Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer magnificence in the mountains

Summer is in full swing around here. Music festivals, rodeo, bike races, the wildflower festival, all set to start in  the blink of an eye. And lets not forget the famous, or infamous, goofy 4th of July Crested Butte parade. Not to be missed.

The sheep are here, not these particular ones (these are someone's pets down Ohio Creek) the ones I'm talking about are the hundreds of sheep that our property owner neighbor puts in every June complete with sheepherding dog. This is their answer to receiving an ag exemption, ours is of course the 180 or so cattle who graze here all summer. Those sheep are quite loud bleating away, and that's 2 miles away from us, much more of a nuisance for our neighbors on that side of Star Mt. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Perfect segway to the cattle. They are here, roaming all over Star Mt. We have just replaced our lower driveway gates with, get ready, a cattle guard. Perfect timing. I don't think I could have predicted this would be an exciting purchase in my lifetime but it is. Our gates were terrible, solar powered and barely worked.  So, the cattle, 15 or so, showed up on the first night of installation to check it out. They stood there for an hour, I'm not kidding, until I went out and whoop, whooped them on down the road. Not the brightest...

Grouse are back out after a couple of weeks hidden with their nests. I've seen two teeny babies out wandering - not recommended. I've also seen coyote here and there.

Had to include Mark's photo of a bull moose as he drove over Cottonwood Pass. Thirty feet away and could have cared less that he was there. Great photo!

So excited, Heather and Jay come tomorrow and Tiffany, Chris, and the girls come Friday. We have a pile of people coming Friday night for dinner, and further events will just continue as Krissy's wedding is finally happening this weekend in CB. People coming from every direction. Let the fun commence!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Birds and the bees,flowers and the trees

Busy, busy here. The out of state license plates are flooding the towns. Summer! The animals are also out in mass, although the elk have become scarce. I think they may have already done their annual June skidaddle moving all those babies up higher. Yes I know, we're quite high but apparently not quite high enough.

First columbine sighting!  I must not forget to mention it's the state flower. One of my all-time favorites.

It's also Copper River salmon time. The Copper River is a 290 mile river in south central Alaska which has a brief season of world prized wild salmon. It's normally a Mark project to buy, vacuum seal , and freeze pounds of this luscious stuff but he's not here. I couldn't pass this up as the price was much less than I've seen - expensive stuff this wild salmon.  6 lbs later, using up all available bags, and trying to follow the sealer directions - done.

More creatures visitng, this time a marmot. He stayed around for a couple of days wandering from front to back, and as you can see quite interested in the grill. They can do some damage so it's just as well he became bored.

And here's our male bluebird. This couple believes they own the deck, actually all parts of our house that relate to the deck and below. They have an active nest underneath the deck and will actively fly at the ground squirrels and chipmunks who are wandering the area.

Wonderful flowers everywhere but the pollen count has to be right off the chart. I have a layer on everything inside and out and cleaning it only lasts a day if I'm lucky. I'm fighting an allergy reaction as we speak. Isn't that always the way, take the good with the bad...

Great news, we have fish back in the pond. Our fish all died over the winter due to a blocked head gate. About 400 healthy trout flung themselves into the water.  Lots of families will enjoy fishing this summer. And those cattle will soon be roaming close to our houses - hurray for fences.

Very excited that Mark is arriving this Saturday. He will be here two weeks which definitely was planned around some big family happenings. We have niece Krissy's wedding on July 2 in Crested Butte. Should be a wonderful and exciting event. Lots and lots of family is coming in town and we'll have a full house as well. Heather, Jay, Tiffany, Chris, and the girls arrive late next week. Weddings are a great conduit for people who haven't seen each other for a long time or never met (as in the case of Penny and Jules) to get together.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The delights of mountain dwelling

And the fields of yellow are here as promised. Sunflower city. It's just one rolling wildflower bloom after another for the summer. Nature's bounty.

And new hanging baskets for the summer. The new experiment is the water filter seen above. Our outside untreated well water does not mix well with the hanging baskets.As in kills them. I've been using rain water and magic spring water instead the past couple of years. This filter seems to be doing the trick, much less labor intensive. Mark's idea - didn't even know they existed!

More elk - I took these outside our fence at dusk hence the photos are somewhat fuzzy. A small group: 3 cows and 2 calves, led by a spike elk. How fun, didn't even know there was male anything in this birthing frenzy that happens every June, except of course male calves. You march on proud and strong little spike.

A little white stuff arrived a day ago. A typical mountain thunder and lightening storm that produced hail and a dusting of snow on Whetstone. Hard to predict the weather in this spring moving to summer. 34 degrees this morning!

And the fight is on. I've filled the pots on the deck with flowers and the small creatures (chipmunks and ground squirrels) think I do this just for their snacking pleasure. Within record time, Mr. Ground Squirrel saw the flowers and started right in munching. Aagh. I grabbed the cayenne pepper to sprinkle it on the flowers (a remedy that sort of, not really worked last year) and a wind gust promptly blew it in my eye. Regrouping after washing out my eye, I made up a concoction of red pepper, soap, and water to spray on the flowers. Considered a biohazard by the way in military terms. We'll see if it works.

And the hummingbirds have come back in droves. Still only have two feeders out not the 4, so all is manageable. The crazy orange Rufus hummingbirds should be arriving shortly which could heat up activity in a big way. Have no idea why they come a month later than everybody else.

Lots of spring cleaning both inside and out. I'm even mowing - ha. It's a 22" string trimmer which technically is not a lawnmower but a giant weed wacker. Tried to hire someone to do this but it was a no go and Mark can't do this for awhile yet. It's just around the house by the way, which is plenty but not some insane acreage.

The cattle have been brought up by our rancher and are in holding at the common ground. They'll come inside the main gates in a week or so when the larkspur has died down. Oh the joy of manure in the road for alllll summer. Tis okay, we're sure not here for the paved roads, sprinkler systems, and manicured lawns, or clean cars.

Just enjoying the heck out it here. In these troubled times it is quite a miracle to have this place that seems beyond peaceful, quite feeds my soul.Wish I could bottle it and send it around as a prescription.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The glory of spring in the mountains

I awoke to hundreds of bird singing out my open bedroom window -at 5am. Clearly not in Florida anymore. Thrilled out of my mind to be back at Star Mt. Only sad that Mark will not be back for a couple of weeks more.

Things have bloomed and blossomed while I was gone. The cycles here are very predictable and I was afraid I had missed some things. Nope, the wild iris are still going, the lupine and larkspur continue to bloom, and the yellow sunflowers are just starting to open. Our fields will be one mass of golden yellow in short order.

And the elk, wow. I heard elk bugling, yes really, even though I am quite sure its the wrong time of year. They are everywhere, babies have been born and my first morning walk had two mommies much disturbed by me and suddenly two babies shot across the road. Simply magic...

The wild iris are everywhere there's a spec of water. Halfway through their bloom I estimate.

Birds and birds and birds. One of the robin pair has an active nest along with a bluebird pair under the deck. They were busy while we were gone. Hummingbird feeders (2) are back up but only a handful are partaking at the moment. And on the woods walk this darling bird shown above hopped down 3 feet from me and decided to have a snack. It's a Cassin's finch - a high altitude finch (8,000-11,000ft) and as most of you know we are close to 9,000ft at the house.

Went to fill up the water container at the magic spring. Still stuns me that we have some of the purest water available just down the road.

On that same trip went down to make sure that Ohio Pass was open. You can see what I found to my surprise. First time I've seen that, maybe an extra rough winter snow? Hope it's really open July 1 - we have tons of family visiting then....

And a water report as I have observed. All the rivers I went by are high and milk chocolate muddy. Typical for this time of year.

Tell-tale right floppy ear
Flap! Yup she showed up this morning. Lots of other deer are visiting in our yard for some munch time. All is right with the world.