Saturday, July 25, 2015

Beaded bracelet....

A dear friend of mine remembered me on my birthday with this fun beaded wrap bracelet called the Mirembe Wrap Bracelet.  I absolutely love it!  Not only is it a pretty bangle that I enjoy wearing, but it reminds me of some very hard-working women who are doing their best to get out of poverty.  These are women of Uganda who are learning skills like bead making and jewelry making and who also create skin products with shea butter.  All the products are fair trade, handmade creations that you are really going to love.  The organization, Bead For Life, is giving women a helping hand out of extreme poverty by teaching them a trade and helping them to learn entrepreneurial skills that will launch them in their own businesses.  With their earnings, some women are buying land and cattle to support their families, some have started businesses selling tap water or garden vegetables, others are starting schools for children.  Many are able to send their children to school with their earnings.

Every time I wear my bracelet, I think of the woman who might have made my bracelet, and I think of the friend who gave it to me.  These are the gifts that give back.  I just wanted to share Bead for Life with you in case you have some special people you'd like to give a special gift to. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Home, home on the range....

where the deer and the antelope play...


Lots of antelope fawns are roaming the prairie.
Most are twins.
For the first couple weeks of their lives, 
they are hidden until they can run with Mama.   
They are beautiful creatures and fun to watch.
If you click the photos up to full size, 
you'll see some interesting details about them.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Whoopi Ti Yi Yo...

I've been working on a little whoopi ti yi yo stitching and it's fun!
Almost as fun as riding horseback across the prairie in July, but much cooler.
And how about some theme music for your listening pleasure? 

The pony is a pillowcase I stitched for my granddaughter, Peach, who turned 7 years old on the 11th.  She's a boot-wearing, tractor-fixin', cow-feedin' cowgirl ya know.  I found the horse pattern here but I changed the flower out for a western rose. The tea towels are stitched on two corners with some vintage western designs that I love.  The patterns are from the Wild Wild West collection of Stitcher's Revolution.   The Bakery, my local fabric store, carries them.  I have many of the iron-on SR patterns and really like using them.  I made this set of tea towels for a local cowgirl who will soon be a bride.  The towels will be tucked into a little gift for her bridal shower.

The barrel of moss roses have nothing to do with whoopi ti yi yo except that they flourish on the patio at my ranch house.  They make me smile every time I walk by their bold, rootin' tootin' blooms.  They love the hot prairie sunshine so I think there's a little bit o' wild west in them somewhere!  Can I get a  "YeeHaw!" ?

Friday, July 03, 2015

Nature Notes....

Yesterday I spent most of the day mowing and while I was gazing off, I saw this giant wasp with a 6" long poker floating below her.  I had seen this creature before and I knew what she was, but still, it's quite exciting to see something like it just floating by nonchalantly.  I suppose to her it was not a nonchalant flight.  I'm sure she was on a mission!

The female Ichneumon Wasp has this very long ovipositor which she uses to insert her eggs into old wood.  She lays her eggs in tunnels where the horntail wasp larvae are, and Mrs. Ichneumon's babies will feed on them when they hatch out.  Sounds like a nasty little way to feed your babies, but everybody's got to eat somebody, right?

What's amazing to me is how in the world does that little wasp drill a hole into the wood?  Incredible!  No power tools, no torque wrench, no chainsaw!  Just a little poker on the end of her abdomen. I do think that sometimes they find a hole that has already been "predrilled" and go in that way too.  No matter what, it's amazing!

Yesterday I saw her fly by me.  Today I went on a hunt for one and had my phone in my pocket.  I was about to give up the search when here she came.  In my excitement, I couldn't get the phone camera up and running fast enough to snap a photo.  She even landed on my leg!  Kinda creepy, but kinda cool too.  I was glad that my leg didn't look like a tree trunk after all!  They say Ichneumon wasps won't try to harm humans so I didn't feel threatened.

Here's a link to very cool video showing the actual depositing of eggs if you're interested.  It's a few minutes long and quite cool to witness.  I'm determined to find another Ichneumon wasp out there one of these days.  By the way, as I was waiting for Mrs. Ichneumon to come back out (which she did not) I did notice something else laying on the bark of the tree.  It pays to wait and look and observe.

On the swoop of the bark that was peeling off this dead tree was a mish-mash of a nest.  I know the nest type and the two eggs tell me these are a dove's.  We have lots and lots of doves around right now, and they will lay eggs all summer long.  Still, kinda fun to find!

Here's a photo of milkweed.  I think our milkweed is called "Showy Milkweed."  And it is!  I think it's so pretty and intricate.  Monarch butterflies love milkweed and lay their eggs on them.  I'm hoping to come back to this little patch and check for Monarch eggs and/or butterflies laying eggs.  One time we found a chrysalis on a milkweed plant and brought it inside and watched it emerge.  It was one of those awesome times when the kids were little and curious about all things nature.

Did you see the full moon two nights ago?  Oh, so pretty and orange when it just came up.  We've had lots of smokey skies from the Washington fires, and it makes the moon and sun look orange-y when they set or rise.  This moon is up high and peeking through the clouds.

I hope you're enjoying nature this summer.  So much to see! So much to learn!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rough-legged Hawks...

Rough-legged Hawk
Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Rough-legged Hawk
 Photo by Walter Siegmund
Wikimedia, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

I watched these beautiful creatures hunting mice in the hayfield this morning while I raked hay. It was one of those days that I wished I had my camera and didn't.  At least I had my eyes and the photos in my mind.  I enjoyed every moment watching them as I drove up and down the field.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Haying -- full tilt...


The weather has turned hot and sunny and so as the saying goes, we make hay while the sun shines!  The new equipment has been really great to use, even though we pull the implements with old(er) tractors.  Since the rake (third photo down) is pulled by the old John Deere 2520 (open air) it gets mighty hot with the 95* temps and the heat blowing off the engine.  As long as I have plenty of water, fortified with some Real Salt, some lemon wedges, and ice, I can go about 3 hours at a whack.  In the morning it's quite pleasant to rake hay, but after high noon or so, we usually call it quits until evening.  I like to bare my skin for a little while in the early sunshine, but the majority of the time, I am covered up from head to foot to keep the sun off. The bugs have been minimal -- an occasional deer fly bite here and there and sometimes a swarm of gnats comes along, but generally, it's been fairly bug-free for me.

So far, I think we have upwards of 600 round bales of hay and many more to come.  Hubby thinks we'll get somewhere around 3000 bales by the time we are done.  That's a lot of hay for us dry land ranchers.  What looked like a drought in mid-May turned into a bumper hay crop for us in June.  We also missed a lot of hail, tornadoes, and flooding that were in the area.  It's been just about perfect here. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

The buzz....


The Buzz is...
We have BEES!
Lots of BEEZ!

On one end of the ranch there's a large colony
and on the other, yet a larger bunch.

They've come from California with banjos on their knees and they are staying for our golden sweet clover.  It's a "clover year"  here.  Not every year is.  Sweet clover is a biennial and so it usually only comes up every other year, depending on the weather conditions.  This year it's growing everywhere and it's as high as the pick-up -- doors so far.  There will be plenty of pollen and nectar for the bees to harvest -- miles and miles and acres and acres of it. Every ranch in the country has several boxes on it.  The bee keepers had intended to put some of these bees in another area, but they were drouthed out and had nothing for the bees to live on so they put them on our place.  Our share in the project will come in honey, and I dare say we'll have more honey than we know what to do with.  We've never had bees here before so it's exciting to us. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pair of pups...

Two little Scotties
Naughty little Scotties
Playing ball in Mommy's flowies
Spanks and owies.

Two tea towels for friend's friend
who loves Scottie Dogs.

Monday, June 15, 2015

In the Garden...

 Cecropia Moths rested quietly on my flag all morning.
The grands came to see them and study them.

 My flower garden is overflowing with larkspur, poppies, and blue flax.  
The peonies are not quite ready to pop yet. 

 The lettuce is ready to pick and so are the French Breakfast Radishes.
The radishes are mild, yet peppery and crisp!  
I replanted some green beans today.  
One row is up, but they look rather sad; and the other row is mostly missing so I hope they'll fill in and provide us a nice little crop for two.

 The tomatoes continue to grow in size and girth.  I just planted a teaspoon of lettuce seeds amongst these tomatoes knowing it'll be ready to harvest when the other patch is done.

 The potato plants are pushing up taller and taller. 
 I need to give them another layer of mulch.

 This is my new experiment.  I put down some old shingles I found in the barn to smother weeds and give me a nice pathway to walk on.  This  hillside is really a weedy patch, so I'm trying to keep the weeds down as much as I can.  You can see squash and pumpkin plants and a few stray potatoes.

 My dad, and fellow gardener, gave me these Black Hills Spruce seedlings.  We heeled in ten of them and at first they turned brown, and I was sure they were going to die, but looky here!  New growth!  Each one of them has some new, green growth coming on.  I'm hoping, if they survive, to transplant them in the fall to a permanent spot.

Chives have taken over a corner of the flower bed and I am so glad of it.  I like to use the herb for cooking and as a garnish, but I also think they are the prettiest flower.

"Earth is crammed with heaven
And every bush aflame with God
But only those who see take off their shoes."

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mowing hay...

Yesterday it began.  NumberOneSon has been checking and greasing and preparing the tractors and equipment for the big run.  Haying is beginning!  The men were inspecting one large part of our hayfields and found that there was weevil in it, eating away and killing the alfalfa, so it was either cut it a little early or lose it entirely to the nasty bugs.

The men are excited about haying this year because we have three new pieces:  a mower, a wheel rake, and a baler.  The tractors are old, but they're trustworthy and willing to pull.  So this new Vermeer mower is quite the deal!  We are used to running a swather, but this little honey is speedy, wide, and can really cut the hay down.  What normally took the swather 12 hours to cut, only took about 8 hours.  The next step after the mowing is to rake the hay, turn it over, and then follow behind and bale it up.  I'm excited because I will be one of the haying crew who will rake up hay.  I have a nifty little open-air tractor that I just love to drive.  I like it because I can stand up or sit down and I get that open air, free feeling when I'm out turning hay.  I'm really hoping that the bugs aren't too bad this year.  So far the mosquitoes have been especially numerous, but I think with the breeze blowing on me and the heat of the engine, I should be fairly bug free.  I will, however be prepared.  I ordered some mosquito netting for our hats and heads since there were none to be found locally, and of course, there's Deep Woods Off if my natural stuff doesn't work.

We were all excited about our new implements and all the children took their turns riding with Daddy to see how the new mower would work.  The rest of us watched from the field and admired what a fine job it did.  This morning we would have gone to work raking the hay, but it rained .6" early in the morning and so we left it to dry out for the day.  It's been a cool, cloudy day here today so I'm not sure how much drying-out the hay did.  We'll get 'er done sooner or later.

In the meantime, I enjoyed walking through my veggie gardens and my flower gardens, admiring what God does in the seasons.  We brought the cows home from two different pastures.  You can see one bunch out beyond my flowers.  I had the pleasure of walking behind another bunch of cows and calves trailing them part of the way home, minus the wet areas where the mosquitoes would have carried me away!

Happy Sunday.

"But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because he has dealt bountifully with me."
~Psalm 13 5,6


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