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. 


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