Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hallelujah carrot....

 I've pulled up all the carrots, washed and bagged them up for the garage refrigerator.  I always like seeing what kinds of extra legs and limbs some carrots grow.
I found this one amongst the bunch and named it
The Hallelujah Carrot.
CaregiverSon says, "Your garden is blessed."
It was fairly successful despite the dry summer.
The potato patch produced quite well. 
I've uncovered and dug up half of the spuds.
  I'll wait to dig the rest until it sounds like a cold snap is coming.

 We have finished weaning calves and turned out all the cows to their winter pasture.

 Wide open spaces.
Can you just breathe in the clear, fresh air?
Crisp and clean.
Fall has been snappy these past couple weeks--
Sunny, but with a chilly wind that forces me to understand
that summer is past and winter is just around the corner.
Even though I've brought the Big Geranium into the garage to keep it safe from frost,
I know better than to think I will save it forever.  I brought in the Rosemary and Oregano with hopes that I might keep it growing indoors awhile, but the lack of sunshine hours will likely cause them to fade quickly.
Fall is here.
And that is that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

First Snow...

Was the First Snow.
Just a skiff,
but still
It's gone today.
That's okay
by me.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Work and play...


Gathering cows from the far North pastures takes time.
The pastures, as you can see, are terrible.  There has been less rain up there.
We probably should have brought the heifers home sooner.
We've been working cows, boosting vaccinations on all the calves, sorting into bunches,
and weaning some of the calves.  We've had several days of this.  It's fun to go through all the cows and calves and see how they are doing, but it's a lot of hours of work too. 
 Cowpokes like me feel it in the shoulders and hands.

We also worked the bred heifers to see which ones we will add in to the herd and which ones we will sell in November.
154 head averaged 949 pounds.
(a tally we need)
We DID get some rain!  
About an inch, which is wonderful for us.
No water running into stock ponds, but moisture nonetheless.


 When I'm helping trail cows, I am always looking for interesting things along the way.  I find feathers and plants, rocks and bones.
On this particular day, I found a pile of bones.  An old cow died.
This was her skull.
Evidently she had a lump jaw.  
I thought it was cool how the lump turned into a kind of calcium coral reef.
Ugly and beautiful.

Below is more of my playing...
...fiddling with watercolor paints.
I've been having fun with some video tutorials.
They are very inspirational!

 The sketchbook on the left is my nature journal.
When I homeschool our kids, we all had nature journals to keep.  I've kept one on and off since retiring from my teaching job, and I've decided to start up again.
I tried to plunk a little watercolor in on my sketches.  It works ok.
I like it, but the paper is not so great (for watercolor) since it's just sketch paper.
I might look for a watercolor journal next time.

 Do you know the movie:  
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?
I grew up watching it when I was a girl, and our kids grew up watching it too.
Now it's time for the grandies to love it.
Well, my pumpkin watercolor above is a tribute to that Charlie Brown story 
and a tribute to my pumpkin patch
which is very sincere.
My grandkids had fun picking their very own pumpkins -- for decorating
and for carving jack-o-lanterns.

Sunflowers and a chickadee.
The chickadee is in my nature notebook too.
They've stopped by to feed and water in my backyard.
I do hope that some of them will decide to stay with us through the winter.

I've pulled up all the tomatoes now and have the green ones setting beneath newspaper in the garage with great hopes that they will ripen as the days pass.  The kids helped me pick all the pumpkins and those, too, are stored in the garage.  I'm leaving the potatoes and carrots underground and will pull them up as we need them.  They store best in the earth....until it freezes.
We did have our first freeze last week.
It's turning.
Fall is here!
Guess what?
I'm getting 33 eggs per day from the hens!
It's an EGGstravaganza!
Omelet anyone?

Are you taking a little time to play this fall?
Please tell me about it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A prairie autumn by the Little Missouri...

Seventy miles per hour down the highway, hanging out of the window with phone in hand.  That's how I captured the prairie autumn as we drove to town.  The droughthy year has taken a toll here.  You can see acres and acres of short, dry grass all along the Little Missouri.  The low pastures show a tinge of green near the river, and the Boxelder and Cottonwood trees are beautiful, golden dobs of watercolor, but pull away in the landscape and there is brown nothingness dotted with mounds of cow manure and prickly pear cactus.  It's been worse.  There is rain in the forecast.  We are hopeful....again.

The first photograph is of the little place we have along the river.  We haven't been able to graze the pastures yet this year due to the lack of water there.  The river is barely trickling, and besides it for water, the reservoirs are all dried up.  It's a rough and rugged place where we live.  One moment you think you're never going to make it through while counting the tenths and hundredths of inches of rain, and the next moment the heavens break open and blessed rain heals and renews the craggy, cracked land with a downpour.  It's a land where the temperatures can fluctuate 40 to 50 degrees in one day, where there is parched, scorching heat and cruel, blistering cold.  I call it The Land of Extremes.  We love this land like a mother loves her child -- despite its difficulties and defiance or its tender obedience -- there is unconditional love.  When it's green and bountiful, it's beyond belief.  When it's not, it's beyond belief.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Garden in still life...

 Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. 
~Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tally on cows...

 Trailing cows past an old homestead.
You can tell it's there by the trees.
Tally:  We pregnancy tested 450 cows today.
Only 27 open cows.
These are better results than we hoped for in a drought situation.
After testing, we turned cows out to fresh pastures.  They aren't the greatest, but they have better grass than the pastures they just left.

Hubby and I took out one bunch of cows and I was enjoying the scenery and the wildflowers along the way.  I captured this photo of Rubber Rabbitbrush.  Isn't that a funny name for a plant?

 This silvery sage-looking plant is called Winterfat.  The cows are absolutely crazy for it right now.  Everywhere they find it, they munch it right off.  I think it has a salty flavor that they crave plus it's high in protein.

The sage brush was "in bloom."  It is particularly strong-scented right now, perhaps because it's blooming.  I  like the aromatic, woodsy smell of sage brush.  Cattle don't eat it much, but the Sage Grouse eat the berries and have their young in it.  Sage brush is great cover for prairie animals.

A big day of work is done.  We'll be moving livestock out again tomorrow.
It sounds like rain might be in the forecast!
I hope so.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Know well the condition of your flocks....

 A skillet of pullet eggs frying for breakfast.
Two of the eggs were double-yolkers!
I'm getting 17 pullet eggs each day now and collecting 27-29 eggs a day.
Really.  Too many.  It's give-away season.

 A fall prairie bouquet.  Grasses, sunflowers and Queen Anne's Lace.

I made my favorite Gingerbread Cake today.
It feels like fall when I make it.  
It is deep brown, and rich, with earthy-warm spices.
Very good with hot coffee or tea.

 We brought the ewes closer to home.
It's time to turn in the bucks.

 I love this photo of the sheep going through the gate.
We turned in ten bucks today.
In five months we will have lambies.

Today was one of those Indian Summer Days.
Hot.  90 degrees.
This evening after shutting the chicken coop, 
I took the dogs for a walk 
and the wind came up all of a sudden -- strong and cold.
The cold front is moving in.
Tomorrow's high is said to be around 50 degrees.
We will be working cows outdoors
all week and pregnancy testing. 
We welcome the cooler weather for working livestock.

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will be for your clothing,
And the goats will bring the price of a field,
27 And there will be goats’ milk enough for your food,
For the food of your household,
And sustenance for your maidens.
Proverbs 27:23-27

Thursday, September 08, 2016

In the garden...

Even though we've been struggling through a drought in our area, my garden has been fairly good at producing.  Some things have done better than others, but that's to be expected.  We've had a full summer of daily salads, and we're still nibbling like bunnies at the greens.  I planted a little bit of lettuce every two weeks or so and we've been "eating green" all summer from the garden.  Finally the cucumbers and tomatoes are ripening.  So late.  So late.  But still, we're eating from the garden and I'm thankful for what we have.  The onions are small, and they are real tear-jerkers -- producing tears in the cook's eyes when she peels and dices them.  The garlic is beautiful -- my first crop of it.  I'm going to be planting some of my bulbs this fall for next year's crop.  It's a Siberian hard-neck variety -- a great variety for us northern growers.  As you can see, the pumpkin patch has trailed down the bank and there are gobs and gobs of orange and white varieties on the vine.  The frustrating part is that none of my butternut squash produced.  At least I haven't found any amongst the vines.  The grand-littles are going to love picking jack-o-lantern prospects from the pumpkin patch.

One fun experiment I did this year were the poblano peppers.  I always buy them at the grocery store for chile rellenos  and stuffed, roasted peppers.  They are so mild that we really enjoy them so this  spring I decided to keep a few seeds and started them in little paper pots.  I set them out when they were quite small, not sure they would make it, but they did, and they are really beautiful!  I can't wait to eat, them filled with cream cheese and roasted.  Mmmm.

I've been robbing a few spuds from the potato patch now and then.  I don't pull the plants, but leave them growing while I pluck a few of the potatoes that are close to the surface underneath the straw.  There is just something extra-good about homegrown potatoes.  We had some spuds pan roasted with a little olive oil, butter and Parmesan tonight.  Similar to this recipe, but in the skillet.  Mmmmm!

The last photo boasts of cucumbers.  Actually, my dad gave me some ginormous cukes from his garden.  I really didn't know what I was going to do with them, but decided to dice them up and make bread 'n' butter relish.  I also sliced some of them into spears and make a few jars of dills.  Another experiment I am doing is on pickles.  I have noticed that the Vlasic variety of pickles that are so crisp and delicious have an ingredient that most of us don't use in our pickle recipes -- calcium chloride.  I bought a small jar of Ball Pickle Crisp to try out in my pickles this year to see if I can get the same crunch as Vlasic.  I'll let you know if it works.

We had a very busy week last week.  The men removed old shingles and put all new shingles on our roof and NumberOneSon's roof.  What a TON of work that was!  Everything looks great and it's nice to have that project done before winter.  We also had friends from So. Cal. come visit for a couple days.  It was so nice to catch up with them and have some wonderful heart to heart talks.

Autumn is in the air!  The mornings are cool and crisp.  We wake up and put on jeans and long sleeves and by noon we are into our short-sleeves and I put on shorts.  By evening, we are back to pants and long sleeves again.  Such is fall here.  We've had a few showers of rain which has been good.  At least we know it can rain.  We are hopeful that there might be more rain on the way for us this fall.  It would be nice to put the trees and grasses to bed with a good amount of wetness at the roots.  God knows.  How is your fall going so far?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Retro Cosco high chair refurb #2...

Do you remember my first high chair refurb?  If not, click here.  It was a garage sale find that OnlyDaughter grabbed for me a few years ago, back when we were getting several grandbabies who could use high chairs.  I needed one for my house when the littles came to visit.

I just got another high chair to do a couple weeks ago.  I kinda like these projects.  JJo bought this high chair from Salvation Army Thrift Store for $2.  This one is a fold-up style, not nearly as heavy and sturdy as my first high chair project.  The seat and back of this one were covered in a black plastic table cloth.  I tossed the covering back on the seat so you could see how really UGLY it was.  I tore the chair down and stripped off the foam, but I could not remove the legs because they were riveted on.  That meant I had to tape everything before I painted the metal seat.  I repainted the chair back and tray too.  First I had to sand and strip the rust from the chair's seat and back.  The chrome legs and arms were in pretty good shape, but I used Bar Keeper's Friend on a damp rag to remove any rust or dirty spots.  I was thrilled at how well it removed rust and cleaned it up.  I used Bar Keeper's Friend on the rusty metal seat after I sanded it, and it worked very well on that too.  Good stuff!

For painting I used Rustoleum enamel metal primer and white enamel spray paints.  I finished the metal parts off with two coats of clear enamel spray paint to preserve the paint underneath.

I ordered Marine Vinyl from Amazon for just $11 per yard (including shipping).  This is the stuff you want if you ever want to replace vinyl seats on retro-style furniture or chairs like this.  I found that heating it with a blow dryer or heating it in the hot sun, gave it a nice smooth finish while applying it.  One thing I learned with this project since I didn't have anything to staple the vinyl to is to use Loctite Permanent Spray Adhesive (professional).  This was a life saver for me.  Since I knew the original high chair didn't probably have any cushy foam on the seat and back, I decided to use foam board.  I traced the seat and back onto the foam board, cut it, checked it, then used a lightweight quilt batting to put on the top of the foam board.  Then I laid my chunk of vinyl on top of that, flipped it over, and used the spray adhesive to glue the edges down on the backside.  It took plenty of fiddling and readjusting to get it just right, but it was SO much easier than using E6000 which I tried first.  I discovered you need the quick drying time of the spray adhesive to make this trick work!  Since there was nothing to attach the seat to, I used the same permanent spray adhesive to glue it down to the metal.  I stacked a bunch of encyclopedias on top of it while it dried so I was assured of good contact.  And it worked.

So, there you have it!  Number 2 High Chair Refurb!


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