Snakes!

Ever since Peggy and I were tromping around in May and encountered a rattlesnake, I’ve tread very lightly and with much trepidation in my rambles, a sort of post traumatic snake syndrome.

There are a lot of sticks on the ground up here, and everyone of them looks like a snake to my conscious mind.

This morning when it was only in the 90s, I was walking down the hill to go carry back up some large chunks of white quartz I’d seen the previous day. (more on that later some day)

My unconscious mind saw a snake on the ground and caused me to freeze briefly and lurch backward. It took me a couple of seconds of scanning the ground to see why. My conscious mind had been sending me a steady stream of false positives for about 10 days of hiking around up here, and first time the apparatus engages a true positive signal it does the right thing first time.

Dang. Our hardwiring is impressive.

It turns out my little friend was a gopher snake.

 

Darned Hot

hvacIt’s July in the Sierra foothills. It is hot. It is darned hot. Knowing it was going to be darned hot during my visit, I brought up a secret weapon to help keep me alive during the burning times.

Behold, my new best friend.

I can endure up to about 100 degrees with windows open and ceiling fans, but today is just too darned hot so we’re taking the Honeywell out for a test drive.

The unit came with all the fixings to vent it out a window and plugs into a standard household wall outlet.

Normally I try to stomp with as light a carbon footprint as I can up here. But when it gets this hot,  my moral compass starts to point in a more energy intensive direction.

Like right now.

The unit reports the indoor temperature now at a more comfortable 75 degrees, down from the previous 90 degrees.

Time for a nap!

 

Water System,Revisited

 

Yeah, so the 3,000 gallons of water were delivered and the holding tank was filled.

 

A conversation I’d had with the delivery truck driver, Becky, stimulated a notion, and as soon as the truck was down the driveway and lumbering back up the road, I ambled over to the well pump house.

The submersible pump in the well brings water up and then under the driveway in a pipe to the 3,000 gallon holding tank. From there, another pump moves the water from the holding tank up the hill to the cabin.

Last week, when the holding tank ran dry and there was no more water coming out of the faucets in the cabin, the problem was traced back to the well pump not pumping water into the big holding tank. I found a dead mouse in the main fuse box, removed it and replaced the fuses but still no water coming up from the well.

I ordered the water delivery as a hedge against not being able to solve the problem, and calls to our well/pump/plumber guy went unanswered.

So the water was just delivered. I walked over to the pump house, opened the breaker box on the back, killed all the circuit breakers, opened up the pump house, and squatted down in the hot sun and put on my glasses and opened the plastic cover off the well pump switch and, of course, saw a bunch of little dead shapes tangled up in the relay contacts: ants.

A pine needle was employed to delicately brush them out of the works, and the relay unset and reset using the manual switch, the cover replaced, and the circuit breakers flipped back, lighting up the whole works.

The low hum of vibration of the pump 200 feet below sending water through the pipes over to the holding tank caused me to flash back over the previous several days of preparing for the water delivery, the hauling and filtering of water in the meantime. Ah yes.

So anyway, there is laundry going and toilets flushing and clear sparkling water coming out of the faucets, and next time a mouse or bat or wild boar or something crawls into the fuse box and explodes and the ants which come to devour the blasted carcass foul the pump relay contacts, well I’ll know what to do.

Updated: the hissing noise coming from the pressure tank next to the holding tank and the water covering the 4 foot by 4 foot pad of the holding tank pump house.. Just.. Does.. Not.. Bode.. Well…

I filled every single possible water storage unit and await the future with clenched fists and  several toilet flushes in reserve.

Bring it on.

 

 

 

News From the Neighborhood

One of our neighbors from down the hill across the road, Karine, came up the driveway walking her dog Sage, a big old mellow german shepherd.

The big news in the neighborhood is that Don and Barbara, an older couple who have 5 acres at the bottom of the hill bordering our land, sold their place and are now living in a nice house in Sonora in a little neighborhood owned by the Seventh Day Adventists. They had been getting on in years and the keeping the place up was too much for them.

Their house and land had been purchased by a fellow who runs a rock climbing and back packing guide company, and on the weekends it houses a dozen or so young people who work as guides, field staff, etc.

I had no idea! They are the quietest neighbors a person could ever hope for. But it all fit in. I’ve been heading down the hill over into the neighborhood to bring back water from our 6 acres down there, and have been surprised by how many cars were parked in what I thought was still Don and Barbara’s place.

That also explains the slack line strung between two trees by the garage. Don and Barbara’s slack lining days are long behind them, may they prosper and be happy in their golden years, bless them.

bunny

On the topic of wild life, this has not been a particularly special visit in the way of birds, but definitely up there for rabbits (small adorable bunnies and the weird and ancient human looking Jacks) and deer. I saw a couple of young bucks one morning, and a couple of does and their fawns another morning. The fawns were terminally cute, like living rubber bands hopping rapidly along after mamma.

treecut
Every morning around 6:30AM, the sound of chainsaws whining can be heard from near and far, punctuated by the crashing and thudding of big trees going down. The huge number of trees killed by drought and bark beetle has led to a spring and summer of logging to remove all the dead timber.

We’re still waiting for our tree guy to schedule our own few dozen deaders.

But really, the big news is the blackberries are starting to get ripe! I was bringing 10 gallons of water back and had to stop and catch my breath and there before me is, well, yes, a wall of thorns, but some of the thrones had ripe blackberries!

Elsewise, getting along famously on the human powered water supply. 2,500 gallons of the good stuff is coming up Saturday via the local potable water deliver truck. I spent a couple hours this morning cutting a road through the manzanita (die! die!) for the truck to get right up to the water tank. Oh yes. Still no word back from my plumber/pump/well guy.

You start to appreciate every toilet flush from a whole different angle when you carry the water up hill for each and every one. Oh my oh my yes.

Come on , Saturday!

Dead Things

Every once in a while when I’m walking around the property, I stumble across something dead. Like the mouse skeleton in the pump house fuse box, for instance.

Today, it was the three pieces of quail. The head. One of the wings. And the back part: tail and 2 feet.

Reconstructed after the fact, it looks like something bit out the intervening  parts and moved swiftly on its way, leaving the crumbs.

Right.