No More Wallpaper

Another dump run.

The guest house and main house have extensive water damage thus lots of damaged drywall. Tuesday we removed all the damaged drywall from the guest house–whew–what a job!!  And that’s what we are taking to the transfer site plus the regular weekly garbage.  We recycle plastics and cardboard which the transfer site also takes.  DSCN4015No more icky, moldy drywall!

I’ve been spraying weeds each morning–it’s been so incredibly windy–I have to get out there early before the wind picks up.  I want to get all the goat head weeds I can find before we leave for the summer!

Late this afternoon I finished removing ALL the wallpaper in the kitchen and bathroom of the guest house.  I cannot rave enough about that steamer–I would still be removing wallpaper and cussing until the cows come home if not using the steamer!!!

DSCN4017DSCN4020Arizona is about as far removed from a beach than anywhere I know–I wouldn’t put a beach themed wallpaper in an Arizona home??  Wallpaper removal generates lots of mess!

The Cowboy was on the roof today–he finished covering the tops of the outside walls and then he was really industrious!  He painted the Henry’s Tropi-Cool Silicone Roof Coating onto the rolled roofing material–roofs in Arizona are finished way differently than in Montana!


Then this restoration project got really exciting!  When we owned our excavating business I was very capable of operating the backhoe and skidsteer.  I’m still very comfortable using the skidsteer but haven’t been inside the backhoe in many years.  Today the Cowboy was on the roof and painted himself to the unfinished other side of the roof–he hollered at me to bring the backhoe around to the other side and lift him off the roof.  He sure has a lot of trust in me!!  It was amazing how quickly I remembered how to operate all the levers and I didn’t dump him!

DSCN4010As you can tell from Emmi’s attire–it’s been a little cool around here in the evenings














Plumbing Work Continues

DSC_4462The Cowboy continues his work on the RV sites–the sewer connections are in and he spent a lot of time leveling the ground today.  We don’t want Larry to come visit and complain about an un-level spot!

Whew–the Cowboy and I had placed bets as to how much we thought the cost of drilling the well would be–we were both close to the actual drilling cost but we hadn’t figured on the rest of the supplies costing as much as they did!  Brian stopped by yesterday afternoon bringing the bill.  When the Cowboy installs pumps for people in Montana, the pump usually costs about $200.  A pump for pumping water from 400 feet down cost $2300! The heavy duty wiring for said pump–$1100!  Let’s just say–drilling a well was expensive!  And we can certainly see why so many of these one acre parcels are vacant!

If you have wallpaper to remove, buy a steamer–a $49 tool from Amazon that made the process so much easier.  DSCN4004The paper and glue just lifted off with a little pressure from a plastic scraper–much less damage to the drywall!  Isn’t that wallpaper just gorgeous?? One of our readers said they gave up trying to remove the wallpaper in difficult to reach spots such as over the cabinets–they sanded the edges of the wallpaper, painted with Kilz and then regular paint.  She said it still looks good 14 years later.  Well–there is about an 8 inch space above the kitchen cabinets in the guest house–why do people do that–create a space for dust and dead critters to collect–I want my cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling!  I may do just as our reader suggested in that tight space although painting isn’t going to be easy either!

Photo on the left was done with the steamer, photo on the right was done with the vinegar water and a scraper.

.DSCN4005$49 and free shipping with Amazon Prime.

As you can imagine after being vacant for over 10 years this house is spider and bug infested.  There are tons of what we call “grand daddy long leg” spiders.  Well, tonight they all die–I used some of those bug bombs in the cans–we should have lots of spider carcasses tomorrow!

Life is good!



The Benefits Of Water

Which would you rather have on demand–water or electricity?  My choice is water–I grew up in a home with a well.  When the power went out, you had no water and the worst thing about no water was–you couldn’t flush the toilets!   To say we are thrilled about our new well is an understatement.  I’m like a kid in the candy store–ran some bleach through the dishwasher–

DSCN3983The dishwasher appears to have had little use and is very quiet–it’s located in the guest house kitchen.

DSCN3989My yellow laundry room–it’s an addition to the guest house.  There is nothing in this 7×10 room except the washer/dryer and the hot water tank–weird that the previous owners built a separate little room.  I’ve never used a stackable washer/dryer–my friend Jill has always used one and likes the space saving feature.  The tub is certainly big enough for large loads of laundry and I took advantage of our new well to do a load of laundry–no more laundromat!!!!

With water I’ve been a cleaning whirlwind!  The laundry room is as spotless as it can be without some of its drywall and flooring–it’s not totally finished.  The bathroom in the guest house is very usable and I spent at least a hour in there yesterday cleaning–it was gross!!

The Cowboy has been plumbing–he is replacing the sewer lines from the house to the septic as the pipes were cast iron and had small holes–eeewwww!  I’ve never seen cast iron sewer pipes!!   And listen up RVing friends, he is creating two RV hookups–today he finished the sewer connections for those hookups.

DSCN3997Brian, our well driller, told us to run the water a lot for the first day or so.  Last night we dosed the well with a powdered chlorine and let the water run into the house pipes until we smelled chlorine.  Today we ran the water through a hose for several hours–we have lots and lots of holes created by some type of critters so I stuck the hose down in one of those holes.  That critter must have miles of tunnels underground as the water never surfaced!  When I went out to check the flow on the hose–this critter scared me into screaming!  I guess he was getting a little water logged and came to the surface???  A frog was NOT what I expected to see in the desert!


The Cowboy suggested a drive this evening–we drove out toward Cochise Stronghold and around some of the many roads in this area.  The wind has howled this afternoon creating lots of that lovely dust which makes for beautiful sunsets.



Working on the infrastructure means we aren’t seeing much progress elsewhere such as on the roof or inside the house–first things first!  Plumbing requires lots of parts which requires lots of trips here and there.  The Cowboy was able to get a lot of the pipe and fittings from the hardware store in Pearce.  There was an auction in Willcox today–a total bust, just piles of junk–but it gave us the opportunity to visit another hardware store for more pipe and fittings.  And the Dairy Queen!

Water In The Desert

Wednesday morning, Brian, our well driller was back bright and early–there’s no sleeping in around here!  Early on that morning even he was a little discouraged by the amount of water he was getting–at 380 feet he just had seepage and was in a pocket of basalt rock. Basalt rock is found in clay soils–the clay doesn’t allow the water to flow. Drilling, drilling–at 420 feet he hit water, lots and lots of glorious water!!!  Brian drilled the well down to 520 feet, the last 40 feet had no water but then the well casing will fill with water and the pump will not sit on the floor of the well–it will instead hang suspended in water–much better for the pump!  One hundred gallons a minute glorious water! Early Thursday morning Brian and his wife Diane came to lower the pump into the well–he had the well pumping water before the rain/wind/cold drove them back to their garage to finish all the pipe fitting work.  Late this afternoon Brian and his son came back and we have water in the guest house!!!  Amazing–no more Navy showers!!

DSCN3967 DSCN3972When the Cowboy and I first married houses in Big Timber were so reasonably priced and I wanted to buy one to fix up.  The Cowboy was having none of that–“I would rather build a house from scratch than fix someone’s problems.”  Well–he must have changed his tune over the years–we remodeled the North Ranch house extensively and extensively doesn’t even begin to describe the remodel these two dwellings need!

So far we’ve only discovered a couple leaks around the hot water tank.  This house has not been lived in for at least 10 years if not more–no leaks in the kitchen or bathroom and the toilet flushed and worked.

I was vacuuming spiders and spider webs Wednesday afternoon when the Cowboy came in and crooked his finger at me, pointing to the door.  I went outside and he pointed to his right–I literally jumped three feet sideways and screamed bloody murder then danced around and screamed some more.  There were two dead rattlesnakes beside the house–one small, one absolutely huge!  There had been a sheet of old plywood there with concrete blocks covering it–we were attempting to keep critters from digging under the house and it had worked.  The Cowboy needed to move that board and blocks so he could hook the water to the guest house.  When he moved the board he disturbed the snakes.  Yesterday afternoon I was ready to pack my bags and move back to North Ranch but I calmed down.  We had rattlesnakes at North Ranch and we have them at home in Montana–it’s just a fact of life but geez that one snake was huge!  I elected not to post a photo–it gives me the creeps just to look at the photos I took!

The Cowboy noticed an antique dining table for sale in the Sierra Vista Facebook buy/sell group.  I drove over to have a look at it today–with no leaves it measured 54 inches and had ten 12 inch leaves!!!!  It’s slide mechanism was in good shape and worked well but the rest of the table had seen better days and I declined.  I quickly made a run through Fry’s, the local grocery store and headed back over the mountains to see what trouble the Cowboy had caused–not much, he was gabbing with Brian the well driller.

Wow–for over two weeks we’ve been complaining about our 80+ degree temperatures.  Well–that’s what we get for complaining–today our high was under 60 degrees and the wind howled plus we had rain squalls blowing through–not nice!

It’s amazing how something as simple as water can change your attitude.  Over the weekend and during the early part of this week I was having serious doubts about our ability to make this place work–we halted all spending on the place, not even a nail until we knew if we had water.  I held off on going to Sierra Vista to look at the antique table until we had water.  We just weren’t going to sink any more money into a property without water which could not be resold.    Now, we are both thinking–this place is going to be amazing–stay tuned!









The Price Of Their Toys

There’s that ole saying–you can tell the men from the boys by the price of their toys–

The Cowboy has been working diligently on that roof and it was now time to lay the rolled roofing–which has to be nailed down using those short, stubby, thumb mashing nails.  Not this time–he used his new toy–it holds rolls of roofing nails and will fire nails when the nose of the gun is pressed into the roofing material–you don’t have to pull the trigger–super fast and the Cowboy is happy.

But wait just a minute–I bought toys too but there was a large disparity in price!!  And once again, I am the shovel and the Cowboy has the machine!  I used my new toys yesterday–the round thing in the middle scores the wallpaper, then you drench the ugly stuff in hot water/vinegar then scrape.  My friend Kelly had the audacity to tell me she found it relaxing–HUH????

I didn’t do so well on this small wall–may need to watch some more videos–going to have to patch the drywall–a LOT!  There is a wallpaper steamer in my Amazon cart just waiting for me to click the buy button!  

The well driller was here yesterday afternoon and again this morning–I am discouraged, the Cowboy is not.  It’s amazing how busy this guy is–he is meeting himself coming and going.  He can’t hire help and he pays extremely well, his poor wife is out here helping him many days.  Yesterday he told the Cowboy he is so far behind with work he will never catch up.  Sure would be a good business to have???

I visited my favorite laundromat again today–and had the place all to myself, no more crazies.  The Cowboy finished our taxes–that’s a good thing.












Would We Do It Again

After the “well is kaput” post, Vera asked this question, “if you knew then what you know now would you still have bought this place?”  Here is some background before I answer that question.

The Pearce/Sunsites Arizona area is unique–there is the community of Sunsites, a subdivision built around what was once a beautiful golf course with clubhouse, swimming pool, ponds, and lots of huge trees.  That golf course and its amenities is now defunct, owned by a bank and let go to ruin–the golf course is weed infested, the trees are dying due to lack of water, the swimming pool has been filled with dirt, and the ponds are dry.  The locals tell us it was a beautiful place in its hay day and a fun place with lots going on all the time.  Now it’s a sad sign of the 2008 economy which has never really rebounded in this particular area of Arizona.

Sunsites and Pearce are both unincorporated communities sharing the Pearce zip code and post office.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Pearce:

Pearce is a mining ghost town named for Cornishman James Pearce, miner and cattleman, who discovered gold nearby at what became the Commonwealth Mine in 1894. The Pearce Post Office was established on March 6, 1896. The railroad station opened in 1903. By 1919, Pearce had a population of 1,500. The town declined in the 1930s, and became almost a ghost town in the late 1940s, when the mine closed for the last time.

The Commonwealth Mine became one of Arizona’s major silver producers. Over 1,000,000 tons of ore were produced from 1895 to 1942. There are about 20 miles of underground workings.  The mine produced about $8 million worth of silver and $2.5 million in gold at a time when silver was priced around 50 cents an ounce, and gold was $20 an ounce.

Sunsites was established in the 1950s and 1960s by New York lawyer Joseph Timan and his Horizon Land Company.

As a part of Sunsites, a developer (not sure if it was the above noted Joseph Timan) purchased a huge parcel of land and did the unthinkable–he cut the acreage into ONE ACRE PARCELS!!  Literally thousands of ONE ACRE PARCELS zoned for single family dwellings and stick built homes.  In a land where water is precious each ONE ACRE PARCEL would have to have a private well or well share at $20-$30 per drilled foot at today’s prices.  No electric power was provided by the developer so each ONE ACRE PARCEL has to find a way to get electricity–when the area was being developed the power companies were more agreeable–now each land owner must pay to bring the power lines to their property.  We’ve been told by realtors the electric companies in this area charge $20/foot to run power–the Cowboy is skeptical of that cost but we’ve never called the power company to inquire as our parcel does have power.  In 2001, in Montana, we ran underground power to our new house one half mile and it cost us $2/foot for a total of about $5800.

Many, many of these one acre parcels are literally miles from power–for example let’s say a particular parcel is two miles from the closest power source and let’s say power cost $5 (the cost is probably much more) per foot to run–that comes to a whopping $53,000 just to run the electricity to your lot line!!!  And, while solar is quite popular in Arizona using solar to pump water out of a 500 foot deep well (normal depth in this area) is not practical.

So, before you’ve even poured one ounce of concrete or pounded one nail you have spent over $60,000 for water and power.  Would you be surprised to hear this development never developed??  Many of the thousands of one acre parcels are in tax arrears.  Ownership is hard to trace–most of the original owners would be deceased by now, their survivors might never having known their relatives owned a one acre piece of ground in Arizona.

Now, I will answer the question–yes, even knowing the well was kaput we would have still purchased this place.  What we paid for this three acres and the two dwellings is public knowledge in the state of Arizona unlike in many states where it is kept private.  We paid less than $20,000 for our property.  We bought three acres of land with breathtaking views, electricity to the home, a well (we thought), septic system and two dwellings which are salvageable.  If you use the above example and it cost $60,000 to provide water and power to one of these lots–we made a bargain even including having to drill a new well.

We sit outside in the evening resting after our day’s labor and gaze at the mountains all around enjoying the absolute quiet.  Our nearest neighbor is 1/4 mile away, no house sits on any of the lots surrounding us–we enjoy our peace and the sunsets!





















A Step Back

New position for the drilling rig can only mean one thing–we weren’t successful in cleaning the old well–we have to drill a new one$$$$$$$$$$!!  Brian (our well driller) tried his best to make the old well work but it was not to be.  So, Thursday Brian’s wife Diane completed an application for us and I headed to Bisbee to save time–the Cochise County offices are in Bisbee.  The county starts the permit and then sends it on to the state so my driving to Bisbee saved us about 3 days.

On the way back from Bisbee the county called–we had issues.  Why were we putting the well on a lot without the house?  HUH?? Do we have to put the well on the lot with the house??  Why were we putting the well on a lot we didn’t own–HUH????  We have three acres and the house sits on the middle acre, we have a deed to all three.  I called the Cowboy and he got on the phone with the county–by late afternoon we had a viable permit–geez!

The Cowboy continues to work on the guest house roof and it’s really shaping into a southwest looking house–

DSCN3942There used to be a large window in the end of the house–we may end up putting a window back in that spot.DSCN3945And, the roof itself–the Cowboy said all that figuring makes his head hurt!:)

We made a quick trip out to the little Pearce Friday market to obtain some of Otto’s salsa and some of these–bread and butter jalapeno pickles–they were delicious with cream cheese and crackers!


After the market Ms. Emmi received a haircut–she was a grubby little dog but when you are conserving water bathing the dog isn’t high on the priority list until I just couldn’t take it any longer.DSCN3937

Today I removed the old, nasty, icky, gross carpet from two of the bedrooms in the main house–totally disgusting!!!  No photographs–it was just too nasty!

And, I know this is a restoration blog but it’s also my blog and I want to share a precious photo with you all–our great grandson Brooks with his great, great grandfather Nat–the Cowboy’s Dad.

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and baby

And while the well thing was very discouraging we’ve both gotten over the initial shock and are moving on.



What Is A Scupper

WOW–we are making progress–finally!!!  The well guy lives within sight of our house and his drilling rig has been there for a few days.  I was getting impatient and the Cowboy said, “if the drilling rig leaves to go somewhere else, then get impatient.”  Tuesday morning early we made a run to the dump with a huge truck load including a water heater I tried to sell with no luck! On our way back from the dump I said/yelled to the Cowboy, “the drilling rig is gone!!!!” but then my vision caught our house and this is what I saw–

DSCN3920YES!!!!–all is not perfect as of yet, Brian has run into a few problems but at least he is here!!

There is a sand and gravel place here in Pearce but they didn’t return our phone call so guess what, we went somewhere else–we called Willcox Rock and Sand–by Tuesday afternoon we had one dump truck load and today this huge truck dumped a bunch of gravel in our yard–

DSCN3922And the Cowboy has been hard at work in his backhoe/toy spreading all that lovely gravel over most of that nasty dust!

DSCN3925That poor lone tree is our only live one (we think it is alive) and while watering it I saw a couple of pecans on the ground–so, maybe it’s a pecan tree!!

So, do you know what a scupper is???

DSCN3928DSCN3927That galvanized steel thing is a scupper–it drains water from a flat/slightly sloped roof–the UPS man delivered a huge box of these scuppers last night at 7:30pm–I would say he had had a hard day!!

So, we are making progress–finally!  It’s a good feeling!

We’ve Got Dust

Dust, dust and more dust.  The Cowboy began leveling the front yard around the motorhome–this involves scrapping away the top layer leaving bare dirt creating the dust, dust and more dust.  Each morning the winds are perfectly calm but about noon the wind will start to gust and create dust devils.  Whirling, dipping and swirling they go, picking up all kinds of debris and dust depositing a large amount of this in the motorhome through the open windows and door.  I’ve vacuumed three times in two days–tomorrow before noon I am closing all the doors and    windows and running the air conditioner!  We are also having two huge loads of gravel delivered tomorrow!

Dirt which becomes dust!

As I’ve said in previous blogs, we are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures forcing the Cowboy off the roof by about noon.  I came home from New Orleans with another stinking cold so yesterday after lunch we both took a little nap which gave us a spurt of afternoon energy.  We decided to do some demolition inside out of the sun. This is the guest house kitchen–nice sized kitchen until someone put a cupboard and eating island in the middle of the floor.

Post demolition–much better!!  As you can see, someone started either building or remodeling this kitchen.  The cabinets are odd–there are two sinks–one beside the refrigerator and another to the left of the photo.  The cabinets are great quality and we are thinking perhaps they came from a kitchen showroom???  The appliances were here when we purchased the house which says something for the neighborhood–this property was owned by a limited liability foreclosure company and the house was not locked–anyone could just walk in at any time.  Of course the stick on floor tile is leaving as is the pretty light blue stripped wallpaper.  My friend Kelly is a wallpaper expert and I texted her today to ask for her easy wallpaper removal method.  Imagine my surprise when she said vinegar and water–spray the wallpaper then scrape–dang, that’s not easy!!!

Roof work is progressing–I can sort of envision how the finished product will look!

Today was laundromat day again–there have been single men doing laundry almost every time I’ve gone.  Today an elderly man walking with a cane came in after me followed by a guy about my age.  The “my age” guy liked to hear himself talk.  I went out to the truck for something, came back into the laundromat, sat in a chair and the “my age” guy looked straight at me and began yelling–“if you “F**** think Bill and Hillary Clinton……., then I F****……………..”  I just stared at him, got up, went to the truck, made sure my gun was where I thought it was, grabbed my phone and dialed 911, ready to hit the send button.  I don’t know if the older man said something which caused this other idiot to act out or what–when I went back inside with phone in hand, it was as if nothing had happened.  This idiot wanted to talk to me and the older man–after some terse, one syllable answers  from me he finally gave up and watched his clothes spin in the dryer.  Good grief–at no time was I afraid–he was too stupid to be afraid of–I felt sorry for the elderly man, he was nervous and didn’t even dry his clothes, just left.

And the full moon rising over the Chiricahua Mountains last night.  Life is good!

The Backhoe Has Arrived

The Cowboy’s son Lonn met the trucking guy at our house in Montana and helped him load the backhoe on Wednesday.  The trucker, Albert, was driving a new Dodge pickup pulling a very long trailer.  Albert made a mistake when he left our Montana place–he depended on his GPS for routing.  The GPS routed him over Swingley Road to Livingston–big mistake especially in winter.  Swingley Road is a dirt/rock/gravel winding mountainous road, treacherous in summer much less winter!  It was dark and cold when Albert found a hill he couldn’t climb–too snow packed and icy to climb with so heavy a load–so he pulled off to the side of the road and waited for morning.  The story gets even better–Albert said Montana was a strange place, a woman stopped in the dark to ask him if he was OK and gave him cookies!

Albert is telling the Cowboy this story on the phone Friday as he is traveling south with the backhoe and the Cowboy said, “I heard you were stuck by the side of the road.”  Albert wants to know how in the world we all ready knew he had had problems–our granddaughter Katie goes to work via that same road and saw the rig sitting there–she even took photos and Lonn sent them to us!  Small world!

But Albert was resourceful–when it was daylight he unloaded the backhoe, drove it to the top of the hill, walked back down and retrieved the truck and trailer then loaded the backhoe again.  Albert said he wasn’t trusting any GPS routing in Montana again!

The Cowboy is happy to have one of his toys–he graded some of the yard, took down a small tree and a very large, tall pole.

I’ve been gone–to a meeting in New Orleans–the Cowboy has been up on the roof.  The temps are unseasonably warm and he can only work on the roof until about noon but he’s making progress!

This house and guest house have traditional pitched roofs–the Cowboy is creating a Sante Fe/southwest style roof around the pitched roofs.  No need to worry about snow load in Arizona!

Tonight we attended a fund raising dinner at the Sunsites Community Center–we sat with some really nice folks and enjoyed our evening–the Pearce community is growing on us!