November is creeping forth. In its teasing manner it flaunts some beautiful uplifting crisp sun filled days then sneaks in some dreary rain squalls and dismal hail pelting. This is the time of year where you feel the ethereal distance between you and the sun is an even more vast chasm. You balance on your tippy-toes trying to catch a glimpse of those sunbeams you know are shining, below the tropic line. We wake up at night and eat dinner at night. By 4pm you need to turn on some lights. Still, we are that much closer to that magical day of celebration in December where the days shift and start getting longer again.
Short November days means activity in bursts, inserted between puddles (which are draining quite well on our land, thankfully.) Winterizing has been much of the focus trying to imbue every outdoor excursion with a sense of productivity which is waning with the daylight. However, there are some spots of excitement as we receive challenges from most unlikely of sources. For example, I discovered that Slick, our one remaining barn cat who patrols the perimeter of the property, was having a loving affair with two pack rats who took up residence in the barn, driven from the chill to seek better living conditions. Cue the mean rancher with traps who discovers caches of cat food and rat turds accumulating. Accommodating and respectful, typically to the wildlife that surrounds us, I found that war had been declared by these two pack rats. They insisted on claiming the entire barn as their own turf, including the fuzzy warm stuffing torn out for their nests from the leather sofa we had stored in the loft. Grrrr! Insult to injury was glove slapped across my face as I look up to see Packeo staring at me high atop the shelving on a cardboard box slowly peeling bits of it away; as if to get my attention. He sat there, watching me watching him, peeling some more, rrrrrrippppp, chew chew chew!
Several traps later, outwitted by the mastery of an animal with a cute fuzzy tail, I finally figured out that peanut butter was their downfall. I could now put my catch-and-release program into affect. I felt warm and fuzzy (not like Packeo who was just kicked out of his warm and fuzzy sofa stuffing nest.) Alas, that quickly dissipated as I realized this was a Romeo and Juliet story for Packeo’s mate, Packliet (did you expect otherwise), in utter despair cast herself from the high cliffs to the jagged rock strewn ocean shore below drowning herself in misery. Well, ok, not so dramatic, but she did drown in a bucket of water in the barn with an expression of lost love on her face. Much to Slick’s delight, the cat food has now returned to the barn (thanks for earning your keep Slick.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (and out of my imaginary voyage to Nimh), progress proceeds on several business fronts. Our deck platform for the large yurt is being constructed and the framing is mostly complete. We had to shore up the road leading down to it with even more ballast rock, so that meant our dumptruck guy was back as well with me on the tractor spreading. I think we’ve got a firmer road now and the little lake that was forming seems to be abated; better to fix these kinds of things now rather than waiting until later when we are focused on finishing touches versus roughing-in rock.
Our front gate got its electrical run completed! So now our entrance is brightly lit up at night and provides a warm invitation to visitors to the ranch. However, at some point, I do have to take down the "No Trespassing" sign we have posted there and replace it with "Open to the public"…soon…soon. It’s really nice to see the sign lit up at night though! Next step is to add some low voltage lights on up the driveway.
When the weather takes a turn, I just find some other smaller, indoor projects to keep me busy. Unfortunately I’ve had to temper my productivity a bit because I strained my lower back something fierce! It was probably do to all that logging we recently had to deal with. (Lots of chainsaw bucking firewood rounds waiting to be split. ) Still, rainy days lead to baking or some wood working. My bread making gets better with each loaf and I think I’m getting the hang of perfecting the crust we like. All that firewood needed a good staging solution around the woodstove instead of the flimsy plastic bins we put there for the time being. So, I made a firewood box and a kindling box out of those recovered Mervyn’s warehouse shelves we rescued. Much prettier!
Still the homestead is a bit rough and tumble around here as was proven the case by our poor little Maximo. These two dogs love rough-housing outside and they certainly find plenty of entertainment with wood scraps, bark, and branches. They aren’t even afraid when the chainsaw starts roaring away. "Oh good," they must think, "he’s making us more toys to fling around the house!" Well, Maximo must have stepped on some jagged something-or-other and started limping. He knows how to work the puppy dogs eyes too. We finally wrapped his paw up so he would stop the licking and his limp became a stagger as he did his best Oscar worthy performance of doggie-in-pain-needing-loving-affection. Awwwww, poor puppy!
Along with the physical work comes paper shuffling too; another good winter time activity. (Stay tuned, I’m preparing a number of different winter time activities to do.) I’ve started the balling rolling on three different fronts for the business. I’m seeking advertising and marketing proposals as well as looking for where we’d like to place those ads. I’m beginning the work with the county to process our permitting so we can get licensed properly. Finally, I’m putting together the sources and lists for items to stock in our ranch store. So, lots to keep me busy out here at the ranch. Winter won’t see us frozen in place with nothing to do.