Saturday, June 29, 2013

Simple (summer) things....

I kind of forgot about this delicious tea until recently when I was looking for natural health-boosting foods.  The first time I ever had Rooibos tea (pronounced Roy Boss) was in the summer poured over ice.  They poured samples at a local coffee shop, and I bought it on the spot.  Mine was a Rooibos-Blueberry.  I've heard that Rooibos is a "coffee drinker's tea."  I love coffee -- hot or iced -- and I really like this tea much more than regular teas.   I bought loose-leaf tea at my local health food store today, but you can buy it in tea bags at most grocery stores.  Not only does it taste great, but it's good for you too and caffeine free.  Check out these 10 Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea.

Best Bra Ever by No Boundaries (at W-mart) has these cute, seamless, stretchy bras that are lightly padded and so comfortable.  I've been looking for something that I can wear with shorts in the yard when I mow and garden, and for suntanning.  This gives good coverage in the right places and lets the vitamin D soak into all the other places.  They're about $5 each.

Pumice sponges are great for sandal-wearing feet and for bare feet that have been tromping around in the grass and gardens all day.  I can't live without one of these in summer especially.  You can find them at Amazon, but also at drug stores or in the bath/beauty aisle.

My Neighbor-DIL gave me a ball canning jar lid-straw combination for Mother's Day and I love it.  I pour my coffee or tea in the jar, add ice, and the lid, and I'm out the door and in the garden with my favorite cold drink.  You can find them here or if you are clever (like Julia from Blissfully Content) you can make your own here.

Turtle Turtle.... Have you noticed turtles crossing the roads and sidewalks lately?  They're moving to dry ground to lay their eggs, I think.  This painted turtle came right up to the front patio to say hi.  She didn't even go in her shell when I took her picture up-close.  She did make a hissy sound though like she was a bit bothered.  Don't you love turtles?  They swim around in the water when they want to, then suntan on a rock or log all afternoon.  Perfect summer creatures.  My new DIL says she's like a turtle -- she's out swimming with all the other turtles and when she's had enough, she goes into her shell.

Hot-orange marigolds are great next to the tomato plants.  Gotta have 'em!  I hope you're having a wonderful start to your summer.

What are your favorite simple summer things?

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.  ~Celia Thaxter

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Servicing cows...


These pretty Herefords are yearling heifers.  They have never had calves.  It's "that time" of the year when we turn in the bulls to service the cows.  I've always thought that "service" was an interesting term for breeding cows.  Actually, they call it natural service now because there is also a type of service that is artificial insemination.  We did AI (artificially inseminate) the heifers on June 2nd and then turned the bulls in with them after that.  A bull can service approximately 25 cows, so we turn out enough bulls with each group to make sure the cows get bred.  During this time we watch the bunches closely to check for injuries.  If a bull gets hurt, he's got to be replaced in the herd or we might come up with open cows in the fall when we pregnancy test.


 This big fella loves his summer job. 

This is Easy 947W, one of our best herdsires.  Isn't he a beaut?  Soon we will begin AI-ing some of our mature cows, and then more bulls will go out to do their service!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen....

Start Your Engines!


It's time for making hay.  The swather cut the first windrows yesterday, and today it's been full-steam-ahead.  It's sort of like the Indie 500 of the summer for us.  Up and down, round and round.  All the engines and all the moving parts have been checked, repaired, greased and tested before sending the machinery out to the hay fields.  Tire pressure is right, the windshields are clean, the seats are set (my tractor got a new seat!), the radio is on, and we're off to race against the weather and against time as the hay matures a little more as the days tick off.  Every day the hay gets more mature and loses a little more feed value so it's important to keep moving from field to field, getting the very best hay up at the right time.  We're hoping for just a few pit stops and no break-downs.  The faster we can get the hay up, the better the chance for getting quality hay and not losing any of it to hail or extreme heat.

NumberOneSon is turning the windrows over to dry.  Two windrows are raked together into one, and when the moisture is right, the hay will be baled up into big round bales.

This old haying equipment was used back in the old days.  It was horse-drawn.  My FIL recalls the days of making hay with it very well.  All I can say is, "Man, my butt would be sore riding in that seat all day bumping over rough prairie." Of course, they didn't put up nearly the amount of hay we do these days, but golly jee-wiz, would you have butt calluses or what?

I've been laying low this past week and a half and haven't got my turn in the hay field yet.  I'm chomping-at-the-bit to go back to work, but I've been "put out to pasture" for the moment.  I turned up with shingles and have been taking it easy and trying to get myself well.  Let's just say my butt would be sore bouncing on a modern cushy seat all day.  That's all I'm gonna say about it.  I AM improving though, and I give thanks to God for people who promote using supplements and natural remedies that work.

For a splash of summer color, here is a snapshot of my moss roses.  Gosh I love these pretty li'l flowers!  They just love the sunshine and knock themselves out making the garden pots a riot of beautiful color.

All the worrying and fretting we did back in March, April, and up to May about another drought situation was all for naught.  Now it's a new story. We're happily making hay and giving thanks to God who has dealt bountifully with us.

"Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you...."  ~Psalm 116:7

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blooms and (almost) Birds


The spring blooms are still holding strong here in the North Country.  Columbine is prolific in my flower beds and so is the blue flax.  What is it about a blue flower that is so captivating?  I don't think there are many of them so perhaps that's why my eye is drawn to them.  Bleeding heart is another favorite.  I planted it long ago as a science experiment for the kids back when we were homeschooling.  Heart-shaped flowers are intriguing aren't they?  Our prairie rose is a wild rose that is found in low wet spots.  By fall they will have beautiful red rosehips.

Hubby was out moving manure from the lots and found a mother Killdeer guarding her nest for all she was worth.  He left it and cleaned all around her so she could finish what she had begun.  I took my bike out there to get a snapshot of her eggs -- just three right now.  Usually they lay four, all points facing inward.  Mama Killdeer was there, but elusive so I couldn't get a pic of her.  I plan to keep checking on the nest in hopes of spotting her chicks.  Once they hatch, they take off running.  They are born with their Nikes on!  I've seen them a few times on horseback; they are so cute with their long legs and heads bobbing.  Check this out.

Speaking of all this lovely nature, have you been watching the Discovery TV series, North America?  It's fantastic.  I'm recording it.  If you love nature, you'll love this.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thanks, Dad....

You are the Best Dad Ever.
Happy Father's Day!
I love you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ranchwife de-cluttering...

Start with a tractor.

There's a lot of talk out there about de-cluttering, simplifying, and letting go of excess things in your life.  Blogs, books, and Pinterest boards all have great ideas, but for me, I've got to get in the right mood and then watch out!  The heaving of bags and boxes and bedding begins.  I don't have a fancy method or 10 steps.  I keep it simple -- just do it!  Today it all started when I decided to do some housekeeping.  I dusted.  Then I vacuumed.  As I did just these two things, I noticed the piles of magazines, the closet shelves bulging with old blankets and pillows and oversized clothing.  I've certainly noticed these things before, but today was different.  My mood was of the get-rid-of-it variety, and I always give in to that feeling because it comes so rarely.

I thought I might sort through things a little, but honestly, I didn't feel much like that.  I just wanted the stuff outta here!  So without thinking about anything too much or looking at things too long, I began to carry stuff out to the tractor.  Once in the bucket, there was no turning back.  I did spend some time pulling Hubby's oversized clothes off the hangers and placed them into a couple bags for thrifting, but those were the only things I sorted.  The rest just flew from my hands and into the tractor.  

I hauled off two loads to the dump.  Yup, we have our own dump.  It's a luxury.  Man, does it feel good to have at least some of my excess stuff gone!  I'm far from done with this project -- the crawl space still beckons -- but even if I quit today, I feel like I accomplished a lot.

Now I think I'll go outside, read a book, and enjoy my summer porch flower.  I call it my Baby Begonia because she'll require a tiny bit of extra TLC.  She was a $15 steal at the local Shopko and will be worth every dime for the summertime satisfaction she will bring me.  Isn't she lovely?  For all her beauty, I didn't give her a fancy vessel to live in, but I like the look all the same.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

A prairie walk...

Hubby and I drove out to Chuck's to check on the yearling ewes and their babies.  They seem very content, and the lambs look quite healthy and strong.  There is just something about seeing ewes and new lambs on the green prairie that thrills my heart.

Do you remember that part of our pastures burned up in a prairie fire last summer?  If you don't, click here to see it.  The May rains have brought the grass up and blanketed the bare ground with green goodness.  The sage brush and prickly pear that were once there are gone, and all that's left is a green prairie meadow.  We probably won't turn out any livestock here until late in the fall so the grass can mature and set seed.


After looking around at Chuck's and Gramma's Pastures, Hubs decided to move the cows and calves that we just branded out to the North Pastures.  While he pushed them northward, I got out and walked for a good half hour or so and enjoyed the sights.  I didn't realize it until I got home, but the mosquitoes enjoyed my tender neck meat.  (itchy itchy itch)

I wish I could have recorded the sounds of the meadowlarks and buntings trilling and the frogs croaking along the creek.  And then there was the pungent, woodsy aroma of the sagebrush that you can't experience without being there.

I did capture this Western Meadowlark giving his all in full operatic voice.  I found a place where you can listen here.

The Gumbo Lily (below) is what this blog is named for.  It's a prairie dweller that prefers the clay gumbo soil and only makes an appearance once during the early spring.  Normally the blooms last a very short time so if we don't get to the gumbo pastures at just the right time, we often miss the gumbo lilies blooming.  There were a very few left in bloom.

A little further down there were cool, clear waters.  What a sight!  It was once a parched, dry land, and now it is a refreshing, life-giving green pasture.

"For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  And the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water... the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return, and come with joyful shouting..."  ~Isiaiah 35:6,7,9,10

Thank you, Lord, for your gifts.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Lord is my shepherd....

 I shall not want...

 He makes me lie down in green pastures...
He leads me beside quiet waters...

He restores my soul.
~Psalm 21

We accounted for the flock and wormed the lambs.
136 ewes
230 lambs
170% lamb crop.

The yearling ewes are currently wild-lambing in Chuck's.
They are happy and it looks like many are twinning.

This past week:  3.5" of rain.
I shall not want.

Monday, June 03, 2013

High chair refurb...

(High Chair - Before)

I believe this is a Cosco high chair because of the classic design style and hearty build, but there is no label or imprinted name on it anywhere.  I'm guessing this is a 1960s version because of the color and weight.  This thing is H E A V Y !  OnlyDaughter bought the chair for me at a garage sale for $5.  I've been looking for one of these ever since the Stork started delivering grandbabies to us.

I really don't like the modern high chairs because they take up SO much space, and because they are mostly made of plastic.  This smiley-face yellow chair is one sturdy piece.  I have never refurbished a metal high chair before so I did some research before I plunged in to the project.

The chrome on the frame was in great shape, but not the tray.  I broke the chair down, unscrewing the frame and taking the seat apart. I used WD40 to loosen the bolts and then set the bolts aside to soak in a little WD40.  I used a damp steel wool pad and Dawn dish soap to scrub off the dirt and any rusty spots and then gave the tray a good working over.  I was thrilled with the results, however, the wear was too deep on the tray for me to scrub out.  FirstBornSon tried chrome polish on it, but it didn't work either so I decided I would just paint the tray. The vinyl seat was in such good shape, I chose to keep it for now.

I used Rustolem Clean Metal Primer spray paint followed by two coats of Rustoleum Gloss Protective Enamel on the tray, seat frame, and foot rest.  I was concerned about how safe a spray paint enamel would be on a child's tray, so after I stenciled "EAT" on it in sunny yellow, I went over it with three coats of water-based polyurathane.  I'm hoping it protects the enamel paint on the tray and the food that comes in contact with the tray surface.  I figured if poly is good enough for a wood table, it's good enough for a metal tray.


After re-assembling the chair, I sewed a belt for it so we could keep wiggly children in.  I used a D-ring on one side of the belt to cinch it. 

 Here it is, all shiny and clean and ready for Little Eaters!   

Over there 
Is Baby's chair,
His silver cup,
And silver spoon...
Baby's supper time
Comes soon.
~Baby Looks by Eloise Wilkin


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