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!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Garden report: bigga broccoli and other stuff


I thought I'd pop in to show off my bigga broccoli!  And what's great is there are three more heads that are ready to be cut.  This head of broccoli measured 8" at its widest part!  So guess what we are going to be eating?  Broccoli salad and stir fry with broccoli.  Homegrown broccoli is so tender and mild.  We really love it.  After I cut these large heads, the plants will produce more side shoots.  They are small and usually develop continuously through the summer.

 

Another thing I'm growing this year is Kohlrabi.  It belongs to the same family as broccoli and cabbage -- cruciferous.  My dad always grows it and his parents and grandparents grew it too.  It's nicknamed German turnip, and now I know why my German ancestors grew it and loved it.  My dad likes it best raw.  You peel the kohlrabi and slice it into disks and then sprinkle it with salt.  It goes great with cold beer!  There are lots of recipes for kohlrabi out on the web, but I'm going to do it simply -- sautéed in olive oil and butter with a little chopped garlic, salt and pepper -- just like I would cook cabbage.   Not only is kohlrabi delicious, it's also very good for you.  It's nutrient dense with lots of vitamins and minerals.  Check it out here:  10 Surprising Benefits of Kohlrabi.  Another great thing about kohlrabi is that it's very easy to grow.  It does like cooler weather so it's best to grow it in early spring or in the fall, or if you live in the south, perhaps you can grow it as a winter crop!  I'll probably plant some more seeds now for a fall crop.

My lettuces are still doing great and I've planted them at various times so that there are lettuces that are ready to pick now and others will be ready for picking a little later.  We love garden lettuce, so I keep planting a little bit here and there all summer.  That way we are never out of fresh lettuce.

As I mentioned before, the tomato plants continue to curl and look terrible -- all except 2 plants in the fenced garden and two plants that I put down in the lower bank garden.  The garlic and onions are ok, but not looking as good as I'd like them too.  They simply need far more sun than they are getting and I think that's part of the tomato issue too.  The row of flowers I planted are doing terrific and will start blooming very soon.  There are zinnias, cosmos, bells of Ireland, and marigolds.

The squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and potatoes are going gangbusters in the bank garden and the cucumbers are blossoming.  I just love gardening.

How does your garden grow this year?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Wild & Domestic...

The Wild Ones
 

Persicaria amphibia
Water Knotweed
 

 
Prickly Pear cactus blooms and Yarrow
 
Pussytoes
 

 
Showy Milkweed
 
 Prairie Coneflower
 
The Domestic Ones
 
Non-stop Begonia, Geranium, Wave Petunias
 
Lilies

Clematis
 
Potato blossoms
 
Summer is in full-tilt now and we are feeling the hot summer days.  I'm tending to my flowers and veggie gardens, doing lots of gardenhose watering.  We've had a couple half inch showers in all of June so I can't say we haven't had any rain, but just a few miles to our south, east and north, folks have been showered with loads of rain -- inches and inches -- that they'd like it to stop.  Some have had tornadoes, tennis ball sized hail, and flooding.  I really don't want any of that.
 
With these sunny, warm days, we are in the hay fields working, and we've also been doing a lot of barn work.  We are breeding cows artificially and so that requires quite a bit of barn work and moving cows from pasture to pasture.  After the 6th of July, we will be done with all of the AI-ing and can turn the cows and calves and bulls out for the summer and finish up the haying.
 
Despite the dry spring we had, the hay looks very good.  It's the snow that made it.  Anywhere that the snow laid in deep, the grass and alfalfa is excellent.  We are making hay in draws and in ditches and feed grounds where we've not hayed in years.  That little shot of rain we got in June stimulated more growth, and it feels like it's going to be a decent Hay Year after all.  You must know that we live in arid country where our average rainfall is just 11-15" a year, and that is counting snowfall.  So the beauty of living here is that a little rain does us a lot of good!
 
My garden is doing just OK.  The fenced in garden is being overtaken with tree roots which makes it hard for growing anything with a deep root system.  It is also fairly shaded due to the same trees.  The garden on the bank beside it is doing terrific.  It has no tree roots and it has full sunshine.  The potatoes are there and so are the squash and pumpkins along with a couple of tomato and pepper plants.  That is where I plan to do ALL the veggie gardening next year, or I may prepare a little spot below the bank. 
 
So far I have picked lettuces, radishes, and zucchini.  My Kohlrabi are close to picking and the broccoli is forming heads right now.  The tomatoes look terrible -- at least the ones in the fenced garden.  Their leaves are curling.  I think it could be the tree roots or shade or the cool spring and then sudden heat or all of the above.  I'm hoping that the few tomatoes I planted on the bank will at least give me some tomatoes for eating fresh.  I'm sure my daughters will have good tomato crops so I won't worry if I have a tomato crop failure this year.  The girls are good about sharing.
 
Well, it's time for me to head back out to help bring cows home.  Today we have another afternoon of barn work with the cows and then back to the hay field.  Summer is good.  It always feels so short to me, so I'm enjoying every little bit of it.  The sunflowers are blooming at the side of the gravel road and my dear Hubby cut a handful for me this morning.  I have to say, I do think sunflowers are my favorite.  They say "Summer" to me.  I hope you're summer is going well.  To my fellow Americans,  I wish you a Happy Independence Day! 
 


 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Lilies of the field...


Where the Mariposa Lilies live.
 

 Mariposa Lily aka:  Sego Lily
(Calochortus nuttallii)
 

Plains Prickly Pear Cactus
(Opuntia polyacantha)
 
 
These beauties are growing out on our prairie in all their glory.
 
 
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
~Matthew 6:28-34

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Haying and a few flowers...

 The old equipment and the modern
 
 Chives
 
 Prairie roses
 
 My shrub roses

Blue flax and yellow yarrow
(Achillea millefolium)
 
 Poppy
 
Columbine
 
Crossbill
 
It's feeling more like summer every day.  The days are lengthening, flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, the temperatures are warming, and it's time to cut the hay.  What we gained in heavy winter snowfall, we sorely lacked in spring rains.  We only had .9" of rain in May and just received .9" this past week.  That means the alfalfa hay is flowering and the grass hay is heading and beginning to turn brown underneath and it's time to cut, although it's early for us.  We have to get it while the gettin's good.  Hubby started mowing hay on Thursday and the sons rolled up just nine bales today to see how it would go.  Tomorrow will be a bigger day and I think I'll be in the field raking while the sons bale and Hubby continues to mow.  The hay looks pretty good, and this little shot of rain might help to hold the other hay fields over until we get there. 
 
My flower beds are all a-bloom with flowers -- all volunteers from years past.  The rose bushes are really putting out and I've cut several bouquets to bring indoors and to share with my girls next door.  The rose scent is wonderful.  I put a vase of roses in our bedroom and was so pleased to walk in this afternoon after church and smell such a lovely fragrance.  The prairie roses are a very plain, single rose.  They are prolific this year and in full bloom now, but ever so quickly they will fade away. 
 
In one flower bed I had a little clump of chives growing and I thought they were so pretty that I just let them stay.  Now they have filled up a good corner and I like them so much that I will let them ramble.  I like it that they are useful as well as ornamental.  The columbine spread like crazy too.  I love them, but I must continually yank a lot of them out year by year or else they would take over every open spot of earth.  The poppy is a favorite who comes up with her large sticker-y leaves and stems and then goes all soft and silky in her rich, red bloom.  My peony is very close to blooming.  I can't wait!  I've been really babying her along with extra water and a bit of fertilizer since she didn't do anything last year with the dry, dry spring we had.  It looks like she's going to really put forth her all this year. 
 
We've had a pair of unusual visitors to our bird feeders -- the Red Crossbill.  I realize this one isn't very red (or orangy colored) but I'm thinking it's a female or perhaps a juvenile which have shades of yellow on them.  Crossbills are usually found where there is coniferous forest and we sure don't have any pine trees or any other cone trees around here, but they are helping themselves to the sunflower seeds and appear to be doing well.
 
I'm looking forward to climbing in my old, open-air tractor tomorrow and raking hay again.  It's mindless work that allows me to spend hours thinking my own thoughts,  praying for people, and singing to God as I roll along.   It's amazing how many songs come to mind when you make your own music.  I could put my ear buds in and listen to something, but I just never do.  I like taking in the smells, the sounds, and the scenery right where I am.  What are the smells and sounds and the sceneries  where you are today?

 


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday drive...

 Gumbo Lily
 
 Can you see the Killdeer nest?
 
Killdeer eggs close-up.
 
Sons fixing water gap in border fence.


I love taking a Sunday drive with my Honey.  It's usually a drive over a familiar trail out in the pasture, but to me, it is always new, always changing, and there is always something to see that hadn't been there before.  I love the Emerson quote which I posted recently:  "To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture that was never before seen, and which shall never be seen again." 

As we drive along, my eyes catch movement -- the movement of birds and their flight patterns, of grasses and wildflowers waving colors in the breeze.  I see deer and antelope and I look to see if there might be any fawns or kids near them because it's almost time for them to give birth.  Then my eye catches sight of a steel spool for barb wire laying in the fence line.  It fell out of the Ranger last summer while the men were fencing there.  We stop to pick it up and throw it in the back. 

Initially, we went North to check on cows and calves and to see the sheep, but there are so many things to see this time of year.  Spring brings such color and beauty to eyes that have been a long time looking at snow and gray skies.  For instance, there is greengrass which is different from the grass any other time of year.  Greengrass comes in the spring.  All grasses that come up in the spring are greengrass.  Yes, they all have their individual names, but together in the spring it is greengrass because it is very soon when the greengrass matures and turns brown and stays that way until snow and until the next spring.  Because of the winter's heavy snow, we are seeing a wildflower explosion!  There are flowers that we haven't seen in years because there was not enough moisture in the ground to bring them up; or the plants may have come up, but there was not enough moisture to bring forth blooms.  I pictured the gumbo lily, commonly called white evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)  which is just coming out now.  It is one of my favorite prairie flowers, and this blog is named for it.  The gumbo lily always comes up here because its tap root is very deep, and in our clay gumbo soil, there is moisture down deep.  Right next to the gumbo lily is the yellow flower that is one of the very first to come out on the prairie.  We call it wild parsley but it is also called Desert biscuit root.  It's leaves look similar to carrot leaves and so it is also called carrotleaf lomatium.  The deer, antelope, and sheep love to graze on these and the wild onions which are some of the first forbes to come on in spring.  History tells us that American Indians ate the wild celery's enlarged roots raw or dried and ground them for flour (therefore, biscuitroot).  This reminds me of how the early settlers would pick dandelion leaves in the spring to eat for greens.  Can you imagine how hungry they would be for fresh, green foods?

As we drive along, I see a Killdeer on the ground playing hurt, dragging a wing.  I know that trick to lure us away from her nest.  We drive up and sure enough, there are four eggs in a sort of nest of stones and pebbles on the ground.  Did you notice how all the egg points point toward each other in the center so they won't roll away?  How do they know to do this?  God has given them that instinct.  There were Curlews and hawks and killdeer and coots all out and about today.  We even found the cows and also the neighbor's cows in our pasture.  Hubby radio'd the sons to come up with a couple of steel posts so they could fix the big hole in the fence where the water was once high and moving and now has receded.  It's one of those Sunday chores that happens on a ranch.  I remember many Sundays when our family would be heading to church down the gravel road and find the bulls out and have to turn around to go home. 

I hope you got a chance to enjoy a little spot of time in nature today.  Tell me about it if you did.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Owlets!



 
Great-horned Owl Mama
and her
Owlets
!
I'm going to do more spying on them later
and see if I can get some better pictures.
 

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