Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Viewshed

Ok, if this blog wasn't pointless before, it is officially pointless now. But, hey, I'm bored and everyone else is busy actually doing stuff. Jo has been riding the mule, who is doing much better. Eric is back cutting firewood now that the hunters are gone. Mark sold our camper today and is now out delivering his daily quota of firewood and here I lay. Check out my view.

I am really weird because I am posting a photo of my swollen and bruised foot that I jammed or stubbed or did something to just as I was starting to come out of the illness that had me in its clutches for 4 days. I am getting rested and well read and writing pointless posts. I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ranch News

I am still sick. It is a very strange bug that involves a lot of fever and sweating and nausea. The only thing good about it my weight on the scales. Sickness always seems like such a waste of time, but I moved to the guest room today and it has a lovely view of trees and the horses sometimes come into my view as well. I can't walk far, due to dizziness, so I haven't been able to feed or pet our animals. Except Kate, she bounds into the house and up onto my bed. She doesn't normally do that. I let her because it makes me feel better. She lays beside me and smells my breath and then licks my nose. I am sure she knows I am not well. I will give it a couple more days to run its course, but if I am still sick on Friday I will go to a doctor. Enough.

Eric the Bold has had re-curve bow hunters from Michigan on the ranch. Unfortunately the weather has been very warm during the day and a full moon at night, so the deer have not been making much of an appearance. One hunter did take a shot, but missed. A re-curve bow demands that you have a very close shot and a very steady hand. This afternoon is their last hunt before they go home. I know they will be disappointed if they don't get their bucks, but sometimes hunting is like that. It is the process and not just the final trophy that is important. These hunters have been very responsible, waiting for the right shot on the right buck. I salute them.

The ranch butcher came out today and did the last 3 steers that locals have purchased to put in their freezer. He said that it was the best carcasses he had seen in a very long time. It is so difficult to tell from the outside how well marbled the animal will be. The first 3 we butchered a month ago were very fat to look at and while they had some marbling they could have had more, according to Bob. But we could not tell from looking on the outside! They were the 3 most beautiful steers we had and these last 3 while fat, looked a little dumpy. They never would have sold well in an auction. Go figure. Anyway, we hope everyone is happy with their meat. We did our best and leave the rest to nature and good cooking.

Mark has been trying to deliver one load of firewood 4 days a week. For a while he would attempt 2 or 3 loads a day, but it is just too much driving and too much time away from home. We have lots of orders to fill and thankfully quite a bit of time before the fall rains begin. Yikes! Fall rains, I have only just begun to enjoy the summer. Weird weather year here on the north coast of California.

We revisited our youth last Sunday evening. Dancing the night away at a wedding reception of the daughter of some dear friends. They threw a great party and I think the photo booth was a hit with all the ages. The accessories they provided added to the fun. I am drenched in sweat again, so I gotta go change and lay down. So strange.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Afternoon Delight

I am under the weather right now with a nasty flu bug.... AGAIN. (When will it ever end!?) But I am dreaming of visiting this special place as soon as I am able.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Riley O'Red

Riley has entered into more serious training. Jo, our daughter in law has agreed to take her and work with her for the rest of the summer. In exchange for Riley's training, Mark is giving her Sequoyah, the sweetest, cutest yearling on the face of the planet who recently skewered himself on a t-post, but is healing up fine. Thank God.

First day Johanna ponied Riley the 4 more miles to their place and Riley almost had her in tears and had Jo's mount Rosa (Formerly known as Hersha) upset as well. It is a good thing that Rosa is a shire/quarter horse cross as she needed all that bulk to tow the mule up the hill. At times Jo said Riley had her feet planted and her butt down. The thing is that Ms. Riley doesn't like Ms. Rosa. Strong personality conflict. I have always ponied Riley off of one of her buddies, in her mind she is just following friends so she goes happily along. Which is why she needs more training. She is a bit spoiled. Just a bit. Super sweet, super stubborn, but that goes with the territory when you are a winking mule!

I will keep you updated on her progress and hopefully the next photos will show her slimmer and under saddle with rider.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Farmers Market 2010

Here is our little farmers market stand with our farmers market leader talking on the phone with our local radio station. They wanted to know what my cows were doing and I said, "chewing their cud". I wonder if that went on air!
This year we added potatoes to our booth. We have Red, White and Blue potatoes. Patriotic spuds. I planted a whole lot of tators, but we ended up sharing with the gophers. I hope they pay.....big time.
So we officially had 'meat and potatoes' kind of booth. Someone suggested I grow horseradish next year to stay with the theme. I'm thinkin on it.
Today I had some lovely french lavender to sell as well. It was a real hit with the customers and the bees.

I am enjoying myself this year and find that I learn a lot from all of the wonderful visitors to the market. Every one has been super sweet and upbeat. Today I made a few trades. I traded a sirloin steak for a butterfly bush and some ground beef for a cheese and vegi calazone and some Portuguese sweet bread. In the past we have also traded for goat cheese. I love anything made from goats; milk, cheese, or meat.

If you live around these parts you should check out the Garberville Market on Fridays between 11 and 3. There are some new vendors this year as well as live music. Hope to see you there. Mention this post and I'll give you a flower!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I think I am going to cry....

Mark and I have been going back and forth for quite some time now. Back and forth on what equines we need to find new homes for, aka sell. Today, I think, we came to a conclusive decision and we made the choice strictly based on their gender. Before we would try to base our decision on their temperaments or abilities. Somehow choosing gender made it easier, although more sexist.

So.... drum roll please....

Stormy and Molly are hopefully going to find new homes soon. It is not easy as these two are our favorites and they are the best bred and built horses we have, but they are girls and it has been decided the girls, with their monthly dramas, have gotta go. I hope and pray that we can find good homes for them as they deserve it.

So, if you want a super sweet mare (Molly), or a well trained, do everything mare (Stormy), drop us a line.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Guess What?

We are going to be grandparents!!!! Baby is due in early March. Congratulations to Sarah and Donnie and US!

Ode to the Buckeye Flower

Magnificent candle flowers
Smells tropical sweet
Hanging on the night air
Outside my window
Lulling me to sleep.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cody to the Rescue: Part 2

Perhaps you remember Cody from a couple summers ago. He is the young man who single handedly saved the deck, hot tub, house and might I suggest the whole ranch from the peril of another fire. If you don't remember the story click here.

Well, he has been back on the ranch for the last month doing all sorts of varied and sundry jobs. As it was such a busy month for us with celebrations and travel and cattle gathering and firewood sales and more travel and chicken slaughter, I never got a chance to do a post about Cody. So here it is!

Thanks Cody for putting up with two old farts for a whole month and for slaying thistles and stacking wood, and gathering cattle and moving tables and painting gates and serenading us with your electric guitar! But he didn't harvest any chickens. No, on chicken D-Day I found him sound asleep with ear buds in. Hmmm, mighty peculiar I say.

On Cody's last day in California we took him down to the city. San Francisco is great fun and we all enjoyed ourselves. The following photos are from our day at the city on the bay.
Stop on the north side of Golden Gate Bridge.

And then we walked across. Cody had to think about this.

Back in the car and into the city to drive the crookedest street -Lombard Street.

Then on to a bay tour.

Under the Golden Gate and

around Alcatraz island and

back into the city harbor.

A stop for me to goof around with the gold man and

for Cody to meet the Silver Man.

We then watched a brother, brother, sister team from London perform some circus stunts and entertain us with their wacky humor.

Time to eat. Cody is a rock fan and a good guitarist so we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe. Cody enjoyed seeing the memorabilia there and his burger although he was a bit disappointed that the music videos were mostly pop stars, not Rock Stars. Apparently there is a difference.

The aquarium was our last stop and while it isn't the biggest one I have visiting it was very nice and user friendly. I might add that the guitar fish in the touch pool came up to both Cody and I. The naturalist said it meant we had good hearts. I am not sure what that means for Mark!

Once again Cody, thanks for your help and your company. Hope Montana welcomed you with open arms and we hope to see you again. Love ya.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I did autopsies and I can't gut a chicken!?

This morning I went on Facebook and saw that my daughter in law, Jo, had posted that she was excited to be butchering chickens today. That made one of us.

I have been plucking along with my chicken harvest this year. Pun intended. My back is still not up to snuff so about 2 birds a day has been my limit. Unfortunately, the feed store attendant was generous and we ended up with more birds than accounted for. I think. There was so many that I never could get a good count. Definitely over 3o. Today at week 9 of their growth I had whittled it down to 17. They couldn't wait any longer because they would be too tough or die of a heart attack. So I called in the troops for a day of harvesting.

I loaded all the birds in the back of the Kubota and parked them near the house under a shade tree. They were content. Meat birds aren't very smart or very athletic so no escapees.Eric and Jo arrived early and we got started. Eric, being a hunter is very good at dressing out game and I was thankful for his help.

Here is Jo after she had attempted to gut a bird. She was a little queasy. A little disgusted... at herself. She looked at me and said, " I can do autopsies, but I can't gut a chicken?!" For you see, before lovely Jo married Eric the Bold, one of her jobs was as an assistant to the coroner and she loved it. But here she sat pale after one little bird. Poor thing. So she decided to do an autopsy of a chicken.
Here is the heart. She said this bird had a lot of some kind of fancy named fat that I can't remember the name of, but apparently it is not good in a person. But in a chicken it will probably mean it will be tastier.
These are the lungs... sort of. The lungs are hard to get out without tearing them up.
The liver and the gallbladder, we think. I looked up chicken innards on line and all I got was how to cook them, I could never find out for sure what this little green organ was.
The large intestine. It was kind of pretty all laid out like this.
Part of the small intestine.
and we think this was the colon. It was in the right spot.
This is unique to fowl, it is a gizzard. The gizzards chew their food, because as you probably know chickens don't have teeth. It is a very hard organ. First time I saw one, years ago, I thought it was a tumor.
Here it is cut open. A very pretty yellow and it was very, very rough inside. It felt like sandpaper.
After about half the birds had gotten done, Jo decided it was time to cook one. So she took a freshly laundered bird and
rubbed it down with olive oil,
sprinkled on some of Rick's Rub and
and showed us how pretty it now looked.
She then carried it outside and stuck it's bottom over an opened beer can. 'Beer Butt Bird' she called it. We Lit the barbie at let it cook until the breast meat registered a 165 on the meat thermometer. It seemed to take a few hours, but it could have been shorter as I was a bit tired of cleaning birds at this point.

All done. It sure looked A.O.K. And it was.
My goal for the day was to get all the meat chickens butchered and still have time for a swim. It almost didn't happen because my crew began to burn out. But then Jo's dad showed up and saved the day. He was a chicken butchering pro and finished the last 5 birds off in record time. Thanks Mike, Eric, Jo, and Mark for making my day a success.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free

Sitting around a campfire last night we talked about what Independence Day meant to each of us. Freedom was the resounding call, as well as hot dogs, hamburgers and fireworks of course. Let Freedom Reign. But what is freedom? Websters states that free is something not bound or controlled, without obstructions, without charge and that freedom is the condition of being free. I wonder if I am really free or if my own self imposed limitations and fears hold me back.

I have about 23 more chickens to harvest. Big fat, white, wobbly legged meat birds that never leave the chicken house even though I open the door each morning. Sometimes they will sit at the opening and gaze at the field beyond and they seem to enjoy the sun's rays on their faces. But they don't venture out. They are happier staying where they feel safe; close to their food and water. If only I could tell them of all the bugs they would find and the soft silty dust for a bath that waits beyond the door. Am I like these birds? Are we, as a people, like these birds?

We may say we have freedom today. And we do. Just like my chickens. But freedom isn't free. It takes some action on our part I think. It takes risk. It was a huge gamble when our founding fathers declared our independence from jolly old England. I don't think today I would take the same risk. And that worries me.

Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

First Fawn

This is the first fawn I have seen this year. Usually we will begin seeing them mid May, but not this year. Weird. I took this photo out of my car window, sorry it is so blurry.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hearty Beef Stew

You might wonder why in the world I made Beef Stew on the 2nd day of July. Well, the day dawned cloudy and cool and nothing comforts like a warm bowl of stew. I have been trying to regroup, do less, sleep more and recapture that center of God's peace. (And killing chickens, but we won't talk about that.) This stew definitely helps one feel better. It was made from some top sirloin that we just got back from either steer #15 or #16 and it was delicious. It is melt in your mouth beef yumminess and will be on sale at the G-Ville Farmer's Market next Friday. I also dug up some of our red potatoes to add to the pot. Nothing says home like a home cooked meal.

Hearty Beef Stew

3 tsp olive oil or butter
*1 to 2 pounds of sirloin steak cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes (recently harvested off our hill)
1 cup finely chopped onion (mine was home grown from my mama's garden)
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 or so pounds of red potatoes cubed (fresh from our garden)
2 cups sliced carrots (anyone got tips on growing carrots, mine never do well)
1 cup sliced celery
3/4 cup spicy dry wine (and a glass for the cook)
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh
pint of stewed tomatoes canned from last year, or 14.5 ounce can
1/2 tsp dried rosemary or a sprig of fresh
1 dried bay leaf ( they grow on trees here!)
pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil or butter in large dutch oven style pot over medium/high heat. Add beef, cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add onions and garlic, keep stirring for a couple of minutes until onion begins to brown. Add rest of the ingredients bring to a boil. Cover pot and turn heat to low. Simmer for an hour and then eat!

*You can also use stew meat but you will need to add liquid to meat and then simmer for an hour or two before adding vegetables. Which will increase cooking time to about 3 hours. It takes extra time to tenderize stew meat. The sirloin was tender and yummy with just the browning, it fell apart after an hour of cooking.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

That Time of the Year

It is time to harvest my chickens. Every year during the slaughter I always say that it will be my last year to raise meat birds, but then the following year I do it again. I must have some faulty memory. Click here if you would like to see a blow by blow of the butchering.
On another note, here is a little more grossness. Poor Sequoyah skewered himself on a t-post. Mark and I were gone south at a nephew's wedding, so Eric and Jo hauled him into the vet. The wound goes in about 8 inches. Every day we have to flush it out with a betadine water solution. It is grisly sliding the hose into the little guys chest that far. He just finished a round of injected antibiotics and will be starting a granulated antibiotic in the morning. The vet's office loved him for his sweet and willing temperament, we all do too.
This is Meeme. She belongs to Casey the friend who boards her horses here and lives here part time. Meeme had a run in with a fence about 2 months ago and she just got all of her bandages off. Tough season for the youngsters. We think Meeme was chased into the fence, probably the same for Sequoyah.
For all of you neighbors who wondered what in the world was going on yesterday: it was a CalFire training day on the Chapman Ranch. We had dozers, helicopter water drops and a water bomber. We probably should have told folks ahead of time. It would have saved a few of you from getting heart palpitations. We will be better neighbors next time.

And as for me.... I am exhausted; mentally, physically and emotionally. I seem to be still recovering from the fall I took from the horse as my head, spine and muscles all continue to hurt. I try to plug along, but I really need to have rest. It seems like we have just gone from one thing to the next and I haven't quite got caught up yet. I am drained. So off to a nap I go.