Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy LOVE Day....

Sweets for the sweet.
I baked the favorite sugar cookies with red-hots
for our kids and grandkids.
Grandpa Jim brought me the flowers.
I hope you are feeling loved today.
 God loves you!

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. 
Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.
~Romans 12:10
(Berean Study Bible)

Thursday, February 08, 2018

New lambing set-up...


 Downy Woodpecker

Moving snow off the road in front of our house.

We are all so happy with our newly revamped lambing barn and the new lamb panels set-up.  Not only did the men improve our barn exterior, but they built these wire and steel panels.  When the ewes and lambs spend a day in a small jug (pen) they graduate to a larger pen before they are sent out the door to the wide world.  These larger pens are the ones you see above that the fellas made this fall.  The whole set-up in the barn is different and very handy.  We think the ewes and lambs like it too because although they are separated by the panels, they can see each other and that gives them some security since they are herd animals who do not like isolation.

Last night another wave of snow hit and made driving up to the barn a problem.  With the blowing  snow drifting across the road, it was a little tricky and at times I felt I didn't know if I was actually on the road or not.  The last thing I wanted to do was to wind up in the ditch and have to walk home at 3:00 a.m.  But I made it just fine.  Today we've been having more and more snow which continues to drift everywhere.  We are hoping that it lets up this afternoon so the men won't have to plow the roads anymore and we can find our way up to the barn as well as to get out and feed cows.  The good thing about all this snow is the moisture.  We've been quite dry here and although snow isn't "wet" right now, when it does melt, there is hope of fresh, run-off in creeks and stock dams.

The Redpolls have been swarming the feeders today and we've had a visitor from the Downy Woodpecker too.  They are so fun to watch.  I'm spending a little time in between barn checks with my embroidery.  I have a couple projects going as well as the TAST embroidery stitches each week.  It's been fun incorporating the stitches into my projects.

Tonight the Winter Olympics start with Curling for one event.  It's the funniest sport to me.  I'm thinking that they are showing it early in hopes of gaining viewers.  There's also figure skating and downhill moguls tonight.  The Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow. Yay!

Monday, February 05, 2018

First lambs are born...

The first lambs have dropped!  Twins were born last night, the first set of 2018 with over 200 more ewes to go!  We got another dumping of snow last night which made our county roads pretty drifted.  I have to admit, it was a beautiful sight to see the prairie road drifted over like waves on the sea.  Much more wind and more snow will make roads impassible.  Thankfully, we know the man with the road plow and he plans to make a pass down our road today.

 Going out with no trail.

Coming back with a drifted trail.

 Image from American Sheep Industry

If you like wool like I do, be sure to notice the U.S. Olympic Team's official outfits for the opening and closing ceremonies in South Korea this February 9th and 25th.  They will be sporting American-raised wool sweaters, hats and mittens by designer, Ralph Lauren.  Korea is expecting very cold temperatures during the ceremonies and so wool will be a good fit for keeping our athletes warm.  If you'd like to read the full story in the Sheep Industry Magazine, click here.  I just love watching the Winter Olympics, and I look forward to checking in on all the events and the stats in the days to come.  Are you a Winter Olympics watcher?  What's your favorite event?  I like the downhill skiing and snowboarding.  I do love to watch the luge and bobsled and never miss the speed skating or figure skating either.  How about curling?  That's a funny one to me.  The biathlon (cross country skiing and shooting) looks very hard to me.  As you can see, I really love ALL of it!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Woolly & Naked...

 More snow



 Hello person.  Got anything to eat?

It snowed and turned cold right after we sheared the sheep.  It is winter, after all.  The wool was thick and beautiful and the wool warehouse manager was so excited to receive our wool that he immediately cored a bale of wool and took a sample of it with him to the American Sheep Industry annual meeting in San Antonio this weekend.  He said he wanted to show off the good wool we grow up here in the north country.  That was cool.

On Friday we worked through all the sheep and sorted off the pregnant ewes from the yearling ewes (who will lamb in May) and the late lambing ewes.  The bucks also went with the late lambing ewes.  Then we paint branded all of them -- red paint for the early ewes and green for the yearlings and late ewes.  Then we squirted some insecticide on their backs and turned them out.

206 ewes will start lambing on Feb. 7th or so
77 yearling ewes will lamb in May
22 late ewes will lamb in May
10 bucks
TOTAL:  315

We calculate that the ewes should begin to have lambs any day.  February 7th is our first due date, but the 206 ewes could drop lambs from here on out for the next two weeks or so.  It's going to get busy around here as we kick off the "spring season" with lambing.  I'm excited.  The men completely worked over our lambing barn this past fall.  They tore off the old holey tin, took out the rotted posts and roofing, and made everything like new again.  They even lined the interior walls with an inexpensive pressed board and painted it.  It's going to be a much warmer place for baby lambs.  We have the lambing barn all set up with jugs and some newly made twin pens.  The pens are bedded with straw and we are ready to roll.  It sounds like we are going to contend with winter as we go into lambing.  It was -14* F last night and stayed cold most of the morning.  We warmed up to 16* but are down to 3* for tonight.  I do hope we can get a nice little stretch of reasonable weather, but it will be what it will be and we will just deal with what we get.

I'll report back soon when we start having our first lambies. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Old dog, new trick...

This old dog has learned a new trick!  For years I have cleaned out the chicken coop with a scoop shovel and pitchfork, and I still do it this way, but I always brought a tractor to the door of the coop to scoop the poop into.  This day I did not have a tractor, but the skid steer was available.  However,  I didn't know how to run it.  We have had our skid steer for just a few months and I never learned how to use it so I asked Hubby if he'd show me how, and he was glad to oblige me.  The thing is, he couldn't get into the cab with me to teach me like he had in years past with the tractors because the skid steer is a one-seater and is so very small inside.  No room for two.  So I buckled myself in and let him talk me through it from the outside of the skid steer.  He provided sign language along with the oral instruction to to teach me, and he did an excellent job because in minutes, I was driving it and using the loader/bucket to do what I needed to do.  

I am so excited to have a new trick in my pocket!  The thing is, the more I learn about the equipment, the more valuable I can be to the ranch and to all who live here.  Not that I'm ever going to be as good at operating machinery as the men are, but I can do simple things.  Hubby has always told me how important it was for me to know how to run the tractors because if there would be an accident I could lift a bucket, turn off the power-take-off, turn it off or on, or move it when no one else might be around.  Learning to operate the skid steer is a confidence builder for me for sure!  I told my son-in-law who manages a feed store that if he ever needed an extra skid steer operator, he could call me!  He just laughed.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A morning walk...

 Sharptail Grouse 

Common Redpolls

Signs of children who play for many hours outdoors.
They love to make these shelters for rabbits and cats.

A beautiful, warm morning with sticky, melting snow underfoot.
Gray skies.
A January thaw.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time for tea...

Looking out my window.

It was so cold here yesterday that I only got to take a short little walk.  It was 0*F when I went out to gather eggs at the coop and go walking.  I was dressed for it and never felt cold except for my face.  I wear a wool Buff neck gator which really helps, but you still have to see and the cold makes my eyes blink and blink to keep them from freezing.  Going back to the house, I hung up my cold and wet things and decided to make a hot cup of green Kukicha tea and spend some time sitting in the sunny south-facing window with my embroidery.  It really was a beautiful, clear day, but it was deceivingly cold.  I sat on the floor because the sun was low and so I made my chair into a little table to set my things on.  It was nice to feel the warm sun on my skin and to have the sun shining in my eyes.  The light was terrific for embroidery.

About the tea....I've started leaving off my afternoon cup of coffee for tea.  I really, really love coffee, but it gives me the jitters and if I drink it too late in the afternoon, I have trouble falling asleep.  And I really do like my sleep.  I picked up Blueberry Green Kukicha Tea at the health food store on a whim.  I opened the tin and smelled it and was convinced I'd like it from aroma alone.  And I was right!  When I got home I steeped a cup and since I really didn't know what kukicha was, decided to Google it and see.  Kukicha, also called twig tea, is a Japanese tea made of the stems and veins of the tea plant.  It was considered "peasant tea" because the leaves were always the money-maker for their tea sales and not so much the stems and veins so tea growers kept those for their own tea making.  As it turned out, the twig tea has an even greater nutritional value than the green tea leaves and a lovely, nutty, creamy taste.  Add in the dried blueberries that my tea has and you've got a real winner.  I'm also happy that I can steep the tea 2-3 times.  It is said that Kukicha has 6 times more calcium per cup than a cup of milk, and not only that, it's loaded with minerals, has twice the vitamin C of an orange and contains A, E, and B vitamins.  It is almost caffeine free since it has less than 90% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.  If you'd like to read about Kukicha's many health benefits, click here and here.  I'm so glad I found this satisfying and nutritious dense beverage.  I hope you try it.

Last night's low temperature here was -20* F and this morning we woke up to -14*, but it's warming up now already to 9* and climbing.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Whole30 recipes...

 This dish began as a crock pot pork loin which was delicious, 
and then the leftovers turned into 
Pork, Green Bean and Potato Hash.

Osso Buco and Cauliflower "Rice" & Mushrooms

My "Take A Stitch Tuesday" for last week.
Running stitch, round and round my hoop.

Hello Everybody!
Hubby and I have knocked out over 10 days of Whole30 and we're feeling GOOD!  I've been working at collecting a group of tasty recipes that will conform to the rules of Whole30 so we can have some good things in our dining rotation.  I must say that we've been eating like Kings!  I want our foods to be tasty and mostly easy to make, and I think the recipes that I'm sharing here are all of that.  

Starting at the top:  The Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin.  There was a recipe I found online, but the only part I kept from it included the loin and the cooking time.  Otherwise, I did this:  Salt & Pepper a small pork loin and sear it on all sides in a skillet with a little olive oil.  Cut an onion into chunks and put it on the bottom of the crock pot along with chunks of  carrots, celery, and a couple cloves of smashed garlic.  Roll the seared pork loin into a mixture of course salt & pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary.  Lay the coated loin over the veggies.  Add about 1 cup of water down the side, put the lid on, and let it cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.  I served it with green beans sauteed with onions, water chestnuts, garlic and slivered almonds.

The next day I made a hash with the left-over pork starting with olive oil in my cast iron skillet, the pork pieces, onion, some left-over potatoes,  green beans and a clove of minced garlic.  Add salt & pepper and some smoked paprika at the end to your taste.

The Lime Chili Shrimp Fajita recipe was a hit too.  We both gobbled down an entire pan of this.  Since we are land-locked prairie savages, we don't have access to fresh shrimp, but I do buy frozen, raw shrimp from the local stores and it's just fine.  (What do we know anyway?)  The seasoning in this recipe is really great and I think you could make it with chicken, pork, or beef.  Even though it's a fajita recipe, we did not use tortillas because that's against the rules.  But you can use tortillas if you want.

Osso Buco is SO good.  We are cattle ranchers so we are blessed to have our own home-raised beef.  I know that "real" osso buco is made with veal shanks, but we don't butcher veal so instead, I subbed in beef shanks.  The servings are much larger than veal shanks, and I would venture to guess, every bit as tender.  This is an Ann Burrell recipe, so you know it's good.  The only things I did not follow  in the recipe was the fennel and the tomato paste amount.  I did not have fennel so omitted it and I probably only used 2 -3 tablespoons of tomato paste in my recipe.  

OnlyDaughter gave me a cauliflower "rice" recipe and we made that to eat alongside the Osso Buco.  It was delicious.  I can't find the link to the recipe, but I'll tell you how it went.  I didn't fuss as much as the recipe said (as is my way).

Cauliflower "Rice" & Mushrooms

1 - 12 oz package of frozen riced cauliflower (4 c.)
half of a medium onion, chopped
1 container of mushrooms of choice, sliced
olive oil or coconut oil for sauteing, about 2 T.
2 T. cashew butter
1 small clove garlic, minced (or powdered garlic)
Grated Parmesan cheese (if not restricting dairy)

First saute the onions in oil until beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms and brown them along with onions.  Remove from skillet.  Add a little more oil to skillet and then add riced cauliflower.  Saute a few minutes until tender.  Add cashew butter and minced garlic.  Stir in well and then add mushrooms and onions back in.  Stir  and heat through.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  If you want to, add a few shakes (or grates) of Parmesan cheese.    It's pretty darn good good and seems a lot like rice.

I hope these recipes might be helpful to you if you are working at eating healthier.  Even if you aren't trying to eat less carbs, these recipes are so delicious and well worth trying out.  I hope you do.

Today I'm starting the 2nd stitch for TAST.  It's the buttonhole stitch.  I think I'll do some buttonhole flowers.  We shall see what I come up with.


It's snowing today -- a very wet snow.  Heidi the German Shepherd and I went out walking this morning and got quite wet, but it was so warm it didn't matter to us a bit.  We were dressed for it.  I think we reached 34 degrees today, but it's going to fall as the day progresses and we will be back to single digits for a high temp tomorrow.  Bummer.  How's the weather where you are?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Good Morning sky and moon...

 First Morning Light

After sunrise.
Banana Nut (Whole30)

The last few mornings we have had these beautiful skies!  Color and clouds, moon and frost.  It makes me so thankful for the simple beauty that God places right before my very eyes each day.

The banana picture is another of my new inventions for our Whole30 food.  I did it like the apple and nut recipe.  I put a teaspoon of coconut oil in the skillet, added walnuts and sauteed them for a minute or so and then added raw coconut and chopped bananas and sauteed another minute or so.  I didn't want the bananas to be mushy.  After it was done, I removed it from the heat and drizzled with a little vanilla extract and tossed.  I think rum extract would be good too.  Our little fruit/nut dessert was so good that I would serve it for dessert for guests!  I'm thinking peaches would be good like this too, don't you?

My painting obsession continues into the new year and I'm glad.  I've decided to continue an "art" journal, for lack of a better word.  I think I should call it an experiment journal instead.  The first pages I smeared some acrylic paint colors all over and then added some matte black acrylic too.  I wanted to use my white pen on top of it.  I decided to write down the Bible verses I've been reading and contemplating these past couple days.  I'm not much of a letter-er or calligrapher.  I wish I was, but at least it's legible.  I might have to try fiddling with that skill too.   I'm doing more embroidery right now too.  I'm participating in TAST (Take A Stitch Tuesday) where we learn a new embroidery stitch each Tuesday and practice it.  The first 20 weeks are outline stitches, so if that is all a person did, you would have a good foundation in embroidery.  I'll see how many weeks I follow through.  Winter is a good time for me to dive into creative ventures.  I want to keep going even when I get busier.  I just know that it's important for me to carve out  a little time each day to be creative.  It brings me much joy.

Do you have any creative things you are doing this winter? 

Friday, January 05, 2018

Whole30, a beginning...

Hey! It's the new year!  A new beginnings!  And it's time to kick-start with eating better.  Hubby and I are taking on the challenge of Whole30.  In a nutshell, you CAN eat meats, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and good fats.  What you can't eat is sugar, grains (so no breads, pastas and etc.), legumes (including peanuts) and no dairy except for ghee or clarified butter and lastly, no alcohol or tobacco.  Really, it's not bad unless you are addicted to sugar.  I thought I was pretty good about being on the low end of sugar consumption, but I'm feeling the lack thereof.  Honestly, I feel pretty good overall, and I'm thankful that we are allowed fruit.  Fruit never tasted SO good!  We've been eating an orange a day and sometimes share an apple or a banana.  I know that the first week of something like this is hard, hard, hard.  You want what you should not have.  But we are strong, and we can do this!  Whole30 is not meant to be a lifetime eating plan, but rather a kick-start way to learn to choose better foods, to eat less processed foods and sugar, and to be more conscious of what you are eating on a day to day basis.  We plan to carry on with this plan longer than 30 days and may modify it a tiny, tiny bit.

One delicious idea that I came up with is a spin-off of my old recipe that I called, Fried Apples which had a bit of sugar and plenty of butter.  Here's what I'm doing now:

1 apple, chopped
handful of walnuts, chopped

1 t. butter
2 T. raw, unsweetened, shaved coconut (opt)
Cinnamon and nutmeg to your taste.

Melt butter in a non-stick skillet and add everything, including spices.  Saute until apples are tender. If you like your apples really soft, just put a lid on it after a few minutes and turn off the heat, letting apples steam-cook.   EAT!  Enjoy! because you will.

We shared this recipe and had it alongside our scrambled eggs for breakfast.  It was so sweet and warm and spicy.  I would like to do the same with bananas next.  Kind of a Bananas Foster minus the sugar and alcohol.  I would add vanilla extract to it though.  And I can imagine this recipe with frozen peaches too.

If anyone out there has a favorite recipe idea within these guidelines, please share.  And speaking of sharing a good recipe, I have one more for you.  It's called Egg Roll in a Bowl and it's really quick to make and very delicious.  I've made it many times before ever starting Whole30 and I like to add ground beef to mine as a variation.  This recipe calls for powdered ginger, but I like to grate fresh (frozen) ginger into my recipe.  A tip I learned a while ago is to peel raw ginger with the side of a spoon and then cut it into 1/4" discs.  I freeze them and take out a disc whenever I need it and use a microplane zester to grate it.  It's so fast and so much tastier than dried, but dried ginger will work fine too.  I also like to use the frozen ginger discs in tea and to flavor kombucha.

Here's to eating well in 2018!


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