Monday, December 10, 2018

December...


 
Hello again to anyone who is still reading here.  I've been away from the blogs for a little while, just taking a break and doing some things.  One  "thing" I've been doing for December is drawing or painting or creating each day.  Even just a very small drawing suffices.  Each day there is a prompt that can inspire the art.  I'm trying to think outside the box with it.  It's been fun for me and reflective in a way.  I'm finding that the more I draw or paint, the more I want to do it, and this is one of my goals.  To just keep on with it.  Winter is a very good time for me to work on art, but I'd like it to be more of an everyday thing throughout the year.  I've been learning a few watercolor techniques on YouTube that have been very fun and have brought some nice results. 

Last week some of the women and girls in our family attended The Nutcracker ballet in the city.  The Moscow Ballet Troupe performed and the local ballet studio supplied the children's parts.  It was spectacular.  The little ballerinas in our family were greatly inspired, and those who are not ballerinas were much impressed. 

 
Do you remember string art from the 70s?  You know....the nails all pounded into a board and then different colors of strings were woven in and out to make a picture?  Well, my daughters, my mom, and I went to a class where we made a string art snowflake.  It was a three hour class and we spent four hours there to complete it.  Some who attended the class did not complete their snowflakes, but took them home.  We were happy with our results, but all that pounding was quite an experience.  String art has become the new rage once again.  It would not be my first choice in art, but it was fun to try it and have something pretty to bring home.

I still don't have my Christmas tree up yet.  I'm really not a Grinch, but I am just taking things slow and not getting too wrapped up in the Christmas hurry & flurry at the moment.  I will though.  I think.  I am lighting candles, making juniper wreaths, and placing sprigs of evergreen here and there.  My father-in-law brought me a beautiful poinsettia which brings a dose of red and green Christmas cheer to our home.  I do enjoy a cup of chai tea in the evenings by candlelight or by the wood stove fire -- small signs of Christmas-ness. Oh, and there is snow.  I didn't have anything to do with that part, but it looks more festive here when there is snow on the ground.  I heard one lady who wasn't keen on holiday decorating say, "If you want to enjoy the season, just look out the window."  Amen!

The part I really love about winter is that we are in a nice, slow-down time here at the ranch and it's really been wonderful.  We needed it after a very busy year of work. We have more time with each other, more time to play, more time to just relax and be.  Again, it's a reflective time for us, for me.  We have been looking back on our year, evaluating what we did and did not do, planning for the year to come, and assessing how to go about it.  It's a good thing.  My favorite reflection is that Babe in the Manger, Jesus, whose name means, Jehovah Saves.  I'm so glad He came down to us, to save us, to be with us, to bring us His peace.  I hope you are enjoying the small, quiet things and the big, loud, joyful things of the season.  Christmas Peace be yours.
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Friday, November 09, 2018

Partly Cloudy....

 
Look at that beautiful, bright, blue sky behind the quilt. 
Now that's blue!
And it's cold too.
Four below zero this morning and a high of 21 today.
Brrrrr!
 
 
 
 
Partly Cloudy is the name of my newest quilt creation.
I found this quilt design & pattern on
Daniela graciously shares her pattern for free.
My quilt turned out to be 74x57".
I had to do a little trimming and editing along the way.
 
I made this quilt for my nephew & his fiancé's wedding.
We will be driving to Wichita soon to take part in the celebration.
I chose the name Partly Cloudy because even though a wedding is one of the
Brightest Days of Life
marriage comes with many cloudy skies, rain, snow, sleet, heat waves, winds
 and all of the other things we must weather as a couple.
My prayer is that they will know the comfort of being
wrapped in the arms of God through it all.
And I hope the quilt will remind them of that.
............................................................................
 
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
            Stormy wind, fulfilling His word.
Psalm 148:8

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Nature Study...

 


 
While I was out looking around in my yard, I found several things that I thought were especially beautiful.  First, the roses.  As you might remember, we had an early snow this month.  Everything froze.  But right after it, we had some unusually warm days that dried things and the leaves all fell off the trees.  The roses were blooming and I think they were freeze-dried.  I brought a few in to admire. 

You can see life stages in the Gallardia flowers.  Right now there are a few new blooms (what amazing flowers!) whilst others are in stages of dried petals, seed heads, and seeds blown away.  I chose to put my subjects on top of a large, white watercolor paper as a neutral background for my study.  Since I took the pictures outdoors in the afternoon, you can also see the study in fall shadows on the paper!

The Cottonwood leaves are especially unusual to me this fall. Generally, they turn yellow and fall from the trees, but my hunch is that they were yet green or turning while on the trees and then were frozen at whatever stage of turning they were in.  They have the most intriguing patterns.  I brought several in to lay around on tables and shelves to appreciate. 



There are so many beauties outdoors just now.  The milkweed pods have opened and their silky fur with chocolate brown seeds attached are just fascinating to look at and touch.  The seeds will gently float on the wind to their next destinations.

It is mostly silent outdoors now.  Most birds have migrated except for the year-rounders that stay with us.   The "beep beep" of the nuthatch tickles me, and the "see me?" of the American goldfinch does too.  Last night while shutting the chickens in, I heard two Great-horned owls hooting back and forth to each other.  Nature is quieting itself and settling itself for winter.  I'm going to appreciate these fall days as long as they remain.



Hubby and I took a little get-away to the Black Hills.  It happened to be during the snowy season of October.  This was the most beautiful drive we've taken in a long time.  It was so peaceful, away from busy tourists that are usually here.

What are you noticing now?
 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

First snow...


The first snow fell last night and part of today.  We measured about 2" of snow on the ground with lots of wetness below it.  Our rain gauge measured about .7" of moisture.  By evening the snow was melted off, but the skies continued to be gray and blustery, dropping rain and sometimes snow.  When it gets around freezing tonight, we may wake up to another snow like the one in the picture.  This is a good, wet kind of snow-rain mix that puts all of the trees and grasses to bed for winter with a good drink so roots can freeze.  We still have leaves on many of the trees so they are really weighed down with snow. 



My garden is all cleared off now.  My daughter-in-law and the grands helped me dig potatoes and we split them up between the kids and their families.  The potato patch was a group effort this year with both DILs and grands helping to plant, and the men (bless their hearts) brought us straw to cover the patch.  We weighed about 130 pounds of potatoes harvested and we only planted 12-13 pounds of potatoes cut up for seed.  I also dug up all the carrots and have three full grocery bags in my spare fridge.  I cut several grocery bags of late lettuce that I am so thankful for.  I have a wheel barrow of acorn squash in the garage along with a bushel basket of beautiful, perfectly ripe, hole-free, bug-free, red apples.  The apple tree is a "Northern Lights" which is a cross between a Haralson and a Macintosh and it is very cold hardy.  The apples have a pinky-white flesh, are sweet and delicious to eat, and they make a wonderful pie.  I'd say the gardens were very productive this year, minus the tomato failure.  But hey, that's the way gardening is.  We are expecting more freezing cold temperatures tonight and chances of more snow.  The fall moisture is a good thing for us, even if it does come in the form of wet snow.  There are some warmer days on the horizon! 

Has the fall turned cold and wet where you are?  Happy October everyone.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Humility...

Humility is perpetual quietness of heart.
It is to have no trouble.
It is never to be fretted or vexed,
Irritable or sore,
To wonder at nothing that is done to me.
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me,
And when I am blamed or despised;
It is to have a blessed home in myself
Where I can go in and shut the door
and kneel to my Father in secret
and be at peace,
As in a deep sea of calmness,
When all around and about is trouble.
 
~Andrew Murray

(This tidbit serves as a marker in my Bible.  A good reminder for me.)
 
 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Fencing project...

 I don't know where this bucket came from, but we use it for clips and markers.
 
 
 Fencing supplies
 
Black Swallowtail
 
 
 Steel H-braces should last a long time
 
 Fencing completed with white sage grouse markers.
 
The men have been working super hard these past weeks on new fence.  They've been tearing out very old woven-wire fence in order to put in 5 barb fence that will not only keep livestock in or out, but is also beneficial to wildlife.  The smooth wire on the bottom will allow antelope to duck under the fence without being hurt and the white markers you see on the fence are there to protect Sage Grouse from flying into the fence and being harmed.    This is a big project that will be worked on over seven years, and we are pretty excited about it.  We live in an area where there is a population of Sage Grouse that has been diminishing over many years.  There has been much debate about why, but our state is taking  a pro-active approach to protecting the birds in case the federal government would list them from being "protected" to "endangered."  In that case, our ranching situation could greatly change.

My job is somewhat small, but still important.  I help with clipping wires onto the steel T-posts.  It's one of those "up and down" jobs where I stand upright for a short time and gradually go into a squat in order to clip each of the five wires down on the post.  And let me tell you, there are a lot of steel posts to clip.  I don't do this job alone, and in fact, I decide when I've had enough of the job as my 56 year old hands and knees tell me it's time to stop.  I also help with putting the sage grouse markers on the fence.  That is a much easier job that just requires walking the fence and pushing them on in between the fence posts.  It's like putting the last finishing touches on a Christmas tree. We will work for the remainder of this week on the project and then the men will start on building a shed.  There is a lot more fence to do and I think they hope to move to another area to fence, but at the moment, the rattlesnakes are worrisome since there is tall grass in the fence line that they want to remove and replace.  It'll cool off soon enough this fall and then they will commence on that project once again. 

As I walk along out there on the prairie, I am reminded of how very blessed I am that God transplanted me and put me here.  It is a hard land, a land of extremes, and a rugged place for man and beast to live, and yet there is a beauty in it all.  I love this place, I love this land, I love all that I am surrounded by, and I know that it is all a gift from The Creator.  I say to Him, "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart."

Thanks for stopping by today!  I have been quite absent from the blog lately, but there is so much to do right now in the last days of summer and the beginning of fall.  They are days that seem so full.  The garden is ripening and requires  attention and canning projects.  Salsa is the "product of the day" out here.  The DILs and I have been putting up a beautiful salsa recipe with all the tomatoes and peppers.  I'll share it below.  It's really so delicious.  It reminds me of the salsas that are served in authentic Mexican restaurants. 


Salsa 

10 cups chopped tomatoes
8 jalapeno peppers chopped (or as many as you like)
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (opt)
1 1/3 cups vinegar
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons pickling salt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar


I blitzed tomatoes in the blender, then did the same with the onions, peppers, garlic, vinegar.
Simmer all ingredients for 1 hour.  Try to cook off as much water as possible.
Ladle into hot jars & seal.  Process in hot water bath for 10 to 15 min.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Late summer happenings on the ranch...

The hay is put up and much of it has been hauled in.  There is still some out in the fields to fetch, but this time of year when we get dry lightning, it is best not to have all of our hay in large stacks until threat of fire is mostly past us.

The men have started back on the fencing project and have accomplished quite a bit.  Together they are the epitome of a working team.  They each know their job and can work without saying a word. 



The February lambs were sorted off and we kept 70 head of replacement ewes and shipped the rest to the sheep sale barn.  We weaned the late May lambs and will let them gain more weight on the regrowth of the hayfields before we sell them this fall.  We will also pick more replacement ewe lambs from the May lamb bunch to put back into the herd.


This past week we worked all of the cows and their calves through the barn, vaccinating all of the calves and pouring insecticide on cows and calves and turning everything out to the far pastures to graze.  We are so thankful that this summer turned out to be a fairly cool one with rains interspersed throughout which made the grazing excellent.  Even though the prairie has turned golden brown, there is still a little green underneath which keeps the cows working for it and grazing off the dry grass along with it. 

The gardens are producing well too.  I've dug up a few potatoes-- just enough for our suppers-- and leave the smaller ones connected to the plants to continue growing through the fall.  Oh, a fresh potato is good!  Do you know how many pesticides and anti-sprout chemicals are on grocery store potatoes?  Ugh!  I realize that potatoes grown commercially will go into storage for who-knows-how-long, so they must be treated, and not many of us would buy a bagful of sprouted potatoes at the grocery store, but golly, there is a lot done to those spuds that I don't do to mine, and I keep my potatoes through much of the winter.  I do have to snap off a few sprouts though. 

I'm just now getting ripened tomatoes despite their curling leaves, and what a treat they are!  The cucumbers are plentiful and the zucchini too.  I pulled up a few carrots a couple days ago and they are just beautiful in size and shape, and the taste is oh-so-sweet.  Just like you want them to be.  I always think a cold snap or a freeze in the fall makes them even sweeter.  The green beans keep on coming and there are just enough for Hubby and I for a meal each time I pick.  I planted lettuce a few weeks back and it is coming along nicely.  I'm looking forward to fresh lettuce again.

 
I'm still all about bird-watching and this little cutie showed up around the house this past week or so.  We think it's a female Rufus hummingbird or an immature male.  It's so fun to watch it flitting around the sunflowers, petunias, and larkspur.  We've also had the Blue Herons as guests on our stock pond next to our home.  They are quite huge and intimidating when flying over.  NumberOneSon says they look like prehistoric pterodactyls flying over.  He's so funny.
 
I hope you're enjoying the summer days.  I know many of you are experiencing terrible heat and others are wishing for sunny days.  We are in the middle of that, but are having many gray sky days due to smoke from nearby forest fires.  I hope for rains upon them soon.  God bless you and thanks for stopping by. 


Sunday, July 29, 2018

First Farmers Market...

 OnlyDaughter
 
Gumbo Lily
 
Only Daughter and I did our first Farmers Market in Cowtown, USA this past week.
It was a good beginning -- not a very big crowd,
but we sold the majority of what we had for sale
which included:
 
~~~~~~~~~
Fresh Garden Lettuce
Zucchini Bread:
Double Chocolate & Lemon Rosemary
Country Eggs
Fresh Herbs
Fresh Picked Flowers
Aunt Grace's Laundry Soap
Bee Balm
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
We offered samples of our breads for all who passed by our stand
which really did help us to sell it.
We offered samples of herbal iced tea that I made with:
Alfalfa, Lemongrass, and Mint.
Many were tentative about trying my alfalfa tea, but after I explained
that it was similar to a green tea, they tried it.
All were surprised that they really liked it!
If alfalfa is good for cows and sheep, it's good for humans too!
Check out this link for the Benefits of Alfalfa.
I first read about it in one of my favorite herbal books:
 
We learned a lot at our first Farmers Market
and we plan to do it again.
 
Do you go to Farmers Markets?  What do you like to buy there? 


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cherry hand pies...



 
 
My tiny cherry tree -- only three feet tall -- produced about a cup of medium, tart cherries,
just enough for two hand pies.
(Pie Week)
I pitted the cherries and then took out a crust I had saved in the freezer.
The pies went together easily
and the results were "scrummy"
as Mary Berry says.
Hubby and I split one pie for dessert
and split the other pie with Morning Coffee.
A surprise summer treat!


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