Saturday, April 22, 2017

Potential...

 The third year on my asparagus.  It's just coming up!


 Above, tiny lettuces emerge.

 Onion starts.

 Above, garlic is peeking through!

 Rhubarb!  Rhubarb!
 Grape Hyacinth along the garden path.

Daffy-Down-Dilly has come to the Country!

I realize that my photos here are less than spectacular when you consider that so many, many others places are sporting Full Bloom Spring!  We are definitely in Spring-mode now, but our start is slower than most, I think.  Where you see mostly dirt in the photos at the top, I see great potential! 

The first couple of photos are showing my third year asparagus.  Three spring ago, I wanted to find asparagus plants to start in my garden, but they were all out, so what did I do?  I bought a packet of  asparagus seeds and started them.  They came up beautifully, but there were no stems to eat that first year.  The second year I had some nice asparagus but it is said that one should not pick it, but let it go to seed and allow the roots to further strengthen and grow.  By last fall, we had a little bit of rain and the asparagus sent up shoots and I decided it would be just fine if I picked those few tender stalks.  Oh my, but they were delicious!  Now it is spring once again, and THiS Is THe YeAR I gET TO PicK!  Can you feel my excitement?  Where you see a lot of brown mulch and just a few stalks of asparagus, I see great potential for many, many stalks and lots of spring suppers of steak and asparagus or burgers and asparagus or fish and asparagus or maybe some bacon-wrapped asparagus.  

The third photo down, you see the tiniest of lettuce leaves breaking through.  I suppose they were planted last fall and didn't quite get sprouted before the cold weather came.  I'm so proud of them for lying dormant through the winter and poking through this spring.  How much more joy I have to see them first thing this spring!  Now I feel like I have a mini-head-start on the lettuce.  I did actually seed some lettuce yesterday, but these are growing already, right beside the seeds.

Onion sets and garlic are spearing through the other dirt-colored photos.  More potential!  And then there's the Rhubarb!   Potential Pie!  One of my most favorite pies!  I never freeze my rhubarb because I think it gets too watery and rubbery once it's thawed, so when the rhubarb is ready and fresh-picked, it's Pie Time.  Anticipation is half the fun of rhubarb pie for me.  It seems I savor the whole experience so much more than I do with other pies.  I even have a big batch of pie crust dough ready.  I roll it out, put it into pie plates and freeze so I am at-the-ready when the rhubarb is.

The Grape Hyacinth and the Daffodils have been putting on a show in my mostly-brown garden beds.  After a cold, snowy winter, brown never looked so good.  Then the green starts coming through and then bam! full-blown COLOR.  It's a gift. 

Today the Littles -- Peach, Toodles, JohnDeere, Kitten, Chief  and I went for a walk-about.  There are two baby calvies in the corral now that Peach and Toodles are feeding with a bottle every day.  We had to go visit with them and run around with them.  The calves like to chase and frolic with the children like little playmates.  Then we went for a look and a touch with the baby chicks and turned out the hens.  The most important thing we did was to go bird watching.  The older girls begged for it.  The boys went back with JLo while I took the others birding in the tree patch.  We saw the Mountain Bluebirds and Peach said she's seen them in and out of the hollow tree with a hole in it.  We're hoping they are building a nest in there.  We saw many robins, many warblers, and a Loggerhead Shrike.  So much fun!  So much potential for nests, baby birds, and big birds in the days to come.

What kinds of potential are you seeing?


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Simple Things...

 Sheets, kitchen towels, tea towels, and table cloths 
snapped wildly on the line on a windy day-after-Easter.
All of our family came to celebrate together.
The extra laundry and dishes and dirty floors remind me there 
were lots of wonderful people here laughing and having fun together.
We ate very well too!

A little Easter gift to myself and to the ladies of our family.
I love orchids, do you?


Kite flying.
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Let's all go fly a kite!
(insert children smiling and squealing!)


The Peeps have arrived! 
We picked them up at the feed store today.
This year I chose to get 25 Black Stars,
known for their egg laying superiority.

 Grape Hyacinths popped up a couple days ago!

The daffodils bloomed just in time for our Easter dinner table.
We've had an inch of rain today, just after we planted two big bare patches in our front and back yard.  We did end up digging up the septic line, and I'm thankful our men could do that work with the help of a backhoe rental.  Now the lines are running perfectly, but the yard is in need of new grass.  This rain will give our newly planted grass seed a good start.  
Water is such a basic, simple thing, but a most important need here.  The green grass is growing in the pastures now and the cows and sheep don't want to eat hay any longer.  They're happy with fresh, green sprouts.

What green things are growing where you live?

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Lessons from Madame Chic...


I've been doing some reading from a very special author named Jennifer L. Scott.  She's a wife, a mother of three, and she works from home and makes home her life's work.  Her first book, Lessons From Madame Chic, 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, is her one of three which focus on beautiful living.  When I think of "chic" I think of something far beyond what I can attain in my everyday life or in my occasional fancy-going-to-an-event days.  But Jennifer makes me think differently  about the term chic.  It is more than French style and fashion, but instead it is a refined quality of gracefulness, manners, and good taste.  To me, that sounds like a way of life, something I want in my everyday, at-home life.  We all try to look our best and be on our best behavior when we are in public, but isn't it just as important to be at our best every day, and to enjoy our lives and our homes and our loved ones every day?  This is the message that Jennifer Scott has for us:  take joy in every single thing that you do each and every day.  Do everything with purpose, take your time, see the beauty in it.


I started the Madame Chic books out of order so the first book I read was At Home With Madame Chic.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and just knew that my daughter and daughters-in-law would love it too since they are at the same stage in life as Jennifer.  They are all young wives and mothers at home with small children.  It is a rewarding time of life, but also a very busy, high-energy time that can often leave a young woman feeling far less than chic by the end of her full days.  In this book, Jennifer gives her readers tips to make the days more organized and less chaotic,  more beautiful and less mundane.  Many ideas she learned directly from her Parisian host family whom she nicknames The Chics, but she also learned from Marla Cilley (aka: Fly Lady) and Emilie Barnes, two authors that I read and was encouraged by back when I was a young mom at home. (Sandra reminded me in the comments about Alexandra Stoddard's books which I also read and loved.)

Today I was reading chapter 2 from the first book, Lessons From Madame Chic, which is entitled: Deprive Yourself Not.  To quote Jennifer, "I have never consistently eaten better, nor enjoyed my food more, than when I lived in Paris with Famille Chic.  This was a family who, gastronomically speaking, led a rather enviable existence.  Breakfast consisted of toasted tartines with real butter and homemade jam, among other delights.  Lunch was leftovers from the previous evening... or a quiche and salad.  A typical weeknight meal would be something like leek soup, followed by roast chicken with braised endive and new potatoes, followed by a salad, followed by a strawberry tart and finally the cheese course."  Now that sounds like some dining that I'd totally love to experience day in and day out, wouldn't you?  By the way, all of the meals were prepared by Madame Chic herself!

Dining on such delicious foods was never followed by the comments, "I wonder how many calories we consumed at this meal?"  Never!  That would not be chic.  But instead, the diners' appetites were deeply satisfied not only by the thoughtfully prepared meal served to them, but also by the intentional experience of eating together on the best dinnerware with cloth napkins, and taking pleasure in the relaxed conversations of the family at the table.  (Very chic!)  Jennifer lets us know that she did not gain weight while she was in France even though they ate very well.

Think of the difference in a typical American breakfast: driving through Starbucks and grabbing a bagel and a coffee and eating it on-the-fly as you scramble off to work or to an appointment because you are running late.  Compare it to Jennifer's Parisian breakfast:  an early morning breakfast prepared just for you to enjoy, taken at the less formal kitchen table, sipping a cup (or bowl in France) of tea or coffee with a slice of last night's strawberry tart and a bowl of fruit over yogurt while the radio plays in the background.  I know how I'd rather start my day!

Jennifer tells us further in this chapter that snacking happened rarely so when it was time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, everyone was hungry and ready to experience the meal of the day.  She gives us a tip on how to dine well and she calls it The Delicacy Technique.  "Think about how you would eat a delicacy if it was placed in front of you.  You wouldn't mindlessly jam it into your mouth while you simultaneously check your iPhone, would you?  You would bring the food to your mouth slowly, taste and savor it.  You would discuss it.  You would enjoy.  Just imagine if you did this with everything you ate.  If you treated mealtime as sacred--no matter what the circumstances."

Let me say that I occasionally eat in front of the computer or TV, particularly at noon if Hubby isn't here to eat with me.   When there were children at home, I never did this.   We all sat at the table, said our blessing and enjoyed our lunch as a family.   I don't want to become a distracted diner.  I want to be an engaged eater of delicacies, even if the delicacy before me is a grilled cheese sandwich!  Honestly, if you think of the amount and varieties of foods we have to eat on a daily basis in America, we should be always grateful and mindful of the true delicacies of foods we have compared to so many who have so little.

I'm sure I will have many other tidbits to share with you from this book, but I wanted to give you a taste of something delicious to read and experience.  I shared my book, At Home With Madame Chic, with OnlyDaughter and yesterday we were discussing it.  She told me, "Mom, I think this little book is going to change my life."  Now that's a testimony for you!  She is excited to share it with other young mothers.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Homemade Le Poo Pourri....


For those times when the bathroom smells like
 a fresh cow patty or the chicken coop,
you need homemade Le Poo Pourri.

Perhaps you've seen the famous video-ad for the original
Poo Pourri.  Click here -- It is SO funny!
We all know about those unspeakable stenches
that emanate from the bathroom, 
but what to do if we have none of the original
Poo Pourri on hand?

Make some!
and fast!

Here's how.  
In a small spray bottle mix:
2 tablespoons of alcohol
20 drops or so of your favorite essential oils
Shake.
Now fill up the bottle with water and shake again.

Before you go #2, squirt 4 sprays of Le Poo Pourri
in the toilet water.  Then do your business.
No stinky.

For good measure, 
you can give the room a little spritz or two.


I have also used my homemade Le Poo Pourri
in the mud room when the dogs are making a stink.
Or when I can't be sure I've gotten rid of all traces of
cow manure off the rugs. It helps.

This spray helps with kitchen odors too.
Enjoy!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Breathe....


...then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. ~Genesis 2:7

I've been thinking about breathing lately.  It first started when I was watching an interview with a then 94 year old woman who taught yoga.  Tao Porchon-Lynch is now 98 years old, and I think she still teaches yoga.  When she was asked, what is the secret to her vitality and health, she answered, "It's about the breath.  Breathing takes away fear."  As I thought about when I first learned some yoga poses, I remembered the instructors teaching how to deeply breathe through each pose, and I remembered how effective it was to then focus on the pose or the stretch at hand.  I also remember the instructors saying, "Smile." I liked that part.  I don't practice yoga as a meditation, but I do enjoy it as a way to stretch and exercise for my health.  I find it relaxing too.

Later on I was reading from The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge where the protagonist, Mary, is reading from the diaries of her late Aunt Mary.  The diary told of her mental "terror of impending disorder" and how tired it made Aunt Mary day after day.  She wanted nothing more than to live in the country where there weren't so many social things pressing in on her fragile spirit. Eventually, she did move to the English countryside where she found peace and solace in breathing deeply the scents of flowers and fresh air and appreciating the beauty of her own garden.  Nature spoke to her weary soul --  every bee and butterfly, bird and tree. Mary knew she would have illness and depression in the winter months through the years, but she anticipated spring and knew she could hold on until then. She still had times when "she lost her reason" but she felt she could breathe in the openness of the country.  Do you ever feel that it is easier to breathe when you go on a country drive or when you take time to walk into nature and take it all in?  I live in the country and yet I need time to walk, to really look, to appreciate nature, and to be thankful for all of it.

A friend from church recently had a mini-stroke.  They didn't know why because she was in very good health.  She went to Mayo Clinic for further examination and the cause was stress.  She had been working very hard ranching beside her husband day after day, and her doctor said she needed to do less and relax more.  I don't know if the doctor said it, but I can imagine he might have said, "You need to breathe.  Deeply."  

One verse from the Bible that I am very fond of is this:  "Be still and know that I am God."  (Psalm 46:10)  Another translation says, "Cease striving and recognize that I am God."  All day long we strive, don't we?  We want to do more.  We want to do our best.  We want to perform up to the standards set before us.  Even upon our beds, our minds are racing, planning, anticipating, hoping, fearing.  Where is our rest?  When do we get to be still, breathe, and know that we are in God's hands?  Believe me, I know well that of which I speak. 

I remember seeing one of my granddaughters hurt and upset.  She was crying and breathing so hard that it made her situation worse.  The more she cried, the more desperate she felt, the faster she breathed, until her mother said, "Just breathe with me -- slow breaths, in your nose, out your mouth.   Just breathe."  And together they slowed everything down.  The crying subsided, the fear abated, the breathing calmed, and the hurt was tended to.  

Why is it that we find it so hard to slow down, to experience the little things, to focus on the here and now, to be in the moment, to just breathe?  To just be.

As I took my walk this afternoon I thought about the animals I was seeing around me:  the cows chasing their calves, the sheep grazing in the hay field,  the geese floating in the reservoir, the pair of  antelope running at breakneck speed.  Were they worried?  Were they trying hard to be themselves?  Does an antelope worry that his speed is not fast enough?  Does the cow get upset that her baby is bucking and playing too much?  Does the goose have concerns about his ability to float as well as the duck?  No.  They are all content to be exactly what God made them to be. They can breathe, they can be still and know. 

And then do you know what I did?  I stopped walking so fast.  I purposely slowed my pace.  I made an effort to breath deeply, still walking, but breathing with intention.  It's a different feeling.  It's both exhilarating and relaxing.  

What do you think of the breath?  Of breathing deeply?  Of taking time to relax and to just be?  Thank you for taking time to read my scattered thoughts.  You are sweet to come this far with me.  Now let's breathe together.  And smile!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rainy results...








Over the past week we've had some warm temperatures, snow run-off, and rain!  There are puddles in the pastures, goopy gunk under gates, waters in the wadis, and we are happy as Herefords in a hay yard!  Yup!  It appears that we are going to get some spring showers and some wetness.  Even today we've had a few sprinkles and there's more in the forecast. 

We worked all the mature Hereford cows through the corrals and barn a few days ago and sorted them up by calving dates, three ways.  I was the gate swinger and all that muddy goop was where I was pushing cows through to their appropriate pens.  I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my job because not only was there mud to slog in, but there was warm sunshine too.  Perfect for this ranchgirl.

All of the cows are now out in their designated pastures doing what they are supposed to do:  eating grass and having their calves.  So far we've had no problems, but there are about 400 head yet to have their babies.  Driving out to check cows is like a daily Easter Egg Hunt, our eyes search and search looking for wet baby calves with their mothers licking them off and suckling them.

Around the home and gardens, I've been raking up dead willow branches in the backyard and digging out clumps of grass and weeds from amongst the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth spears that are shooting through the moist soil.  It's so exciting to see the new life happening right before my eyes.  It's days like these when we are so glad to live in the country and watch cows calving in the pasture right out of our front windows.  I told Hubs the other day, "People would pay to have our views and see what we see out of our kitchen windows -- even for a weekend."



On the topic of birds -- Peach, Toodles, and their Mom spied these Eastern Bluebirds in the tree patch next to their house.  They were  so kind to share their photos with me!  Will the bluebirds stay or migrate further south?  I don't know, but they do like rotted trees with holes in them for nesting, so it could happen that they decide to stay with us.  We have a large amount of flickers who like to nest in our  rotted trees too so time will tell.  No matter what they decide, it's so fun to see their bright blue wings flying amidst our leafless trees.

On another note, the septic system is clogged.....again.  Likely the roots from the Willow tree are interfering.  We will find out tomorrow.  Bummer.

"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush." 
~Doug Larson
ring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/douglarson107646.html?src=t_spring
Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/douglarson107646.html?src=t_spring

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

Spring?


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?

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