Shades of Ireland

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mama Time

My "little guys" are both gone off for a few days to 4-H camps. Charlie is working so he is asleep during the day. This is the second day that I have been on my own........ and it has been wonderful! I have gotten lots of little things done--- none of it house work!!

Morning chores take the longest and I am pleased to say that I can do them all by myself in just a bit under 2 hours. Neil helps me with the evening chores so it takes even less time.

The big news is that I got those pictures of the wheat field just in the nick of time. Neighbor Farmer combined it all late yesterday afternoon! He got it finished up just before it began to rain.Apparently we had some really strong winds with our rain last night. I totally missed it! This extra work must have worn me out because I slept right through it. When I drove into town this morning, I was amazed by all the downed tree limbs and the acres of corn that had been blown almost flat.

Another bit of good news is that the puppies are finding new homes. The ad came out in the paper yesterday and so far, four of them are gone. That leaves us with 3 females: two black and tan pups and one blue merle. The honest truth is that I am planning on keeping the blue merle until the very last moment. I don't NEED another dog but if one has to stay, I at least want it to be the one that I like the best.

These are the two remaining girls. It took about 20 shots to get a good picture of them because they will not stay still and they will not stay at a distance...... they want to be up close and chewing on my shoes. 

The boys will be back late Friday afternoon and I really hope that they are having a great time. If it dries out enough, another neighbor is going to bale up our wheat straw on halves. We have to get it done pretty quickly because our Neighbor Farmer is going to plant a late crop of soybeans in this field. It should all come together for the straw bales to need to be picked up and moved to the barn about the time the guys get home.....Hoping for somewhere around 200 square bales. I stopped in town this morning and bought us each a new pair of work gloves!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Amazing Bounty

Some days, I just have to sit and wonder about just how blessed I am...... Today is one of those days.

Our borrowed bull is going home in just a few days. There are two girls that we were hoping would come in to season and be bred before he left. It was a long shot that they would recover from calving and begin cycling again while he was here. Yesterday, Wilma was in heat and the bull is hanging out with Cornbread this morning as if she is coming in.......  By all outward appearances, this young bull has done an outstanding job for us. This means that we can actually wait a bit longer before we have to spend the scarce money on a new bull.

There are 7 gas/oil rigs on our property and one drilled but capped oil well. The mineral rights were leased out long before we bought this place but since we do own the rights, we get a percentage of the revenue they bring in------ providing they are running. In the last two years, only one well has been operational for any length of time. That well was not maintained and pumped very little and barely earned anything. Eventually, they just shut it off. For the last six months, I have prayed almost daily that they would be moved to get them all going again. It is an eyesore with all the pipes pulled and weeds growing up around them. It is difficult to clean up and mow around them and it was just insulting to have to put up with the mess and not get a penny for it!   

Just before we left for Yellowstone, a crew showed up and began working on the rigs.....
As of yesterday afternoon, six out of seven rigs were pumping!! Our percentage is incredibly small and we certainly will never get anywhere near rich but it is not so insulting to have these things on the pastures now.

Kansas is world famous for raising wheat and harvest has begun.

This is our wheat field. Our neighbor farms it for us. We split some of the expenses and get a share of it. We have been watching it all winter and wondering how things were going to work out after last year's drought. Our wheat was planted just a bit late but looks marvelous!

Our friends to the south of us have already started combining but ours will need just a few more days to get dry enough. The word is that Kansas is having a bumper crop of wheat. One friend has averaged over 65 bushels to the acre----- HOLY COW! That is about 30 bushels per acre above normal!! These numbers are matching up with other reports from across the region. Be still my heart......

Then there is the garden......
This morning I was able to spend some time in my happy place with out any troubles from my allergies --- thank goodness!

There are lots of tomatoes out there as well as baby green beans. I harvested broccoli, cabbage, beets and a couple of carrots. I pulled up and composted worm riddled broccoli plants and bolting lettuce. Planning to plant more squash to try again.....

I finally just could not bear it any longer and broke down and bought two of the dwarf cherry trees at the feed store..... I could not stand to see them getting hotter and hotter while sitting there in those black 3 gallon pots..... I HAD to rescue them! Seth and I added them to the orchard yesterday. I HAVE to quit with the fruit trees...... we now have three peaches, six or seven apple trees, a plum, a pear. two pecans and now two cherry trees. Add to that the eight blueberry bushes, four grape vines, a fig, elderberries, strawberries and black berries. The boys complain that mowing the yard is an obstacle course.
The gourds, cucumbers, peas, and Lima beans are all up and really growing. Now if we could just get a little rain...... not enough to slow down wheat harvest but just give the garden a bit of a drink.

All my critters are hale, hearty, growing and producing. My children and busy and happy. I have many friends and live in a safe and wonderful place.

I am reflecting on all of this because I am helping a friend who is not so fortunate. She is battleing cancer--again. The chemotherapy is horrendous and she has been very ill. I brought her two milk goats home with me to take care of for her until she is feeling better. It is impossible for her to milk them right now. It is the least that I can do...... She is fiercely independent and it breaks my heart to see her struggle so.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Garden Progress

My happy place is looking pretty good these days. I am already weary of weeding but I am still at it---- half heartedly..... I am very glad that I got so much mulched but I can definitely tell where I got in a hurry and did not put down the newspaper or feed sacks before the straw. Crabgrass!!

This is the green beans with my home grown tomato plants in the back ground. I am having to really keep my ego in check about those tomatoes..... I am pretty darn proud of them.

The boys and I went and got a small load of the bunny stuff yesterday. I top dressed one of the raised beds that is pretty barren. I don't think that was enough to make it productive but I am scratching my head about how to fix it. I am too lazy to just dig all of the dirt..... I mean soil..... out of there are start again. Surely if I keep addding enough good stuff it will eventually come around. This is the raised bed that I filled with the potting soil/growing medium from cleaning out the commercial green house last year. It is apparently mostly peat moss and vermiculite to keep the bedding plant containers light weight. It is very difficult to keep that bed from completely drying out between waterings or rains.  

Speaking of good stuff---- I am going to make a trip over to the sheep dairy to check out the bedding pile from last winter. He assures me that they is more there than I will ever use but..... usually it has not composted because they just toss it out or push it out with the skid steer. It ends up just being dirty straw instead of compost. If that is the case, I am going to just use it to finish mulching the bare spots. I might just go ahead and expand the garden for next year and heavily mulch the ground to smother out alot of the grass.
Heck, I could even go crazy and mulch around all the fruit trees inthe front orchard.

This all sounds very industrious but as long as these allergies are acting up, it is all just talk.....

This was Seth's Sunday project. He built a stand out of recycled pallets to raise up the rain barrels. He managed to get four of them up a bit higher and has plans to add four more. That would give us eight - 55 gallon holding capacity. That is HEAVY! I am not ay all sure that this will be sturdy enough but time will tell. We are hoping for a little rain this week. It takes about 1/2 inch of rain to fill up four of these. We are only catching rain from about 1/3 of our rooftop..... Our limiting factor is the barrel supply because I am cheap and will not buy them.......

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remarkable Dogs

If you will remember a few posts back, Seth's German Shepherd, Elsa, blessed us with seven pups under the back deck. These little guys have grown like bad weeds. Of course, they all have names......

This little monster is Shadow--- for obvious reasons. He is one of two males in the litter.

One very unusual trait that Elsa has is that she is NOT gun shy. Every other dog that we own looks for a hiding place as soon as we get a rifle or they even hear a loud bang. Not Elsa. It seems that she has passed this on to her pups.

Seth is practicing hot and heavy to go to the 4-H National Shooting Sports Invitational. He is competing in the muzzleloader division. Just in case you don't know, this involves old fashioned lead balls, black powder,a loud bang and lots of smoke. 

Practice has gotten very interesting around here. Usually, Seth practices down by the pond by shooting into the dam. It is the safest place on our farm to shoot. 

The puppies just LOVE it!

At least five of them  end up down at the pond underfoot and playing around the canoes.

                                               Gives new meaning to "cleaning the gun"............

That one was a little low and to the right..........

Just sayin'

Friday, May 25, 2012

Need A Reset Button....

I am having a very difficult time getting myself back into the swing of things. There are an overwhelming number of chores and projects that NEED to be done and I don't seem to be able to prioritize them and just get started.....
My allergies are lingering longer this year, too. After a bit of research, I have discovered that seems to be another wonderful part of menopause--- stronger and longer allergy symptoms!! Who would have thought????

That means that my time outside is limited to early mornings when the dew is heavy enough to keep the pollen from flying and during times when the wind is not blowing...... this is Kansas!! The times that the wind is not blowing are few and far between! I do have a homeopathic nasal spray that gives me some relief without causing my blood pressure to skyrocket into stroke range. Allergy eye drops keep me functioning. These can only do so much and I end up spending much of my day indoors....... and it is very depressing! I have had to turn the air conditioner on to help filter the air but have it set very high.

I have been going through recipes and trying to organize my kitchen. I know that the garden produce will begin flooding in very soon so I thought that I might go ahead and get all the canning stuff rounded up.
I have managed to slip out to the garden to briefly weed and generally check things over. 

I have small tomatoes and the green beans are beginning to bloom! The squash are already a total loss. The bugs have just overwhelmed them and they are all wilted. Those poor plants only had 2 or 3 leaves! They never stood a chance....... Obviously, I need to figure out what is is about this place and that section of the garden that attracts the bugs. I have been doing quite a bit of reading and research suggests that soil deficiencies cause some plants to be overwhelmed by certain insects. I certainly have a problem in that raised bed!

Seth is supposed to be practicing with his muzzle loader for the national contest but I have to insist that he get out there and do it. After his ( brief) practice this morning, I think we are going to make a quick run to the rabbit raiser in town and get some manure. He has a huge pile that he has offered to me and I certainly have places to use it.

I am determined to push my luck today with my allergies! We have already driven out into the pasture to check the cows and I managed to get over to the barn and milk the goats. Seth milked Holly while I was waiting for my nasal spray to kick in...... What a life!!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Miss Me???

I think that I may be back in the land of the living. Between, fatigue, menopause and allergies, it took me too long to recover from the trip.

My girl is beginning to adjust to her new life and we are beginning to adjust to her long absence. With modern technology, we can chat with her quite often.

Adam is learning to crochet which means I have another subject to teach. So far, we have several crochet strings that are over ten feet long. By this afternoon, I will probably have to show him how to add to that and begin crocheting in earnest.

My garden survived my trip much better than I did! I do have some major weeding to do but nothing that I can't catch up in a couple of hours. The problem is getting control of my allergies long enough to get to spend those two hours outside. I have been sneaking out a few minutes every afternoon and watering from the rain barrels. Seth and I plan to raise them a bit higher and try to do a little re plumbing. That is much easier to do when the barrels are empty!

 It is getting pretty dry around here and folks are baling hay as hard and fast as they can. After last year's drought, us cattle farmers are not going to breath easy until we have a surplus of winter feed stock piled.

Our wheat is turning a nice golden brown. We are thinking that it will be combined in about 10 days or so.

We have a gimpy cow again. It is the same poor old girl that I have been watching for a year. Right now, Lou has a beautiful white faced heifer and she is doing a good job raising her. I decided to try to give her a shot of antibiotics to see if we couldn't help her out. Her ankle is pretty swollen and it is hard for her to walk. I was afraid that herding her up to the barn and catch pen would cause more harm than good so we borrowed a dart gun from a friend. By the time we got it and were ready to give it a try, the dew had dried off and the fescue pollen was flying....... I was beginning to have itchy eyes and sneeze. Seth got the honors of shooting her. This is the first time we have ever used a dart gun and I am trying to decide if we need to buy one in the future. Eventually, I will be doing this on my own after the kids fly the nest and before Neil retires. It would be really handy to treat a sick cow with out having to handle them all to get her caught.
I am not sure if it is just wishful thinking or not but I think she is getting around a little better this morning.

Salena took my camera with her to Yellowstone so the pictures will be few and far between until I find my old one or get a new one.

Off to try to get a new phone.... for some reason, the size of the letters in a text have become too small for me to read..... with out my glasses! I can barely keep up with the phone and never can seem to find my reading glasses when I need them.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Home Again, Home Again.....

We made it! Actually, we got back home on Thursday afternoon but I am so tired and jet lagged that I am moving in slow motion. I had altitude sickness while in the park and as soon as I got home, the allergies hit me full force.

I am going to be ok..... I think! LOL! Just going to take a few more days off.....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We are Off!!

Almost.... Salena is strategically packing the car.

Needless to say, I will not be blogging this week. She will be taking my camera but Adam has another for us to use this summer. I will try very hard not to bore you next week with our vacation pictures!

Hope you all have a very blessed and productive week!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Almost Ready!

This morning we are handling the major items that have to be taken care of before our trip.
Salena had an appointment with our chiropractor because she hasn't been in a while and won't be able to for at least the next four months. Salena had some old horse related injuries as well as work stress and strain that she has needed to have fixed over the past few years. Since she will be spending so much time on her feet and lifting and carrying heavy trays, we decided it would be best to get things adjusted before she left.

Then we zipped into town to pickup the rental car. I booked it online over a week ago. It all looks good online but there are many, many, expensive hidden charges that creep in when you actually go to pick up the car. I was very nice and it paid off. I had reached the point of calling the whole thing off. I was trying very hard not to show my distress and disappointment. We could buy Salena round trip airline tickets---even at this late date-- more cheaply than this was turning out. When the clerk realized that we were about to walk, she very kindly made some major adjustments. We rented the car and will still be making the trip. I am much wiser now, too.

It took forever to get my prescription filled but while we were at Walmart, we were able to visit with many of our old friends and neighbors from Elk City. I got so emotional that I went back over to the pharmacy and bought vitamins and supplements for menopausal women....... I feel like a crazy woman these days!!!

On the home front, I have gotten a few things cooked ahead for the boys. I am making a to-do list for Seth since he decided not to go with us. He has promised me that he will work on his computer school and practice with the muzzle loader while we are gone.

The garden is almost completely mulched. If I can keep my allergies beaten back, I am going to give it a good overall working this evening. The strawberries need picking and I will probably get one more batch of jam made in the morning. We are hoping that Salena's books for her summer classes will arrive in tomorrow's mail so we will not get to leave until the mail lady makes her run. If not, I will have to mail them to her.

Early this morning, I worked on my herb bed and ruthlessly chopped off the parsley and chives. They were almost 2 foot tall and threatening to bloom. They would certainly have gone to seed before we made it back.

I am sure that I am forgetting something but at this point, I don't really care! We are looking forward to this road trip!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Seasonal Allergies

Fescue is my nemesis. Actually, fescue pollen is the problem. I grew up in various places in the world but spent the bulk of my childhood in south Georgia. There is no fescue grass in south Georgia because it is too blessed hot and humid for it to survive there. In 1983, I moved upstate to Athens, Ga. to attend the University of Georgia----- and met fescue pollen in the spring of 1984. That first exposure nearly killed me.

Since moving to the Midwest, I have become reacquainted with my old enemy. I have learned various coping techniques but have just learned to live with the fact that I am pretty much done with outdoor activities for 7-10 days each spring while it "blooms". I did get some relief from over the counter allergy medications but sine I am having high blood pressure issues, I can't take any of those. I made that mistake last week and almost got myself in to big trouble. My blood pressure jumped dangerously high and I just had to go to bed until it wore off.

Yesterday, I tried a homeopathic remedy and I am afraid it is having the same effect. My BP is not as high as last week but..... high enough to make me feel peculiar. So today, I will be taking it easy again and planning our trip. This is good time to make a to-do-list...... and watch the garden from the bedroom window......... Growing old is not for sissies!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Ready....

This week is going to be a preparation week. The boys and I are taking Salena to her summer internship job at Yellowstone National Park. We will be leaving next Saturday but...... it will take nearly every moment between now and then to get things organized for Neil. Poor guy is going to handle the milking chores for us before and after work.

-At this point, we almost have the "extra goats" dried off.
-I have been mulching the garden as I go along and it is almost completely "under straw". I am hoping that   it will not be taken over by the weeds while I am gone.
- Strawberries are coming in hot and heavy. I am hoping they slack off by the weekend.
- Need to make a trip to the feed store
-Today, we are making a town run to try to find suitable clothes and shoes for Sis. She has just worn her shoes out since she is on her feet at her coffee shop and catering jobs.
-I am going to have to find the time to cook ahead this week. Partly for us to take with us on the trip and also to feed Neil and Charlie while we are gone.

All this is to apologise in advance because I don't think that I will be blogging much over the next two weeks!

One less thing to worry about is Seth's heifer. He bought her at the sale barn and she needed lots of TLC. She calved yesterday with a nice healthy bull calf. No problems and she is handling her new job as a Mama with flying colors.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

This is not going to last long.....

Today was the first day that I got enough strawberries to make a little jam. Up until this point, we have just been eating them fresh. Sometime earlier this year I found these cute little packets of instant pectin on clearance sale at the local grocery. I had never used this kind of pectin before and I am now hooked! It is hot as blue blazes today and I am just too stubborn to turn on the air condidtioner. I can't bear the thought of that expense so early in the year. This pectin did not require any heating! I just mixed the sugar and the pectin and stirred in the fruit and VOILA`!!! We have jam ready to eat or put in the fridge. It is a very small batch and if I had enough for making jars for the pantry, I would go the old tried and true water bath canning method. Storage is at a premium in our refrigerator but I am quite sure these will be gone in a hurry.

Let me show you what kind of shenanigans go on around here when I am gone off farm. When we were gone a few days ago to buy groceries and supplies, I came home to this:

Bread Violence!!!!

Some one deliberated stabbed a defenceless, fresh loaf of bread with the new fancy bread knife.
All the boys were at home but no one is snitching or confessing. I am pretty sure that Adam is the guilty hooligan...... I wish that I knew how to do the little icon that rolls its' eyes....... 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Off Slaying Dragons.....

This is a phrase that we often use around our house when one of us is going out into the world..... leaving the snug little realm of our farm for work, school or adventures.

Today, it has struck me pretty hard that some of us will soon be leaving the farm for bigger dragons and for longer periods of time..... maybe even for good.

Salena just hauled out heading for Stillwater to finish up her final exams and the last few days of her job. She will be back home briefly before starting her Yellowstone adventure.

Charlie just left for his job interview--- dressed all spiffy in freshly ironed and starched clothes and sporting a tie. He decided to stop at the store and get a drink just so he could shock the clerk---- and settle his stomach.

Seth coaxed the weaned calves up into the catch pen this morning. I went over and we crowded them up so that we could dose them with fly repellent. Soon, we will do the same thing with the cows and the bull. When we were finished, he began to tell me about a project he was working on and plans that he was working through....... I stood there listening to this very confident young man and got just a glimpse of what a fine person he is.......

Many years ago, I was at a homeschooling conference and heard a phrase that stuck with me. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, " The years teach much which the days never knew."  Somehow, as a frazzled mother with little kids, I understood the significance of that and I have been able to be mindful that time is fleeting and these days pass all too quickly.  I have been very grateful for the sheer amount of TIME that we have had to spend with each other. Even so, it is bittersweet to reach this point in our lives together.

The older two feel it as well. They want to go but they want to stay.....They are excited and afraid. So am I!  Things can't stay the way they are. Their lives are calling and they have to go...... just not too quickly..... for my sake.

Adam just hollered in to me.... " Mom! We are on our own! What are we going to do?" We will think of something...... I am thinking that ice cream sounds good for lunch.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is This Tuesday??

Today is payday and that means a 25 mile trip to a bigger town for supplies. Our small town has a small local grocery store that we frequent several times a week but..... there are times when you just need more or different supplies than the locals can provide.

One of those items is printer ink. There is not one cartridge of printer ink available in this entire county...... Another item is a men's sport's jacket or suit. We have not found a single one in this county or the county to our north. It looks like we are going to have to travel over 60 miles to find one for Charlie. He has another job interview and wanted to look particularly spiffy.... The interview is tomorrow so it is just not going to happen this time. He did manage to find a nice pair of pants and a real tie.

Salena is home so she and I made the trip and got a load of stuff. We made it back before lunch and had a surprise visit from our friend, Rachel from Topeka. We had homemade bread and fresh cheese to share with her along with lots of fun and lively conversation.

Farm wise, I haven't done very much today. It rained another inch last night and the whole place is just saturated and now it has turned hot and muggy.  This has made the Crowder, Purple Hull and Blackeyed peas all begin to sprout out in my garden. Now that I have the garden mostly full, I found Lima beans (Southerners call them "butter beans") and of course had to buy that seed. I have been hinting to Seth that we need to expand the garden " just a little bit more.....". So far, he has just heaved deep sighs and rolled his eyes.

I turned the goats out into the newly seeded pasture in the "Upper Pond Lot". It has been empty and growing for about six weeks. When I brought them back in to milk last night, they all waddled back to the barn.  In some places, the weeds and brush had grown higher than their backs. Since the barn/shed for that pasture blew away earlier this year, I can't leave them out there on a permanent basis. This is the same pasture that I added the elbows to the pond drain pipe to try to hold more water. So far, it is working. The water has reached the bottom of the pipes and this is the fullest that we have seen this pond since we moved here. It will take another 4 inch rise in the pond level before it begins to drain. That is A LOT of water and I think that we would need at least another 2 inch rain to do that. This pond catches quite a bit of run off water from the wheat field and the pasture. I am hoping that we don't get it until next week! I thought that I might reach down and check to make sure that the elbows were still secure in the pipe until I saw a water snake poking his head up over the edge of one of the elbows....... I decided that it would probably hold!