Friday, April 13, 2018

Sandhill Cranes land...

Sandhill Cranes
If you click on the pics, you will get a closer look at the red patches on their heads.

Yesterday NumberOneSon called on the 2-way radio and said there were a whole lot of cranes in our Horse Creek Pasture.  I radio'd back for their location and asked if anyone wanted to go with me to see the sight.  A young voice answered back, "We want go, Gram."  So I grabbed my camera, pulled on my mud boots and coat and flew out the door to get in the Ranger.  I met two of the kids who were excitedly waiting outside for me with binoculars around their necks.   Peach and Toodles climbed in the Ranger and we took off, sliding our way through the mud and muck out to the puddly pasture. 

And there they were! From a distance, they looked like a herd of sheep because there were so many of them, and they blended in so well with the landscape like sheep do.  We inched closer and I kept snapping pictures in hopes that one or two would turn out ok.  Then I turned off the motor and we just sat and watched and listened to them talk to one another.  It was quite a sight!  And quite the sounds!  I have never, ever seen this many Sandhill Cranes in one place.  I suppose there were at least one hundred.  I'm sure they are migrating through, and likely a few pairs will stay behind here on our prairie.  We always see cranes in the summer with their long-legged babies walking behind their parents through the pastures.  We often have a pair living fairly close to our home and they will come by our stock pond and perch in our tall cottonwoods in the evening.  It's kind of scary when I walk by the trees on a summer's night to shut the chickens and a couple huge cranes flies off over head with their rattle-y calls.

After our bird-watching adventure, I was telling the girls that I remembered reading a very good book called Cranes in My Corral about an Oregon rancher's relationship with four cranes who lived in his corrals.  I think I borrowed the book from our local library.  I thought it might be a good story for the kids to read. 

Once I dropped the girls off at their house, I drove home and walked in the door and smelled hot rice.  O golly!  I had forgotten all about the rice!  I had set some rice on the stove to boil and ran out the door with such excitement that I forgot all about it.  Thankfully, the rice was not scorched and supper was not lost.  Not to mention, we had ourselves a fine Sandhill Crane Adventure!

Today a large flock of robins were chattering and fluttering around in our three juniper trees in the front yard.  Another migration on this wet, wet snowy day.  The big snowstorm that we were anticipating went south and east of us.  We did get some rain and slushy snow out of it, but the poor folks to our east got slammed with a foot or more of snow along with 50 mph winds.  That's hard work ahead. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Look who flew by my eyes today!
I had to look it up.  I think it is
The weather has turned warm here.  It was 45 degrees yesterday with sunshine and melting snow.  Today we hit 58 degrees with more sunshine and melting.  The little dry creek below our house is running and the overflow culvert by our stock pond near the house is gushing out.  The run-off is really coming down now and reservoirs are filling up everywhere. These last couple of warm days have been glorious even though we still have plenty of snow out and about that has yet to melt.
And guess what?
Thursday and Friday we are expecting
more snow.
And more cold.
Temperatures in the teens are expected for the weekend.
What will this poor butterfly do, I wonder?
Perhaps he will find a nook or cranny to slide into during the cold snap.
We have lots of baby calves running around and they are good and healthy. There are many ranchers in our area who are having a rough time. They are losing calves to the elements and sickness is breaking out in their calves too. It' been a long, tough winter for many.  We've been blessed to have three men working around the clock to save calves and keep everything fed and cared for.  We've also had to buy extra straw and hay for the cows and calves.  Straw for keeping calves dry and hay for hungry cows and sheep.  We could stay in this weather pattern for a while.  Our wet season is April, May, and June so we'll see what's in store for us.  We can't complain about the moisture when others not far from us are not getting any, but the warm sunshine sure felt good! The children keep praying for moisture (rain and snow) at their table prayers.  It has been engrained in them, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Merry Christmas! (April Fools!)

April 2nd and 3rd's weather deposited 8-10 inches of snow.
And cold.
Every night our temperatures sink below 10 degrees.
More snow on the way tonight and tomorrow.
I thought when I washed my wool pants,
 I was done with them, 
but no, 
I'm sporting flannel shirts and wool pants, socks, hats, and mitts.
Serving up lots of coffee and kukicha tea. 

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Happy Easter

Since Jesus Christ Rose from the Dead

He is Risen!
We have hope.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mud. It's a beautiful thing...

We got another dose of snow today.  About 3-4" of wet, wet stuff.  It was all right because what followed in the afternoon was warm and sunshiny which made some of this.  Mud!

Mud means different things to different people.  To me, mud means we've had a good snow or a good rain that soaked into the ground.  It means that the run-off is going to fill reservoirs and stock ponds, creeks and wadis, and puddles.  It means fresh water for livestock and wildlife to drink.  It means grass, wildflowers, and hay meadows will get enough to drink to bring them up, full of life!  It means that robins will have mud for their nests in April.  Ducks and children will have their fun wading and waddling in it.  And lest you think my definition a bit lofty, mud also means my mudroom lives up to it's name.  The dog shakes her muddy body as she tracks in, the boots come in and leave globs everywhere, and my mop and bucket are always wet and on-the-ready.  It does help if we give our boots a good slap-together outside before bringing them in, but sometimes we forget.  Ah well.

These are the cows that are the most likely to calf in the next week or so.  We sorted them up by calving dates and this bunch is on the hill by our house for close observation.  Normally, we do not keep the mature cows this close, but the pastures where they would normally be calving are still knee deep in snow and there is nowhere for them to be.  So for now, this is where the action happens.  With all this melting, perhaps we will get to those pastures with cows soon. 

These little girls are all cozy and dry under the shelter in the straw.  The babies that are born out there in the small pasture are sledded in to a place in the corral where it is dry.  The calves can at least have a little dry, warm time with their mothers before the are kicked out into the wide world of mud.

Just a couple days after the Vernal Equinox, the Western Meadowlarks began to sing.  What a joy!  Come (scroll down), take a listen, and feel the joy!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Birds & no bees....

Hello from the frozen tundra of the North!  We are just days away from the Spring Equinox, better know First Day of Spring, and we just keep getting slammed with snow.  I don't want to complain --even though my natural man would like to-- because I'd really like to see some green soon, but I do know that this wet, wet snow that's coming down is what's going to make it green, green, green when it's all melted down.  The men here keep having to get up in the wee, dark hours of the morning to move enough snow out of the way so we can drive and have a little space for the sheep and cows to have somewhere to stand and eat.  There is no grazing happening at this point. Just standing and eating and walking a little bit to the water tanks.  As you can see by the first picture, the sheep and the cows in the background are pretty much snowbound.  We try to make it as bearable as possible, but it is what it is right now.  Thankfully we are warmer than we were in February -- staying mostly in the 20s and 30s -- which feels ok.  We are also thankful that the mature cows have not started calving yet.  We hope that we are going to get some warmer days to melt this snow off so they can have a little bare ground to have their babies on instead of the snow.  Hubby is planning to contact our county road plow neighbor and see if we can hire him to plow some bare spots in the pasture for the cows. 

Despite the rather wintry weather we are having, it does have a feel of spring to it.  Yes, it does!  It is wet, sloppy, good snow that's falling and there's a good deal of slush, and mud underneath the whiteness of it all.  And the other telltale signs are the birds that are arriving.  The Canada geese have been here, standing around in the hay field looking for something green or buggy to eat.  It's so funny to see them just standing out there in the snow looking around.  The meadowlarks have come in and can be found out in the pastures where the men have cleared snow away for the cows and sheep.  They are turning over every bit of hay or cow pie to see if there might be a bug underneath somewhere.  The robins have come too and so have the red-winged blackbirds.  Juncos are usually thought of as winter birds to most people, but they never stay here for the winter.  They do come though in early spring and again in the fall.  I think they are pass-through birds for us.  The red-polls and a few American goldfinches have stayed through the winter and are still here for our so-called spring.  But you must know that oftentimes, this really IS what spring looks like for us.  Heavy, wet, spring snowfall is typical.  It's just that we haven't had it in a few years, and it comes on top of our previous, hard, winter snow so it feels like the never-ending winter.  But.....spring will overcome winter.  The sun gets nearer and it will prevail!

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the snow.  I've been strapping on my traditional, wood snowshoes to test them out on this wet snow and they work beautifully at keeping me floating on top of the snow.  The modern, aluminum snowshoes are a bit heavier and they tend to sink into the softer snow.  They are great for hard snow, but not so much for this stuff.  The dog, Heidi, and I are enjoying the walks.  She thought she should bring the frisbee along.  She sinks in to her belly, but doesn't seem to mind.  I try to tell her to walk in my tracks, but she doesn't care.  She wants to chase jackrabbits!

So, my friends, from the country where the snow seems to never end, I wish you happy winter and will very soon wish you a happy spring!  What's happening in your neck of the woods?

Friday, March 16, 2018

A bit o' Irish for you...

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock. 

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's wisdom to uphold me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's host to save me... 

~Attributed to St. Patrick
Ireland 389 (?) - 461 A.D. 


In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I share with you some wonderful stories about the Irish by one of my favorite children's authors, Tomie dePaola.   Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland, Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill,  and others.  He has a nice book called The Miracles of Jesus.  Both Littles and Bigs can appreciate the stories and art of Tomie dePaola. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2018


First Robin pic by JLynn (DIL)

Two days ago Peach and Toodles and their mama sited the First Robin here on the ranch in the trees next to their house.  I put on my boots and went with Peach to see it with my own eyes.  She was anxious to show him to me!  Today I spied the First Meadowlark while I was out feeding sheep.  I didn't have a camera so everyone had to trust my eyes for the report of "First Meadowlark" that was announced on the 2-way radio.  The meadowlark picture is not mine.  My picture would have snow, a little mud, and gray skies mixed in it.  Not as colorful as this pic.

We are expecting another snow this weekend.  Somewhere between 6-8" of snow on top of what we have.  The old snow is sinking slowly as the sun gets a little stronger each day.  Still, we have quite a bit.  There are now about 65 new calvies on the ground so the men have been working to make sure there are good places for them to be during the snow storm.

I've been stitching a little bit here and there.  One embroidery is for a baby's room and the Scottie Dog for a friend of a friend to tuck into a birthday gift.  In case you need a Scottie Dog stuffie of your own, the pattern is here at AllSorts.   It's almost spring!  Can you feel it in the air?  Yet?

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Snowshoeing, the calm...




click pic to enjoy a closer look

We had a beautiful, still, Sunday morning here and so I took my snowshoes for a solitary trek through The Woods which are the shelter belts around our homes.  Heavy fog and frost moved in these past couple of days and so the trees were covered with spiky, frost needles.  Even the barbed wire had lengthened spikes.  The two dogs went along with me and chased jackrabbits from their hiding places.  There was a special quiet calm and beauty that felt like a gift as I walked, even though from time to time my foot plunged deeper into the snow than I expected and set me off balance.  The snow is not uniform in its make-up now.  Some of it is hard as rock where the wind has blown over and made drifts.  It is easy to walk over.  And then other snow in the lower, more sheltered areas where it has melted somewhat, is softer and I sink in further.  I wish I had a hybrid snowshoe that would allow for either kind of snow.

As I was walking towards home, I just happened to look up to see this fine fellow -- a Long-eared Owl.   Another gift.  After I snapped the photo, I just stood for a long while and observed and appreciated  him.  He also stayed still without blinking and observed me.  After a few minutes, the dogs came looking for me and disrupted our observation time, and Long Ear flew off.  He looked much larger when he was flying than he did in this picture.  I think they "skinny" themselves to look like a limb on the tree -- the true camouflage.

After a warm, calm day, it sadly ended with winds whipping up around chore time.  We put all the sheep into their sheds and gave a little extra feed to the cows.  It sounds like we may not get near the snow that was predicted, but the winds are still on the way.  Some folks to our east are expecting upward of 12" of snow with high winds.  Blizzard conditions.

Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come when we are alone. It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing, to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen. If we attend to the music of the earth, we reach serenity. And then, in some unexplained way, we share it with others. ~Gladys Taber

Saturday, March 03, 2018

The cows come home (and new calvies)

On a sunny and mild Wednesday, the men and I went over to The River Place and gathered the cows to bring them home.  The men had made a trail for them with the tractor through deep snow cross-country.  We couldn't have done it otherwise.  It was a 6.5 mile trek for the cows.  I led the way with the pick-up and cake feeder to coax them, and Hubby followed behind with the Ranger with the tracks on it.  The girls came home in pretty good time and were glad to find hay and water ready for them.

On another note, the heifers have started calving and right now we have four cutie pies in the corral with their mamas.  These are Hereford/Red Angus cross.  I love their splotchy faces.  So far, the heifers are calving with ease, and most of the time we don't know they are even calving until we see a calf on the ground.  Now that's how we want to do it.  

There are still three or four head of ewes at the barn left to lamb.  This past week we docked three bunches of lambs and so far we've had good numbers.  We still have the youngest lambs left to dock.
Tally:  115 ewes, 184 lambs equals 160% lamb crop.  These number don't account for the number of bum lambs we've had.  We took another 8 lambs to Dr. Liz last night and she is happy with her bummies.  We are hoping we can buy back some of the ewes from her when she gets ready to sell them in the summer.

It's been a mild week here which has been so wonderful.  I even took a little snowshoe walk around and enjoyed that.  On Sunday and Monday we are expecting more snow with high winds gusting to 70 mph which means BLIZZARD.  Thankfully, we have all the livestock fairly close by and have plenty of shed space for young livestock.  I suppose the county roads will blow shut with drifting snow, but we have stocked up at the grocery store and have our barn supplies so I think we're ready.  When I look at all the snow around us and the snow that's coming, I just imagine green grass and full reservoirs in spring!  One needs to keep that perspective.

Today I got to be at home for most of the day, being a housewife.  I enjoyed it so very much.  I've been tidying up, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, and catching up with the laundry.  I even washed my chore coat, hats, and gloves so they smell and look so much better.  Supper is in the crock pot and I'm looking forward to soaking in an Epsom Salts bath this evening.  Ahhh.  I hope your Saturday has been just right.  God bless you and thanks for stopping by.


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