Sunday, August 13, 2017

Library cards...

My daughter sent this photo to me while she was at our local library.  She and her girls like to go to the library fairly regularly so  I told her to look for the author Mitsumasa Anno who wrote several clever picture books for children, and guess whose name was on the card?  Mine!  And the one above my name is a friend's daughter.  Do you remember signing your actual name to the cards in the library books?  I always thought it was interesting to see who checked out the books before me, but when we were all assigned numbers instead, the fun ended.  Do you see number 334 on this card?  That was my number.  Now notice the number of "renews" there are under it.  I guess we really enjoyed Anno's Aesop.

We were homeschoolers and the library was  basically our school curriculum.  We all read a ton of books and the librarians were so much help to us finding particular books for the periods of history we were studying or science books or art books.  I remember one time our youngest, who was five at the time, went up to the librarian's desk, stepped up on the step stool, and asked if she could find him some books on how to read.  The librarian looked at me with questioning eyes and I said, "Well, can you?"   It was so sweet to see her come around from behind the desk and take him to some picture books about the ABCs.  By the way, Anno had a terrific ABC book called:  Anno's Alphabet and a couple of fun number books called:  Anno's Counting Book and Anno's Math Games which we checked out regularly.  If you have Littles in your life, they might love to read the Anno books with you too!

My married children are now homeschooling their children, our grandchildren, and it's just so much fun to share ideas and books with them.  The older I get, the more I have come to realize that the real learning in life happens naturally out of curiosity and wonder.  Day to day life teaches us many good lessons, but I am ever thankful for the trusty library card.  We could always dive deeply into a subject or choose to float lightly on the surface, finding the perfect library books to quench our thirst for knowledge and understanding.  Nowadays most everything in the library is computerized, and I think that has its many benefits, but it is still quite a lovely and humble thing to hear the stamp of the library date pressing down on a paper card in a paper book that can be held in eager hands.

Cheers to the library!

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
~Marcus Tullius Cicero
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Marcus Tullius Cicero
Read more at:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Z is for....

Zinnias! Zucchini!
Now trending at our place.

How about some zucchini bread?

Oh the joy of gardening up north where I live.  You go along watering and weeding forever, so it seems, and then all of the sudden, everything is ready for picking all at once. I'm not complaining, but geez, there's a lot of zucchini (especially when you have four plants) and the cukes are going to literally explode.  I picked a good mess of green beans that we will eat tonight with our supper.  

I planted one cabbage that I just picked.  It's the size of a basketball.  I could probably turn it into a gallon of sauerkraut but we'll probably just eat it as slaw.  I was thinking to myself, "What if I had planted a row of cabbages?"  I would need to make a five gallon crock of sauerkraut.  I guess that's why my Grandma used to make sauerkraut.  Not only was she German, but she probably had a whole row of cabbages that were mature at the same time.  How else do you preserve cabbage?

I just dug up the garlic and it produced beautifully.  It's not as big as Dad's, but I'm happy with my crop. I'll save some back for "seed" to plant this fall and the rest we will eat.  I think I need to plant lots more garlic.

What's trending at your place?

Sunday, August 06, 2017


 Zinnias, glorious zinnias!
Among them left to bloom are the lime green zinnias,
and Bells of Ireland.

 Apples are blushing!
Northern Lights Apple tree.

 Another head of broccoli, my biggest head yet!

 Gobs and gobs of lettuce and new leaves coming up too.
I'm keeping many families in greens.

 Pots of petunias!

 Plums are beginning to turn purple.

 There will be zillions of zukes since I planted 4 plants.
I thought two were not going to come up.
My kids like them so I'll share.
Just picked 3 cukes.  More to come.
The apples were picked illegally 
(says OnlyDaughter) when all the grandkids were here running every which way. 
No one was watching so they picked and tried a few bites.
Sour.  Not ripe.  Illegal picking without asking.

More zinnias.

It was a hard week here.
My brother died the week before this and we waited for family to get here.
He was too young, just 53 years old.
He leaves behind a 9 year old daughter and her mother.
He had a life of struggle. 
I read this version of Psalm 23 from The Message when I heard of his death.
I felt like he was telling me everything's ok.

1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

Peace, brother.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bully bulls...

All of us jumped into our rangers and went out to the pastures to move one bunch of cows from Chuck's to the East Pasture this morning.  The bulls are still in the cows and sometimes when you gather them all up together, the bulls and even the cows will fight a little.  I think they fight when they are left to themselves too, but when they get bunched up close like this, it's likely someone picks a fight.  The one picture we didn't take would have come at the end of this series when the smaller bull butted the bigger one right in the keester and he had the last word!  It was really quite funny!  No animals were hurt during this performance.

As you can see, it's getting really dry out on the range.  There is still plenty of grass in our pastures, but it's not soft and green anymore.  It's hard and dry.  In all truth, the grass in our area of the plains is called "hard grass" and it's got decent protein and is very nutrient dense.  It's good for grazing cattle which explains why they look so good.  We'd love a little softening of the land and the grass though.  So far we've only had clouds with lightning and wind.  We do think our north pastures got a decent rain one night, but the rest of the place is pretty dry.  We just continue to pray for rain.

My garden is doing ok.  At least I've picked a few zucchini, and today I picked my first head of broccoli.  I can't wait to roast it on the grill and see what kind of flavor it has.  The cucumbers are blossoming and so are the beans, but nothing to pick yet.  I dug up three heads of garlic that were going very dry.  Two were small and one was larger -- about the size of a 50 cent piece. I'm leaving the rest to see if it grows a little more.  My dad, whom I shared some garlic with for planting, has this GINORMOUS garlic growing in his garden.  I tell you, he dug one up and from the bulb to the top of the leaves was 5 feet tall!  And the garlic bulb was almost baseball size.  Incredible!  He must have the right stuff for growing garlic.  My tomatoes are  S L O W  to set fruit.  We'll be lucky to get a ripe tomato by September at this rate.  Oh well.  That's how it goes with gardening.  You have different successes in different years due to the weather conditions and many other variables like soil, bugs, dogs, and kids.  Farms near the sheep sale barn got hailed out last week.  It was a total disaster.  They had baseball sized hail and 90 mph winds to go with it.  Devastating.  We don't have anything to complain about.

I hope your summer is going well.  My zinnias are just starting to bloom so I hope to have some colorful flower photos for you soon!  God bless you!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sunflowers and sheepies...

It's sunflower time!  You see their sunny faces lining the gravel roads where I live, and they are towering over the shorter flowers in my garden beds.  They also grow wild in weedy pastures.  I love them.  They come up with little effort or care.  You know it's summer when the sunflowers make their appearances.  Speaking of sunflowers, they are a favorite food of sheep!  If you have a weedy lot or pasture, sheep will clean it right up for you, and they really love sunflowers best of all.

This past week we've been working sheep.  It was time to bring them home to sort off the lambs for sale.  They were grazing our Far North Pasture so it took a couple trips to bring them home to the sheep corrals.  It's been so hot that we didn't want to trail them too far at once.  They get so hot and tired with all that wool.  We went out very early in the morning the first day.  I had a great birthday gift that first morning out -- trailing sheep in the cool of the day with a pinky-orange sunrise behind them.  It really was a treat!

Wednesday the men sorted sheep while I tended to three grandgirls who spent the night -- Bee, Rootie Tootie, and Lily.  Then we loaded up the pick-ups and stock trailers and headed down the road.  NumberOneSon, CarpenterSon, and I were the truckers for the day and we made two trips each with loaded trailers to the Sheep Sale Barn about and hour and a half away from home.  After unloading my trailer, one of the yards girls commented to me what beautiful lambs we had.  That was a nice reward for our labor!

Thursday was sale day and so Hubby and I made the trip to the sale barn and watched the lambs sell.  You learn a lot about people and sheep when you go to a sheep sale.  Sheep barns are very smelly, there are flies and dust and there's poop, and there are hard-working folks who process the sheep through the corrals and onto trucks.  Lots of women are working in the yards at the sheep sale.  It's not glamorous in the least but they like the work and they like sheep. The folks sitting in the bleachers are not afraid of getting dirty, they like sheep, and are proud of their livestock.  There were crusty old ranchers, teenage girls, large Mennonite families, and middle-aged folks like us.

There was one middle-aged lady sitting next to us, Patty was her name, who brought in a LOT of lambs -- probably over 1000 head.  She was interesting to watch.  She had about 6 hired men surrounding her and she was busy keeping record of all the facts and figures as her sheep came through the barn.  They always announce the seller's name and the kind of sheep being sold, and then you can look up at a TV screen that shows how many head are coming through as well as the total pounds and the average weight per lamb.  The auction starts and the buyers can buy all or a gate-cut of the sheep.  When her ewe lambs came in, she raised her hand and announced that all the lambs with notches in their ears were twin lambs.  That was smart of her and a good selling point.  I took note of that in my mind.  After the sale Hubs and I both thought that it would be something we should do when we lamb next year -- just notch the ewe lambs' ears that are twins to good ewes right out of the jug.  It would make deciding which ewe lambs to keep as replacements an easier task.  We found out later that Patty has a herd of 3000 ewes in our county.  We had never heard of her before, but we could tell, she knows what she's doing.

Our lambs came in the barn, 262 head of mixed lambs with an average weight of 118 pounds, and boy oh boy, did they look smart.  They were fat and woolly and were one of the most uniform sets of lambs that came through the barn that day.  Getting lambs to all look the same and weigh approximately the same is something that is very desirable to a buyer.   We were happy to have gotten a very good price for them.  The thing about sheep is that they cost so little to run, they love to eat weeds, and they provide two crops -- wool and meat.  They are a great way to break into the livestock business on a small scale.  We like sheep!  On the way home we were talking about whether or not we should increase the herd a little more.

As I said before, the days have been really hot here -- in the 90s and reaching to 100 occasionally.  The wind is blowing a lot too and so the country is drying up fast.  We still have very good grass and pretty good water in the pastures which is a blessing.  Our yards and gardens are struggling, and I'm choosing to water vegetables over the lawn.  I'd rather have a homegrown tomato or cucumber than a green lawn any day!  The hay is all put up now and the bulls are turned out into the cows.  It's the summer mode we are in at this point.  There have been a few thunderstorms roll in, but they are mostly wind and lightning and so now we are watching the horizon for fires.  The men got called out to a small fire nearby, but thankfully, they snuffed it out.  We think about all the other folks in the country who are fighting big wildfires all over the USA.  Prayers go up for them.

I hope you're having a good summer. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

Look at these fireworks!
Even the flowers sing:
Happy Independence Day!
God bless America!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bright and beautiful...

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The LORD God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty
Who has made all things well.
(Mrs. Cecil Alexander) 

I'm playing today.
Studying flowers.
Drawing flowers.
Painting flowers. 
Loving flowers.

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.
Happy Summer Solstice!

Sunday, June 18, 2017


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 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.

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
Penstemon Glaber

 Ballhead Ipomopsis
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.


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