Friday, February 24, 2017

Over Hill, Over Dale...

As we hit the dusty trail...

 I know that is actually a WW I marching song, but it just fit. :) I've been spending a lot of time in the feed truck, or rather "WE" have and this is our chariot:

Skeet has been my trusty sidekick, chief navigator, bunny patrol, bovine locator, quail flusher, and antelope hunter lately:

All in a day's work for the head of ranch security:

He goes absolutely ballistic when he sees antelope. You can kind of see some through the middle of this picture...or at least tiny specks of them:

I apologize for the quality of these pictures, but I just had my phone and it's about 4 years old. I've been making feed runs for DH. It's not hard, just takes time, but I'm glad I can help a little. I load up the cake feeder

Making sure to push it back into the corners so I can get a full load. Then apologize to the handful of bulls who have gathered at the sound of cake cubes being fed into the feeder. Sorry, fellas, today's not your day.

load a few sacks of mineral:

And head out:

I feed 2 pastures on M-W-F and two others on T-TH-S. There are others too, but these are the main ones right now. The feed run takes me 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  I'm learning the habits of the cattle in each pasture as well as the nuances of an old, rusty feed truck that has seen better days. Still, I am thankful every day when it makes a clean feed run and rolls us safely back to the house. We've been on this place for 12 years and I've gone with DH a lot, but I am still easily turned around in a few places now that I'm the one doing the driving.

DH doesn't understand why, and I tried to explain. 128,000 acres is a lot of country and when I go with him, I am usually visiting with him or focused on capturing something with my camera. I'm not on the lookout for water leaks or the steer with a runny nose or whether we turned left on the third road (which is really just a cow trail) from the 4th dirt tank, just past the 2nd gate or right on the second road just past the plugged well. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the fact that the wind is blowing up a storm from the West today and that the cattle have drifted to the dirt tank down in the draw and that I have to have the truck in the right place if I'm going to call the others up with the siren. There is an art to this cattle feeding gig.

Only 97 here.

There are 197 in Chuckbox. Surely 100 hd of cattle cannot be that hard to find

Well done Skeet.

The other day I heard DH tell someone on the phone that I was making a hand. In this line of work, that is high praise. I know he's just being kind because I'm a long way from earning that title, but it made me tear up anyway.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lemon Loaf

Last night, ie: in the wee hours of the morning, I was perusing Pinterest and pinned this recipe for Lemon Loaf

Averie Cooks

Then I went straight into the kitchen and made it. No matter that it was only 4 a.m. DH was finally resting and this recipe is a one bowl, no mixer required recipe, so I was able to mix it up and not wake him in the process. Plus, we both love anything lemon!

I'm posting the recipe here, but hope you'll click onto Averie's blog using the link above for the story of her lemon loaf journey. :) She made an awful lot of lemon loaves in order to come up with this one so thanks Averie, for saving me a lot of time in the kitchen. We'll be whipping this one up a lot!

Lemon Loaf

3 large eggs
1 C granulated sugar
1 C sour cream
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon extract (not lemon juice)
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 C powdered sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice or less for a thicker glaze

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5" loaf pan. In a large bowl, add eggs, sugar, and sour cream. Whisk until smooth and well combined. Drizzle in the oil while whisking. Add lemon zest. lemon extract, and continue whisking.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring until just combined. Don't over mix. Lumps are fine. :) Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes. The original recipe calls for tenting your loaf with foil the last 10 minutes of baking, but I didn't do that and it turned out perfectly.

Allow loaf to cool at least 30 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. Mix glaze and drizzle over loaf. The original recipe states that it will keep for 5 days in an airtight container or up to 6 months in the freezer. She does not recommend keeping it in the fridge as it will dry out. I can't attest to any of those storage methods because ours lasted only 24 hours. :)

Friday, February 17, 2017

What I've Been Up To

As per my usual routine, I've been sneaking in some sewing here and there, as time allows. I finished my Valentine's Day table runner and it graced the buffet in the dining room for a few days:

Then I pressed my Color Box top and cut the backing. I found this wide backing online and bought 5 yards - enough for 2 quilts:

I picked through my scrappy bin of strips and made the binding:

Then I pressed all of my 9-patch blocks for another scrappy quilt. I think I'm going to set them with Navy and white hourglass blocks and bind it in Navy.  So I set about to cutting squares for that and made a few blocks:

Our Quilt Squad group is meeting tomorrow, but I have to bow out. I do need to run into town right quick to run some errands and drop off a Crock-pot of  Taco Soup for my fellow stitchers before heading back home:

My washing machine refused to agitate on Tuesday and although DH is a master at fixing these sorts of things, I wasn't about to let him tie into it with his back giving him fits so we loaded it into the truck and hauled it town. Yes, he and I lifted it into the truck. They had to order the part so here's hoping I get it back before I have to find a river and beat our clothes against a rock. I'm very thankful that they are able to repair it though and I don't have to shell out money for a new one! I am currently reading a book called "Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch Women and I am very thankful for a lot of modern conveniences right now!

DH's back is really out of whack so I've been trying to help out. He would call it hovering. :) I know he's hurt because this man never complains when he's sick or hurt. Hurt or not, cattle must be fed and when there are about 600 hd on this side of the ranch and 64,000 acres, it takes a good while. Throw in the fact that you cannot sit or lay down in any position to alleviate the pain and you have a man who does what it takes:

I finally fussed enough that he let me drive and he stood in the back of the truck. He'll be fine. Just going to take some time and prayer.

Then one of these fellas decided to take up residence in a pair of  my britches on Thursday and when I pulled them on, he stung me on my leg and gave me an extra good whip with his nasty tail on my finger. OWIE!

Now I'm off to finish cleaning out the deep freeze. We've got a beef ready to pick up!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Quilting Stitchuation

Last Friday a friend and I met in town for a quilt shop expedition road trip and no trip to town is complete without a stop at the farm store:

I needed some feed and she needed a tire repaired. After that, we headed west to the mountains of Ruidoso to check out a new quilt shop that opened a few weeks ago. A Quilting Stitchuation:

This is the owner, Jackie, who couldn't be nicer. Jackie is the one cutting fabric behind the counter. The other lady, who also couldn't be nicer, is my MIL.

I coerced her into meeting us here. :) Jackie and her husband migrated down from Alaska and have set up shop in this fun town that is a mecca for fans of horse racing and skiing. Jackie said she met up with the local quilt group and asked them what they would love to see in a quilt shop and she based her shop on those requests. This is a large space with lots of room to grow and expand. This is a view of the space when you walk in the door:

To the left is a wall with notions and Accuquilt dies and accessories:

My MIL needed fabric for a binding and Jackie cut the strips with the Accuquilt that is set up for her customers to use. Jackie will also allow her customers to only purchase the amount of fabric they need so if you only need 3 or 4" of something, she will gladly cut that for you. Jackie also provides longarm services and has her longarm set up in a room through a doorway on the right of the above photo.

To the right, in front of these great windows that let in amazing light, are 5 nice cutting and pressing stations:

I love this gal! She's such a great sport! Classroom stations are set up just to the left of those and customers are welcome to come in and sew at any time.

Many people have cabins up here that are second homes or that they rent out and Jackie invites people to leave their sewing machines and projects in one of  the cabinets while they are in town.She also told us that if she is in the shop. customers are welcome to come in, whether that be 6 a.m. or 10 p.m.

To to the right, is a break room / man cave that her husband outfitted:

She offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and cider here as well as a spot to sit and work on hand stitching, and a tv.

She has a design wall set up:

And a spot for patterns, just opposite of the design wall:

As well as a good start to her fabric inventory. Tone on tone and wildlife fabrics (since this little town is in the mountains bear and elk and deer are everywhere)

These deer greeted us outside another little shop in town that we visited:

Metallic fabrics and batiks - a popular request from the local quilters:

Novelty and western fabrics:

I didn't see any reproduction fabrics, which you know I love, but she's just getting started and you just can't carry everything. This is such a welcoming shop and I think Jackie's got all the right stuff for building a successful business here.

Once I get to town, it's just an additional hour's drive, but it's a pretty drive into the mountains and when I'm with the sweet friend I was with, it's never a long drive. We're also co-workers. She's such a joy to be with and I'm so thankful the Lord brought her into my life. I have strong hermit tendencies, but she makes a trip to town a whole lot of fun.

So if you find yourself in Ruidoso, you'll find a warm welcome at the quilt shop and if you're lucky, you just might run into the local hospitality committee:

Monday, February 6, 2017

An Empty Box!

I sewed my little heart out this weekend. I was bound and determined to empty that box of 2 1/2" squares and even after I had stitched the top I shared earlier, that measures 72" x 84", I was left with this:

So I went on a 9-patch binge, a marathon of chain stitching and in between cooking and laundry and ranch duties, I stitched. I thought I'd never finish making those 2-patches:

 and at 4 on Sunday afternoon, I had this:

Does the fact that I'm tickled about an empty box mean I need to get a life? :) I ended up with 124 6" 9-patch blocks. That's 1116 squares, and yes, the box is no longer empty, but I'm happy to have it filled with these instead:

They haven't been pressed yet, but that's a chore for another day. Another scrap quilt is just around the corner, but right now I am awfully tired of sewing.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Here a Stitch, There a Stitch

Seems that lately, I've been adding a lot of quilts to the "to be made" list and not spending any time sewing. I finally spent some time with my sewing machine the last few days though.

 I dug into my stash for borders for the Stars and Bars QOV and stitched those on as well as made a backing and binding for it:

I also pieced my Color Box top. Tell me: how is it possible to begin with a box of 2 1/2" scraps:

Piece a top that is 72 x 84:

And still have this left:

I think I am going to simply piece all of these into 9-patches and find another pattern for them. I am determined to empty this box! I'm no longer going to stash 2 1/2" squares. I'll just keep strips because I think they'll give me more options in the long run.

 Next up was the Valentine table runner and I quilted it, just using organic straight line stitching:

I made the binding and am stitching it on in the evenings as time allows.

Still, progress has been made. Makes me feel less guilty about adding new things to my list if I can cross a few off. :)

Today, I'm meeting my partner in crime in town and we're taking a road trip to another town to check out a new quilt shop that opened up 2 weeks ago. Stay tuned for my investigative report. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Good Old Dirt

I don't know if I ought to even admit this, but yesterday, when I was hauling my golden dirt into my garden, I was singing this:

Waylon Jennings: Dirt

Waylon Jennings was pretty close to my favorite songwriter growing up. In 1993 he released a children's album called Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals, and Dirt.

 Our son was 3 and our girl was born in 1993. We wore the cassette plumb out listening to it and we even had a second one to keep in the truck and when CDs came out, we bought it on CD. I don't know what it says about me that our children are grown and I still find myself singing these songs on a regular basis, but it's just the way I roll out here. :)

We have a history with dirt. When you ranch for a living, it's a little hard to avoid it, so we embrace it. :) Our kids grew up wallowing in dirt tanks as often as possible:

A lot of their childhood is filled with memories like this:

The only downside to dirt is when it does this:

(See, M. I'm betting you're not missing this part of New Mexico!) And we have our share of that too.

When the Wind Blows in the Desert

 When I'm out in the garden, I'm usually singing "Dirt" and channeling my inner Waylon Jennings. Good thing I don't have neighbors or they'd call someone to pick me up

Yesterday I read Judy's blog over at Patchwork Times on how she loves dirt here  and I shared this song with her and dared her to listen to it and NOT find herself singing it. :)

Yep, just give me some warm sunshine, dirt running through my fingers, a little Waylon Jennings with the background accompaniment of clucking chickens, and I'm a happy girl!

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