Monday, December 10, 2018


Hello again to anyone who is still reading here.  I've been away from the blogs for a little while, just taking a break and doing some things.  One  "thing" I've been doing for December is drawing or painting or creating each day.  Even just a very small drawing suffices.  Each day there is a prompt that can inspire the art.  I'm trying to think outside the box with it.  It's been fun for me and reflective in a way.  I'm finding that the more I draw or paint, the more I want to do it, and this is one of my goals.  To just keep on with it.  Winter is a very good time for me to work on art, but I'd like it to be more of an everyday thing throughout the year.  I've been learning a few watercolor techniques on YouTube that have been very fun and have brought some nice results. 

Last week some of the women and girls in our family attended The Nutcracker ballet in the city.  The Moscow Ballet Troupe performed and the local ballet studio supplied the children's parts.  It was spectacular.  The little ballerinas in our family were greatly inspired, and those who are not ballerinas were much impressed. 

Do you remember string art from the 70s?  You know....the nails all pounded into a board and then different colors of strings were woven in and out to make a picture?  Well, my daughters, my mom, and I went to a class where we made a string art snowflake.  It was a three hour class and we spent four hours there to complete it.  Some who attended the class did not complete their snowflakes, but took them home.  We were happy with our results, but all that pounding was quite an experience.  String art has become the new rage once again.  It would not be my first choice in art, but it was fun to try it and have something pretty to bring home.

I still don't have my Christmas tree up yet.  I'm really not a Grinch, but I am just taking things slow and not getting too wrapped up in the Christmas hurry & flurry at the moment.  I will though.  I think.  I am lighting candles, making juniper wreaths, and placing sprigs of evergreen here and there.  My father-in-law brought me a beautiful poinsettia which brings a dose of red and green Christmas cheer to our home.  I do enjoy a cup of chai tea in the evenings by candlelight or by the wood stove fire -- small signs of Christmas-ness. Oh, and there is snow.  I didn't have anything to do with that part, but it looks more festive here when there is snow on the ground.  I heard one lady who wasn't keen on holiday decorating say, "If you want to enjoy the season, just look out the window."  Amen!

The part I really love about winter is that we are in a nice, slow-down time here at the ranch and it's really been wonderful.  We needed it after a very busy year of work. We have more time with each other, more time to play, more time to just relax and be.  Again, it's a reflective time for us, for me.  We have been looking back on our year, evaluating what we did and did not do, planning for the year to come, and assessing how to go about it.  It's a good thing.  My favorite reflection is that Babe in the Manger, Jesus, whose name means, Jehovah Saves.  I'm so glad He came down to us, to save us, to be with us, to bring us His peace.  I hope you are enjoying the small, quiet things and the big, loud, joyful things of the season.  Christmas Peace be yours.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Friday, November 09, 2018

Partly Cloudy....

Look at that beautiful, bright, blue sky behind the quilt. 
Now that's blue!
And it's cold too.
Four below zero this morning and a high of 21 today.
Partly Cloudy is the name of my newest quilt creation.
I found this quilt design & pattern on
Daniela graciously shares her pattern for free.
My quilt turned out to be 74x57".
I had to do a little trimming and editing along the way.
I made this quilt for my nephew & his fiancé's wedding.
We will be driving to Wichita soon to take part in the celebration.
I chose the name Partly Cloudy because even though a wedding is one of the
Brightest Days of Life
marriage comes with many cloudy skies, rain, snow, sleet, heat waves, winds
 and all of the other things we must weather as a couple.
My prayer is that they will know the comfort of being
wrapped in the arms of God through it all.
And I hope the quilt will remind them of that.
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
            Stormy wind, fulfilling His word.
Psalm 148:8

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Nature Study...


While I was out looking around in my yard, I found several things that I thought were especially beautiful.  First, the roses.  As you might remember, we had an early snow this month.  Everything froze.  But right after it, we had some unusually warm days that dried things and the leaves all fell off the trees.  The roses were blooming and I think they were freeze-dried.  I brought a few in to admire. 

You can see life stages in the Gallardia flowers.  Right now there are a few new blooms (what amazing flowers!) whilst others are in stages of dried petals, seed heads, and seeds blown away.  I chose to put my subjects on top of a large, white watercolor paper as a neutral background for my study.  Since I took the pictures outdoors in the afternoon, you can also see the study in fall shadows on the paper!

The Cottonwood leaves are especially unusual to me this fall. Generally, they turn yellow and fall from the trees, but my hunch is that they were yet green or turning while on the trees and then were frozen at whatever stage of turning they were in.  They have the most intriguing patterns.  I brought several in to lay around on tables and shelves to appreciate. 

There are so many beauties outdoors just now.  The milkweed pods have opened and their silky fur with chocolate brown seeds attached are just fascinating to look at and touch.  The seeds will gently float on the wind to their next destinations.

It is mostly silent outdoors now.  Most birds have migrated except for the year-rounders that stay with us.   The "beep beep" of the nuthatch tickles me, and the "see me?" of the American goldfinch does too.  Last night while shutting the chickens in, I heard two Great-horned owls hooting back and forth to each other.  Nature is quieting itself and settling itself for winter.  I'm going to appreciate these fall days as long as they remain.

Hubby and I took a little get-away to the Black Hills.  It happened to be during the snowy season of October.  This was the most beautiful drive we've taken in a long time.  It was so peaceful, away from busy tourists that are usually here.

What are you noticing now?

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

First snow...

The first snow fell last night and part of today.  We measured about 2" of snow on the ground with lots of wetness below it.  Our rain gauge measured about .7" of moisture.  By evening the snow was melted off, but the skies continued to be gray and blustery, dropping rain and sometimes snow.  When it gets around freezing tonight, we may wake up to another snow like the one in the picture.  This is a good, wet kind of snow-rain mix that puts all of the trees and grasses to bed for winter with a good drink so roots can freeze.  We still have leaves on many of the trees so they are really weighed down with snow. 

My garden is all cleared off now.  My daughter-in-law and the grands helped me dig potatoes and we split them up between the kids and their families.  The potato patch was a group effort this year with both DILs and grands helping to plant, and the men (bless their hearts) brought us straw to cover the patch.  We weighed about 130 pounds of potatoes harvested and we only planted 12-13 pounds of potatoes cut up for seed.  I also dug up all the carrots and have three full grocery bags in my spare fridge.  I cut several grocery bags of late lettuce that I am so thankful for.  I have a wheel barrow of acorn squash in the garage along with a bushel basket of beautiful, perfectly ripe, hole-free, bug-free, red apples.  The apple tree is a "Northern Lights" which is a cross between a Haralson and a Macintosh and it is very cold hardy.  The apples have a pinky-white flesh, are sweet and delicious to eat, and they make a wonderful pie.  I'd say the gardens were very productive this year, minus the tomato failure.  But hey, that's the way gardening is.  We are expecting more freezing cold temperatures tonight and chances of more snow.  The fall moisture is a good thing for us, even if it does come in the form of wet snow.  There are some warmer days on the horizon! 

Has the fall turned cold and wet where you are?  Happy October everyone.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Humility is perpetual quietness of heart.
It is to have no trouble.
It is never to be fretted or vexed,
Irritable or sore,
To wonder at nothing that is done to me.
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me,
And when I am blamed or despised;
It is to have a blessed home in myself
Where I can go in and shut the door
and kneel to my Father in secret
and be at peace,
As in a deep sea of calmness,
When all around and about is trouble.
~Andrew Murray

(This tidbit serves as a marker in my Bible.  A good reminder for me.)

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Fencing project...

 I don't know where this bucket came from, but we use it for clips and markers.
 Fencing supplies
Black Swallowtail
 Steel H-braces should last a long time
 Fencing completed with white sage grouse markers.
The men have been working super hard these past weeks on new fence.  They've been tearing out very old woven-wire fence in order to put in 5 barb fence that will not only keep livestock in or out, but is also beneficial to wildlife.  The smooth wire on the bottom will allow antelope to duck under the fence without being hurt and the white markers you see on the fence are there to protect Sage Grouse from flying into the fence and being harmed.    This is a big project that will be worked on over seven years, and we are pretty excited about it.  We live in an area where there is a population of Sage Grouse that has been diminishing over many years.  There has been much debate about why, but our state is taking  a pro-active approach to protecting the birds in case the federal government would list them from being "protected" to "endangered."  In that case, our ranching situation could greatly change.

My job is somewhat small, but still important.  I help with clipping wires onto the steel T-posts.  It's one of those "up and down" jobs where I stand upright for a short time and gradually go into a squat in order to clip each of the five wires down on the post.  And let me tell you, there are a lot of steel posts to clip.  I don't do this job alone, and in fact, I decide when I've had enough of the job as my 56 year old hands and knees tell me it's time to stop.  I also help with putting the sage grouse markers on the fence.  That is a much easier job that just requires walking the fence and pushing them on in between the fence posts.  It's like putting the last finishing touches on a Christmas tree. We will work for the remainder of this week on the project and then the men will start on building a shed.  There is a lot more fence to do and I think they hope to move to another area to fence, but at the moment, the rattlesnakes are worrisome since there is tall grass in the fence line that they want to remove and replace.  It'll cool off soon enough this fall and then they will commence on that project once again. 

As I walk along out there on the prairie, I am reminded of how very blessed I am that God transplanted me and put me here.  It is a hard land, a land of extremes, and a rugged place for man and beast to live, and yet there is a beauty in it all.  I love this place, I love this land, I love all that I am surrounded by, and I know that it is all a gift from The Creator.  I say to Him, "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart."

Thanks for stopping by today!  I have been quite absent from the blog lately, but there is so much to do right now in the last days of summer and the beginning of fall.  They are days that seem so full.  The garden is ripening and requires  attention and canning projects.  Salsa is the "product of the day" out here.  The DILs and I have been putting up a beautiful salsa recipe with all the tomatoes and peppers.  I'll share it below.  It's really so delicious.  It reminds me of the salsas that are served in authentic Mexican restaurants. 


10 cups chopped tomatoes
8 jalapeno peppers chopped (or as many as you like)
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (opt)
1 1/3 cups vinegar
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons pickling salt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar

I blitzed tomatoes in the blender, then did the same with the onions, peppers, garlic, vinegar.
Simmer all ingredients for 1 hour.  Try to cook off as much water as possible.
Ladle into hot jars & seal.  Process in hot water bath for 10 to 15 min.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Late summer happenings on the ranch...

The hay is put up and much of it has been hauled in.  There is still some out in the fields to fetch, but this time of year when we get dry lightning, it is best not to have all of our hay in large stacks until threat of fire is mostly past us.

The men have started back on the fencing project and have accomplished quite a bit.  Together they are the epitome of a working team.  They each know their job and can work without saying a word. 

The February lambs were sorted off and we kept 70 head of replacement ewes and shipped the rest to the sheep sale barn.  We weaned the late May lambs and will let them gain more weight on the regrowth of the hayfields before we sell them this fall.  We will also pick more replacement ewe lambs from the May lamb bunch to put back into the herd.

This past week we worked all of the cows and their calves through the barn, vaccinating all of the calves and pouring insecticide on cows and calves and turning everything out to the far pastures to graze.  We are so thankful that this summer turned out to be a fairly cool one with rains interspersed throughout which made the grazing excellent.  Even though the prairie has turned golden brown, there is still a little green underneath which keeps the cows working for it and grazing off the dry grass along with it. 

The gardens are producing well too.  I've dug up a few potatoes-- just enough for our suppers-- and leave the smaller ones connected to the plants to continue growing through the fall.  Oh, a fresh potato is good!  Do you know how many pesticides and anti-sprout chemicals are on grocery store potatoes?  Ugh!  I realize that potatoes grown commercially will go into storage for who-knows-how-long, so they must be treated, and not many of us would buy a bagful of sprouted potatoes at the grocery store, but golly, there is a lot done to those spuds that I don't do to mine, and I keep my potatoes through much of the winter.  I do have to snap off a few sprouts though. 

I'm just now getting ripened tomatoes despite their curling leaves, and what a treat they are!  The cucumbers are plentiful and the zucchini too.  I pulled up a few carrots a couple days ago and they are just beautiful in size and shape, and the taste is oh-so-sweet.  Just like you want them to be.  I always think a cold snap or a freeze in the fall makes them even sweeter.  The green beans keep on coming and there are just enough for Hubby and I for a meal each time I pick.  I planted lettuce a few weeks back and it is coming along nicely.  I'm looking forward to fresh lettuce again.

I'm still all about bird-watching and this little cutie showed up around the house this past week or so.  We think it's a female Rufus hummingbird or an immature male.  It's so fun to watch it flitting around the sunflowers, petunias, and larkspur.  We've also had the Blue Herons as guests on our stock pond next to our home.  They are quite huge and intimidating when flying over.  NumberOneSon says they look like prehistoric pterodactyls flying over.  He's so funny.
I hope you're enjoying the summer days.  I know many of you are experiencing terrible heat and others are wishing for sunny days.  We are in the middle of that, but are having many gray sky days due to smoke from nearby forest fires.  I hope for rains upon them soon.  God bless you and thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

First Farmers Market...

Gumbo Lily
Only Daughter and I did our first Farmers Market in Cowtown, USA this past week.
It was a good beginning -- not a very big crowd,
but we sold the majority of what we had for sale
which included:
Fresh Garden Lettuce
Zucchini Bread:
Double Chocolate & Lemon Rosemary
Country Eggs
Fresh Herbs
Fresh Picked Flowers
Aunt Grace's Laundry Soap
Bee Balm
We offered samples of our breads for all who passed by our stand
which really did help us to sell it.
We offered samples of herbal iced tea that I made with:
Alfalfa, Lemongrass, and Mint.
Many were tentative about trying my alfalfa tea, but after I explained
that it was similar to a green tea, they tried it.
All were surprised that they really liked it!
If alfalfa is good for cows and sheep, it's good for humans too!
Check out this link for the Benefits of Alfalfa.
I first read about it in one of my favorite herbal books:
We learned a lot at our first Farmers Market
and we plan to do it again.
Do you go to Farmers Markets?  What do you like to buy there? 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cherry hand pies...

My tiny cherry tree -- only three feet tall -- produced about a cup of medium, tart cherries,
just enough for two hand pies.
(Pie Week)
I pitted the cherries and then took out a crust I had saved in the freezer.
The pies went together easily
and the results were "scrummy"
as Mary Berry says.
Hubby and I split one pie for dessert
and split the other pie with Morning Coffee.
A surprise summer treat!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Garden report: bigga broccoli and other stuff

I thought I'd pop in to show off my bigga broccoli!  And what's great is there are three more heads that are ready to be cut.  This head of broccoli measured 8" at its widest part!  So guess what we are going to be eating?  Broccoli salad and stir fry with broccoli.  Homegrown broccoli is so tender and mild.  We really love it.  After I cut these large heads, the plants will produce more side shoots.  They are small and usually develop continuously through the summer.


Another thing I'm growing this year is Kohlrabi.  It belongs to the same family as broccoli and cabbage -- cruciferous.  My dad always grows it and his parents and grandparents grew it too.  It's nicknamed German turnip, and now I know why my German ancestors grew it and loved it.  My dad likes it best raw.  You peel the kohlrabi and slice it into disks and then sprinkle it with salt.  It goes great with cold beer!  There are lots of recipes for kohlrabi out on the web, but I'm going to do it simply -- sautĂ©ed in olive oil and butter with a little chopped garlic, salt and pepper -- just like I would cook cabbage.   Not only is kohlrabi delicious, it's also very good for you.  It's nutrient dense with lots of vitamins and minerals.  Check it out here:  10 Surprising Benefits of Kohlrabi.  Another great thing about kohlrabi is that it's very easy to grow.  It does like cooler weather so it's best to grow it in early spring or in the fall, or if you live in the south, perhaps you can grow it as a winter crop!  I'll probably plant some more seeds now for a fall crop.

My lettuces are still doing great and I've planted them at various times so that there are lettuces that are ready to pick now and others will be ready for picking a little later.  We love garden lettuce, so I keep planting a little bit here and there all summer.  That way we are never out of fresh lettuce.

As I mentioned before, the tomato plants continue to curl and look terrible -- all except 2 plants in the fenced garden and two plants that I put down in the lower bank garden.  The garlic and onions are ok, but not looking as good as I'd like them too.  They simply need far more sun than they are getting and I think that's part of the tomato issue too.  The row of flowers I planted are doing terrific and will start blooming very soon.  There are zinnias, cosmos, bells of Ireland, and marigolds.

The squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and potatoes are going gangbusters in the bank garden and the cucumbers are blossoming.  I just love gardening.

How does your garden grow this year?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Wild & Domestic...

The Wild Ones

Persicaria amphibia
Water Knotweed

Prickly Pear cactus blooms and Yarrow

Showy Milkweed
 Prairie Coneflower
The Domestic Ones
Non-stop Begonia, Geranium, Wave Petunias

Potato blossoms
Summer is in full-tilt now and we are feeling the hot summer days.  I'm tending to my flowers and veggie gardens, doing lots of gardenhose watering.  We've had a couple half inch showers in all of June so I can't say we haven't had any rain, but just a few miles to our south, east and north, folks have been showered with loads of rain -- inches and inches -- that they'd like it to stop.  Some have had tornadoes, tennis ball sized hail, and flooding.  I really don't want any of that.
With these sunny, warm days, we are in the hay fields working, and we've also been doing a lot of barn work.  We are breeding cows artificially and so that requires quite a bit of barn work and moving cows from pasture to pasture.  After the 6th of July, we will be done with all of the AI-ing and can turn the cows and calves and bulls out for the summer and finish up the haying.
Despite the dry spring we had, the hay looks very good.  It's the snow that made it.  Anywhere that the snow laid in deep, the grass and alfalfa is excellent.  We are making hay in draws and in ditches and feed grounds where we've not hayed in years.  That little shot of rain we got in June stimulated more growth, and it feels like it's going to be a decent Hay Year after all.  You must know that we live in arid country where our average rainfall is just 11-15" a year, and that is counting snowfall.  So the beauty of living here is that a little rain does us a lot of good!
My garden is doing just OK.  The fenced in garden is being overtaken with tree roots which makes it hard for growing anything with a deep root system.  It is also fairly shaded due to the same trees.  The garden on the bank beside it is doing terrific.  It has no tree roots and it has full sunshine.  The potatoes are there and so are the squash and pumpkins along with a couple of tomato and pepper plants.  That is where I plan to do ALL the veggie gardening next year, or I may prepare a little spot below the bank. 
So far I have picked lettuces, radishes, and zucchini.  My Kohlrabi are close to picking and the broccoli is forming heads right now.  The tomatoes look terrible -- at least the ones in the fenced garden.  Their leaves are curling.  I think it could be the tree roots or shade or the cool spring and then sudden heat or all of the above.  I'm hoping that the few tomatoes I planted on the bank will at least give me some tomatoes for eating fresh.  I'm sure my daughters will have good tomato crops so I won't worry if I have a tomato crop failure this year.  The girls are good about sharing.
Well, it's time for me to head back out to help bring cows home.  Today we have another afternoon of barn work with the cows and then back to the hay field.  Summer is good.  It always feels so short to me, so I'm enjoying every little bit of it.  The sunflowers are blooming at the side of the gravel road and my dear Hubby cut a handful for me this morning.  I have to say, I do think sunflowers are my favorite.  They say "Summer" to me.  I hope you're summer is going well.  To my fellow Americans,  I wish you a Happy Independence Day! 


Friday, June 15, 2018

Lilies of the field...

Where the Mariposa Lilies live.

 Mariposa Lily aka:  Sego Lily
(Calochortus nuttallii)

Plains Prickly Pear Cactus
(Opuntia polyacantha)
These beauties are growing out on our prairie in all their glory.
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
~Matthew 6:28-34

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Haying and a few flowers...

 The old equipment and the modern
 Prairie roses
 My shrub roses

Blue flax and yellow yarrow
(Achillea millefolium)
It's feeling more like summer every day.  The days are lengthening, flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, the temperatures are warming, and it's time to cut the hay.  What we gained in heavy winter snowfall, we sorely lacked in spring rains.  We only had .9" of rain in May and just received .9" this past week.  That means the alfalfa hay is flowering and the grass hay is heading and beginning to turn brown underneath and it's time to cut, although it's early for us.  We have to get it while the gettin's good.  Hubby started mowing hay on Thursday and the sons rolled up just nine bales today to see how it would go.  Tomorrow will be a bigger day and I think I'll be in the field raking while the sons bale and Hubby continues to mow.  The hay looks pretty good, and this little shot of rain might help to hold the other hay fields over until we get there. 
My flower beds are all a-bloom with flowers -- all volunteers from years past.  The rose bushes are really putting out and I've cut several bouquets to bring indoors and to share with my girls next door.  The rose scent is wonderful.  I put a vase of roses in our bedroom and was so pleased to walk in this afternoon after church and smell such a lovely fragrance.  The prairie roses are a very plain, single rose.  They are prolific this year and in full bloom now, but ever so quickly they will fade away. 
In one flower bed I had a little clump of chives growing and I thought they were so pretty that I just let them stay.  Now they have filled up a good corner and I like them so much that I will let them ramble.  I like it that they are useful as well as ornamental.  The columbine spread like crazy too.  I love them, but I must continually yank a lot of them out year by year or else they would take over every open spot of earth.  The poppy is a favorite who comes up with her large sticker-y leaves and stems and then goes all soft and silky in her rich, red bloom.  My peony is very close to blooming.  I can't wait!  I've been really babying her along with extra water and a bit of fertilizer since she didn't do anything last year with the dry, dry spring we had.  It looks like she's going to really put forth her all this year. 
We've had a pair of unusual visitors to our bird feeders -- the Red Crossbill.  I realize this one isn't very red (or orangy colored) but I'm thinking it's a female or perhaps a juvenile which have shades of yellow on them.  Crossbills are usually found where there is coniferous forest and we sure don't have any pine trees or any other cone trees around here, but they are helping themselves to the sunflower seeds and appear to be doing well.
I'm looking forward to climbing in my old, open-air tractor tomorrow and raking hay again.  It's mindless work that allows me to spend hours thinking my own thoughts,  praying for people, and singing to God as I roll along.   It's amazing how many songs come to mind when you make your own music.  I could put my ear buds in and listen to something, but I just never do.  I like taking in the smells, the sounds, and the scenery right where I am.  What are the smells and sounds and the sceneries  where you are today?



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