Friday, November 21, 2014

Louise and the Kindness Elf....

My grandgirl, Miss Bee, has a love affair with dolls and her baby.  Baby Jane is not a doll (Pssst, yes, she is, but Bee says no.).  Baby Jane is her baby and Miss Bee is the Mommy.  Period.  Dollies on the other hand, are dollies.  They're more like friends rather than children who need mothering.  Louise, one of Bee's dollies, needed a hair makeover.  The first hairstyle Louise had was my favorite, but the fluffy, soft hair shed all over everything and Mommy said we must do something else.  So in came the pink hairstyle.  I liked this one too, but it got  mangled, and so it was time for Louise to get a reasonable hairstyle that wouldn't pull out or shed.  I'm hoping this is it.  Brown, loopy pigtails.  I will admit to you, because you are my friends, that I will never make another dolly again.  I think they are fussy and difficult, and of all the sewing projects I've made, this is the most tedious -- from the body to the tiny seams in doll clothes.  I just don't want to do it anymore.  So although I love the Wee Wonderful dollies -- and you really should go see how cute they are -- I am done trying to create them.  Instead, I will buy them from Land of Nod.  I think they are reasonably priced there and well worth the money in comparison to my sanity.

Have you heard of the Kindness Elves?  They are the opposite of Elf on the Shelf.  Instead of naughty deeds, Kindness Elf does thoughtful, loving deeds.  Hillary Lang, from Wee Wonderfuls, made her adorable version of the Kindness Elf with one of her patterns.  I even thought of making one..........but no.  I want to have a kind, cheerful attitude for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Come, walk with me...

First things first! Let's walk into the laundry room and throw a load in.  There's always wash to do,  and look who's blooming just for us.  It's the Holiday Cactus, who started blooming on Halloween and will continue blooming through all the holidays up to Easter.  The only ones who see her beauty are those who do the household laundry.  (Me.)

Next we'll jump in the pick-up and go to The River to feed the cows.  Normally it's a little early in the season to start feeding cake to the cows, but with the very cold temperatures, they need a little extra feed for their transition into the winter cold.    We've had daily highs in the single digits and nighttime lows below zero. That kind of cold burns up a lot of energy when you live outdoors.

After our chores we take a lunch break, and then I like to take a walk outside.  Since it is so cold, I pull on my woollies and heavy boots and trudge through the shelter belts.  When there is wind with this cold -- and there is -- it's really hard to be outside for long, but walking through the trees makes it a little more bearable.  They break the wind plus I get a change of scenery from the open prairie.

We do have to walk across some prairie to get to the next shelter belt.  There are three tree patches  that I walk through most of the time.  I'm so glad that Hubby and his dad planted these shelter belts long ago.  They not only provide wind and snow protection for livestock, but they create wildlife habitat too.

A jackrabbit runs by on the road and stops just for a moment so I can snap a picture.  His fur is turning white, but isn't fully white like it will be soon.  He's well camouflaged, isn't he?

The grass and the curlycup gumweed has a nice dusting of snow.

 Up in the trees you can see a Sharptail Grouse.  They blend in so well right now that often I don't see them until they move or until they fly up....

...Like this one below  How did I get this shot?  Luck.

 After our walk we'll warm up inside with a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie.  And soon enough there are chores to do.  I gather the eggs early in the afternoon so they don't freeze and crack.  The chickens are waiting for the leftovers from my slop bucket.  They love to eat our throw-aways.  The only warmth they have in the coop is a heat lamp that keeps the water bucket from freezing over.  I try to keep enough bedding on the floor so their feet don't get too cold.  They seem happy enough so far, but I might need to spread some extra bedding down if it stays cold.  The handsome Speckled Sussex rooster doesn't have a name, but he should.  Do you have some suggestions?

The sun sets early and the nights seem very long to me now.  It is fine with me.  It's as it should be.  Winters bring a slowness to everything.  You can't hurry when its cold.  It takes longer to dress and undress.  It takes longer to walk.  Cattle move slower and pick-up trucks take a while to warm up before we can go to work.  These November nights I'm ready for bed at about 8:30, but I stick it out until 10.  I'm working on more embroidery in the evenings -- both patching little jeans and stitching tea towels.  I'm going to start darning Hubby's thick, winter socks.  Mending is satisfying work.  I enjoy it. I ought to pick a new book to read too.  What are you doing to occupy the long, dark evenings of winter?  Any book recommendations or ideas for Christmas gift making?  Tell me in your comments.  

I have come to regard November as the older, harder man's October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer's death as winter tightens its grip.  
~Henry Rollins

Sunday, November 09, 2014

November chores and shifting gears...

 November has brought plenty of activity here at the ranch as we shift gears into winter.  The birds have mostly migrated and left the prairie very quiet. I miss the sounds when I go out walking.  We've been moving livestock to winter pastures with the incoming cold weather that is swooping down from Canada.  It was a gorgeous day here today in the 50s, but now that night has fallen, the temperatures have too.  We are expecting to go into the single digits all week long here.  Brrrr.  We've been so spoiled by a mild fall so far.  I guess it's time for a change.

We gathered up the ewes and put them through the gate into the hayfield.  I love watching sheep  go through a gate like water pouring through a funnel.  The ewes have produced a really heavy wool fleece.  They're fat and fluffy!   Toodles said to me, "Gram, they have their snow pants on for winter."  Yes, they sure do!

 The calves are all weaned now and are learning to eat hay and a little corn from a feed bunk.  Some are good eaters and some are struggling to eat differently.

 I dug all the rest of the potatoes from my garden and weighed out about 100 pounds.  I ended up throwing quite a few nice sized spuds over the bank because the voles got under the straw and gnawed on so many of them.  Pooh!

 I pulled up all the rest of the carrots from the veggie patch too.  My goodness, they did so well.  I didn't weigh these, but I did fill two grocery sacks full of carrots and stored them in the garage fridge.  They should last quite some time there.

 The grandgirls helped me snip the stems off the carrots and wash them up in the lawn.

I had cut the parsley all down with the first frost we had back in September, but look how much it grew back!  I whacked it all down and brought it in the house to dry on a sheet on the kitchen table.  I'll have lots of parsley to share. Did you know parsley tea is a good-for-you tonic?

 Early this morning, before the crack of dawn, Hubs and I took the Rangers out to the North pastures to gather up the cows and move them cross country to the River.  It took a long time until it was very light with all the cloud cover we had.  The cows were eager to go.  I think they can sense when it's time to go to winter pasture, and they are so happy to get a fresh pasture to graze.

 Time for a drink at the dug-out before moving on to fresh pasture.

 The grass is brown now but it's still packed with nutrition.  There was so much regrowth this fall with the moisture we had that there will be some green pickings down below the dry grass for a short time.  The cows were happy to get to their destination after about a seven mile walk through the plains.

This was my view from the side mirrors.  Two different perspectives -- moving forward and looking back.

Many little, but necessary chores are completed.  All the livestock water tanks have their heaters installed, the chicken coop is cleaned, the firewood is in, the gardens are cleared and the bicycles are put away in the old bunk house for the winter.  I even had the chance to paint a granary door and wash a few windows on my house before the cold snap hit.  The jeans are mended and winter coats and hats are pulled out of the closet and hang on their pegs.  Tomorrow we are expecting snow and deep cold so I plan to find some cozy indoor things to do like baking bread and maybe a batch of cookies.  We'll stoke up a fire and sip coffee early in the morning.  I love a fireside mug of coffee.

We will be selling bulls tomorrow.  It will be opening day for our new way of selling bulls -- private treaty instead of at a full-blown bull sale auction. Many ranchers have already stopped by to look at the bulls and make their picks so the phone lines will be open early in the morning -- first come first serve!  We are looking forward to trying something new and seeing how it all shakes out. 

I want you to know that I made that Fire Cider and it's pretty good stuff.  You can read about it here.  It turned out to be a very good thing to have on hand.  When I've begun to feel a little blah or feel a sniffle or the aches come on, I just take a tablespoon of it and chase it with some water.  I haven't been sick yet.  I really think that onions and garlic can't be beat for keeping the body healthy and strong.  They can really fight off colds and flu (at least for me).  I like to chop a clove of raw garlic into bits and swallow it like little pills along with a glass of water when I feel a cold coming on.  Nips it in the bud every time.

The lemon infused vinegar was also a successful little project.  It smells SO much nicer than just plain white vinegar, and I'm enjoying using it for cleaning purposes.  I use it for cleaning windows and for everyday jobs like mopping, deodorizing, and cleaning off the stovetop.  I'm sure there are lots of uses for it too.

How is your November going?  What are you doing to prepare for winter?


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