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

I'm not really a bird person, at least the kind that live in the house and tell your secrets to visitors. But I've come to love doves. Doves, or pigeons, are actually the same thing but with very different feelings attached, I've fallen in love with our doves.They are pure white homing pigeons - rock doves - and they know that there is no place like home.

This evening we had a stunning release.

Kristin & I headed to Eagle. We went to Tara's neighborhood, a lil' suburbia where her house backs onto a soccer field. Three older kids and Tara's young boy, Julian, stood on a picnic table, each delicately holding a dove each until the count of three. The dogs were running free so with the height of the kids we figured the picnic tables were perfect. I clasped a dove with young Julian, his hands were very small, and we tossed the birds to the sky. The rest of the flock flew from the cage to join into the flock and they circled for almost ten minutes before heading home.

The most lovely part of all was that I finally met Tara's youngest, Miss Scarlett - she's a mountaineer already, climbing on top of picnic tables by herself and she's only 14 months! I have plans for Miss Scarlett Rae, I want her to be the youngest to release one of our doves - I give her a few months at the rate she's growing...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Men or Famine

Not what you're thinking gals! But that would be nice as well.

After a few months of a horrid shortage of labor at the Ranch, suddenly it's men! Working men!

Jim, our Ranch Advisor - more like a Mentor, flew home after recovering from surgery in Michigan. I don't know who was happier to see whom at the Eagle airport, but I'm glad he's home from his other home. We are busy planning finishing old projects and starting new already.

Before the airport run, I ran up to Vail to pick up Micah, a schoolmate of my baby brother Van at School of Mines. Micah rode up from the Front Range to work for the holiday weekend. For a post graduate scholar, he didn't once get distracted by something so modern as a computer, but knuckled down to the basics of farm and ranch. He more than earned his kibble after a long hot day by whipping up some delicious mussels. I made biscuits.

Neither of us could figure out why the animals were shirking their photographic duties. The turkeys played ostriches in the fresh tilled garden, but not for the camera. The doves sassed the hens in the water bath, but not for a photo. The Bantam chick played roadrunner all day - zoom zoom. Katie fetched her Kong through throngs of birds, totally ignoring them and sending them into flight, but not when there was a camera; the birds remained unaffected.

I'm recharging my batteries.

Friday, August 29, 2008

FBI on the move

Had a moment that might equal my favorite blogger, Kittbo, on the DNC. I was driving to physical therapy when the 75 mph zone was locked in at 60 mph. Excuse me? I time my appointments well, and this is as bad as stock trailers moving the sheep in the spring and fall. Finally advancing upon a great vehicle, fancy with federal blue & chrome, I slowly pass the FBI mobile command center from Los Angeles returning home. I tell you, this beast of a rock star RV was most impressive, enough that I didn't want to have a wreck tyring to get a pic on my cell phone like the rest of the wavering vehicles. Here's a shot from Mike of it parked.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pond Silliness

video

Zipping up to our neighbor's ranch to release some doves for training, we were distracted by the wire strung across the over-flooded pond. Jared took a test run getting his feet wet. By the time I got the camera, he was perched for a second run. Jared asked Chuck where he got the truck for the wire, and Chuck admitted he built it! We covet this setup for our pond. When it's not just a wishful hole in the ground, that is....

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Former Captain in a High Desert

On 17 November 06, I was blessed to come into ownership of a very special 40 acres of land near Vail & Beaver Creek CO. It's been a shakedown cruise, but at last we've found true North and are nearing agricultural status. Welcome to our high mountain desert ship, where dreams are possible. An excellent crew is essential, and the animals and plants have made servants of us all.

And our crew is most excellent.