Welcome to "Hog Heaven"

Welcome to our 'blog site' for Hog Heaven Ranch. From here you'll be able to view the latest postings of photos and read any new news from us on the ranch.

The Animals at Hog Heaven

This is a slideshow showing all the animals that visit the ranch. Form time to time, I'll be adding more slides.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A bird named 'Ashley'

A couple of years ago, Joanne and I discovered a little bird hanging around the front door alcove just about sunset every day. Because we are greatly interested in birds and animals, we like to identify them as we discover new arivals. We have a beautiful 'Smithsonian' book on North American birds which has a 'sidebar' notation on each bird; where we can log the time our first spotting, the date, and also the location.
We identified our little 'front door vagrant' as an Ash Throated Flycatcher and learned that; if we provided him/her with a place to nest, that he/she may use it. This little fellow would spend the nights roosting upon the 3/8" wide trim work above the front door, which seemed a little precarious; and besides, he'd poop on the door trim as well. We didn't mind that part; it was easily cleaned up, but we were concerned for his comfort, for fear that he may go elsewhere.
So, I grabbed a piece of the trim molding that I had spare, and placed a little ledge just inside and above the entry alcove. I painted it so that it would look less obvious to humans, but hoped that our little Flycatcher; whom we'd affectionately named, Ashley, would find it. I even took a small mirror which was used as a sun visor mirror in a vehicle; mounted and aimed it on the opposite end of the alcove so that we could observe any activity on the ledge. We did notice that he/she was very much aware of our ledge but still continued to perch on the door trim overnight. Perhaps it was because the ledge didn't afford him/her a clear view of any intruder, that Ashley didn't want to use it. I’d almost decided to move it to the side closest to the door where he/she could see out into the open, but then we spotted Ashley and his girlfriend trying the ledge on for size one day.
That was last summer; about June of '07, but that visit was the only time we'd seen them on the ledge. Though we were ecstatic about the prospect of Mr. & Mrs. Ashley T. Flycatcher nesting on our 'ledge,' it wasn't to be. Perhaps they'd build a nest elsewhere for the 2007 season and were perhaps thinking about the following year. That must be it, I thought, so I'd decided to leave the ledge just as it was and give it another year or so. We wanted this to happen so much that we were prepared to leave it there for years if necessary. After all, Hog Heaven was for ALL the birds and animals; we were just residents of 'their' ranch.
To our delight, Ashley returned this spring; from his winter vacation in Central America, and all of a sudden we noticed there were a bunch of twigs and blades of grass on the ledge. Could this be? Yes indeed it was, because the pile of 'debris' on the ledge began to grow. Grateful that I hadn't moved or removed the ledge, we now quietly studied the progress.
Suddenly an idea came to me. I could point the camera at the mirror, and if I was to zoom it up, I might be able to see the birds in action. As you can see, that is exactly what I did and here are the results.
I'll post again after the eggs are laid and she's sitting on them, but for now, we're extremely delighted to see these lovely little birds making their home at our home.
Be sure that there will be more on this later, and hopefully some more photos as well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

As Things Change

As you can see from the last time you visited, I've been messing around trying to make the blog a little more pleasing to the eye. I've made the "Animal" slideshow a permanent fixture, rather than a 'blog posting' so that it can always be at the top part of the page. That way, you won't have to scroll down through all the postings to find it. Of course, you could click on the "Archive" sidebar and locate it there, but I just wanna make it easy for you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Delivery and Setup of the Ranch House

I've numbered these photos so you can see them in sequence, beginning with the delivery of our home in three pieces, placing them on the pad, removing all the transportation gear (wheels,axles, hitch tongues etc), and the levelling and connecting of all the parts. Once the house was all together and levelled, the drywallers and painters came to finish of the plastering and painting inside, so one would never know that it was in three pieces. The carpet crew then came to install the carpet followed by a cleaning crew, so we could then move in.

The Property in the Beginning.

In these photos, you'll see the property as it was when we first purchased it. It was November of 2002. The road into the front gate was rough as the developers had just bulldozed it in order to allow buyers to choose their land.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"The Overview of the Ranch"

This photo, taken from the South East marker of our property shows you just how vast this piece of land is. As you look along the left side of this photo, you'll notice a little white spot by the road that travels left to right. That little white dot is our 27 foot motorhome parked down there.

The altitude down there is 5,680' ASL, and where I took this photo it is 5,820' ASL. As you can imagine, at almost 6,000' above sea level, we are subject to quite a lot of snow in winter.

The climate can vary from just into the 100's in summer to -0.6 degrees (which was our record low) in winter; yeah, that's zero point six degrees Fahrenheit!!! The thing is; once you pass 32 degrees fahrenheit, which is freezing, you really don't feel any colder, unless the wind blows.

We have a monsoon season during July and August each year when we are subject to most of our rainfall. During our first monsoon season in 2006, we were averaging one thunderstorm and lotsa rain almost every single day for about 8-10 weeks. That was exciting because we hadn't yet completed our landscaping and drainage plans. I spent many an afternoon, in torential rain, digging ditches with a mattock in order to divert the run-off from flooding my workshop. Since then we've added stem-walls and french-drains to divert the water. As you can see by the photo, we are on the western slope (the weather side) of the Juniper Mountains and there's tremendous run-off and risk of flash flooding. We have diversion ditches dug in a "V" formation, just East of the buildings to redirect the run-off the mountain away from flooding the house, workshop and barn. Those ditches have filled and almost overflowed during the 'monsoon' season.

The Beginnings of a Blog

As I begin to understand this 'blogging' stuff, I thought it appropriate to 'post' my first comment. It may take me a while to get proficient at contributing to our site, and I ask that you be patient with me.
In the meantime, I'll continue studying the 'ins and outs' of making this site interesting for you all to visit.
Eventually you'll have the ability to view any photos we've posted and also search through an archive of blogs and photos to see just what fun we're having, living at "Hog Heaven."
Though the photo (included) doesn't really reflect it, both Joanne and I are getting younger with every day as we enjoy our life here at Hog Heaven. Life is good!