Thursday, January 3, 2013


  Well, there is going to be a bit of a change here at the Mountain Life. A couple years ago I rededicated myself to Christ and ever since I have been struggling with whether or not to let this part of my life into my blog. Its original intention was to be about family, hiking, foraging, identifying, and things we are doing to (slowly) achieve self-sufficiency. But my life became so much more than that. So much so that I have found it hard to write about those things without bringing some of our spiritual life into it.

  This has been a long hard decision for me, and is part of the reason (along with quite a bit of laziness,) that I haven't had a real posting in so long. I do intend to start a new blog on just spiritual issues in the near future, but never fear, I will keep this one going with its originally stated intentions. And believe me, I have a lot of catching up to do on it.

  But first I need to spend a bit more time on this subject. First off, I have no desire to alienate anyone who follows this blog. I don’t want to cause any division with any friends or family through this, but the hard fact of this is that it can and quite possibly will. But it does not have to be this way. You are more than welcome to accept me as I am and glean what you will from the postings, or, and this is my prayer, that you might be caused to honestly question some things about me or yourself. Indeed, I am more than willing to answer anything through comments, calls, or e-mails.

  And second, I am not doing this out of being in a religion where you are commanded to act a certain way. I have actually found that if you are truly devoted to something (and this can be anything, not just to Christ,) you tend to naturally talk and color your speech with these things. In other words, I am not in the business of offending anyone. I am just being myself with Christ shining though me, and if you take offense, then perhaps you should step back and see just what is being offended in you. I will be more than willing to talk to you about it.

  To close I want to say this, it is hard for me to write something so personal. But I truly feel a need to so that you know who I am. I am not a hiker, or forager. I am a follower of Christ first, then a husband and a father who just happens to enjoy hiking, foraging, cooking, books.......

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back in Action (hopefully)

My laptop is finally back in action! Now all I need is to find the discipline to get back into typing again. I have a lot of posts to finish and many more sitting in my head still. There is part 2 of Learning Leadership, 2 posts on hiking/mountain climbing, one is from Colorado, and the other is a more recent hike from here in Idaho. I have a variety of them on mushrooms that we have found this year, lobsters, chanterelles, and matsutakes to name a few. And hopefully a post or two on our life in general lately.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Still Here

Sorry folks. Been off blogger a long time now. My computer has been in the process of dying since around Thanksgiving. I finally downloaded blogger app on my phone yesterday so I could do this post for you all. I am trying to get a new computer right now so I can get back to writing again. Got lots of exciting news for you friends to come soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Real Update!

Things are finally starting to come together here at the Coatney household. About three weeks ago we finally got our wood cook-stove hooked up again, after hauling it up here with us from Colorado, having it in storage for almost a year, and then taking up a huge chunk of our mudroom. Well, it is finally in place.
We also spent a good deal of the summer getting our house insulated. Through our remodeling efforts we realized that there was no insulation whatsoever, giving us a big clue as to why our heating bills were so high. So we preceded to tear out all the slat and plaster off the exterior walls, insulate them, and then Sheetrock, mud, texture, and paint them.
During this time we restored the ceilings to their original nine foot height, opening the rooms up a lot more.
I have spent the last two days cutting firewood with friends who have offered their services, really blessing us with a much needed heat supply. I simply cannot go another year without investing in a chainsaw. It is hard having to rely upon others to take care of thing for you.
Last week I had to replace the fuel pump in our suburban for the third time in fourteen months, (I am becoming quite proficient at dropping the gas tank), only to find ou that the sending unit was bad, meaning dropping the tank yet again. Fortunatly my boss, Mike, took pity on me and came by to help me change it out. (I think he actually did most of the work.) Now I just need to replace the tires when I can afford that....
our most current project, (there are actually a lot of them, this is just the most immediate), building a set of bunk beds for the girls, complete with built-in bookshelves and dresser drawers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another New Member of the Clan

I would like to introduce everyone to the newest member of our household, Mithrandir.

We have been discussing off and on about getting a companion for our dog Dulin, and here is the result. He is half Newfoundland and half Labrador Retriever, and fits right into our family. The dogs get along really well, especially since Dulin let it be known who was top dog, and they wrestle and play and are slowly kicking that excess weight off of each other.

All the kids love Mithrandir, indeed they have actually found a new interest in Dulin now paying him the attention that he so needs and deserves. He is very gentle and loves being around the kids as well, as can be seen from the next two photos.

In fact the only problem we have with him is that he really wants to eat Thalia's cat, going so far as to actually get her in his mouth. So she is now stuck in the girl's room and we are introducing them to each other slowly in the hopes that they at least come to an uneasy truce.

He came with the name Bowser, but being a family of Tolkien lovers we all wanted something with a bit more character to the name and after running the gamut of well known names (Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas, and the like), I started throwing out some lesser known ones, and Mithrandir was agreed upon. for those of you who don't know, Mithrandir is Gandalf's elvish name and means the grey pilgrim. And while he is not grey he does like to wander so at least part of the meaning fits, right?
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning Leadership part I

I have now been living and working in Idaho for just over a year and I am finally starting to feel like I fit in my role as Sous Chef. The title basically means that I am right under the Head or Executive Chef, which in this case is also the owner. When I say fit in I don't mean the actual work. Learning the menu, ordering, taking care of the physical side of the business are all pretty easy for me. The slow process for me has been earning respect from my fellow employes in the role of being their boss. Part of the reason I feel that I am getting somewhere is that a few months ago I started reflecting on people that I have previously worked for and how they handled others. Now I think it is time for a more in-depth study, and for me that means writing it out. Which also means that I will share it with my fellow bloggers and hope that maybe it can be of benefit to others as well.

This will not be an exhaustive essay on everywhere I have worked or everyone I worked for, but is meant to include only those persons and places that have impressed me in ways that relate to what I am doing now. I am not including any of my construction work as I was either working for my father-in-Law (who treated me more like a co-worker), or self-employed.

My first job after the lawn mowing/fence building antics of a twelve to thirteen year old was as a dishwasher at a pretty nice place called the Greenhouse. I don't remember the owners or manager well enough to be of consequence, but the Head Cook, well he has his place. I was a few weeks shy of my fourteenth birthday and my main impressions of his character were crude, grumpy, and a heavy drinker. He was easily upset and many a time I had to dodge pans flying through the air towards the dish pit. I was a pretty quiet kid and at first he scared me, but I eventually got used to him. At this time I had no thoughts about a career in the business but I knew that whatever I did, I would not be like him. After about a year he was gone, but as I got older I would see him around and while he would make fun of me, I could tell it was becoming more of a comradely way and I began seeing him more as a person with problems, likes and dislikes and all that. It culminated one day (I was about twenty-six or so), when going to do a catering job for a friend. He was there to help out, and as I was in charge of the food I found myself having to tell him what to do. I could tell he balked at the idea from his comments at first, but he really tried, and by the end of it I think we both had a new found respect for each other.

Back at the Greenhouse the replacement was the husband and wife team of Bob and Krista. He was a professional Chef and she knew how to run the front of the house, the bookkeeping, and the baking. Together they turned that place around form a typical steak and burger joint into a classy yet affordable place to have a nice meal. Bob was the kind of guy who commanded respect by his attitude of respecting others. He had a cheery disposition that only hinted at what would happen if you got on his bad side. He was smart and confident and seemed to know just what you were capable of. He loved playing hackey-sack and would be out there with us kicking it at every opportunity. Bob wanted to get me on the line and learn the real cooking, but I lacked the confidence in myself at the time. There was a lot that I learned from him but I truly wish I had known how important his knowledge would have been to me. My biggest lesson and also the only time he ever scared me happened thus. I lived about twelve miles away and rode my bike to work each day. There was a time while riding, it became very stormy and I took shelter for ten or twenty minutes. By the time I got to work I was about five minutes late. He took me out to a private table, quietly and calmly said that he did not care what happened, but if I ever was late again, thereby showing him disrespect, I would no longer have a job there. This affected me deeply and to this day I cannot let myself be late to work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gardening at Our New Home

Lets talk about gardening and where we are with it this year. We are a bit rusty seeing as how we did nothing last year (hard to do when you're in a tent in a RV park,) but now that we own a house the gloves are on and we are digging in so to speak.

The place came with a starter for us with two large apple trees in the backyard. Apples being one of our favorite things we are very happy about this (we love hard cider!). These are in full bloom right now, giving the yard a wonderful aroma. One tree is so heavily laden with blossoms that we will have to thin it out some, but we will use those blossoms to add a delicate flavor to our first mead since we moved to Idaho. Now these trees have not been taken care of in who knows how long and are in need of some heavy pruning, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it earlier. Besides trying to make the time, (very hard), it is rather intimidating to me. But I am thinking that after getting to know the trees I will feel better about doing it next spring. There are also some young apple trees along our fence line that don't look like they will be blooming this year. They seem to be wild as they are in a jumbled cluster that don't really point to being put there on purpose. Again, hopefully by next year we will be more familiar with these trees to where we can steward them properly.

Yesterday we planted a sour cherry tree. An Almaden Duke on Gisela 5 rootstock to be precise. This is said to have a sweet and tart flavor combination, is easy to grow, and has high yields. This was our first time planting bare roots and it was amazing to see the root system and to carefully lay them in their new home. Quite an honor actually to feel entrusted with it.

The south edge of our property borders a frontage road with Highway 200 on the other side of that, which means we have a lot of visibility and noise from just twenty yards away. Most people who know us know that we are pretty private and quite folks. So being here has been quite a challenge for us. To combat this we are doing a hedge between the frontage road and our soon to be fence. This area is about one hundred feet in length and about six feet wide with a ditch right against the road. Seeing as how our eventual goal is self-sufficiency we did not want just any old hedge plant. We want something that will have other uses as well. so we decided on a blend of mostly blueberries, some bilberries a.k.a. huckleberries, and possibly some Oregon grape bushes. We got four of the blueberries planted a few weeks ago, and another three yesterday. We have seven more to put in today. These are a blend of early, mid-season, and late producers with specific names of Reka, Bluette, Toro, and Jersey.

I plan on building raised garden beds this summer but to get us started and to give us practice growing in this clime we dug a 20'x4' bed. All that is left before planting in it is to work in manure that we are getting from our friends that also supply us with our raw milk. Here we will plant lettuces, carrots, and all their veggie friends. I will also be constructing a small raised garden bed this week (hopefully) for herbs and strawberries. We also have two raspberry bushes to plant today, once we figure out exactly where we want them.

Well that is all for now, but I hope to have an update in the next week or two as things progress.

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