Friday, February 29, 2008
The 2 feed salesmen arrived at 7:30 and we were uncertain as to whether they would still be here at noon, but DH told me not to change my plans and DD tended to them while I was away. Thank you for letting Momma run off and play with her friends sweetheart! You're a big help and I appreciated coming home to a clean kitchen.
Let me just take a minute to explain about these two gals that I had lunch with yesterday. I just love them to pieces! When we moved here 3 years ago, I was crushed, but the Lord has overwhelmingly blessed us and these two gals are 2 of those amazing blessings! They are such a hoot! They are beautiful and smart and funny and so strong in their faith.
We try to get together, just the three of us, once in a while and when we do...well let's just say that if laughter is good for the soul, we've got the healthiest souls around. Oh my! Yesterday I left my mascara on the napkin at the resaurant and came close to wetting my pants and it wasn't the first time. I'm sure people were wondering what we had been drinking. We don't drink, but they'll think that anyway. Once we went to Lubbock and we had three people stop us throughout the day and tell us that we were having too much fun. Is that even possible?
We spent one afternoon picking corn and then spent one of the most amazing hours in conversation and prayer. The Lord was in that cornfield with us and it moved me greatly. M, I am so touched by your wise words and your heart for the Lord.
This friendship is filled with laughter and honesty and prayer and growth and tears and I am so thankful. I can only imagine what God must have been thinking when he put the 3 of us together.
I just want to tip my hat to these two. Thank you for your amazing friendship ~ you make my life richer, even if you do make me wet my pants.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Flexibility has been one of the most wonderful aspects of homeschooling. It has also been one of the biggest hurdles we have had to overcome.
DS is a Junior and looking to apply to the Air Force Academy. DD is a Freshman and has her sites set on attending Vet School. I'm excited for all that the future holds for both of them, yet their chosen paths mean that I have to set boundaries and keep them focused on school. On days like today, that's not an easy task.
They may even shed a tear or two.
Oh wait, that's mine.
I think I mentioned before that I write my lesson plans in pencil...and I erase a lot.
I erase for impromptu fishing expeditions.
I erase for time to splash in the creek.
I erase to jump in the truck with DH and make a feed run.
I erase so that our children can experience all that childhood has to offer.
I erase to drive to the other side of the ranch and help DH fix that water gap.
I erase to cuddle the new litter of kittens DH discovered in the barn this morning.
I erase to catch that horse and let the kids fly across the pasture bareback.
I erase because we are branding and my students are part of the crew.
I erase because no matter how hard I try, I can not feed a dozen men, three meals a day and still do school.
So, there comes a point where I must dig deep and not erase. There comes a point where we MUST tend to school. There are certain classes that just have to make it on to that High School Transcript. I do not relish the idea of going through Calculus or Chemistry again, but that is the job I have signed up for. I remind myself that I will not be doing them any favors by skipping Composition or bypassing Biology. When they get to college, their professors will expect much more of them than I do. So I must stay the course and, sigh...continue to gaze longingly out my window when what I really want to do is shove the stack of books aside and sneak out the door.
I just might do that anyway.
Don't worry, I'll be right back, I'm only taking out the trash.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Around here, DH is the sourdough aficionado. He's an early riser. Much earlier than his bride of 20 years. So when he gets in one of his sourdough moods, we are greeted with the amazing smell of fresh sourdough biscuits baking in the dutch oven when we first awake on those early wintry mornings. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
Alas, all I have for you today is the recipe for these. Now, don't look down your nose at these!These
I am generally not a bread person. Homemade bread is a different story all together. Yes, I know everyone is busy. Yes, I know that no-one has time. But people, you are missing out on one of the best things in life! There is nothing that rivals the smell of fresh homemade bread wafting through the house. How can the simple ingredients of yeast and water and flour combine to produce such a heavenly product? Honestly, bread is not really all that time consuming. Once it's mixed up, you just walk away, let it do its thing, pop it in the oven, and wait for the accolades and praise and cheers. Your family will adore you - right up until they devour the last morsel. Then they will anxiously give you pleading looks until you whip up another batch.
Last week in Bible Study we were working in Exodus and we discussed the Passover. We talked about how leaven signifies evil throughout the Bible. My heart sank. I love baking bread and all manner of baked goods. How could I continue to enjoy making dough for bread and biscuits and rolls and doughnuts and cinnamon rolls? I pouted.
Then I found this verse: Matthew 13:33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." Aha! Here the kingdom of heaven is compared to the dynamic character of yeast. Whew!
Bake some homemade bread. Enjoy the process and the result and don't listen to all those people who tell you that bread isn't good for you. Homemade bread soothes the soul, how can that NOT be good for you?
Now don't start asking, "Where are the pictures?" I am posting this on Monday afternoon and all the
2 C warm water
2 Tbsp yeast (or 2 packages)
4 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c powdered milk
1/2 c butter, room temperature or mostly melted in the microwave
Additional melted butter to brush on your rolls
*Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside to proof.
*In a bowl (have I mentioned that I LOVE my Bosch mixer?!), whisk together 1 c flour, dry milk, salt and baking powder. Cut butter into flour mixture (I usually almost completely melt my butter) and let the Bosch mix it in.
*Add yeast and mix thoroughly.
*Add remaining flour and mix until dough becomes a sticky ball.
*Flour hands and turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 times until dough becomes elastic. Don't knead much or you will produce hockey pucks.
*Roll out and cut into
*Brush tops with melted butter and let rise about 40 minutes or more
*Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.
Warning: Do not founder on these rolls!
There is one exception to my love of baking bread. When I have cooked for a crew for 2 weeks and I have baked 22 batches of bread, I DO NOT even want to THINK about baking bread! However, it doesn't take long before I'm elbow deep in another batch!
Edit: My sincere apologies to dear friend mentioned previously. I see that she has now written her promised sourdough biscuit post. Well worth the wait! Her life is so much more interesting than mine.
Edit #2: Thanks for showing me how to add a line through a word Lori!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The horses come running to greet us as we venture across their territory.
They're only thrilled to see us because they know we're bringing them their next meal. They're a lot like teenagers.
In complete contrast to the bulls, the steers & heifers & cows are thrilled to see the dust as we head their way. No need to sound the siren as they come crashing across the pasture. You can almost hear them hollering, "Cake...cake...cake..CAKE!" Bet you didn't know that 'cake' was a verb. Around here it is. Example, "Would you mind caking the heifers while you're over in that pasture?" No, we don't actually feed them cake (except on their birthday) ;) , but that's what we call the cow cubes. We buy them in bulk and store them in these overhead tanks. Then DH just drives up under them and fills the feeder.In order to dispense the cake from the feeder, we flip a switch in the truck and count the clicks that tell us how much feed is leaving the feeder. We have it set so that 5# hit the ground with every click. Then we count cattle. Yes, we do know how many head we have, but we count to make sure everyone is present and accounted for. It's simply a cattle roll call of sorts. If someone doesn't make it to the dinner table, we can go in search of them and make sure all is well. Sometimes the missing critter may be giving birth or may have just given birth and is unwilling to leave her precious baby. Perhaps she or he is just being obstinate and refuses to join the crowd or is sick and needs some doctoring. Could be that they somehow decided that the grass is greener on the other side and they found a hole in the fence and ducked under to chat with the neighboring bovines. In any case, we keep an eye on all of our critters. I don't suppose y'all think about cows much, but since it's what we do, I thought I would let you know that they are facinating. They are just like people. Some of them are smart, some of them..well, not so much. Some are pretty and some are just funny looking. Some are sweet and some are ornery. All the babies are precious. Some have issues too. DH knows the history of every animal on the place. It has always and still does amaze me how he remembers that the mottled faced cow with the spot on her tail head had twins 6 years ago. Or that this little black calf (we have lots of black calves) has the same momma as the 4 yr old cow that we had to doctor (yes, around the ranch, 'doctor' is a verb too) last week.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Spelling Lists ~ Cowboy Style
Journaling reads: One cool weekday morning we headed out before dawn, freshly baked breakfast pockets in hand , to meet a cattle truck at the kingston. Well we waited and waited and waited and still no truck. The kids and Gary started playing around with the ropes and we began jumping rope to their spelling words. It's not easy to make it through "Philadelphia" ! The truck finally arrived at 10:00 and we loaded all the cattle, shipping them off. Jumping rope to spelling words is certainly an unorthodox way to learn new words, but we are learing that there are many ways to add fun to school.Side By Side
Here the boys are moving the mares:
Journaling reads: The blessings of life at the end of the dirt road are endless and capturing these memories on film is quickly becoming a passion of mine. On this glorious morning, Gary and Tyler saddled up to move the mares and their colts to the Kingston. Caitlin and I followed in the pickup and enjoyed eachother's company while watching the colts frolic along the way. It's become a given that my camera goes where I go so I snapped these pictures along the way from the seat of the pickup. I never imagined they would turn out so well. The one where Gary is adjusting the cinch on his saddle is my favorite. The composition of that shot and the feelings it evokes are simply overwhelming to me. Watching father and son working together, side by side, the majesty of the mountains looming just ahead, combined with the natural beauty of the horses, puts a lump in my throat and a smile in my heart.Shoeing Silver
Journaling: Gary spends a lot of time tending to the feet of our horses. One summer afternoon he began to share his knowledge with Tyler. Tyler was 12 and old enough to begin taking more responsibility for Silver's care. Gary has perfected his farrier skills through many hours of experience and study. I hope that Tyler realizes he is learning from the best. I love this series of pictures that documents the passing of this skill from one generation to another. The relationship between father and son and horse is evident. This was another one of our many afternoons spent out behind the barn where life skills and lessons seem to naturally blend in with the daily chores on the ranch.
Here are the kids soaping their saddles. Another 'out at the barn' layout. I think I could do an entire album about the time we spend out at that old barn.
Journaling: Some of my favorite memories take place out at the barn. We spend a lot of time in and around the barn ~ working and playing. There is just something very soothing about out old tin barn. On this particular afternoon you both gathered for "Lessons in Leather". Dad had you take your saddled apart and oil them. The dry climate here certainly does a number on the tack. One of the many wonderful conversations that seem to often build in the shade of the barn took place that afternoon. Dad began with the steps involved in oiling a saddle and moved seemlessly into life lessons involving a job well done. May you always take pride in everything you attempt and look back on it knowing that you gave it your all and did your best. I love capturing these 'everyday' moments on film. To Cailtin's chagrin, you took your role as big brother seriously at one point and her skeptical expression on the previous page is priceless.
A Man and His Horse
Here's a layout about DH's relationship with horses. I could do an entire album about this too!
Journaling: Modest. That describes Gary to a T. He doesn't like it when I brag on his horsemanship skills, but I truly believe that he has a gift for working with horses and nothing can convince me otherwise. When I decided to snap a few pictures one afternoon while he was working with 2 of the colts, I had no idea what I was about to discover through the camera lens. Magic ~ pure and simple. I wondered whether the relationship I was watching develop between Gary and Elmer and Primo would translate on film. Oh my! I could not stop taking pictures. I think I took 80 shots and them I only stopped because my card was full. These 2 pages showcase my favorites, but the others complete the story of that afternoon and they are stunning to me aswell. It was tough to select which ones to place here. I cannot aptly convey the feelings of that afternoon. I can only be thankful that a picture is worth a thousand words and hope that some of these pictures have captured that magic.
We leased some of the neighbor's country for a season and this is a page about branding our calves at their pens:
Saturday, February 16, 2008
According to the 4-H leader, the kids aren't supposed to do anything fancy. She said that a pizza would be fine, but something in me just thinks that is wrong. I know that she is trying to make it easy, people are awfully busy these days. Yes, everyone will probably want to bid on the pizza ~ who doesn't love pizza, but I guess I'm just old fashioned enough to think that there should be some element of 'homemade' to this box supper. Fried chicken with all the fixins seems to be the obvious choice, but since we're cattle ranchers and I have a freezer filled with beef, fried chicken will have to find its way into someone else's box.
The kids are making Buckaroo Bundles and Cowboy Cookies. I thought it would be fun to have a western theme for their box. Since nobody knows how wonderful these Buckaroo Bundles are, we should be able to buy our own box back. Don't know if that's against the rules or not, but hey, it's a 4-H fundraiser and we've got to eat anyway!
So I thought I'd share my recipe for these yummy meals in a pocket:
*Thaw out the bread dough (don't let it rise, just thaw it out enough so that it can be rolled out)
*Roll out a loaf of dough and cut into 8 squares like this:
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I frequent a scrapbooking site that is filled with amazingly creative people and and they have presented a fun project that I am going to try. If photography's involved, you've pretty much got my attention. Its simple ~ take 12 photos on the 12th of each month and scrap them in one layout. I missed January and I may have to recreate it ~ ok, cheat, but I enjoyed viewing the day through the lens of my camera. Since the 12th fell on Tuesday this month, it meant a trip into town for us, so many shots originated there.
2. Getting an early start to the morning means I've got some extra time to work on my Bible study lesson. Truth be told, I often let most of the week get away from me before I sit down to work on this. Don't know why because I am learning so much and thoroughly enjoying the Monday night fellowship with this amazing group of ladies:
3. DH left before the horses came up so we went out to serve them their breakfast. What a glorious morning! I certainly didn't relish the thought of spending it in town!
4. I really needed to complete my lesson plans for the week before the week disappeared so I spent some time getting that on paper. I make my lesson plans in pencil because more often than not, I will be erasing them and making changes.
6. Next stop ~ piano lessons ~ DD has the most amazing teacher and they started out working on their present duet, "Give Me That Old Time Religion".
7. I treated myself to a quick trip to Hobby Lobby while DD was practicing. Hard to resist their 50% off sales. I picked up a couple pieces of paper, a stamp and some brads ~ all half-price or on clearance.
8. After picking up DD, it was off to peruse the aisles of Valentine goodies at the store! 9. ...and pick up a few groceries ~ ick! Yes, those are BOXED blueberry muffin mixes! I want to make heart-shaped blueberry muffins for Valentine's Day and the fresh blueberries are WAY too expensive. This mix actually has 2 cans of blueberries in it and it's less expensive ~ go figure. Oh, and I have a coupon too! Hmmm...I see that DD managed to sneak in a few boxes of granola bars as well. She said that she needs to stash them because DS, who is 17 and always hungry, can devour 3 of these bars in a matter of minutes.
10. Ever since the kids were little, we would stop for a treat at Dairy Queen when we made our monthy trips to town in the summer. Somewhere along the way, we all developed a taste for their strawberry shakes. Yes, I know it's not summer, but it was a beautiful spring-like day and that shake was calling my name. Hey, it's a tradition!11. On our way home, we made a quick detour and stopped in at the neighboring ranch. My friend L. had hauled in some really good dirt from her Dad's farm and she told us to come and get what we wanted for our flower beds. So we threw a couple of molasses tubs into the truck that morning and filled them up on our way home. Ok ~ go ahead and laugh, but I was really excited about this dirt! I can't wait for spring! One of my favorite things to do is dig in the dirt ~ I suppose I just never really grew up. Added bonus: we got a workout lifting those tubs back into the pickup! Heave Ho!
12. And last, but not least, here are the newest additions to our ranching family:
And here's the subsequent scrapbook page. I am giving myself lots of brownie points for actually getting this scrapped just 2 days after the 12th! That's a huge accomplishment for me! I even used the paper I bought on Tuesday and a couple of the brads.
That was fun! Can't wait for next month! Whew that was a long post ~ sorry!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
This morning I had planned to get a full day of school in. Ha! I should know better than to plan something like that! It all began in a very orderly, quiet manner, even going so far as to have everyone on task and working on math by 7:30 (that should have been my first clue). All was quiet, with the exception of the wind whistling itself into an uproar outside. Homemade cookies were baking in the oven and my 2 students were working diligently. DH came in at 9:00(2nd clue), smuggled a couple of cookies and asked for my assistance on a windmill. I took one look outside and asked him why this seemed to be so urgent and could it not wait for things to calm down a bit. His reply was, “No. We need the water at Big Mill and the wind is blowing now”.
So DH ascends the tower and I begin to pray. I might also include here that I spent the rest of the day doing so. The wind was really out of hand and it was only the grace of God that kept my husband attached to that tower. Needless to say, I was supposed to communicate to him when the sucker rod was connected as he turned the fan blades. I thought I did that, however, the wind kept my message from reaching the man that was clinging to the side of the windmill. Now, I can be really loud when I need to be, but the wind had the upper hand and try as I might, I could not be heard and my hand signals were apparently not sent in He-man language. So DH made his way to the ground where I proceeded to tell him that he still needed to move the wheel a bit more so that I could fit the rods together. He is not happy at that point and tells me that I should have told him that before he came down. (Um, I TRIED!) He then says that the wind is only blowing about 10 times harder up on top of the tower and he can’t hear me.
Tomorrow a carpenter is coming out to assess the damage and at the moment, all is well and the wind is behaving itself. It’s been quite a day! Sigh ~ I hope that your day was much less exciting, but thank you for letting me share my ‘typical’ day. Let's hope we don't have too many more of these! There is never a dull moment around here, but this kind of excitement, I can do without!