Sunday, October 15, 2017

She's a Frisbee dog!

Heidi has been our summer boarder.  I think we've had her living with us since June when our youngest son came to the ranch to work on fence for us.  Now she's become a permanent resident.  One of her favorite things to do is to play Frisbee.  She carries it around with her most of the day or at least she knows right where it is in case someone comes along who is willing to throw for her.  If you have a dog, I highly recommend the Kong Flyer.  They are made of the toughest rubber known to human or canine.  This dog cannot bite through it which is a miracle.  We've had the Kong balls too and they are great, but they tend to get lost in the tall grass between our houses.  

Today I thought I'd snap some shots of Heidi playing Frisbee.  She can catch it in mid-air which I think is quite a feat for a large German Shepherd.  I've never had a German Shepherd before, but I've read that they have lots of energy and need to play hard so we play.  Heidi has also been a super walking friend.  She keeps me in a swift gait while we walk.  I'm working now at teaching her to heel as we walk along.  She's doing really well until she sees a rabbit or deer running in front of her. This evening we walked in a pasture where some lambs were grazing and she walked right beside me as we strolled on by them.  I was so proud of her!

It's been a beautiful fall day here this Sunday -- 56* and sunny with a little breeze.  It sounds like the coming week will actually be hot for us --  maybe up to 80*.  That seems crazy since most nights we drop below freezing right now. Many of the trees have lost their leaves, but the Cottonwood trees are the prettiest yellow-gold right now.  It's been a wonderful fall.

"Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles Shultz (cartoonist, Peanuts)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall Nature page: Seeds

I was inspired to put some seed pages into my Fall Nature Journal when I discovered the journal pages that Heather and her children were making.  I remember making seed charts when I was a 5th grader in school.  It was so much fun hunting for seeds around the neighborhood and then labeling and gluing them to my chart.  I think my chart was fairly "freestyle" compared to some of my friends' charts, but doing the project was probably way more fun to me than the end result. 

I have a pile of zinnias and marigolds that I pulled up last week that have dried out.  I'll dig through it for some of the seeds to save and plant in next year's flower beds.  The grandkids planted Forget Me Nots in their tire gardens and so I gathered up a few of those seeds to scatter in my beds.  

I felt like a 5th grader again collecting seeds and pods and sketching them into my nature journal.  Fun!  Are you a seed saver or a seed appreciator?

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Fall nature journal pages...

I finished another couple pages in my Fall Nature Journal.  It's funny how things make it into my journal.  I don't really plan anything, but just watch for things and then add them in as they come along.  I am sure that every fall season looks very different from others and yet similar too.  At least here, we can sometimes have snow at this point in the year, but today was a beautiful day -- 75* with gray clouds mixed with sunshine.  One moment I was in my shirt sleeves and the next moment I had a light jacket on.  That's very fall-esque.

I feel like I've been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster this past week.  The Las Vegas massacre started it off -- such a sad, sad thing. I've been praying much for people.  And I've been praying for our nation.  Then we put down our old dog, Sue.  She was 12 years old and a dear friend.  At the same time our youngest son, TheGolfer, left for the season.  He had been living with us, working on our fencing project, and taking in golf tournaments all summer.  His German Shepherd, Heidi, was here the whole time and became another good friend to us.  They left together this week and it was a bit of a let down -- kind of like when everyone comes for Christmas and you're having such a merry time and all at once, everyone leaves.  There was joy in remembering the days, but a little emptiness when it all ended.  Today GolferSon came back to help us again and brought Heidi back with him.  He asked if we could keep her.  He said she was miserable at his place in town, so now we have a new dog-friend.  She's just a year old and has a ton of energy.  So totally opposite Sue.  I'm thankful for a walking buddy and a protector and a playmate for the littles when they are here.  She's so good with the kids.  I do feel sad for my son, but he loves her and knows what's best for her.

Hubby and I watched the movie, The Shack this week.  It was good.  I read the book years ago and I liked it then, and the movie just added another dimension to it.  The movie came along at a good time since the message is: love one another and forgive one another.  We all need to do more of that, don't we?  I sure do.

Thanks for stopping by, Friend!  God bless you!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Cabinet painting...

I love how the sunshine is coming low into the windows with the short, fall days.  I had to click this pic of our applesauce in the glowing sunlight of late afternoon.  My daughters and one of their friends came and we had a big day of making applesauce a week ago.  It was fun and busy with twelve children running hither and yon while we were busy in the kitchen.

I've been painting my lower cabinets for several weeks.  My cabinets are only 5 years old, and were  put in new in 2012.  They were chipping and getting water damaged, especially around the sink, and so I decided it was time to repair them and repaint.  My cabinets were all cream like the upper cabinets.  I chose to go with Annie Sloan's chalk paint in French Linen for the lower cabinets.  I am really happy with the results.  It is not perfect, but it is perfect enough for me.  After priming and painting them with two coats of chalk paint, I then sealed them with three coats of MinWax Poly-crylic in a flat finish.  Traditionally, Annie Sloan paint is sealed with wax, but I chose a hard sealant by using the poly to keep water problems at bay.  The poly was a water-based latex so it was easy to apply, clean up,  and it dried fast between coats.

I'm linking a great little web page here that shows you all of the Annie Sloan colors as well as what they look like when you apply the dark wax to them.  This same site has lots of tips for painting with Annie Sloan chalk paint.   However, I do recommend you go to a store that carries the paint and take a look at their samples.  I was lucky to have a store nearby that carried the paint AND she had many samples of re-furbished furniture and lamps and mirrors that she used AS paint on.  That was great for me because I was leaning towards another color--Paris Gray-- but when I was able to see the French Linen next to Paris Gray, I knew I wanted the French Linen color.  I think it looks very homey and warm in my kitchen, and now I'm breathing a sigh of relief that I am DONE!  I think it will show less dirt in my very lived-in ranch house too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

So long September....

SEpteMber was full of lots of happenings:

Bike riding
Picking apples
Canning apple sauce and apple butter with the daughters
Making plum jam
Digging potatoes
Pulling carrots
Planting garlic and lettuce
Picking brocolli
Working cows and pregnancy testing 
Turning in the bucks
Pullet hens begin to lay 
A few nice rainy days
Painting kitchen cabinets (still in the process)
Starting a watercolor nature journal

Now it's time to say, "So long September, it's been nice knowing you."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall nature journal pages...

Pom Pom invited me to participate in keeping a fall nature journal.  I really love doing this.  I used to keep a nature journal for years when I was homeschooling the kids.  We all kept journals and learned together.  Those journals are treasures. With this nature journal, I'm challenging myself to do it in watercolor.  I'll probably add in a little ink too, but basically, I'm wanting to practice watercolor all the way through.  

The past four days have been very cloudy, cool, and drizzly and we've even had a pouring rain a time or two.  It's been such a blessing that I had to make a cloudy, gray, fall sky for one page of my journal.  The temperatures have cooled off here -- 40s for the highs -- so the air really has a cold snap to it.  It's definitely jacket weather.  I had a nice walk along a fence line this afternoon.  The skies were watercolor grays and there was a light mist that felt refreshing as I walked. CarpenterSon drove the pick-up while I pulled steel posts out of the back and leaned them along the fence.  Behind us, Hubby and TheGolfer were pounding them in.   Fall teamwork!

I hope you're appreciating all that Fall is bringing your way.  Don't forget to stop and smell the falling leaves.  I love that smell!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Painted Ladies...

There's been a hatch!  Painted ladies are flying around everywhere this past week.  They are especially interested in my zinnia patch.  It's wonderful to see.  How many can you count in the zinnia patch?

I've been in the garden planting my garlic and a little bit of lettuce seed just in case we continue to have warm-ish fall weather.  I'd love another crop of lettuce before winter days come along.  If the lettuce doesn't germinate, the seed is there for next spring and I'll be watching for early lettuce.  I'm also doing an experiment with some garlic seed.  I let a couple garlic plants go to seed (like onions do) and then saved the seed to plant.  I have no idea if they will produce since garlic is a bulb and produces from bulbs, but I figure if I don't try it, I won't find out if it works.  I like experiments.

I dug up more potatoes today and I figure I have roughly 70 pounds or maybe more.  I had to quit today because some of the potatoes are underneath the pumpkins.  The pumpkin vines have sprawled out over the potato patch and there are some hefty pumpkins laying on top.  I could move them, but I decided not to.  They can just keep on growing and continue to bask in the sun until the vines are all withered or frozen.  Then I'll resume the potato digging.  The grandkids have already spied the biggest pumpkins and are anticipating pumpkin carving.  

The onions are pulled up and drying on newspaper in the garage.  There are some really nice, big Walla Wallas.  I love onions and use a ton of them through the year.  I really ought to grow more of those and less of cucumbers and zucchini.

Speaking of zucchini (which I always do), I plan to do a big baking tomorrow.  We are expecting some nice rains for the the next couple days or so.  Hurray!!  I'm going to make zucchini-everything (breads, cupcakes, and who-knows-what).  I also have some grapes that my dad harvested in the freezer so I might pull those out and make them into jelly.  

It seems there is always so much to do when September rolls around.  Soon we will be working cows and calves -- vaccinating and sorting and pregnancy testing.  We turned the bucks into the ewes on September 11th which is our tradition for February lambing time.  The young ewes will receive bucks on Christmas Eve which is our tradition for their May lambing time.  Hubby bought 6 new bucks and my goodness! they are handsome fellows.

There was a prairie fire just 6 miles from our ranch and so the men were called out along with the other volunteer firefighter-ranchers.  Someone had a trailer tire come off on the highway and they were driving on their rims with sparks flying.  The prairie caught fire from the road sparks.  We have a very old 1000 gallon tender truck here that was filled and ready to go so when Hubs called me, I jumped in and took it to our turn off at the highway.  I didn't stay and fight fire, but JLynn and I did stomp out some fire next to the asphalt with our shoes and water bottles.  I guess we did our part.  

One of my Bloggy Friends, Pom Pom, is going to be keeping a fall nature journal.  I'm thinking of joining in on the fun.  Everywhere I look, I see things to record in a journal or at least, in my mind.  If you'd like to join us, please do!  The more, the merrier.  I'm seeing white asters, goldenrod, maxamillion sunflowers, spiked gayfeather, and curlycup gumweed growing wild in the pastures just now.  What kinds of fall flowers are growing where you live?

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 07, 2017


 White-lined Sphinx
(or hummingbird moth)


Red-tailed Bumblebee

The first few days of September have been cool, in the 70s during the daytime and as low as 38 degrees in the night.  We were waking up to a very chilly house because we like the windows open.  The last couple of days we've reached back up into the 80s but every night is very cool.  I'm noticing the trees starting to show little patches of yellow leaves here and there, almost like a man who is going gray at the temples.  That's what I always think of when I see the beginnings of leaves changing.

The sunflowers are thriving and so are the moss roses, zinnias, marigolds and petunias.  In the evenings or early mornings we see the sphinx moths flitting from flower to flower sucking nectar just like hummingbirds.  They looks so much like hummingbirds  that some have nicknamed them hummingbird moths.  Have you seen them?  The grandkids and I have been noticing an unusual amount of red-tailed bumblebees around.  They love my moss roses, but will hover over any flower that's still in bloom this late.  They've been good pollinators for me this year and constant companions in the gardens.

The fencing project has been going great!  The men have accomplished so much.  I have contributed a little bit.  I go out with my bucket of clips for the steel posts and clip down as many wires as I can.  There's lots of walking and squatting in this little job and my hands do feel the effects of twisting clips around posts.  I try not to overdo it.  I have that luxury, but the men don't.  They just keep on working when I'm ready to call it a day and go do something else.  I figure I'm helping them, even if it is just a little here and there.  The girls and I do bring out iced tea and snacks most afternoons and that's a fine contribution when you're hot and tired and need a break.

The daughters and I spent Tuesday working up the apples that we picked from my parents' apple tree.  I'm guessing we picked about 3 bushels or maybe a little more.  It took us all day washing, cutting, cooking, and milling the apples but many hands make light work!  By the end of the evening I finished off pressure canning the last of the jars of apple sauce and the final total was 28 quarts and 17 pints of apple sauce.  The apples were so sweet that I think we only used a total of 4 cups of sugar for all of it.  We probably could have gone without sugar, but adding that little bit sure did mellow the sauce out.  There is yet another tree almost ready for picking so we will have another applesauce making day very soon.  

The garden is still supplying us with fresh broccoli and green beans as well as carrots, potatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, but the lettuces are waning.  I have some new lettuce sprouting up so I have hopes for fall greens.  The tomatoes are still green, but there are many on the vine.  I suppose once they ripen, they will all go at once and we'll have to have a tomato canning bee!  Pumpkins and squash are setting nicely.  The grands will love the pumpkins for carving jack-o-lanterns.  I think I will carve their names on the green pumpkins and see how they turn out when they are ripened!  I'll plant garlic very soon for next year's crop.  

We've had a few days of smoke drifting down from Western Montana fires.  I can't imagine how awful it must be there in the midst of the fires when we have had days with thick smoke being hundreds of miles away.  There have been a few fires in our area too.  NumberOneSon and CarpenterSon have gone out on several fire calls.  Our volunteer department is small, but effective!

I hope your September is going well.  Are you enjoying the big moon?  I guess it was full on Wednesday.  It's sure big and red-orange in the sky when it is rising. Tonight I'm going to tip back in my lawn chair and look at the stars.  It's a beautiful summer night.  I'm still hanging on to summer!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

By our love....

 "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  ~John 13:35 

This past Sunday in our humble country church we sang the song, They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.  I can't remember when I last sang this song, but I am sure it was in the 1970s with a guitar strumming and a group of young singers singing.  In all truth, I was surprised it was in our hymnal.  I sang it with my whole heart and soul and spirit, just like I remember doing back then.  Hubby and I have been praying for revival in our land and this song reminded me of how crucial it is to love one another right now.  The pastor's message was, "Love Your Enemies."  


We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

All praise to the Father from whom all things come
And all praise to Christ Jesus his only son
And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Do you remember singing this song?
Have you sung it lately?  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kids and Chores...

Look here!  One of my pullets is starting to lay.  This is the third egg she has lain this week, one each day so far.  I'm waiting to see how many more will lay.  It shouldn't be long before all 24 of them start laying and then we will be absolutely swamped with eggs from old laying hens and new laying hens.  I do think I might have found a home for my old hens this fall so that'll be nice. 

This picture of my hand-washed eggs and the tiny pullet egg in the middle reminds me of the days when our kids were young and had chores to do.  Washing eggs was one of them.  There were eggs to collect, chickens to feed and water, dishes to wash and dry, floors to sweep, hay to pitch, horses to saddle, and many other things, right down to feeding the cats.  Some chores were fairly easy and relatively painless, but other chores were never-ending or very demanding.  It wouldn't be long before a child lost interest or just got sick of doing the same old things over and over again.

Just the other day I received my Mother Earth News magazine and read an excellent article called:  Transform Children’s Chores into Small BusinessesIt was so good that I read it aloud to Hubby during our morning coffee time.  We both agreed that the author was spot on when it came to kids and chores.  In a nutshell, he encourages us to find ways to make chores into small businesses that kids can run on their own.  Perhaps there might be a little start-up help from parents, but his advice is to allow the child to sink or swim with his or her endeavor.  

I remember back when we had a milk cow.  Goldie came fresh each spring and she always had enough milk for her calf and another calf, and then there was a little extra milk on top of that which came into the house.  I strained it and we drank it and made the best puddings with it.  The kids took turns milking the cow and it really was the dreaded chore because she needed to be milked morning and night at about the same time each day.  The milking chore lasted all spring and through most of the summer.  If you've ever milked a cow in summer, you know what a drudgery it can be.  Tail swishing flies, fresh poop to scoop, flies in the grain, hot and sweaty being up-close-and-personal with a warm bodied cow.  You get the picture.  As time went on, no one wanted the job of milking the cow or tending to the calves until one day Hubby announced that whoever wanted to milk the cow would receive the money from the sale of the calves in the fall.  Wow, everything changed then!  All the kids wanted in on the action.  So in the fall, they all earned a little something for their efforts.

One of our sons decided he wanted to start an egg business.  He was about 10 years old at the time.  He found a few local customers, took orders, and tended to the chickens.  I helped him get started and he did the rest for quite some time.  The money was good and the chickens were fairly simple to care for.  But then that little business fell back into my hands because something better came along.  Aunt Betty wanted to sell her small herd of sheep.  Two of our children emptied their bank accounts to buy the sheep which were lambing in December at the time, a less than ideal time to lamb, but Aunt Betty made them a good deal.  From that time on, the kids had their own sheep business and that little band of ewes allowed them to buy used cars, buy cows, and go to college.  It was one of the best small businesses ever.  Eventually we bought the ewes as the kids moved on in their lives, and I still say it's one of the best small businesses ever, even for adults.  The input cost is very minimal and the income is pretty darn good when you consider you get two crops -- wool and lambs. 

We shared the article above with our own kids who have young families.  I hoped they'd be encouraged by it.  Our daughter talked with me about it and said it wasn't quite so practical for her children since they lived in town.  I disagreed.  There are money earning opportunities wherever you live.  We then discussed ideas that might work for them.  I mentioned baking goodies or breads, and OnlyDaughter said, "Oh, you know what?  One of my friends has an 11 year old daughter who takes orders for homemade bread every week.  She loves to bake bread and she sells it as her own little cottage industry."  The wheels began spinning in her mind and we came up with lots of ideas:  growing and selling pumpkins, a paper route, making rice crispy treats to sell at Daddy's feed store,  growing flowers to sell, shoveling snow, and the list went on.  

When I was a young girl, my friends and I were always trying to figure out a way to make a dime.  We put on plays, sold pumpkins, made kleenex flowers to sell door to door, shoveled snow, and whatever else we could think up -- and we were little squirts then.  As my siblings and I got older, we all had jobs.  I cleaned homes and cleaned rooms for a hotel.  I also worked at a drive-in cooking.  So I say, you don't have to live in the country to earn money or have your own small business.  Find a need or find something you're good at and just do it!

Did you ever have a small business as a child or teen?  How about your own children, did they find ways to earn their own money?  What do you think about children turning chores into cottage industries?  Please post in the comments.  I encourage you to read the article  and share it. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer goodness...

This recipe is so magnificent!  I found it on Simply Recipes, where I find lots of delicious recipes.  I constantly refer to it when in doubt about how to fix something.  The flavor combination in this bread is excellent.  I hope you try it, especially if you're loaded with zucchini like I am.

A spade 'o spuds!

Do you see my broken spade handle there?  The spade is perfectly fine, but it needs the right sized handle to replace the old, broken one.  But guess what?  The new handles, this size, are hard to come by and they cost more than a brand new garden spade! Do you ever find this as frustrating as I do?  It used to be that we would replace handles on everything, and we still do, for the most part, but on occasion, the new shovel is cheaper than the handle.

About the potatoes:  I dug a spadeful to check on them and see how they are coming along.  Quite a nice bunch of medium sized red spuds.  And no scab so far this year!  We dined on a nice skillet of fried potatoes this evening along with our green beans with onions and walnuts.  So good!

A bowl o' beans!

The green beans are prolific right now.  Every few days, I can go pick another bowl of beans that feeds us at least twice.  These are the nicest beans I've grown.  They are slender and tender and just the way I want my green beans to be.  Of course, if I don't stay on top of picking them, they get  F A T  and tough, which I do not like at all.  The variety I'm growing this year are from Renee's Garden Seeds and they are called, Rolande Bush French Filet Beans.  They are definitely a "do again" in my garden.

A remuda of horses

On the drive to town last week, I took the short cut on the gravel road.  It's 35 miles of winding gravel road and just 10 miles of paved road into town this way.  It's the scenic route, for sure.  See what I met at one of the car gates?  The neighbor's horses all standing together swatting flies.  Pretty, aren't they?

A herd of ewes

This morning we moved the ewes to greener pastures.  Can you see the green pasture they are going to graze?  It's our hay field which is coming back nicely due to some recent rains.  We won't hay it again, there's not enough there, but we will graze it this fall.  Lucky ewes!  It doesn't look like many sheep now since we weaned the ewe lambs off the ewes two days ago. All the sheep got wormed and checked -- poor teeth and poor bags and any other undesirable features were marked. Those ewes will be culled.  There are 50 ewe lambs and they just got their tags -- red this year.  Each year we put a different color in the ewe lambs ears so we know their age.  It won't be long and we'll be turning the bucks into the mature ewes for breeding.  Time sure does fly!

Yesterday we bought a box of Colorado peaches.  Oh my, but they are juicy and delicious.  I had one for my breakfast this morning and this afternoon I made a pie.  Such summer goodness all around me.  I hope you're enjoying the goodness all around you.

"We might think we are nurturing out garden, but of course it's our garden that is really nurturing us."  ~Jenny Uglow

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. 


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