A kind email from Ranch guests reminded me that it’s been nearly a year since I last posted here, and it might look like nothing was happening a Cave Creek Ranch.    Many thanks for that reminder (and push!).  We’ve been very busy, and it’s hard to know where to start.

We have had help in the office since last April.  Laura Zeuner, originally from St. Louis and a committed Cardinals fan, is in the office mornings and late afternoons, and has made a big difference here.  She has a delightful personality, enjoys people, and is a whiz on the computer.   Many are the compliments I receive on her!

Some of the recent improvements you might want to know of include:

- We replaced the carpeting in Stone Cottage and Apt 6 this winter.

- We had arborists here for a week in December removing dead wood from the elms and many of the oaks, and the trees and the Ranch look much better.  It had been more than 40 years since any such cleaning up had been done.

- We’ve made extensive repairs to the swinging bridge, leveling the support beams under the planks, and replacing many of the planks and beams as well as bolts and washers.  Walking over it is much easier than it had been!

- We soundproofed the wall between Apts 1 and 2, a major project.

- A wonderful development is the addition of my sister Linda and her husband John to Portal!  They moved here permanently from Leesburg, Virginia last summer, and are helping in many ways, especially the first bird feeding at dawn….

- Linda has also helped plant dozens of new native plants.  Wolfberries and evergreen sumacs will provide a small thicket behind the log feeder in front of the office.  A variety of salvias and sages in a sunny corner of the front lawn will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to flowers instead of just feeders.

- The orchard has a new watering system, and has been expertly pruned by a new neighbor from near Ithaca, New York, who will soon be farming organically here!

- A new row of French Lilacs behind the office parking area should add more bird cover and beauty and scent in the spring.

- Linda and John have begun removing the sandbags from behind Apts 4, 5, and 6, now that almost three years have passed since the Horseshoe II fire, and the danger of flash flooding has abated.  They’ve reopened the passages to the creek from the terrace, and as time and energy permit, will do more (what a help they are!).

I should mention that the birds have been prolific.  We had about 40 species at the Ranch most of the winter, and now a few of those have departed and many others are pouring into the canyon.  What a great time of year!

I hope to see you here soon, Reed