Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rodents and paranormal research

Victory in the war with the rodents

Yep you read that right, there was a victory in the war with the rodents – the rodents won. They finished off the remains of what was growing, despite catching no less than seven of the little pests in a twelve hour span. The various methods we tried all worked to some extent – the electric fence seemed to have stopped the voles from entering the garden at all but did not hinder the pocket mice and kangaroo rats. I will continue to kill them at a rate as fast as I can, as I still have some seeds left which could be planted if the rodent population could be gotten under control. If our old dog Deamon were still around and in his prime, there would be no rodent problem as he was an excellent vermin killer. Back when we were gardening at the place on David White road he spent most of his time hunting and killing the vermin, so that we had no problem. In fact over the years at many places he made short work of rats, mice, woodchucks etc and would tunnel his way in to get them or sit over the entrance to their burrows and wait for them to poke their heads out then instantly strike and kill them. Much better than any cat we ever had. Unfortunately the younger dogs just don’t have the quickness to strike or the patience to wait – they have caught some of the rats but not many, they are getting better at it though.

Paranormal research

I have been studying the paranormal since the teenage years of living in what could be termed a classic “haunted house”. My first years there I believed the explanation for all the strange sounds, doors closing and opening, lights going on and off as “the house settling”. However I became a believer in hauntings and read all the Hans Holzer books on the subject I could find. With the neighbors we tried séances, the Ouija board, and other experiments with sometimes frightening success. Over the years I have kept studying, and today there is even a television series called Ghost Hunters, so I know I am not alone in my interest. Since we got away from PA I had thought we were without any unseen presences until a couple of weeks ago when the invisible dog would scratch at the door to get in, and the disembodied voice called my name, so now even living in a camper we apparently have some sorts of unseen presence occupying the area.

I have been toying with a theory for what some of these hauntings (and some other phenomena) which does not explain all but would explain some and suggests some methods for dealing with the incidents. As far back as human record can be traced, there are reports of beings who are not like anything else on the planet. In ancient Hebrew accounts these beings were “watchers” and these strange beings from the heavens were even suspected of having impregnated the mother of Noah; some were so attracted to human women they were recorded as having cross-bred and produced giants. The Sumerians told of strange beings from the heavens too, and similarly the beings who went to live on Earth caused a lot of harm and chaos; in Greek mythology these beings are also referred to as “watchers” – strange non-human entities who spend most of their time observing the activities of humans. In ancient Phoenician accounts these beings are called “observers of heaven” and they noted that the natural shape of these beings was that of an egg, and that they were without sensation. In the Quran the strange beings are called Djinn, and similar to the Phoenician account they are made of “smokeless fire”.

Strange electrical phenomena are widely reported with many UFOs. Even some of the details reported by UFO abductees seem to fit with the idea (explained below) as the abductees were told to think of the small aliens as “dolls possessing life”. A lot of these strange incidents and behavior could be due to the effects of interacting with beings whose very essence is quite different from our own, because they are electrically based!

The Quran may have come close to the fact, as electricity could very well be described as “smokeless fire” and even fire could be described as a living thing – after all it “breathes” oxygen, it consumes food (fuel) is capable of movement, gives off energy in both heat and light, produces waste (ash), grows and exhales (smoke) and even reproduces itself and “dies”. Some of our greatest scientific minds have postulated that in four or five billion years we ourselves might evolve into energy based beings, no longer in need of physical bodies. We are at our very core, energy based beings – our brains are electrical centers with “wiring” running to every part of our bodies, and on our death, every trace of electrical activity in the human body ceases or disappears. Electricity might be what the “soul” or spirit of our religions is actually based upon.

Then if we consider that the Earth itself is only some four to five billion years old while the universe is closer to 13 billion years old, there seems to have been plenty of time for some other beings to have been evolving and have reached the level of an electricity based “body” rather than a physical one. Such beings might not be so troubled by the vast distances involved in traveling from star to star. Then again, these energy beings could very well be native to the Earth, in fact this is quite possible especially since they seem to have been around humanity, observing and watching, occasionally interfering forever. They may not have any “lifespan” since energy cannot be destroyed, and thus apparently “live” forever.

I am not the first to come up with this theory of energy based life forms. Here is an extract I found on the net:

The physicist and major SF writer Gregory Benford talks in terms of magnetically-field based energy beings in his novels, such as "Eater".

As I understand him, the magnetic fields of planets, stars and black holes are not just your everyday high-school science class flux lines between North to South poles, but may be whole environments capable of hosting complex self-sustatining patterns that are a form of life. Sort of like a planet's atmosphere is not just a simple layer of gas, but is able to support hurricanes and the like.

Another classic idea is based on "ball lightning": something like a cloud of charged particles (I think the buzzword is plasma) that is stable and can support a complex structure.

In "Eater", Benford presents a black hole whose magnetic field contains patterns created from, or mapped from, or uploaded from (pick your buzzword) individuals and whole civilizations. He suggests that such an entity would an "infovore": a being that lives by eating information rather than matter.

End extract

In some cases of “hauntings” where the effects would fit well with an encounter with an energy based life form, (I am strongly reminded of the various incidents with the “Mothman” of West Virginia, Indrid Cold and investigator John Keel) we are mistaken to assume this is some dis-embodied spirit of a human being or “alien” beings. An energy being would easily be able to slip through walls and ceilings, float across rooms, etc and be either visible or invisible, assume almost any shape and so forth. It would cause electrical interference, perhaps not deliberate. I would add here that the voice of Indrid Cold (the Mothman) when analyzed appeared to be an electrical discharge!

It may be possible to trap one of these energy beings. In voodoo it is believed that human souls could be trapped in bottles and jars, thus imprisoned and forced to serve the voodoo priest or witch. Ancient Islamic belief held that Djinn could live in old lamps, amphora or jars (recall the tale of Aladdin’s lamp). Perhaps a glass jar, lined on the inside with aluminum foil (like the old Leyden jars used for electrical experiments, in fact large capacitors) if set up with wire antenna attached to the foil, could be used to trap and capture one of the energy beings. It could be then studied, though it would not be moral to keep it imprisoned for eternity so should be released in a safe place. (From ancient accounts, these beings favor deserts and ancient ruins, so this would seem a logical place to release such an entity.)

Enough theorizing for now, will add more later.


Friday, April 14, 2006

War of the Voles

War of the Voles

No this is not a title from a B sci-fi movie, nor some tale which includes Hobbits, Gnomes and Dragons. Bad simile there, note below* Voles are small rodents, larger than mice at five to eight inches long with short stubby tails. I had never had any kind of run-in with these critters, except a fleeting glimpse of one as it scurried into a hole. I didn’t expect to have a problem with them!

We started to get some damage to the plants in the garden. On inspection, the plants were eaten, yet there was no sign of what it could be causing the damage so I assumed it is some kind of insect – despite the fact there are no insects evident. So we dusted everything with diatomaceous earth, a natural substance which is the shell-remains of single celled oceanic animals. The tiny sharp shells are utterly harmless to pets and wildlife, but are lethal to all types of insects as it punctures their exoskeletons and they “bleed” to death relatively quickly. I hated to use such a broad spectrum insect killer but felt we had to do something.

I was a bit surprised the next day to see even more damage. The struggling remains of the frosted strawberries were eaten down to the dirt, the beets which had come up and were looking to thrive were wiped out, even a potato plant TOP was chewed down to a stump. This stump was large enough to show the teeth marks, which proved that it was no insect – this was the work of rodents. Squiget the psychotic dog had caught a rat a few days earlier and I thought perhaps this was the suspect, but the rat had been caught near the horse pen where it was probably eating fallen bits of grain. So Beth and I started looking the area over more carefully and found quite a number of small holes, with runways running out from them to areas of our garden. The holes were too small to be gophers, plus (I think) gophers are largely active in daytime which would be extremely risky behavior with dogs running loose and actively hunting for any rodents. The culprits were Voles, a type of rodent 5 to 8 inches long with round-ish ears and a stub for a tail. Lobo (as in the comic strip, “Lobo the arctic wolf”) managed to corner one in a pipe and called me over to help him catch it. I tipped the pipe up and shook it, but the little critter ran out just at the moment that Lobo looked away and it was gone. So there was no more doubt, we have voles, eating their way through our garden with devastating results.

The diatomaceous earth can be fed to animals as an effective worm medicine, so the voles got a good worming. We looked up what sorts of methods can be used to combat or at least repel the hungry little rodents, and found that we had no good poisons to use, but a web site recommended putting out mouse traps. Other suggested methods were to use repellents like bobcat or coyote urine (I read an article that stated tests showed bobcat urine to be even more effective than any chemical repellent on the market) garden sulfur, combined with mothballs – cayenne pepper, and orange peels. So we dutifully dusted everything with sulfur, set mouse traps in pipes close to the runways (they are said not to be easily lured any distance from their runways) as well as mothballs and cayenne pepper – even had some dried orange peel which was put out too.

The next morning, it seemed that the repellents had worked somewhat as no new damage was to be seen, however they had managed to eat the peanut butter off of the mousetraps without apparently even getting a headache out of the deal! This called for more drastic measures – they can be fenced out with quarter inch mesh, so long as you bury the fence at least a foot down or they will tunnel under it, the fence doesn’t need to be terribly high just a couple of feet as they are poor climbers. Well it would require over 300 feet of fence, which is priced at $2 per foot at the local hardware store so can’t afford to do that just now, however one last ditch method works well and is economical – gas! We picked up a couple of packs of gas bombs and set to work gassing the colonies. We gassed four colonies (all within the area of the garden) before it got too dark to continue, and found at least two more with active runs leading into our garden but just outside of it. These will get the treatment tomorrow, not to be mean but these little rodents are just too prolific and too destructive to have in close proximity to the garden. The funny thing is that it appears I picked the spot for the garden with the greatest concentration of voles on the entire property, no where else on the 100 acres has so many vole colonies packed close together!

Beth put in tomato plants to replace those destroyed by frost, some peppers and I put in a Bing cherry tree (required for pollinating the Black Tartarian cherry) so things are shaping up again. The sweet corn is coming up well, and strange to say more potatoes came up – these have been in the ground for two months! Even the beans are coming up, however the summer squash shows no indication of germination. We have a few summer squash plants to put out, so will have at least a few. Also ordered some bobcat urine to spray around the garden too, which ought to make the place less attractive for roaming rodents.

Had another strange incident the other night. I heard some sort of animal calling over by our old campsite, and the cry was strange to me so I grabbed a flashlight to go see what type of animal makes such a weird sound. The moonlight was very bright (almost full moon with clear skies) so the flashlight was un-needed. The animal kept calling, a cry sort of like a seal call but slower and drawn out. Thinking it was some kind of rodent I whistled, as some rodents will whistle in answer (groundhogs and prairie dogs for example) but this made the critter stop calling. A few moments later it started calling again, and when I whistled again it answered immediately but repeating that strange call. I tried approaching closer but as I did, the animal seemed to be working away from me, finally sounded like it was going over the ridge so I gave it up – it was 3:45 am anyway. No idea what the animal was, never heard anything quite like it.

Our piece of land appears to have been a spot where ancient Indians came to make arrowheads. Quite a number of large rocks (boulders really) show signs of having been beaten on, some have large pieces missing, and hammer stones lay around the boulders. There are shards all round them that look like they were “almost” arrowheads but were rejected for one reason or another. Only a certain type of rock they chose to make tools out of, not sure why (it is a dark type of lava rock) as there is plenty of red lava rock which also breaks into razor sharp shards just as well. I found an arrowhead up on the western hill, literally sticking out of the ground. It is a green stone unlike any stone around, and I thought it to be a piece of green felt when I saw it.

After a bit of research I learned that it is a Rose Springs culture point, dates to between 600 and 1300 AD! This is thought by some historians to be the point which indicated the arrival of the bow as a hunting tool in the southwest. I hope to find more of these, will have to do some artifact hunting.

That is it for this edition, could gripe about some people in our circle but that would serve no purpose; weather has been excellent, like summer so hopefully will have some new adventures to write about soon.


“We must find a way, or we will make one.” –Hannibal Barca

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dead dreams, bizarre logic and a ray of hope


The weather has been very nice, other than a wind-storm which provided yet more free power. We won’t know if the sale goes through on the neighboring 12 acres for some time, but have done a bit of research and believe we have found out why such a remote, unsuitable parcel sold for such a ridiculous price.

The problem is that property values in this area have shot up at an almost unbelievable pace over the last few years. Back when we bought this land, there were quite a number of parcels of land in the area priced between $200 and $300 per acre. Today there are none in that price range or anything near it. This is a relatively high price for dry pastureland in any western state even today. People from areas where real estate is astronomically priced like Los Angeles or Connecticut probably find this difficult to believe, but the fact of the matter is vast areas of the western states are quite arid; grasses DO grow on them but they are not the eastern sod-type grasses, they are bunch grasses and grow very sparsely compared to sod grasses. To get some idea of the difference in pasture value (and thus the value of the land, since it is really suitable for raising livestock with little investment) it requires about 1 acre of grassland in most of the east to provide pasture for one “animal unit” which is a mother cow and calf, or mare horse and foal, or four sheep or six goats and so on. This should provide fodder to feed the livestock for over six months at a minimum. As you look westward, where sod grasses do not grow, the amount of acres required to provide the same amount of fodder is increased exponentially. For example, the area where we lived in Wyoming (Thunder Basin) a general rule of thumb was 30 to 40 acres of pasture per animal unit. In parts of Wyoming’s Red Desert as well as some areas near us here the requirement is 80 acres per animal unit! If you calculate the cost of buying hay or other fodder to feed the animal, you can compare this to the cost of land and get what it is actually worth. Not every square foot of land is suitable to build houses on, despite what realtors and developers would have us believe; and land is valued by banks and lending institutions based on what it can produce not what it MIGHT be worth if used to build a house on every tenth of an acre.

Even with hay prices high, most western land (not in and adjacent to large cities) based on the animal-unit calculation is worth $40 to $75 an acre in the 80 acre area, and $80 to $150 in the 40 acre animal unit areas. So when someone pays more than $2000 an acre for this type of land, the land cannot ever pay for itself much less cover what the taxes would be. I do not believe land should be just for looking at, it ought to produce something even if that something is growing valuable timber or providing pasture for livestock or wildlife. What is causing the distortion in land values? Hollywood is partially to blame; for when movie stars go out and buy big ranches and pay far more than it is worth or can ever earn, it drives up the value of all the regions’ land, again even though the chances of –another- movie star coming in and buying those hard, empty lands is as remote as many of the ranches are. Ted Turner is the most famous of these asses, the result of his buying a large ranch in Montana has been to drive up the price of ALL land there to the point that it is not possible to run a ranch there economically unless you already own the land or are given it as a bequeathment.

It is useless for me to rail against the tidal wave of realtors and developers, no amount of logic or argument is going to convince them of the folly of their actions – despite the fact that ranching has been degraded now to the point that the United States no longer produces enough beef to feed itself (we now are forced to import HALF of what is needed!) and the permanent destruction of agricultural land can only end in a very bad way; but so long as they can convince buyers to buy and lenders to lend, the destruction and degradation will proceed.

I may have given the impression that my wife and I hate people, which is far from the truth. We do love people, but in small doses and at far more than arm’s length – more like rifle range. One of the deciding factors in buying this place was that it is remote enough and has no neighbors, an important safety factor for firing guns. True, I can still go fire my weapons in relative safety, just that I cannot fire to the north now or risk hitting the new neighbor or their home and possessions. The area is very rocky so the danger of a ricochet causing a bullet to head in their direction, so will probably have to resort to building a bullet-stop to be sure of safety. I must admit the thought has passed my mind that perhaps we should have behaved like our friend back in the El Paso mountains, Crazy Otto – who would start shooting at any strange vehicle that approached anywhere near his home and mine.

Otto really took a lot of chances when he would do that, and the last time we visited him he was still doing it – his gold mine is in a remote canyon and little changes there. One incident was funny though; another friend and fellow gold miner of ours, Bob, who owned and operated a one-man mine in the canyon between our place there and Otto’s finally broke down and bought himself a brand new pickup truck. He was thrilled with his new truck and decided to drive over to Otto’s and show him his new pickup. He may have forgotten how Otto responds to strangers suddenly showing up – as he rounded the bend and came within sight of Otto, Otto opened fire and hit Bob’s new pickup right through the engine block! Bob was furious, and Otto did pay for the repairs (he did well in his mine for a while) but Bob about turned the air blue with his words! Otto never tried to actually hit a human being, but if a warning shot or two didn’t dissuade the curious he might put a round through their engine.

Now I do not condone such behavior, it is far too risky as a ricochet could easily hit and kill or grievously injure someone; however I begin to understand how one can feel driven to that point.

So we have been discussing the matter and our choices as to what to do. It looks like we ought to continue to proceed with almost all of our plans, with an eye to selling the place; the way real estate values have risen we will be able to get more than a fair price for the place; in fact the presence of a near neighbor might be an attractive feature for some folks who would not feel “safe” being far from any possible source of assistance. (Despite the fact you are in far more danger in “civilized” places than in remote regions.) The reasons for this decision are two fold; for one thing the folks who are buying that 12 acres very likely will close the deal – it was apparently the least expensive land they could find. On the other hand if they fail to close the deal, there is every reason to believe that some other damned fool WILL buy it and move right in. We cannot afford to buy it at that price if the deal were to fail, and though there is little risk that the other bordering properties will get developed that 12 acre parcel is not going to “go away”. Now you might ask, why did we buy this place is we knew there was a small parcel bordering it that could well be developed? At the time we bought this place, there WAS no 12 acre parcel within a mile in any direction. It was subdivided a couple of years ago, and during all the time since we bought this place no one was fool enough to move into this remote area. Now however it appears that they are going to be developing the land, not working from the paved road in, they are starting from right next door! So our best chance of ever having our dream home, remote from close and crowding b-stards stands in selling out and moving. It might even be most profitable to do to this property the very thing I despise the most – subdivide it into five or ten acre parcels and sell them off individually. When buyers are willing to pay $49,000 for a five acre parcel of dry pastureland, 100 acres would equate to nearly a million dollars. The area would be utterly degraded even for most wildlife, (deer and some pest critters adapt readily to human presence) and I would never, ever come anywhere near the area again as I might break into tears at the sight. (I must admit that I nearly fell into tears after we learned about the sale of that parcel, I was VERY depressed to have our dream destroyed after so many years of searching for the right property and the years of waiting to even get here.) However since we are forced to move to find serenity and seclusion, the logical thing is to get the greatest amount of money we can so that our “war chest” will be fat enough to buy a larger parcel of land.

What bugs me is that they could have bought and built homes in a large area around us, with better chances of getting utilities, better roads etc for very nearly the same sort of prices but they chose to buy the single small parcel that borders US. We live not at the end of the road (it actually loops on our land) but you cannot drive any farther “in” than our place. I do not mind people traipsing around the area, in fact we made it a point NOT to post our land against trespass – I despise the very sight of the “KEEP OUT” sign. However we went and bought our first pair of those very signs I hate so much. They will be going on the north border where the asses bought that 12 acres. They might be “well thought of” and have “…many friends in the area” (a particularly strange statement since there are only TWO occupied homes for miles in any direction and we are one) but they are NOT welcome to come hunt, rock-hound, hike or otherwise trespass on our place for any reason. I don’t even know them but hate them already.

I could not understand the mindset that caused them to buy that land. For one thing, the ride in to even SEE it should have been a red flag – the “road” (a trail actually) passes through several miles of undeveloped pastureland. Yes, those cows are NOT fenced in, they WILL be wandering over their land, crapping everywhere, rubbing against their house and cars to scratch themselves, and devouring anything green planted on it. Unless they put up an Arizona-legal fence to keep them out, it is illegal to molest those cattle too! A second related point ought to have been a second red flag, the “road” runs across their land yes, but it is SO washed out (the gully is more than six feet deep and nearly twenty wide) at the very beginning of their land that even the realtor’s oversized 4WD pickup truck could not pass it – they had to park on the adjacent property and walk in to even look at it. That property is the very worst in the entire hills, it has no less than eight major dry washes – the runoff from many hundreds of acres floods that land annually, sweeping everything before it in flash floods. There is one spot on the entire lot that is halfway suitable to build upon, and naturally that is right up next to our land. Another red flag should have been raised as to utilities. The cost of running public electricity in to that parcel will be very nearly $175,000 and that for un-reliable power (you are subject to power outages for any fool who happens to hit a utility pole many miles from your home) and a monthly bill to go with it. The alternative is to go solar and-or wind, however that land is in a valley that is quite unsuitable for solar power (it is in a north face valley between the hills and gets only an hour or so of sun at the end of the day) and unsuitable for wind (the hills surrounding it block off most of the wind!) so they would probably have to put in a huge diesel generator. Whee, we will get to have the beautiful silence of the desert destroyed by the blare of a loud diesel engine, roaring away for hours on end! What sort of an idiot would pay a fortune ($175,000 is a fortune to me) to connect to public power? The same sort of idiot that would buy 12 flash-flood acres in a remote canyon! Once power lines are run in, you will see houses crop up like weeds in a well watered lawn.

So I pondered, just what motivated these asses to ruin our dream? If they were seeking seclusion (like us) then they failed, for they have a neighbor right close by – US. If they were seeking to live in a neighborhood, they failed as well because there IS only one neighbor, us and we are not only NOT going to be friendly and neighborly but openly hostile. The only idea I could come up with is they wanted “semi-seclusion” in which case they chose badly as well, for there are literally dozens of areas where they could have that situation and have nice, friendly, welcoming neighbors. The bottom line appears to be they were either desperate and could not afford any other land (which appears most likely) or so stupid they swallowed the BS sales pitch of the realtors. I say realtors in plural because it took not just one but TWO realtors to talk them into buying that nearly worthless land.

I do not blame these asses entirely either, it is also the work of the realtors. The one realtor also runs a bed-n-breakfast over in the Dragoon mountains just to the west of us; their online ads show “their” canyon (public land, they do not own it) and the surrounding desert beauty – well I realize that they were only doing “their job” (just like it is the nature of maggots to eat rotten flesh) but in this case not only were they destroying our dream but they were cheating the buyers into buying virtually un-usable land. I can pray that these realtors get to have their dream destroyed like they did for us, and I know a way to do it; all perfectly legal and without killing anyone (as tempting as that thought may be!) which would make their bed and breakfast worthless as NO ONE would pay to go stay next to the type of disturbance that could arrive on their doorstep. I may even go and do this nasty thing, as it would even make us money in the process; I may not too, but the thought is tempting; however the power that made the universe has a way of bringing justice to those who would destroy the dreams and happiness of others simply so they can turn a profit so I do not need to. Do I hate the realtors as much as I hate the buyers? More so, for they are in the business of degrading and ruination of some of the most beautiful land in our nation, all so they can drive around in oversized new pickup trucks and have guests in their admittedly beautiful bed and breakfast; yes I despise them and surely they will be repaid in kind.

If or rather when we do sell and move, I will greatly miss this area as I do love it so. However like so many areas destroyed by the mass spread of suburbia in the past, I would not care even to return to look at it once they have polluted it with fancy homes for the wealthy. Even the gorgeous views are degraded to the point that they are no longer gorgeous once those homes are built; who wants to look out over other people’s houses? We will most likely be planting a great number of fast growing evergreens to block out the view of the asses and hopefully much of the noise they will surely generate, of course this means no view of the Dos Cabezas, and the new asshole neighbors view to the south will be of a row of trees, but until we can sell and leave it is the only thing we can legally do.

Apologies for the post dripping with venom, there is news to tell that is not filled with depression and anger. The dwarf pomegranate trees I planted as seeds have begun to grow! The first one sprouted through the soil today! It is somewhat pointless now as we will almost certainly be forced to move to a cold region to escape the madding crowd, but it was a fun experiment anyway. I guess I should have known that beautiful desert places where the climate is pleasant exist only for the wealthy. The fruit trees are all doing well, the garden has some things up (beets came up the other day) and even the nut orchard trees have buds swelling and ready to open leaves.

There is even an “upside” to the destruction of our dream. Real estate prices have risen so dramatically here that we very likely will be able to sell the stump of our dream for what is to me a king’s ransom. With that much in proceeds we can certainly find a piece of remote land with no possibility of close neighbors (I will not say here how it can be done, but there IS a way) however it will be far to the north with cold winters and plenty of snow. I will hate the climate for half the year, but at least the summers are dry and warm. We won’t be able to grow many of the things we wished to do (here) but at least we won’t have to be gazing out at some asshole and his glitzy suburbia home or listen to them blasting away some kind of music we dislike. We may get people traipsing around hunting or rock-hounding etc on the new location but I do not mind that at all. I won’t ever forgive these asses or their realtors for what they have done to us, and as much as I hate the idea of having to start all over again at least we can KNOW that there will be NO chance of any neighbors moving in on our doorstep. Again we don’t hate people, in fact if the new neighbors were say a mile and half away I would not care but no, they must move in just as close as they can get. Sorry for drifting back into the depression-anger thing again, anyway there is light in the tunnel and our –next- home will be safe from crowding asses forever, regardless of how nasty the climate is.

Got to get back to work writing again soon too, several friends (or I suppose they could be referred to as “fans”?) have sent me emails asking when I will be contributing articles again. Our common avocation of treasure hunting and prospecting have been good to us, so in a sense I owe it to our hobby to contribute something back. The book project also ought to be wrapped up and sent to the publisher, while Preston Peet’s anthology is still on the market. Need to get some good photos to go with the articles though so will have to make a few day trips, may get in some extra research too.

Well that is it for this update, sorry if I offended anyone and will not be quite so negative in future posts.


“We must find a way, or we will make one.” –Hannibal Barca

(Almost forgot my “tag” line!)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

End of a dream

A black day in the Sulphur Hills

Well things have been fairly quiet here, still plugging away on the various projects like accumulating the sand and gravel for the concrete, planting watering and so on. A couple of days ago we noticed someone over on the adjoining land, which is not too unusual since we have seen the realtors over there plying their trade trying to sell a piece of land without much luck. There are reasons for this too, the very same reasons which attracted us to this spot – the roads are not maintained at all (they were officially abandoned by the county years ago) there is no electric power or any kind of utility, even the UPS will not come all the way here as it is quite remote. (They call and we meet them out at the paved road, which is 4.4 miles away) The electric company would run in power lines, at the price of $7.50 a foot, which adds up to quite a lot for 4.4 miles of line. No power, no phone (except for cell or satellite) no services of any kind; the land even looks “barren” to some folks as I have heard, even though this is not accurate as it is covered with grasses, mesquite, Mormon tea and even a scattering of Prickly pear cactus – all of which is brown as it would be at the end of winter but now slowly starting to come up green. In fact in the more than three years since we bought this land, not a single person has moved into the Sulphur Hills whatsoever, it has remained very much remote and empty of humans.

The one thing that would ruin this place for us is to have people move in close by. We were of the opinion that this would be extremely unlikely due to the factors mentioned above – furthermore it is a great distance to any large city and chance of employment, more than 75 miles. The realtor who sold us this place was of the same opinion, even said it is difficult to sell this type of land as no one wants to live in the remote places with no services. We had discussed the probability of people moving in, and thought at worst it would be a number of years in the future, and would be preceded by seeing homes built in from the pavement like a cancer, so you could track the progress of being transformed into suburbia well ahead of any of them trying to move in close to us and allow us time to start packing and looking for a place even more remote and inhospitable to people. We both like people, but in small doses and not on a daily basis, and the farther away the better. There are a number of reasons for this attitude, one of them being that I love to shoot and don’t care to be hitting people or their houses.

Then we noticed, after the latest visitor to that parcel had left, that he had put up orange tape, and it appeared to border our land! So we drove over (too lazy to walk the quarter mile) and sure enough, he had taped the location of a survey pin, right on the corner of the junction between our 40 acre piece (the eastern part) and the 60 acre piece (the western part). Since we knew that they were advertising a twelve acre parcel, and we could see the other end of what he had marked a full quarter mile away, it appeared that he had gone off the boundaries of the 12 acres. Besides, when the realtors had been over there, they were always up on the ridge and quite far away, not right up against our land.

We have neighbors, in fact from up on the hill you can see the one which is about two miles away as the crow flies – but you cannot see it from where our house goes and have to make an effort to go see that place. The other neighbors are farther away, and mountains stand in the way of seeing them at all. Our “neighbor” to the south is a large cattle ranch, and on the other side is also a cattle ranch. About once a week the rancher to the south can be seen riding by on his horse, checking fence, but he does not cross onto our land and has never bothered us nor remained around for more than the few minutes it takes to ride by. In fact there have been very few vehicles to even appear in this part of the hills – only one strange incident which I believe led to the current situation.

That cold morning (it was quite early, before sunrise) a pickup truck drove up to our old campsite, and sat there. We both looked at him and could see a man wearing a cowboy hat inside. Finally he drove up past our home and Beth stepped out to ask if he were lost and offer directions if he were – but he immediately took off. We discussed it and figured he might have been just a thief looking for what he could steal, or perhaps a rancher looking for lost cattle. (this area is all open range, cattle can and do wander off and seemingly disappear) He may have been a hunter looking for some javelinas; the last thing we thought he might be would have been a realtor…

Well back to our discovery of orange tape on our corner marker. Beth emailed the realtor and asked if they had made a mistake. The realtor wrote back and said no, that parcel does border ours but only for a short distance. Apparently it is twelve acres laid out in a long, narrow shape. Furthermore, she said, that parcel is sold, for more than $24,000, and is in escrow. She asked if we might be interested in it, if the deal were to fall through. Beth wrote back and said “yes” we might be interested, but in truth we would not – certainly NOT for that kind of price but this way we will find out if the sale goes through. After several more emails Beth was able to learn that the new potential neighbors have many friends in the area, and are “well thought of” and are indeed planning on putting in either a retirement or vacation home.

The one thing that ruins our dream place has come to pass, and only four months after getting here. True, there are a couple of places on our land where we would not be able to see the new neighbor, but they are not good places to build and do not have the same kinds of vista-views as where we already excavated for our home. The way it stands, in the front of our house where we were planning on putting in larger windows so as to be able to enjoy the beautiful mountain vistas, now will have a large part of the view looking directly at the new neighbor. Needless to say, we are both quite depressed with the state of affairs, and have not done much more work on the place. It seems pointless to continue to build a home which will have a lovely view of the asshole who moved in to the worst parcel of land in the entire Sulphur Hills (it is definitely a flash flood area with roads so washed out that even a 4 WD cannot pass) but they are “well thought of” so I guess we are supposed to be happy about that. Beth asked the realtor to learn the intentions of the new neighbors, if they are going to run electric lines in etc and also told her that we may be looking for a realtor. It is a good thing that I did not contact the realtor, for my choice of words would not have been very nice to a person who would destroy another’s dream so that they could turn a profit.

So we have been discussing ideas how to handle this problem – for one should we even bother to build the house, as it is we can actually load the steel building parts into the moving truck and haul it to a new location for instance; we could plant hundreds of fast growing evergreen trees (like the Thuja or Austree) along the northern boundary and block out much of the view of the new assholes. This will not entirely block it out as the road way runs through there and you cannot plant trees on the road, and it does also then block out almost completely our view of the gorgeous Dos Cabezas mountains. This degrades the property, in my opinion.

I am sure that most of our friends and relatives would not understand how there could be a problem in any way, simply from the fact of someone moving in next door – and assume that there must be underlying problems like living in the Moon-like barrenlands so far from our ever-loving land of wet, Pennsylvania. For that matter some thought we had it “good” at that place we left, with three acres and all, with frontage on two roads etc, along with the incredible difficulties of trying to grow anything there, the frigid and wet winters, terrifically high taxes and constant flow of people “dropping in” on an every single day basis. The house never looked really clean and straightened up, for if we began to do the ordinary household chores, that would work like a magic talisman to cause someone to drop in. Further than this, we had neighbors on all four sides, so it was actually unsafe to fire any kind of firearm in any direction except for one path, which was about 10 or 12 degrees out of 360, and this involved firing across a road!

So what are we to do? So far in our discussions, it looks like we are stuck here for the moment, praying that the sale of the neighboring property falls through and it might be worth our while to continue to build the house, put up fence etc but not to go any farther in planting anything like a cash crop unless it is of the annual variety as this does not add to the sale value of the property. A house and fence round the perimeter does increase the value, but if you put in ten acres of nut orchard and two of vineyard that does not add to the sale price. I am very glad we bought a moving truck instead of renting now, and the fact that a lot of our stuff is still unpacked may well prove to be a boon for moving faster and easier. It will take time, perhaps a lot of time to find another remote place which appeals to us both, and we may end up moving to Alaska to escape the frigging moron people who seemingly will move in next to you simply because you are THERE. Personally, I would live on a slab of solid rock, teeming with rattlers, killer bees and scorpions, so long as it was relatively warm, dry and especially remote from neighbors.

Speaking of this, I think the pickup truck which behaved so strangely was up here looking us over, because it was only a couple of days later that a “For sale” sign went up on that 12 acre parcel, followed by the occasional visits of realtors in brand-new king-cab pickup trucks with prospective buyers. We even saw them looking over at us here, pointing in our direction and perhaps marveling at the wind generator. So in a way, simply by being here we are partially at fault since these morons could look at US and say to the buyers, “Look, they are living here, which is proof it can be done”.

Does this mean that we have to buy many square miles of land to be free of crowding idiots? No, but we have to be very selective – there are plenty of remote places left out there which are in varying degrees of in-hospitability. I will not post the results of our new search for a remote home with plenty of privacy here, for surely someone would decide to buy the adjoining land. At any rate it is now extremely unlikely that we will remain here as a permanent home, barring some miracle that causes the sale of the neighboring 12 acres to fall through. I have no desire to live in a place where I can gaze upon some ass, 24-7-365 regardless of all the other features which attracted us here in the first place and Beth has very much the same view of the situation.

That is it for this edition, apologies for the dark nature of the post but it would be dishonest to pretend that all is well. Will post an update soon.


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