Sunday, August 02, 2015

For the benefit...

Today there's a benefit-auction and supper planned for our postmistress who has been receiving cancer treatment this past month.  Our community is small, but it is broad, encompassing about a 50 mile radius, and the folks that live here have big hearts as wide-open as the prairie we live on.  The community of folks and the nearby small towns where we buy our feed and groceries, tires and boots  are all supporting the effort too.  It'll be a big gathering at our community hall with all the ladies bringing their best pot luck dishes and most will bring an item or two to donate to the silent auction and the live auction.  There will be handshakes and hugs, talk of making hay and grazing livestock, while we eat lots of good homemade food and spread lots of good will.  My little contribution will be a set of embroidered tea towels, just perfect for the cowgirl or ranchwife, or for anyone who has a little inner-cowgirl spirit. 

I found these vintage cowgirls on Pinterest and then traced them with my Sulky iron-on transfer pen.  Now I'm getting lots of ideas about embroidering pictures or photos in black and white, and I'm also thinking about tinting some.  For now, these black & white, retro ranch-hands are sporting red lipstick to give them a little spunk. 

Prayers and thoughts for Rita today and in the days to come.

"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." ~Psalm 46:1

Saturday, August 01, 2015

In the Garden, August 1...

As you can see by the photo journal above, the zucchini are taking over my life!  The ones I missed are as large as baseball bats, and they've only just begun.  I did experiment with a new recipe --  a Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream and boy-o-boy was it spectacular!  It was deemed a "do again" by the Hubby and all the neighborly relatives.  The recipe is here, from I Am Baker.  The only tweak I made to the recipe was to add a little lemon zest and juice to the cake batter.  Oh, and because I'm a lazy homemaker, I made the cake in a 9x13" pan and only made half the frosting. I stowed it in the fridge which gave it a nice chill for a summer dessert.  I received a box of bing cherries from my FIL so I'm thinking of making the same cake recipe with them.  I can't wait!

There is another zucchini recipe that my daughter shared with me that we LOVE to eat.  Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds.  Oh, these are scrumpch!  and EASY.  Just spray a cookie sheet with pan spray, lay out a single layer of 1/4" sliced zucchini rounds.  Salt and pepper them, then spoon on a little dab of parmesan cheese on each round.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.  I could eat a whole cookie sheet by myself!  My grandkids love them too.

Now onto the tomatoes......
They are coming along fine, but the only tomatoes I have eaten out of the garden have been a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes.  For some reason these are orange tomatoes which is just all right by me.  There are plenty of green tomatoes on the vines so I'll just have to wait a little longer for my favorite sliced-tomato-with-mayo-on-toast sandwich.

I planted a few heirloom tomato seeds in my side bank garden and wouldn't you know it, they are going to produce little baby pear tomatoes right at the same time as the other tomatoes that were started in pots.  I'm definitely going to direct-sow tomato seeds again next year.  Think of the variety!

We still have lettuce galore and eat a salad every single day.  I like garden lettuce.

The pumpkin vines are sprawling out at the bottom of the side bank garden.  They are happy, happy and producing plenty o' pumpkins.  The grandies are going to love them for Halloween carving.

I went to the potato patch the other day and decided to harvest a few new potatoes.  Those are the delicate little spuds that aren't yet full grown.  So perfectly round, small, and delicious sliced into a sizzling pan of butter and fried up.  I just pulled back the straw below the potato plant and pinched off those that were laying on the surface.  The others will be left to continue growing.  I feel like I robbed a secret treasure stash.

Lastly I'm going to share a simple recipe of Refrigerator Pickles.  These are so easy and crispy and delicious. When you get an overflow of cucumbers, you can make a gallon or so and keep munching on them all through the summer days.  I save the brine when I finish all the veggies and slice in more fresh cucumbers.

Refrigerator Pickles

1 gallon of sliced cucumbers
(you may add other veggies like green beans, carrots, peppers)
1 onion, sliced
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno pepper (if you like it hot)
6 whole peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed (or powdered mustard)
1 1/2 tsp. tumeric 
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 heads of dill (opt.)

4 cups of white vinegar
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup salt
Warm vinegar and stir in sugar and salt.  Mix until dissolved.  Cool and pour over veggies and spices.  Let sit overnight and start eating.  Store in fridge all summer long.
You may adjust the veggies and spices and heat of your pickles to your liking.

Hey, did you see the full Blue Moon Friday night?  
Our's was pink!
Happy August!  
Stay cool.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Beaded bracelet....

A dear friend of mine remembered me on my birthday with this fun beaded wrap bracelet called the Mirembe Wrap Bracelet.  I absolutely love it!  Not only is it a pretty bangle that I enjoy wearing, but it reminds me of some very hard-working women who are doing their best to get out of poverty.  These are women of Uganda who are learning skills like bead making and jewelry making and who also create skin products with shea butter.  All the products are fair trade, handmade creations that you are really going to love.  The organization, Bead For Life, is giving women a helping hand out of extreme poverty by teaching them a trade and helping them to learn entrepreneurial skills that will launch them in their own businesses.  With their earnings, some women are buying land and cattle to support their families, some have started businesses selling tap water or garden vegetables, others are starting schools for children.  Many are able to send their children to school with their earnings.

Every time I wear my bracelet, I think of the woman who might have made my bracelet, and I think of the friend who gave it to me.  These are the gifts that give back.  I just wanted to share Bead for Life with you in case you have some special people you'd like to give a special gift to. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Home, home on the range....

where the deer and the antelope play...


Lots of antelope fawns are roaming the prairie.
Most are twins.
For the first couple weeks of their lives, 
they are hidden until they can run with Mama.   
They are beautiful creatures and fun to watch.
If you click the photos up to full size, 
you'll see some interesting details about them.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Whoopi Ti Yi Yo...

I've been working on a little whoopi ti yi yo stitching and it's fun!
Almost as fun as riding horseback across the prairie in July, but much cooler.
And how about some theme music for your listening pleasure? 

The pony is a pillowcase I stitched for my granddaughter, Peach, who turned 7 years old on the 11th.  She's a boot-wearing, tractor-fixin', cow-feedin' cowgirl ya know.  I found the horse pattern here but I changed the flower out for a western rose. The tea towels are stitched on two corners with some vintage western designs that I love.  The patterns are from the Wild Wild West collection of Stitcher's Revolution.   The Bakery, my local fabric store, carries them.  I have many of the iron-on SR patterns and really like using them.  I made this set of tea towels for a local cowgirl who will soon be a bride.  The towels will be tucked into a little gift for her bridal shower.

The barrel of moss roses have nothing to do with whoopi ti yi yo except that they flourish on the patio at my ranch house.  They make me smile every time I walk by their bold, rootin' tootin' blooms.  They love the hot prairie sunshine so I think there's a little bit o' wild west in them somewhere!  Can I get a  "YeeHaw!" ?

Friday, July 03, 2015

Nature Notes....

Yesterday I spent most of the day mowing and while I was gazing off, I saw this giant wasp with a 6" long poker floating below her.  I had seen this creature before and I knew what she was, but still, it's quite exciting to see something like it just floating by nonchalantly.  I suppose to her it was not a nonchalant flight.  I'm sure she was on a mission!

The female Ichneumon Wasp has this very long ovipositor which she uses to insert her eggs into old wood.  She lays her eggs in tunnels where the horntail wasp larvae are, and Mrs. Ichneumon's babies will feed on them when they hatch out.  Sounds like a nasty little way to feed your babies, but everybody's got to eat somebody, right?

What's amazing to me is how in the world does that little wasp drill a hole into the wood?  Incredible!  No power tools, no torque wrench, no chainsaw!  Just a little poker on the end of her abdomen. I do think that sometimes they find a hole that has already been "predrilled" and go in that way too.  No matter what, it's amazing!

Yesterday I saw her fly by me.  Today I went on a hunt for one and had my phone in my pocket.  I was about to give up the search when here she came.  In my excitement, I couldn't get the phone camera up and running fast enough to snap a photo.  She even landed on my leg!  Kinda creepy, but kinda cool too.  I was glad that my leg didn't look like a tree trunk after all!  They say Ichneumon wasps won't try to harm humans so I didn't feel threatened.

Here's a link to very cool video showing the actual depositing of eggs if you're interested.  It's a few minutes long and quite cool to witness.  I'm determined to find another Ichneumon wasp out there one of these days.  By the way, as I was waiting for Mrs. Ichneumon to come back out (which she did not) I did notice something else laying on the bark of the tree.  It pays to wait and look and observe.

On the swoop of the bark that was peeling off this dead tree was a mish-mash of a nest.  I know the nest type and the two eggs tell me these are a dove's.  We have lots and lots of doves around right now, and they will lay eggs all summer long.  Still, kinda fun to find!

Here's a photo of milkweed.  I think our milkweed is called "Showy Milkweed."  And it is!  I think it's so pretty and intricate.  Monarch butterflies love milkweed and lay their eggs on them.  I'm hoping to come back to this little patch and check for Monarch eggs and/or butterflies laying eggs.  One time we found a chrysalis on a milkweed plant and brought it inside and watched it emerge.  It was one of those awesome times when the kids were little and curious about all things nature.

Did you see the full moon two nights ago?  Oh, so pretty and orange when it just came up.  We've had lots of smokey skies from the Washington fires, and it makes the moon and sun look orange-y when they set or rise.  This moon is up high and peeking through the clouds.

I hope you're enjoying nature this summer.  So much to see! So much to learn!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rough-legged Hawks...

Rough-legged Hawk
Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Rough-legged Hawk
 Photo by Walter Siegmund
Wikimedia, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

I watched these beautiful creatures hunting mice in the hayfield this morning while I raked hay. It was one of those days that I wished I had my camera and didn't.  At least I had my eyes and the photos in my mind.  I enjoyed every moment watching them as I drove up and down the field.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Haying -- full tilt...


The weather has turned hot and sunny and so as the saying goes, we make hay while the sun shines!  The new equipment has been really great to use, even though we pull the implements with old(er) tractors.  Since the rake (third photo down) is pulled by the old John Deere 2520 (open air) it gets mighty hot with the 95* temps and the heat blowing off the engine.  As long as I have plenty of water, fortified with some Real Salt, some lemon wedges, and ice, I can go about 3 hours at a whack.  In the morning it's quite pleasant to rake hay, but after high noon or so, we usually call it quits until evening.  I like to bare my skin for a little while in the early sunshine, but the majority of the time, I am covered up from head to foot to keep the sun off. The bugs have been minimal -- an occasional deer fly bite here and there and sometimes a swarm of gnats comes along, but generally, it's been fairly bug-free for me.

So far, I think we have upwards of 600 round bales of hay and many more to come.  Hubby thinks we'll get somewhere around 3000 bales by the time we are done.  That's a lot of hay for us dry land ranchers.  What looked like a drought in mid-May turned into a bumper hay crop for us in June.  We also missed a lot of hail, tornadoes, and flooding that were in the area.  It's been just about perfect here. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

The buzz....


The Buzz is...
We have BEES!
Lots of BEEZ!

On one end of the ranch there's a large colony
and on the other, yet a larger bunch.

They've come from California with banjos on their knees and they are staying for our golden sweet clover.  It's a "clover year"  here.  Not every year is.  Sweet clover is a biennial and so it usually only comes up every other year, depending on the weather conditions.  This year it's growing everywhere and it's as high as the pick-up -- doors so far.  There will be plenty of pollen and nectar for the bees to harvest -- miles and miles and acres and acres of it. Every ranch in the country has several boxes on it.  The bee keepers had intended to put some of these bees in another area, but they were drouthed out and had nothing for the bees to live on so they put them on our place.  Our share in the project will come in honey, and I dare say we'll have more honey than we know what to do with.  We've never had bees here before so it's exciting to us. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pair of pups...

Two little Scotties
Naughty little Scotties
Playing ball in Mommy's flowies
Spanks and owies.

Two tea towels for friend's friend
who loves Scottie Dogs.


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