Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Home on the Range

This is part of the Gap pastures we fixed fences in
I'm quickly learning that when you're living out on a ranch that the idea of a set schedule soon becomes a laughable idea.  So much depends on the weather and during the winter months, how the calves are doing.  Every day you watch and evaluate.  Sometime during the first or second week of November we rounded up the cows so we could ween the calves. 

So weening a calf goes something like this: First we'll gather all the pairs (cow and calf) from their current pasture into a corral. That's the easy part from there we attempt to sort the cows from calves as well as sorting our cows from strays that have some how or another found their way into our herd.  From the corral to the alley and then finally the cows get loaded on to a semi truck. The cows will be sent to their winter pastures while the calfs will be taken back to the ranch. 

Seems simple enough, but cows have a mind of their own; though I don't think any more needs to be said about that.  Days later it was time to vaccinate and tag the calves.  Yes, the calves are vaccinated! The Anderson try to raise their cows as naturally as possible, hopefully in the future  we'll be able to go organic, but I'll talk about that another time.  The vaccine is for a fast moving strain of pneumonia that unfortunately has left a few of the calves dead.

When you are vaccinating calves that are between 400lb and 600lbs you cannot mess around and seeing as you can't really sweet talk a cow into getting its shots this (the picture below) is what we use.
The green contraption in the middle of the picture is the shoot.
 You run or rather shove, push, or doing just about anything you can think of to get them to move through the alley into the shoot.  Once they get in the shoot there are back doors that close behind them and the front "doors" close around their neck, but that's not all to finish it up there is a leaver you pull that squeezes them so they can't move around.  
Now, and only now can you can vaccinate and tag your cow without fighting a losing battle.  

While weening and vaccinating seems like a big job it is dwarfed by the task of fixing fences.  Miles and miles of barbed wire fences that have been cut, rusted out or that are just loose and sagging all crying out for help.  I'm not exaggerating at all. 6,000 acres of land that needs some attention. 

                                                                                       I can't really complain the job is simple
Here's the back of the fencing truck with  Red our trusty cow dog

enough. I like to call it a zen job. You're working, but your mind is left to think on the more weighty things of life. It gives you a chance to admire the handy work of God.  Granted after about three weeks of it you're ready for a change, but you'll not here me complaining about it's a job that has to get done, but it allows you to be a bit more thoughtful.  So you see I have a good reason for my prolonged absence from the blogging scene, and there is still more to tell!
Old cabin in Conchen field

Monday, December 8, 2014

So Long and Fair Well


 A month and half later I find that I finally have time to sit down and write. There is so much to update you all on! First of all if you haven't figured it out already we made our move from 29 Palms California to the greater Fremont County Wyoming area. Moving always tends to be stressful so all things considered the move went smoothly. Our good friends Luke and Jonathan Anderson made the roughly 900 mile drive down from Wyoming to help us load up our home and pack our few belongings on our trailer, (which will be our home!).

Here you see the back Luke's F350 full along with the trailer. 

I'm happy to say that we fit all our belongs on a quarter of our 28' trailer frame, in the back of Luke's truck and our Subaru Outback. For a while I was not sure if we be able to move without the help of a Uhaul trailer. Needless to say I was pretty thrilled that we'd been able to meet our goal.

After a few days of rushing around like a bunch of crazy people, we finally rolled out of town at 1200 on the 24th of October.

Moving is kind of a bitter sweet. Leaving one home for another. Saying goodbye to good friends, as well as; in this case a desert that you saw as beautiful and three pairs of humming birds that conversed with you almost daily;  all while looking forward to seeing old friends and a range of mountains that seems to call your name. I guess you can say the desert area in 29 does become beautiful after a while, but 115 degrees can never become appealing not even with time. So, enough sentimentalism now getting back to the facts. . .

This is the majority of our home goods on the front porch.
At a little after 1400(sorry that's military time for 2:00 p.m.) on the 25th of October we pulled into the quaint mountain town of Lander Wy. Here we unloaded our things into my parents garage; where they will sit till we finally decide what will be kept.

 Still wondering what's taken me so long to update you all?  Don't worry I have a good reason, but you'll have to read my next post to get caught up on all that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

So, how do I know what to keep?

       Downsizing is challenge especially when you are able to keep some of your furnishings. How do you pick one item over another when you like both?  The best thing you can do is to be objective.  Now you're probably wondering, "How on earth am I suppose to be object!?" Start in a room you're most familiar with, like your bedroom. Your goal should first be to identify the bare bones of the space. For a bedroom ask yourself what furniture do I need to make this space functional and efficient? Okay, so a bed would be a necessity and then a dresser so you're able to store your clothes. Maybe you need a night table with a lamp. This is extremely bare bones. Now since you have  meet your needs for that room you can add a few items you enjoy.  I think the idea is to just keep everything as simple as possible.
        If you can go through each room in your home with this mind set it should make the process of picking a choosing a bit easier. Something else you can do if you are really attached to things is bring in an other person who can help you identify your needs. This can be extremely helpful since they won't have the sentimental attachment to your items or furniture.  Then after your needs are met it is totally up to you to decide what you are willing to let go of.
       Some times my motivation to let of things that I'm not actively using is finding someone who I know will appreciate it. It kind of puts my mind at ease. I really enjoy vintage and antique items. I also highly respect their craftsmanship. It is so much harder to get rid of those things even if they are not functional. So I decided I wouldn't get rid of them, but instead I choose to find them new homes. Then everyone is happy, right?
       Earlier this week I packed up my bookshelf which ended up fitting in 4 small U-haul boxes. I was packing up my Outdoor Education books, which in turn led to sorting lesson plans. It was then that I discovered a whole lot of college English papers (among other things). Now these were not papers that I really liked or did well on.  I was sitting there trying to figure out why I have moved with them four different times. So into the recycling box then went along with all my old math notes and home work, class syllabuses and other random school papers. In the end I filled up this box! I couldn't believe I'd been carrying all this around for three years.
      This way I was left with the books I need; at least for now I'm not hauling around a bunch of useless weight. Not to mention I have made space on my future bookshelf for books that will actually be useful. That really is one of the biggest reason to keep anything. Ask yourself what is its usefulness, or even maybe more importantly, how is it relevant to me in my day to day life regardless of what it is.
      Sometimes we can feel guilty for getting rid of our things. Always remember that you are the master of your items and that despite how you may feel they do not in fact have emotions, or feelings and they cannot try to talk you into keeping them any longer. I admit I have to remind myself of this when I'm deciding whether or not to thrift or gift something I own and at one time used and loved. Funny thing is that I am always glad in the end.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Things First

       If I had to guess how large our current house is, I'd put it right around the 900 square foot mark. While is not very large compared to the average house size in the U.S. ,which is hovering near 2,600 square feet, it is still about 676 square feet larger than what our tiny home will be. There is no way that all of our things will fit in such a small space. So, the question is "How do you even begin to downsize?"
       The task of downsizing can defiantly be a daunting job; especially when you tend to be emotionally attached to most of your material goods. Don't worry! If you really want to start downsizing it can be done and this is coming for someone who as a child used to save all her stickers just incase. . . The answer to the afore mentioned question is "To start small and go slow. "
       A few years ago I had a friend give me an article entitled The Zero Waste Home. (I highly recommend visiting their blog, they have so many good ideas to try.) This article talks about a family in Northern California who took downsizing to a whole new level. Not only was I challenged to identify the items that I use on a day to day basis and get rid of everything else, but I was also challenged to produce less waste. Both currently a work in progress.
      When I started downsizing the easiest place to start was with my own clothes.  I pulled out all my shirts and put aside all the ones I wore on a weekly or biweekly basis. The next part was a bit harder, I had decided that I was only going to keep 7 shirts and I had 10 left. I went through all my clothes in the same manner figuring out what I need in each category of clothing.  This is roughly what I ended up with: 7 casual short sleeve shirts, 7 long sleeve shirts, a total of 4 shorts (2 are denim and and 2 are workout), 3 pairs of jeans, 5 dresses,  and 2 skirts. I have to admit I have a weakness for scarfs, I have  5 (most of them I've bought overseas). If you're anything like me you have few favorite clothing items and wear them almost exclusively till they are unwearable, if this is the case this will be relatively easy for you.
Just so your curiosity is satisfied here is my wardrobe

        I'm cringing a bit for those of you who are not like this, because it's potentially  made this process much harder, but on one hand it's also a great avenue to let your creativity shine through. The most important thing to start with is identifying the clothing you always gravitate toward. If there is an article of clothing which you're hesitant to let go of that's fine. If I know I haven't worn it in a month but I'm still having a hard time parting with it, I'll moving to my thrift box and let it live there for a week or two and if at the end of that time if I still haven't thought or worn it, away it goes.
       All the clothes(or anything for that matter) I decide I don't need are put immanently in a box out of sight while they wait to be thrifted.You know the adage, out of sight out of mind. This helps me avoid the temptation of pulling out anything I've decided to part with.
      My general rule of thumb is that if I haven't used an item in a month (any item, unless it has a very specific use such as my camping gear) It goes in a my thrift box. From there I may let it sit for a week or two and if I still find that I don't need it I'll wish it a fond farewell, but never regret.  Now maybe a month isn't long enough for you. You could say if you haven't used it in six months or a year. It's just preference really or a gauge to help you measure and meet your goals.
       Whatever room you are working on you ask the same questions. "When was the last time I used this?" "What is the likely hood I'll be using it within the next month?" "Will I really regret discarding it?" "How easily is it replaced if I find out too late that, I in all actuality do need it?" "Do I actively use the multiplies of this item?" Really take the time to stop and evaluate what you need to be content. Do you really need all those specialized kitchen tools when you can accomplish the task without them? I can pretty confidently say that in most case you can.
      The practice of downsizing is continual.  You can always find things you don't really need or can do without. Chances are that once they're gone you won't miss them. I know I sure don't.  Another thing to think about is what downsizing looks like for your lifestyle.Your lifestyle is not my lifestyle and everything I do may not work for you. No one will be the same. The goal is for your material goods and even your home to fit the life you lead, whether that means living in a 200 square foot home or a 1,500 square foot home.   The idea is to free yourself from an over abundance of  material items that are most likely not improving your life.
       I find the more I let go of the more life opens up for me. I don't find myself bound to or hinder by the things I own anymore. It's such pleasant relief. We definitely have been very blessed here in the United States. Everything is readily available for us to purchase and yet we almost always have a hesitation to let go of our material goods. We don't have to be what we own. So often the tendency is to let ourselves and others define us by how much we own. Stop it. Please.
      Once I started to learn how to let go I starting enjoying the mundane. No joke, I love to hang my laundry up to dry. I also take so much more pride cleaning my home because I'm not overwhelmed at having to taking care of a lot of stuff and I (usually) know where all my things are. Not only that but when you don't have multiples of the same item you actually tend to take better care of what you do have.
      When I think of downsizing I almost always think of it in conjunction with contentment. Culturally we've been taught to never be satisfied; that there is always something better than what we currently own. Well that will most likely always be the case. So when does it stop? It stops when we decide that what we have is good enough. I'll get off my soap box and close with one final word from William Morris which I think sum everything up, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."  

Monday, August 11, 2014

How It Began

I suppose it all began back in 2010 when I was first exposed to backpacking through the National Outdoor Leadership School.  It would be a month of walking about a hundred miles of back country wilderness with all I needed packed on my back. People often gawk when they find out I only had a pair of shorts, one shirt and only two pairs of underwear, (Oh, and did I mention no deodorant!). Oddly enough, setting off with seemingly far less than one needs to live comfortably, life opened up and become beautifully simple.

In the few years since that wonderful adventure I've sought to live a life that simply. So I suppose it's no real surprise that when I first heard of tiny homes I was instantly hooked.  During my husbands last deployment I had somehow come across Texas Tiny Houses. I was absolutely amazed at the creative designs. While I was imaging myself in one of Brad Kittle's homes, thousands of miles away my husband James was looking at Tumbleweed Tiny Houses.  

It wasn't till one of our long distance phone calls when one of us mentioned it for the first time and  we realized that we were on the same page. Both of us were playing with the idea of building our own tiny home. Actually James had already ordered Dan Louche's book, Tiny House Design and Construction Guide and  it was on it's way to my parents house for me to view.  It made so much sense to us, James' military contract was up in October of '14 and we didn't really know what we were going to do next or for that matter if we were even going to get out of the military. What we were sure of was that we didn't want to waste anymore money on rent than we had too.

Time's moved on and up till a few short weeks ago we'd been planning on reenlisting and moving all the way to the East Coast, unless of course something perfect fell in our laps. . .All the while our dream of a tiny home just wasn't shaping up the way we'd originally hoped. That all changed when a good family friend offered us a "way out", if you will.  Now we're anticipating a multitude of changes as we transition from a military lifestyle to a civilian one.

It all begins the end of this October when we leave the blazing hot desert of Twentynine Palms, California for the cooler desert of Lander, Wyoming. There we'll be starting the build of our tiny home, while learning all about running a ranch. That leaves us just about two and half months to plan out our home with the hopes of starting construction almost as soon as we arrive in Lander.  I'm eager to see what this next year will hold as we learn about tiny home construction, to the many facets of cattle ranching. So if you're interested in downsizing, ranching, or just curious about what it's like to build and then live in a 224 sq.ft. space I hope you're able find our many experiences helpful.