Thursday, March 29, 2012

You might be a farmer's wife...

Hooking up the PTO
A friend directed me to this terrific description of farm wives.  I'm actually a ranchwife, but this fits both.  The author, Jim McKeown,  is a professor at Dakota State University in Madison, SD.  He wrote this piece for his sister.  I think he wrote it for all of us women who live on the land.  I'll bet those of you who were raised on a farm/ranch or who are farmwives or ranchwives yourselves could add on to this list.  If you have time, would you post a few in the comments?  Enjoy!

You Might be a Farmer's Wife....
  • If your name is taped to the side of a cake pan:
  • If you call the implement dealer and he recognizes your voice:
  • If the vet’s number is on the speed dial of your phone:
  • If you know how to change the flat on your car, but can’t because the spare is on a flatbed:
  • If your second vehicle is still a pickup:
  • If the folks in the Emergency Room have a pool going for your kids and it involves the type of injury and when it will occur:
  • If your husband has ever used field equipment to maintain your yard:
  • If you’re in the habit of buying foodstuffs in bulk:
  • If a "night out" involves the local 4-H club:
  • If the word "auction" makes you tingle:
  • If you’ve ever washed your kids or the dishes with a pressure washer:
  • If "picking rock" is considered a chance to get out of the house:
  • If "wild game" reminds you of dinner and not the bedroom:
  • If "a little bit of lunch" involves 6 courses and a dessert made from scratch:
  • If the "fresh ingredients" your recipe calls for reminds you to do the chores:
  • If taking lunch to the field is as close as you get to a picnic:
  • If that pail with a hole in it is a flowerpot in the making:
  • If your rock garden was hand-picked:
  • If you can mend a pair of pants and the fence that ripped them:
  • If you’re on the lookout for new uses for "Jell-O":
  • If the shopping list in your purse includes the sizes of filters, tires, overalls, chains, belts, lights, cables, spark plugs or shotgun shells:
  • If "Farm", "Ranch", "Country", "Cowboy" or "Antique" is in the name of your favorite magazine:
  • If your tan lines are somewhere below your shoulder and above your elbow:
  • If "Lacey" or "Frilly" refers to a farm animal but not your nightgown:
  • If you ever went on a date to the rodeo:
  • If you’ve ever been grateful for fingernail polish, because it hides the dirt under your nails:
  • If you’ve ever called your husband to supper, using a radio:
  • If you buy antiques because they match the rest of your furniture:
  • If being taken out to dinner has ever included a talk by a seed corn dealer:
  • If your driveway is longer than a stone’s throw:
  • If your mailbox looks like a piece of farm machinery:
  • If your kids’ wading pool has ever doubled as a stock tank, or vice versa:
  • If the daily paper is always a day late:
  • If you have a yard, but not a lawn:
  • If you have lots of machinery and each piece is worth more than your house:
  • If the leaky barn roof gets fixed, before the leaky house roof:
  • If duct tape is always on your shopping list:
  • If the neighbor’s house is best viewed with binoculars:
  • If the directions to your house include the words, "miles," "silos," "last," or "gravel road":
  • If the tractor and the combine have air conditioning and an FM radio but your car doesn’t:
  • If your storage shed is a barn:
  • If you measure travel in miles not minutes:
  • If your farm equipment has the latest global positioning technology and you still can’t find your husband:
  • If you consider "hot dish" a food group:
  • If your husband says, "Can you help me for a few minutes?" and you know that might be anywhere from a few minutes to six hours:
  • If you plan your vacations around farm shows:
  • If Zaa Zaa Gabor is on your list of "Most Admired Persons":
  • If grass stains are the least of your laundry problems:
  • If your refrigerator contains medicine, livestock medicine:
  • If your car’s color is two-toned and one color is gravel road brown:
  • If you knew everyone in your high school:
  • If you’ve ever grown your own wall decorations:
  • If you’ve entertained the romantic notion of living in an old, country farmhouse with a fireplace, but gave it up because firsthand experience tells you that it’s cold, drafty, smoky and sooty:
  • If you use newspapers to help keep the kitchen floor clean:
  • If you’ve ever said, "Oh, it’s only a little mud.":
  • If you need a pair of vice grips to run a household appliance:
  • If your husband gave you flowers, but you had to plant the seeds yourself:
  • If you've used the loader to reach the windows when they needed washing:
  • If you’ve ever used a broom to shoo a critter:
  • If you’ve ever discovered a batch of kittens in your laundry basket:
  • If dinner is at noon and lunch is before and after dinner:
  • If you don't need the recipe to make Rice Krispies bars:
  • If you shovel the sidewalk, with a skidsteer loader:
  • If you can find a use for that old tractor seat:
  • If you've ever found mice in the underwear drawer:
  • If quality time with your hubby means you'll have a flashlight in one hand and a wrench in the other:
  • If you know the difference between field corn and sweet corn:
  • If you buy your husband's "dress" socks at Campbell's Supply:
  • If family "pets" include deer, coons, squirrels, foxes or birds:
  • If you can make a meal that can be ready in six minutes and will still be ready in two hours:
  • If your basement is really a cellar:
  • If "sharing a cab" has nothing to do with a taxi and everything to do with getting across the field:
  • If your job in town is considered a farm subsidy:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A prayer....

Old Barn near Kallispell, MT

Oh God, give me grace for this day.
Not for a lifetime, nor for next week,
Nor for tomorrow, just for this day.
Direct my thoughts and bless them,
Direct my work and bless it.
Direct the things I say, and give them blessing too.
Direct everything that I think and speak and do,
So that for this one day, just this one day,
I have the gift of grace that comes
From your presence.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Did you ever notice that we put "ies" on the end of most critters' names that live here on the ranch -- bummies, lambies, calvies, kitties?  It's an age old family tradition.  We've had some amazingly warm, spring days here, all in a row, which is unusual on our northern prairies.  Most commonly we have a couple nice days in a row and then a blast of cold or a snowstorm, but March has been unseasonably warm.  It has made for a lovely calving season for us.  The first-calf heifers are having their babies in the pasture just fine all by themselves.  We are keeping watch over them day and night, but for the most part, they are doing it on their own.

The calves and their mamas are very healthyThey are nibbling green shoots of grass in the pastures now, but we are still supplementing their diets with hay and occasionally cake.  We had one problem this evening.  A calf's umbilical cord was broken inside the mother and was born dead.  It's a sad thing.  

The tulips and daffodils are poking their sharp leaves through the soil just now, and I'm seeing evidence of other springtime flowers popping up.  Spring is always such an exciting time for me.  After a quiet, lifeless winter, it is thrilling to see the migrating birds arriving, the sprouting plants and grasses, and the baby livestock frolicking everywhere.
I've been loading up the clothesline with all sorts of laundry.  Work clothes, socks and undies, sheets and pillowcases, and rugs.  It's so nice to breathe in that fresh-air-laundry smell once again.  I made this little clothespin bag out of a $1 thrift-store sheet.  I have more of it left over and I'm thinking about how cute some summer pillowcase dresses would be for the Littles.  I found three matching floral pillowcases recently that I want to turn into dresses too.  Wouldn't it be fun to have a picture of the three grandgirls all dressed in matching pillowcases dresses?  I think so!

The neighbor girls were over today for the day while their mommy finished sewing her girls bubble dresses and later went to town for supplies.  Gram and Co. spent most of the day outdoors digging for worms and digging up weeds and swinging in the willow tree.  It was a glorious day.  Tomorrow we're having a family get-together that will include my brother and one of his little boys as well as the grandgirls three and their parents.  We'll grill burgers and have lots of picnicky salads and goodies to eat.  I'm making a BLT Pasta Salad which I saw on Pinterest.  I made it once before and it's delish!  Here's the recipe.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

for the birds....

 I was just telling Hubs the other day that the migration of the birds is so exciting to me.  It's like a surprise, and yet expected.  It's like knowing that your best friends are coming to visit, but you're not sure exactly when they will arrive so you anticipate and wait and watch and look up toward the road to see if the car might be driving in.  And suddenly, there they are!  What a delight.

The robins arrived this week.  I always tend to hear them before I see them.  They are many and all in a flock right at the moment instead of split up into pairs.
 Here you see the red-winged blackbirds are grounded.  It was so windy here today that nothing much was flying nor in high trees.  If you click the photo, you will see the red wings patches on these beauties.

 Early this morning when I went to the yearling sheep to feed them, there were gobs of geese in the alfalfa pasture.  They are nibbling the very new, young growth of the plants, I think.  Here are some geese on the horizon, and below you see a pair out waddling about the pasture grazing.

I've been trying to get a really good photo of the Western Meadowlark, but haven't done a great job of it yet.  I did capture them singing on the video below, but the quality of the video was poor so I just put another photo over it so you could look at it instead of the poor video.  The audio, however, is excellent.  I know you'll enjoy the meadowlark songs.

There is a lot going on here at the ranch. The heifers are having their babies at a nice pace -- about three or four per day. We just docked the rest of the lambs and had a nice crop of them. We figured it came out to a 186% lamb crop out of the mature ewes. Wow. That's probably one of the best lamb crops ever. That's what happens when you get so many, many multiple births.

I hope you are enjoying the spring days as they come. And by the way, Happy First Day of Spring to you! Be blessed today.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rockers of the bird world....

The birds are coming home! So many to share with you, but for now, here's the latest arrival -- a hot new video of the "rockers" of the bird world, give it up for the Black Birds!!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This and that around home....

 Hubs built us a new gadget.  I really wanted to put the name of it in the title to my post, but I figured I'd get all kinds of weird comments and spam if I did.  Anyway, this is what we call a nipple bar.  T. built this box out of scrap lumber and then made individual boxes to accommodate the bottles.  He drilled holes in the bottoms so that the nipples would slide through for the lambs to reach.  They can really tug and pull on the bottles so the boxes keep them from sliding around and flying out.  It works like a dream and as you can see, we can feed six bummies at a time!  Hooray for us because we are now feeding 24 bummies!

 Here are the little fellas looking out a fence panel at me.  
Aren't they just the sweetest?

This one must be telling her friend a secret.

And since Thimbleanna asked, here is the Mama Sheep.  I would have tried to take a picture of me and the bummies together, but that's rather hard since they love me so much I can't do a thing when I'm in the pen with them. This is my feeding get-up....a sweatshirt over my shirt (to protect it from stink and filth and woolie fuzz and a stocking cap to keep some of the stink and flying milk out of my hair.  It gives me "hat hair" but I don't mind because it also calms down my extra-curly hair a little bit.

Now that lambing is behind us, we have started up The Next Big Thing -- calving heifers.  Heifers will be first-time mamas and so they need a bit more watching and tending-to than regular cows who have had multiple calves.  We have them close by the barn so we can get them in easily if they need assistance, and we are keeping watch over them through the nighttime hours too.  I've got the 12:30 a.m. check and FirstSon has the 2:30 a.m. check while Hubs has the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call.  Needless to say, we all hope for a nap time every once in a while.
These are the Ladies in Waiting 
(waiting for their babies to be born)

 I took a picture of this granary tonight on my way to the chicken coop.  It sits right beside the coop and a big stack of hay bales.  Way back at Christmastime, FirstSon decided to weld a cross and string a bunch of lights on it and attach it high up on this granary for all to see.  He hasn't taken it down, and I'm kind of glad of it.  I like seeing that cross lit up across the barnyard.  It reminds me, "The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein," and "every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills." (Psalm 24 and Psalm 50)

Friday, March 09, 2012

A day's ramblings...

According to the Farmer's Almanac...."The March Full Moon is known as the Worm Moon.   As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter."  I snapped this photograph of Luna this morning after coming home from the sheep barn.  It was stunning.

The days are growing warmer here (we had 70 degrees today!) and longer (have you noticed?), and it definitely feels like winter has passed.  That doesn't mean we can't get a good, wet, two-foot, spring blizzard, but we know that the snow won't stay for long.  In fact, spring blizzards are known as poor man's fertilizer up north -- full of nitrogen and slow-melting moisture that really gives grasses and emerging crops a boost.

I haven't seen any crows yet this spring, but I have spotted blackbirds, migrating ducks and Canada geese.  I spied a house finch on some old sunflower heads the other day, and although most people think of house finches as year-round residents, I have seen nary a bird all winter, minus the flickers, downy wood peckers and eagles.  My bird-loving heart is really aching to wake in the morning to the melody of the Western meadowlark crooning on the fence posts.  Soon, soon.

My mind keeps wandering and daydreaming about gardens -- flower beds and veggie gardens and potato patches.  I read an interesting article about growing fabulous tomatoes here.  The author, who grows veggies for Manresa Restaurants in Santa Cruz, adds crushed egg shells, aspirin, fish heads and bone meal to her holes before planting tomato plants in the ground.  There are more details in the article.  I'm going to give the method a try.

My DD told me that when she was shopping yesterday, there were scads of people in the garden center buying pots and potting soil and looking at plants.  It's that warm, yes, but it's deceiving when you live up north and the weather suddenly turns all spring-like and you feel like planting a garden and hanging flower baskets all around, but those of us who have lived here a long time know better.  You might as well just go pick up the sticks and dog bones from your yard and pull up the old sunflowers you didn't get to last fall (if the ground isn't frozen hard as a rock) and call it good for now.

I do think I'll go see if I can resurrect the geranium roots I stowed away in the crawl space through the winter.  Do you remember My Big Fat Geranium from last summer?  I do hope she bounces back to life again.

Speaking of beautiful flowers and bouncing to life, I wanted to share a lovely video with you that a friend shared with me.  It's about a 95 year old woman named Maia.  I think of her as a garden rose as big as a dinner plate in full bloom.  She glows with peace, grace, and a quiet spirit, and she exudes vitality and health.  I don't know her at all, but I think I want to be like her when I grow up to be an old lady one day.  Here's the video.  And now another friend has found a 7 minute isometric exercise video that Maia did when she was a mere 94 years old.  Be inspired!  I am.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

Traces of spring...

 A warm, wet snowfall came, but nobody minded it much.
The lambs were happily skipping and playing outdoors paying no attention to the weather.


 Mary Toodles' first time out splashing in the puddles with me.

 Little girls playing in mud puddles on a sunny day.  
I couldn't NOT let them do it, could I?
(especially when their parents were gone to town)

Quads born yesterday.
A sign of spring today....honking Canada geese flying overhead
and squawking blackbirds in the trees near the lambing barn.

My new favorite:

Friday, March 02, 2012

The housewife is IN...

It was fairly quiet at the lambing barn today and so I spent a little time being a housewife -- my favorite occupation.  I worked on my kitchen curtains (tab tops) a little bit yesterday and finished them off this afternoon between bum lamb feedings.  I think the curtains added a little cheery warmth to the kitchen.  I figure if I grow tired of them, I can always make them into little girly dresses!

On the counter top you'll notice some baking mess.  I whacked up our favorite oatmeal cookies -- a Barefoot Contessa  specialty.  For your munching pleasure, here they are --->

Delicious Oatmeal Cookies~makes 30-35 cookies

1 1/2 c. pecans (or walnuts)
1 c. butter, softened (I do 3/4 c. butter and 1/4 c. Crisco)
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon (I omit this)
1 t. kosher salt
3 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1  c. raisins (I prefer craisins)

Preheat oven to 350* F.
Place nuts in a frying pan and put on the stove on medium heat and lightly roast them until fragrant.  Chop course and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and eggs until fluffy.  Sift in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon (opt) and salt.  Add the oats, (c)raisins and nuts last and mix until combined.  Drop 2" mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

I love these cookies because they are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yum-O!


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