Sunday, April 29, 2012

He won! He won!

Our golfer-son went off to a junior college in AZ this past year --his first year of college and his first time EVER in school.   He has put in lots of hard work both in school (to make grades) and in golf.  This past week J. went with his team to their regional tournament and after four days of play, our boy WON the tourney! 
We are so proud of him!  We didn't get to go to the regional tourney, but we will be heading for the national junior college tournament in a couple of weeks.  First he has final exams and then.....

....his final golf tournament of the school year. 
(these photos taken last summer)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rain, rain, came today....

 Rain, rain, came today
We girls went outside to play!

 (...and splashed)

 (...and fell down in the puddles)

(...and stomped so hard that water got in our boots)
(...and came in and took hot baths and washed all the clothes, coats and boots)
Boy, did we have fun!
(so far, .8" of rain and more to come)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One good thing about gale-force winds.... forces you to change your method of hanging out the clothes.  Every time I pinned a piece to the clothesline, it went flying off into the garden fence.  I thought, "Hey, why not throw the wash against the fence then?"  It worked beautifully.  I did pin it on as well, but honestly, the wind is so strong, it would stay put without the clothes pins.

We're expecting thunderstorms and rain later on this afternoon.  If the force of the east wind has anything to do with the amount of rain coming, we'll be up to our ankles in water.  We aren't supposed to get lots of rain, but any little bit will be welcomed.  At the moment, our electricity is out and we are using generator power.  Too bad we don't have a windmill.

Monday, April 23, 2012

1 is One

Betsy Bee is One Today!
Happy Birthday!

This is one of my favorite gifts for yearlings.
She likes books very much.  Counting books are especially fun.
Isn't it wonderful when mommies and daddies read to their babies?  It's one of the greatest GIFTS ever, in my estimation.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Coffee time...

I am literally sitting here at the computer having my afternoon coffee time.  And this (muffin) is what was once on my plate.  Now am picking the crumbs and will soon lick both crumbs and sugar from the plate, washing it down with the last of my strong, black coffee.  It's a good thing!  Is it any wonder I must have my 3:00 cup of coffee every day?  You want it too, don't you?  Some years ago I started this afternoon coffee thing, and enjoyed it so much that I don't intend to quit.  This morning I made a batch of what was supposed to be Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins, but as I started into the recipe and was nearing the end, I went to the pantry and found no canned pumpkin so I did what any cooker would do, skipped it and baked them off as they were.  Oh my!  I didn't miss the pumpkin one itty bitty bit.  They were just perfectly delicious with interior doughnutty spices of all-spice and nutmeg and an exterior coating of melted butter and cinnamon & sugar.  If you want to make these yummy muffins, you can find the recipe here.  Just omit the pumpkin!  Actually, I baked them at 380*F (I don't know why I chose that temp) for about 15 minutes or so.  I don't think you should have to bake muffins for a half an hour, but that's just me.  Maybe if they had had been made properly with pumpkin in them, they would have taken longer to bake, but I will never know.
I got a couple pounds of onions planted in one of the raised beds today --  mulched it and watered it.  The bread dough is rising and spilling over the bowl so I must quit this coffee-ing and chit-chat and get myself back to work.  I hope you took a little time for an afternoon cuppa.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Grape hyacinth...

 Just coming up from her winter sleep, Hyacinth is making her debut in my flower beds.  I have never grown this early bloomer before, but thought I'd give it a try, so last fall I planted a couple packages of bulbs and after a good winter freeze and a long sleep, they have emerged in all their splendor!  What a treat for the eyes and the nose.  Such a sweet fragrance.

I love how tight-lipped these tiny flowers are.  They barely open up for a bee or small flying insect to come in to sip their nectar.  I haven't seen any pollinators on them yet, but they've only just arrived so I imagine the insects will find them out soon enough  Hyacinth are so beautiful and fragrant that I'm sure it won't be long before they have fairy visitors.

Do you know the art of Cicely Mary Barker?  She has made beautiful flower fairy art that I just love.  Above is Polyanthus and Grape Hyacinth.  I have the Complete Book of Flower Fairies on my book shelf, and I can't wait to share it with the grandgirls.

In the, the hyacinth, dependant upon color, may mean: constancy (blue); I’m sorry, please forgive me, and/or sorrow (purple); playfulness, sport or play (red or pink); loveliness, I’ll pray for you (white); and jealousy (yellow).  Today, I give you the gift of constancy through my flowers, the Hyacinth.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Planting spuds (no-dig method)...

 Today was spud planting day!  First thing this morning, I helped the guys work the steers.  We weighed them and vaccinated them against pink eye, a disease that often comes up during a dry, hot summer.  That was a job well done.  My goal for the day was to get my 28 pounds of spuds planted in the afternoon and oh joy, it happened, mainly because of Honey Bun and his tractor.  The nice thing about ranching is that we have some heavy duty tools that most backyard gardeners don't have, plus I have a willing man to help me!  I help him;  he helps me!

This is my first time planting spuds in the "no dig method."  I've only ever planted potatoes the old fashioned way -- digging deep in the soil, then at harvest, digging them up with a spade and cutting through many a potato.  The first picture shows my spot.  It's a patch of old grass right next to my veggie garden/raised beds.  This terrible soil.  First we spread a few inches of rotted manure right over the grass and did no tilling.  I put newspaper over part of the manure, but  I ran out of newspaper so we just finished the rest without it.

 Next, we laid the potatoes in, eyes down, on the soil.  We planted five rows in a spot 26' x 15'.  This year I planted Yukon Gold (our fav) and Kennebec Red potatoes.  I bought the seed potatoes at the feed store and they were so nice that I'm hopeful that their babies will grow up to be every bit as good as their parent potatoes.  (Now I'm having a vision of Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head and their children.) 

Lastly, we covered the entire bed with about 1 foot of straw and then watered it down really well.  I started watering  by hand with the garden hose, but decided to set the sprinkler and let it soak for a good hour or more.  We had a nice shower of rain after that which was perfect timing.

This is what I hope my potato plants look like in a few weeks when they start pushing through the straw.  It all depends on how warm the temps are and how much rain we get. I have a hydrant right next to this potato patch so I'll be able to keep it watered if needed.  Some no-dig potatoes hardly need any water due to the deep mulch.  Next up -- planting the onion sets.  The rest of the veggie beds will have to wait until we are past our last frost date which is some time in mid to late May. Have you ever planted spuds in a deep bed of straw mulch?  Any tips or encouragement?

If you are interested in planting a No-Dig Potato Patch, check out these resources.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Making bone stock...

Being a cattle rancher's wife, I have learned a lot about cooking a whole beef, not all at once, but hunk by hunk, cut by cut, bone by bone.  One of the packages we get from the butcher is labeled "soup bones."    Our soup bones are generally quite meaty, cut from the shank or legs.  I make beef stock from them and honestly, they make the nicest, most flavorful beef broth for French Onion Soup that you can imagine.  As many times as I have made beef stock, I never really realized the nutritional value of boiling bones for a long period of time until recently.  I thought three or four hours of cooking soup bones was plenty, but now I'm reading about cooking them slowly for 12-48 hours and the reason why is nutrition.  It takes some time to fully release the nutritional goodness from bones.

Grandma was right, homemade soup is the very best medicine.  I recall watching several old movies where a gun-shot cowboy was lying- on his death bed, and what did the aproned homemaker feed him?  Broth.  What did the white-capped nurse feed the ill and infirmed who were in her care?  Broth.  When motherless babies were found on the prairie and there was no milk to be had, what were they given?  Broth.  It's the stuff that brings you back to life!

As I have aged (49 so far) I have noticed a few more aches and pains.  My skin is not as supple as it once was and my mind is not as sharp. I have realized how very important it is that I'm getting enough vitamins and minerals to keep my immune system strong and my body healthy and pain free.  Hubby and I really do not like taking pain relievers and so I have been on a quest to find out how to best support our joints and bones by nutritional means.  Lately I have been researching bone stock.  Bone stock can be made from the bones of any animal -- beef, pork, lamb, chicken.  The idea is to save bones from your cooking or to get soup bones (or dog bones) from your butcher and throw them into a slow cooker with a little vinegar (to break down the minerals from the bones) and gently cook them for a good, long time -- from 8 to 12 to 24 hours -- until the bones have released as much of their minerals as possible.  This creates a delicious and nutritious stock that you can sip from a mug or add to soups, gravies and stews.  The stock is loaded with good things for your body!  From bodyecolog, here is the good news:
Bone broth is rich in minerals to strengthen the immune system and support healthy digestion. Bone broth also contains collagen to strengthen tendons, joints, ligaments, bone, and skin.
The collagen in bone broth will help heal the lining of the gut to relieve heartburn, GERD, and other types of intestinal inflammation. On top of that, collagen will support healthy skin to make it supple and strong to reduce the appearance of cellulite.  You can make bone broth at home and even use it in your next fast to give your body ample nourishment. The glycine in bone broth will detoxify the body of harmful chemicals, improve sleep, and boost memory and performance.
Did you read the part about reducing cellulite, boosting memory and performance, and improving sleep?  I'm into that!  Minerals that bone stock provides include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, and fluoride, all of which are delivered directly to your body from food, not pills.  I think of it like this:  everything YOUR bones and joints need comes from bones -- boiling down animal bones into a stock (broth) that is highly digestible and is readily absorbed by the body.

You might think, "Well now Miss Jody, making homemade stock fine for you since you are at home and can keep watch over the stock pot on the stove, but I have a job away from home and I can't possible monitor a pot around the clock."  Me neither!  I have lots of things I want to do that don't involve the kitchen, so an easy way to slow-cook bone stock is to use the slow cooker.  Simply put your bones to the crock pot, add some peppercorns, a few hunks of onion, carrot, celery and garlic (or skip the veggie part), add 1/4 c. vinegar and COLD water and plug it in.  I turn my cooker on high until everything comes to a boil and then turn it down to low and let it slow cook for 12 hours or more.  I've read articles where a lady keeps her slow cooker going constantly and removes stock from her pot as she needs it and replaces the amount she took out with fresh water and leaves it cooking.  Doesn't that sound like something from Little House on the Prairie?  The perpetual stock pot -- just add more water and more bone or veggie scraps.  Making beef stock is not only nutritional, but it is economical as well. If you use the bones left over from a roasting a whole chicken or turkey or bones left from your pot roast or steak, you've got something to make bone stock with.  You can also ask for soup bones or dog bones from your butcher and get them at a minimal cost or for free.

In the past whenever I have made beef stock, I would freeze what I didn't use immediately so that I'd have it on hand for another time.  It is so easy to do and so convenient to have some good stock in the freezer.  I never thought about freezing stock in ice cube trays or muffin tins, but that would be a convenient way to add nutrition to any meal or to warm up in a mug for a cup of soup.

One of my favorite ways to make beef stock is to first brown the soup bones in the oven.  I pour a little olive oil over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stick them into a 400* oven for 30-45 minutes until they are dark brown, being careful not to burn them.  The browning gives your beef stock a rich, brown color that is tasty and hearty.  After browning the bones, I add them into the stock pot (or crock pot), add a little vinegar and cover with water.  I often add onion, garlic, a bay leaf, and peppercorns for extra flavor, but you don't need to.  Allow the stock to come to a boil and then reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer slowly for many hours.  I generally add a teaspoon of salt to a large pot, but it is best to salt it later on when the stock is completed if you feel it needs more.  Strain the broth and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate and skim off the fat.  Use the stock however you like.

Do you make bone stock?  Any tips or ideas?  Perhaps you have memories of Granny or Auntie making stocks and soups.  Were you the invalid who was brought back to health on bone stock?  Do tell.

For additional reading about bone stock, enjoy perusing the links below.
Bone Broth:  Heal Your Gut and Lose Cellulite
Beef Stock Anyone?
Perpetual Soup:  The Easiest Bone Broth You'll Make
Broth is Beautiful (lots of info on the nutritional value of stock and recipes)
Stock Recipes from Simply Recipes

Monday, April 16, 2012

My peeps....

 After chores this morning, I headed for the feed store to pick up my Peeps.  I ordered 18, but Liz gave me two "free gift chicks" which was nice.   Doesn't this multi-colored peep look like she's wearing eye liner?

 The whole peeping fuzz ball.
They are under a red heat lamp so therefore you see a wee bit of a red glow.

 Last year's peeps have become lovely laying hens.
They are really digging it out there in the tall, green grass scratching for bugs.

 I just liked this picture so much.  This hen is a White Leghorn.
The second photo I cropped up close to see her face.
Does she not have the prettiest red comb and wattle?

 This little red hen is a Red Sex-link and she lays the biggest, red-brown eggs.  Sex-link chicks are cross bred -- usually a leghorn with a Rhode Island Red for the red colored hens.  I ordered 6 more sex-links this year along with Pearl White Leghorns (white eggs), Barred Rocks (brown eggs), and Auracana (green/blue eggs).

Today's pickin's.
I hope God blessed you today.
"Be still and know that I am God."
~~Psalm 46:1, 10

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Catching up....

The days, they have wings!  Another week has flown by and I feel like I have neglected you nice reader-friends.  The day after Easter, Easter Monday, Hubs went to town to buy seed for the hay field which my dad had plowed up last fall.  The guys went over it a few more times with the disk and the chisel to loosen up the soil and make a nice seed bed.  As it turned out, it turned into a blowing field of dust.  Think Dust Bowl.  The wind blew hard every single day of the past week, and the thought of planting seed in the wind was another challenge for the men.  They ended up taping some plastic over the seeder so the seed wouldn't blow out before the it hit the ground.  The field is now planted with alfalfa, crested wheat grass, and barley which, if it comes up as hoped, will make a lovely stand of hay this summer.  The planting was completed on Thursday and all that was left was to pray for rain.  Today we are getting a nice shower with the possibility that it could turn to snow by nightfall.  We shall see.  Even a good, spring snow (poor man's fertilizer) would be most welcomed here.

I have been working up the flower beds.  There are many annuals and some perennials in my beds, so with a small spade in hand, I've been digging around amongst the plants for grass, dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, and hollyhocks which are trying to take over my backyard.  I've made a good beginning, but there is one bed yet which requires more of my hard work and attention.  These gardens are like unruly children who are always in need of my attention and diligence lest they get out of hand and turn into wild things.  It is up to me to shape them into well-disciplined citizens of the backyard.  I'm sure I need a truckload of mulch to keep everything in check.  Little by little, I will win, or I will go down trying!

The bum lambs are still in the infirmary trying to get over their nasty sickness.  I found out that the medicine I had in the vet cupboard might have lost some of its strength over a year's time, so I got some new stuff from the vet.  He said everybody with livestock is having trouble this spring with coccidiosis.  I sent a manure sample in with Hubs on Monday so the vet could test it.  The bummies still tested positive for coccidiosis and also had a case of worms, so T. fetched home a bottle of medicine to take care of that problem too.  I had truly hoped that I could be done with bottle feeding by now, but I feel I must continue with it until I get the buggers over their sickness and then begin the weaning process.  I lost another bum yesterday.  I could see it coming, but I couldn't do any more for him.  Poor thing.  Now I am down to 16 bum lambs after the death loss and after selling 3 lambs to friends for their 4-H project.  The poor friends have had to deal with this nasty sickness too.  I feel so bad for them.
(Wouldn't it be a sight to see a baby crane with its parents?)

As I was out feeding cows and sheep yesterday I came upon a pair of Sandhill Cranes.  I didn't have my camera so I couldn't snap a picture for you, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them court one another as they walked together over the hill from where the sheep were feeding.  Quite a sight, I must say.  I hope they stay around and make a nest together.

The heifers are nearly done calving.  I think there are eight left on the hill here by the house so we continue to watch them.  We brought the mature cows closer to home and they will begin calving any day now.  We will check on them a couple times a day, looking for new babies.  It's always so much fun to drive out into the big pastures and find baby calves behind tufts of grass or down in a swale. It's nearly like going on an Easter Egg hunt!

My chicks will be arriving at the feed store on Monday so I'll be making a trip to town to collect them and the feed I will need for them.  The Littles will love going out to feed the peeps every day.  There is nothing much cuter than a baby chick.  I'll report back with pictures in a few days.

We were out late last night listening to the music played by Middle Child and his band at a pub in the Big City.  He sings and plays acoustic guitar.  They did a terrific job, but the two hour drive home has made me one tired but proud mama.  I think a nap will be in order this afternoon.  I wouldn't mind falling asleep to the sound of rain against the windows.  I hope you are having a lovely weekend listening to the rain or basking in the sunshine.

Friday, April 06, 2012


 Front and back covers of my 1945 copyright edition of  Heidi by Joanna Spyri

The Once-Upon-a-Time Bedroom of YoungestSon has recently become the dumping grounds of a large bookcase, books, dishes, and other odds and ends while the renovation of our kitchen happened back in January.  It has taken me some time to get back to it with lambing and calving following up the reno, but I've been working in my new space little by little.  I repainted the swimming pool blue and gray walls and gave them a neutral macadamia color which is a very quiet, calming color to me.  The big bookcase found its new home on one wall and my sewing machine and other things are gradually finding their places in the new space.  There is still much organizing to do, but amidst the book weeding, I found my especial copy of Heidi.  My mom gave it to me many years ago when she learned we were homeschooling the kids.  It was probably the only book she saved from her childhood.  In fact, the book was given to her by her mother's best friend in 1948 when my mom was just five years old.  Mom gave me the book, complete with her signature, in 1988.

The front and back covers of my Heidi look hand-painted.  I'm sure they are not, but it is the most charming cover I think I have ever seen on a childrens book.  I love the story and have fond memories of reading it aloud to my Littles.  My mom once told me that she thought of naming me Heidi because of the character in this book.  It's fun just knowing that she thought about it.

This charming book is illustrated.  There are a very few colored pictures scattered within the book.  Each individual page has a small picture in the top corners relevant to what is written.  Other pages have black and white illustrations like the lambs below.

This is one of those books that I hope to read aloud with the grandchildren when they are visiting me.  I've kept a number of family favorites in the big bookcase so when the Grandlittles come a'visiting, they can choose wonderful stories to read -- imagining faraway places, knowing interesting people, dreaming big dreams and hoping big hopes. 

Do you have a favorite book from your childhood?  I don't.  In our home, we didn't read, but I am so grateful that my children have lots of favorite books they remember.  Please share your favorites.  Are you saving special books for your grandchildren-to-be?  Please share those too.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Every morn is a fresh beginning....

"Every morn is a fresh beginning,
Every morn is the world made new."
~from Anne of Avolea by L.M. Montgomery

Each day we face new challenges, and each day there is hard work to do.  So often I look out there too far past today, and I wonder how we can ever do it all.  But God asks me to just look at this day.  His mercies are new every morning.  Each day I get to start over.  There is energy for one day.  Get up.  Pour a cup of coffee.  Read God's Word.  Eat a little something and take an Aleve and get out there and do the thing that needs doing.  That is what I tell myself some days.

This morning is a fine, beautiful morning. I awoke feeling the effects of a day mowing my yards and working cows.  It was so windy and dry that my lips were chapped, my hands were sore, my knees felt worn out.  You know the feeling.   I went out to the bummies to feed them and found another one dead.  I saw it coming.  That's three lost in a few weeks.  I think they have coccidiosis.  Thankfully, I found the medicine I need to give them in the vet cupboard, so today I started them on Cordid Drench which they will take for 5 days straight.  I'm hoping this does the trick.  The vet comes today to pelvic check yearling heifers so I may have him take a look at the lambs before he leaves just in case I've diagnosed them wrongly.

Did you see the Fresh Beginning Daffodil at the top?  A sweet gift to me this morning as I walked about the yard.  I set the sprinkler for the first time on the front yard early this morning while there is no wind and no dry heat.  I'm hoping to perk up the lawn a little before Easter Sunday so that we might have a nice game of croquet on it when the family comes.  There *might* be snow on Sunday, but I'm going forward with watering today anyway.  It will be what it will be.

My house needs attention --cleaning, that is -- before the family comes.  A bit of dusting and mopping and setting things in order.  I know they aren't looking for dirt, but I know it needs it.  Then there will be a little baking to do before the big day.  It'll be so nice for everyone to get together again -- all but the Youngest.  He will be in Tucson.  We'll miss him.

Before I leave you today, we had such a nice discussion in the comments about houseplants that I wanted to direct you to a two-part article on houseplants over at Nesting Place.  She's always so full of good ideas.  Wishing you a fresh beginning today.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Grocery store orchid....

 It's *just* a grocery store orchid, but my oh my, is it lovely!  I feel like I have something extravagant and other-worldly.  For my neck of the woods it is, but if I can buy something this beautiful at my hometown grocery store for $14.95, they must not be too rare or too difficult for most folks to grow.  According to my step-mom, who was given one last year, they are easy to keep.  After I brought my Phalaenopsis Orchid home I did a little research online which said that orchids are quite easy to grow indoors under the proper conditions.  These beauties need filtered light, never direct light, and watering for my particular orchid is minimal.  On the care card included with the flower it says to add 3 ice cubes or 1/4 cup of water weekly and to keep it at a comfortable temperature: 60-85*F (20-35*C), about the temperatures that you and I like to live in.  How simple is that?  The other nice thing is that they hold their blooms for up to 3 months.  That's a lot of enjoyment for a few bucks.
I have my Easter Orchid standing next to the kitchen sink near the window where it will get filtered light.  My new posie is one of those simple joys that makes me smile every time I glance over at it.  I'm excited to see if I can make it re-bloom later or see if it makes a new baby orchid.  If you care to know more about buying, caring for, and growing orchids, this is a very nice site:  Orchid Care.

Another blooming beauty in our home is my Christmas Cactus.  Remember it began blooming for me way back before Thanksgiving?  Well, it has continued to bloom profusely all through the winter and is still pouring-it-on right through to Easter.  It exudes life and beauty all through the bleak wintery months.  I love it.  I have always thought of it as God's special gift to me.  It lives in the laundry room (still) so it is hidden from most onlookers, but it doesn't mind it's humble abode and keeps on thriving while existing on a little water and much neglect.

I remember when I was a girl, our old neighbor lady, Mrs. Wilson, grew African Violets in her sun room.  They were ever-so-beautiful, and she would sometimes invite us in for apple pie and  show off her special violets.  She was proud of them as if they were her own children.  My mom had a Boston Fern that was ensconced on a a tall, ornate plant stand.  She babied and babied it -- misting it almost daily and talking to it.  She loved growing plants.  Do you think growing houseplants is a fading art?   I don't have many indoor plants, but the few I do have are very tough and hard to kill.  I'm not big on artificial plants, but have never been "into" keeping many houseplants either. Even if my sweet orchid only lasts a couple of months and withers and dies, it will be well worth the price for a few beautiful blooms before summer is here. Now I think I'll go smile at my orchid again before I go to sleep.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Simple Joys....

Warm, sunny days that allow for wearing shorts and sun tops in the afternoon.
New toe polish from OnlyDaughter -- Sally Hanson, *Tough Love.*
Finding tulips, daffodils and iris and other flowers poking through while cleaning the flower beds.
The smell of green things growing.
A crane flew through the sky as I was driving through the pasture.
Lots and lots of robins chirruping.
Eating ice cream cones with the Littles.
Visiting Betsy Boo.
Got my sewing room/library painted!
Hanging the laundry out on the clothesline.
Visiting with friends.
Hen's eggs, laid daily.
Eggs over-easy with bacon and toast for breakfast.
Homemade strawberry jam made by DIL.
Mary Toodles says "Gram" for the first time at our house.
Phone calls from our kids.
Looking up at the starry sky every night at 12:30 when I walk to the barn.  What a sight!
Lots of healthy calves and no birthing problems.
A fresh pot of coffee brewed each morning.
Sharing my days with my best friend and lover.
Knowing....Jesus loves me.  And He loves you too.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...