Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back on the Ranch

We came home and found old #58 sick. Poor thing. To set the record straight, she was on the cull list last year and I, Queen Of The Ranch, gave her a reprieve. (My poor hubby doesn't have a chance to run a quality herd!) I didn't care that she was over 20 and toothless and short and dumpy. She was sweet and trusted me, and she still had calves, so she got one more year in paradise. But it wasn't to be. We tried to save her, but both her and her newborn calf did not make it.
Fall Colored Poison Oak
Now Mark and I both are covered in a poison oak rash. In our pursuit to give her a medical examination we had to climb through the poison oak that she chose to lay in. Hmmm. This is my first time having the itchy rash. My poor husband gets a dose every time he gets near the plant! My eyelid has a patch and my arm and my legs and Yeah, it is not much fun. But it is fine. It will heal.

Redneck Highway
Yesterday, while Mark was out doing a side job with our construction friend, I drove around inspecting the animals and trying to get all the water troughs back running. I discovered that many new calves have been born.
Eye to EyeI've Got You Covered
Milk Mustache
Butt Heads
Rescue Cow and Bonny Calf
"Yeah, I'm on a Year's Reprieve, so What?!"
We lost one laying hen while we were gone and one of the sheep has a sore leg or hoof. I haven't figured out what is wrong yet. All I know is that she limps slightly. And Macho, our littlest burro is limping too. I've given him the once over and I can't find anything cut or swollen or out of shape. It could be an abscess. Those are often the hidden culprit. Do sheep get hoof abscesses too?

First eggs.
It is so strange here on the north coast. I feel a cool, fall wind beginning to blow and my garden is finally bestowing her summer crops, but I don't even really care anymore. I am ready to put my fall garden in! That is how it goes sometimes, you wait and wait and then decide you never really wanted it. At least I am sometimes fickle like that.

Flame Grapes

I am kind of taking the whole weekend off, but next week I definitely have to go pick the tomatoes, pears and apples and do some canning. Every night our dogs have been busy keeping the bears away, but, I am afraid, they can't keep it up much longer. A few years ago a bear, or perhaps two bears, ate all of our fruit in one night. And we have over a dozen fall fruiting trees! We know the culprits were bears because they left their huge calling cards all over the place.

Tranquil Sunset
Sunset on Cow... now THAT'S romantic!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Children's Story: A New Home for Burrita

This story is dedicated to my young friends Brandon, Mikey, and Emma & Kai, Kenya, and Leaf. Both of their families are in new homes.
Burrita, the little brown burro, came to us from the wild. She was comfortable wandering in the wilderness across the rocks, through the woods and canyons. She was used to finding her own food and a safe place to rest. She accepted the responsibility of protecting herself from coyotes and mountain lions.

But the wild places were getting smaller and smaller and her meals and safe places to rest were getting harder for Burrita to find. Sometimes, she was hungry and sometimes she was cold. And sometimes she needed to use her sharp hooves and teeth to protect herself from wild animals who wanted to hurt her. She needed a new home and so she came to us.

Burrita, the little brown burro, was not a tame donkey. She was suspicious of houses, cars, bikes, people, dogs and fences. They scared her. We scared her. She was not a happy donkey. She shook with fear at the shadows in our barn. The sound of our barking dog had her peeking out from behind a tree. And the touch of our hand caused her to run away to the far corner of her pen.

Poor Burrita, she did not like her strange, new home. She did not like it one bit.

Many times during each day after Burrita came to our house, I would go down and sit very quietly inside her pen. Sometimes, she was brave enough to turn her head and gaze at me with her big,brown burro eyes. She was not sure what I was, or if I would hurt her.

Later, I began to sing her songs as I sat very still inside her pen. Soft, soothing songs of love and care. She began to turn her big, beautiful burro ears towards me to listen. Perhaps the songs reminded her of the wind blowing over the rocks and through the woods and canyons of her old home in the wild.

One day something wonderful happened. She walked right over to me. "Hello Burrita," I said, while I gazed lovingly into her big, brown burro eyes. Her beautiful, brown, burro ears tilted towards me and then she lowered her head slightly. I raised my hand slowly and I felt her warm breath upon my fingers. Carefully, slowly, I touched her on the nose. And she did not run away.

Soon, I no longer had to sit on the ground inside her pen. Her big, brown burro eyes would light up with delight when I came to visit. And her big, beautiful, brown, brown, burro ears tilted back in forth to the melody of my songs and sometimes she would join in with a loud and hearty "Heehaw, Heehaw"! She also came and stood right next to me so I could brush her shiny hair and scratch her in all the right places.

Burrita liked her new home now. The houses, cars, bikes, people, dogs and fences were no longer strange and scary to her. She liked to be touched and she liked to play with the barking dog and she happily entered into the shadowy barn to have a safe place to rest and a meal to eat. She felt at home.

Her new home was where she wanted to be!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

whisper of hope

I feel full of words now. Words of sadness seem to be spilling out like a river in flood. I shouldn't feel like I am walking in waist deep water. I shouldn't. It wasn't my son who died senselessly in one rash moment. But it could have been. And it could have been your son too. Or somebody's son. And it would still hurt and still be sad and still rock our world. It would. Death is hard and yet we will all experience it.

When someone lives their whole life, or at least a good part of it, and then dies, it hurts but we move on. Our memories hold us. When someone dies young, it is another story. It seems like there are more dreams yet to be lived than memories; disappointment, sadness, regret rock us to and fro. It is a stormy sea.

And yet, I know that HOPE still lives. I know it. I don't really feel it right now. I can't see it right now. But I hear it's whisper. I remember it's song. I hope that from the ashes of this tragedy my friends live in, this tragedy that we feel too, good will rise.

"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you..." -Jesus

Monday, August 25, 2008


Tragedy struck some close friends of ours and we flew home to be with them. It is good to be home, but frankly, we are wordless.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cody to the Rescue Again!

If you follow our blog then you might remember Cody, the young man who has been helping us out around the ranch. Well, he helped out big time recently. I was sitting at the computer typing away when a slightly alarmed Cody walked in and asked, " Um, is the deck supposed to be on fire?" Apparently, around here you just never know what might be considered normal.

We rushed outside and he put the fire out while I ran around looking for another hose, with my heart beating wildly in my head. (How does the heart get into our heads in emergencies by the way?)

This was a close call and it took some time to figure out how it started. And no, it wasn't from when I singed the chickens during the butchering process. It started because we had cleaned out the wood stove in our hot tub, (yes, it is a wood burning hot tub... cool, huh?) and had set one seemingly completely cool log on the deck. One little spark must have still been shining and with the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze it grew. A foolhardy mistake and if it wasn't for Cody we might have lost the deck, garage, house, barn, ranch, etc., etc. You never know. Thanks Cody for this save and all your help this summer. I hope to see you again next summer. And the same goes for my new best buddy Kris, his mom.

They have spent their summer with us on the ranch in our bunkhouse and we have loved having them here. Kris and I especially have had fun with our morning coffee hours in my kitchen, and thrift store shopping and having lunch out, as well as the countless hours spent talking. And did I mention that I have had a dish washing fairy all summer. Hmmm, wonder who that could have been? Friends are a true blessing and we are very thankful for having the opportunity to have had Kris and Cody in our daily lives. And now they are gone. School starts soon for Cody and while Kris was trying to permanently relocate here in northern California, it became obvious that God had other plans and they are now both back in Montana. And so are we. Road trip!

All the posts from this week had been previously done. I hope that we have a chance to do a post from the road soon. Otherwise we will catch back up with you in September when we return to the home range. Blessings to you- Tj and Mark

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The ranch has had it's first set of twin calves. They are little boys and, so far, mom is doing fine.
I saw my first fawn on May 15th, but I only recently was able to get a decent photo. Aren't they cute? They were a little alarmed though at Snow White (my car) and there was a few moments of confusion when I thought they might get stuck in the fence. But then they jumped it just fine. Just fine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The County Fair

The county fair finished yesterday and so we thought it appropriate to share a little of it with you.

We took our nephew and his family when they were visiting so the kiddos wanted to enjoy the rides. "I'll get you snoopy!"
Racing on the big slide.
I think she liked it, but where is her shoe?
I have to admit I usually spend some time at the race track during the fair,
but this year I found the merry go round just as fun.
Although I did get a little sick. That thing goes fast.
The games were also right on target.

While we didn't spend a lot of time in the exhibits the kids enjoyed the train diorama. It was set up historically for our area and the exhibit also had many old photos. I love old photos. The animals on exhibit were also a big hit.
This little goat gives kisses and check out the cool sweater on the headless goat. OK. I couldn't resist. I thought my ewes back home might like a pin up of this.

And a fair could not be complete without the carnies. WAIT... that's no carnie. That is my good friend Kris having fun at the county fair.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Our little stint with fame has had an interesting repercussion. Every morning we now recieve an inspirational message about vegetarianism in our email. Here is one for your enjoyment.

"Becoming vegan is not so much a decision made with our intellect as it is a natural consequence of inner ripening. While it’s certainly helpful to comprehend intellectually the vast mandala of negative consequences of eating animal foods, we find that we are propelled into veganism by our intuition. As our intuitive heart opens, it opens to understanding our connection with others and to including them within the sphere of our concern."

Of course, we could just unsubscribe from this online subscription. Buy hey, we kind of enjoy them and like gaining a deeper understanding of how others think.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The chickens are in the freezer, (sounds like code) job completed. Over 125 lbs. of free range, tasty chicken ready for cooking. We roasted one bird and 4 of us ate on it the first night. Second night the 2 of us had vegi sticks, chicken, cheese and crackers, the third night we served a chicken and garden vegetable marinara and the 4th night, Kris (our bunkhouse boarder) made us all chicken enchiladas. Ohh, and I made a soup for our lunches out of the chicken bones. Kris also fried up some of the chicken feet. Yummy. If you are a dog.

I feel good about raising, feeding, tending and then eating our own birds. I really notice that the more we eat what we raise ourselves the less we waste. When you have put all that effort into it and when you realize that something died for you to eat, you just are more careful. "Waste not, want not", my grandma would say. Who by the way was the one who taught me how to raise and process chickens back when I was a kid spending my summers with her and my grandpa. She also was the one who came out on a Saturday, shortly after I married, and built me a chicken house ( I only sort of helped, I am crummy at construction!).

Monday, August 11, 2008

July Photo Review

Tell us which photo is your favorite. You could also suggest a name for the photo, as we are all out of names!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Press Release

Recently a local newspaper reporter came out for a tour of our ranch. We talked and talked and showed her around and she took some photos. It was fun! This week the article came out in our local paper and a shortened version was in the Eureka paper on Friday. If you would like to read the cute and semi accurate article click here. Unfortunately, they didn't archive the photos, and that was half the fun.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Not for the Faint of Heart... Chicken Harvest!

It began June 2nd with little fluff balls under the desk lamp of our postmaster. They brought them home and began to feed them and feed them and feed them..... well, you'll see.
These are meat birds; developed and designed to eat, poop and eat some more. Sometimes they multi-tasked.Today, 10 weeks later, it was time to begin the harvest. Muahaah! (that was Mark, not Tj)"Hi, HO, hi ho, it's off to pluck I go"
As the Queen of Hearts would say, "Off with their heads".
Just hangin around drip drying.In the kitchen boiling water awaits. "Bubbble , Bubble, Toil and Trouble".Taking a dip in the hot tub, chicken style.
Let the plucking begin.When plucking is finished it appears that this is what happens when chickens go bungee jumping.
Synchronized bungee jumping. Without their feathers they looked a bit cold. Actually, the singeing helps remove the small feathers that didn't come out during plucking. Be careful with fire. There was something stuck that had to come out.
The previously scheduled photos of what she pulled out have been changed to protect your appetite. Ta da!
This post was photographed and written by Kris who is visiting for the summer.

Epilogue: The chicken was good eatin. Which is a good thing, because they have many more to harvest, freeze and eat.