First Move: Sue left Ramona for Sierra Vista on July 14,2016~ she had two dogs in the truck cab with her, two cats in the large kennel in the back,some clothes, a little food, and our camping kitchen kit, because the movers weren’t going to be able to deliver her belongings for about a week! She looked a little bit like the Beverly Hillbillies, but it all traveled well.
It took her, roughly, 8 hours to get to the property – making many stops to give dogs potty breaks and water the cats. That night she slept on two yoga mats surrounded by her animals who were wondering what in the world was going on.
Five days later, my friend Candace and I flew in to Sierra Vista to visit and see how Sue was doing. We were flying in from Austin, Tx and it was a beautiful descent into the valley; we were amazed at how green it was compared to all the surrounding desert.
Sue picked us up and we did a quick stop in town for lunch fixin’s. We found that she had been rattling around in an almost empty house, but had been hard at work saving the property from the the onslaught of weeds and a proliferation of rocks (they seem to breed here, ya know?). Sue had mostly been weed-wacking in the morning and moving rocks into piles in preparation for lawn mowing. She showed us around and shared her immediate plans for the 9 acres. One thing we will never be short of is projects. There is always something to do, to plan for, to plant, and to take care of.
- Fix the flooring in the house. It had been stained concrete, but it wasn’t done correctly and most of the “stain” was coming off. The flooring experts came to take a look and let her know that it’d have to be all scraped off to be redone. We couldn’t put down tile or slate for the same reason – wouldn’t stick. So, the answer to everything was to float a wood floor on top. It looks beautiful!
- Buy a Tractor! Absolutely a MUST HAVE. 9 acres is a lot of land to mow with a little gas lawn mower. Luckily, Tia was willing to take a jaunt up to Benson to the tractor store… not Tractor Supply; they don’t have actual Tractors. The sales guys there were really helpful, and Tia was great for asking questions that Sue didn’t even know she needed the answers for. Bottom line. One really nice, blue, LS model tractor by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. She got a mower deck attachment and a back hoe attachment. There are other possibilities to add on later, but for now – those two – along with the front loader are great for us. She’s been mowing and mowing and mowing. So many friends have asked if they can drive it, Sue says that’s fine, as long as you get some kind of work done as well!
- Add a roof to the existing porch. The porch was a plus, the views are gorgeous, but the sun just beat down on it and into the house. We talked about getting the porch covered and, maybe one day, screening it in. We had a Contractor recommendation from our friends Joan and Tia, and Brent (the contractor) did an amazing job with the cover. It really helps to keep the house so much cooler!
- While Brent was working on that, he and his guys also poured a cement walkway all around the house and a pad for the water tank.
- Water Tank was a big need. During the monsoons, so much water is collected off the roof, we wanted to capture it and use it for irrigating during the dry seasons. Now we have an 1800 gallon tank that is filled only by rain water. It’ll be great to have that extra source.
- Chickens! So, dad and I trucked my original 8 chickens out here in early September. We borrowed a HUGE trailer from friends and I filled it with boxes of stuff, plants, and my little chicken pen with the 8 chickens in it. I was concerned that they wouldn’t make it due to heat (it was 104 when we went through Yuma and Gila Bend), so we froze bowls of water to help keep them cool. It worked fine because they were still alive when we arrived, and one little hen had even laid an egg! Sue had purchased some electrified poultry fencing and we moved them into that enclosure so that they would have a large area to roam around in. A couple weeks later, she put together a couple more little chicken hutches so they could have more space if needed. Looks like a chicken agility course now! They love to go in and out of the houses and peck around.
- A few weeks later, Sue ordered the newest members of the flock (see the original post for information on those). They arrived in the mail from My Pet Chicken. Each one was only 2-3 days old. Poor little buggers. They’ve been in the house since then, but we take them in and out each day so they can enjoy time in the big pen… they have their own enclosure that Sue built just for this purpose. They love being outside and eating the fresh grass. The big chickens are getting used to them so that, next week when they are 7 weeks old and able to be outside all the time, the introduction into the flock will go more smoothly.
- Build a solar oven. What??? Well, Sue started out on it and got everything together. Just was waiting on me to bring and cut some glass for the top and add some mirrors. We finished that project the second week I was here. We tested it out for about 45 minutes at it got up to 200 degrees in that amount of time. We’re going to invite the neighbors over, George and Donna, who have been helping out with some of the larger mowing projects, and test it out on a great roast Sue picked up at the Commissary on Post. We’ll document that little adventure!
- Get some goats! Sue has a friend in Ramona who is willing to give her two goats. They’ll be great for weed control around the area. So, Sue decided to make a Goat Cage to go on the back of her truck in order to haul them from Ramona to Hereford. She made it perfectly! No plans, no nothing. Well – maybe a little help from our contractor friend, Brent. I think she did an awesome job! Yesterday we attached it to the truck and took it for a long drive to Bisbee, just to make sure it would withstand highway speeds. It held up perfectly. We were even able to keep a shade cloth on top so the goats won’t be in the sun all the way. Tomorrow she’s leaving for Ramona and will be back with our new additions on Monday.
That about brings us up to date on the most interesting projects. We’ll have a few more photos for you tomorrow. Thanks for reading!