Sunday, March 19, 2017

March snippets...

 Peach has a new chore.
She feeds the bum calf every day, three times a day.
She named her "Chickadee."
The poor calf was totally rejected by her mother.  Mama was a first-calf heifer and it is now likely her last calf.  It's so frustrating when a cow just won't take her baby no matter how much you try to make her.  On a better note, we just finished calving about 60 head of first-calf heifers and had no problems.  Now the second round of heifers (40 head) is on the hill and should start calving in about a week's time.  I'm making the night checks so the Sons can catch up on their sleep.  When the heifers start calving, the men will take over the night checks again.

 I'm not sure if I've introduced you to Conry.
He was one of the barn cats we got a couple years ago when we had a mouse explosion.
He's very silky and beautiful and he loves to mouse and bird hunt.  He loves affection and petting, but also adores his independent life out of doors.

We are dog sitting Sasquatch's dog for 10 days.  Our son is taking a hiking vacation to Moab so we've inherited a boarder, Hope.  Sue (below) doesn't always enjoy having her cousins visit, but she's getting along with Hope quite well.  Today I found the two of them digging around on the old straw & poop pile.  I'm sure that Sue was showing Hope the fine delicacy of feasting on rotted afterbirth,  just like a ranch dog should.  At least Sue's a good hostess!  Now they're swapping dry dog food.  Hope likes Sue's, and Sue likes Hope's.  Dogs.  Ya gotta love 'em.

 Sue will be 12 years old in April.
(That's very old for a Border Collie ranch dog.)

Give a dog a bone and she'll love you forever.
We always have the butcher save us a box or two of dog bones from our beef.
It sure keeps them occupied.

On another topic, I've been enjoying a very excellent book during Lent.  It's called Jesus the King by Tim Keller.  I started a nine day devotional with my online Bible app which had excerpts from the book.  I liked it so much, I decided to buy the book and continue to study the life and death of Jesus through Lent.  I'm learning so much from Tim Keller and from the Book of Mark which it is based on. 

One snippet from today's reading:

People who believe more must not be hard on those who believe less.  Why?  Because faith ultimately is not a virtue; it's a gift.  If you want to believe but can't, stop looking inside; go to Jesus and say, "Help me believe."  Go to him and say, "So you're the one who gives faith!  I've been trying to work it out by reasoning and thinking and meditating and going to church in hopes that a sermon will move me--I've been trying to get faith by myself.  Now I see that you're the source of faith.  Please give it to me."  If you do that, you'll find that Jesus has been seeking you--he's been the author of faith, the provider of faith, and the object of faith.

We've had a beautiful day on the prairie today.  When I woke up at 2 a.m. to check the heifers, I was all bundled up against the cold, and when I walked out the door there was a warm, south wind blowing.  I checked the thermometer when I got back in and it read 58*.  Balmy!  Today we topped out at 71* which is very warm for us in March.  I had some Front Porch Time soaking up the sun and reading my books.  We are hoping and praying that we will get some moisture soon -- rain or snow, it doesn't matter to us.  Despite the snow we had this winter, it is very dry here.  Whenever I go out to feed cows and sheep, all my eyes focus on is the dirt and the cloud of dirt behind my tires.  There is very little green grass coming.  The weather forecast does sound promising though!  For that, I'm grateful!  

We continue to see more and more birds migrating back to us.  The meadowlarks are trilling in the morning hours, and we hear a robin chirruping now and then too.  The Red-winged blackbirds are singing their cock-a-ree song and the Killdeer have been dipping in our pond near the house.  I saw some ducks on the reservoir today, but I couldn't make out what variety they were.   It's always exciting to hear and see those familiar birds again.  I hope you're spring is full of good things that draw you close to the Creator. 

My dear, he said, 'Love, your God, is a trinity.  There are three necessary prayers and they have three words each.  They are these, "Lord have mercy.  Thee I adore.  Into Thy hands."  Not difficult to remember.  If in times of distress you hold to these you will do well.'
~The Scent of Water
by Elizabeth Goudge

Saturday, March 11, 2017


Bluebirds of Happiness have descended upon us!  Just a few landed on Monday as the wind blew a cold snap in.   I spotted one bluebird along the road as I went to feed livestock and then J.Lo called in the afternoon and said they had a small flock in their back yard, and to, "Come see!"  She snapped the pic.  J.Lo and her children are participating in Project Feeder Watch this winter as part of their home school science program.  Sometimes the feeder watch people want a photo to positively identify birds that their reporters see.  This happy landing will be a nice addition to their journals and reports.

Isn't this Mountain Bluebird striking against the brown background?  Of course, they are just passing through, I'm sure.  We haven't seen them since.  Now there is snow on the ground and cold again.  If we can just hold out until Tuesday, it sounds like it's going to warm up then.   We can do it; we're rugged prairie savages!

Other birds we've seen showing up are:  Towhee, Tree Sparrows, Canada Geese, and Juncos.  

Are you seeing any birds migrating?

The bluebird enjoys the preeminence of being the first bit of color that cheers our northern landscape. The other birds that arrive about the same time--the sparrow, the robin, the phoebe-bird--are clad in neutral tints, gray, brown, or russet; but the bluebird brings one of the primary hues and the divinest of them all.  ~John Burroughs

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

For baby...

Picking posies
Red rosies
But leaving a few
For bees to sip and chew 
So they can make honey
For our Baby Bunny.
A first doll softie
for our newest babygrandgirl -- Bunny.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

First calves born....

Yesterday this lil heifer calf was born to a first-time mama.  We've had some pretty nice days lately, and Mama picked a good day to bring her baby into the Big Ol' World!  Two more heifer calves were born today.  We should be on a roll with new babies coming daily!

Meanwhile, I've been taking advantage of these warm days by washing our filthy coats and gloves after lambing season.  Not that we won't get dirty during calving season.  We will.  But you know, sometimes you just hafta start fresh even though you know you're going to get dirty again in no time.  I've also been washing the mud room rugs and putting them in the sunshine to dry.  The clothes line is getting a good spring workout with all those work clothes.  The sheets went on the line to dry this morning, and I can hardly wait to climb into crisp, sun-dried, wind-whipped sheets tonight!  Oh, the lovely smell!  I've been airing the house too with windows wide open while the 60 degree breezes blow through and carry the stale air out.  I spent a little time soaking in some sunshine and indulging in my current book:  The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge.  It might be my favorite book, but then again, I have quite a few favorite books! 

I hope you've had a nice Saturday.  What's new at your house?

Thursday, March 02, 2017

All done!

 The last bunch of ewes and lambs.

 The little lambs are 3 day old bum lambs and the two bigger lambs were bummed today when their mother died in the pasture.  Look at the difference in size.  
The big lambs are about 14 days old.

The last ewe lambed today!  We're all done!  The next round of lambs will come in May when the yearling ewes will have their babies.  We docked a small bunch couple days ago and a bunch today, and we'll have one more bigger docking to do in a few days.
Here's the Tally:
38 ewes had 70 lambs
That's 180% on this bunch!

Next up:  Calving Heifers!  They are due any day.  We have a group on The Hill close to our house so where can keep an eye on them.  This bunch was bred on the same day so it is possible that we will have a lot of babies coming all at once!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Counting sheep....

These little woollies were triplets.
Their mothers really can't raise three very well, so Dr. Liz
and her little girl will take them 
 home to feed and love them.

 Every ewe and her lambs come out of the lambing barn with a number.
The red numbers are singles and the black numbers are twins.
This way we can match babies with mamas.
We've had WAY more twins than singles this year.
And plenty of triplets too.

This little fella came in at breakfast time.
NumberOneSon brought him in from the pasture
 cold and hungry, but healthy, and he'll go back to his mama.

This week we've been docking the oldest lamb bunches.  
We are trying something new this year.
We are banding the lambs tails and testicles instead of using a docker.
So far, so good.
First Docking:  76 ewes had 125 lambs.
Second Docking:  22 ewes had 33 lambs.
So far we have a 160% lamb crop!

About 30 head of ewes are left to lamb,
and then we will start calving heifers.
Full Speed Ahead!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

First paper towels and windex...

We had a beautiful day yesterday with a temperature of 58 degrees and sunshine!  Wow!  I decided it was time to give the front room's windows and doors a good washing-up.  Between kids and dogs and weather and barn grime, the windows were really disgusting.  I decided to go back to the Good Old Days when I learned how to use newspaper and vinegar for washing windows.  I call it The First Paper Towels and Windex.  And do you know how effective these tools are?  Very!  No streaks.  Just clean and shiny.  I always make sure I'm drying the windows with a dry piece of newspaper for a streak-free shine.  The only downside to this method is that your hands will have some of the inky residue from the paper, but it washes off.  I don't know why the ink doesn't come off on the windows, but it doesn't.  Newspapers are also great for cleaning the glass on the wood-burning stove and car windows. Growing up at home, we used newspaper and brown paper bags for draining fried foods and for cooling cookies.

Here we are -- clean and shiny windows!  I feel like I just cut my bangs!  I can see!  Do you have any tips for washing windows or for any other cleaning chore?  What are some of your favorite cleaning tools or cleaners?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Chinook wind...

 From blowing, drifting snows... this on 2.10.17.

The Chinooks (as we call them on the Northern Prairies) blew warm and hard, cutting ice and snow in just a night and a day.  Chinook is an American Indian word that is translated as "snow-eater."  We went from a daytime high of 15 degrees to 45 degrees in less than 24 hours.  The Chinooks continued into the next day and warmed us up to 55 degrees.  With all that wind and warmth, we've now got mud and puddles of fresh water everywhere.  The cattle and sheep are so happy to be able to walk away from deep snow and find little sprouts of green grass to graze and snow-melt to sip.  Yesterday it even rained here a little bit.  It just feels like spring is arriving, but I know we are likely not out of Winter's grasp yet.  The thaw is a nice reprieve though!

Lots of baby lambs are arriving daily.  
This one below was exceptionally BIG!

Do you have warm winds that blow in your area?
Is there a name for them?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Flower Doodle in February...watercolor play

Playing with my Sharpie marker
and watercolor.
(no pencil)
It's fun, it's quick, it's impromptu,
and it's satisfying.
Making 4x6" paintings feel do-able and takes little time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Sheepies & Lambies...

 A group of singles.

 Eating while they wait.

 This little ewe lamb is getting bottle fed.
Her mama has been sick and has no milk.

Just born...all wet and not yet licked off.
She's yelling for her mama and trying to stand up.
She's one of a set triplets born this morning.
We're dragging them in as soon as they're born due to cold temperatures.
It's just 8 degrees at 1:00 pm.  Brrrr!


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