Sunday, November 30, 2008

Photo Review of November

We were going to try hard to get some really good snapshots this month, and the ones that follow are nice, but they certainly miss the mark on the beauty that surrounded us this past month.

This will be our last installment in our 'pick your favorite photo each month' contest. We have the calendar all ready to go, we just need to find out which one of these photos is your favorite. Also, if you would like a calendar please email us with an address to send your calendar to. ( Thanks. Tj and Mark


5. (this photo is by April)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Dirty Shirt Classic

Since at least the year 2000, we have had our own little ranch 'fun' run/walk the day after Thanksgiving. It is actually a grueling 4 plus mile loop, with an elevation change of 1000 feet. These days it seems as if most of us walk it, with occasional periods of jogging. Except one exceptionally fit couple...Dylan and Cheri. Dylan holds the all time record of 36 minutes. They were also the only "competitors" to run the whole course this year. This year most of us did it in under 2 hours including the ride in the sag wagon to take us up the steepest hill. That counts, right?

This race began one muddy fall day when Dylan and Zac decided to see how long it would take them to run Mark's little walking/jogging loop. Somewhere along the way Dylan took off his shirt and threw it down ( the gauntlet perhaps?), when our oldest son Zac saw Dylan's shirt he stomped it into the mud and continued on his way. Hence the name, The Dirty Shirt Classic. For many years there was quite the heated contest between the males in our household, with months of training prior to the event, but whenever anyone came to close to beating Dylan he would improve his time also... so now the pressure is off and perhaps it really can now be called a 'fun' run/walk.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Tales

The natives provided the meat...
All of the pilgrims contributed the rest!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

A friend sent us this quote and we thought it worthy of further thought:

Give thanks for a little and you will have a lot.
-Hausa Proverb (Nigeria)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Releasing the Bulls

"hey, you're cute."

Tomorrow being Thanksgiving, we thought we would release the bulls and give the cows something to be thankful for. We have 3 distinct herds on the ranch, so we try to place 1 bull to each herd, which means loading and hauling the bulls.The bulls have been in an exclusive men's club for over a month and they resisted the move. Max managed to jump over a 6 foot section of the corral and crush a smaller 5 foot gate to avoid the trailer to the girls. He got hauled last. It only took 1 man to load Clay, our old veteran. He allowed himself to be escorted to the trailer and then calmly looked behind himself to make sure the trailer door was properly fastened. He knew that today was his special day! He's done this before. Jerry was the next to be loaded and he was coaxed inside with some alfalfa, after he sent someone over the fence. Naughty boy! It took 2 men to load him and when he was released he ignored the cows and headed straight for the hay. Rookie mistake. Max, turns out to be the most timid and athletic of all the bulls. It took 3 men to load him and it took minutes for him to give up on his efforts to push his head through the wall of the trailer after he was locked inside. When he was released into his chosen herd he ignored both the hay and the feminine attractions and raced over the hill with a single line of available females bellowing after him. Soon the cows tired of the chase and returned to the hay and so did he. They swarmed around him like bees to honey. We are happy to report that all 3 sires were enjoying the romance of this evening's sunset. One of the bulls may have even had a wild rose in his teeth. Fortunately our athletic and perhaps wild young males are paired with our geriatric females so the old gals will get one more salsa and tango experience and their calves should have a little more zip. We hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shoes Off

I have to say it is good having a son who is so handy. Here he is pulling off Tono's shoes and giving him a trim. We used to have to hire our farrier to trim and shoe, but Eric, being the Bold, saw an opportunity and asked the farrier to teach him. For about a year now Eric has been helping trim and shoe all of our horses and he has also helped our farrier with a few of his clients that live nearby. I told our farrier he was working himself out of a job, but he said was happy to teach Eric. He even drove Eric 5 hours south to help him pick out all of the tools he needs. What a guy! He has now given Eric the ok to do all of our horses except Buddy. Buddy still needs special shoeing until we get the quarter crack grown out. Buddy is growing a lot of good hoof and has over an inch of crack free growth now. It looks like I can begin riding him again by spring. Yippee! I miss riding that stubborn, clumsy, funny, smiling, wild horse.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Leave it to Dan

Isn't that for inner city underpasses, railroad cars and bathroom walls? I'm going to give Dan the benefit of the doubt and consider this tagging to be like my childhood game of tag. Like passing the baton. Or the microphone during group introductions. Whatever.
Six random things about myself. Nearly everything about me is random. Let's see...
1. I'm second oldest in a family of four children. My sister Laura was the oldest, and the only girl. We grew up on our parent's farm in central calif. which adjoined the land my father's parents farmed, and the land my paternal great-grandparents farmed, all of which was later combined into one farm. That makes me a fourth-generation farmer on the same land.

2. My dad was in the airforce from 1956 until 1960, when he started our family farm. I was born in 1959, so I guess I'm an airforce brat, but I only remember living on the farm. I recall the farm being very busy. All of the pick-ups, and mom's car, and the shop, and our house, and the house of dad's partner and friend Jerry Askew, were connected by business-band radios. Nearly all of the machinery repairs were made by us in our shop, so most of mom's shopping trips were combination part runs and family outings.

3. Working on the farm was our play, along with hunting in the slough near our house, and the work (even at one dollar per hour) paid for us kids to buy our own dirtbikes and by highschool, most of our own clothes. It was also great fun and exciting to do "men's" work as a boy. Dad kept some equipment that was outdated and small just so we kids would have something to contribute.

4. When I was about 10 years old, my dad and Jerry started going to a secret, deer-hunting place called "the ranch". They would plan their pre cotton-harvest fall trip with great anticipation and nearly always the departure time would creep backward from the early morning, to midnight, to "might as well just go, we won't sleep anyway" after dinner the evening before. Then they bought the place.

5. When I was 18 and visiting the ranch during deer season, my parent's friends brought their daughter, Tammie to the ranch. She stole my heart, and I have recently decided that I will just leave it with her.

6. Tammie and I have three adult children, two boys with a girl in the middle. We raised our family while living on the farm. While Sarah was in high school, I began commuting regularly to the ranch. After she graduated and moved away to college, there was a fire on the ranch and Tammie, Eric, and I moved to the ranch full-time.

It's funny how random pieces of the truth can distort the real meat of a life. My family, the respect of my community, my relationship to God, my fulfillment in "important" work, this seems a better definition of mine. mark

Pitter Patter of Little Feet

We have a special visitor in our house that we are enjoying. His mama is having her first week long get away with a girlfriend so his daddy decided it was a good time to come to the ranch and cut some wood. Ritter is 20 months old and while he isn't officially our grandchild, he sort of calls us 'granmo'! He seems to like granmo and granmo, but he especially liked Anna when she came for her visit. I think he was impressed with her muscles. Unfortunately the little guy is now running a fever and his feet have slowed way down and so have I. Taking care of Ritter has brought back many memories of raising my own brood; some good, some not so good. Of course, I wish I had the patience then, that I have now. I wish I had taken more time to smell the proverbial flowers. It seems like I was often in too much of a hurry with important tasks. But what could be more important than a leisurely, slow stroll to the barn with little fingers grasped loosely in my hand. The cows all seem to understand as they look at me with a sisterly gaze, and fall into step behind us.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We've been book tagged?!

Pony Girl, who has a very fun horsey blog, tagged us and we are supposed to:

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one, pick the closest.
Tag five people to do the same.

I've never been any good at following rules and I don't usually play these games, but as Pony Girl put it, "seeing as the holidays are nearly upon us and books always make good gifts...." I will share something. These are the three nearest books.I've read and enjoyed 2 of the books, but "The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur", is Mark's and he says it is very good, so let's see....

"The women started screaming to their children Let's go let's go and everything in the village began to move in a swirl of dust and noise. The animals were wild-eyed with fear, and the donkeys screamed and brayed. I did not see where the bullets were going, but little songbirds flew down from the trees, confused and worried. They perched on my shoulders and then hid in the folds of my robes and shawl. But then I saw they were falling dead from me, their hearts broken by the noise."

Whoa. Pretty heavy stuff. I am not sure if my heart can handle anymore of this book right now.

I am not going to tag anyone, but if anyone feels so inclined-you're it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Name that Cow!

The following cow's name is Rae Rae and she is very loud and very pregnant. Anna, my once a week helper, took a phone picture of her to send to her friends because she says that they call each other big, fat, pregnant cows and she didn't think they really had a clear mental image of it! Yep, this cow should clear up all misunderstandings. All of us who have had children probably can remember what it felt like to waddle around in those last days. I have sympathy for this cow and she knows it. She follows me around begging for a handout. I tell you, I am creating welfare cases out of some of our cows.
Any guesses as to what this cows name might be?
(no guessing if you already know)

Monday, November 17, 2008

This Old Barn

I can still remember the first time I walked into this barn. It was a late summer morning and I was 15. As I stepped through the small wooden door I felt transported to another place and time. I imagined the peoples and animals who had once worked and lived there. My head filled with the bleats of lambs and bellow of a lonely cow. I noticed the loft, and envisioned it filled with rowdy sheep shearing men. My hands touched the wooden pens so smooth and glassy from the years of hands coated in lanolin. Then I moved on to the raised wooden floored area that was once 3 tie stalls for horses, with a raised loft with openings for ease of feeding. It was a magical and sacred time in my mind. The dust motes flew like little angels of light and I paused in my teenage angst and contemplated what once was and what might be. Mark says I married him for the barn!

Today I have more dreams of 'what might be', while trying to hold onto some of 'what was' as well. Mark and Eric have fall and winter plans of continuing with their barn renovation that was begun last spring. During the last week Mark has jacked up a post most evenings and then poured a new pier. There is a discussion of a new tack room and a 12' by 16' stall. Time will tell which direction this old barn takes. We'll will keep you posted.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cow Goat

Yesterday Flower the goat was up early and out checking the herds when she discovered that #51, a classic red Hereford, was limping badly on her right hind. Being the earnest and kind goat that she is, she took her time bringing her in; no mad rushing and nipping and barking that those other animals do. Good little Cow Goat that she is she just occasionally lets out a quiet 'maaa' and shakes her floppy ears. After bringing her into the corrals, #51, (who we call 51/50 even though she is anything but crazy) is carefully escorted into the cattle lane and then into the chute. Flower has a bit of a difficulty handling such equipment, so she lets Mark help catch the cow's head and close the rear door.
51/50 appears to questioning Flower's intentions in this photo.A rope was carefully placed around 51/50's leg and then gently pulled back so as to inspect it for any problems. All fine. So then her hip, and leg were felt. Again, no indication of the cause of her injury. So 51/50 will get to spend a few days at the barn hotel with daily maid and food service. Of course, Flower will keep her company as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Pig Hunt

We have lots of pigs. Too many pigs. Pigs that need to be shot because they are rutting around in all the fresh grass and making it inedible for all of my old toothless cows. And they muddy up the creeks. Also, a month or so ago the acorns began falling, so now all those pigs should be getting fat and tasty. Their time is up.

Three men arrived early to get some pigs on Tuesday and I am sure there is a story to tell... only thing is ... no one is talking. Saw the wife of one. She says her counter now has some holes in it due to some kind of accident prior to the hunt. My husband says two pigs were killed and cleaned and that Eric the Bold was a good guide. Eric says the two pigs were gut shot and he had to dive off the hillside and slit their throats and there was mention that it was a close fight. Yeah. Two clean, tasty looking carcasses were loaded in the car when they left. Other than that no one is talking and there are no photos to tell the tale.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


“Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world around me;
And with tomorrow begins another.

Why am I allowed two?”
~G.K. Chesterton

We have been a little under the weather here at the ranch. Rain, fog, and mists swirl around these hills and our hearts as my body has been physically fighting off an illness. It has been good that the body has followed the emotional into a time of rest because it has been difficult processing the recent deaths of two young men from families that we are close to. Brent in August and now Josh. And then to really think about all the loss that happens day to day in the world. Many different worldviews try to explain suffering and death and, of course, as Christians we have our view as well; death comes from the Fall/eternal hope comes from Christ. And this is good, and this is enough, but it is still hard.

For those of you who were a little freaked out by the thought that a sinus infection could become meningitis, I would like to reassure you, but I can't really, for while it is uncommon, it is not unheard of. To get more information on meningitis you can go this site. It is good to be informed, but what I take from this experience is a fuller understanding of the fine line between life and death that we all balance precariously on. Eric The Bold has been fond of saying recently, "well, you do know, don't you, that 10 out of 10 of us will die?" At first I thought, 'how unthoughtful to say such at this time', and yet... and yet, he is right. We all die. Most of us hope for more tomorrows, but ultimately all we have is today. So may I encourage you to live your today in such a way as to have no regrets. God bless.

"I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. ...[But] life's made up of more than that one moment. Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small...This pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience...You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.You are more than dust and bones.You are spirit and power and image of God. And you have been given Today."~Shauna Niequist (edited by Ann at Holy Experience)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Swiss Chard

A few weeks ago I mentioned the joys of growing greens. There is nothing to it and they are tasty and good for you. In the above photo I chopped up 4 to 6 cups of rainbow swiss chard, sliced 1 onion, minced 3 cloves of garlic , added 1/4 cup chopped raw almonds, and sauteed the whole thing in a few tablespoons of some olive oil. After it was almost done sauteing, (very fun word) in about 5 minutes, I sprinkled on a pinch of raw sugar to make a nice glaze. Of course, the quality of the olive oil is really what makes all the difference. We barter for Arbequina California Ranch Olive Oil at Riverbend Cellars, a small winery down the hill. They are also kind enough to accept our firewood cut to fit their brick oven for some of their other fine signature products! Which went quite nicely, I might add, with the grilled steak, baked potato and toasted cheese bread we had as well! Are you salivating yet? Ah, the comfort of good food. Bon Apetite!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

October Photo Review

Pin up choices for the October page of our soon to be released Ranch Calendar. Choose wisely. Everyone who participated at least once this year in our little photo fun will receive a free calendar in December. (We will pick a secret, surprise photo for the last month).

If you are new to our blog, here is the spiel. Pick your favorite photo from the images below and give it a name as well. The photo with the most popularity wins. Lucky photo.






Friday, November 7, 2008

Rising Hopes

Regardless of your political views, an historical event has taken place in America and we would feel remiss if we did not chronicle this somehow on our blog.

Barack Obama has been elected our 44th president and he has brought hope to millions and millions of Americans. Hope is good. Hope to some because of race and hope to others because he had no obvious connections to wealth or power, being born of humble means. Hope because throughout his campaign he maintained connections to his small donators and grass roots organizations which, whether you like him or not, activated the citizenry who are the true strength of our country.

Our citizenry is a blend of left, right and middle. It is important that we keep talking and listening and working together. In baking, if the portion of any ingredient is too large or too small the whole product can be a flop, but blended together in the correct proportions the end result can be miraculously transformed beyond any single ingredient. As in baking, heat is necessary, so as watchful citizens we need to provide that heat by keeping the politician's feet to the fire. One way we personally keep their feet to the fire is through prayer. We believe God is sovereign and calls us to pray for our leaders.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tragic News

Josh was declared brain dead. His family is saying their goodbyes. Words are meaningless. But hope sprouts eternal.

Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as we give and take from day to day,
Come in the walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.

Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of our soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.

But in the day of conflict, fear, and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Plows up the subsoil of our stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.

Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, and times of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field,
And our soul feels it has not wept in vain.

-taken from today's reading in "Streams in the Desert"

The Shadow

We stood huddled around his bedside and recited some of the words of Psalm 23. Tears, hope, grief all mingled amongst the sobs of his brothers, sisters, parents and friends. Prayers lifted added a sweet smell to the antiseptic odor of the hospital emergency room. Life and death hung in the balance and we all waited. And are still waiting.

Josh is 18 and is the brother of Anna and Abbie. (If you are a regular to our blog, you might remember them.) He was airlifted to San Fransisco last night. There they have the equipment to properly diagnose and help him. We hope. The local doctors think that the ear/sinus infection he has been struggling with lately has infected his brain. This caused him to stop breathing and for his life to hang in the balance.

We had the girls yesterday and we were called to bring them to the hospital, so they could see their brother. Their dad is our pastor and their mom, my friend, and the afternoon of waiting for the airlift was one of the hardest I have experienced, and I can only begin to imagine what his family is feeling. Pray for Josh and his family and friends, if you are so led. Thanks.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Week...

Where did the week go. It seemed to just float by. We, as always, did many tasks. I stored green apples in the basement. I seemed to remember my grandma wrapping each apple in paper and then placing them in a dark place, so that is what I did. I am curious if this will actually prolong their shelf life. Does anyone know? We still are getting plenty of lettuce, tomatoes, and green beans. I picked a mess of them. Does anyone know what a 'mess of beans' actually is? It is an old saying in my family and yet I have no idea what it means. I do know though, that there is nothing finer than going out to the garden and picking food fresh for the table. I encourage everyone to grow greens especially. Loose leaf lettuces, kale, swiss chard, and spinach are very easy to grow and so very tasty and good for you. If you plant them every 30 days or so, you can keep them coming well into winter. At least in this climate you can.

We also had some good friends, Randy and Melody, come out to go riding. She loves to ride and so her husband surprised her with a visit to the ranch for her birthday. It was a special day enjoying the scenery, friendship and the horses. We decided Sweet Willie must have some Labrador retriever in him because every time we crossed water he took his sweet time splashing and playing. I know the photo is a bit blurry, but it was a time of action! Do you see Flower, the goat, on the rock. She came on the 2 hour ride just to taunt the horses, I think. They are't too fond of her. Perhaps Willie was hoping to drown her.

Then, of course, we had to do something about my new geriatric cows. We really needed to take a closer look to see what I purchased as well as to vaccinate, de-worm and brand them before turning them out with our herd. Overall they were sweet. A couple of them were a little 'high headed' and I think they will probably be taking a trip back to the auction yard in the spring, and one old cow had no teeth and no number on her hip indicating how far along in her pregnancy she is. So I think that means she ain't pregnant. Check out this cow's hip and all of her brands. The last one is ours. She even had them on the other hip too, maybe she is just into tats. But I think that is wishful thinking. All of these brands seem to indicate that she has been passed along a time too many. And that can't be good. Ahhh. Me and my impulses!

Lately, Mark has been busy learning how to drive the school district's buses. He will soon finish his training and then be hired as a substitute driver. Everyone says he is crazy to take on such a task, but I think he'll like it. And he does have a lot of experience driving these roads due to all the firewood he has been delivering the last few years. Just this week alone he delivered 18 cords in 3 days! Our oldest son, Zac, is visiting us again and when he is here there is always a little good old fashioned competition between him his brother Eric. Those young men sure know how to work! They must have gotten it from their dad.

Today, it is raining. Rain is good.