This fall has been a season of repairs about my house and property. The house turned 34-years old this month, and virtually nothing had been done by way of upkeep all that time.

I avoid barrowing money for any but the most pressing (and expensive) needs; in fact, the last time I borrowed money was to build the house. I just don’t understand the mentality that allows someone to pay two and three times as much for something just to get it “NOW”.

The result of this is that I have been dept free for nearly 15 years, and can easily live off my social security. Mind you it’s not an extravagant living.

Rather, I put money aside, which would be paid out in interest, until I have saved up enough to get what I need. And that is where I’m at now.

Here are some of the things which have been happening out here at El Sueño:

Plumbing: That component of the house which had suffered the most from neglect was the plumbing. Several sinks had been abandoned because they leaked; and the drain for the washing machine no longer worked, forcing me to move it close to a toilet stool which served as the drain.

Also, the oil well fracking of recent years had been accompanied by a significant increase in sediment in my well water; the solution to which was to install a simple and inexpensive three-stage filtration system.

Electric: The electric outlets and fixtures remain functional; we just didn’t install enough outlets when we build. Accordingly, we are going to every light switch which does not have one, and installing an outlet below it. I will no longer have to drag extension cords half the length of the house to access power.

We are also installing a pair of 4-plugin outlets outside (on the back of the house) to accommodate hooking up vehicles to recharge batteries, etc.

Propane: A more urgent update required the installation of a pair of 30,000 BTU wall heaters in my bedroom and office. This was necessitated by the development of leak(s) in the pond loop of the geo-thermal system. The repairs are not that difficult to make, it’s just too cold right now to get out on the pond in a boat to make them. I’ve done some in the past when beaver cut holes in the line; it’s probably one or more of those 15-year old repairs which has gone bad. But, that will have to wait until string.

However, the “real” heating system for my house is the sun; with five sets of sliding glass doors forming the south exterior wall it is of a passive solar design. Close the drapes at night to keep out the cold, and open them during a sunny day to let in the sun. On a cold but sunny day the house will easily warm up into the eighties.

Finally, at night I use an electric mattress heater to stay toasty warm in bed.

Driveway: Another large (expensive) undertaking will be a final sculpting of the driveway. Several years ago we had a small settling pond constructed just upstream of the large (2 acre) pond south of the house. To do that they constructed a dam which became a part of the driveway. Such constructs need to settle for several years before they can be finished – its time, past time.

Hopefully before the year is out a man, with a big bulldozer, will arrive on scene to accomplish that task. After that is finished I should no longer have difficulty getting to and from the road to the house.

Richard A. "Dick" Ortez earned a doctorate degree from Creighton University in microbiology. During the past 40 years, he has taught elements of food science at the university and medical school levels, operated a café, and run a truck farm and food processing business. He writes the Seed to Table column at his farm near Glencoe and welcomes questions, comments and suggestions sent to raortez@provalue.net. He can also be reached at 405-338-5747.