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Who knew the Bug-A-Salt could provide such a profound lesson

Carey and I had to take a trip to town for some groceries, the laundry and to take the dog to the vet (don’t worry, she is fine!). We decided to stay the night and since we did we figured it would be great to go get some dinner. We have stopped at Turtle Mountain Brewery in Rio Rancho a few times, they have a great patio for Radar, great beer and we always get in great conversations with the patio people. Check them out on FB here and while your there make sure you check out Sahaleeoffgrid on FB also!!

So we go to the patio, Carey gets us a table and I walk in to grab a couple pints and some menus. As I come back out I see a group of people sitting at a table laughing, joking and just having a good time. One of them looks up as I am standing there with a dumb look on my face and two pints in my hand and says “you wanna shoot it”–Well, if you know me, you know that I don’t care what it is, if someone says “you wanna drive it” or “you wanna shoot it” the answer will ALWAYS be yup…and this is what he hands me!

Well, in New Mexico flies are a real problem. I solved that problem for the Turtle Mountain Patio—I massacred the flies to the point that about 10 of them grabbed a piece of napkin and started waving it in surrender. “What is this magical piece of plastic that with which I just add salt and destroy the flies”, I ask. They tell me that it is the Bug-A-Salt. Well I guess I need to by an assault rifle–a Bug-A-Salt rifle!!

Got back to the room, jumped on the laptop right away and got that thing on its way. $40 dollars is nothing for the amount of fun and value this could provide right?!?!?!

O man—It finally arrived, break that baby out and let’s kill some flies!! The first day was a blast—literally. Second day was still fun. Third day I set it down and just couldn’t be bothered with fly patrol. Had a buddy visit so I just had to show it to him and let him shoot a few flies, my dad visited so I just had to show it to him and let him shoot a few flies. Cool, now I’ve massacred some flies and impressed two people with my majestical salt filled piece of plastic.

Let me tell you all something—we came here to get out of our materialistic, impress the neighbor mind set. As I’m sitting here showing off this (no longer majestic) piece of plastic I have to question, “how far have I come in this journey”. Here I am spending my hard earned money on something I don’t need and here I am showing off something I don’t need to important people in my life. What the hell was I thinking? Yes, it was only $40 and we will not go broke over such a silly purchase. However, I got caught up in the moment. I got caught up in the mob excitement. I got caught up in the fact that I would be able to take it with me and show my friends. I got caught up in the consumerism mentality. The very same mentality that drove me to move here. The very same mentality that put us into the debt that we have had to pay off since we got here. The very same consumerism mentality that I have been fighting for 18 months now.

There is no do-over, I can’t (won’t) take that purchase back. It was a bad decision that I need to own. This silly piece of plastic will stay with me for a while to serve as a reminder, just how much is shooting a house fly with a blast of salt worth to me.

The paragraph that included the link for you to click to go buy a bug a salt for yourself and if I’m lucky I may even get a few pennies for contributing to your consumerism, is now deleted. I can’t do it, not this time. Don’t buy it, it’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the effort. It’s just a silly little piece of plastic that leaves salt all over your house!!

Thanks for letting me vent! Give us a like and a follow with the big follow button the right. We are sure that most of us have made a silly purchase like this and would love to hear your stories in the comment!

 

A power house fit for the birds

Our little solar power system here had another makeover this weekend, and has been much improved from where we started last summer.

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Beautiful monsters

See more of featured image artist Sonia Orbin-Price at FineArtAmerica.com.

No, I am not talking about the Lady Gaga variety, albeit with MAD respect. We have inadvertently coached a hoard of hummingbirds to swarm the grounds with hangry Jetson car-like chirping in demand of more sugar water. They have been so keen on the new eatery that one brazen bird actually entered the open doors of the yurt to coax me into serving more!!

The little buggers are becoming more intrepid as they get to know us better, often hovering at eye level and sharing little chirps. One silly bird even flew into the outhouse and couldn’t find its way out, so I had to sneak in and put a soft hand around it to send it back outside. I feel like I am back teaching Pre-K with all the needy little critters!

According to HummingBirdWorld.com, the Aztecs came to believe that every warrior slain in battle rose to the sky and orbited the sun for four years. Then they became hummingbirds. Some of them seem oh-so familiar.

It’s been fun watching the R2D2-sounding antics around the handful of new feeders, and we look forward to plenty of cheap entertainment on the yurtdeck for years to come.

Here are seven of the “25 fun facts about hummingbirds” from The Spruce:

  • Hummingbirds are native species of the New World and are not found outside of the Western Hemisphere except in a few zoos or aviaries. There are no hummingbirds found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia or Antarctica.

  • Many hummingbird species, including Anna’s, black-chinned, Allen’s, Costa’s, rufous, calliope and broad-tailed hummingbirds, can breed together to create hybrid species. This is one factor that makes identifying hummingbirds very challenging.

  • Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species. They will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that infringe on their territory. Backyard birders often have one dominant hummingbird that guards all the feeders, chasing intruders away.

  • The rufous hummingbird has the longest migration of any hummingbird species. These hummers fly more than 3,000 miles from their nesting grounds in Alaska and Canada to their winter habitat in Mexico.

  • A hummingbird must consume approximately 1/2 of its weight in sugar daily, and the average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour. In addition to nectar, these birds also eat many small insects and spiders, and may also sip tree sap or juice from broken fruits.

  • A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour. These birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive, and hummingbirds have many adaptations for unique flight.

  • A hummingbird’s brilliant throat color is not caused by feather pigmentation, but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers. Light level, moisture, angle of viewing, wear and tear and other factors all influence just how bright and colorful the throat may appear.

Be sure to hit the green  “Follow” button on the right to receive notice of more videos and fun facts from Sahalee Off Grid! 🙂

 

 

Movin’ on up

We’ve had a couple of weeks to settle in now to the new routine upon the big deck. It’s been longtime in coming since we endured a mud-laden summer, fall, winter, and spring in our old roughed-out location buoyed on cinder blocks down the hill. (Quite literally, we have had to shake off our sea legs from walking upon our very poorly platform for the past 12 months.)

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The big deck

The big deck came a year after the yurt, but the “yurtdeck” was always part of the master plan. We didn’t have time to build before we moved in last June, so we got cracking just as soon as we could earlier this spring.

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The American Way

Whether you’ve sold cookies and earned merit badges or not, there is no denying the impact of the Boy and Girl Scouts on the American Way. Enterprising girls clad in green, and boys with bright smiles, open doors all over the nation and leave an indelible mark on the people of the United States, and have done so for over a century. As a measure of their influence, notable American Scouts include household names such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Neil Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Bruce Jenner, Sally Ride, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a common rite of passage in the early grades, Ben and I recited the Scout’s oath with two fingers- he as a Cub Scout and Webelo, and I as a little Brownie. There is something special and sacred about donning the gold emblems and making a promise out loud to do your best, help others, and be a true patriot. While we didn’t follow the full course of the programs (probably a little too regimented for us as boundary-pushers), there’s no doubt we can be proud to have participated in those formative years.

Beyond those basic activities as school children, we both had a more personal connection to the internationally-recognized youth leadership associations. For Ben, he lived next door to the Girl Scout’s Camp Elliott Barker where he helped tend the grounds as his first summer job. He passed by the esteemed and picturesque Philmont Camp everyday on his way to school where Scouts from all over the country go to push their limits and achieve personal bests in the great outdoors.

Turns out that northern New Mexico hosts several Scout camps to include a property just down the road from Sahalee, Rancho del Chapparal. A little more far removed, the family lore on my mother’s side claims that my great grandfather, Lewis Hay from Baltimore, had a hand in operating a Boy Scout camp in Eagle Pass, TX in the early 1900’s. He is buried there, and we are hoping to research more and make a visit at some point to connect with the outpost.

These indirect touches with the Scouts have colored our lives in ways we hadn’t really thought of until recently. When you think of Eagle Scouts, specifically, you think of capable and trustworthy men groomed for excellence and public service. There is no better example than the young man I am privileged to know who is now a high-achieving cadet leader in his third year at West Point. I marvel at BJL’s new undertakings since I spent many days with him and his three sisters (also Scouts) as their nanny while he was an energetic and curious boy in the primary grades. I’d like to think the times we spent day-camping and bushwhacking at Wickham Park in Florida influenced him to purse outdoor adventures as a proud member of our United States military. It was truly humbling to join his family at the Eagle Court of Honor, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this bright young man and his siblings.

While Eagle Scouts are turned out into the world prepared to endure life’s toughest challenges with grace and determination, there are events for which one can never fully prepare. This happened to be the case for Eagle Scout, and member of the Order of the Arrow, Jackson Leslie Beam.

My eldest nephew, a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, disciplined banjo picker, and missionary for his church, was snatched away from this earth on June 24th after suffering an unforeseen and tragic health complication.

He just graduated with his high school diploma the weekend before, and celebrated his 18th birthday on May 5th with his twin sister in Fort Wayne, IN. Jack grew from a sweetly enchanting little boy to be a model citizen with the guidance of his mother as Den Leader of his troop. At Scouting events and within his wider community alongside his father (a graduate of the US Air Force Academy), soft-spoken blue-eyed Jack proved himself to be a leader among his peers, and was compelled to attend to the needs of others to include his adopted little sister. All who knew him expected great things from his pending two-year mission to Taiwan and future studies in computer science at Purdue University where he was recently accepted.

An Eagle Scout in the truest sense, going above and very much beyond the rigorous requirements, this young man gave us hope that the future would be in the best of hands long after the older generations are gone. Now, Jack serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished in just a few short years- to live a life of purpose that is full of genuine love. Jack’s legacy lives on in the hearts and memories of others, and there is no doubt he will be remembered in the Scouting community for a very, very long time. Claiming the legendary ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic‘ as his favorite song, I don’t believe anyone would fuss at adding Jack’s name to the list above of notable Scouts for their positive impact on the world as a true American.

Jack and his cousin, Wyatt, in 2016

In this year’s celebration of American Independence, we honor those here and gone who have made their own pledges to follow their faith, honor their county, and help others for the good of all.

During a White House visit by Scouts and Explorers in 1961, President John F. Kennedy shared how Scouts “learn the qualities of perseverance … you come to understand something about nature and something about our country.”

“After years of observation,” he continued, “I really believe that the experience you have … is the best possible training you can have to equip you for later life.”

“What you are doing now will prepare you to play a significant and responsible role in maintaining the freedom of the United States.”

Scouting Magazine

Be safe, savor the moment, and hug a Scout this Fourth of July!!

Happy Sahaliversary!

On a bright and sunny June 4th last year, we pulled our happily weary caravan covered in Florida salt spray into Cuba, NM with the rest of our lives ahead of us. We had no idea what lay ahead, but we were eager to jump in with eight feet to realize our long-time dream of living off-grid in the New Mexico mountains.

No one could say if we would make it through the first year, let alone the first monsoon season, first snowy winter, first encounter with wildlife, first yurt-raising, among other character-building firsts. Well, we did (despite the bets against us), and we are so much better for it!!

This year, we celebrate all that we accomplished at Sahalee in our inaugural year with you cheering us along the whole way. The occasion was marked by a two-night camping trip on the ‘Back Five,’ where we explored the property we usually only gaze upon from a distance. We climbed chalk hills and rocky ravines to spy the yurts between the trees and name all the towering Ponderosa Pines we live underneath. We saw the sun rise and set from a different vantage, and were able to behold new blossoms and leaves, trails and markers, and feelings that we hadn’t experienced before. It was like our first day all over again!

Sahalee Off Grid New Mexico
Can you spot the yurt? It’s there, we promise!

As we sit on our new deck above the ground where we once camped out in the tent, and plan to move the yurt to the main stage, it’s still quite surreal. We haven’t stopped pinching ourselves, believing that it is still really too good to be true. Now, we look ahead to years two to twenty and are thrilled to bring you along with us as we continue to learn and define the ‘Sahalee Way.’

With that being said, please do save the date for our First Annual Sahalee Off Grid Open House on Labor Day Weekend. We’re hoping to make this a standing event where all are welcome to stop in for an hour – or a week – to enjoy all that we love about this place. Feel free to revisit our Guide to the Land of Enchantment for more information about the area, and let us know if we can help you plan your trip for September.

Finally, since you are reading this from our newly upgraded site, please do take a second to hit the Follow button and ensure you are on the list to be first to know about any new updates via email. We expect to be giving all our loyal followers some bonus material and special little extras in the near future.

From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you, and Happy Sahaliversary!!

 

 

Farewell, Old Friend

Today marks the end of an era and the start of a new chapter. Three years ago, we were formally introduced to “Ol’ Skraggly” as the ancient Ponderosa Pine greeted us on our first visit to Sahalee. Such an impressive feature, the woody elder is an immediate attention-grabber and landmark, and was a delightful surprise to us upon learning we’d be sharing the same space during some very precious moments.

Ol Skraggly Sahalee Off Grid ponderosa pine
Our first encounter c. 2014

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Aaahhh… Springtime in the Rockies

You may have heard a quip or two about the schizophrenic nature of Rocky Mountain weather during the spring months (and snow on the 4th of July). If nothing else, I’m sure you are conjuring images of naked skiers with big grins and see-through skin underneath shiny-blue skies. The reality here in our first year is that after planting our garden too soon on exactly March 20th, the Sahalee Off Grid weather station recorded a high of 76 and low of 19 for the month of April (on the 18th and the 5th, respectively), we battled hail earlier this week, and it’s snowing as I write this! The week before that, we unexpectedly encountered the fallout of Spring’s moody temperament while on the road to visit family in Montrose, CO for the holiday.

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Everyday is Earth Day at Sahalee Off Grid

Hooray!! The day has finally come for our earth to be celebrated by people around the world! Phew!! I was getting a little worried there… The other 364 days pass by and our little blue planet spins at 1,042 mph without much fanfare from the bi-pedal creatures with opposable thumbs. Besides those of us who hug trees on the daily and go to church under the stars as part of a normal routine, billions of people hike concrete jungles and harvest food from plastic boxes, only stopping to consider their place on this planet during one contrived semi-sacred occasion. The reality is that on any given day here upon this shiny orb, there are still 1.5 billion people in the developing world living without electricity, 1 in 10 people worldwide who have no clean water whatsoever, and 2.3 billion people in the world have no access to a toilet! These fragile souls live much closer to the natural elements and are left taking stock of all that planet Earth affords them upon every waking moment.

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