Michigan

Well, here we are, a full nine months on from my last blog entry. How time flies.

house

Our new Home

As I hinted in the last entry, a great deal has happened in the last nine months. We had, at a number of times in the past, thought about looking for another property especially when things had started to get us down when we had encountered conflicts, but after the passing of BJ in December it was a different feeling. For Melisa it was almost a realisation that BJ was the glue that has stuck us to Colorado, and without her there was little to hold us here. Some soul searching led us to conclude that, for the lifestyle we wanted, the Colorado property was far from being the best suited to the direction that we wanted to go in. The other events of the year had left us in the situation where, if we wanted to move on, now was the time to do it. We looked at alternative properties in other states, particularly in Melisa’s home state of Michigan, and drew up a shortlist. In January, Melisa went to Michigan, while I ‘Ranch sat’, to look at a few of them, and whittled down the list to two. Then she returned to Colorado and we swapped. My visit to Michigan finalised the list to one.

gazebo

Garden Gazebo

The months that followed saw some frantic activity, securing finance and packing things up on the ranch and a great deal of arranging of transportation for belongings, animals, vehicles and even two very large rocks! A deal was struck with one of my colleagues to get an extended leave to give me more time at home to help with the move and getting settled in Michigan, and in May, we made the big move.
For us, the road trip was fairly straight forward; two people, two cars, two trailers, four dogs, five goats, six states and 1500 miles all in 46 hours door to door. For the rest of the move we had to arrange a haulage company to move 3 semi’s of stuff from the ranch and storage in Colorado to Michigan, and two others to move the rest of the livestock and the expanding collection of cars.

path

Path in the Woods

Of course, getting there was only half the story, as it almost always is in situations like this. Once there, you always find things that need doing over what you had expected or planned. We have done a lot of jobs, and still have a lot to do, but things are slowly taking shape. We had hoped that we would have everything done the way we wanted by Christmas this year, but the reality is that Christmas NEXT  year may be being optimistic.
Anyway, our new property is still fairly rural, 20 acres, mainly tree covered with a natural spring fed pond near the center, with a little stream flowing across it. A small house and a variety of outbuildings give us most of the accommodations we need.
We have already done a great deal in the garden. We took many of our plants from

pond

The Pond in our Woods

Colorado and for the most part the majority of them are flourishing in their new home. We have also planted a good number of fruit trees and bushes to create our own orchard.
Work has commenced on clearing some of the older and more at risk trees as we have had three or four fall over just in the short time that we have been here. I had been worried that, with the number of tree that we were going to have to take out, that we would lose the feel of the property, but the landscaper pointed out all the small saplings that are being stunted by the older trees and assures us that once the old trees are gone, the saplings will rocket up!

stream

The Stream though our Woods

Plans are afoot to re-roof the out-buildings to make them bigger, more secure and more stable in temperature variation. And in the spring we will start with some alteration to the house itself, mainly re-building the existing sun-room to make it more comfortable and versatile, and expanding the entry hallway and adding a covered porch on the front. After all, I need somewhere for my rocking chair!

Doubtless, I will be posting more on the subject of the work that we have done to the property as time move relentlessly onward. And I will, of course, be posting more photographs in the future.. he said in a vaguely threatening maner!

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2012

2012 is drawing to a close and it’s been a hard year. We have had a lot of sadness and some joy mixed in. Sadness, as we have experienced a number of losses, joy as we celebrated a new arrival and we did reach one of our long term goals.

My father passed away in March of this year. He had a heart-attack while I was in India and, although I made it back to Scotland in time he never regained consciousness.  Melisa and I had been planning a trip to the UK later in the year to spend some time with him but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

Melisa’s grandfather Sam passed away too this year, and Norman, one of my favourite cousins. When I was a young boy, I always looked up to my cousin Norman, more I think, than even he realised. He was into many hobbies that I later followed and his taste in music partly formed my own. The saddest thing, I think, is that the last two times I saw him were at my mother, then my father’s funerals.

In December a good friend of Melisa and I suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Dr BJ Ferrell was our first and best friend in Colorado. We first met her when we were visiting  in 2004 and remained close friends ever since.

During the year we also had to take the hard decision to put down one of our livestock guardian dogs, Mitch.

One bright ray of hope during the year was the arrival of our new niece, Isadora. She and her mother, Jessica, came to visit us on the ranch for a few fun filled weeks.

Overshadowed by the sadness were all the achievements that we had on the ranch. We reached one of our long term goals in that we managed to clear all the debt that we had, both in the UK and the US. Our ranch is paid for and all we have at the moment are our everyday living expenses.

New livestock on the ranch have arrived, with four llamas and, for now, seven nigerian dwarf goats. Of course we had the usual battle of attrition with new kittens and cats lost to predators.

We did manage to build a new barn, partly to house the ever expanding fleet of vehicles. This year we added a number of vintage vehicles namely a 1960′s Serra Scottie Travel trailer, a 1970 VW bus and a 1972 VW Karmann Ghia Coupe. The trailer is immaculate, as it had been recently renovated, and the VW’s are mechanically sound and only need a little cosmetic work.

Work wise it has been a busy year, especially the latter six months. Long trips and short leaves made it very tiring. As much travel as I usually have, but not as many destinations, particularly compared to 2010 and 2011. Norway and the UK multiple times, a transit to Malta and a short trip to India.  Finally, spending Christmas and the New Year on the ship in the Shetland Islands.

So 2012 comes to a close and there is little time for reflection as we already have big plans for 2013. Looking forward… the way it should be!

 

 

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Ranch News

new llamas

New Llamas

Well, on the Ranch, the Alpaca’s mentioned a couple of posts ago have gone, and have been replaced with four llamas, three of which are pregnant!

It’s fair to say that the llamas have settled in, and get on with the guardian dogs, better than the alpacas did, plus they’re not nearly so skittish. They even go on regular wlaks down the driveway!

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2012 So far

It’s almost six months since my last blog entry, so much happening, some good, some very sad.

I had a nice leave over Christmas, but then had to leave on New Years day. A trip over to Norway, a mobilization and then the start of a transit with the Ship bound for India. We only went as far as Malta with it, but I did get some photographs going through the Straits of Gibraltar and entering the historic Grand Harbour at Valletta. It was a short trip, then I had to return to the UK before returning to Colorado to get my Offshore Survival Refresher course done.

Every time I do my Offshore Survival I say “this is the last”, well this time I accept that it isn’t! If I do it one more time, then I can work offshore until I’m 57, which sort of ties in with when I want to retire.

After getting back to Colorado, I had a longish leave. Lots of hassles trying to get visa and paperwork sorted out for India, and also getting my new passport.

Then I had the trip to India. The job was a strange one, in many ways it did not go well, but because most of the problems were not “our” fault, but because of circumstances out of our control, the company still made money of the job, even though we had to leave it half finished.

While I was in India, I got bad news. My dad collapsed with a heart attack on Thursday the 15th. Despite the best efforts of a passer-by, who performed CPR, the emergency services and the staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary he never regained consciousness.

I had a mega-journey from India back to Buckie. I was able to see dad in hospital but, it was obvious that he was already gone even though it was a week before he passed.

To get back to the UK, I had two ship to ship transfers, a load of paperwork, a mad 3 hour car ride and 5 flights. The flight connections were so tight, I never even saw two of the airports that I passed through, and the only wait I had was an hour at Heathrow before my flight to Aberdeen.

After dad’s passing there was a lot to sort out in Buckie and then the funeral, before coming back to Colorado.

Now that I am back in Colorado, it’s been a long “leave”, part compassionate, part scheduled. In fact, combined, probably one of the longest leave’s I’ve had in a very long time.

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New Alpacas

alpacas

New Arrivals

So, the four new Alpacas have arrived on the ranch and are slowly settling in. The vet was out today to give them the once over. We were going to geld one of the males, but have decided to keep him intact for the time being. Who know’s, he may manage to hang on to his family jewels!

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Done for the Year?

So I finally made it back to Colorado after a 21 day job that entailed being away for almost eight weeks! It seems to have been a year for long trips, apart from a 12 day trip to Singapore, my other trips this year have all been over six weeks, including one of almost eight and one of almost eleven. Having said that, the 12 day trip to Singapore was only supposed to have been 5 days!

Anyway, back home again and it looks like that is me done for the year. Next thing on the cards appears to be a trip to Norway around the 4th January. Who knows, I may be past the New Year Blues by then!

The big news on the ranch is that we may be exchanging our goats for Alpacas. I’m trying my best not to wind up DW, as she did in the past maintain that she would NEVER have alpacas! I  may have some pics to post of the new arrivals sometime tomorrow.

I usually do a ‘round up’ of the years events and trips, but it’s only the 11th, so there’s time yet for that in another post.

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Offshore Australia

I’ve been off-shore in Australia for four weeks now, and I was in Darwin for the week before that too. The job was slow in getting started, but now things are heading slowly to an end, for us, at least! By the middle of the week we should be done and I can head back to Colorado and my dear wife again. The big question will be, ‘how long for’, the answer to which, I don’t know at the moment. It could be a short one and then off again, or,if  there are delays with paperwork, it might be for a while. The next job is likely to be one in India, so I may have to do the transit there (short leave) or go down once the ship has arrived for the actual job (long leave). By the time I do get off the Sapura 3000 and head back to the USA, I should know for how long!

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Shoping On-Line at Alba Ranch

The migration of the on-line stores is almost complete, in fact, Melisa is almost to the satge where she’ll have to up-grade the package to be able to list more items!

Here is one of her latest listings:

[bc_product permalink='fall-fire-shawl-extra-long-hand-woven-hand-painted-angora-merino-mohair' size='large' subdomain='albaranch']

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Traveling Again

Well, since my last post, I’ve been back in Colorado briefly and now I’m away again! In fact, I’ve been away for a while, nine days in fact. I’m in Darwin, Australia at the moment, where it’s a bit of a change from Colorado where winter is getting ever closer. Here, of course, it’s getting into summer. I had expected to be off-shore by now, but when I arrived, all keen for a crew-change, I was told that the job had been delayed for at least a week. Now I can understand, with my-self having traveled halfway around the world from Colorado, why I’ve been put up in a hotel (on pay) for a week. But it’s a bit surprising that other personnel from various parts of Australia have been kept here too! At the moment I’m scheduled to be joining the vessel on Thursday, so I’m expecting an update on that tomorrow or the day after to confirm or hear of further delays!
So, with having all this time on my hands it’s been an opportunity to a: catch up on my sleep, and b: do a bit of work on the on-line stores.
Melisa and I have had a revamp of the store as we had planned and they are now all accessible from the menus on both her, and my, blogs
Melisa’s blog is at albaranch.net while mine is at morrison.uk.net (but you know that already as you are actually here!)
Melisa’s blog has a ‘Shop Online’ menu item with a drop down for the stores; my blog has an “Alba Ranch Stores” menu item with drop down.

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Singapore

I’m still in Singapore working on the Sapura3000 crane barge. Things are progressing, though it’s still up in the air, it’s looking like we might even be finished by Sunday. I’ve all but given up on seeing the Singapore GP for a number of reasons. Although it’s a ‘street’ circuit, most of it is inaccessible to the casual public. You can get general access tickets, but they are all sold out, most of the grandstand tickets have been sold out and there only a handful left for the most expensive grandstands – $1300 a seat on raceday! Also, to recoup the costs of the GP the Singapore government have a hotel tax for the four days of the Grand Prix weekend; 30% on top of the room price for the hotels closest to the track and 20% on the other hotels. And the hotels themselves jack up the price. So, unless Subsea7 HAVE to put me in a hotel because they can’t get me flights, I’m not going to go out of my way to try to stay if we are finished early. Disapointed, but having to face reality!
Tomorrow I should have a better idea of when we will be finished on-board and then it will be up to Logistics to try and change my flights home (unless they want to keep me here on pay until the 23rd of October, which is when they booked my flights for originally! hahaha.

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