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Archive for February, 2009

Snowy Sunrise Driving into Virginia City, NV

Snowy Sunrise Driving into Virginia City, NV

It’s snowing today and I love it! Our forest needs the moisture and water supplies need to be replenished. A muddy spring leads to stronger gardens, and since it is winter, I need exercise.

I’m prepared. I have my trusty shovel and quad with plow. These are definite necessities, living rural up in the mountains. My husband found the best shovel, years ago for me. It is a plastic bucket with a metal edge. I can scrape, or break, ice with it. And, more importantly, I can lift and toss snow. It isn’t heavy therefore I haven’t dreaded snow removal for years.

Our property is long, so our driveway is too. There is no physical way we could shovel the entire distance, so some sort of plow is a must. I admit to envy of my neighbors with tractors. There are so many projects that a tractor can make easier. But, I put my 4 wheeler and plow to just as good of use. In 20 minutes, I can clear my drive, gate, barn and parking spots.

In the summer, I attach a harrow to the tow ball and can drag the horse manure. This makes better soil for trees and my horses, as well as an earth friendly manner of disposal. I also make use of my snow shovel in the summer months. It is great for loading up some of the awkward piles of manure to haul for composting.

So here I am, completing winter chores and day dreaming about summer chores. Seasons remind me life is a never ending cycle!

Plowing Snow at the Barn

Plowing Snow at the Barn

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Clean, Low Maintenance Fenced Property

Clean, Low Maintenance Fenced Property

We moved to our home near Virginia City Nevada about 4 ½ years ago. Usable acreage, a home with square footage we could maintain, and many other blessings. Unfortunately, it came with an environmental mix I had never experienced. Cold frozen winters, followed by wet, sticky, muddy spring and on to a ground baking warm, dry summer. One of our biggest challenges have been maintaining fences. I don’t mean painting them, or just nailing a few boards up, I mean the wind blows and a 40 foot run falls down and what do you do because your husband is at work and there is no one to call for help?!?! Whew! That run on sentence just starts to express my panic that day. And my journey into finding an affordable and durable fencing solution began.

In 1997 the builder of our home put in a small corral area before he finished the house. It was simple 4×4 redwood posts stuck in the dirt with lateral runs of redwood 6 x16’s. The prior owner had attached galvanized cattle panels to that fencing to keep coyotes out. All of this together held up ok until a storm with extremely strong winds showed up and blew the fence down in sections. I walked the fence and to my dismay, I saw jagged chunks of post sticking out of the ground where they had completely rotted through. I ran to my local hardware store and bought T posts and a T post driver and managed to prop it back up, but I knew I had a problem. On the high side of the fallen fence, I drove t-posts and then crossed over to push the fence up and attach it to the t-posts with bailing wire. Then I would drive a T post on the downward side and wrap more wire. My husband thought it was awful but was impressed I managed to get the job done. Obviously, it was a temporary fix at best.

You probably wonder why I tell you this. Simply put, fences are a lot of work to install and after listening to other horse owners, I think I found the best solution available. I looked on the internet and talked to folks at the hardware store but no one has a magic bullet to my problem. I kept looking because I didn’t want to be left alone, repairing a fence during a storm ever again!

I was complaining after this event to my daughter’s teacher and her husband. They live up here and have horses so they are always a good shoulder to cry on. It turned out I was to be given the best fencing lesson if you have to deal with muddy, wood rotting clay. Pea gravel. This simple, inexpensive rock became our salvation.

My friend sells wholesale lumber. He explained that the clay in the wet season will keep your wood saturated and rot it out. Ok, that was easy enough to understand. Metal fencing was ruled out immediately due to the expense. Then we debated using concrete with wood posts. The problem here, he explains, is that once the wood is wet, the concrete prevents it from drying out so it can spend even more time in a state of rot. I’m very pessimistic at this point and then he tells me how he sets all of his posts. He digs his hole, just as he would for concrete, but instead fills it with pea gravel. This way the clay will absorb the water as soon as weather permits. It is the only way I have found that keeps wood posts in a minimal state of saturation. It is more affordable than buying pallets of concrete and it doesn’t have to be permanent.

So we dug our holes for 6” round posts. One person holds the post upright and centered while another person shovels in pea gravel. Then we would shake the post to help settle the gravel. Add water and shake some more. Go on to the next post and repeat. We might go back to posts and repeat the process until you could hardly move the post at all. And if you need to remove fencing, you don’t have to fight a mass of underground concrete. We also attached panels to 6×6 posts to combin gate options with low maintenance fencing.

Clean and Low Maintance Properties Always Look Great!

Clean and Low Maintance Properties Always Look Great!

It has been a couple of years and our fences show no signs of rotting at the base. The fences have held up to both our domestic horses and the wild horses who come to visit. Thank you Dean!

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Our Land of Glorious Sunrises

It’s sad for me to think about what people living in urban areas miss out on every single day. The one thing I’ve taken for granted is the peace that comes with having a home with a view. You can spend a ton of money on art, and of course it will be lovely to look at, but it doesn’t compare to nature’s canvas.

In our neighborhood, the Virginia City Highlands, the wildlife and seasons provide a deep seated sense of relaxation every day. When the weather turns in the fall and spring, the herds of Mule Deer traversing my property are absolutely majestic. Stop your life for 5 minutes to see a brilliant sunset and the tension leaves you. It is a phenomena everyone should take time to experience every day.

I don’t have a view of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range like this house does. On a wintry day, when the clouds are hanging low on the range, I envy every single person who has that view.

Panoramic Views, Courtesy of the Virginia City Highlands 

I live in a mountain top canyon where I get to enjoy other wonderful views. I love the rare ice fog. It can make for hazardous travel but I can open my windows up and view the BLM land that has glitter hanging in the air. The red tailed hawk soaring above gives me a sense of freedom on a warm sultry day. The smell of Juniper cedar combined with sage is natures candle, while the juniper berries are like a celebration with confetti on the ground.

But the best view is one that everyone in the Virginia City Highlands shares; the night sky. We don’t have street lights and our houses are spaced out nicely, so on a clear night I can look straight up in awe and see the entire Milky Way. It is a gorgeous site that gets drowned out in the city lights, but I’m lucky enough to have it all to myself, all the time.

Sunrise in Virginia City, NV

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Horse Properties: Turn key or Design Your Own?

JJ enjoying winter sun

JJ enjoying winter sun

There are many considerations for the horse family to consider when purchasing a home. How much valuable time should you spend looking for the perfect horse property? Or, are you willing to take the time after you buy, to design your own perfect horse property? This is a great time to take advantage of the competitive options for the horse owner take their horses home with them.

The horse family, with experience keeping their horses on their property, generally have a good idea of exactly what they want in their next home purchase. Considering the size of shelter or barn, acreage for the horses free exercise and probably facilities for training, this is the horse owner who will find the perfect property in todays market. More than likely, they will want to start from scratch. Finding the home you want with sufficient acreage is hard enough so you will need to look to adding your own facilities to give you the optimum layout. There are many options today for various shelters or prefab barns. With building costs coming down, it is the perfect time to have someone bid on installation. A bonus is that a certified contractor has experience with the permits and building codes your area will require. A contractor experienced with barns and horse properties will also be able to guide you through your fencing options so you make the best decision considering materials and maintenance. Ah, fence maintenance and the joys of having your equine friends at home!

Perfect “Design Your Own” Horse Property: Virginia City Highlands, 10 ac of flat land, 5 ac surrunding the house is fenced to keep domestic horses in and wild horses out.

For the horse family that is new to keeping their horses at home, a turn key operation is the best choice. The seller has considered all the challenges the property faces, such as angle of the shelter for wind and snow protection, running efficient water lines for ease, taking advantage of flat terrain for maximum exercise. And most importantly, if you’ve never kept your horses at home then you might not have dug post hole. I mean a lot of them! Even working an auger a couple of feet in our clay can be a back breaking, 2 man job. I recommend you think about fences, if nothing else, when you look to purchase a horse property!

 

 

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