December 31, 2008: A Gardener's Resolution

I've been reading a few other blogs today and some, like Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions, have made a resolution to keep track of their garden expenses versus yield. I've basically made the same resolution. My problem this year was that I forgot to weigh a lot of my produce, or it was handed over to a neighbor across the fence before it could get weighed. I wish I had a produce scale that could hang in my garden!

Daphne was wondering how to estimate the value of her produce. I rounded off the amount I felt my produce was worth to $2 a pound. I don't know how close that was, but I went by the prices charged at the local farm markets. I raised mesclun for a pet rabbit, and that was costing $6 for 10 ounces (a one week supply) in the store, so that harvest from one packet of seeds was a tremendous saving! My garden was small, and I usually picked about 7 pounds of assorted vegetables two or three times a week. At $2 a pound, that was quite a savings.....assuming I would have actually purchased that much to begin with, which I wouldn't. Mr. H got quite sick of eating green beans every day.

In 2008 I had the expense of building all new garden boxes. This cost was kept quite reasonable because I reused wood from a deck we had removed from our house for most of the project. I also used a lot of leftover seed from previous years. My main expenses were for compost to fill the boxes and for fencing to keep the new puppies out of my new garden. My total expenses were $380.80. That was some expensive produce, but most of that was a one time expense. Now that the boxes are built, filled and fenced off, there should be minimum cost for 2009.

I already have almost all of my seeds for 2009, which came to $0. My daughter bought them for me for Christmas, plus I have a few left from the 2008 season. All I need is one packet of broccoli seeds, as Ed Hume Seeds didn't have the variety I wanted.

I want to buy a few boards to join my 4'x4' beds together to make one long bed. And I'll probably add some boards to last season's mesclun bed to make it deeper, as I want to plant potatoes there in 2009.

I'd like to buy 4 raspberry bushes, 64 strawberry plants and one or two blueberry bushes. I lost one of my three blueberries a couple of years ago, and it must have been my pollinator, as I only got a cup of tiny berries last summer. Since I have no idea what kind the other two are, I may buy two varieties and replace one original that isn't looking terribly healthy. I will also buy tomato and pepper plants, as I won't be back home early enough to start my own.

I would like to begin the installation of a drip watering system. I currently have large Rainbird impulse sprinklers that do a good job, but keep the foliage wet on the tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. Those plants would do much better with drip irrigation.

I want to start my own "real" compost pile. The ugly black composter is a joke, and the bottom of it will be turned into a planter for some sweet potatoes in 2009. I'll definitely buy one more load of compost to top off the new beds, as there has been some settling, but my neighbor has saved her leaves for me, so I can start my own compost pile next spring. That should end my need for purchased compost in the future.

So those are my garden resolutions for 2009. I can't hardly wait!

December 27, 2008: I'm NOT Old! I'm Not!

Next month I'm going to be an OLD LADY. At sixty-nine, I'm just a young chick, but in January I'll turn *shudder* SEVENTY *shudder*.

I don't feel old. In fact, I think I'm in pretty good shape for my age. Mr. H, who is almost seventy-four, recently joined me in this little routine. Don't you think we're quite agile for our ages?

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December 25, 2008: A Head Start on Garden 2009

What a wonderful Christmas gift I received from my daughter and her family!

Now that's a gift that will keep on giving! Thank you Amy, Bryan, Alicia and Alicyn.

December 18, 2008: It Never Rains in Sunny Arizona

Oh yes it does! We had a trip scheduled for yesterday, a visit to a mine, and it had to be canceled because of rain. You see, when it does rain here in the desert it rains hard. Very hard. Our desert trips almost always require some driving through washes, and that's not where one wants to be in a rainstorm. For instance, our very own Bouse Wash, that runs right through the middle of this small town, is nothing but dry sand for about 99% of the time. But when it rains hard, this is what it looks like:

It can be treacherous driving through the washes, as well as on the highways. In many places the water from the washes will flood the road, and have been known to run so hard and fast as to drown occupants of vehicles that may get caught in them. A couple of years ago I was driving home from Phoenix when we experienced a cloudburst. Visibility was nearly zero on the freeway, thanks to the many trucks whose drivers felt the need to pass everyone, spraying solid walls of water on our windshields. I decided to take a secondary highway the last thirty miles or so, and not being familiar with the route I found myself driving through flooded dips in the road time and time again. We began counting how many washes were flooding that highway, and I remember it being well over 50 times that I drove through water that was probably 6-12 inches deep. That was minor flooding compared to what sometimes takes place. Two lives were lost just this year due to autos being caught in the rushing water of nearby right here in our little town.

So while many of you are experiencing snow and bitterly cold weather right now, I'm waiting for the sun to shine again.

"Sunny Arizona" from my front porch!

December 13, 2008: Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

Yesterday my Grandma put on a funny red hat and went to a restaurant in Wendon, Arizona. It had a funny name, Ingredients. There were a lot of grandmas there, and they all had funny red hats on their heads! They ate lunch and they talked and laughed and acted really silly. I thought us kids were supposed to giggle and act silly, not the grandmas.

After the grandmas ate their lunch, they all went out to the back yard. I didn't know restaurants had back yards. There were funny things in the back yard.

Is my Grandma going to take a bath outside?

Is this what my Grandma calls a flower bed?

I wish I could put on my red hat and go with Grandma and the Silly Ladies, but she says I'm not old enough yet.


December 11, 2008: Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box? #3

Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box?

The caravan of eight vehicles left Bouse at 9:00 a.m., heading for California and the Whipple Mountains. Our destination was what some of us call "The Finger" and others call "The Needle".

This was a fairly easy trip of 60 miles (one way), the first thirty miles being on paved highway. Once we exited the highway we drove up a smooth, sandy wash.

The only obstacle we encountered was a large boulder that wasn't too difficult to maneuver around for most of us, but gave Jerry and his big Dodge pickup a bit of trouble because of the long wheel base. It was at this time, as I began to take a video of Jerry's rough trip around the boulder, that I discovered the memory card from my camera had been left back home in my laptop and the camera's internal memory was full. It was necessary to delete the video clip to free up room for the rest of the day's photos.

About ten miles into the mountains the wash became rough, and we had to put the Ranger into four-wheel-drive. There wasn't a lot of pretty scenery (vegetation) on this side of the Colorado River. The pretty desert is the Sonoran, and here we are in the Mohave. The rock formations are fascinatingly beautiful, though.

We reached an abandoned mine shaft, and got out to explore a bit.

Just around the bend, above the mine, are the buildings that housed the Colorado Arizona Mining Company.

The buildings have suffered a lot of damage in recent years, from weather and vandalism, but there are still shelf after shelf of core samples to be seen.

The miners would drill out cores of rock that would then be cut and crushed, bagged and sent to an assayer to check for ore content. This mine must not have panned out by the looks of the thousands upon thousands of samples left behind.

After a leisurely lunch, we ventured further up the mountain until we were right beneath the "finger".

There we discovered another building that contained box after box of core samples that hadn't been crushed, and my friend Marge discovered an extra 1 GB SD card that she loaned me for my camera. Hooray! I can take more pictures!

Six of the vehicles went on to view a nearby lake, but since we had been there several times and the area is fenced so there is no public access, we decided to follow Jerry and Marge back to town to do some grocery shopping. We made our way back through the beautiful rock formations, some of which were playing peek-a-boo with the sky.

Usually we see wild burros on this route, but today the only wildlife we saw was this small tarantula crossing the wash. The group that came behind us spotted several bighorn sheep.

Annie is getting better on the trips. She didn't "barf" until we got back into town and stopped at the grocery store. I think I may have to buy her some Dramamine. Both pups were on their best behavior again today, and were a joy to have along on the ride.

December 6, 2008: Just for Laughs

I was going through this year's photos, dating and naming them so they would be in order for printing and placing in my 2008 album, and I came across a few that made me smile. In fact, they made me laugh. I'd like to share a few with you.

Just for Laughs
Alicyn's first "real" smile.

Devil Dog!
Otto is as sweet and gentle as a dog can be....except when he's playing with Annie! The camera flash caused his eyes to look illuminated, but the teeth are all his.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

And Let Sleeping Babies Lie

Smile, Annie, You're on Candid Camera!

Alicyn gives Big Sister Alicia a Raspberry

Just Because This Makes Me Laugh

December3, 2008: Money Laundering

I really didn't mean to wash Mr. H's wallet with the laundry this morning.

December 1, 2008: Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box? #2

Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box?

Today's desert trip was much easier than the last one. For one thing, the first 30 miles were via paved highways, and the last leg of the trip did not require a four wheel drive. I wouldn't advise taking a passenger car in there, but any pickup or SUV could easily make it.

Our caravan of seven vehicles left at 9:30 a.m. We headed SE on Arizona Highway 72 until we reached the Junction with AZ 60. Turning left onto 60, we proceeded on to the town of Salome. From there, we took a primitive road, and then a wash, northwest to our destination, Indian Springs

One of the more scenic places in our area, Indian Springs is the site of an old granite quarry. Massive granite boulders and rock formations make this a unique place to visit. Granite from the quarry at this site was used for an addition to the Arizona State Capital in 1949. I have also heard it was used in both the Territorial Prison at Yuma, and the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott. It has been said that inmates were transported by wagon train to the site to work the quarry. There is a large rock that had been dynamited to form a makeshift jail for the workers. Some of the iron bars can still be seen protruding from the entrance to the man made cave.

We enjoyed a stroll through the quarry, some of the brave even climbed to the top for a better view. Today we didn't hike to the spring, but there is a good sized pool nearby. After a very enjoyable picnic lunch, we returned home...a fun trip of five hours total, not long, dusty and tiring like the last one!

Little Box sits on the ledge that once held sleeping prisoners who worked the granite quarry.

The entrance to the temporary jail. Note the iron bar protruding from the opening on the left. The steps and the ledge were formed from granite blocks, the top of the ledg and some of the interior walls were concrete.

You can see how massive the jail rock is, the entrance to it is on the left in this photo.

The rock formations are absolutely beautiful.

A close inspection of the granite shows the marks of the
pins and feathers that are used to cut the slabs.

One brave soul climbed to the top.

Can you spot EG's Little Traveling Box enjoying lunch with us?

One of the largest, prettiest saguaros I've ever seen
is next to the road on the way out.

The desert is pretty here, and the cholla cactus
is showing its yellow blossoms.