Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Meanderings

Wind. Wind. And more wind. Ugh! I have a friend who lives in Florida and I would love to visit her. Today I could step outside and catch a direct flight all the way, as hard as this wind is blowing! Just came back in from the barn and I was sand blasted in the process. Ick.

Busy week ahead. A few years ago we bought a beautiful Oak table and a set of 8 chairs. Alas, the chairs are beginning to loosen from the back so I contacted the couple who sold it to us. I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the cowboys who are notorious for rocking back on two legs while they spin their wild tales! So they live outside of Ft. Worth and are making a trip out here to fix the chairs. In a world where customer service is becoming a thing of the past, this is a rarity. I am impressed. They are pulling in tonight and staying through tomorrow. Steve is a talented musician so we will be enjoying an evening of jamming guitars and good music. The kids are heading to Youth, but I imagine DS will be geared up to join Steve when they return.

I think we actually get to stay home tomorrow, but shhh....don't tell anyone or something will surely come up, but Steve and Katie will be here all day working.

Wednesday is our day in town. College classes and guitar for DS, piano for DD, and errands for me - yippee! Not!

The kids have shooting sports on Thursday along with some horseback work, a 4-H meeting on Friday, ACT test for DS on Saturday, a possible horse show for DD, our 22nd anniversary along with a registered Skeet Shoot, and then shooting skeet again on Sunday.

Last week we went to a bull sale in Estancia. We lived there 17 years ago and I hadn't been back since. It was really good to see everyone and we brought 6 new bulls home. Made me feel really old to visit with a friend's son who was 5 at the time and is now 22! He was a cute chunk as a baby and has grown into a really good looking kid with a neat personality.

Somehow, when I think about it, it doesn't feel like I'm growing old. Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I know - I'm just fooling myself because there are those days when reality comes crashing into me headfirst and I cannot deny the fact that I need my reading glasses to dial the numbers on the phone, or I need a hand in order to get back up from sitting on the floor, or the gray hairs are multiplying faster than rabbits; but please, just humor me and leave me to my fairytale. I choose to believe that I look the same as I did 17 years ago, just as I was told time and time again. I adore all of those 'old', young friends...liars though they may be!

Didn't someone once say that with age, comes wisdom?....and I'm a long way from being wise so I must not be old! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! Grin!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Teeter Tottering in the Snow

Yesterday it was 75° and this morning we woke up to this

and 20°. Crazy weather! So we went from this:

to this:
overnight and it's still snowing. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining (although my flowers probably are) it's just odd. I had already thrown myself whole heartedly into spring.

If it's going to snow, then bring it on. We could certainly use the moisture, but I think I may have jumped the gun on my spring gardening. Grin! You would think I would know better. This is exactly the reason we are warned not to plant until May. Mother Nature always tucks a trick or two under her belt and me being a foolish human, falls for it once again!

The good news is that this gives us the perfect day to buckle down and work on school. Well, the kids would probably argue with that statement. Not such good news to them, but it seems as if we've been tending to ranch duties a bit more than school lately. Keeping everything in balance has always been a struggle for me. I often feel as if I'm standing on a teeter totter and forever running from one end to the other in an attempt to keep it balanced although there are days I just stand in the middle and simply do a lot of leaning. I like those days the best! Grin!

I know I'm not the only one. Some days are easier than others and honestly. some days I'm simply too pooped to keep both ends of the teeter totter in the air. Some days one end just crashes into the ground and some days that end happens to be me! if I'm being honest with you though, I'll have to admit that the school end is mostly the end in the dirt. I've visited with a lot of homeschoolers through the years and they always tell me that they too are afflicted with the "We're always behind" syndrome. On the worst days I bemoan the fact that the kids won't graduate until they're 25. LOL!

On the best days I fondly recall the day DS's college professor (Ds is taking concurrent classes at the college) asked to meet with me and then proceeded to gush over what a wonderful job we've done homeschooling this kid. Or the day the kids stood up and addressed 70 strangers (I'm an Air Force brat and all of my parent's friends are military officers) birthday celebration with a poem DD had written and a speech from DS. Then they mingled and visited and my parents where overwhlemed with over 50 letters about how amazing their grandchildren are.

Those are the days I need to recall when I struggle to help them understand the concept of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Heck, I have a hard time grasping that! So we trudge onward...into the snow...or the heat...or the rain...

Wouldn't surprise me one bit if we experienced all of that in one day around here.

As for me, I'm off to stir that pot of stew simmering on the stove. Y'all stay warm and here's wishing you a balanced day on your teeter totter!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let the Gardening Begin!

My last trip into town was actually rather enjoyable. Those of you that know me, know that town is my least favorite destination, however, this trip involved a productive trip to Home Depot for lumber and weed cloth and a few plants.
I've been devouring my New Square Foot Gardening book and I am now ready to impliment all that I have learned. DH offered to cut the lumber for my boxes but after stern warnings to keep my phalanges out of the saw's path, he relented and let me cut them down to size. The circular saw and I quickly became fast friends and I emerged with all fingers intact. DH was in the shop, cutting the tops off of barrels for new trash barrels and I walked up to him with a big grin and all ten fingers splayed out in front of my face. He looked up and chuckled. I love it when he laughs. His laugh reaches his blue eyes and they sparkle. After 22 years of marriage, he still makes me giddy. Stealing a kiss while he wields a cutting torch in his hand and I have sawdust in my hair, is all the romance I need! Dirt road romance beats the store bought kind any day!

My first box will actually be for flowers and herbs. I am building a, what I hope will be a very cool, graduated box in the corner of the yard. Today I put the boxes together with 3" screws after leveling the corner where the box will reside.
Then DD and I hauled dirt to fill it. And we hauled dirt. And more dirt. Goodness, it took a lot of dirt to fill this thing up!
DH brought this huge pile of soil from the seed store. My new best friend, Jesse, let me have it for next to nothing. Gotta remember to take him some cookies!
Now that this first box is built, I am itching to build more! I'm going to start small since I'm still trying to get a handle on just how much I can grow in each box. I want to have enough to share. Yesterday, we went to shoot skeet and one of our friends asked me whether I had a garden. LOL! Wrong question! It opened the door and there we were, discussing the pros and cons of everything garden related between rounds. My mind began to tumble with thoughts of adding another box to my garden just to supply our shotgun buddies with fresh produce this summer. Most of them are retired and I think they would enjoy fresh vegetables straight from the garden. These people have become like a second family to us and thus, after a lengthy discussion with Bill, I will be adding strawberries to my garden and I'll need a whole box just for those! So that makes 8 far. The layout I like the most utilizes 11 boxes so we'll see.

I've been stealing graph paper from the kids and sketching out my ideas along with lengthy lists of seeds and computations for how much space I'll need. Does that make me a geeky gardener? Gosh this is fun!

Next up: building the compost bin. I've confiscated 3 pallets and I've got DD and DS on manure patrol! Wish I had the compost pile up and running - last week DD and I helped a friend with a catering breakfast. We fed breakfast to 126 people - biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and cinnamon rolls. That included 30 dozen scrambled eggs! Needless to say, neither DD nor I wish to see anymore scrambled eggs for a very long time, but those egg shells would have been the perfect addition to my compost pile!

Here is the completed box filled with soil and a few plants. I'm going to grow herbs in the bottom tier.

Oops! Guess I should add the dimensions I used. The top tier is 1x1' - 2x6s. Second tier is 2x2 - 2x8s. Third tier is 3x3 - 2x10s and the bottom layer is 4x4 - 2x12s. They just sit on top of each other. I stuck a board against the inside of the layers to the ground level in order to help with stablization. You could decorate the boxes any way you wanted, but we keep things pretty rustic out here so I just left everything natural although I may slap a weather resisitant coating on there.
So that concludes the first installment of gardening at the end of the dirt road. Y'all have a great week - I'm off to play in the dirt!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dirt Roads

I didn't write this, but I adore the man who did. He's written many pieces that speak to me. This is probably one of his most well known pieces. Many of you may be familiar with it and may have heard it on Paul Harvey - who sadly, passed away last week, but he is not the author. Paul Harvey will be missed. I have fond memories of his signature voice broadcasting over the airwaves for as long as I can remember. I've bounced over many a pasture while listening to "The rest of the Story". However, this was written by a man named Lee Pitts. I am familiar with him through the column he writes in various livestock publications. I found one of his books in a bookstore in West Texas one day, years ago and spoke of it when we had company at some point and time. The book left with the company. I purchased another one. Yet another batch of friends left with it. I was bound and determined to have one for my own, but each time I bought one, I would watch it leave with whoever I happened to mention it to. Hmph. You would think I would learn to keep my mouth shut. Then I couldn't find it any more so I contacted Mr. Pitts and ordered 2 copies plus one of his other books. The dear man sent me all of his books! I love them. As you all know, I am passionate about my dirt road and I wanted to share this original piece with you. My mom asked me one day what I would do if I had to live somewhere else. I told here that I would acclimate as long as it was at the end of a dirt road:

What's mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved.

There's not a problem in America today, that wouldn't be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.

People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride. That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it's worth it, if at the end is home...a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.

We wouldn't have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.

There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.

Criminals didn't walk two dusty miles to rob or pillage, if they knew they'd be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun. And there were no drive by shootings.

Our values were better when our roads were worse!

People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn't tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust & bust your windshield with rocks. Dirt Roads taught patience.

Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly you didn't hop in your car for a quart of milk you walked to the barn for your milk.

For your mail, you walked to the mail box.

What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony rode on Daddy's shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.

At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.

Paved roads lead to stress and danger. Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.

At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn't some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you'd have to hitch up a team and pull them out.

Usually you got a dollar...

always you got a new friend...

at the end of a Dirt Road.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Homegrown Tomatoes

I want you to do something for me. Scroll down to my playlist of music and click on "Homegrown Tomatoes" by Guy Clark. I was introduced to him 2 years ago by way of the fellow that delivered our Dining Room table from Texas. He is a musician and we took a liking to him...or maybe he took a liking to us...either way, he ended up spending the night and we broke in our new table with pizza and an entire evening of he and DS jamming guitars. This is one of the songs he played and sang and I immediately ran out and bought the CD.
Now don't blame me if you walk around the house belting this song out at the top of your lungs. I love it! It just puts a skip in my step and makes me want to dance. Don't deny it - it'll happen!

Tomatoes of the homegrown variety! I CAN NOT wait until I pluck the first homegrown tomato of the season from that vine! There is just very little that compares to a sweet, juicy sun-warmed tomato straight from the garden! Having a bad day? Well I dare you to walk out into your garden, wiggle your bare feet into the soil, select a ripe tomato and bite into it. Bet you'll feel better instantaneously!

I know this post would better be suited for the summer and my garden's not even in yet, but homegrown tomatoes are all I can think of so a post about them is what you get! Here's hoping this will at least whet your appetite for getting a garden in this spring! So take heart! If you are still knee deep in snow or buried under torrents of rain please send it all directly my way because we are in desperate need of moisture and then know that this:

is just around the corner!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Windblown Ramblings and Sorting Cattle

I don't feel like blogging, but I am dragging myself to the computer anyway. I figure I owe it to you and I'm being reminded that it HAS been a week since my last post. Sorry, but the weather has been too nice to spend much time indoors. At least it has been until this morning. It was 68 degrees at 6 am and the wind has decided to kick into high gear and I'm feeling a bit windblown. DH and the kids were out cutting more bulls and after feeding them a hearty breakfast, I set out to make my way to the end of the dirt road to stick some mail in the mailbox. I don't know what possessed me to walk but, 5 miles later, fighting the wind the entire way, I made it back home and started on dinner. Besides the arrival of buzzards, wind, also generally can be counted on as a sign of spring out here. I'm already tired of it and that's not a good thing since we're bound to be experiencing many more days like today. Its difficult to be in a good humor when the wind blows incessantly. You just sort of sigh and look away from the dirt piling up on the insides of your window sills...and on the dining room table...and on the counters...and on the ....(insert anything here).

Last week we shipped out 117 hd of steer calves and since then, the days haven't slowed down much.

Too many trips to town, but some of them are just worth it! Ranch girl had the most gorgeous baby boy you ever did see on Sunday and there were about 16 of us nestled into the waiting room waiting for the blessed event. I'm glad no one else was in labor, because we kind of filled up the entire room! I so want to head over there to peek into his precious face, but I'll give them a little time to get settled in. You done good Mama!

On Saturday I attended a quilt class in town. It's held once a month for 8 months and I don't know how many I'll be able to get to, but I made the first one anyway! Now I see a trip to the quilt store in Texas looming in the not too distant future!

Monday was Bible Study, a movie for DD and time for me to catch up with a friend on town.
I enjoyed every minute at home on Tuesday, but dreaded the fact that we would be heading back in on Wednesday for piano, on Thursday for Shooting Sports, on Friday for a 4-H Meeting, and on Saturday for a Bull Sale, and on Sunday for Church. I'll confess that we haven't been attending church like we should. I'm working on that.

I'm still in the midst of the planning stages for the garden. I'm waiting for my "New Square Foot Gardening" book to arrive. I stopped by the seed store yesterday and Jesse told me they had tons of potting soil and garden soil from broken bags that I could have for next to nothing! Yes, I am excited about dirt! I'm not entirely sure what I'll use for the containers or boxes, but we've got lots of old, round, water troughs just sitting around that I'm eyeing with interest. So recently, I've had my nose stuck in the Farmer's Almanac along with the seed store catalog that gives me a ton of information for gardening in this area.

So, that about catches you up on life at the ranch. I'll leave you with some photos I took when we sorted steers and heifers a couple of weeks ago. Well, I didn't sort. All I did was snap some pictures. Oh, and almost set the truck on fire.

Here's DH sorting:

Everyone's gotta stay on their toes and keep the cattle from heading in directions other than where DH wants them to go:

They'll sneak by you any chance they get:

Its a group effort:

These critters are not known for their cooperative natures either. See that "you can't make me" stare?

DD headed them in the right direction when the sorting was finished:

The wind was being quite uncooperative as well; she spent much of her time holding onto her hat.

Oh and that fire? Here's the culprit:

I smelled something burning as I drove the pickup and trailer over here and lo and behold, DH crawled under it and pried out this smoldering chunk of grass. Looks like someone's been driving off road! And, no, it wasn't me! DH thought it had been there for a while. Whew! I was off the hook and breathed a sigh of relief and sent up a prayer of thanks that the pickup didn't catch on fire. I'll tell you, we keep those angels busy around here!
And while we're at it, lets just have a flat tire for fun:

Sigh! Never a dull moment around here. It's a wonder DH lets me get behind the wheel of anything!
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