It Never Stops….


It seems I haven’t been able to update since Halloween. Egads. I’ll try to give quick updates on everything before detailing our homestead progress.

For the holidays, my daughter, Carol, held dinner for us. She is such an outrageously good cook. I like to consider myself her first teacher, but at this point, she is teaching me!! Have I mentioned she has a cookbook out that I use and love? (click here for link to cookbook) Now she’s working on a new one, and I just know it will probably be as good, if not better, than the first!

Popcorn (our latest family addition) has gone from a little bundle of fur to a powerhouse of energy. She is sooo funny and still cuddly, but will only tolerate a quick hug before running to get one of her toys. Afterall, time for a cuddle means there’s time for play!

Due to roof leaks, we had to redo the ceiling in two rooms. First step, Jim went up and replaced most of the roof and the rest he patched. Fortunately, this was done before the weather turned arctic — it was chilly, but not insanely cold and windy yet.

We thought the living room was completed, but leaks meant having to redo the ceiling. Just look at the mess that leak made! Now it looks pretty again!

The sun room’s leak was the worst. Thankfully, we had not really started re-doing that room, so it was still in need of overall overhaul. The leak meant Jim had to redo the adobe, then stucco on the ceiling, above the window, and below the window. With all the windows, the warming sun helped dry everything quickly, so then we focused on finishing up the room.

Jim sealed all the gaps in the ceiling boards, sealed the windows, sealed the ristras to the ceiling, patched all the nail holes and cracks, and then painting.

The hodge-podge of dark colors on the walls and windows took two and three coats, but now the room looks huge!

The only thing left is scrubbing the brick flooring and sealing that. Whew! That leaves curtains and moving furniture into the room. Guess I will have to make the ultimate sacrifice and go shopping at the fabric and/or hobby store. **sigh** How I suffer! (**giggle**)

I plan on making the little alcove into a mini-office. The rest of the room will either be a guest room or our grandkid’s room. Check out the view from that room on the last night of painting!

Have I mentioned that Jim’s oldest (daughter Stephanie) has fallen on hard times. She, Novelle, and the kids had been living on the reservation, but she was booted out because she wasn’t Native. She left the kids with Novelle while she tried to get situated. Then, Novelle developed cancer, did not tell anyone, and reservation folks found out just before he passed away. Long story-short: Jim and I are trying to get guardianship of the kids instead of having them separated in various homes, but it has proven to be a nightmare. I am Native, but not from that reservation; Jim is not Native at all. Plus, Novelle had a 401K and life insurance that has been cashed in. The folks at that rez are using the kids’ inheritance plus the monthly survivors stipend from the government to live on; we opened trust accounts to hold that money for the kids’ future, which we don’t get unless we get the kids (if any is left). Put it all together and you have a mess. The Indian Child Protection Act is overall a great thing, but unfortunately, it can be manipulated in the wrong way. Nonetheless, we are going to keep trying to get our grandbabies. Wish us luck!

End of Insanity


Its amazing how relieved I am that this year is almost over. In fact, I think this picture best sums up how I feel about 2021.

Finally got to see the opthomologist and learned my problem started as a normal side affect of cataract surgery, but since the pandemic meant all eye clinics were closed for 14 months, something that would normally be easily addressed became a nightmare. Long/short: Minor laser surgery was done to correct the problem, am now off of the horrific mass of meds with all the debilitating side affects, and am now able to function “normally.” I will need eye drops every day from now on, but that is no big deal.

The huge cysts in my elbow have also been surgically removed, the cast is off, and am now able to use my arm again. Am still doing the final healing from the surgery, but I have full use of my arm, so I am thrilled.

As a result of being functional again, we have started working on the house again. Before getting to the home project, we spent a few days cruising thrift shops. The treasures we found are so thrilling! We found a wonderful electric washing machine that is also able to do dry cleaning. At a different thrift store we found the perfect sink and cabinet to replace the set in the bathroom. Lastly, we found a few things I thought I had lost forever.

Several years ago (when I still lived in Albuquerque), my apartment had been broken into. Jewelry was stolen, some of my suits, and my hand-crochet pillows (set of 4). I actually was able to find two of the four pillows! They said they don’t know who donated them, but I was more than happy to give them $5 to get these two back!

When we went and reviewed the property, we decided to focus on the bathroom. Again, what we thought would be a one day project to replace the tiny sink and collapsing cabinet became a week long mess. We discovered the plumbing was done wrong, so the piping had to be redone before we could install the new cabinet and faucet. The picture below shows a corner of the tiny bowl-sized sink and collapsing cabinet. Here’s the result of replumbing and installing new.

We decided to keep the old clawfoot tub, but we could see we would be having some issues there. Little did we know!

Not only does the wall require massive rework and repair, but the plumbing was the biggest surprise. The fixtures are going to be replaced with fixtures made for a clawfoot tub, but we found out the plumbing from the floor and up was done with swamp cooler hoses, not pipes! This means poor Jim is going to have to tear out the wall in order to redo the shower as well as redoing all the other plumbing. We now know why the water never had any significant water pressure.

The beautiful old tub also needs TLC. After we moved it out of the corner we discovered that the legs, the underside and the side against the wall are rusted. We’ll patch the wall first as a joint effort. Thereafter, while Jim works on the plumbing, I’ll be sanding and cleaning the tub, coating it with Rustoleum and then spraying it with paint. All I have to do is remember to buy a wire brush the next time we’re in town….

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:

Beginning New Year’s Efforts


About a week ago we had a major wind storm blow through. Anything loose was flying all over the llano (desert plains), including people that were silly enough to be out there. Well, your’s truly was out there to feed the hooligans. Couldn’t believe the chickens braved those winds — hunkered down, but out of the hen house and following behind me as best they could in anticipation of food and treats.

While out there, I kept hearing this loud chirping but couldn’t see them from inside the chicken run. After feeding and watering the pigs and chickens, I went to investigate. A few feet outside the chicken run were seven two-legged cotton balls being blown by the wind so hard they were being rolled across the yard! Felt so sorry for those little buggers. I chased around and stuck them in the feed bucket as I caught them. They were so traumatized, they just sat and huffed without making a sound!

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Those puff balls are now in a dog crate in my living room. They are some happy little buggers and each eat enough to feed two chickens. Can’t believe I have chicks already. Wasn’t planning on having any until the end of this month or middle of next month. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

With the weather warming we’ve started working on the house again While Jim was patching and plumbing, I started painting. I managed to do all the cutting in of the bedroom windows and the last two walls. The first two walls were done when my Mom was out visiting. It was time to finish up!

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You get an idea here of how dark the colors were. The windows had been painted a real dark brick red with the dark yellowish walls, dark brick red ceiling and black painted press wood flooring.

undefinedThe one corner of the bedroom has a small wood-burning stove. Near the ceiling, behind the stovepipe, the wall was almost gone. So Jim patched that huge hole. We won’t tackle the ceiling until the roof is repaired, so for now it stays the brooding brick color.

The work has begun — and one of my goals for this month is to rototill the section where my future garden will be going. Am starting seeds and have high hopes!

Encouraging Touches


Despite the cold weather (to us in New Mexico, anything lower than 50 degrees is cold), we have tried to continue our work at wall repair. Unfortunately, the cold means the fresh adobe we’re using to repair the walls does not dry very quickly, not to mention the fact that mixing up the raw adobe outside in the wind and rain is challenging. Firing up the woodburning stoves help, but we needed something that is a little more consistent and less labor intensive. So, Jim went on-line to hunt for a propane heater that we could use.

undefinedWe found one, but its going to require some work. Needless to say, Jim has a new project that he’s working on and it is taking priority over all else. He’s ordered some parts for it, and now we wait.

We’ve been firing up the wood-burning stoves as usual, continue to work on patching and repairing walls, and decided we needed a moral boost. So we started painting.

After several coats of white primer, we painted one wall in the kitchen. Mom had visited last month and this is the color she suggested for the kitchen. We taped paper on everything that was not to be painted and got to work. What do you think?

This is the window above the sink area — first taped up, then painted. undefined undefined

This is the area around the door. Again, first taped up, then painted. undefined undefined

What do you think?

We were “on a roll,” so we attacked the dungeon room (to one day be the dining room). The walls need repair and had been painted with a dark brown brick color and dark brown trim. The room has a tiny window that is obstructed by a swamp cooler making it oppressive.

This was the room we had most of the tools in with a work table. As you can see from the pictures, the walls will need a lot of work, but with the white primer, the room looks so different!

undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined Yes, some of the original color is still bleeding through. Yes, the dull white is boring. However, now we can even see what we’re doing in there now!

This has us really fired up. Instead of just making adobe, dragging the buckets in, then patching and patching and patching, then waiting for the patches to dry (which takes forever in the cold). Now we are starting to really see some progress. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to do. But there’s hope!!

One Wall Almost Done!


Jim has pretty much finished the one kitchen wall and is working on the flooring in front of the wall now.  Turns out the flooring was put directly on dirt, so some of the flooring is horribly warped or rotted.  Jim plans on putting down cement on the area below the area where the long kitchen cabinet will be placed, then cover with tongue-in-grove planks.  The final step will be installing the cabinet and hooking up the plumbing.

We also started working on the living room.  On one wall there was a huge area above a small window that was in horrible shape.  It was possible to see the great outdoors through the wall!  Jim has filled in the gaps with that new cement-adobe mixture and a huge draft is now gone!


Once the large cabinet in the kitchen is in place (with plumbing hooked up), we’ll finish off the livingroom wall.

When not working on the two walls, focus has been made to patch the roof.  Whenever it rained, water gushed into the house and the walls at the gush melted down and made huge mud puddles in the house.  Most of the puddles were in the sun room and bedroom.

I’d show pictures of the roof’s progress, but it would take some major event for me to mount those ladders just to take pictures!  Egads, how does Jim do it?  For that matter, how do roofers do it?  I’d need two-three well-secured safety harnesses and a case of Depends….

Drippy Weather Brings Us Inside


It looks like the warm weather is pretty much over, and now that the sky has become a constant cold shower (I prefer hot baths), concentrated work has begun on the inside of the house.  As reported in the last post, the kitchen had to be the first room to start on.

We took down the old counter and cleaned up the one wall to start work.  Jim found out about a type of adobe-mortar that is recommended for an adobe-style rammed earth mix.  Basically the adobe mix includes 10% of cement, and when it dries it looks like the typical adobe but is waterproof.  Jim mixes everything in a wheelbarrow outside and rolls it in when filled with the thick, damp goo.  It kind of looks like a very dark bread dough.

Here’s the result of 10 days work in repairing the one wall in the kitchen.  Its a little hard to see some of the deep holes in the first picture, but trust me — some of those holes made it possible to see the great outdoors when sitting on the floor.  Now its all filled in and smooth and we are preparing to begin working on the flooring in front of that wall.  We just have to let the wall finish drying.

We’re debating whether to paint the whole wall before installing the counter and sink or leaving the wall looking raw because the counter will be covering it.  The paint is going to be a plain, flat white to serve as a base coat for future painting.  At the present the walls are an awful shade of purple and the ceiling is made of sheets of plywood that are painted a very dark brown.

We have another week before we can install the counter, so if you get a chance, give me your opinion!  We are really torn and we continue to debate paint or no paint with no solid decision.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow we are going to try an experiment.  We will be bringing our cat (Chamako) with us.  He absolutely loves hunting, stalking and catching mice.  There are plenty of prey for him and although he’s never been here, we are hopeful that within a few minutes of exploration that he will begin the hunt.  Crossing our fingers!




First Mission Accomplished — Next Steps


We have managed to clean-up most of the yard.  Just look at how pretty it all is!



Part of the final challenge in cleaning up the back section before finishing the fencing was a Russian olive tree.  It had grown wild with several new baby trees around it.  For those not familiar with this tree, let me tell you — that tree is nothing short of evil!  The wood is super dense, loaded with knots, and it sprouts some of the deadliest thorns I think I’ve ever seen!  This picture gives a little bit of an idea.  Those spikes poke out from the branches and tree trunk!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve trimmed and cut it down as far as we can.  Now we will finish it off with salt water and time.  Not only do we not want to get pierced with these tree stakes, but we have animals that deserve more.

The work on the inside has now begun.  We decided to attack the kitchen first since there will be no moving in until we can eat!  First — get rid of the tiny kitchen counter!

I’m just under 5 feet tall — the top of the counter was almost to my chest.  Trying to use it would have meant having to use a step stool, so it had to go!  The counter top is significantly higher than the stove top….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo Jim disconnected the pipes and the counter was moved.  What we found had our jaw dropping.  The counter had no flooring at all; it was sitting directly on dirt.  The wall behind the counter was almost non-existent with the outdoors being visible in spots.


Its safe to say that this is our new challenge for November.  I’ll try to keep everyone up-to-date more consistently, but it appears it will be a while before the kitchen will be usable.  After the wall and flooring are done, we will have to also redo some of the other walls and rewire the room.  **sigh** I’m telling myself when its done it will be wonderful….