Sunday, September 30, 2012

One moment in a day...

George Faulkner Wetherbee (American-born artist, 1851–1920)
 The Harvest is past - The Summer is Ended

There is always one moment in a day when I think my heart will break.  Such a moment I think all women have, and men too, when all the meaning of life seems distilled and caught up and you feel you can never, never, bear to leave it.  It may be when you turn and look down a blazing autumn road or it may be when you see your house under great ancient trees or it may be, in the city, when you look up at a towering apartment building and see one light and think "that is mine."  It may be any one of a number of things, according to the circumstances of your life.  

But there is the moment, and all the heartaches and sorrows of your life suddenly diminish and only the fine brave things stand out.  You breathe sharp clean air, your eyes lift to the eternal wideness of the sky.

Anybody has moments like this to store up, but some people are too busy adding up their frustrations to appreciate them.  And yet all we need is an awareness of the beauty in life to make us richly content.  My definition of happiness is just the ability to garner the perfect moments.
~Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Daybook

My moments:
Last night the Littles and I looked at the great, big moon together -- not quite full, but almost. 
Peach and I saw a long legged Blue Heron fly up from the pond near our house.  Wow.
Toodles sings the Swing Song by herself.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall leaves bring joy...

What is it about fall leaves?
The colored confetti falling from the sky, the earthy smell,
the crunch, raking into piles, cool days.

 When I was a girl, my dad and I used to rake piles of leaves and then burn them in the back alley.  It was a graveled road type of back alley.  I loved the smell of the burning leaves and Dad's pipe.  
You can't do that nowadays.  
Dad had a "magic spell" he used to say when he did his disappearing tricks for us.  
It reminds me of fall.
Hocus pokus
Jiminy okus
tin cans in the back alley
(I wonder where the "tin cans in the back alley" part came from?)

The Littles love to rake up piles of leaves and jump in,

or throw them in the air and let them fall again.

Look at the moss roses.  They're getting their second wind!
For the record:
We pregnancy tested 342 head of cows today and weaning the calves.
Two Sons came home to help out.
We are expecting 5 sets of twins out of the cows.
It's 84 degrees.

I've been in the kitchen fixing the lunch which is:
 Roast Beef & Gravy
Baked garden potatoes
Garden carrots and Tomatoes
Grape Salad
Homemade buns
Pumpkin Something for dessert (like pie)

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

That's right, you're not from Texas...

...but Texas wants you anyway!  Gotta listen to a little Lyle Lovett now and then.

Have you ever seen a bear? Did you take him to lunch with you?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where can I go from Your Spirit?

I was a teenaged girl the first time I ever opened a Bible, The Way, and that day I read this Psalm.  It really spoke to a broken heart like mine.  I realized then that God had everything in His Hands and His Hands were on my shoulders.  I could trust Him -- in all things.  Today I am drawn back to this Psalm as I am so often.  Even before you and I were born, He had all our days written down -- the mother and father we would be born to, the family we would live with, the hardships, the challenges, the blessings and the mercies.

God knew what would bring me to my feet and what would make me fall asleep from boredom.  When I thought I was strong,  He knew inside I was weak. I could do it on my own; He knew I needed Him.   When my world was falling apart, the darkness was not dark to Him.  Where could I go from His Spirit?  I was surrounded!

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.[c]
21 Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

For the record -- lamb tallies...

It was time to sort the lambs once again.  Our plan was to sell the peewee lambs and the cull ewe lambs at a Special Ewe Lamb Replacement Sale this week at our local sheep sale barn, but when Hubs talked to the manager, he said the market was really sour and since he knew what our good, big ewes looked like, he felt it would be a mistake to bring them in and get paid very little for them.  So Hubs and NumberOneSon made the decision that we would sell the peewee lambs only and keep all of the good ewe lambs this year.  Normally we keep about 50 replacement ewe lambs to put into the herd to replace the old ewes that we've culled.  Instead we are keeping 105 ewe lambs and selling 36 mixed lambs and 2 old cob ewes at the sale barn.  The wether lambs (104 head) were sold back in August (16th) when the market was decent, but still half the prices of last year.  It was a good move.

The bucks were turned into the mature ewes (172 head)  on Friday, September 14th.  That means we'll start having baby lambs around February 11, 2013.  All these figures and dates are very important to us, therefore they go into Hubby's livestock diary (Red Book) and my Ranchwife Journal here on Gumbo Lily.  You can't believe how many times I have clicked back on my blog to check dates or to get livestock numbers. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Things I learned from the back of a Schwan's Apple Crisp bag and more...

I've been making apple crisp for years and years.  It's that time of year when all the apples of every variety and kind are coming ripe.  Last week I didn't have any lovely new-crop apples, but I did have an apple crisp kit from Schwan's.  I normally don't buy that sort of thing from our Schwan Man, but it was on sale and I thought it might be a nice treat.  Well, let me tell you what I learned from the back of the bag!

There were directions on how to bake the apple crisp with either a microwave or with a conventional oven.  I read them both and decided for the microwave instructions even though it also included using the oven for part of the baking time.  The smart part of the instructions goes like this:   you put the apples and the frozen sugary goop into a pie plate and microwave it for 8 minutes.  At that point the apples are nice and soft.  I stirred the goop and apples around thoroughly and then topped it with the crumble mixture and put it in the oven at 400* covering it with foil and baking it for 15 minutes.  After the timer went off, I baked it 10 more minutes with the foil off to brown the crumble more.  In the past, the apples in my apple crisps were not always cooked enough to suit me.  I prefer them soft and melt-in-your-mouth-like.  We call them "boney" apples when they are tough and underdone.  The same goes for potatoes which aren't thoroughly cooked -- aka:  boney potatoes.  But with this method of first cooking the apples in the microwave and then finishing off the baking part in the oven,  it was just perfect!  I am definitely using this method again with my favorite homemade apple crisp recipe.  Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Cinnamon Pickle Rings were in the line-up of Things to Make this week.  It's a very old recipe that I received from a friend many years ago.  I'm sure it was passed down from her mother and her grandmother before her.  To make these pickle rings, you start with those very large, overgrown cucumbers that come along towards the end of the growing season.  The cukes are peeled and then the seeds are scooped out of the center and sliced into half inch rings.  It takes several days of soaking them in lime and then in salt water and then in the sugary brine to bring them to fruition.  The pickles are really nothing more than translucent, crispy cucumbers that have soaked up enough sugar and Red Hots candies that they have become candy  themselves.  That's why the menfolk in my family love them so much.  They look especially lovely and fancy on the Thanksgiving table.  The jars remind me of Maraschino cherries, don't you think?

On the tomato front lines, we did not receive any frost!  I covered up the vines in expectation, but thankfully we eeked by it, only dipping to about 36 degrees.  Now I have another enemy to defend against.  It's either coons or skunk.  Most mornings when I go to check on the tomatoes I'm finding that there are bites out of the biggest, ripest tomatoes in the patch.  The culprits are crawling under the fence.  Argh!  NumberOneSon is hunting most nights, so hopefully he will eliminate that problem.  In the meantime, I'm picking yellowish-orange tomatoes trying to beat the critters to them.  The tomatoes ripen fairly well on the kitchen table.

The past couple of days the Littles have been staying with us on and off.  It's great fun having them here at Grammy and Papa's house.  They love to work right beside me in the garden or fetch the eggs from the chicken coop.  Whatever we are doing, they think it's fun.  We have two swings in our willow tree -- one baby swing and one disc swing.  The girls love swinging in the backyard and we have a special little song we sing together while they swing.  In a sing-song voice we sing:

Swing, swing, swing
We love to swing
Swing, swing, swing
Swinging in the tree
(and then to the tune of Bringing in the Sheaves)
Swinging in the tree, swinging in the tree
We will be rejoicing swinging in the tree....

When our kids were little, they used to think the chorus of the hymn "I Shall Not Be Moved"  sung by Ricky Van Shelton went like this:

Oshy Washy, oshy washy woo,
Oshy Washy, oshy washy woo.
Just like a tree planted by the water
Oshy washy woo.

Eventually the song became the song of washing hands under the faucet, and it is so with the Littles now.

Do you have favorite songs that you sing to your children or grandchildren?  I do.  Lots of them, but one in particular they love is called "Little Sack of Sugar."  Do you know it?  No?  Then take a listen.  We don't sing all the verses, but maybe one day we will.  Have a happy week and sing a happy tune.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tomatoes, tomatoes...

Just when I'm able to have as many of these (tomato sandwiches) as I want, and just when I am picking tomatoes by the baskets, tonight and tomorrow night we have frost warnings!  Thankfully, I picked every red tomato on the vine today.  I ate some, I gave some to DaughterInLove, and tonight I am making my favorite Tomato Jam.  It tastes something like rustic, spicy ketchup and we love it on a burger or on any meat. I like it on toast too.  Hubs and I covered the tomato vines tonight, and I do hope we save them since there are gobs of unripened tomatoes left to have their lives fulfilled in my canning jars.  It is very typical for us to have an early frost and then have a couple more weeks of warm weather.  We'll see!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Views of a dry prairie...

As you know, we've been out fencing out on the dusty range.  My dad came out to help us for a day and a half which was nice.  I hoped he didn't overdo it.  Fencing is something that takes a little "working into" before you don't feel every ache and pain in your back, legs, and hands.  Today we took a day of rest, but in the afternoon the fellas and I went back out there and moved our machinery and supplies to another spot where we will begin to tear out another fence and build new tomorrow.  The cows were out grazing and decided to move to somewhere quieter as we buzzed by them.

 Here's what the ground is like after we've tramped over it time and time again with tractors, Rangers, and feet.  The stuff is just like talcum powder and sticks to everything like talcum powder too.  It's really not a sandal kind of place, that's for sure, but when I had my sandals on today, I thought about how dirty the feet of Jesus and His disciples must have been day after day, walking the parched and dusty roadways of Israel.

The pastures are covered with funnel spider webs that blanket the ground.  The webs are about a foot square and spiral down into a hole in the ground.  What I like about this picture is not just the web, but also the cracked ground, the gold-colored rock, the cactus, and the light green lichens that are on the ground too.  I was focusing on the web, but after I studied the picture further, I saw so much more.  Isn't that like life?  We focus so closely on the thing that demands our attention, but there's always more.....if we look around.  Look at dirt.  Dirt became man.

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  ~Genesis 2:7

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A time to tear down, and a time to build...

 We headed up to the range before sun up and the pink sky was a beautiful way to wake up, along with a big mug of coffee.  We've been working these past couple of weeks tearing out the old, burnt fence one quarter mile at a time, and rebuilding new fence right behind it.  Rolls of barb wire come in lengths of a quarter mile so this has become the minimum amount we do in a day.  Today Hubs and NumberOneSon planned to put up a half mile.  The men are doing the really hard work, but I'm pitching in where I can by pulling staples and clips from the old posts and later stapling and clipping on the new wires to the new posts.

This nifty tool is a wire pliers.  It can pull staples from posts, twist and  pry wire, pound staples, or dig wires and sagebrush out of the dirt.  It's a handy tool and a necessity when you are working on a fence line.  Each day that I work with it, I get better and better.  By the time we're done with this project, I'll be in shape for a full-time fencing crew!  (ummm, maybe not)

Here you see the woven wire and the barb wire down on the ground.  This will be rolled up and removed.  We had hoped to reuse the old wire, but the heat of the fire was so severe that it weakened the wires and made it too brittle to use again.  Sue enjoyed walking up and down the fence with me, but when she had had enough, she jumped in the Ranger and took a nap while I worked.

It looks like a desert out here, doesn't it?  The posts are being pulled up out of the dry, dusty ground.  Since there is no grass out here, a light wind will lift the dirt and soot blow it all over us.  It's dirty work. It was fairly mild this morning, but by mid-afternoon, we had a strong wind that really stirred up the dirt.

In this photo, I was hoping to show you the tiny bit of grass that is starting to come up.  If you look hard, you can see a tinge of light green that is new growth.  We're sure hoping we get some fall rains to keep it growing and germinate more grasses out here.  New grass will hold the soil together, but if it remains bare like this, it'll be a dust bowl out here.

What was torn down is built back up -- straight, tall, strong.  Jobs like these are very satisfying and rewarding because they stand for years.  The fence that was here before stood for about 50 years or more.  We hope this fence stands just as long.  Tomorrow we'll be up with the sun once again.  I will only be out here for a short time in the morning because my girls will be coming to my kitchen to make applesauce.  It'll be another productive day.

There is an appointed time for everything, 
and a time for every event under heaven.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3


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