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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Latest Happenings at the Ranch

It has been a while...And so much has happened since I last wrote I'm actually not sure where to start.
We got back from Jacksonville mid March and have been going non-stop since.

I'll spare you the long post and just give you the highlights.

We've ridden roller coasters, driven SO many miles, had dinner with cousins, worked in the garden, had visitors, hunted Easter eggs, saw some local sights, ate a table full of crawfish with friends and family, unschooled with the unschooliest at the tex-uns conference, rescued a pup for Grandma and Pop, Adelyn started a new business, attended a recital for 2 of our favorite violinists, and have had some up close and personal wildlife sightings on our very own piece of Texas! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Changes at the Ranch

My family insists on calling this place the Riviera Ranch, so I guess I will too. So, henceforth it shall be referred to as such!

Speaking of the Ranch, we have enjoyed some upgrades this past weekend. We now have electricity! And, do you know what that means?? Warm showers! Out there, where there is more dirt, dust, mud, and sand than anything else, a warm shower makes a world of difference at the end of an exhausting day. Next time we're out there maybe I'll take a picture of the shower set up so you can have a good laugh, but for now, you'll just have to take my word for it...it's something else! I'm sure it was meant to be a temporary solution for the previous owners, but they abandoned ship and left it as is. Since we haven't had time to work on that yet, we also are using it in it's temporary-middle-of-the-house-open-to-everything state. Like I said, it's warm, it's clean, and that's all that matters for now.

Steve also set up an outlet for the camper! We can now use the lights and fan (although the current fan bit the dust) and the A/C or heater if we need it. The kids enjoyed a movie before bed even! Crazy how fancy a little electricity can make you feel ;)

We didn't get as much accomplished as we had hoped this weekend. The plan was to organize the inside of the house, which is full of building supplies and such, that didn't happen. We planned to put in some posts for garden fences, a swing set, and the chicken coop upgrade, but we only got one post set, and it was too dark to take a picture of it. We planned to move the camper and put it closer to the house and the power source, and that did happen! We moved it and not only did we get it hooked up, we made a little patio and Steve even hooked up the satellite.

It's hard to tell from the picture but another thing we were able to finish was clearing out the weeds around the house. Even after this picture was taken we pulled more out and took out that tree of thorns up against the white shed. 

For my birthday I picked out a bunch of plants from a local nursery. They didn't have much, but I like what we picked out. They are supposed to get citrus trees in late this week, so hopefully we can snag some of those too. 

Philodendron, Robellini Palm, Washington
 Palm, can't remember, and a Camellia 
Norfolk Pine

We planted most of them, but I'm still unsure where to put the camellia. I don't know what specific kind it is and some varieties grow to 2-4 feet, and some varieties grow as big as 16 feet...that's a pretty significant difference! Not to mention it needs partial shade, and that can be hard to find around here. I'm thinking I'll put it on one of the corners of the house, but I'm going to think about it a bit more before putting it in.

The garden is moving along. Waiting for seeds to sprout is worse than waiting for Christmas to get here...it feels like they will never get big enough to plant. The only thing really taking off is the pumpkin seeds. Others are slowly coming up, but not the ones I'm most excited for, the tomatoes. 

On January 14 or 15 I planted a lettuce mix, beets, carrots, and swiss chard. I seeded those directly into the ground, and they are doing well. I'm hoping to see bigger growth in that bed next week. We'll see though. The ground has been really hard. Our sand is really fine, and beneath the few inches of sand is a really hard slippery clay. I think with the next bed I will try to mix in compost and peet moss and see how that works. 

 January 20th and 21st my mom, the kids and I all planted some seeds in seed starter trays. We planted pumpkins, purple tomatillas, red cabbage, golden cabbage, luffas, orange-green-purple-yellow bell peppers, green tomatillas, mortgage lifter tomatoes, amish paste tomatoes, thessolaniki tomatoes, black krim tomatoes, gardeners delight tomatoes, german chamomile, calendula, bee balm, and lavendar. I ordered all the seeds from Annie's Heirloom Seeds. There's also one more, but I can't read what I wrote...note for next time, use sharpie. 

I still have some purple potatoes, onions, and a lot of herbs to plant. Once the garden is fenced, I am also planning on buying some okra, squash, and cucumber plants. 

Still so much work to do to get the garden where I want it to be, but seeds are growing and that's exciting! I can't wait to harvest some food. It's been too long since I got to have my very own garden. 

We have lots of projects planned, and they all take time, and money. Can't wait to have a garden fence, a chicken coop, and a swing for the kids, but we also have a building that needs an all new metal skin around it, and that will be quite the task! Who knows what will come next, but I'll keep you posted. 

I'll leave you with our last upgrade to the ranch this past week, and that is...........

Just one lonely egg, but hey, it's an egg! One of our americaunas (makes green eggs)is laying one a day...except yesterday, she didn't want to take time out of her busy day of exploring the world outside of the coop to lay an egg. Hopefully the other two follow suit soon. 

Until next time friends!!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

South Texas!

So, it's been a while...shocking! We are usually so good at updating things around here. Anyways, since we posted last we have moved to south Texas. We are still living in the Montana fifth wheel on base, but we also bought some property (eeeek!) At first glance it's not what most people would call paradise, or would even want to call home! But, we love it and I think it's a good fit for us.

The first time we drove to this property, Steve and I were both charmed with the dusty, bumpy dirt road. There was only one home nearby, and two pieces of property next to each other listed for sale. The gate had to be lifted off the hinges for us to go in (the lock hadn't been removed in so long and no one had a key), and we were wary of taking the truck in the 'driveway', afraid that we might puncture a tire on the weird, sharp, stick-like bushes that grow everywhere down here, but we did. It was a mess. Everything was so overgrown it was hard to tell if this was a good deal or not. I decided it was not, but Steve was in love. Even the realtor knew it after he was describing it to her!! She said she saw that look in his eye....and she was right.  I wish I had taken more pictures of the landscape at that moment, before we took ownership. It's so hard to describe and now you'll never know what I saw when we walked up the first time. Lucky for you, I do have pictures of the disgusting buildings that came with this property. I wish I could share the smells with you...maybe I'll take that up with the yankee candle people. It was awful. A huge building full of stuff that had been strewn about and was collecting rat feces and mold as water was pouring through the large holes in the roof. Gross!

Here's a decent shot of the brush that was everywhere!

Fast forward to today and we have 3 cleaned out, well, empty buildings, a driveway you can drive on, a backyard, a small chicken coop, a tiny bit of the garden area tilled and planted, and a path all the way to the back, which doesn't sound like a lot, but my goodness it took an entire day on a big tractor to make that happen. We have spent almost every weekend working out there, and even though most of the time we come back completely exhausted, it's been so fulfilling to polish this diamond in the rough a little at a time. So come visit, family and friends, we have water, a working toilet, and plenty of space to pitch a tent :) Soon we'll even have electricity, and we'll be really fancy!

I'm hoping to keep up with the posts for a while. I want to keep track of the progress we've made. There's no telling how long we will get to live here and I'm trying to make the most of this short opportunity to live out my homesteading dreams.

I'll leave you with the lovely pictures of our paradise and our beloved chickens that have yet to lay any eggs since they arrived. And, there are no hard feelings about that (yet) since they have endured quite a bit of stress over the last couple of weeks. Travelling 400 miles, a hard freeze, raccoon break-in attempts....they are a tough bunch! Can't wait to upgrade their coop in the future and bring in some more feathered friends. Without further ado...meet Fabio (rooster), Goldilocks (gold colored americana), Featherina (orange americana), and Black Shadow (black and white barred rock).

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New 5th Wheel!

We finally found out our gate for the next few years and were able to upgrade. We got a Keystone Montana 3950BR and love it!

Still moving in and out is a little chaotic. Hopefully we will be able to post more frequently (heard that before I know) in the near future.

By the way, posted this from my phone so I hope it looks ok.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

VW TDI Petition

So the EPA is going attempting to fine VW more than my TDI cost new for each vehicle, plus ridiculous amounts for each day and other items. Yet, massive plants and industries, including airlines, emit ridiculous amounts of NOx and are regularly grandfathered in their pollution. 

How about we get some figures from the EPA so we can point see whether their interests are on behalf of the public or more political in nature...


"Enter a judgment that VW is liable to the United States for civil penalties for each
violation of Section 203(a) of the Act, and assess civil penalties against VW as follows:
i. up to $32,500 per 2.0L Subject Vehicle and 3.0L Subject Vehicle for each
violation occurring before January 13, 2009, and up to $37,500 per 2.0L
Subject Vehicle and 3.0L Subject Vehicle for each violation occurring on or
after January 13, 2009 for violations of Section 203(a)(1) of the Act;
ii. up to $32,500 per 2.0L Subject Vehicle and 3.0L Subject Vehicle for each
violation occurring before January 13, 2009, and up to $37,500 per 2.0L
Subject Vehicle and 3.0L Subject Vehicle for each violation occurring on or
after January 13, 2009 for violations of Section 203(a)(3)(A) of the Act;
2:16-cv-10006-LJM-MJH Doc # 1 Filed 01/04/16 Pg 27 of 31 Pg ID 27
iii. up to $2,750 per “defeat device” per 2.0L Subject Vehicle and 3.0L Subject
Vehicle for each violation occurring before January 13, 2009, and up to
$3,750 per “defeat device” per 2.0L Subject Vehicle and 3.0L Subject
Vehicle for each violation occurring on or after January 13, 2009 for
violations of Section 203(a)(3)(B) of the Act; and
iv. up to $32,500 per day of violation occurring before January 13, 2009, and up
 to $37,500 per day of violation occurring on or after January 13, 2009 for
 violations of Section 203(a)(2) of the Act."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ford's Response to my Contact after 30+ days at Arrow Ford

Here is the response that I received from Ford Motor Company, well after requested response time and after I had already sent a final notification to Ford. This was after the issue immediately continued after spending over a month at Arrow Ford, a Ford labeled dealership that I had attempted to take all of my business too even though I moved all over the US. The dealership I purchased my first vehicle from and made maintenance visits during vacations/holiday trips home. They also failed to keep a customer. In fact, they never responded at all.

The black blocks are redacted information (names, case number).

So, they regret my concerns, that REALLY makes me feel better. Adding to the comfort is the fact that they BELIEVE my experience is far from typical. If that were true, would you not be able to support the RARE case that your product does have issues, especially warranty problems?

And, they are unable to reimburse for repairs and misdiagnosis. Let me explain that... The original diagnosis was a failing fan clutch. It smelled like a bad diagnostics based on my experience, but I reluctantly agreed thinking that if I show an attempt to resolve this, we can get through the issues. WHAT A MISTAKE!!! Surging occurred immediately on the drive home from the dealership. And no, I did not immediately take it back, another mistake. I should have left that pile of crap at the dealership every time I heard the engine surge and just not moved as required by my job. Unfortunately, I had to move half way across the country and needed a tow vehicle. These problems had already seriously crushed moving plans. Not to mention a whole lot of camping trips that had to be cancelled, disappointing the kids. What does it mean 'unable to pay' anyways? I was getting dividends as a stock holder from Ford before I ditched the investment in a company that does not value it's customers. Perhaps they were 'unable' to pay because the $1billion dividend payments in an attempt to revitalize their investors. Oh wait, that seems to not be working either. I have an idea...Maybe your investors are leaving because your customers aren't the focus.

So, to summarize according to Ford; this is not typical and we are unable to pay you an insignificant sum of money to attempt to retain a customer. Seems kind of like a four letter response to me. 

Did I mention I am now a Chevrolet owner and get better mileage?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ford Lost a Loyal Customer

I guess you could say Ford won the battle since I decided to not spend the next few months with legal action. They responded a few weeks late to the previous letter and have yet to respond to the most recent. Regardless of how they acted during the bailouts, I cannot support a company that shows no concern for customers and shareholders. I sold all my Ford stock and now have a Chevy. I should thank Ford I suppose, I have a truck with essentially the same capabilities, but it rides smoother, quieter, and is over 30% more efficient. I will continue to share more of Ford's ridiculous customer service that I experienced so all can see how they handle customer issues.