Wednesday, February 29, 2012


After the snow....
the sun.
Soaking up the vitamin D 
and getting a nice healthy glow in the cheeks.

Fridge space -- turntables...

No, I haven't got a new fridge yet.  No, the girls didn't break the fridge over Super Bowl Sunday.  The old thing is still slumping along, but what I do want to share with you is a nifty little idea that makes getting into a crappy less-than-desirable fridge a little more pleasant -- turntables!

While visiting a friend recently, I noticed she had turntables everywhere in her kitchen -- in the fridge, on the counter top holding salt, pepper, and oil, and in the kitchen cabinets holding condiments of every kind.  My goodness, what a handy way to find the things you want!  Instead of rummaging through everything to get at the items you need, just fling the turntable and you've seen it all.  I bought four 12" turntables from Amazon here for about $7.50, and they are just so wonderful!  I bought a 9" turntable for my spice cupboard at Target, but after I put it in, I found that I couldn't shut the door.  Pooh!  I'm sure I'll be able to find a good use for it in the house yet --  perhaps for the vitamins or for a bathroom shelf.

I plan to get a few more turntables and use them in the vet cupboard.  We are always digging and hunting for the right medicines, and a turntable would make it so much easier to see everything.  I love the Lazy Susan that my dad made me for the big kitchen counter top.  It's so handy.  Do you use turntables at your house?  Do you have any fridge organization tips?  Do tell.  Oh, Clarice at Storybook Woods has a nice post about her new friggie  here.

Snow fell last night and we woke up to a 4-5" blanket of white stuff.  The sun is shining so brightly that it makes walking outside from the dark lambing shed blinding.  I love the warmth it is radiating here today.  We're climbing up to 40 degrees now.  Joy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I'm dreaming of a garden....

There's nothing to do here to begin gardening.... except to dream of gardening.  And to me, that's a good beginning.  A friend posted these lovely videos of Ruth Stout who has written some books about work-free vegetable gardening.  I haven't read any yet, but I want to.  The secret to Ruth's gardening technique is to much heavily with old hay and straw.  I'll leave you to dream about gardening with these two videos of Ruth doing her thing and telling her story in her own words. By the way, Ruth died at the ripe old age of 96, and from what I can gather, she was gardening up to the end of her life.

The video below I found while looking further into "No Dig Potatoes." You're gonna love this idea! I'm dreaming of a no-dig potato patch!  How about you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

I need a housewife...

We were up early this morning and got our barn chores done -- checking the lambs and the ewes and feeding the bum lambs. The two revived lambs were thriving and seemed healthy enough.  One went back to his mother and she was glad to welcome him back.  The other is living with the rest of the bum lambs and is doing well.  I came in to warm up with a cup of coffee while T. went to feed with the tractor.  I spent a little time reading my Bible, but what I really wanted to do this morning was to sing.  Sing hymns.  In days gone by, I sang a hymn or two every morning with my kids.  It was such a sweet time and I am thankful for those memories and songs.  Today I turned the pages of my hymnal to A Mighty Fortress is Our God (a family favorite), It is Well With My Soul, and What a Friend We have in Jesus.  It just felt good to sing this morning.

It was a very full day today.  More triplets were born, and more bum lambs were added to the pens as we turned out the triplet-moms with only two lambs each.  Now the bummies number 16 and counting.  I'm mixing up a gallon of powdered lamb milk for each feeding, five times a day.  Thankfully, I have help feeding them.  It's a lot easier to double-team the babies as any mother knows.

I took a quick trip to town with Hubs.  We had to get a trichinosis test for a bull who will be traveling to CA soon, and then we picked up supplies -- 50 pounds of lamb milk, more nipples, chicken feed, and a few groceries.  I took a half an hour and went to The Bakery (my fabric store) with G. and Betsy to check out the possibilities for kitchen/dining room curtain fabrics.  And found!  I'm anxious to get sewing.....soon.

Prairie Paisley by Moda

An hour and a half later and we were back in the truck and on the road to home, and back to our sheep and cows.  I helped the guys get the heifers in to give them a booster vaccination which will help prevent scours from happening in their baby calves when they are born.  While they were vaccinating, I spent an hour resting (ahhhh) and sipping a cup of coffee and then went back up to the lambing barn.

I told Hubby that I need a housewife -- someone to fix us a hot supper each night, someone to tidy up the house and keep us in clean socks and underwear.  She could fix us a delicious snack once in awhile and make the house smell lovely with a lavender-scented mopped floor.  Oh, and wouldn't it be nice if the curtains were sewed-up and hanging prettily at sparkling clean windows?  If I only had a housewife.

Even so....I managed to fix us a nice supper in a half an hour.  Chicken-friend steaks with mushroom gravy, baked sweet potatoes, and roasted asparagus.  Oh boy, did it taste good!  It was worth the wait.  Hubs said, "Take a picture of this meal," so I did. 
The weatherman is calling for a possible snowstorm starting tomorrow and continuing through Tuesday.  It has been cold enough here each day without a snowstorm, but we'll deal with that if and when it comes.  One day at a time; do the next thing.  That's my mantra. Since the housewife didn't show up, I guess I'll go fold the laundry.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

from near death to life....

Early this morning I brought home a chilled, neglected lamb from the barn.  He was one of triplets and the mother had refused to lick him off and encourage him to be her lamb.  So he froze nearly to death.  I picked him up and put him on the floorboard of the pick-up truck and turned the heat on high and after finishing up my chores, I took him home to see if I could revive him.  The warm-up in the truck worked wonders and then I force-fed him just a couple ounces of milk to get his system jump-started.  It's amazing what a tiny bit of milk can do in the body of a newborn lamb.  By the time I took him back up to the shed, he was on his feet, blatting and ready to go back to mama.  My hope was that he would get some of the first milk from his mother before we ended up taking him to the bum pen.  We are only letting the ewes raise two lambs.  The triplets and quads simply will not make it.

This afternoon we had another chilled lambie that was born outside.  He was one of quadruplets!  Two of the quads had died immediately and two were alive but the little fella pictured above was honestly frozen stiff.  A. brought him to me saying he doubted the lamb would make it, but I assured him I would give it my best.  I had seen lambs in this frozen state before be revived to health and I had seen better-looking lambs die.  This lamb was so cold that I gave him a warm bath in the laundry sink in the mudroom -- just water, no soap.  Then I toweled him off with several towels.  You can't believe how wool holds water!  I dried him further with a hot hair dryer and then force fed him some milk with a syringe and then tried with a bottle and nipple.  I got a very tiny bit down him, but he didn't show signs of sucking.  He looked much, much better, but I wasn't sure yet if he would make it.  I put him in my pick-up truck again and turned up the heat while I made the bottles for the other bum lambs.  By the time we got back up to the barn, he was perky and would suck the bottle with no problems.  Hubs plopped him in the pen with his mother and the other lamb.  We weren't sure if she would take him since he had had a bath.  Ewes want to smell that birthy, wet smell that is on their fresh-born lambs and this guy was fairly clean, even though I did not use a drop of soap.  Hubs rubbed some of  the mother's afterbirth on the lamb so she had something to smell and something to lick off him.  She didn't push him away, so our hope was that in time she would accept him.  So far, so good.  We're going up to feed the bums in just a few minutes -- their last feeding of the day.  I hope we find her mothering her lamb.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Because you asked....

This is a rerun recipe, but since some of you asked for the Lemon Cloud Pie recipe, here it is.  I had forgotten how delish it was. I had a bowl of Meyer lemons that were starting to shrivel and shrink, so I squeezed them and made pie.

Lemon Cloud Pie

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup water
1/3+ cup lemon juice
2 egg yolks
Combine above ingredients in saucepan; bring to boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Add ~ 4 oz. softened cream cheese
           2 tsp. grated lemon peel
Cool mixture to room temperature.
Fold in 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped.
Spread into 9" baked and cooled pie shell.  Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.  Top with sweetened whipped cream, if desired, before serving.
* Even better the next day; keeps well, refrigerated, for 2 or even 3 days.
*You may use a graham cracker crust for this pie too.
We've had three more sets of triplets in the past two days.  That means that three of them will go into the bum pen unless we can graft them on mothers with single lambs.  I'm  feeding six eight bum lambs.  One has a broken leg which we splinted yesterday.  His mother likely stepped on him.

Someone asked in the comments if triplets are typical in sheep.  No, they are not.  It does happen, but triplets are not the norm.  Twins, yes.   Trips, no.  Quads, no.
Since we are just one third of the way through lambing, I have a hunch that we are going to have lots of lambies in the bum pen this year.  Just when I was thinking it would be fun to "be somebody" and start a little Etsy Shop with embroidered pretties, I will instead humbly take my place in the lambing barn sitting on a bucket feeding the bums.  I really do love them, and it's only for a time.  HP said yesterday, "Gram, do you know who the bummies' mother is?  Me.  And you."  They like being rubbed under the chin after they have their bottles.  

I made Four Seeded Bread yesterday and it was my best batch yet!  However, I only had three kinds of seeds so it was just three seeded bread.
I'm contemplating a fabric for my kitchen and dining room curtains.  Here are some of my picks.

I think my favorite is the first one, but I love them all.  Love the red animal/trees print, but it's very expensive.

Another project I am about to do is to repurpose a closet  in the guest room so that I can make a little baby nursery in there.  I hope to start painting it tomorrow.  I'm going to put a used crib in it and decorate it all cutsie.  I'm not sure if I will be able to close the closet doors, but if not, I will have curtains to pull across it or tie back as needed.  I hope my grandgirls will like it.  Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest.

Now it's time to go feed the bummies for the last time today, then I'm going to fall into my bed.  It snowed.  Bah!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The day-to-day...

What is this chopped garlic all about?  It's my cure -- my home remedy.  Yup.  I eat raw, chopped garlic to fight colds and flu.  Since getting home, I've come down with sniffles, sneezes, headaches and and achy body.  I've been slurping  up lots of liquids and hot drinks and besides this, I'm throwing back the garlic.  I chop it up small and then swallow the bits with a large glass of water twice a day.  I have bad breath, yes, but I'm feeling better and it's worth me. Hubs asked me if I brushed my teeth today (and I did).  Oh well.

 This orphan lamb was feeling terrible.  I think he had a belly ache so I brought him home, warmed him up, and fed him some colostrum (first milk). Within minutes he perked up and seemed well so I drove him back up to the bum pen to be with his friends.  I hope he continues to improve.

Here are the wiggly friends (who make photography difficult).  We are all spending lots of time at the lambing barn.  We have continued to have lots of multiple births -- mostly twins, but lots more triplets than we have ever had.  I'm not sure why.  Generally, all three triplets don't end up staying with their mothers.  We usually take one away and try to graft it onto another mama ewe or else it goes into the bum pen.  Right now, I have six lambs in my bum pen. Six bottles to feed every 4 hours.

I've been researching the best way to feed my lil bum lambs once they are weaned from milk.  Powdered milk replacer is so expensive, that I am determined to get my bummies on solid feed ASAP.  Last year I made a feed mixture of molasses-sweetened rolled corn/oats/barley  plus some soybean meal and alfalfa pellets.  The lambs really liked the sweetened part of the mix, but didn't like the rest of it so much.  So far, I think that alfalfa hay will be my number one feed along with sweet COB (corn/oats/barley) and possibly some rolled soybeans.  The key is high protein.  Green weeds and grass will be their mainstay when it begins to warm up.

We've been blessed, so far, to have excellent weather for lambing.  Last year we fought deep snow and sub-zero temperatures and lambing season was hard, hard, hard.  This year it is still a big job with all the multiples, but we don't have the weather to fight ...yet.  The weatherman is predicting snow and cold for us yet this week.  We shall see what transpires.

 The hens are laying nicely.  Today I gathered 11 eggs.  Is there anything prettier than a bucketful of eggs? Maybe a basketful of eggs!

Speaking of eggs, I received this flyer in the mail from our local feed store.  It reminded me to order my baby chicks for spring which I did right away.  They should arrive in April.  Isn't this a cute, 1950s vintage advertisement?   The nice people who work at the feed store are just the best -- one of them is my sweet son-in-love. 

Well, my afternoon coffee break is over.  My cup is empty, and my lemon cloud pie is ate up.  Time to tidy up my house and get ready to check the ewes.  Then it will be time to feed the bummies and put the ewes and lambs inside the sheds for the night.  We're expecting snow after midnight tonight. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

from the Arizona desert to the lambing shed....

The Man and I took a little time away from the ranch and flew down to sunny Arizona to watch our youngest son play in his first college golf tournament.  Even though he didn't play top notch, he placed 15th among 60 players.  Not bad.

 We enjoyed driving the back roads between Phoenix and Tucson and I couldn't resist taking some desert pictures.

Handsome male Gambel's Quail.

We got back late last night and there was business going on in the lambing shed.  (These are the crooks we use to hook the lambs or ewes to bring them inside.)

 This mama ewe had herself triplets!  We've already had two sets of quadruplets, four sets of triplets, and several sets of twins.  It's a busy nursery!  I have two bum lambs right now to feed since one of the quaud-moms and two of her babies didn't make it.  The two left behind are good little lambies.  If we keep on having quads and triplets, I'm afraid the bum pen will be very large, and I'll get my old job back -- bottle washing, bottle filling, and bottle feeding.  I don't mind.

It was fun to get away and play, but as the saying goes,
 "There's no place like home." 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Shearing sheep...

Four shearers were on board

It's shearing time again!  The shearers showed up at about 7:30 a.m. and sheared 200 head in about 4 hours time.  Our job was to push the sheep up the alley and into the shearing trailer.  The sheep worked up the ramp pretty well for the most part, but at different points of the day, the sheep balked and would refuse to move and so we took turns shoving each one into the trailer.  It was hard on the arms.
Each ewe walked up the ramp into the trailer to be sheared
After they were sheared, the sheep were tipped out a small trap door on the side.  This ewe slid down the ramp but was soon on her feet again.

Chuck is the crew boss.  It's his rig.  He's been shearing sheep since he was in his early twenties.  I believe he learned the trade from some Australian and New Zealand shearers who came to the area in the 80s to shear and to teach.  He's been shearing for us for almost 30 years. The shearers and skirters all earn their pay individually according to how many head they shear and how many fleeces they throw and sort.
 It still mesmerizes me to watch a good shearer do his thing.  It's as though the wool slips off like butter. The shearing tools are extremely sharp so they do cut wool like butter. Shearing, in all actuality, is hard work, but the guys make it look easy.
 HP took off walking out to the sheared sheep.  I hollered, "What are you doing over there?
She replied, "Seeing my sheepy friends."  The girl loves the sheep.

This young man has been nicknamed "Champ" because he recently won the National Sheep Shearing Competition for the intermediate level.  We knew him from our home school group.

The skirters pull the fleeces through a trap door on the other side of the trailer.  They throw the fleeces onto a large lazy Susan style table where they pick off the undesirable wool from the bellies and legs and pick off the short pieces.  They throw the less desirable wool into a separate bag and put the whole, good fleece into another bag.  The bags are stuffed full and pressed tightly into a bale which is taken to town and sold at the local wool warehouse. The sheep averaged  about 11 pounds of wool each and the head man said that our wool was some of the best he's seen.  They will core each bale and grade it and the wool will be sold according to its weight and grade.

Next up....lambing!  The ewes are due to lamb on about February 15th.  I just love lambing season.  More to come in the days to come.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Ranchwife's panbread...

 I found this recipe a couple years back in a MaryJanes Farm magazine (it really bugs me that there's no apostrophe but....).   I use it as a cheater recipe for pizza crust when I don't have time to whip up a yeast pizza crust.  Works beautifully and tastes good too. MaryJane calls is Farmgirl Panbread, but I'm a ways from a girl and I live and work on a ranch, so I've  renamed it Ranchwife's Panbread. 

Ranchwife’s Panbread (originally Farmgirl Panbread)

3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
3 T olive oil (or melted butter)
2 T. honey
1 c. warm water

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Then add the wet ingredients and mix until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms itself into a ball.  Turn out onto a floured cupboard and roll out for your pizza pan (or as a crust for a meat or veggie pie).  Put rolled dough onto a well-oiled pan.  Prick crust with a fork.  You may pre-bake the crust for 7 minutes or so at this point or you may add your sauce, toppings, cheese, etc. and bake.  Bake at 425* F for about 17 minutes or until golden brown.  (If you pre-bake, only allow approx. 10 minutes more baking time or until cheese is bubbly)
*You may add Italian spices to the bread dough if you like.
Makes 1 crust.

Recipe is adapted from MaryJanes Farm

 The rancher patiently waits for me to snap a picture before he slices into our pizza.  Do you see that I've made it a His & Hers pizza?  Green on my side, all meat on his.  Wanna piece?

 My dad made us a nifty new gadget for our kitchen.  It's a lazy Susan.  Our island slab is so big that it's sometimes hard to reach clear across it to hand the butter or the napkins over to the other side so I put a tray in the middle with everything on it.  I only mentioned the idea of a lazy Susan to Dad, and had one turned out of his wood shop in no time!  I love it, and T. does too.  He enjoys spinning it.  The ball bearing underneath is supposed to bear up under 250 pounds, so I won't be shocked if Papa sets the grandgirls on it and gives them a spin!

Kitchen make-over...

the Before!
The first thing we did was to take all the beloved books out of our bookshelf.  (Big job!)  I will be sorting through the books in another project  Next, we tore apart the old forest green bookshelf, and I painted it for repurposing in my sewing/craft/whatever room.  Then we tore out the wall that held upper cabinets and a large pantry (on the right below).

The footprint of our "new" kitchen is mostly the same as it was minus the wall.  We added a large island/pantry with seating to replace the previous cabinets and pantry.

Here's the newly remodeled kitchen coming in from the door.  
The dining area is right where I'm standing (above).
Try (as best you can) not to see the ugly fridge.  One day, when it dies, there will be a shiny new one there!
 This is the side where the old pantry and wall cabinets were.
It's replaced by an island & pantry combo. Now I'm facing the door and dining area.

 Here's our island/pantry.  There are cabinets facing into the kitchen and cabinets facing the seating.  I have the stuff I don't use as often in the seating side of the island. 

I plan to add some corner shelves on both sides of the window (my dad is building them) and I'll put my brightly colored pitchers and things on them for more color.  I'm trying to decide if I want to dress the window with a curtain or not.  So far, I like it wide open and bright.

Here's a nice little pull-out cupboard where I keep all my baking stuff (above).
This is a spice cupboard that is right next to my stove (above).

A view from the seating side of our island.  
We're planning to put a small TV there on the wall to the left.
I've been baking and cooking up a storm and today I'm cooking for the
Super Bowl Party.  The family's coming out!


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