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. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week 48

Before the storm

I'm days late on my  blog update.  Days late!  I'm just limping along finishing my goal of a weekly blog post.  It was a stupid 2014 goal, but I'm a bull dog and once I grab hold, I finish.   Once I make up my mind to do something, little else matters.  I  find a way to do it, even if I do it poorly.  "Mind Over Matter",  as an old friend used to say,  "Make up your mind and it don't matter".  
Right now, we are in the middle of a huge storm, not as huge as the weather guys predicted, but still pretty big.  I love sitting in my nice, warm, house looking out of the humungous windows at the rain and wind, while  perusing old photos and thoughts. 
 I've got lots of  photos; many unclear or photos of nothing important.  My phone said it was too full to take anymore, and my laptop a mess of unorganized shots too.  I  want to make my grandsons a photo book of their Thanksgiving visit.  I need to do some bookkeeping.  I'm days behind on the blog.    Did you catch those words,  'want', 'need"?  That means I might not do it.  If I had written 'will', then it would be a different story.  Words matter.  Intent matters.   How we think directly affects how we act.  You should see my journals.  I write stuff out and then cross off such words as 'want' and 'need' and write in' will' or 'can', but only when I really make up my mind.  Sometimes I leave my words noncommittal, but I try to be conscious about such things.  To not choose is to choose after all.
We were gone from the ranch most of last week.  We headed south to visit our son  who couldn't make it up for Thanksgiving.  His family is doing well.   They say raising three under 16 months is the hardest thing they have ever done, but they are surviving one feeding to the next.  The  twins are close to 12 pounds now and as identical as ever.   It is amazing how identical they look, and if it wasn't for the small birthmark on Liam's neck even their parents would get them mixed up. Zane, the 18 month old, is a little upset that his world has been turned upside down and gets frustrated that he doesn't have the words to tell them, but he is obviously  smitten with his two wee brothers.  He hasn't really figured out that they are responsible for the changes. 
I caught a nasty bug while we were  there and I still haven't recovered.  My voice sounds like a cross between Kermit the Frog and a long term smoker.  Mark says it is grating and I pretend it's sexy.  Going up the two stairs in our house tires my legs.  It is hard to believe that 10 days ago I could jog (slowly) the 6 miles from our house to the bull barn.  Oh well.  I WILL get better and be back exercising soon. Until then I will do stuff from the easy chair, next to our woodstove, looking out onto our beautiful world. 
Liam and Maddox



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Week 47

Better late than never.

Thanksgiving weekend on the ranch.  While we were sad our oldest son and family weren't able to come up to the ranch,  due to the 2 month old twins,  the rest of our kids and grandkids made it and we had a wonderful time. 

 Last year little G could only lay on the couch and chortle, this year we were  grateful to see him walking all over the place, although he wasn't too happy about those down hill slopes.  His face was often green. 
 Big G was thankful to feed all the animals. First morning he was up before dawn hurrying us out of bed to go feed.   He especially enjoyed the little calf Cole.
Big G caught his first fish with his hero, Uncle Eric.  The fish was thankful it was catch and release. 
We all contribute dishes to our Thanksgiving feast by always have  the tradition of wild turkey provided by Eric and Jo.  We are all thankful they know how to cook a wild bird to perfection.   

 Thankful for a nice hot tub on a rainy evening and a happy grandson.  The little guy really likes to swim.  He goes under and then wiggles to the side and comes up laughing. 

 Grateful for rainy skies,  green hills and wonderful views.

 Thankful the big horse is a gentle giant. 
 Grateful to have such sweet cows. 
And this Grammie is really thankful that one little guy really loves animals.  Every one of which got greeted with a wave and a cheery 'hi' and 'bye". 
We hope you had a very lovely Thanksgiving as well.