Sunday, January 4, 2015

Week 52

The road ahead and the road behind stretch in a line; one direction a dream and the other a memory.  Right NOW is where we try to live, one step at a time. 

It's been a good year.  I haven't enjoyed doing the weekly blog posts because it took what was a fun, creative pursuit to a diary style chore.  Won't do that again, but I will keep posting now and again about our life on the land.  It's a good life, full of beauty and truth and authentic living as well as quite a few piles of poop.    We are very grateful for all of it and we thank our faithful for following along.   Bertha and Dan and Bill and Juanita, thank you for your feedback.  We thank our neighbors too who come up to us and are appreciative to have a connection to the ranch across the creek. 

The hogs are huge and expecting to farrow in April.  The cattle are happy chewing their cuds on our sunny, green, prairies this week.  One of our kitties found a new home and the horses are enjoying living large and running free.  Acres spread out around us for exploring.   Life is Good. 

We wish you enough.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
 copied from enlightened consciousness

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 51

Christmas!     Our immediate family gets together for Thanksgiving, so for Christmas they all spend it with their in-laws.  Usually we go to Mark's family for Christmas Eve, but this year other plans within his family were made and we were left without any plans. My sister called and insisted we spend Christmas with her and her family.  Last year was our first Christmas without our parents and it was hard on both of us.  Sharing it together this year was new and fun.  It wasn't the same as before and that was good.  Growing up my sis and I didn't really have much in common and as the baby in the family, I was considered the interloper, or 'the golden child' as she now lovingly calls me.    Then, it wasn't so lovingly.  Ha-ha.    I was always jealous of her beauty and brains and she was jealous of my charm.  I guess.    Now, we get along well and are surprisingly alike in speech and mannerisms.  It makes her grand daughters' laugh.  They think it is funny to have a grandma clone.  We really don't look much alike though, we just act a bit alike.   

Here we are trying out her granddaughters' new skates, in the house.    It's a good thing we didn't break a hip.  Good times.

I must have been a good girl because Santa gifted  me a new camera.  He must know me well because he got me a nice point and shoot.  I've been debating on getting a DSLR, but I probably wouldn't carry it around much, and I'm so used to wearing my little Canon on my hip.  Santa, I mean Mark, says I look like a photography gun fighter.  Here I shot  a calf.  Click, Click.  This camera can really zoom as I was standing very far away. 
I like this camera.   Here I shot our little dog Shadow.

Carnivorous cows were chasing us down this morning.  Gotta shoot them. 

Of course, they aren't really carnivorous cows, but we had one young visitor ask us if they were when they surrounded our vehicle, and the alliteration and imagery just stuck.  Now they are lovingly known as carnivorous cows when they swarm and swarm they did today. 

I'm really loving my new camera.  As you can tell.  It is a Canon Power Shot SX700HS.  I really look forward  to reading the camera's manual and learning  all the things it can do.  I'm so excited and grateful to have it.  My old Canon Elph just wasn't taking good shots anymore.  Poor dear will have to be retired.  But not this fella.  He still looks in pretty good shape to me. 
I  secretly shot these photos of Mark.  I wonder how long before he asks me to remove them.  Ha-ha.  Here's another.
The power of zoom, zoom, zoom. He was actually watching Eric load a muzzle loader pistol.   I'm really looking forward to capturing moments in 2015.  Thank you Santa Mark. 
We hope your Christmas was merry and bright and filled with love, beauty and peace.  God bless you and may you bless Him too. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Week 50

One of our favorite holiday treats is English Toffee.  Every year we make numerous batches to give out to family and friends.  It's pretty good, if we do say so ourselves and as your special treat from us we are going to share our not so secret recipe. 

English Toffee:

1 pound of butter
2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
12 ounce bag of milk or dark chocolate chips (or some of both)
1 cup diced almonds
Large skillet
Wooden spoon
Cookie sheet

Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat, stir with wooden spoon.
We use this enormous cast iron skillet we found in the basement, but we have tried a regular skillet and it works too, just not as well. 

Add the 2 cups sugar continuing to stir until the mixture is blonde.  
When the sugar and butter combine it turns to a thick foam.   Keep stirring until it gets slightly golden blond.
this is the blond color and with just added nuts

Add the 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds and continue to stir until it is toffee colored and you see some little puffs of smoke that escape all at once. 
In candy making terms this is the hard crack stage. 

sometimes there is a bit of oil separation and that is okay


Pour onto cookie sheet and it will spread out, so a little work with the spoon helps it go in the correct direction.

Let it set for a couple moments to cool down slightly and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and after a moment you will be able to spread the chocolate smooth.  Voila'

Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.

Let cool and break into pieces. 
If we are in a hurry, we pop the cookie sheet with the candy into the freezer for a bit. 


Merry Christmas!

Week 49

Last week was time to release the bulls.....

Sounds a bit like the running of the bulls in Spain, but alas, it is a much tamer event.  At least we think so. We did have some cows running for cover in the trees with a look of terror in their eyes, but regardless it was time.    Releasing the bulls now will have our first calves born mid-September.  We only have 2 bulls this year and instead of just opening the bull pen gate, we like to place them in their respective areas.  Since Lee,  knows us and knows the allure of a bucket of grain shaken (not stirred) he would get a trip in the trailer to the front of the ranch, while the new guy, Justin,  would get the back.. 

The bull pen's muddy and they,  the bulls, hang out by the manger, so to load Lee properly from the chute would require him (and us) to wade across all this mud.  It's been raining a tad bit. 

We didn't think he would like that, and we like a happy bull, mustn't have a mad one, so we tried something different.  Mark backed up to the gate by the manger,  Slipping and sliding towards me, I might add.  I am his chief backer upper assistant with my snazzy hand motions and occasionally squeals of STOP!  As was this case.
Lee stood by the manger watching all the commotion with a puzzled look on his face.  We opened the gate and got our trap all ready.  Next came the bucket of grain and sweet words of encouragement to the 2000 pound confused animal.  Dumping a bit in the back of the trailer, we put the rest way in the front where we wanted him to go.  If this was Mr. Johnson,  the gentle giant from last year, he would be loaded before I could get out the little front/escape door.  Not Lee.  He's only been with us one season.   He came to the back of the trailer, ate the bit of grain there, then stepped in and then promptly stepped out.  Nope.  Not getting in that trailer.  We waited, sort of patiently,  while Lee got his courage back. 

Then just like that he loaded up and walked to the front of the trailer like a champ.  Door closes and he looks okay with it.  Maybe he will be my next gentle giant. 
He sure liked the next part. Oh yea.  They smell good. 
Now to get Justin in the trailer would require a chute as he doesn't know our ways yet.  So, since the cows do know us, we brought them to him.  These few got in front of our truck in their zest to go the barn and get a hand out of hay. 
We opened the bull pen gate and, um, well, you can't tell from this photo, but Justin got a bit too excited and this is when some of the cows ran for cover leaving a few calves around wondering what just happened.  

This week they have all calmed down a bit and the new guy, Justin, seems to have been wooing the ladies a bit more appropriately as he always  seems to have groupies with him now.  Lee, in the front of the ranch, has always been popular with ladies.  He has his moooves down.