Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working sheep...

This morning we got up early, had pancakes and bacon and headed out the door to worm the sheep. Hubs and I had got the ewes and lambs in last night so they could tromp down the tall grass in the shearing pens and corrals, but you'll notice by the pictures that they didn't finish the job so we had lots of grass to wade through. The picture above shows Eldest and Youngest sons actually worming the sheep with the medicine and a gun that measures and squirts the deworming medicine into the mouths of the lambs. One man douses and the other man holds the treated lambs back in the pen.

We had a few ewes that lambed late so we docked the long tails out of the pen and branded them with red branding paint. That brand is a Lazy Y J

Hubs and the visiting cousin are counting sheep out of the pen once they are done. One thing you learn to do when you live on a ranch is count. You count everything.... ewes, lambs, cows, calves, bulls, eggs and fence posts. Everything gets a number so you best count or measure everything in sight because sure enough, just when you think you didn't need a "count," someone will ask you.

"How many staples ya got?"
"How much paint is left in the bucket?"
"How many eggs did you get tonight?"

Hubs says that his Uncle Edwin counted the steps from the house to the barn and from the house to the chicken coop. I haven't done that yet. Maybe I oughta.

Lambs are all treated and it's time to turn them out with their mothers and herd them on up the hill to Chuck's....the "new" pasture they will spend a few weeks in.

Sue would be glad to take them out to pasture. (And she did) It's important to always turn sheep out to a new pasture after you worm them, otherwise they can get re-infested when they go out to the same area to graze and bed down where their droppings lay. I think it takes about two weeks before the worms in the droppings die.

I found the tally on the side of the pick-up truck.
Final tally: 209 lambs with the newly docked lambs added in.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday ramble....

oriental poppies

I was out in the gardens this morning, spending a little time admiring the flowers and giving everything a good soaking drink. As I did, I sought out the weeds that so easily entangle my plants and try to pull them down. I'm speaking mostly of Creeping Jenny, but there are other weeds that try to disguise themselves as the very plants they stand beside.

A couple of days ago I did a major weeding project. I called it "Garden Chemotherapy." No, there wasn't any toxic chemical dousing of weeds, but the Gardener did her best to pull the undesirable weeds without pulling too many of the desirable plants. Much to my dismay, several healthy, growing flowers were yanked out with the pulling of weeds that simply had to go. I couldn't allow those nasty weeds to stay and go to seed and further infest my flowers.

The lilies are blooming in full force now. Deep crimson, pink, yellow, and white.

This tough favorite, Black-eyed Susan loves the heat of mid and late summer.

potato blossoms

For the first time ever, I planted potatoes in raised bed boxes. I had intended to put them into a field garden, but the plot I wanted plowed was so terribly wet, that there was no way a new bed good be made for them this past spring. I had the seed potatoes in hand so Hub built me a couple new boxes and I planted the potatoes. They have grown into monstrous plants and I'm just hoping that means monstrous spuds underneath. Since the plants are now blooming, I know that I can rob a few "new potatoes" from them and replant them to continue producing potatoes.

I dug up about 4 plants in all and as you can see, some of my spuds were nice and big and some were not much bigger than quarters. I can't wait to fry a few for supper and toss in my fresh herbs of chives, parsley, thyme and rosemary.

We've had a very cool summer thus far and just today the mercury is climbing to a whopping 98 degrees. This is excellent drying weather for the haying, but it keeps the Gardener busy with dragging the hose around the yard. I really don't mind though. I have water!

Damselfly eating mosquitoes and gnats

On another note, I've been reading a book that I highly recommend for those of you have have an interest in how families lived during the Great Depression of the 1930's. This is the true story told by the author, Mildred Armstrong Kalish, about her life as a young girl living on an Iowa farm. The family grows their own vegetables, milks the cow, sews clothing, treats their own illnesses and they never blink an eye about the hard work required to sustain themselves through hard times. In fact, it was a way of life for them even before the Depression hit. The book is entitled: Little Heathens. It's a fun little summertime read.

As I was reading Little Heathens, I came to a part where Mildred had developed an infection in her foot due to the bare footin' that the kids did back then. When she showed her mother her sore, aching foot, she sprang into action to treat it. Part of the treatment involved wrapping the foot with strips of old sheets that were saved. This got me to thinking....do people today even have rags and old sheets to cut up anymore?

In the age of the paper towel, and even the recycled paper towel (!), does anyone have a rag stash that they go to when it's time to clean the bathroom, to dust the furniture, to tie up staked tomato plants, to polish boots or to bandage a sore foot? I do, but then this is how I was raised. You saved old towels, cut the good part out of cotton shirts and T-shirts, and we saved few threadbare bed sheets for rags. I know it's nothing glamorous and nothing to be proud of, but I think a good rag stash is a necessity and a nicety all in one box. You might find the perfect pieces of shirting to make a doll blanket. You'd never want to dry the dog with a "good towel" and I like to have "raggy towels" at the mud room sink for washing up when coming in from outdoor work. You might need an old towel to bring home a new puppy or to make a bed for her. I like to use T-shirts cut in strips to tie my tomato plants to stakes as they grow. Old diapers make excellent cleaning rags too. You need rags to stain or oil furniture, to use at the shop for checking and changing oil. I've seen a rag temporarily stuck into a gas tank when the gas cap was lost. You need rags to clean up the dog puke so you can toss it out when you're done. I cut up old denim jeans and patch the knees and seats of jeans-worth-saving. I cut some denim to take to the barn to patch an eye when a cow has an eye infection. I also like to make jean quilts which my kids all request before leaving home. I have one in progress right now.

If you haven't got a rag stash, you really ought to start one. It's easy to do. Just go through your drawers and closets and set aside the old worn-out clothes and the thin towels and sheets and then cut them into useful niceties. Rags. A basket of multi-colored rags can look charming sitting in a corner. Call it rustic!


It's Sunday. Take time to rest, to enjoy the flowers, to drink some lemonade, to sit in the shade and throw the ball to the dog, play with your kids, laugh with your husband and then tonight when the sun goes down, look up at the stars and thank God. He made you too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Plains Prickly pear...

The *rose* of the prairie.

While we were out riding, I tucked my camera in my pocket, knowing that the prickly pear would be in bloom. And they were.

A few years ago, Hubs and I were delivering bulls to a couple in South Dakota and the wife was showing me the canned goods she had been putting up. She had been making jellies out of prairie fruits to sell to local souvenir stores. Some of the jellies were: chokecherry (one of my favorites), buffalo berry, and prickly pear. Being a jelly-maker myself, I was naturally curious about making prickly pear jelly since we have an abundance of the "fruit." She told me that in the fall, she and a few relatives and friends go out with tall boots, leather gloves and pliers to pick the prickly pear fruits off the tops of the cacti. If you've ever been around the prickly pear, you know how tedious this procedure would be. And to think, she makes jars and jars of this to sell!

Well, I've never attempted the prickly pear jelly, but I did get a sampling of it that day and it's quite good. I really would like to try making a batch someday. If you're ever inclined to make prickly pear jelly, you might enjoy this article from Mother Earth News. The author described gathering the prickly pears and the jelly making method just as the lady I met did it.

For now, I'll just enjoy the blossoms.

Pizza re-heat tip....

Do you ever want to re-heat last night's pizza but hate the sogginess that comes from using the microwave? Well, somewhere or other I read about this method and it's the best way to do the job. Just put a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet, put the heat on low or medium-low, add pizza slices and a lid. The crust will crisp as the cheese gets soft and melty. It takes about 5 minutes or so.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

1 is One...

The Grandangel is a Yearling today!
Happy Birthday CuppyCake-Gumdrop!

1 is One by Tasha Tudor is a sweet lil counting book.
I love her illustrations and collect her books so I thought this would be a special book for a One Year Old. I found it in a board book style which is nice for Littles, I think.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The road less traveled by...

It was my day to check cow bunches and to see how the bulls were doing. It is breeding season here on the ranch and so we must be sure that the bulls are "doing their job" and are healthy and unhurt. I took lots of pictures but these, of trails, reminded me that the roads we take in life aren't always as clear as we'd like. Many are less traveled and hard to keep to which is perhaps why the Bible promises, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path...." The road is walked, step by step.

Click photos to enlarge them so you can see the trails a little more clearly. Some are quite hidden by lack of travel and growth of grass and foliage.

The Road not Taken

~By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Set free.....

I've set myself and my clothespins FREE!
For a year now, I have been using a clothespin bag that I lovingly made for myself and for a couple new brides. I thought then, "They're cute and they're useful," all the while knowing deep within my soul that MY new clothespin bag would put me in bondage.

"How?" you ask.

Well, let me begin at the beginning. I grew up with clothespins that had to be always returned to the clothespin bag after each wash day. They were always nice and smooth and tan (not tattered and gray and weathered). So I knew how the whole clothes line routine should go. But then I got married and my mother-in-love did not use a clothespin bag. Oh no. She left her pins on the line year round. How barbarian! But how liberating! I tried it, and I loved it. It was nice not always taking each and every pin off the line every time I hung out the laundry which was daily, especially when the children were small and there were seven of us to wash for. It was nice to hang the childrens' swimsuits right on the line after they ran through the sprinkler or hang the towel that dried the dog or to quick-dry the tea towels after doing dishes. No need to go find the bag of pins in the laundry room for little jobs like that.

Through the years, my clothespins have weathered gray and are a bit snaggly and some of them have a wee bit of lichen growing on them. But I love them and they just seemed far to wild and unrefined to be cloistered up into a bag for a year only come out for an airing once in awhile and only during daylight hours. These pins were used to bouncing on the line in all weathers -- sun, rain, hail, snow and wind and they had opportunity to be out in the late hours of the night under moonlight. How did I think I could ever get used to such regiment after all this freedom?

So for me and my clothespins, today was our Independence Day! Freedom to live on the edge of domesticity! The revolt was stoked by the large quantity of smelly barn-type laundry that required immediate attention. There were lots and lots jeans, t-shirts and socks which makes a great deal of pinning for the Laundress. And since there were so many loads, that meant when some things were dry, they needed to come off promptly and efficiently so as to make room for the next loads. Do you see how much pinning and unpinning and bagging this makes? Total fiddle-faddle in my lazy homemaker opinion.


The wild and gnarly clothespin

Today I have given up trying to be cute and fussy and proper about my clothesline and it's pins. It's back to the old ways. Ahhhh.....freedom.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

...his days are like grass....

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field,
so he flourishes,
When the wind has passed over it,
it is no more
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is
from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
To those who keep His covenant,
And who remember His precepts
to do them.

~Psalm 103:15-18

Have you ever seen grass "in bloom?"

All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness
is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers,
the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it....
But the word of our God stands forever.

~Isaiah 40:6-8

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

By Alice Dalton Brown

From Sea to Shining Sea....
Let Freedom Ring!


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