Not bragging or anything, but it reached 58 degrees today in Silver City. We went on a delightful hike and spent all hours past 10ish in our shorts and short sleeves.
To skip ahead to a particular subject, feel free to choose from the links below –
Pet Behavior Problems
Answers from the Town
Answers about Building
The Monk’s Coffee
Trooper’s unacceptable ridiculousness
Last night seemed to be the peak of the pets’ bad behavior. I feel compelled to write about it because Trooper woke me in the middle of the night (for the upteenth time) by barking at Sydney.
We’ve been having trouble for a few days with both Fred and Trooper, the two shining stars of the group. We are familiar with Sydney’s antics and her behavior is a work in progress. But the patience seems to be running thin for all the animals; they’re getting tired of living in the hotel, being repeatedly loaded into the dog crates and having no regular exercise routine. I don’t blame them.
Trooper is usually an excellent dog. But when he doesn’t get enough exercise or stimulation, he creates it or manipulates us to get it. For example, he’s a reliable bathroom-alerter. If he needs to go to the bathroom, he comes and sits in front of us and whines – We then take him out. He has us well trained. Well lately, he has just wanted to be out of the hotel room, so he does his bathroom request routine repeatedly. It’s challenging to know when he’s serious. We ignored him two nights ago prior to falling asleep but it turns out he was right. We woke in the middle of the night to the sound of him whining frantically; once outside he did a mega poop. That was close!
He has also started targeting Fred with bullying. In the past, Trooper hasn’t really cared about Fred. If Fred was on the ground and advancing toward a toy (not deliberately but in the general direction), Trooper would get fired up and lunge at him to scare him off. We are familiar with that routine and strive to prevent the interaction. Last night, however, Trooper went out of his way to charge Fred repeatedly while Fred was sauntering around on the bed. And not just charging, barking and jumping onto the bed. Trooper is normally our near-silent dog, so this has been surprising.
He has also adopted the habit of tantrum-barking at Sydney when he’s irritated. Sydney can be a pest, but she hasn’t deserved the verbal onslaught pattern that Trooper has recently adopted.
The moral of the story is everybody is under-exercised and frustrated. That is why today’s goal is to go for an exhaustive hike and then let them sleep the afternoon away.
Oh and Fred – You may wonder how a bird can be a bad pet. Well, when he’s irritated and under-exercised, he makes unnecessary flights to places he acts helpless to get down from (where he then starts to chew and destroy everything around him – think high curtain rod and curtain) and he goes after Brian. He and Brian are in the process of building a relationship, so we understand some less-than-ideal behavior. (He has always preferred women.) But last night he seemed determined to approach Brian and do his “I’m a big and aggressive bird” displays. Not funny, Fred.
The Weather in Silver City
When I check the weather in the morning, I keep seeing these doomsday weather forecasts for the midwest and northeast. We were chased by cold as drove through Texas, so we’ve heard there has been more than one wave. Sorry to hear that. It is perfect here…
We wake reasonably early, probably around 6:15/6:30 and start to make our coffee. The weather station online often reports that the temperature is near freezing (32-34 degrees) but ‘feels like’ 27-29, based on humidity and wind. That seems cold, right? We think so – so our morning dog walk to the bandit camp involves putting on a light jacket and in my case, gloves and a winter cap.
We exit the hotel into a shadowy walkway and temporary feel the clothing is necessary. By the time we have reached Mountain View Rd (5 minutes later), my hat and gloves feel unnecessary. The sun is so radiant and amazing – if you’re standing in it, you could probably make do without a coat. Wind is a different story here and it seems it’s not a big deal, either ever or at least not during this time of year. By the time we return from our hike, it is often 8:00/8:30 and I’m too hot. It’s that feeling when you walk inside from snow shoveling and you feel like you are wearing wayyy too many clothes or the heat is way up inside.
I will admit, we wear our pants and coats to breakfast. However, each hour in the morning shows an increase in temperature of 8-10 degrees. So the end of the walk is around 43 and the end of breakfast is in the low 50’s. The high today was 58 and we probably hit it around noon. It is 4pm right now and we’re still in shorts and short sleeves.
The sun is a huge player – in the shade on the hike, I was definitely glad to have my fleece with me. In the sun, I wanted to take it off. The skies have never been really cloudy while we’ve been here. Monsoon season will have clouds but it’ll be August so temperature won’t be an issue.
Gila National Forest – Gomez Trail
We wrote about our first hike during our first visit to Silver here. Today was even better than the first time. My mission was to go on a reasonably long hike to A) Exhaust the dogs and B) Make them burn more calories than usual because their meat portion was going to be too much (We don’t have a choice because we don’t have our meat cutting supplies with us.)
Mission accomplished – We entered the trails at Point #15 which has a big turnaround for cars to park. Everything is informal and based on an honor system. No fees; just treat the park with respect. There were two other cars there when we arrived, but one of them was leaving and the other was gone by the time we got back. We only crossed paths with one other hiker on the trails. As we got in the car to leave, two trucks pulled in to park, each with a mountain bike. So it’s a very active recreational area but there is more than enough forest for everybody to enjoy it and feel like it’s your own private forest.
The hike was about 50 minutes and the trail featured the ideal amount of ascending and descending. Large portions of the trail were actually a dry wash – so maybe the trail isn’t as accessible during the monsoons. We walked on several sections that were muddy (as in WITH MOISTURE). So even though it’s pretty dry out here (I have alligator hands after the shower), water is clearly not an issue.
After the hike, we fed the dogs on some grass, loaded them up and returned to the hotel room. Nobody is moving…well, except for Fred who opened his cage on his own while I happened to be looking in his direction. Greaaaatttt…so now Fred has figured out how to unlock it. The two dogs are pooped on the ground, both with eyes closed. Good exercise and full bellies – you couldn’t ask for a better canine sedative.
Questions and Answers and more Questions
Building Questions & Answers
After our hike, we returned to the hotel room to make a midday cup of butter coffee, this time with the Monk Roast – review will come later. While we enjoyed our joe, Brian made a half million phone calls and I wrote about it.
From yesterday’s research, we had a pretty reliable estimate for the cost of either digging a well or tapping into town water. Since all of the potential properties would require a septic system, our next question was going to be about septic installations.
Brian gets the prize for this category. He guessed it would cost between $3,000-$6,000 for the system. I didn’t believe him because our system in Manchester had cost double that. Well, he was spot on –
We were told that a conventional system (buried in the ground) would cost $3800 by one company and $4000 by the competition. As I write this, I still cannot believe it. How could it cost more than 3x that much in Manchester? Aside from materials costing more there, Brian surmises that whereas Manchester required a septic system sized for a minimum of 3 bedrooms, here a 1 bedroom house requires a one bedroom septic system. Things appear to be much simpler out here.
If we don’t have 7 feet of dirt in which to put the system, it will cost $6000 for a ‘wetland’ system that exists on top of the lawn as a pair of what appear to be shallow gravel pits. Sounds strange…maybe we’ll look up a video about it later. One of the most exciting revelations about our calls was how forthcoming the companies were with information. In Manchester, the rep had to visit your property, make drawings, talk extensively, spend a week creating a proposal and only after all that time had passed, would you know the cost. Perhaps because the law requires things be ‘maxxed out’ here, they just know the figures.
We did not get any foundation estimates while in CT so we can’t compare the prices. However, the price spit out by an online build estimator put the foundation costs at $5,300. As with the septic people, the foundation companies were very helpful. We gave them our square feet and a few details and immediately got the number – $2900 ($6 per square foot). That’s a good deal of savings off the amount we budgeted, which is very good news. If we have to build a bridge to reach the property, we now know we have a little wiggle room.
Excavation for a bridge and driveway
We only spoke to one company about heavy machinery use to create a driveway. They quoted us $200 an hour for using a mega bulldozer (Brian – “It looks like a monster”) and $125 an hour if we want to use the smaller one.
Garbage/Recycling & Internet
We confirmed that the city picks up from Highway Wilderness and that it would be reachable for DSL.
While in the Planning and Development Office, we saw many great maps on the walls. One of them detailed the different subdivisions and areas outside of subdivisions. Another one colored areas based on zoning. If we live anywhere outside of a subdivision, we can build our tiny house. There were plenty of regions that fit that description. The challenge is then finding one on town water and with enough space.
The Monk’s Coffee
We were both really excited to try the monk’s coffee. Thrilled, really. We wanted it to be off the charts.
It didn’t quite make it. Our usual coffee has a delicious smell to it – you could just sniff the beans and be nearly satisfied with the coffee-drinking experience. These beans, however, smelt burnt. The first thought that came to mind was “burnt popcorn”. We knew it was going to be a dark roast but it was sad that it didn’t have a delightful smell.
We brewed the coffee in our chemex and did another smell test. It smelt like Folgers or Starbucks (sorry if you like Starbucks – we’re not fans). Thankfully, we weren’t drinking it black. After blending it with the butter and coconut oil, we had the first taste. It wasn’t awful – it seemed to link up well with the butter. The more we drank it, the more okay it became. I’m not sure we’ll buy more from them, but we’ll finish this bag.
The Rental Situation
We called a few rentals today. There aren’t many in the area that are managed by the owner. Everybody seems to go through a realtor and they weren’t extremely helpful this morning. They have strict requirements about pets and don’t allow them in more than half the rentals. For the ones that do allow them, they make a judgement call on whether there is enough grass there to support a certain number of dogs. They didn’t seemed moved by my explanation that we aren’t going to leave our dogs outside all day. We would do just fine with a 5’x5′ lawn. When our normal routine is in motion, the dogs stay inside with us and get the majority of their exercise from a morning walk and an afternoon hike.
Since it seems a great majority of people here leave their dogs out in the yard during the day, they assume we are going to do the same. I wish! Our dogs want nothing more than to follow us around. I can’t even use the bathroom without both wanting to lean against my legs.
The ideal situation is potentially available. We found a beautiful adobe ‘cabin’ in the Gila National Forest that is 459 square feet and only $275 a month. Our hikes wouldn’t require a drive and we’d only be 10 minutes from town. The rent would be A-Ok and the size is perfect. The only catch is the owner said it is likely already rented and he would know for sure on Saturday. We’re hoping the person tries to move in, finds it is too small and backs out. To help the owner choose us, we offered a little more and told him our tiny house story. Given that the delivery was via a voice mail, we aren’t certain how the offer went over.
Overall, it’s been a great day!