Thursday, June 30, 2016

Farewell fair June...

 Pronghorn (antelope) buck
Lots of new babies on the prairie.

How can it possibly be the last day of June already?  It's been a dozen days since I posted here last, and I can hardly believe how the time has flown by.  We've been busy with cows and calves and bulls.  The men finished AI-ing 200 head of cows and we've worked every single bovine animal on the place these past couple weeks.  All the calvies and yearling heifers got shots of pink-eye vaccine and all the critters got poured with insecticide.  The bulls were turned out with the cows and now every bovine is out on summer range.  It's a good feeling to have all our livestock processed, checked, doctored, vaccinated, and turned out.  Today I spent the morning checking our cow bunches to see that the bulls were still in their proper pastures with them and to take note of any problems.  Thankfully, there were no issues today.

The main issue on the ranch and for many surrounding ranches is water.  We all have some.  Some of us have more than others.  But the water we do have is far from fresh and so it can take on a life of its own and make livestock sick.  Some of our neighbors have been losing cows and calves to polio which comes from water that is high in nitrates, sulfates and TDS (total dissolved solids)  among other stuff.  So far, our stock is faring well, but we did take some water samples of our main reservoirs to the feed store to get them tested.  Our vet recommended we test our water before we have a problem.  Good advice.  We are very lucky (blessed) that we have lots of water tanks that have water piped to them.  Again, the water is pumped from a very large, deep reservoir which we rely on heavily, but I think the fact that it's moving water may help.  That and the fact that it is cold and deep.  I could be very wrong about that, but it's a hunch.

If you look closely at the legs of some of the bulls and cows in the photos, you'll see that they have mud-crusted legs.  They've been wading out into the water for a drink.  It's not the greatest situation since they can get bogged down and not be able to get out of that mucky mud. These cows and bulls DO have water tanks to drink from besides the stock dams, but sometimes they enjoy wading out into the water on these hot, hot days.

I've been dragging the hoses around the yard a lot lately, trying to keep the veggie and flower gardens watered down.  Since water is scarce, we are limiting our watering on the yards so our lawns are really bad.  Each family has a "little patch of green" as my mother-in-law used to say, but the majority of our lawns are brown and dried up.  It's kinda sad, but it's life on the prairie.  Our average annual rainfall here is just 11 inches, so we expect to dry out by mid summer most years.  Fires have been popping up all around our area.  Our two sons here wear pagers for our local fire department.  Whenever clouds come over and lightning starts popping, we all watch the skies for smoke.  But it's not just lightning that's starting fires.  Just yesterday a semi truck was going through our area with a flat tire, driving on just the rim, and he evidently was kicking up sparks as he drove.  The back of his truck caught fire and someone got him stopped.  NumberOneSon went to the fire.  They got the the semi truck unhooked from the trailer just before the fire hit the propane cooling unit and a big-cloud-explosion happened.  Thankfully, just the trailer was lost and the fire didn't spread.  With the combination of heat, dry grass, and the winds, it's rather scary when a spark hits the ground in any form.

July is a month of celebrating in our family.  Several birthdays as well as Independence Day which is a Big Deal in the little cowtown we call our hometown.  The grandkids are looking forward to the Parade and the Carnival and all the rodeo hoopla.  We'll be having a family gathering on the 4th of July at OnlyDaughter's home with everybody bringing something yummy to share.  I'm bringing a new-to-me recipe that we tasted at a wedding last weekend.  It's Frito Corn Salad.  Get the recipe here!  It's not a waist-slimming salad, but it is delicious! 

I hope you've enjoyed June.  I have.  Now on to July!  It's summertime now!  How's your tan?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Nature Notes -- birds 'n' blooms...

This bright fellow is the Evening Grosbeak

God sends love notes to me by way of nature -- 
a beautiful bird, 
a feather,
a swallowtail butterfly,
 a flower I didn't know was planted amongst the others,
unexpected morning rain,
afternoon shade from our trees.

 Moonshine yarrow

 Japanese Iris

 This purple-blue stem is Smooth Blue Beardtongue or Penstemon 
which I haven't seen in my flower beds in a long time.
A happy surprise! 

Clematis on left and Sweet William on the right.  

My geranium pots.  They just seem right on the front porch.                 

Mostly poppies and larkspur here and a pink shrub rose in back.

Homegrown lettuce and spinach is doing very well in the garden.
We are loving the fresh salad greens every day.
I picked up this fizzy mineral water yesterday -- San Pellegrino.
I thought since it was on sale, I'd get a couple bottles.
Little did I know, it's a good-for-you drink!
Click here for the reasons why.
When it says "mineral water" it means there are lots of good minerals in there along with some carbonation that makes it fizzy.  
I added some lemon slices to my water.
So delicious!

One more nature note -- Monday, June 20, is Summer Solstice and the Full Moon.

CarpenterSon was born on June 20th, the first day of summer.  He'll be 28.
Back then it was very hot and dry and the country was on fire.
The night he was born, Uncle Ned's forested ranch was ablaze. 
It was a year of watching the skies for lightning and fire fighting.

The earth, gentle and indulgent,
ever subservient to the wants of man,
spreads his walks with flowers,
and his table with plenty.
~Pliny the Elder

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Haymaker's punch...

Haying has begun.  
A few bales, but bales, nonetheless.
It will feed livestock.

 This is the tractor I drive, and I pull the dual rake behind me to rake up the mowed hay into windrows for the baler to pick up.  As you can see, it's dusty!  I'm covered with dust by the end of my turn on the rake.

We've been in the hay field since Sunday.  It's drying up fast here and so Hub decided we'd better get to it before it is totally burned up.  There are very few bales, but every little bit will help.  We have enough carry-over hay for this coming winter.  We're so thankful for that!  Our haying time will be very brief, but that will give us time for other things.

I spied this sweet bird near my gardens yesterday.  I'm not sure I've seen it here, but I recognized it..  It's a Cedar Waxwing.  I suppose it will want to nibble on my chokecherries and the juniper berries.

One delicious recipe I have been making on these hot, hot days is Switchel.  It's alias name is Haymakers Punch.  It's one of those thirst-quenching drinks that has a little sour, tangy, fermentation-thing happening!  Hubby and I really like it and it's good for us!  Read more about it and get the original recipe on Radiant Life Blog.

This is how I'm making Haymaker's Punch

Quart Jar
1 - half inch slice of fresh ginger*
1/2 a lemon, squeezed (or bottled lemon juice, about 3 T.)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar (Braggs with the mother)
2-3 T. honey
Pinch of salt, optional (my addition)

In a quart jar, I pour a cup of boiled water over the ginger.  Let it steep for 5 or 10 minutes.  Then add the honey so it will dissolve in the warmish water.  Add the rest of the ingredients and top off the jar with cold, fresh water.  Stir.  Let it stay in the fridge for a couple hours to let the flavors marry and steep together.  Then pour Switchel over ice and drink.  You may adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.  I like to make the punch at night and let it sit overnight in the fridge and drink it the next day.  It's so easy to make and very refreshing.  I think you could also make a "concentrate" of this recipe and store it in the fridge and add water and ice to get the taste/strength you like.

* I learned a great trick for keeping fresh ginger root on hand.  Peel ginger root, then slice it into 1/4 or 1/2" rounds or chunks.  Flash freeze it on a cookie sheet and then store in a ziplock bag so you have ginger anytime. 

It's going to get very hot again tomorrow -- breaking 100.*  More punch please!!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Nature Notes and Eloise Wilkin...

 The "chicks" got out of the coop for the first time this week.
Remember, we have all white pearl leghorn girls this year?
All except one Black Cochin...

I think the Black Chochin may be a rooster.
He's got feathery legs so we call him/her Little Britches.
 It's a great, big world out there!

 Both girl cats had babies at the barn.  As you can see, one set of 5 is a couple weeks old, and the new set of five kittens was just born a couple days ago.  The cats are co-mothering.   I separated the bigs from the littles one night and the moms put them back together.  I hope the big kittens don't get all the milk. 
Have you ever read Eloise Wilkin's books?
They are the sweetest little stories with the dearest illustrations of children and families and nature.  I have my own small collection, and I love to give these books to my grandkids and as baby gifts.    I don't have any of Wilkin's kitten books, but I do have Baby Listens with this picture of a kitten.

 As I was mowing and trimming the yard, I spied this Cecropia moth in the grass.
This is the time of year when we see them.

 Look at the fat, red & white, striped body!  The grands call them candy cane moths.
Eloise Wilkin, my favorite children's author/illustrator, captured the Cecropia moth beautifully in her book,  Wonders of Nature

I've been watching a robin family who nested in my backyard tree and now the babies are out of the nest.  This little fella was in my garden, sitting still as could be.  I've seen several of them about the yard with their parents who are still feeding them.  Whenever I see a baby robin, I think of these two pictures that Eloise created.  The first illustration for Wonders of Nature and the second for  

Do you have a favorite children's author or illustrator who depicts children in nature? 
Do tell!


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