Friday, March 16, 2018

A bit o' Irish for you...

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock. 

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's wisdom to uphold me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's host to save me... 

~Attributed to St. Patrick
Ireland 389 (?) - 461 A.D. 


In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I share with you some wonderful stories about the Irish by one of my favorite children's authors, Tomie dePaola.   Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland, Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill,  and others.  He has a nice book called The Miracles of Jesus.  Both Littles and Bigs can appreciate the stories and art of Tomie dePaola. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2018


First Robin pic by JLynn (DIL)

Two days ago Peach and Toodles and their mama sited the First Robin here on the ranch in the trees next to their house.  I put on my boots and went with Peach to see it with my own eyes.  She was anxious to show him to me!  Today I spied the First Meadowlark while I was out feeding sheep.  I didn't have a camera so everyone had to trust my eyes for the report of "First Meadowlark" that was announced on the 2-way radio.  The meadowlark picture is not mine.  My picture would have snow, a little mud, and gray skies mixed in it.  Not as colorful as this pic.

We are expecting another snow this weekend.  Somewhere between 6-8" of snow on top of what we have.  The old snow is sinking slowly as the sun gets a little stronger each day.  Still, we have quite a bit.  There are now about 65 new calvies on the ground so the men have been working to make sure there are good places for them to be during the snow storm.

I've been stitching a little bit here and there.  One embroidery is for a baby's room and the Scottie Dog for a friend of a friend to tuck into a birthday gift.  In case you need a Scottie Dog stuffie of your own, the pattern is here at AllSorts.   It's almost spring!  Can you feel it in the air?  Yet?

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Snowshoeing, the calm...




click pic to enjoy a closer look

We had a beautiful, still, Sunday morning here and so I took my snowshoes for a solitary trek through The Woods which are the shelter belts around our homes.  Heavy fog and frost moved in these past couple of days and so the trees were covered with spiky, frost needles.  Even the barbed wire had lengthened spikes.  The two dogs went along with me and chased jackrabbits from their hiding places.  There was a special quiet calm and beauty that felt like a gift as I walked, even though from time to time my foot plunged deeper into the snow than I expected and set me off balance.  The snow is not uniform in its make-up now.  Some of it is hard as rock where the wind has blown over and made drifts.  It is easy to walk over.  And then other snow in the lower, more sheltered areas where it has melted somewhat, is softer and I sink in further.  I wish I had a hybrid snowshoe that would allow for either kind of snow.

As I was walking towards home, I just happened to look up to see this fine fellow -- a Long-eared Owl.   Another gift.  After I snapped the photo, I just stood for a long while and observed and appreciated  him.  He also stayed still without blinking and observed me.  After a few minutes, the dogs came looking for me and disrupted our observation time, and Long Ear flew off.  He looked much larger when he was flying than he did in this picture.  I think they "skinny" themselves to look like a limb on the tree -- the true camouflage.

After a warm, calm day, it sadly ended with winds whipping up around chore time.  We put all the sheep into their sheds and gave a little extra feed to the cows.  It sounds like we may not get near the snow that was predicted, but the winds are still on the way.  Some folks to our east are expecting upward of 12" of snow with high winds.  Blizzard conditions.

Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts come when we are alone. It is good to listen, not to voices but to the wind blowing, to the brook running cool over polished stones, to bees drowsy with the weight of pollen. If we attend to the music of the earth, we reach serenity. And then, in some unexplained way, we share it with others. ~Gladys Taber

Saturday, March 03, 2018

The cows come home (and new calvies)

On a sunny and mild Wednesday, the men and I went over to The River Place and gathered the cows to bring them home.  The men had made a trail for them with the tractor through deep snow cross-country.  We couldn't have done it otherwise.  It was a 6.5 mile trek for the cows.  I led the way with the pick-up and cake feeder to coax them, and Hubby followed behind with the Ranger with the tracks on it.  The girls came home in pretty good time and were glad to find hay and water ready for them.

On another note, the heifers have started calving and right now we have four cutie pies in the corral with their mamas.  These are Hereford/Red Angus cross.  I love their splotchy faces.  So far, the heifers are calving with ease, and most of the time we don't know they are even calving until we see a calf on the ground.  Now that's how we want to do it.  

There are still three or four head of ewes at the barn left to lamb.  This past week we docked three bunches of lambs and so far we've had good numbers.  We still have the youngest lambs left to dock.
Tally:  115 ewes, 184 lambs equals 160% lamb crop.  These number don't account for the number of bum lambs we've had.  We took another 8 lambs to Dr. Liz last night and she is happy with her bummies.  We are hoping we can buy back some of the ewes from her when she gets ready to sell them in the summer.

It's been a mild week here which has been so wonderful.  I even took a little snowshoe walk around and enjoyed that.  On Sunday and Monday we are expecting more snow with high winds gusting to 70 mph which means BLIZZARD.  Thankfully, we have all the livestock fairly close by and have plenty of shed space for young livestock.  I suppose the county roads will blow shut with drifting snow, but we have stocked up at the grocery store and have our barn supplies so I think we're ready.  When I look at all the snow around us and the snow that's coming, I just imagine green grass and full reservoirs in spring!  One needs to keep that perspective.

Today I got to be at home for most of the day, being a housewife.  I enjoyed it so very much.  I've been tidying up, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, and catching up with the laundry.  I even washed my chore coat, hats, and gloves so they smell and look so much better.  Supper is in the crock pot and I'm looking forward to soaking in an Epsom Salts bath this evening.  Ahhh.  I hope your Saturday has been just right.  God bless you and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bummies and first calf born...

We've had lots of bummies this year due to the large amount of triplets being born.  It's quite amazing how many trips we've had -- about as many trips as twins, and we have had very few singles.  We even had a set of quads.  They are very unusual, but they do show up.  Generally, ewes cannot raise more than two lambs successfully so we take one lamb off of every set of triplets which means they become a "bum."  Dr. Liz is taking all of our bums again this year which is so nice.  Dr. Liz has a little girl who is about 4 years old and together they take good care of all of the bummies we send them.

I brought three lambs in to the mudroom for a warm-up, and as you can see, Heidi was willing to lick them off and tend to them.  Like most ranch dogs, she likes the smell of the wet sheep and the poop smell, so she was very accepting of them being in her space.

Heidi has been a little bit lame in her left foot for the last couple days.  Upon inspection, I noticed that the pads of her paw have some cracks.  I'm thinking that is why she is carrying that paw because I don't see any other reason.  The cold and snow must be taking a toll on her feet.  So I got out the good old Corona Ointment  from the cupboard and have been greasing her paw pads generously day and night.  I think it's helping.   My old tube of Corona Ointment has 50% lanolin, but the new Corona has only 30%.  Upon further research, I found another lanolin product that is said to be just like the original Corona with 50% lanolin along with beeswax for skin protection. It's called Lantiseptic.  I'm going to order a tube of it to try out and compare with my old tube of Corona ointment.  If you ever need to attend to cracked pet paws or human paws, Corona (or Lantiseptic) is an amazing balm. We've  used it for over 35 years on cracked udders and for chapped skin and burn issues in our livestock, and we've used it on our own chapped, cracked hands and feet.  You can even use it on diaper rash.  Good stuff.

The snow is still deep and almost every night our temperatures have sunk into the sub-zero numbers.  It's like there is so much snow that it just can't warm up much, but we are seeing signs of a little change.  The last couple of days we got up to about 25* for highs with sun, and sunshine feels so good to us and to sheep.  Grandpa J. says we're getting tough since we think its warm on a day that gets above 15*.   We are hopeful there will be warmer days coming.

The first calf was born today!  It's a couple weeks early, but healthy. The heifers are in close to the barn and look ready to have their babies soon.

Back to the barn I go.  It's chore time!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy LOVE Day....

Sweets for the sweet.
I baked the favorite sugar cookies with red-hots
for our kids and grandkids.
Grandpa Jim brought me the flowers.
I hope you are feeling loved today.
 God loves you!

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. 
Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.
~Romans 12:10
(Berean Study Bible)

Thursday, February 08, 2018

New lambing set-up...


 Downy Woodpecker

Moving snow off the road in front of our house.

We are all so happy with our newly revamped lambing barn and the new lamb panels set-up.  Not only did the men improve our barn exterior, but they built these wire and steel panels.  When the ewes and lambs spend a day in a small jug (pen) they graduate to a larger pen before they are sent out the door to the wide world.  These larger pens are the ones you see above that the fellas made this fall.  The whole set-up in the barn is different and very handy.  We think the ewes and lambs like it too because although they are separated by the panels, they can see each other and that gives them some security since they are herd animals who do not like isolation.

Last night another wave of snow hit and made driving up to the barn a problem.  With the blowing  snow drifting across the road, it was a little tricky and at times I felt I didn't know if I was actually on the road or not.  The last thing I wanted to do was to wind up in the ditch and have to walk home at 3:00 a.m.  But I made it just fine.  Today we've been having more and more snow which continues to drift everywhere.  We are hoping that it lets up this afternoon so the men won't have to plow the roads anymore and we can find our way up to the barn as well as to get out and feed cows.  The good thing about all this snow is the moisture.  We've been quite dry here and although snow isn't "wet" right now, when it does melt, there is hope of fresh, run-off in creeks and stock dams.

The Redpolls have been swarming the feeders today and we've had a visitor from the Downy Woodpecker too.  They are so fun to watch.  I'm spending a little time in between barn checks with my embroidery.  I have a couple projects going as well as the TAST embroidery stitches each week.  It's been fun incorporating the stitches into my projects.

Tonight the Winter Olympics start with Curling for one event.  It's the funniest sport to me.  I'm thinking that they are showing it early in hopes of gaining viewers.  There's also figure skating and downhill moguls tonight.  The Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow. Yay!

Monday, February 05, 2018

First lambs are born...

The first lambs have dropped!  Twins were born last night, the first set of 2018 with over 200 more ewes to go!  We got another dumping of snow last night which made our county roads pretty drifted.  I have to admit, it was a beautiful sight to see the prairie road drifted over like waves on the sea.  Much more wind and more snow will make roads impassible.  Thankfully, we know the man with the road plow and he plans to make a pass down our road today.

 Going out with no trail.

Coming back with a drifted trail.

 Image from American Sheep Industry

If you like wool like I do, be sure to notice the U.S. Olympic Team's official outfits for the opening and closing ceremonies in South Korea this February 9th and 25th.  They will be sporting American-raised wool sweaters, hats and mittens by designer, Ralph Lauren.  Korea is expecting very cold temperatures during the ceremonies and so wool will be a good fit for keeping our athletes warm.  If you'd like to read the full story in the Sheep Industry Magazine, click here.  I just love watching the Winter Olympics, and I look forward to checking in on all the events and the stats in the days to come.  Are you a Winter Olympics watcher?  What's your favorite event?  I like the downhill skiing and snowboarding.  I do love to watch the luge and bobsled and never miss the speed skating or figure skating either.  How about curling?  That's a funny one to me.  The biathlon (cross country skiing and shooting) looks very hard to me.  As you can see, I really love ALL of it!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Woolly & Naked...

 More snow



 Hello person.  Got anything to eat?

It snowed and turned cold right after we sheared the sheep.  It is winter, after all.  The wool was thick and beautiful and the wool warehouse manager was so excited to receive our wool that he immediately cored a bale of wool and took a sample of it with him to the American Sheep Industry annual meeting in San Antonio this weekend.  He said he wanted to show off the good wool we grow up here in the north country.  That was cool.

On Friday we worked through all the sheep and sorted off the pregnant ewes from the yearling ewes (who will lamb in May) and the late lambing ewes.  The bucks also went with the late lambing ewes.  Then we paint branded all of them -- red paint for the early ewes and green for the yearlings and late ewes.  Then we squirted some insecticide on their backs and turned them out.

206 ewes will start lambing on Feb. 7th or so
77 yearling ewes will lamb in May
22 late ewes will lamb in May
10 bucks
TOTAL:  315

We calculate that the ewes should begin to have lambs any day.  February 7th is our first due date, but the 206 ewes could drop lambs from here on out for the next two weeks or so.  It's going to get busy around here as we kick off the "spring season" with lambing.  I'm excited.  The men completely worked over our lambing barn this past fall.  They tore off the old holey tin, took out the rotted posts and roofing, and made everything like new again.  They even lined the interior walls with an inexpensive pressed board and painted it.  It's going to be a much warmer place for baby lambs.  We have the lambing barn all set up with jugs and some newly made twin pens.  The pens are bedded with straw and we are ready to roll.  It sounds like we are going to contend with winter as we go into lambing.  It was -14* F last night and stayed cold most of the morning.  We warmed up to 16* but are down to 3* for tonight.  I do hope we can get a nice little stretch of reasonable weather, but it will be what it will be and we will just deal with what we get.

I'll report back soon when we start having our first lambies. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Old dog, new trick...

This old dog has learned a new trick!  For years I have cleaned out the chicken coop with a scoop shovel and pitchfork, and I still do it this way, but I always brought a tractor to the door of the coop to scoop the poop into.  This day I did not have a tractor, but the skid steer was available.  However,  I didn't know how to run it.  We have had our skid steer for just a few months and I never learned how to use it so I asked Hubby if he'd show me how, and he was glad to oblige me.  The thing is, he couldn't get into the cab with me to teach me like he had in years past with the tractors because the skid steer is a one-seater and is so very small inside.  No room for two.  So I buckled myself in and let him talk me through it from the outside of the skid steer.  He provided sign language along with the oral instruction to to teach me, and he did an excellent job because in minutes, I was driving it and using the loader/bucket to do what I needed to do.  

I am so excited to have a new trick in my pocket!  The thing is, the more I learn about the equipment, the more valuable I can be to the ranch and to all who live here.  Not that I'm ever going to be as good at operating machinery as the men are, but I can do simple things.  Hubby has always told me how important it was for me to know how to run the tractors because if there would be an accident I could lift a bucket, turn off the power-take-off, turn it off or on, or move it when no one else might be around.  Learning to operate the skid steer is a confidence builder for me for sure!  I told my son-in-law who manages a feed store that if he ever needed an extra skid steer operator, he could call me!  He just laughed.  


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