Monday, December 25, 2017

Quiet, stay-at-home Christmas...

It has turned out to be a quiet, stay-at-home, cozy Christmas for Hubby and I.  The whole lot of us (kids and grands and us) came down with the Christmas Crud (stomach virus) this past week and even before that, so we all opted to stay at our homes and just take it easy, recover, and not have our traditional Christmas Feast on the day.

As it always is here on the ranch, the winter feeding chores must be done no matter whose birthday it is or which holiday celebration is happening.  The Sons managed feeding the calves and thawing out the frozen water tanks.  After our morning coffee and a little breakfast, Hubby and I went to feed the cows and sheep.  It was -6 degrees F when we left so the livestock were very happy to see us pull up.  I thought the black cows' faces looked so cute with their whiskers all frosty white.  The sheep came on the run and were absolutely crazy for the salt blocks that were alongside the water tank.  It's funny, they know where the salt is, but they don't think about going to it unless they go down for a drink, and they don't drink much when there is snow on the ground.

I always think fondly of livestock on Christmas Morning, wondering about the animals that might have been in the same barn as Jesus was.  How strange to have people lingering so long and not going in to the house.  I wonder if Joseph might have had to feed some hay to cows or sheep or mules that morning while Mary suckled a warm baby Jesus, tucked in close beside her -- full and content. 

For our Christmas Dinner, I made a simple roast beef with potatoes, onions, and carrots all in the same pot.  The gravy that comes from that combination is the best!  As we enjoyed our salad and dinner, I popped a cherry pie in the oven.  I like to make mine with a mix of frozen sweet and tart cherries.  Hubby says it's his favorite pie.  Here it is, hot out of the oven.  We'll let it cool and have it for afternoon coffee along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Oh!  speaking of ice cream, do you ever put a small spoon of ice cream in your coffee?  It's a nice treat once in a while.

It's been a quiet day for us, the first Christmas we've spent "just the two of us".  We've enjoyed it, but it's different from the rowdy houseful of kids and grandkids that we are used to for holidays.  We will all celebrate together very soon though.

I hope you're enjoying this day when we remember the Reason for the Season -- Jesus!
Merry Christmas, friends!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter birds, Winter Solstice...

It was a dark-ish day here so please forgive the less-than-perfect light in my photos.  

There are a few birds that stay here for the winter.  These are tough ones:  the majestic Bald Eagle and the petite Redpoll.  Out on the prairie, the Bald Eagles are numerous in the winter months where they sometimes nest in January and February and then leave in spring.  They spend their time eating mostly jackrabbits and roadkill.  The Redpolls, on the other hand, enjoy seeds and so they are happy to entertain us at the backyard feeders.  The grands like to get close to them by just standing still out by their feeder and letting the Redpolls feed above and below their feet and even at eye level.  That is an amazing feeling -- being so close to a beautiful, wild bird.  We have no chickadees here this winter.  Sometimes they come, and sometimes they just don't.  I've seen a few Sharptail Grouse around  -- another year-round bird for us.  I heard from my father-in-law that he saw a Snowy Owl north of us about 20 miles.  Quite a sight!  I've only seen one in my lifetime and I'm half tempted to drive over where he saw the owl with the hope of maybe seeing it.  There's a chance!  Others in the area have reported sighting him too. 

The weather here has gone from very mild to very cold in just one day's time, and as I type this at 5:00 pm, it is already down to just 6 degrees F.  Chilly!  Colder temps are in the forecast.  There's an inch of snow on the ground and I'm glad for its covering the dirty brown beneath. Thankfully, our wood supply is ample and I'm keeping a fire in the wood stove.  My latest aromatherapy is to put anise seed stars into my kettle of water on the wood stove.  The wafting scent is sweet and spicy.   I find the stars for very little cost in bulk at my health food store.  Winter love!

It's Winter Solstice today, the longest night of the year.  From here on out, we get longer days -- that's the way Hubby sees it.  He's always positive.  Will you celebrate the Solstice?  I did by getting my wool pants out and taking a mile walk up to the mailbox.  I might make us a little mulled wine to sip by the fire tonight and light the candles.  Doesn't that sound nice?

"He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter."  ~John Burroughs
He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.
Read more at:

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tillandsia or air plants...

I was out shopping last week and mainly looking around in a local store that I hadn't had time to explore very much.  The owner sells and uses the Annie Sloan chalk paint and she sells many of her up-cycled creations along with other items like handmade jewelry and clothing.  I passed by an area that had some rocks and plants and woodsy things and it caught my naturalist's eye.  Upon deeper inspection, I realized that none of the plants were in soil but appeared to be just plopped into  natural vessels so I asked the owner what type of plants these were and she said, "Air plants, also known as tillies, short for Tillandsia."  I was immediately enchanted by these unusual plants.  The only air plants I remember from my childhood were those "air ferns" which people sometimes grew in their bathrooms.  I never thought they were very attractive, but these plants have much more substance and character to them than the air ferns did.  Some are of the succulent group of plants, but all need no soil to live and thrive.  Some of the air plants like to eventually attach their roots to woody objects like drift wood or an old chunk of shaggy wood.

As I asked more questions, the store owner explained that all of the plants would bloom the most exquisite and colorful flowers.  That also intrigued me, so I decided to make a purchase then and there.  I bought the Ionatha at the top.  It is green with orangy-red colors coming from within it and is said to produce lovely little purple blooms.  The grass-like air plant in the second picture is called Juncea and right beside it in the rock is another Ionatha.  In the white vase is one called Funckiana.  Another plus to growing Tillandsia is that they will reproduce and pups will form after they bloom or after they reach a certain size.  I love it when plants have babies!

Air plants are considered "easy care" because all they really need is a dunk in a bowl or tub of water every 7 to 10 days depending on how humid it is in your home.  And that's it.  Some people spray-mist them and others I've read say it's better to saturate them by dunking them underwater for a few minutes, so I guess I'm of the dunking theory so far.  Did you know that Spanish moss is considered an air plant?  Some people combine the Spanish moss with the air plants in their arrangements.  I am so fascinated by these plants that I have been doing a little research online to learn more and I have discovered some beautiful ways to display air plants that really appeal to me -- rocks, wood, even hanging suspended in mid-air.  I will add some links for you to browse below.  I also have found that you can buy air plants on Etsy as well as other online stores.  They are, after all, easy to ship with no soil, and very little weight.  However, if you live in the north like me and it's a very cold season, shipping might not work so well.  It might be best to find a local plant seller or wait until warmer weather comes to purchase tillies online.  So my gardening continues through the winter months  indoors with my new-found plant love -- Tillandsia!

OK, now for the links to some fun stuff!

 How to Display Air Plants (video)
Air Plant Care 101 (e-How) 
Air Plants Care and Design Made Easy
Wedding Worthy Air Plants

If  you dare to go on Pinterest and search for air plants, you will be overwhelmed and very tempted to try them for yourself.  There are such gorgeous ideas out there.  Do you grow air plants or have you seen them growing wild in trees in temperate climes?  Do tell!

Friday, December 15, 2017


Our very small creche sits table high so our grandkids can enjoy it and imagine the awe of that Christmas night.  The figures are set in some bark to make it look somewhat crude and cave-like along with tiny lights.  The creche is a Fontanini and the tallest figure is only 2.5 inches in height.    I'm thankful I have the main characters in the manger scene.

The Star on the Barn is up and lights the dark near the county road that goes by our ranch.  These two things are my favorite Christmas traditions.

I've been doing a very little baking, mainly two kinds of cookies so far -- soft molasses cookies and snowballs.  I will make a few cut-out sugar cookies before the big day comes.  It sounds like our fair weather is about to change and cold days are coming.  They will be good days for being indoors and for baking, but while it stays so nice, I'm out walking every day.

How are your Christmas days going?

Sunday, December 10, 2017


I like December for so many reasons.  Days are short and indoor living is long.   That could be considered a bad thing to some, but to us it feels like we are resting from a very busy year of outdoor work.  It feels cozy and homey.   The sheep and cattle are in their winter pastures and  although these pictures show a little bit of snow on the ground, the grazing is open and that means a longer time without feeding hay and cake.  We still go out to the cows and sheep to gather them up, inspect them, and give them a little something to eat as their reward for coming to us.  Everything is looking good and healthy right now.  The ground is bare again and thus far, our winter has been mostly mild, save the wind which has been anything but mild.

We are enjoying the joyful bustle of Christmas with friends and family. Christmas cookies and coffee was our treat at the neighbors' yesterday afternoon. Our home is "lightly decorated"  with mostly greens and cones and candles.  The Christmas tree is up and shining and so is the tiny creche.  I have one of those Fontanini  nativity scenes that are both beautiful and durable which allows our grandkids to touch and imagine with the figures.  I like that part so much.  Singing Christmas hymns at church warms my heart and lifts my spirits.

I have a few embroidery projects going, nothing difficult or extensive, but they keep my hands busy while watching a football game or a Christmas special.  Sometimes I just enjoy embroidering in the quiet with candles burning and twinkle lights glowing and a cup of hot tea to sip.

I hope you are enjoying these December days, appreciating the little things -- noticing the quiet of nature, appreciating the warming sips of coffee or tea on a cold day, enjoying the familiar Christmas hymns that you memorized through many years, lighting the second Advent candle, holding hands.

I wish you JOY.  Take JOY.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Spiderwebs and Stars, a quilt

A couple of Littles helped me show off the latest baby quilt I finished for our 10 month old granddaughter.  I joked around that I hoped I would complete it before her first birthday and I made it!  This was a string quilt called Spider Web made from bits and pieces from my scrap bag.  I got the pattern idea here  where there's a pretty good tutorial. Each scrap of fabric holds a tiny memory from all of us -- old shirts, handmade skirts and dresses, blankets and aprons. There are so many fun prints in this quilt that it could be considered an "I Spy Quilt" too.  I hope she enjoys many hours with it --  making it into a super hero cape or a tent or just a cuddly place to nap.  God bless you little Hunny Bunny.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Nature journal -- Deer...

 I've added new pages to my Fall Nature Journal --
the dear deer.
We have a lot of deer roaming on our ranch, and the harvest is on.
Our hunters are getting some prime hunting here.

As for me, I enjoy capturing deer with my camera
and now I'm using my paint brush.
It's all a learning experience for me and that keeps it fun.

The Christmas (all holiday) Cactus is in full bloom.
It just missed Halloween, but I am sure it will be blooming
full-tilt for the remaining winter and even spring holidays.
I've seen it bloom all the way to Easter,
all in the quiet and humble laundry room where it thrives.

Are you gearing up for Thanksgiving?
I am.
We'll have a nice houseful of guests,  although not the entire tribe this year.
I'm cooking the major stuff and our guests will fill in with their favorite dishes.
It's always nice to see how the dinner rounds out.
I wish you a week of humble and joyful preparation
and a day of true thanks and giving.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


 No sun—no moon!
        No morn—no noon—
No dawn—
        No sky—no earthly view—
        No distance looking blue—
 No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
   No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

~Thomas Hood 
November days have been colder than usual, and suddenly quiet.  I am such a bird lover and always have a listening ear for them, and suddenly there is silence. The birds have gone -- almost no birds as Thomas Hood says.  Canada Geese flying south in high Vs overhead are still on the move.  Last night we got home around 10 pm and there were geese flying above us.  Such an odd thing to hear the geese calling to each other at night. 

The cold has come down suddenly too.  Last night our thermometer registered -1* and that just feels so icy for November.  The sudden cold and a dusting of snow inspired us to get busy and cut wood for the wood stove.  Although we were below zero this morning, the temperature climbed all the way up to 36*.  That sounds chilly, but it was perfect weather for cutting wood.  I kept unzipping my jacket and then took off my hat, but quickly zipped up and put my hat back on when we stopped for a coffee break.  Hubby and CarpenterSon used the chain saws while two granddaughters and I carried logs to the pick-ups.  It's good, satisfying work, and I really like end result -- the warmth of a wood fire burning on a cold day.  

I'm still finding things to sketch and paint for my nature journal, but with all of the "No" of November, it's getting harder and harder to do it, but  I will persist!  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Time to hunker down...

 Fall Nature Journal entry.

The daylight hours are becoming less and less and our autumn days are growing colder and colder.  We had our first snow squalls on Thursday along with crazy winds.  Today was cloudy, chilly, and windy too, but the coming days promise even more cold with highs near or below freezing along with snow and wind, of course.  This will be one of those Halloweens when the trick-or-treaters will cover  up adorable costumes with heavy coats, mittens, and hats.  Living in the north, we experience blustery, snowy Halloweens a lot. Sometimes it's just best to buy a funky stocking cap for a Halloween costume or dress as an Eskimo! 

I rather like that it's getting dark earlier.  After a very busy summer and fall, I am ready for some slowing down.  The dark evenings mean that the menfolk will be in early from their work and we will have some long nights together inside where it's cozy and warm.  We start playing cards -- Canasta or Kaluchi or Cribbage or Hearts, depending on the number of players.  Hot buttered popcorn is a favorite cold-weather snack,  and I start making cups of tea in the evening and spend time with my embroidery, hoping to have a few handmade things to give as gifts.   Have you tried the Yogi Bedtime Tea?  It's very good and has a spicy, sweet blend of herbals.

Tomatoes ready to be roasted.
Today I share a couple pages from my Fall Nature Journal.  My Black Star chickens are doing so well, and all of them are laying an egg a day so I usually find 25 eggs when I go collecting.  I figured the girls deserved a page in the journal for their generous gifts.  I thought I ought to add the tomato in my pages since I complained so much about only getting green tomatoes all summer.  I picked SO many green tomatoes and ripened them in the garage and well... here's yet another pan of beautiful tomatoes ready to go into the oven for roasting.  As I was slicing, I kept on grabbing a slice and shoved it into my mouth.  Each perfect, red slice was just too irresistible.  So I gave in and gobbled down many a perfect tomato slice.  These were the last of the tomatoes, save 4 others that didn't fit on the baking sheets.  I'll eat those myself.  Lastly, I've been noticing a great influx of ladybugs.  I'm not sure why we have so many ladybugs now, but I suppose they are trying to find  their way inside for the winter.  

If it's cold where you are, I hope you are sporting your wool socks and slippers and a large cardigan.  Or perhaps you have a favorite afghan or soft blanket that you like to wrap up in on these long, dark nights.  It's been "nice" long enough, now it's time to hunker down, stoke the fires, light the candles, and put the kettle on.

"We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, 
small (and yet really not small) gifts." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A week of doing...

I made one white and one with wheat & flax seed. 
Both were delicious and easy!

 Here's another easy recipe from Jenny Can Cook.
I've made lots cinnamon rolls in my day, but these are the BEST.
I like that this is a small recipe and only makes a 
9" round pan of eight rolls.

Today I spent the morning making
"Grammy's Lotions and Potions" as my kids call them.
This is my toothpaste.
 It's got dirt in it (bentonite clay).
I like dirt. 
I like cinnamon, cloves, and peppermint in my toothpaste.
 Homemade Toothpaste  from Wellness Mama.
I also made
and my favorite...

Bee Butter

(or Non-Petroleum Jelly)

2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil (4 T.)

1/2 ounce beeswax pastilles (1 T.)

1-2 t. raw honey (opt.)

Essential oils -- 12 drops (opt.)

In double boiler over simmering water, combine the olive oil and beeswax and slowly heat until wax has melted.  Remove mixture from heat and cool about 10 minutes, then add honey and/or essential oils of choice.  Beat with small whisk until creamy.If it separates a little, just stir it up.

Makes: 1/4 cup of bee butter.  Store in glass jar with screw top lid.  Keeps up to one year.

Uses:  Face cream, hand cream, body cream, chapped lips, dry feet, eczema.  The beeswax gives the skin a protective barrier from the elements:  weather, dry air, wind, sun, and pollutants. 

These are the pumpkins I decorated.
 I know... who spends time painting flowers on pumpkins
or making a patchwork pumpkin?
I do.
I like to create. 
 I just do. 
 So I do.

Do you see my rolled up hose on the porch?
I still haven't put it away because it's been warm here.
But it is supposed to get cold again.
 Oh, and speaking of the porch,
I finally oiled it!  
Another project ticked off the list!

We sold our steer calves this week at the local sale barn.
What fall projects are you doing?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

She's a Frisbee dog!

Heidi has been our summer boarder.  I think we've had her living with us since June when our youngest son came to the ranch to work on fence for us.  Now she's become a permanent resident.  One of her favorite things to do is to play Frisbee.  She carries it around with her most of the day or at least she knows right where it is in case someone comes along who is willing to throw for her.  If you have a dog, I highly recommend the Kong Flyer.  They are made of the toughest rubber known to human or canine.  This dog cannot bite through it which is a miracle.  We've had the Kong balls too and they are great, but they tend to get lost in the tall grass between our houses.  

Today I thought I'd snap some shots of Heidi playing Frisbee.  She can catch it in mid-air which I think is quite a feat for a large German Shepherd.  I've never had a German Shepherd before, but I've read that they have lots of energy and need to play hard so we play.  Heidi has also been a super walking friend.  She keeps me in a swift gait while we walk.  I'm working now at teaching her to heel as we walk along.  She's doing really well until she sees a rabbit or deer running in front of her. This evening we walked in a pasture where some lambs were grazing and she walked right beside me as we strolled on by them.  I was so proud of her!

It's been a beautiful fall day here this Sunday -- 56* and sunny with a little breeze.  It sounds like the coming week will actually be hot for us --  maybe up to 80*.  That seems crazy since most nights we drop below freezing right now. Many of the trees have lost their leaves, but the Cottonwood trees are the prettiest yellow-gold right now.  It's been a wonderful fall.

"Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles Shultz (cartoonist, Peanuts)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall Nature page: Seeds

I was inspired to put some seed pages into my Fall Nature Journal when I discovered the journal pages that Heather and her children were making.  I remember making seed charts when I was a 5th grader in school.  It was so much fun hunting for seeds around the neighborhood and then labeling and gluing them to my chart.  I think my chart was fairly "freestyle" compared to some of my friends' charts, but doing the project was probably way more fun to me than the end result. 

I have a pile of zinnias and marigolds that I pulled up last week that have dried out.  I'll dig through it for some of the seeds to save and plant in next year's flower beds.  The grandkids planted Forget Me Nots in their tire gardens and so I gathered up a few of those seeds to scatter in my beds.  

I felt like a 5th grader again collecting seeds and pods and sketching them into my nature journal.  Fun!  Are you a seed saver or a seed appreciator?

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Fall nature journal pages...

I finished another couple pages in my Fall Nature Journal.  It's funny how things make it into my journal.  I don't really plan anything, but just watch for things and then add them in as they come along.  I am sure that every fall season looks very different from others and yet similar too.  At least here, we can sometimes have snow at this point in the year, but today was a beautiful day -- 75* with gray clouds mixed with sunshine.  One moment I was in my shirt sleeves and the next moment I had a light jacket on.  That's very fall-esque.

I feel like I've been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster this past week.  The Las Vegas massacre started it off -- such a sad, sad thing. I've been praying much for people.  And I've been praying for our nation.  Then we put down our old dog, Sue.  She was 12 years old and a dear friend.  At the same time our youngest son, TheGolfer, left for the season.  He had been living with us, working on our fencing project, and taking in golf tournaments all summer.  His German Shepherd, Heidi, was here the whole time and became another good friend to us.  They left together this week and it was a bit of a let down -- kind of like when everyone comes for Christmas and you're having such a merry time and all at once, everyone leaves.  There was joy in remembering the days, but a little emptiness when it all ended.  Today GolferSon came back to help us again and brought Heidi back with him.  He asked if we could keep her.  He said she was miserable at his place in town, so now we have a new dog-friend.  She's just a year old and has a ton of energy.  So totally opposite Sue.  I'm thankful for a walking buddy and a protector and a playmate for the littles when they are here.  She's so good with the kids.  I do feel sad for my son, but he loves her and knows what's best for her.

Hubby and I watched the movie, The Shack this week.  It was good.  I read the book years ago and I liked it then, and the movie just added another dimension to it.  The movie came along at a good time since the message is: love one another and forgive one another.  We all need to do more of that, don't we?  I sure do.

Thanks for stopping by, Friend!  God bless you!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Cabinet painting...

I love how the sunshine is coming low into the windows with the short, fall days.  I had to click this pic of our applesauce in the glowing sunlight of late afternoon.  My daughters and one of their friends came and we had a big day of making applesauce a week ago.  It was fun and busy with twelve children running hither and yon while we were busy in the kitchen.

I've been painting my lower cabinets for several weeks.  My cabinets are only 5 years old, and were  put in new in 2012.  They were chipping and getting water damaged, especially around the sink, and so I decided it was time to repair them and repaint.  My cabinets were all cream like the upper cabinets.  I chose to go with Annie Sloan's chalk paint in French Linen for the lower cabinets.  I am really happy with the results.  It is not perfect, but it is perfect enough for me.  After priming and painting them with two coats of chalk paint, I then sealed them with three coats of MinWax Poly-crylic in a flat finish.  Traditionally, Annie Sloan paint is sealed with wax, but I chose a hard sealant by using the poly to keep water problems at bay.  The poly was a water-based latex so it was easy to apply, clean up,  and it dried fast between coats.

I'm linking a great little web page here that shows you all of the Annie Sloan colors as well as what they look like when you apply the dark wax to them.  This same site has lots of tips for painting with Annie Sloan chalk paint.   However, I do recommend you go to a store that carries the paint and take a look at their samples.  I was lucky to have a store nearby that carried the paint AND she had many samples of re-furbished furniture and lamps and mirrors that she used AS paint on.  That was great for me because I was leaning towards another color--Paris Gray-- but when I was able to see the French Linen next to Paris Gray, I knew I wanted the French Linen color.  I think it looks very homey and warm in my kitchen, and now I'm breathing a sigh of relief that I am DONE!  I think it will show less dirt in my very lived-in ranch house too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

So long September....

SEpteMber was full of lots of happenings:

Bike riding
Picking apples
Canning apple sauce and apple butter with the daughters
Making plum jam
Digging potatoes
Pulling carrots
Planting garlic and lettuce
Picking brocolli
Working cows and pregnancy testing 
Turning in the bucks
Pullet hens begin to lay 
A few nice rainy days
Painting kitchen cabinets (still in the process)
Starting a watercolor nature journal

Now it's time to say, "So long September, it's been nice knowing you."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall nature journal pages...

Pom Pom invited me to participate in keeping a fall nature journal.  I really love doing this.  I used to keep a nature journal for years when I was homeschooling the kids.  We all kept journals and learned together.  Those journals are treasures. With this nature journal, I'm challenging myself to do it in watercolor.  I'll probably add in a little ink too, but basically, I'm wanting to practice watercolor all the way through.  

The past four days have been very cloudy, cool, and drizzly and we've even had a pouring rain a time or two.  It's been such a blessing that I had to make a cloudy, gray, fall sky for one page of my journal.  The temperatures have cooled off here -- 40s for the highs -- so the air really has a cold snap to it.  It's definitely jacket weather.  I had a nice walk along a fence line this afternoon.  The skies were watercolor grays and there was a light mist that felt refreshing as I walked. CarpenterSon drove the pick-up while I pulled steel posts out of the back and leaned them along the fence.  Behind us, Hubby and TheGolfer were pounding them in.   Fall teamwork!

I hope you're appreciating all that Fall is bringing your way.  Don't forget to stop and smell the falling leaves.  I love that smell!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Painted Ladies...

There's been a hatch!  Painted ladies are flying around everywhere this past week.  They are especially interested in my zinnia patch.  It's wonderful to see.  How many can you count in the zinnia patch?

I've been in the garden planting my garlic and a little bit of lettuce seed just in case we continue to have warm-ish fall weather.  I'd love another crop of lettuce before winter days come along.  If the lettuce doesn't germinate, the seed is there for next spring and I'll be watching for early lettuce.  I'm also doing an experiment with some garlic seed.  I let a couple garlic plants go to seed (like onions do) and then saved the seed to plant.  I have no idea if they will produce since garlic is a bulb and produces from bulbs, but I figure if I don't try it, I won't find out if it works.  I like experiments.

I dug up more potatoes today and I figure I have roughly 70 pounds or maybe more.  I had to quit today because some of the potatoes are underneath the pumpkins.  The pumpkin vines have sprawled out over the potato patch and there are some hefty pumpkins laying on top.  I could move them, but I decided not to.  They can just keep on growing and continue to bask in the sun until the vines are all withered or frozen.  Then I'll resume the potato digging.  The grandkids have already spied the biggest pumpkins and are anticipating pumpkin carving.  

The onions are pulled up and drying on newspaper in the garage.  There are some really nice, big Walla Wallas.  I love onions and use a ton of them through the year.  I really ought to grow more of those and less of cucumbers and zucchini.

Speaking of zucchini (which I always do), I plan to do a big baking tomorrow.  We are expecting some nice rains for the the next couple days or so.  Hurray!!  I'm going to make zucchini-everything (breads, cupcakes, and who-knows-what).  I also have some grapes that my dad harvested in the freezer so I might pull those out and make them into jelly.  

It seems there is always so much to do when September rolls around.  Soon we will be working cows and calves -- vaccinating and sorting and pregnancy testing.  We turned the bucks into the ewes on September 11th which is our tradition for February lambing time.  The young ewes will receive bucks on Christmas Eve which is our tradition for their May lambing time.  Hubby bought 6 new bucks and my goodness! they are handsome fellows.

There was a prairie fire just 6 miles from our ranch and so the men were called out along with the other volunteer firefighter-ranchers.  Someone had a trailer tire come off on the highway and they were driving on their rims with sparks flying.  The prairie caught fire from the road sparks.  We have a very old 1000 gallon tender truck here that was filled and ready to go so when Hubs called me, I jumped in and took it to our turn off at the highway.  I didn't stay and fight fire, but JLynn and I did stomp out some fire next to the asphalt with our shoes and water bottles.  I guess we did our part.  

One of my Bloggy Friends, Pom Pom, is going to be keeping a fall nature journal.  I'm thinking of joining in on the fun.  Everywhere I look, I see things to record in a journal or at least, in my mind.  If you'd like to join us, please do!  The more, the merrier.  I'm seeing white asters, goldenrod, maxamillion sunflowers, spiked gayfeather, and curlycup gumweed growing wild in the pastures just now.  What kinds of fall flowers are growing where you live?

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 07, 2017


 White-lined Sphinx
(or hummingbird moth)


Red-tailed Bumblebee

The first few days of September have been cool, in the 70s during the daytime and as low as 38 degrees in the night.  We were waking up to a very chilly house because we like the windows open.  The last couple of days we've reached back up into the 80s but every night is very cool.  I'm noticing the trees starting to show little patches of yellow leaves here and there, almost like a man who is going gray at the temples.  That's what I always think of when I see the beginnings of leaves changing.

The sunflowers are thriving and so are the moss roses, zinnias, marigolds and petunias.  In the evenings or early mornings we see the sphinx moths flitting from flower to flower sucking nectar just like hummingbirds.  They looks so much like hummingbirds  that some have nicknamed them hummingbird moths.  Have you seen them?  The grandkids and I have been noticing an unusual amount of red-tailed bumblebees around.  They love my moss roses, but will hover over any flower that's still in bloom this late.  They've been good pollinators for me this year and constant companions in the gardens.

The fencing project has been going great!  The men have accomplished so much.  I have contributed a little bit.  I go out with my bucket of clips for the steel posts and clip down as many wires as I can.  There's lots of walking and squatting in this little job and my hands do feel the effects of twisting clips around posts.  I try not to overdo it.  I have that luxury, but the men don't.  They just keep on working when I'm ready to call it a day and go do something else.  I figure I'm helping them, even if it is just a little here and there.  The girls and I do bring out iced tea and snacks most afternoons and that's a fine contribution when you're hot and tired and need a break.

The daughters and I spent Tuesday working up the apples that we picked from my parents' apple tree.  I'm guessing we picked about 3 bushels or maybe a little more.  It took us all day washing, cutting, cooking, and milling the apples but many hands make light work!  By the end of the evening I finished off pressure canning the last of the jars of apple sauce and the final total was 28 quarts and 17 pints of apple sauce.  The apples were so sweet that I think we only used a total of 4 cups of sugar for all of it.  We probably could have gone without sugar, but adding that little bit sure did mellow the sauce out.  There is yet another tree almost ready for picking so we will have another applesauce making day very soon.  

The garden is still supplying us with fresh broccoli and green beans as well as carrots, potatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, but the lettuces are waning.  I have some new lettuce sprouting up so I have hopes for fall greens.  The tomatoes are still green, but there are many on the vine.  I suppose once they ripen, they will all go at once and we'll have to have a tomato canning bee!  Pumpkins and squash are setting nicely.  The grands will love the pumpkins for carving jack-o-lanterns.  I think I will carve their names on the green pumpkins and see how they turn out when they are ripened!  I'll plant garlic very soon for next year's crop.  

We've had a few days of smoke drifting down from Western Montana fires.  I can't imagine how awful it must be there in the midst of the fires when we have had days with thick smoke being hundreds of miles away.  There have been a few fires in our area too.  NumberOneSon and CarpenterSon have gone out on several fire calls.  Our volunteer department is small, but effective!

I hope your September is going well.  Are you enjoying the big moon?  I guess it was full on Wednesday.  It's sure big and red-orange in the sky when it is rising. Tonight I'm going to tip back in my lawn chair and look at the stars.  It's a beautiful summer night.  I'm still hanging on to summer!


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