Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Prickly pear roses...






We've been moving cows out on the summer range 
and the dry prairie is all abloom with prickly pear cactus.
The most beautiful roses ever!  
Just don't pick.
Ouch!
Happy Summer Solstice!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gardening...










Will you take a turn or two around the gardens with me?  We're still in the early stages of gardening, but things are coming along.  The flowers are taking their turns blooming.  The columbine are finished and setting seeds while the phlox are showing off along with the poppies and larkspur.  The last of the allium are blooming and the shrub roses are just starting with their spring show.   In a few days the lilies will be the sassy ones showing their enormous blooms and bright colors.  The zinnia  and nasturtium seeds have sprouted and show promise of flowers to come in mid to late summer.

The veggie gardens are up and growing!  It has been slow to warm up much here and the wind has been very blustery this spring so my tomato plants are small but healthy.  There are a few blossoms coming, but they need some heat to get excited about growing.  The same for the pepper plants.  Snap peas, carrots, and beans are up and happy.  Onions, garlic, radishes, and lettuce are abundant and we've had  a nice little harvest of asparagus.  Salad eating has been great so far this spring.  I didn't show any pics of the broccoli plants I plugged in, but they are quite happy.  So are the zukes and cukes and squash plants.  

The big patch on the hillside is my potato patch.  The spuds are growing great.  I'm hoping I can avoid potato scab this year.  We shall see how it goes.  It seems that every year is an experiment in the garden.  There are always so many variables year by year. I've been mulching everything I can with old hay to keep weeds down and water moisture in the ground.  That's working well.  The little garter snakes like the warm hay beds with an abundance of bugs underneath.  They surprise me now and then when I bend over to pull weeds.

I forgot to mention that my plum tree has quite a few green plums on it and the apple tree and tiny cherry tree have fruit on them too.  My cherry tree is about 3 feet tall at the most and it's bearing a handful of green cherries.  I'm tickled! 

I have a couple buckets of BFGs (big fat geraniums) that are flanking my front door with their plump, red balls of flowers.  I have always had red geraniums on my front porch in summer.  I like their old-fashioned welcoming ways. Do you?  What's your favorite front door or porch flower?

We've been working in the hay field making as many bales as we can.  The hay will not be abundant this year, but we'll get all we can.  We are thankful we have what we have.  Others in our area will have no hay to put up and hay will be expensive to buy.  Ranching is always a gamble.

Just a few more days until the official day of Summer!  Yay!  I love summer!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Salt...


"Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, 
how will you make it salty again? 
Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."
 ~Mark 9:50

This verse was part of my reading today.  
So I looked up how salt was used through the ages.  
Here is a short list that I came up with.

SALT:
Flavoring foods
Preserving foods.
Preserving fish and curing meats.
Pickling olives and vegetables.
Used in sacred anointing oil in Old Testament.
Infants were rubbed down with salt for health before swaddling.
Antidote for tooth decay and tooth ache
For cleansing (salt water)
Marco Polo reported that in Tibet, cakes of salt were pressed with images of the emperor and used as currency. Salt bars were, and reportedly are still used as money in parts of Ethiopia.
During the War of 1812, the American government,  unable to pay their soldiers in coin, paid in salt brine.
Emblem of firm union, concord, and agreement: hence the covenant of peace is called a covenant of salt.
Linked with health, hospitality, durability, and purity.
Considered as wisdom in speech.
..................................................................................................
I've been using salt these past few days, rinsing my mouth to heal a sore.  It stings a little at first, and then it soothes and gives relief.  Often I have used warm salt water to soak injuries and remove infection or to relieve sore throats.  It works beautifully.  Such a simple, common mineral is so useful.  It reminds me of what Jesus said, "Have salt in yourselves."  How can we be used as salt?  We can offer the hope of healing to an injured world though it may sting a little, we can offer relief, we can offer wisdom, we can offer savory taste to life, we can be spent while we are on earth because of Jesus in us.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ~ Colossians 4:6
He calls us the salt of the earth. 
What does it mean to you to have salt in yourself?
Are you salty?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The power of music...



Here's something I've learned about myself.  When I am driving home from a day of being in town, I sometimes start to get tired, and do you know what revives me (besides peppermint gum)?  Music.  Especially my Oldies Station, COOL 101.9.   It's the music I grew up with.  When I click on that station, my mind wakes up, I can sing all the words to songs that I've not heard in years.  When I see this video of Alzheimer's patients, I think to myself, we ALL respond to music, don't we?  If you'd like to read the article from Dr. Mercola on the power of music on dementia and Alzheimer's patients, it's really worth a read HERE.

I love so many, many kinds of music:  60s, 70s, Bluegrass, Jazz, Country, Classical, Hymns.  Just about every style and type.  Let's do something fun!  In the comments, will you list some of your favorite songs or artists or types of music? Who is on your iPod or on your Pandora Stations?
Here's mine:  Alison Kraus & Union Station, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Etta James, Leon Bridges, Motown, Sinatra, Gaithers, Selah, James Taylor, Eagles, YoYo Ma.  And I could go on and on!  Ok.  Your turn!

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pullets, hens, and haying equipment...

 These are my pullets.
Black Star.
They are black with a gold hackle and breast.
They are a hybrid laying hen that can lay 300+ eggs in a lifetime.  They aren't broody and tend to have a calm, friendly personality.  They are good feed converters and lay large brown eggs.
They will start laying in September, I hope.

 These are the Pearl White Leghorn laying hens.
They're still laying strong, between 20-23 eggs a day.

 Hens out grazing and grubbing.

 As you can see by the skies, we're hoping for a good thundershower or two tonight.
While we wait, NumberOneSon is getting the haying equipment ready.
Above:  Heston Swather, Vermeer Baler, John Deere Baler
hooked up to 4630 and 7510 JD tractors.
 
 This is my rig.
Vermeer rake hooked on to the old JD 2520.

And here's the mower.
A Vermeer attached to another 4630 John Deere tractor.
We're sure hoping that a good rain puts a halt to our start up.
We'd rather let the hay grow, but if it doesn't rain, 
we're going after what we have.
Praying for rain.
 
“I will give you rain at the right time, 
and the land will yield its produce, 
and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” 
~Leviticus 26:4

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Sunday drive on the prairie...

 Twogrooved Poisonvetch
purple flower in foreground.
The light yellow all over behind are
Meadow deathcamas.
Both plants are poisonous to livestock.

 Hereford cows and calves on summer range.

 Smooth Beardtonge
or
Penstemon Glaber

 Ballhead Ipomopsis
or
Ipomopsis congesta

Ballhead Ipomopsis

Hubby and I took a morning drive out to check cows and calves and to evaluate the grass and water situation.  Everything looks pretty good on the range, but the hay fields are not so great.  The hay is  very short and burning up fast so we'll start cutting this week unless we get a big thunderstorm.  We went from cold and windy to hot and dry practically overnight.  Such is life on the northern prairie.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Canyon Hike!

 Looking below to the Canyon highway from up in the cave.


Woody mosses growing on the rocks.  
It's a rock moss,
in cushions, very branch-like underneath.
 I'm trying to figure it out.

Here is a photo closer up from another source.
If you know this moss/plant, please let me know in the comments.




Son, Sasquatch and Me.

While Hubs went golfing on Monday, I took a hiking trip with Sasquatch who lives near Spearfish Canyon.  He's a lover of the Canyon and hikes all over it, mostly with his dog, Hope.  He tries to find new paths and places to hike instead of always taking the established trails.  We went to what he calls No Name Cave, and we hiked almost an hour straight up over fallen rock and trees mostly.  It was hard work for me, but Sasquatch climbs like a mountain goat.  It was exhilarating and so fun to be hiking with my son.  He grew up learning local plants, grasses, and tree names and he has continued to discover and learn in the Black Hills.  I enjoyed talking with him about the plants as we went along.  Poison ivy was one that was abundant and so was the choke cherry.  There were many flowers just coming up, but not yet in bloom.  I told Sasquatch to send me photos when they are in flower.  He pointed out mountain snails among the limestone rock that only live in the Black Hills.  He easily popped off the name, Oreohelix cooperi, without even thinking!  We saw several along the way which indicates a healthy ecosystem, so the scientists say.  

Above all else, it was just great to be together.  The hike and sharing our love of nature was a bonus!

Now I'm feeling all that leg work, two days later!


Saturday, May 27, 2017

May lambs...



Spring lambs are arriving daily!
I love seeing baby lambs on the green grass.
We are keeping our distance from these yearling ewes and 
letting them have their babies on their own terms.  
Everything is looking good!
..................................................

A Frisky Lamb
 
A frisky lamb
And a frisky child
Playing their pranks
In a cowslip meadow:
The sky all blue
And the air all mild
And the fields all sun
And the lanes half shadow. 

~Christina Rosetti
 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Purple and blue hues...








The purply-blue skies are providing the rains that are making our country green up and grow lots of grass and hay and flowers.  The reservoirs are filling up too.  It's an exciting time.  The earth is slow to awaken this spring, but it's coming.  We have gone from the golden pea, daffodil, and dandelion yellows to more purple and blue hues of chives and allium, columbine and creeping charlie on my garden steps, catmint and violets, and the wild-growing blue flax.  The iris are just about to open too!  I love seeing the varied colors of spring coming and going.

As you see by my last picture, we have got the yearling ewes in and they are ready to lamb any day.  Since these will be their very first lambs, we will not fuss with them, but let them have their lambs on their own without our intervention.  Oftentimes when you fiddle too much with these yearling ewes, they get nervous and take off and leave their lambs behind.  We'll keep watch on them from field glass distance.  If the weather turns extremely wet for a long period, we will get them to the Big Barn, but still let them alone for the most part.  I love seeing newborn lambs on the green grass of May!

My gardening is slow-going right now.  It's just not been warm enough to plant too many things.  We had a low of 29* a couple of nights ago so we aren't totally out of the frost yet.  So I've been busying myself outdoors with mulching.  I brought over a couple of old, rotted, round bales of hay and set it on the bank near my yard.  I've been forking it up and wheel barrowing it here and there where I need it.  I've been mulching shrubs and trees and flowers, and I've thrown a good bunch of it over the potato patch.  I've also been tossing a lot of mulch over my veggie beds.  I don't really need it much yet, but I will, and I figure it might as well lay on the good soil and rot a little more and keep the weeds in the dark.  Later I'll tuck it around  new plants.  I plan to deep mulch everything in the garden when plants get large enough, that way I'll conserve water and soil moisture as well as make a good weed barrier with it. The mulch also helps with keeping water from running down slopes and hills.  The worms will love it, and so will I.  Needless to say, I'm feeling it in my hands, arms, and shoulders, but I'd way rather fork hay and push a wheel barrow and have something to show for it rather than do aerobics.  (I don't like exercise.  I'd rather do physical work.)

I've been taking a few Epsom Salts baths to relieve my tired body and I rub my achy spots with a  homemade magnesium butter.  I think it helps me sleep better at night besides soothing my muscles and joints.   This is the recipe I use from Wellness Mama.  You can also buy magnesium lotions and creams online like this one.  I like to rub it into my feet before bed.  I think it helps keep my feet smoother and it really feels good too.  The big plus is you get a good dose of magnesium right through your skin!  Have you ever tried magnesium butter or magnesium lotions for stiffness and achy muscles?  I think it's great.

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy Spring!  What colors are blooming where you live?

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair... ~Susan Polis Shutz

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day and a recipe




Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas out there!  It's been a nice day in my neck of the woods with a little lawn chair sitting, a little iced tea, and a little book and magazine reading.  I did also do a little mowing with the rider, but just a little bit.  I'm trying to be more restful on Sundays.  However, I know several mamas out there who are "on duty" this fine Mother's Day.  They are nursing sick children, feeding hungry babies, disciplining unruly toddlers, and moving college students home from school.  A mom's job is never done, really.  We must always be able to see the good and be thankful for each day and each duty and each Someone that God gives us under the sun.


Today I'm sharing a picture of my flower patch and my lawn chair sitting spot along with my rhubarb patch.  It's growing beautifully.  We had a nice thunderstorm overnight and it was just the thing for the rhubarb as well as all the other green things growing.  I also want to share a recipe with you for Rhubarb Salsa.  I know!  Can it really be good?  Yes!  It's fabulous!  OnlyDaughter brought some out a couple days ago for us to try and we all loved it.  I insisted that we make another batch so we did and we tried it out on the rest of the families here.  Even the kiddos liked it.  I'm sorry I don't have a fine picture to show you, but we ate it all up!

Rhubarb Salsa
Serves: 4-6 persons
 
The rhubarb replaces tomato in this unique salsa. To balance the tartness, I've added some honey and the kick of a jalapeno will bring it together for a surprising burst of flavor!
 
Ingredients
  • rhubarb (1 to 1½ cups) diced small
  • ¼ cup of sweet bell pepper, diced (I used red and orange)
  • 2 tablespoons of diced white or red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of diced scallions
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced (used red pepper flakes)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of honey (raw if you have it)
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan to boiling. Blanch rhubarb by placing in the boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds. Quickly remove the rhubarb and place in a colander. Run cold water over the rhubarb to stop the cooking process. Blot the rhubarb with a paper towel to dry.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, scallions, jalapeño, and cilantro. Add rhubarb and mix ingredients.
  3. In a small separate bowl, dissolve the honey in the lime juice and apple cider vinegar. Drizzle this dressing over the rhubarb salsa and stir. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
This recipe comes from Simply Fresh Dinners 
so if you want to see a beautiful picture of the salsa, you can click over there and see how wonderful it is!  I wanted to tell you that I didn't have jalapeno so I used red pepper flakes.  I didn't have scallions either so we added a little more onion.  I had lemon juice instead of lime juice.  I also threw in a tablespoon or so of diced Hatch chilies from my freezer.  So you see, you can fiddle with this recipe to your tastes as I always do as I did.  We at our salsa on corn chips and later that night I had it on my tacos.  Scrumptious! 

Some of my fondest memories are picking rhubarb at my Grandma & Grandpa's farm.  It was a prized fruit and Grandpa took good care of it making sure to heap on the decomposed horse manure every fall.  We kids would eat the picked stalks raw, dipped in sugar.  (We also ate crab apples and choke cherries fresh -- SOUR!)  Do you grow rhubarb?  What are your favorite rhubarb recipes?

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