Friday, February 27, 2009

Gold by Moonlight...

The photo was taken this evening when my family came in from the outdoors and asked if I had seen the Moon. This is what I saw.... The crescent Moon and Venus dance together as a pair in perfect step. If you enjoy the night sky, click here.

I just began reading a book that I have wanted to read for some time. It's called Gold by Moonlight by Amy Carmichael who was a beloved missionary to the people of India (1895). This quote spoke especially to my heart tonight.
There was a traveler who at first saw nothing of the light that was shining in the wood. After a while the thought moved softly -- "I am with you all the days, and all day long."

But just as a flower never presses its sweetness upon anyone but freely gives to him who desires it, and to him as often as he will, so that thought of peace did not force itself upon the traveler, and yet it did lovingly offer to his lips a cup of healing.

And then -- but how it came to be so has never yet been told -- the gloom of the darkness was gone, the light in the wood shone forth and the glory thereof.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cookies are out of the oven...

Here I thought we might be heading into some spring-like weather, but no, it's 8 degrees and we've got 6-8" of snow on the ground since last night. The weatherman tells us we are under a winter storm warning for tonight with 6-8" of additional snow possible by morning.

Today....we've been scooping feed bunks, cleaning snow out of the feed lots and the open sheds, putting down new straw for the baby calves, and cleaning the barns along with the other daily chores. No calves born today. I guess they'll keep them warm and snug inside awhile longer. If there is more snow tonight, there will be more of the same work tomorrow. I didn't realize how tired I was at noon until I had my lunch and cleaned up the dishes. I just had to lie down for a little nap. Actually, everyone did.

From the kitchen... what better thing to do on a cold, snowy afternoon but to bake cookies? I've drunk up my cuppa coffee with a tipple of cream and gobbled 3 fresh cookies hot from the oven so far. (I'm done.....really)

Now it's close to time to prepare supper and that will be a turkey-dumpling soup. Kind friends smoked a turkey breast and gave it to us, so I took the meat off and boiled the carcass with lots of veggies to get a good broth. German dumplings, like Grandma used to make, will get plopped right in the boiling broth and I'll add some of the turkey too. It's one of my kids' favorite rib-sticking soups.

Grandma's Dumplings for soup

4 eggs, well-beaten
1 t. salt
a pinch of baking powder
a glug of milk (approx 1/3-1/2 c.)
4 cups flour (approx)

Beat eggs until foamy, add milk and the rest of the ingredients. Add flour one cup at a time. You want the batter to get thick enough that it follows the beaters around the bowl. The dough will be very sticky.

Allow the broth to come to a rolling boil.
Heat a table spoon (from the silverware drawer) in the broth until hot. Dip a little bit of the dough out and shake it under the broth to release. Continue until all the dough is gone. Turn down the heat to low and pop a lid on. Wait about 10 minutes and serve. The dumplings will triple in size and float up to the top. This recipe makes a chewy dumpling, similar to a homemade noodle. In fact, you can roll out this dough and make noodles with it if you like. Dumplings are for the Lazy Homemaker in me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pot o' narcissus...

Can you guess the word I'm spelling?

Today is Ash Wednesday. Although we are not of the liturgical-variety of Christian, we do observe some of the seasons like Lent and Advent. Lent has officially begun and I have been planning for many weeks to put together these little JOY Cans with Paper whites set inside. I bought the Paper whites (narcissus) on sale after Christmas for $1 per box of 3 or 4 bulbs. I used plain aquarium gravel to set the bulbs in so it gives some weight to the can and makes a nice reservoir for water. I have been saving some of my fruit and veggie cans to supply simple containers. Burlap can be bought very cheaply at your local fabric store or you could be thrifty and cut up some feed sacks or coffee sacks and do the same thing. Just measure the height and circumference of your can, leaving a little to fray at the top and a 1/2 inch for a seam, stitch and turn and slide over the can. You don't need a bottom. I used paper sack, my rubber stamps, and some twine to make the tags. Behind the tag I glued on a little poem that I wrote especially for this project. I'm really not a very poetic kind of person, but after searching my poetry books most of the morning for just the right poem, I didn't find it. So.... resorted to my own wits. If you want to, you may copy it for yourself.

I set a bulb into the earth,
Cold and dark and dead.
And soon a soft green blade appeared
And soon, a little head.

Short after I saw a little bit
Of white come out and peep.
Next day a bonnet blossom showed
All pearly white and sweet

The li’l Narcissus lifts up her head
To thank the Lord in heaven
What once was cold and dark and dead
Has LIFE from His hand given.


Just so you don't think I'm mucho creative and clever, I didn't think this project up on my own. I got some help from Maya at maya*made on this post. She created them for simple Christmas gifts. I tucked the idea back in my mind for later use, thinking of my yearning for flowers and green-things-growing about this time of year. So thank you, Maya, for your inspiration! (I know when to copy a smart idea!)

After your pots are covered, add some gravel to the bottom inch or two of the can, then add a bulb and a little more gravel, but don't cover it up completely. Set the pointed end up with half the bulb showing. Keep a nice water reservoir in the gravel and watch your narcissus grow. In about 5-6 weeks, you should have some beautiful, white, fragrant blooms.

Back to the season of Lent. We like to read one of the gospel books together as a family during this time and focus on the life of Jesus, our Lord. We don't usually fast, but this year I'm thinking of setting aside some of the best things (instead of canned green beans) from our pantry to give to the community's Compassion Cupboard. Do you observe Lent? If so, how do you?

If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
~words of Jesus from John 8:31

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shearing time...

One hundred eighty-five sheep were sheared today. The shearers showed up at 7:00 this morning and I was grateful that we had all of the sheep in the Big Shed so all we had to do was to run them down the alley and into the shearing rig. There was just The Youngest Child and me and our dog Sue to get the sheep moving since everyone else was doing the feeding chores or helping with calving heifers. But soon enough, Hubs, A, and S, came up to join us. I helped push up the sheep awhile and then returned home to my kitchen to finish the beef stew that we'd all have for dinner and I whipped up some brownies and coffee for the coffee break.

I wish I had gotten some photos of the shearers doing their work, but I didn't remember my camera until after the fact. So here is the end result of a good shearing crew. Clean, white sheep stripped of their fluffy wool and able to see once again. These girls were becoming "wool blind" from the thick coat of wool they had growing around their faces. Now we'll have to put them in the shed each night since this is a bit of a shock for them. Soon we'll be getting baby lambs.

We've had about 10 calves born since I reported the first-born. It's so wonderful to have warm, mild weather right now for calving season. We reached 55* today!

Last night was Grandpa's and my first night of grandbaby-sitting without Mommy and Daddy. They had a date night! And we had fun! Hazel just had her bath and was all bundled up in the towel. Oh, I love this!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First calf of the year....

This calf is being sledded to the barn where she and her mother will stay close together and bond before they are turned out to a larger corral. We also will make sure that the calf has suckled and has got the colostrum she needs to jump-start her body and her immunities.

I walked to the corrals to let the heifers out this morning, and as I slowly made my way through them so they wouldn't slip on the ice, I heard the distinct sound of a mama cow "talking" to her baby. And there she was -- licking off the wetness, talking to her calf all the while. The calf was speaking the language too. It really is a love affair that begins with a wet splat on the ground, with familiar smells, and with the first guttural sounds of new life.

Calving has officially begun!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A day in the country....

Hubs asked me to go cake the cows this morning. I really do love this job. It's just me and the dogs riding along in the pick-up, stopping to honk the horn and holler a little so the cows will come to us for their feeding. I enjoy getting out and taking in the vast rolling plains all around me. It's breathtaking. The sky was especially pretty today.

In the background, you can see some cows who were way off, coming down the ridge.

"Hey Bessy, can you lick the inside of your nostril like this?"

Some of the cows are more than eager to get some breakfast. This old girl isn't a bit shy. In fact, she likes to nuzzle right up to my hip pocket for some cake. She'll take it right out of my hand.

I've been letting the chickens out of the coop on these nice days. They just love to scratch and dig and find something good to eat in the manure piles. A friend once asked me what I fed my chickens. And I told him about their favorite spot. You know what they say about free-range chickens? They produce the best eggs!

Blackie is taking a sun bath.

Big Oak is waiting for me to drop some cake out of my bucket for him. Don't you like his curly head?

More siestas on a warm, sunny afternoon. Do you see the little silver horn weights? We put these on the bull's horns to weigh them down so they don't grow upward. Upward-growing horns are difficult to manage and are more dangerous than downward-growing horns or no horns at all.

A day in the country is worth a month in town.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sweets for the Sweetest!

It is time for the traditional Valentine cookie baking.

Frosted sugar cookies with sprinkles or red hots.
Sweets for the ones I LOvE.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Preserving the roses from my Valentine.....

Thursday, February 12, 2009 your health!

I am regularly buying lemons to have on hand to combat the sicknesses that come visiting this time of year. I personally like to drink lemon water daily in the summertime over ice, but during the winter, I like it hot. I sometimes call it "hot lemonade" even though I don't put any sugar in it. Sometimes I stir in a teaspoon of honey for someone who has a sore throat. It is very soothing and delicious, but there are great health benefits too. Did you know that lemons are not only high in vitamin C but also in calcium, magnesium, and potassium? If you need a lift in your energy levels or want relief from head aches, menstrual problems, digestive troubles or to chase away colds and flu, consider the lemon.

To use lemons, pick fresh, ripe fruits that are bright yellow and thin-skinned. The heavier the lemon, the more juice and minerals it holds. If you have your own trees, you are blessed indeed. Wash the fruit lightly and store at room temperature if you will be using them within a week or so. Is there anything prettier than a bowl of bright, sunny lemons on the table? Use about a half a lemon per large mug. Squeeze it into the mug and pour hot water just-off-the-boil over. I prefer to cut my lemon into wedges, squeeze and then drop them into my mug so that the lemon oils are drawn from the skins. Drink this twice a day for your good health!

In the summertime, I cut lemon wedges, squeeze, and pour over cold water and add ice. Again, I toss the lemons into my glass. I like to sip it all day long, especially when I'm working hard outdoors. It is very refreshing and replenishes minerals that may be sweated out.

For more nutritional information click here, here, and here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Grandangel....

She is 7 months old today and....
She can sit up by herself,
She does the combat crawl,
She can do the yoga pose "down dog,"
She crawls on hands and knees,
And she plays her "mouth harp" while blowing raspberries.
Is she an Angel Baby Doll?

Just in case you're interested, the picture above is from a paper doll set called Angel Babies. I'm quite tempted!

Monday, February 09, 2009

This and that....

You've heard that old saying, "Make hay while the sun shines," haven't you? Well, a couple of days ago we had temperatures in the 50's which is very warm for February in the north country. So Hubs & Sons had the idea to make some straw bales for the barn. This straw was originally baled into those big round bales that you can see in the background. The guys broke open about 5 big round bales and then pitchforked the straw up into our old square baling machine. This baler has been running since Hubs was a boy. It takes a little more TLC to operate it nowadays, but we only make just a few square bales now-and-then for the barn to be used when we are calving heifers or lambing the ewes.

Here are the bales coming out the back end -- all tucked and tied. The men made 100 squares and stacked them neatly in the barn. We'll begin getting baby calves in about 3 weeks time. The straw is used for bedding. Most of the cows have their babies in the pasture, but the heifers (first time mother cows) will be close to the house and we'll bring each through the barn to make sure everything goes well. They get extra care since it's their first calf.

I've been playing with scissors, paper, and paint this past week. I got the idea to make these paper heart chains over at Maya*made. She does the sweetest things by re-purposing newspapers into things like Valentine paper chains by using a little bit of red paint and the sewing machine to stitch them together. Click here for the instructions. I decided that I liked the potato stamped hearts best when the projects were all said and done, and it was much easier to do. I cut lots and lots of little stamped hearts and used some of them on my homemade Valentine cards too. I also saved the brown paper that covered my table and stamped it with the potato hearts to use for a gift wrap.

Picture excerpt: The Story of the Root Children

I've been browsing the children's section over at for some special books for a special Grandangel. I truly am the Book Fairy Grandmother and I'm constantly finding "new" old books that I love. First off, I just adore children's story books. Maybe it's because I never had any as a child. I borrowed and bought tons books for my own children growing up, some of which were so well-read that their covers were loved off. I also buy picture storybooks for myself sometimes, and now that I have a Grandangel, I have yet another excuse to linger amongst the children's book shelves. This adorable page above comes from a book entitled Story of the Root Children by Sibylle Von Olfers. And look at this sweet one called The Story of the Snow Children! **Squeal of delight** I can't wait for them to arrive in my mailbox!

One more's snowing again.
Big, beautiful, wet flakes of snow. It's warm-ish which makes snow much more enjoyable.


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