Improvise, Improve, Invent


Have been so busy I haven’t had a moment’s quiet, so haven’t been able to post the latest and greatest. Sorry about this minor delay in updates! I will now give the highlights.

We finished repairing the walls and ceiling of the dining room. Jim took the extra coral paint we used in the kitchen, mixed it with white paint and managed to come out with a pastel coral. I am absolutely thrilled with the results!

I also finished and put up the crochet curtain for the French door. It puckers in the center, so to insure that the finished work actually fits the door, it was taped in place. Now the challenge of figuring out how to make it lay straight all the way down. If anyone has any suggestions, I sure would appreciate it!

To continue the work, especially in adding a walk-in closet for the bedroom and redoing the roof, we are going to need wood. Have you checked out the price of wood right now? Just for basic materials we would practically have to take out a mortgage. After the shell shock wore off we brain-stormed. The decision was to remove the porch on the trailer we are presently living in — the wood is in almost perfect shape, so the tear down has begun.

After tearing down the roof and sides, Jim pulled out our hot tub, which he is going to install later at the house. We were able to acquire a lot of reusable materials!

In this picture you can see the old, non-functioning hot tub that was there just beyond ours. The spot of the old hot tub will one day be my utility room and our tub will be installed after we put in new flooring, plumbing, etc. Yeppers, too much work to consider right now, but one day our dream will be a reality.

Our old and fully-functional hot tub — a future installation project

I also am sad to report that one of my favorite chickens, Drama Queen, passed away. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but she was over nine years old and had not been laying eggs for quite some time. We have several “retired” hens that continue to teach the younger ladies and live a relatively pampered life. My Drama Queen was particularly affectionate and was always doing something to make me smile. So, I sure do miss her!

Drama Queen, gone but not forgotten!

Warm Weather Begins


It’s no longer a mild Arctic region — temps in the 70s & 80s most days. I’m loving it! On one of the warmer days we were using the hoses to start softening the soil in preparation of gardening efforts. Well, one of our porkers (Wilbur), who is solid white with a few black spots, pulled a Houdini and got out of the chicken/pig run. Not a problem, except he wanted to cuddle after finding those great wet spots …..

Anyone want to cuddle?

We finished sealing the dining room ceiling and have painted it white (versus dark colors). The room looks so much bigger, the drafty feeling is gone and it now echoes in there!

The debate has begun as to what color to paint the dining room walls. Really kind of funny. I jokingly suggested lime green with flourescent orange trim. My poor hubby. Thought his eyes were gonna leave the sockets. I’ll take pictures to show the end result later!

Our other big challenge has been installing a door on the bedroom. To my delight, Jim put in a French door — am so excited about it. I’m almost done crocheting a curtain for it, which I’ll proudly show off when done!

Almost done installing!

Next on the agenda is finishing up the kitchen, then the living room. By then it should be warm enough to do the roof. In between all that, prep and plant the garden.

I keep telling myself to not worry about the shopping list of to-do’s but focus on one thing at a time. Anyone have hints on how to productively exercise patience?

Drama Queen & The Sky is Falling


Our humble on-going project of getting the house ready to live in never fails to surprise. For those that don’t already know — Jim is disabled and after working an hour or two, he has to stop to rest. After a few of the necessary rest periods, he has to quit for the day. If he pushes too hard, he gets laid up for days, so to answer the question posed by a few folks — its taking a while to get everything done because of physical limitations. I have zero mechanical ability and poor Jim is a loveable gimp.

We planned on filling in the gaps between the boards of the ceilings first, but with the cold weather Jim thought we should check out the insulation. It seemed that the house kept getting cold rather quickly despite fixing all the holes in the exterior walls and sealing the windows. **sigh**

We crawled up there and discovered the planks held some trash and about 1/8 inch of dusty dirt, most of which kept leaking through the cracks between the planks into the house. We also discovered that the propanel metal sheets were nailed onto the roof beams without backing or sealing, so there are huge holes letting in the rain, snow and cold air.

We have an old house trailer that we have been stripping for materials (i.e., the kitchen cabinets). So we spent one day taking down the ceiling tiles, ripping out the plastic sheeting, and removing the insulation..

Early the next morning we carted the insulation to the house and coated the entire attic with the insulation. Since we plan on doing the roof this summer, we are not going to worry about all the excess “ventilation” right away. We have noticed a significant difference already. Now we plan on returning to the job of caulking all the gaps between all the planks in the ceiling, then painting.

Meanwhile, my “ladies” never fail to entertain me. Whenever one of my chickens is ill or injured, I utilize a cat carrier that is lined with straw and paper strips. I put the sickie in the carrier, bring it into the house, and they have a quiet corner with a food dish loaded with goodies and a water dispenser — all to themself. Usually the sickie spends one full day (a few rare times more than one day) and when they improve, they rejoin the colony outside.

Well, I recently tended to an injured rooster and a few days later I discovered one of my hens was limping. I watched her for a while, then checked her feet and legs to be sure. She seemed to be okay and I let her stay.

The next day when I went into the chicken run, this one hen took a few steps, flopped over and refused to move any further. I really got worried and went to check her. She cooed when I picked her up to inspect her legs and feet. I didn’t see anything wrong, put her back down and went to prepare the cat carrier despite not knowing what could be wrong.

Before returning I looked out the window and guess who was running, jumping and scurrying around for the scratch and dried worms with the rest of the ladies…. yep, you guessed it. My “wounded” lady was doing fine — until I went back outside and approached the chicken run. All of a sudden, she stopped, dropped and drooped her head while watching me closely.

My Drama Queen

I decided to leave her out there that day. The next day, sure enough, when she saw me, she was just pitiful. When I was out of view, she was doing just fine. No one ever told me that chickens could be drama queens!

Let There Be Heat!


We were cleaning and doing some work in the bedroom and decided we were tired of shivering. So, we decided to drag in some wood and start a fire in the beautifully ornate woodburning stove in the corner.

This was the woodburner in the bedroom (before wall repair and paint

Well, we discovered there was no flue, so all the heat went up the pipe. Then we discovered something even worse. The stove was cracked and had spots we hadn’t noticed that were holes. So we could see the light from the flames through the cracks, and there were some small flames coming out the sides! Gadzooks, we panicked and put out the fire as quickly as we could! Time for strategizing a solution.

Took a little thought, but we decided to bring in one of our small potbelly stoves and replace the one in the bedroom. It took some grunt work and redoing the pipes, but the replacement is now in place and it works great!

Fired up with tray open on bottom to get the wood ignited and start the heat-up.

It doesn’t have all the ornate scroll work, but it fits larger pieces of wood, Jim installed a flue, and fired it up. Wow, it heated the bedroom and the dining room.

We also installed a propane heater in the bathroom. Its a wall-mounted propane heater. Jim spliced into the propane line that goes to the dryer in order to connect to the propane.

The wall-mounted heater is radiant heat and works great!

When we fire up the heater in the bathroom, it makes a real cozy environment for taking a shower or bath. If we keep the door open, it heats both the bathroom and kitchen. I’m loving this!

Now we can work in the house without having to limit ourselves to 1-2 hours because of the cold. We can work all day and really get things done. I’m so excited about all the little steps of progress!

The Work Goes On


With things being as they are (virus protocols), we will not be having family coming out to visit this year, nor are we planning on anything extra for the holidays. Instead, we continue to work at getting the house livable and we intend to make next year’s holidays super duper!

So what are we doing now? Focusing on the ceilings. The crawl space under the roof has little to no insulation and the ceilings are lined-up planks with space between them. Guess where the heat goes! So we are giving the ceilings one quick base coat of paint, sealing the cracks, then finishing up with a second coat of paint. We have almost finished the dining room and have already noticed a BIG difference!

Base coat being applied
Base coat plus grout filling

We plan on replacing the entire roof in the Spring/Summer, so we’ll be putting in plenty of insulation then. Meanwhile, sealing the numerous cracks should help (we hope).

We also are having a large propane tank installed to fuel the dryer and stove. Before the tank could be delivered, we had to provide a flattened area for the tank to sit. Jim did a great job leveling a spot in the location the propane company specified. While the roof is removed, we hope to install piping for a couple of propane heaters in a few rooms as well. We are determined to be prepared for living in our home next winter!!

Last big development — we have a new family member! Meet Lady Bird (she tries to talk and it sounds like bird chirping). She’s a lab mix and about 4 months old. She will be our “outside” dog one day to guard our property. I know, I know, labs are not vicious. But, we don’t want vicious — we want protective and noisy.

Lady Bird helping Daddy dig

She is surrounded by Chihuahuas, and at this time, our smallest Chi (named Princess Peaches & Cream — Peach, for short) is her bestest friend. Cracks me up how they play together.

One thing I’ve seen however, Lady is almost as bad as my pigs. She’s always on the prowl for something edible. Anything laying around is going to get chewed on (including cords, shoes, pens, etc.). And, she loves to run. Even when she trips over her own feet, she covers the entire acre in seconds flat! Lady is so lovable and cuddly.

That’s it for December. Here’s hoping and praying everyone stays safe for the holidays, and please, please — wear your mask until the dangers of dying of this awful disease has ended! Hugs to all.

Never a Dull Moment


We have yet to recover our Jeep or have any word whether it has been found, but we continue to hope.

My surviving tomatoes are soaking up the sun

With the change in weather, some of the work has slowed down and the few tomato plants I was able to save were put into the sun room. I knew outside they would freeze at night and the sun room has great windows! After squirrels attacked everything, I was not sure I would be able to nurse these few survivors into fruition, but there is hope!! My efforts have been rewarded! I have some tomatoes.

Just look at how big they’ve gotten. They are heirloom purple tomatoes, so are super sweet and meaty (knowledge from past experience). The first three tomatoes that I’ve harvested I’m saving for seeds — I have high hopes for next year. The remainder I stroke, murmur to, and wait in anticipation of being ready to pick. Although I won’t have enough for canning this year, you can rest assured that they will be lovingly sliced and appreciated with plenty of lip smacking!

One unforeseen occurrence — it actually snowed here last month. Broke all kinds of records for our area. I know, I know. Snow in October is not headline news in most of the world, but in this little corner of New Mexico, it was extraordinary. Snow flurries here means everything shuts down, including roads and highways. We got a few inches of snow, so the shut downs were for a couple days before the sun was able to melt everything.

A leaky roof is NOT good for adobe!

Well, as the snow melted, the roof leaked, and soaked the walls in the sunroom. This happened when we weren’t there, so when we were finally able to get to the house, we found a huge section of the wall by the ceiling had collapsed onto packed boxes. Such a mess!

Look at all the broken up adobe!

We have been using the sun room for storage of boxes while the rest of the house is being worked on, and to put the tomato plants so they get plenty of sun. I am sooooo grateful the part of the wall that collapsed missed my beloved tomatoes.

With almost all the holes that exposed the inside to the outside being repaired, the difference inside is amazing. We heat up the house and within a few hours (after the adobe walls warm up), the house is so toasty and comfortable! I am soooo looking forward to being able to live there. We just have to fix the roof next spring!

The World Got Crazy


So much has happened in the last few weeks, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I will backtrack with events, then I’ll go over some of the progress we’ve made.

First off — Chicken Disaster

I had about 9 roosters and 85 hens. They were all so loving and tame, and so many different breeds since I have almost had a chicken rescue. I now have about 14 hens and 4 roosters. We were invaded by rogue dogs, coyotes and a few grey fox.

We, at first, couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Sometimes I would just find a pile of feathers. I was frantic. My two pot-belly pigs had scratches and bite marks, and they were skittish and never left each other’s side, always ready to declare war on anything but me. Jim decided to stand stood watch one evening with his rifle and discovered what was causing the havoc.

These predators had found a hole in our fencing that is now fixed, but in early evening they were having themselves a feast. No more! After a week of peace the chickens and pigs have settled down and are mellow again, but it was crazy for a few nights.

Second Disaster — Theft at our House

We don’t maintain a schedule of when we went to our house to work — sometimes it was every day, sometimes we stayed overnight, sometimes we would not go for a week. Every time we go we load up either vehicles Jim is working on (his hobby is repairing/restoring vehicles), towing our other vehicles down, or loading up materials, tools and packed boxes.

About a month ago we drove down in two vehicles — our pick-up truck loaded with stuff and Jim’s white Jeep Wrangler with black soft top. He had just finished fixing it up with new tires, stereo system, rebuilt motor, etc. We had plans to use it in the near future to take a fishing/camping trip and were excited that it was finally ready to roll. This picture was taken just before the new tires and hubs were put on – Jim put on some heavy-duty black hubs when replacing the tires.

Well, one night when we were not there, someone cut the fence, drove over the fence posts (pretty much destroying them), and towed the Jeep away! They had to have destroyed the steering column in order to allow the wheels to turn because the wheels froze when not started, and the thief certainly did not have the key. We are crushed! After years of working on it and slowly saving up money for parts, etc., we were actually going to be able to use it.

So, obviously, if anyone sees it, I ask that the Socorro Sheriff’s office be called immediately (575-835-0941).

Household Progress

I’ve been painting, Jim’s been working on improving the lighting in the house.


This is the new fixture in the bedroom! The ceiling is a pastel mint green, the trim is mint green and the walls are white. It has turned into my favorite room at this point!

In the kitchen, there was one very dark corner — not any more! This hanging light is now going to grace what will one day be my “Coffee Corner.”


Then outside, we decided something had to be done before winter hits to try to save as much of the wood as possible. So, I tested the blue we acquired for the trim. What do you think?


Then with a simple white base coat I started to paint the wooden ristras (see the dark brown, weatherworn wood above the window?). The blue trim paint will be done later.


Last bit of progress — the alternate section of the kitchen was equally dark, so I painted the door of the pantry. Its amazing how a little bit of paint brightened everything up! Here’s the before and after:



Rather than continue the almost endless saga of rebuilding and fixing walls (I think its boring to keep talking about it), I haven’t written anything for a while.

In late spring I planted a bunch of veggies from seeds and had high hopes — squashes, pumpkins, chili (hatch, poblano), tomatoes, just a nice variety. The plan was to let the plants grow big enough to show off and to share my dreams of what the harvest would be like. I took plans and precautions to ward off every bug imaginable. I developed a watering system to ensure my beloved greenery would never lack. The soil was mixed with all my mulch that had been carefully developed and mixed with the local soil. Well, reality check.

When not looking my beautiful, little plants were invaded by mice and squirrels. I mean, not just nibbled or chewed on, but munched down to the soil!!! I now have three tomato plants left.

They are in pots, on top of a table that would be hard for the critters to reach, and the area around the table is booby-trapped! I was pleased and hopeful that I will now at least have some tomatoes. And — these are heirloom purple tomatoes, so I’m excited.

There was one consideration I overlooked, however. Although I did not want all of what was left being decimated, I did not wish harm to the critters. I did not realize that I inadvertently created a deadly booby-trap. Next to the house I had blue barrels in which I collect rain water. One of the barrels was almost full.

It appears that one pair of squirrels tried to climb onto the roof to try to take a lizard leap onto the table and fell into the barrel. They were unable to get out and drowned. They left a little squirrel behind, so now I have another mouth to feed. Egads, I almost feel like I’m responsible for two innocent deaths. If it weren’t for the fact that they destroyed all my other plants, I might feel guilty.

Let There Be Light!


We have been focusing on finishing up the base coat of paint on anything that doesn’t need patching. Just the blah-white base coat is brightening things so much.

Corner of kitchen

This is one corner in the kitchen. You can see where we’ve put down the base coat — the vomit violet is still visible around the area that needs patching. Behind this wall was the busted water heater we took out. As soon as the wall is done drying out, we will be able to patch it.

While I was putting base coat down, Jim got busy with the wiring. A lot of the wiring was done wrong, so he redid the wiring in the kitchen ceiling, installed a huge light fixture, and set it up so it has an on-off switch instead of a pull cord hanging off a light bulb. Wow — talk about a major difference! The fixture has wood trim, but it’s hard to see against the ceiling (which will be completely replaced one day).


Soon the piping for the stove will be redone so it will be against the back wall instead, and then, we will repair the wall by the wood-burning oven.

We have also temporarily set up the bedroom with a cot and a few amenities. This way we can come in to work, spend one night, and the following day work until late afternoon. We have animals to feed, so we can’t be gone that long!


Jim has also been rewiring everything in the bedroom. There were light switches that didn’t work, exposed wires hanging from the ceiling, and a bare bulb with a pull chain in one corner.

He’s installed an old hanging lamp he had in storage that works with a dimmer switch! It’s perfect for us in the bedroom. And, yes, we still have newspaper taped to the windows. We haven’t finished painting yet, so there was no point in removing the paper.

My seedlings should be ready to plant next week, so we’ll probably focus a little on rototilling the garden plot next time we are there. I’m so excited to start on our crop of veggies!

Progress & Problems


We finally got the main cabinets in the kitchen installed. The sink and plumbing proved to be a challenge. The stainless steel sink was a little too big for the cabinets, so Jim had to trim the wood a little. The faucet set fit perfectly, but the plumbing under the sink required extra effort and attention because the old pipes were not correct. Jim redid the plumbing and the overall results have me smiling.


We had planned that I continue painting base coat on various walls while Jim removed the water heater. Last year we purchased one of those tankless water heaters and set it aside to install later. It was decided that to celebrate our first set of cabinets in the kitchen we would install the tankless heater. And so the next nightmare began — although the discovery explained why one of the livingroom walls was in such bad shape and continuing to worsen.

We opened the water closet and discovered water all over the floor. It looked like the tank was leaking near the front, but it seemed odd that there would be so much water from that one drip. So, the water was turned off at the main hook-up and the work to remove the tank began. First, disconnection of the pipes leading into the tank and looping them together. The tank was drained and Jim dragged it outside. The water pipes were secured and the main hook-up was turned back on. Then, the fun began.

When the tank had been disconnected, the main pipe leading into the tank had snapped apart just under the ground, so when the water was turned back on it looked like a geyser! Panic to turn the water off….

Jim had to literally dig for a while to find that the pipes had rusted completely apart, so when jostled, they snapped apart. He dug a sizable pit to find the first joint down, removed the remains of the useless pipe, investigated whether the remaining pipe was usable, and then he capped it. Then it was time to turn the water back on. Hallelujah — the geyser was gone!


The next challenge… when the water had last been turned off, dirt and mud fell into the line before the broken pipe was exposed, so all that yuck fell in and plugged everything! When we tried to run the water in the bathroom sink or bathtub, nothing came out! Turn the water off again….

Poor Jim’s simple project of removing that huge, antiquated water heater turned into an all day nightmare! He now had to remove the piping in the sink in order to flush out the mud and debris. Of course, the shut-off valve under the sink didn’t turn in order to accomplish the mission. Oh no, it had to snap off and come apart.

Bottom Line: Jim flushed out the lines, the sink and tub work, as does the toilet and kitchen sink. Hurray!

Behind the water closet is one wall of the living room, which is in nightmarish condition and kept getting worse. We assumed it was a leaky roof, but it didn’t make sense that the deteriorating adobe was happening from the bottom up. We know now! As you can see from the picture, this is a problem that has been going on for years. The ground under the house was completely saturated from years of leaking due to rusted out pipes, there is mold in the water closet and it was destroying two other walls. So, we are going to let that area completely dry out and we’ll treat the mold to eliminate it — all before being able to install the tankless water heater. Guess its cold showers for a while!