09-27-15 Phase 2 of our driveway “redo”

Phase 2 of our driveway “redo”, (you can find the info and photos of phase 1 here) picked up a few days after we had some rain that caused us to not be able to get anything done.


This is where we left off, after placing the rocks everywhere they needed to go to create the shape of the new driveway.


My main focus on that day was to clean up this “visitor parking area” which sits right in front of the house against that line of bamboo. The bamboo will eventually be removed to expose a chain link fence that lies inside all that mess. I will have to hire out help to remove the bamboo as I’ve done extensive research on it and it needs to be pulled out by the root which will require a tractor, at the very least. This bamboo was chopped down and burnt out about 18 mths ago and it returned like nothing ever happened. So once that is all gone and I get to repairing that fence I’m going to put a front gate there right in front of the front porch so that there is an obvious entrance for visitors which is THE reason I’m calling this area the “visitor’s parking area”! =) So it had all these wild little desert weeds everywhere and I still had that tree to contend with that I had cut down a good 2 months ago.


First, I knocked down all the weeds with the weed eater and then got to work on chopping up the tree for firewood, kindling and excess to burn and dispose of what was left.


After the firewood and kindly was hauled off to the shop for storage and the fire was going, I got to raking this area to remove all the loose weeds and just clean up the area.


Riley helped man the fire…his way (playing in the water hose, haha!) while I was working on another project so we could have a set of eyes on the fire.


Me happy and sweaty after a half days work on the driveway project again!

That was all we had time for that day as dark approached. I got a lot more done the very next day to wrap up that phase 3 of the project and now you can see that here!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-19-15 Creating a new parking area

One day I met a woman via Facebook who has a property nearby that she said they might be interested in selling. After a few phone calls I setup a time to go meet her husband out at the property to evaluate it and let him know what I think the current market value of his property was. While there I noticed he had these beautiful river rocks (some white and sparkly) all over his property purposely placed along the driveway and around trees. I told him how beautiful I thought they were and we quickly found ourselves in a conversation about my little farm and my homestead dreams. This gentleman was older and said property he had inherited years ago as 5 vacant acres and throughout his young adult life and into married life and having children, he put a mobile home on the property, brought in utilities, planted trees, had a garden, raised a family, had horses, etc. Now that time in his life had passed and his children were grown and him and his wife had moved to a different smaller property nearby. One or two of his children had lived in the home as adults as needed on and off again and now the home sat empty and he was contemplating selling it. To be frank, my goal as a realtor is to get the listing to sell the property but in my heart of hearts if I myself had spent 30+ years starting and growing on a property like he had, I can’t imagine I’d ever want to part with it myself.

Our conversation about the river rock though lead him to tell me that there was river rock all around this area in ditches and dry creek beds that if I was ever out that way I should just stop and load up some and that people do that all the time. I made a mental note to do just that.

The next day he called me and asked me if I’d like a bunch of free river rock because at his work they were removing a ton and he was responsible for “getting rid of it” and so as long as I could meet him there THAT day then I could have however much I could take. I was super excited and free that day so I started getting ready. A friend was in the area checking out antique shops and had contacted me to see what I was up to that day. I told him about the rock and since he was in the area he offered to stop by and help me load it up. I threw on my boots, grabbed my gloves and out the door I went. Ten minutes later I was in an RV park and my friend was there waiting and we found the nice gentleman. They helped me load up my trunk and most of what was in that pile fit but there was a second pile that I just wasn’t going to have time to come back for today.

In talking with my buddy I had told him how I was leaving there to go straight to Home Depot to buy a wheel barrel because there was no way I wanted to start working on any sort of project like this (the one brewing in my mind) without a wheel barrel. I didn’t want to be that “old school”. He told me he had a super old one at him that he uses maybe 2x a year and if I wanted it I could have it, I just needed to come get it. Score!!!! He warned me it was really old and not pretty and slightly rusted and my thoughts were “It’s free!!!” And…it will be a back saver on the farm. I’ve already found myself amidst numerous projects wishing I had a wheel barrel but hadn’t made it a property yet.




So after getting home with the river rock AND my new free wheel barrel, I was super excited! The journey of awesome, friendly locals took about 4 hours out of my day but so well worth it!


This is how much free river rock I was able to load! When I got home I thought it really didn’t look like a lot but hey, free is free and so I was eager to unload it and start placing them along the driveway!

MY IDEA!

My idea was to use these as a phase 1 border for my driveway and parking area so that eventually as I have the funds, supplies or time then I will add in some top soil, mulch, add a few ground cover plants and maybe some pretty bushes. And with my recent research into permaculture I just knew I could add a few berry bushes throughout this side area under the trees for color AND purpose!


A few days previous to this not knowing I was going to find myself with a heap of free river rock, Riley and I found this old railroad tie on the property and I thought it’d be a cute feature as a “parking curb” to add where I always park under the trees. So it took us a solid 10 mins to lug it from one place to the other and not sort of any complaining from my little “City boy in transition”, haha! So this photo shows where that railroad tie is and then where we laid the rocks in a half circle under the 2 mesquite trees. I think I’ll have to start calling these trees the “Married Mesquite Trees” because they are so lovely there together, complimenting one another yet growing in opposite directions to create this beautiful canopy shaded area! <3 


A quick before and after of the area from in the driveway.


A more close up before and after on the Married Mesquite Trees.

Then we ran them along the line of 4 trees that border the fence line from the driveway to the front yard. This is where I hope to have many beautiful flowers and bushes one day, welcoming me home each time I pull up!


 




A before and after of the entire parking area of the driveway after just adding the river rock. I love that it adds some structure or definition to the area that was otherwise just wide open dirt. I like structure.

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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08-11-15 Critters on the farm!

One thing we are not short on here on the farm is…wild life, critter style! Animals do not bother me but for some reason the small, scurrying type REALLY bother me. I guess because they can jump on you, fly  up and smack you in the face, crawl on your skin, sneak through the front door, get in the car with you, jump up your leg when you’re outside wearing a dress! Uggghghghghgh! Yuck! So, the critters waited until the rain came to come out and “introduce” themselves to us.


This REALLY bright neon green beetle was chilling on the front gate one day when I was leaving. I had never seen that color of one before so, of course, I had to take pictures!


These rabbits live somewhere on our property. I am no expert but I think they’re cottontail rabbits because….they have white cotton tails, lol! Now every evening when we come home at dusk or after, up to 7 take off running across the yard! These don’t bother me I’m just always surprised to see so many of them because when I’m just out walking around or working on projects I rarely see them around the property.



So here in the desert we have the Sonoran Toad…which is code for fat, juicy, ugly frog…that is also poisonous! These guys wouldn’t kill an adult however they have taken out small animals, small dogs, medium sized dogs and even made very small children (toddler and younger) very sick! They only come out when it is raining. However, this year I saw them around our property up to 2 weeks after all the rain stopped. They did get to be VERY predictable, thank God. They would come out after dark and hang out right at that spot in the picture which is the start of the walk way from the driveway up to the pergola up to the deck and front door. Above that is an archway with a light hanging from it. That light is left on all at all times. I’m guessing they gravitate towards the light because we would always see them there. EVERY time I’d come home after dark and they were out they creeped me out so bad that I would make Riley walk in front of me and use a stick or something to scare them off the walk way because I didn’t want to have to walk close to them since the majority of the time I was in sandals or flip flops. And just the thought of these guys jumping at or on my feet makes me want to VOMIT, ewww! 




I had to throw in this adorable picture of Bella sleeping on the couch with her head hanging off because…why not! <3



Here is PROOF how hot it gets here! 123 degrees with 37% humidity (not a rainy day) and mid August midday! And see how hot it was inside? 87 degrees! That’s because the AC doesn’t work great here so even if I had the AC on 80 (which is conservative) it still couldn’t cool the house that cool during those hot summer days! We eventually caved in and bought some fans for throughout the house which did help a ton but I think next summer we’ll have to get a window unit for at least the 2 hottest months of the year. Because we did have the AC serviced about 2 mths ago so how it was performing this summer is the best it is going to get due to poor insulation and old windows!


A good shot of a county woman’s nightstand! Love my Arriat boots!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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08-02-15 Rain and the end of Monsoon!

We did not get much done around the farm from early July to early August because it was just too hot!!! When we first moved in I knew I’d need accurate outdoor temps and I have always thought the temps on the media outlets are WRONG. So I bought a good indoor/outdoor system with an outdoor thermometer and an indoor 7 inch digital wireless monitor! It measures indoor and outdoor temps as well as humidity. The temps throughout July and even in August got up to 126 degrees at times!!!! So even when I would try to get up at 6am it would already be in the high 90s! Add to that that June to August is our Monsoon (rainy season) in Arizona and the humidity was suffocating on top of the already super high temps!

On our “First Summer” on the farm I definitely learned a lot, from experience and also talking to my modern homesteading neighbor. It reminds me of the show Alaska; The Last Frontier how they rush around all Spring, Summer and Fall to get all of their chores and hunting done because in the winter it is so terrible they stay indoors as much as possible and just “survive”. Well that’s how the Arizona summers are! And it isn’t the hottest June and July as I had always kind of thought or assumed, without putting much thought into it really. Rather, it is hottest July and August, with August being the worst by far! Lesson learned! I actually went ahead and put a note in my Google calendar for NEXT year to make sure all major outdoor projects are done or nearing completion by June, so that I don’t plan to put too much effort into outdoor chores during the hottest time of the year. Thankfully here we have wonderful weather almost the entire rest of the year. So I will be using that to my advantage all the way up until next summer!

So as the days ticked by I had to focus on indoor projects but thankfully I was pretty busy with work and so I didn’t have a ton of time on my hands as it was. But come the first week of August we had had a big storm and it caused some damage.



Our property is primarily flat and mostly level so when it pours it just pools in some areas around the property and causes some MINOR flooding. This picture above is the corner of the front yard, that yellow is the dying bamboo along a broken fence. Just beyond that is the driveway.


This is looking off of our front porch to the west 2 acres of ours that is totally vacant, natural desert. It looks like much more rain out there than it really was.


After a good storm we had this small dead tree fall. Thankfully it fell away from the house and just “rested” on this fence, didn’t cause any damage.



This is a tree in our backyard that as far as I can tell has never had a water source going to it. I’m not sure if it’s a native desert tree or a planted evergreen tree. Because it hasn’t had leaves I can’t tell what kind it is. I’ve been watering most all of our trees weekly by hand just to try to spur them in the right direction. This guy started getting a few green leaves on it by the end of Summer!



You see the green leaves!!!


Being as the goal is 100% homesteading and being self sufficient that will eventually mean eating all natural and only eating what we can produce or reproduce here on the farm. The idea may sound far fetched but it really is what I want to do. So I decided to splurge on getting myself a great cutting board as I planned to be doing a lot more cooking than I normally do!


Not only is this cutting board awesome but it’s also beautiful and I love having it on my counter at all times! Makes me feel somewhat like a…dare I say…grown up!!!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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