Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May baa baas...

 Baa Baa, the web's most famous ewe!

Lambies are being born to the yearling ewes this month.  The yearlings do not always have babies because of their youth, but since our lambs are born in February, they are older and their bodies are  mature enough for breeding.  If we breed them to lamb in May sometimes they will "catch" and conceive.  The majority of them did and here they are, doing their job out on the grassy, green pastures.  Aren't they pretty against that lush green?

I went up to Dick's Pasture tonight to check on them and thought I saw a ewe, dead on her back.  Then I thought I saw her leg move a very little bit so I drove over to her and got out to see.  Sure enough, she was alive, but had probably been there a while.  I flipped her up on her legs and she toddled off.  She was an older ewe and super-big and pregnant.  It happens sometimes when a pregnant ewe lay down, she has a hard time getting back up.  I hope she'll be ok.  Sometimes when a ewe is on her back for too long, her equilibrium gets all wonky and she end up on their back again.  We will have to watch for her.

I was in town today visiting the "townie grandgirls" and shopping for flowers at the farm/ranch store.  As we were waiting in line to buy our flowers, the girls pulled me over to see the baby ducklings.  They were very sweet, but the cutest, most interesting thing to me was this Siamese cat who was  stretched out over the screen that covered the ducklings. I'm sure it was a warm, cozy place for her to nap,  but I thought it was so funny --  like "the fox guarding the hen house."

My gardens are all planted to capacity now and the new hay field is planted too so all that's left to do is pray for rain.  As green as it is, we are seeing signs of it drying up and the reservoirs could sure use a topping off.  A good inch of rain would do us just fine right about now.  We've got chances for rain most of this week so we are hopeful.

Tomorrow I'll plant a few flower pots with one of my favorite front porch flowers -- red geraniums.  I picked up some white wave petunias to mix in with them.  Can't wait to show you!  Until later, thank you for stopping in to say Hi!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

For the birds!

 Northern Oriole or Baltimore Oriole
I call him "Orange Lightning" because he flashes by so quickly I'm not sure what I'm seeing! 
The neon orange is a dead giveaway and so's the song.

This fellow is the Black-headed Grosbeak.
He and his wife have been occasional visitors to my feeders.
This is a noisy bird when the window is open in early morning.

 Friendly acrobats, the American Goldfinches are happy with my new mesh feeder.
I particularly like the call "See Me?" among their many squeaks and warbles.

 We've had many, many of the Spotted Towhees on the ground, busily digging and scratching amongst the mulch in my garden beds. They are the size of sparrows, but have that rusty-orange coloring on their sides like a robin.

This is the White-throated Sparrow that I've told you about before.
They are staying close by and treating me to their sweet song.
"Sweet, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada."
Below in the shadows is another Towhee.

Peach, my neighbor grandgirl who is now 7.5 years old, is a great lover of birds.  She reads and studies her bird field guide all the day long, and she loves to be outdoors scouting out the birds in the shelter belt beside her house.  Her mother says she can hardly eat a meal because she is so transfixed on the birds outside the sliding glass door next to the table.  She and I have many excellent bird talks together. 

Her sister, Toodles who is 5, has become an observant bird watcher by default.  She told me of a bird she saw with her dad when they were out farming a field in the tractor.  "It was a very large bird with tall legs and a long neck.  It had a body about this big with a head about this big and it's beak was long and pointed, and it had a little tuft of hair on its head."  I knew immediately the bird she described -- A Sandhill Crane She was so pleased to be able to tell her big sister she saw a Sandhill Crane!  Her silly dad thought it might be a Flamingo, but Toodles knew better because, "Flamingos are pink!"

What birds are you seeing this spring?  Do you have any birding tips?  I've found that a filled bird bath is a great attraction for backyard birds.

Sunday, May 08, 2016


 This, my friends, is the humble Gumbo Lily
from which this blog name has it's origins.

The gumbo lily (Oenothera caespitosa) grows in gumbo soil which is a very heavy clay soil.
When it rains, gumbo becomes very slimy and sticky and then drys and cracks when  as you see in the picture above.  It does not grow much grass, but only a few select flowers and forbs which can sustain a life in hard clay. The roots of the gumbo lily go down deep as a tap root.  I've tried to transplant them in years past without success.  Either I didn't get enough of the root, or the soil conditions were not right for it to thrive -- or possibly both.  I've always considered myself akin to the gumbo lily.  When I first moved out to the ranch as a young bride of 19, I didn't know how well I'd adapt to lonely prairie life, but as the years passed, I began to put down my root deeper and deeper into the soil of the land and life, and now I doubt you could pull up enough root to transplant me anywhere else.  This is where I belong.

Hubby picked  gumbo lilies for me this Mother's Day.  
I wish you could smell them.  Heavenly.

 Hubby and I went out feeding and checking livestock this morning.  I hope you'll enjoy the pictures I took below.  The cows and calves are very content in their summer pasture.  The calves below are branded and turned out.  There are others yet to be branded and vaccinated before we can take them out to their summer pastures.

Lambert's Locoweed ( Oxytropis lambertii) purple
 White locoweed (Oxytropis sericea Nuttall)

Locoweed is just what it sounds like.  A weed, although beautiful, that can make livestock crazy or actually poison them and kill them.  Most of the time, livestock avoids these plants, but occasionally, they will ingest the weeds when the grass is tall and covers them up.  We think we lost a cow this spring to locoweed or more likely to Meadown Death Camas.  It looks very much like wild onions that grown rampantly on our prairie.  It is said to be more poisonous than strychnine.  Thankfully we had a cow mama that had needed a baby, so we grafted the calf on her.


The apple tree in bloom on the right has it's origins in an apple seed.  Hubby used to throw his apple cores over the shop roof for fun, and one day an apple tree sprouted and grew.  So far we've only had one apple crop from it, and every year I am hopeful for another.  The apple tree on the right is one Hubby and I planted called Northern Lights.  It has produced a handful of small apples, but never much.  It's still young.  Do you see the bucket of apple blossom stems in the right-hand pic?

I'm experimenting.

Maryann, an 80 year old nursery owner, told my husband that when you have a plum tree with no other tree to pollinate it with, you can cut some branches from another plum tree and put them in a bucket beside the one you wish to pollinate.  Well, I thought that was such a brilliant idea, that I decided I'd try it with my own apple trees.  I cut branches from the Shop Apple Tree and put them by my Northern Lights to see if it might help it to pollinate.  I also took some branches from an old Whitney Crab tree from the pasture and brought them over to the Shop Apple Tree to see if it might help it to pollinate.  I'm just trying to be a Good Garden Fairy.  I hope that spreading the fairy dust helps!

 Little American Goldfinches are visiting my backyard in their yellow tuxedos!

I hope you're having a wonderful Mother's Day today.  I'm enjoying the outdoors!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Ranch notes...

  Moving sheep to greener pastures.

After the good rains we've had, it was time to move the sheep 
to fresh pasture.
Soon we will work them -- de-worm them --
and move them out to summer range.

By mid-May the yearling ewes will begin to have their lambs.
That's a beautiful sight to see!
Mamas and baby lambs out on green grass.

We are still getting calves, but we are nearing the end of that season.
We branded about 150 head of calves on Monday.
They will also go out to summer range in a few days.
Around home, 
I spent the day in the gardens, mulching, weeding, 
and moving little plants to different spots.
I got the lawn mowed too. 


I figured out a bird's song today.
I've been hearing it for days and days and it's the loveliest song.
I finally saw the bird to whom it belongs, 
 the White-throated Sparrow.
Click here if you want to hear the sweet songs too.

~~~~A gorgeous May day on the prairie! ~~~~

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.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bits and pieces...

It snowed again.  
Just a little.
It's melted now and the earth is GREEN.

Since it snowed, I dubbed yesterday a donut day.
I fed donuts to all the ranchers here
and they were glad.

I'm sewing little circle skirts.
It's so easy.
And so fun.
The girls like them.

Sidewalk flower petal art from a few days ago.
These are tulip petal and dandelion butterflies.

We are hoping for a little patch of sunshine today
 so the calvies will dry off and we can brand a small bunch.
  But so far, the clouds keep dripping.
We are thankful for it. 

Every particular in nature,
a leaf, a drop, a crystal,
a moment of time
is related the the whole,
and partakes of the perfection of the whole.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Nature Notes...

Prairie Goldenpeas (thermopsis rhombifolia) which we call Sweet Peas, are blooming in the pasture.  Sweet Peas are a Mother's Day tradition here.  My children and their dad gathered handfuls of these golden beauties for me each year for Mother's Day and just because.  Hubby gathered them for his own mother when he was a boy.

A few Goldenpeas in the pasture.

These are Hood's Phlox (phlox hoodii).  An early bloomer on the prairie.

 These are the grape hyacinth in my garden.


 One more prairie beauty:  Plains Milkvetch (Astragalus gilviflorus).  I like to call it Wedding Bouquet.  The flowers grow in a clump that seems to form a cushion.  It's found on dry rocky ground.  The milkvetches are a type of "locoweed" which can poison livestock if eaten in large amounts, but we rarely ever see this happen.  It seems livestock have a sense of knowing not to eat it.  If we do have a large growth of locoweed, we will avoid putting livestock in that pasture until it is done growing.  This link shows a close-up of the Plains Milkvetch where you can see the pretty purple tongue inside the flowers.

This is a new arrival to us --  the Yellow Rumped Warbler.  
They love to eat insects from the trees, and they especially like the Willows.

In the Garden:
JJo, Peach, Toodles, Boy Blue, and Chief all helped me plant potatoes and onions.
We planted:  Yukon Gold, red, and white potatoes.
We planted:  Walla Walla onion plants and Yellow and White onion sets.
After this 82* day, we are expecting thunderstorms tonight and rain through the coming week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Yesterday, snow. Today, sunshine!

And that's how it goes where I live. 
 One day you're wearing your parka, 
and the next day you're thinking about a bikini!

Yesterday, 6-7" of wet snow over slushy slop.
Today, sunshine and 65*.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Let's think about arranging flowers....

...on this wet and snowy April day.

Charles Webster Hawthorne (American artist, 1872-1930) 
Arranging Daffodils

 Francis Luis Mora (American artist, 1874-1940).  
Flowers of the Field 1913

   Richard Edward or Emil Miller (American painter, 1875-1943)

Karl Albert Buehr (German-born American Painter, 1866-1952) 

 Frederick Frieseke (American artist, 1874-1939) Mahda 1921

Jean Frederic Bazille (French Impressionist Painter, 1841-1870) 
Woman Arranging Flowers

  Theo van Rysselberghe (Belgian artist, 1862-1926) 
 Girl Arranging Flowers

Theo van Rysselberghe (Belgian artist, 1862-1926) 
Woman arranging flowers

 Robert Brackman (American artist, 1898–1980) 
Persephone and Flowers

 James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British painter, 1962-1923) 
The Green Vase 1898

I hope you've enjoyed this Sunday respite from the snow. 

"I am following nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."  Claude Monet


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