Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sugar

Farmmom and I have been playing with old recipes putting together a cook book recently (yes it will be available to purchase and we're looking at doing more in the future) so I've been thinking a lot about the women who have gone before.

Today happens to be the birthday of one of them.

Sugar (yep, pretty much everybody called her that) was one of those old pioneer women that you just couldn't repress, and she was happiest in the kitchen whipping up tons of food for those she loved.

I was probably ten before she could be convinced to let anyone else take care of most of a holiday family meal, and she had grave misgivings about it even then. It wasn't that she didn't think the rest of the family could cook or that she didn't trust them in the kitchen, that was just her thing.

It didn't help that it was decided to have roasted cornish game hens instead of something more traditional.

She saw the little birds and asked "Where in the world did you find such scrawny chickens? I hope they were cheap!"

Farmmom told her they weren't chickens and they'd be tasty, just wait.

"We'll what are they then? They're not quail, I know that much."

Farmdad, being Farmdad, told her "They're pigeons. You told me there were too many of them roosting in the shop at the farm so I went out and shot a few."

Now, Sugar was convinced that pigeons were nothing but flying rats and no more fit to eat than prairie dogs, so she was less than impressed.

She couldn't stay out of the kitchen after that though. She'd sneak in to check on stuff. Personally I think she was checking on what foods might be contaminated via proximity by the "pigeons."

She did try it though, and declared pigeon pretty tasty. Farmdad told her it wasn't actually pigeon eventually, but from then on every so often for a holiday meal shed ask if we could have pigeon again.

She was a lively, intelligent, wonderful woman, who would have turned 106 today. I am immensely grateful for everything she taught me about life, including how to roll with the punches and make it work, with her tales of the dust bowl.

She taught me how to bake, to never be afraid to experiment with new things even if they don't turn out that well (the cupcakes baked in ice cream cones just never did work out the way she wanted them to, no matter how hard she tried) and that the secret ingredient is always love.

She also taught me by example to express my creative side and that it's worth the effort if it makes just one person smile, even if it's just yourself.

She took baked goods to the nursing home and made crafts for her family and friends. Anything from miniature thermal underwear made up of two intact pairs of tube socks to silk flowers with anatomically incorrect centers. (Ass-ters, pee-tunias, pussy-willows, and boob-gonias. She made the centers out of pantyhose and cotton batting.)

She was a rock and a soft place to land all in one and I will carry the lessons and the skills she taught me throughout my life. In fact, I recently found a quilting ring and a pillow top that I had begun many, many years ago, and started working on it again. I'm out of practice and my stitches aren't nearly as invisible as hers were, but ill get it back. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to break out the quilting rack she used for real quilts and start something big. I have a long way to go and plenty of practice material though. We have totes full of pillow top squares that she had picked out, so I shouldn't run short any time soon.

Happy Birthday, Sugar, we love and miss you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reasons I Love Small Town Life Number Umpty-Bajillion

With the lake filling up and the Parks and Wildlife guys ( I still have trouble remembering to call them that instead of Department of Wildlife ) having to water out there's been a lot of uproar.

Luckily our local guys are good sorts and passed concerns upward, which resulted in a meeting about it Monday night. They brought in the gentleman from the Department of Water Resources who had to make the decision in the end whether it was safe to raise the minimum water level a d everyone present got to have their questions answered by him, or the dam engineer for CPW or the local guys as appropriate.

I think everyone walked away with a better understanding, us of what limits they're having to work within, and them of the import of the lake area to the community. The meeting was officially scheduled just before close of business on Friday, set for 5:30 pm on Monday.

They moved it up to 5:00 over the weekend, because of the response, they wanted to be sure to have enough time to answer everything, and according to the sign in sheets there were 102 people that attended. Personally, I think it was more than that. I'm sure some of the folks missed signing in, but that was the official count.

As a result of that meeting, our little lake got moved up the priority list, we got a promise of a quick answer to the question of whether, and how much more water could be held. The answer we got yesterday was yes, hold another twelve feet of depth, but you have to widen the spillway.

And now, our little county is coming together. Our CPW agent asked for help spreading the word, following up on the offers of manpower and equipment that came out of the meeting Monday. And we're getting there. Farmers have volunteered their time and effort to help dig the spillway wider and word is spreading like wildfire through the county.

They closed the gates yesterday, holding just under thirty two feet of water in the lake. The Sheriff's department, some of the town police, and whatever citizens happened to be around all hand a hand in helping to close the floodgates.

Of course, there was another storm over the drainage basin last night, and it ran at least another four feet of water in, so they had to open them again, but it was very symbolic and heartwarming.

I've done my share of rabble rousing and we've volunteered what we have to help with the process, not only of widening the spillway, but of repairing the access road into the Hole. Honestly, I predict that this is going to be the cheapest CPW project of the year for the department, and if not that the only ones cheaper will be repainting the state-maintained bathrooms.

Once again, a rural community has stepped up to give of themselves and their time for something that is beloved.

This, folks, is my United States. This is the lifestyle and mindset that makes me proud to come from a nowhere little area in flyover country.

Ya'll come visit, we'll take you skiing on our lake.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Huzzah For Water! And Oops!

So, we've gotten some rain the last few weeks, and we're really glad of that. Upstream in our little water shed has gotten quite a bit more, and it flooded one of the creeks and filled up the lake. For perspective here's the lake about three months ago:

And if I can't walk across it in that picture it's only because the bottom is silt and I'd get stuck. 

And this is yesterday morning. For perspective, the picture below is 90 degrees rotated from the one above, taken from just out of frame to the right. Make note of those rocks in the background above. If you can't really tell, they're vertical, and yes those are houses on top of them and set a little back.

Because you ain't a gonna see 'em no more. This is looking out along the "background" shore in the previous picture. As you can imagine in our drought-stricken area, everyone is overjoyed. Unfortunately the dam that makes this a lake instead of a creek bed is elderly, kind of decrepit, and needs some love, so we can't hold all that water in there. They had to open the gates (yes those are the controls for it in the foreground) and let some out, till it gets down to the level that the dam is rated for. Twenty vertical feet, if you're wondering, though they're talking about getting some more repairs done so that it can be re-rated for up to 46 feet, which I am entirely in favor of. 

Not least because of this next bit.

A bit of history, bear with me. The dam, lake and all was originally an irrigation set up, so on the side of the dam opposite the lake there's an irrigation canal leading off to... well these days it just sort of peters out. The cool bit is the tunnel they blasted through a cliff wall rather than go around it. 

Over many, many years (more years than I've been around) the canal was neglected and trees grew on it and weeds grew in it because there was never any water running through it so why bother? We never got enough in the lake to worry about and for several years the gates didn't work anyway. They did get those repaired, clearly, but the fruits of other neglect have been realized.

Here's the canal from about midway between the headgates and the tunnel:

Peaceful, no? Muddy, sure, but looks like it's pretty sedate and if you're young and dumb it might be something you'd want to throw an inner tube in on and float down with a beer. 

Which would be a very bad idea, because the neglect and letting trees grow on the berm between the canal and the (lower lying) recreational area bore fruit: 

Can't see it super well there can you? Let me pick my way to a better vantage point.... (and for you worry worts I promise you I was never in the water or on any piece of bank that had been undercut... No seriously I was careful I know what kind of shit got washed through there, what I don't know is how much of it lodged somewhere)

And there you have it. The water level in this pic is about 2.5-3 feet below the soil level of the ditch beyond the cut, so there's no fixing it until they can shut the gates, and they can't do that until the water in the lake is at the right level. 

Oh, and that recreation area I was talking about? It's over there:

On the left is the state-installed campground potties. The light dirt area over there is the road in and a turn off for one of the ponds, and... well pretty much everything the water is covering in the foreground is the road in as well. And there's no one side or the other to it, the whole road has turned into an impromptu miniature whitewater location. 

And today being the first sunny Saturday since the lake filled up, everyone who had a boat was out there. Most of the flood muck has settled, so it's safe enough, though some didn't want to wait and were out there yesterday. Also anyone who had a car was driving out to look at it. Biggest traffic jam in southeastern Colorado history that didn't involve a wreck and it's in the sticks and all because someone stopped on top of the dam to gawk at all the water. 

I gotta admit, it took some self-restraint for me not to just jump in the lake fully clothed screaming yeehaw, but I'm eagerly looking forward to getting one of our modest watercraft up and running to go enjoy it. And if I get too impatient there's always the fiberglass canoe, if I can find the paddle....

Monday, August 5, 2013


Not a lot of super exciting news, other than the fact that the creek ran and the lake filled up, which is only exciting if you live here and have been staring glumly at a dry or nearly dry basin for the last few years.

Oh! FarmFam will be participating in a 2A march next weekend. So if you're near {Redacted} and watching the {Redacted} Parade, keep your eyes peeled for a {Redacted} with a chick named {You're kidding right?} walking alongside!

Hope to {not} see you there!

Honestly it would weird me the hell out to be approached close to home and "recognized" in a non-blogger context, and I'd probably find a hole and pull it in after myself. But it sounds like this deal is supposed to be a nice, friendly, hi we own guns and we enjoy them kind of thing. And it most likely won't involve anyone talking to the press.

If I had a horse up for it I'd probably end up riding it, but I don't, so I won't.