Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday drive...

 Gumbo Lily
 Can you see the Killdeer nest?
Killdeer eggs close-up.
Sons fixing water gap in border fence.

I love taking a Sunday drive with my Honey.  It's usually a drive over a familiar trail out in the pasture, but to me, it is always new, always changing, and there is always something to see that hadn't been there before.  I love the Emerson quote which I posted recently:  "To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture that was never before seen, and which shall never be seen again." 

As we drive along, my eyes catch movement -- the movement of birds and their flight patterns, of grasses and wildflowers waving colors in the breeze.  I see deer and antelope and I look to see if there might be any fawns or kids near them because it's almost time for them to give birth.  Then my eye catches sight of a steel spool for barb wire laying in the fence line.  It fell out of the Ranger last summer while the men were fencing there.  We stop to pick it up and throw it in the back. 

Initially, we went North to check on cows and calves and to see the sheep, but there are so many things to see this time of year.  Spring brings such color and beauty to eyes that have been a long time looking at snow and gray skies.  For instance, there is greengrass which is different from the grass any other time of year.  Greengrass comes in the spring.  All grasses that come up in the spring are greengrass.  Yes, they all have their individual names, but together in the spring it is greengrass because it is very soon when the greengrass matures and turns brown and stays that way until snow and until the next spring.  Because of the winter's heavy snow, we are seeing a wildflower explosion!  There are flowers that we haven't seen in years because there was not enough moisture in the ground to bring them up; or the plants may have come up, but there was not enough moisture to bring forth blooms.  I pictured the gumbo lily, commonly called white evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)  which is just coming out now.  It is one of my favorite prairie flowers, and this blog is named for it.  The gumbo lily always comes up here because its tap root is very deep, and in our clay gumbo soil, there is moisture down deep.  Right next to the gumbo lily is the yellow flower that is one of the very first to come out on the prairie.  We call it wild parsley but it is also called Desert biscuit root.  It's leaves look similar to carrot leaves and so it is also called carrotleaf lomatium.  The deer, antelope, and sheep love to graze on these and the wild onions which are some of the first forbes to come on in spring.  History tells us that American Indians ate the wild celery's enlarged roots raw or dried and ground them for flour (therefore, biscuitroot).  This reminds me of how the early settlers would pick dandelion leaves in the spring to eat for greens.  Can you imagine how hungry they would be for fresh, green foods?

As we drive along, I see a Killdeer on the ground playing hurt, dragging a wing.  I know that trick to lure us away from her nest.  We drive up and sure enough, there are four eggs in a sort of nest of stones and pebbles on the ground.  Did you notice how all the egg points point toward each other in the center so they won't roll away?  How do they know to do this?  God has given them that instinct.  There were Curlews and hawks and killdeer and coots all out and about today.  We even found the cows and also the neighbor's cows in our pasture.  Hubby radio'd the sons to come up with a couple of steel posts so they could fix the big hole in the fence where the water was once high and moving and now has receded.  It's one of those Sunday chores that happens on a ranch.  I remember many Sundays when our family would be heading to church down the gravel road and find the bulls out and have to turn around to go home. 

I hope you got a chance to enjoy a little spot of time in nature today.  Tell me about it if you did.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Great-horned Owl Mama
and her
I'm going to do more spying on them later
and see if I can get some better pictures.

Friday, May 18, 2018



Out on the prairie
the Golden Pea, or sweet pea as we call it,
is as abundant as dandelions. 
With the heavy snows of winter comes the wildflowers in spring.
You can see sweet peas everywhere you look,
and they are especially thick where the snow laid in heavy.
I look forward to seeing what beautiful wildflowers will pop up this spring and summer.
Wildflowers are perhaps the most enchanting of all for me.  I love their delicacy, their disarming innocence, and their defiance of life itself.  ~Princess Grace of Monaco

Here's a little country ditty about having cows around!  Enjoy.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


The chickies are here!  The children are so excited and love going to the coop to check on the peeps at least a couple times a day.  At this stage, they are so small and soft to hold.  They are warm and fuzzy on the cheek and their peep-peep is sweet.  The Pearl White Leghorn is the choice this year for our laying hens and Peach chose the Silver Laced Wyandot for her special pair of pullet chicks, and she also has a pair of baby Wyandot roosters.  We are hopeful for hatchlings next spring.  We shall see how it all plays out, but for now, we'll just enjoy the li'l peeps for what they are today.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Big Year Birds...

breeding adult
(photo by JLynn)
(probably female)
These are just a few of the many birds we've been seeing in our neck of the woods as we continue to count birds for our Big Year.  The Grankids and their mothers and I are learning so much and are developing a keen eye for various species of birds -- their colors, their markings, the way they perch and fly, and the songs they sing.  My pictures are less than crisp and bright due to gray, misty, drizzly, wet days -- hooray!
The youngest and casual bird observers are so hilarious with their comments.  Lily calls the Grackle a "Crackle".  When her mother tries to correct her, "Say G G Grackle."  She says, "G G Crackle."  Another child, Toodles, calls the Wilson's Phalarope a Spinny Duck, which is an excellent name and description of it.  Her Daddy has always called them that.  The younger birders like Chief and JohnDeere look through their mini binoculars upside down, but they sure do "see" all kinds of birds and things.  I think it's a beautiful thing to be in tune with your surroundings and nature.  God has given us so many gifts if we only have eyes to see them.  What birds are you seeing?
"For lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day."
~Evelyn Underhill
"To the attentive eye each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Garden beginnings...

 Garlic (left) and onions
 Asparagus, and in the background, rhubarb!
Tulips and daffodils blooming

Tulips and grape hyacinth
The first small harvest of my asparagus plants.
So delicious.

(click to enlarge)
The young birders and I found this nest in a tree patch
 and look WHOO's peeking out!
I hope we will get to see owlets in the future.
The only thing I've planted in my veggie patch so far are onions, peas, and lettuces.  It's still pretty chilly in the nights and we aren't past our last frost date quite yet.  I bought some nice herb plants that are ready to go out to the garden when the time's right.  In the meanwhile, I've been snipping and using the lemon thyme in so many ways -- tuna patties, chicken salad, on lettuce salads, and in skillet dinners.  Next I want to try it in my Kukicha tea for a lemony flavor.  My DIL, JJo thinks it would be a good infusion for water.  I have never had lemon thyme before and it is now a favorite of mine!  I may have to go buy myself another plant.
The asparagus has been popping up like crazy.  We've had a few light showers and the daytime temps have been pretty warm, so it's happily producing and giving us some delicious green stalks to put in salads and to pan roast.  We love our asparagus here. 
I need to get potatoes in the ground, but I'll wait until my chicks are in and pick up seed potatoes from the feed store at the same time.  There was a delay in the chicks arrival, but they are on the way.  Are you gardening yet?  Potting up flowers or herbs?  What's springing up where you are?

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Moving sheep and cow/calf pairs...



The last couple of days we've been moving the ewes and lambs to fresh pastures and today we will work through them, sorting out the lambs and giving them a dose of de-wormer before sending them out on the range to graze.  They've come through the harsh winter and spring and are finally picking up and looking much better than they were.  Look at that big baby sucking his mama.  Most of the time they get down on their knees to nurse.

Tally:  179 ewes, 289 lambs

We're getting down to the last 100 head of cows left to calve and in the meantime, we have been taking out pairs to larger pastures.  Gradually, we will work each bunch back to the barn to brand and vaccinate calves.  We branded one big bunch of calvies this morning. 

It has warmed up here and we've had some gray, drippy skies.  The moisture has been light, but still, we welcome it and are thankful for it.  The grass is slow-growing at present, but a few warm days should really bring it up.  The cows and sheep are really loving this fresh grass.  It feels like spring has finally arrived.


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