Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring arrivals...

The chickies are here!

We have:
Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Pearl White Leghorn, 
American Araucana, and Red Star.
Four of the 28 are Red Star Roosters. 
I'm thinking about raising chicks next spring, but we'll see how well I can tolerate the roosters.

Little ones love to play with chicks, and
Little hands love to gently hold a fluffy peep.

For now, the peeps are living in a large box in the mud room.  
It's still really cold out in the coop at night.

Monday, April 22, 2013


 A good, wet dumping of snow!

Round about 10" of new snow overnight.
I think it's gonna run some water.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Around Home...cold spring days, hot beefy soup...

I was gazing out the office window this morning and saw a bunch of yellow tips in the backyard garden.  I really wasn't sure what they were, but upon closer inspection, I found they were the daffodils --  sun-deprived, pale yellow tips were pushing up through the ground.  Since the first part of the month, we've had colder-than-normal temps, and it seems every day there's a new inch or two of snow that has fallen.  It melts right away, which is good, but the constant cold makes for a slow-to-come spring here.  We aren't going to complain though.  Right now it's about the moisture.  It's what we've been asking God for, after all.  Squish-squashing through the mud and snow is a blessing.

 The tulip bunches are poking up too. 

 Hello!  Look at our red tips!

 Papa strung up a new wooden swing for the Littles to ride on.  I'm thinking of painting it.  What color do you think?  White would match the bird poo that tends to land here underneath the willow tree.
Since it is another cold, gray, breezey day, I thought a bowl of hot soup would be just the thing for our Sunday Dinner.  I put a browned beef bone from this week's pot roast in a pot to boil along with some veggies, pepper, salt, garlic and a splash of vinegar and let it slowly simmer itself into a good beef stock.  I'll admit that I had to add in a little bit of my secret ingredient, Better Than Bouillon Beef Base, to the broth after I strained it and set it back to simmer.  At first I thought I'd make a veggie-beef soup, but then I had the idea of French Onion Soup, my favorite.  So it was.

 I thinly sliced three yellow onions and tossed them in a skillet with butter and olive oil and let them get all brown and caramelized.  You can't rush this.  Oh, I love the smell!

The crusty bread was poked into the oven to dry.  After a little while it was buttered and garlicked-up and set back in the oven for a little more flavor.

The onions went into the beef broth and the soup was poured into bowls.  The crusty bread went over top along with a heap of grated cheese -- Parmesan and Colby-Jack. 
In went the spoon!  
Slurp, said the mouth.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

American Kestrel (and ducks)...

 We've been in and out of the barns lately with the snow and cold here.  The baby calves keep coming at a steady pace so the corrals and barns have become a busy work hub.  As the guys were going through the barn, they mentioned a "peculiar bird" that they had seen.  Later on, Hubs said he found the bird dead in the feed bunk.  He left it there in case I wanted to go look at it.  This is an American Kestrel.  It's a beautiful, small falcon that summers up north.  I rarely see one, but here he is!  I imagine this fella was swooping around the barn rafters after small birds and literally knocked himself out.

Doesn't it have a pretty speckled breast?

The color of the wings is a blue-gray and the body is a rusty-red.  I like the white dots on the black feathers.  Bright orange color is found on the eye and the nose, and his legs are the same color.

I have read that the sexes of this bird look just alike so there is no distinction between them.  His neat, little, hooked beak is good for tearing and eating insects and small reptiles.

Back at the pond, we find the ducks walking on water.  The pond has gone from ice to slush to liquid as the temperatures change from nighttime lows in the teens to daytime highs in the 30s.  The Northern Shovelers work hard to keep their little spot open, but sometimes it freezes up on them despite all their paddling feet can do.

This picture is not very clear, but I wanted to show you the slushy duck trail in the water.  They are a determined bunch.  I love their sweet swimming call, "Sup, sup, sup, sup."  It makes me think they are talking about supper, which in a way, they are.  They shovel up their food as they swim along.

Are you seeing any migrating birds?  Do tell.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring + Snow = Mud

 We got a nice spring snow this week...
which is turning into glorious mud
and greengrass.

 A Grammy Day means...
splashing in the puddles.
 Everything washes so
go ahead and get muddy.

We are so grateful for the moisture.
Who wouldn't jump for JOY?!

There's an eagle in me that wants to soar,
and there's a hippopotamus in me that wants to 
wallow in the mud.
~Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Birding on the prairie...

A couple of days ago I was out picking up bits of bale wrap on the feed grounds before Hubby went out to harrow.  The harrow breaks up the manure on the feed grounds which provides fertilizer for the soil.  As I was walking around out there, I noticed a pair of long-necked birds flying overhead that had equally long legs.  Sandhill Cranes!  I made a mental note of where they appeared to touch down, and decided after I was done picking up, I'd go find them.  I had my camera in my pocket.


I wish I had brought the good camera because I know I would have captured the beauty of these birds much better with it.  You can barely see a tuft of red feathers on the head of this crane.  Cranes are prairie walkers.  The whole time I was watching, they walked and walked.  I'm not sure where they were going, but I know my presence was bothering them.  They probably wanted to feed along the banks of the stock dam.

 Last night we got a good snow.  It's what we've been praying for.  The juncos were enjoying the spilled sunflower seeds in the backyard.

At the stock pond near our house, a small flotilla of Northern Shovelers were feeding on who-knows-what.  This particular stock pond is not very clean.  The ducks  put their bills into the water and sift through the stuff as they swim along.  If you click this photo, you will get a closer look.

We are so grateful for this wet spring snow.  It'll do a lot of good.  It's possible we could get some more yet tonight or tomorrow.  We hope so.  The birds were singing madly this morning, praising God for fresh water.  I was singing praises too.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Maxfield Parrish skies...

A gorgeous day with beautiful picture-perfect


I've never seen this Parrish print/ad, but I love it.
It makes me anxious for gardening.
I just finished reading All New Square Foot Gardening and now I'm antsy to dig in the dirt.  It's far too early yet to put anything in the ground, but I wouldn't mind stirring up a batch of Mel's Mix garden soil and shovel it into my raised bed garden boxes.  

We had a trickle of rain last night.
Oh, the blessed smell of rain melding into the earth.
Thank you, God.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Things for small hands...

When the grandgirls come over for the day, we spend quite a bit of time outdoors.  We don't do anything spectacular.  We play Hide & Seek and explore in the trees and dig around in the dirt... mostly.  The girls like to swing in the willow tree too.  One favorite activity for small hands is to  sprinkle tiny pebbles into this holey ocean rock that came from the Oregon Coast.  The rock has been a main attraction in my rock pile for a long time.  I wonder how long it took for the ocean to create those lovely finger-sized holes?  Who needs toys when you have rocks with holes and rocks with puzzle patterns on them like the one below?

There is so much to see and feel in nature, 
that just being outside is an adventure.

My hands have been busy embroidering a new softie doll for the newest grandgirl to hold.  Ladybug  is 3 1/2 months old now, and her wee fingers like to grab onto things.  I think this curly-headed Sunflower Girl will be soft and squishy in her hands and will make her smile.  What have your hands been touching and feeling?

*Flower-Girl embroidery patterns found at Hoop Love Vintage Transfers.


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