Thursday, August 28, 2014

As it goes...

At last the radio fencing is complete and the Polarbears are back on duty. The sheep were ecstatic to see them and it wasn’t a day too soon, as I went out to visit, just in time to see them go after an ENORMOUS coyote that was headed for the sheep. 

Sushi had her calf the next day. It’s a little heifer and she did a great job. She delivered her with no problems and mothered up like an old pro. She was protective of the baby without being aggressive towards me. I separated her and the baby into the alleyway that runs between the 3 pastures. There is plenty of feed there, but she can’t hide the baby away from me or make it impossible to move her to the milk room...which is my biggest challenge. She DOES. NOT. WANT. TO. GO.  I have no idea why she is so reluctant to go there, with or without the heifer. She has had only good experiences there and knows she gets goodies, but it’s a rodeo every morning. The odd thing is, once she is there and locked into the stanchion, she is perfectly behaved. In fact, she is the best and easiest cow I have ever milked. She never moves her feet, swishes her tail or anything. I don’t get much for my efforts though. A half gallon is the most she lets me have, although she has not yet ‘let down’. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means when I have a flare and cannot get to the milk room, it is safe to just skip that day. Bad because...well...we don’t get much milk for ourselves. That might improve though, once the baby is old enough to lock in for the night.

Meanwhile, the coyotes were attracted to the small amount of blood in the pasture from Sushi’s calving. The Maremmas were especially active that night and the subsequent couple of nights, but being back on duty has effectively repelled the coyotes and the calf and sheep are safe.

The ducks are quite large now and I hope will start laying eggs in the next couple of months. The 40 meatie chicks will be residing in the shed with them in another week or so. 

I’ve been dying to ride all summer. Mister has finally put the weight back on that he lost being in with the cavvy, and the swelling and bruises on his body from their attacks on him have all but disappeared.  

Because of SushiMoo's reluctance to go into the milk room every morning I used him to force her in a couple of times. It seems that she, like myself, is just NOT a morning person. We fight and push and cajole to get her in the stanchion, but in the evenings, she is waiting at the gate and once it is opened, she races to the milk room and into the stanchion of her own volition.

For now, I am healing up from an autoimmune attack on my leg. I spent the better part of a week with a very painful knee, the size of a watermelon. The swelling is down now and I am simply trying to recover the strength to get back at it. Luckily, sales were slow last week and there is plenty of inventory in both Soaps and Whipped Tallow for sale in the Etsy shop

EmmaLou was out cruising around….ever the ham…

The garden is finally giving me veggies….

And Potamus is surrounded by his sheeple, a very happy guy.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Short N Sweet

Not a lot has been going on. SushiMoo should calve sometime in August and I am hoping I will be up to milking her twice a day and put her calf on a bottle for the most part as I need the milk. EmmaLouMoo will likely go up for sale at that time as I just cannot afford to feed two cows through the winter and I can't budget feeding the copious amounts of supplements Em needs to maintain her weight. We just don't need 7 gallons of milk a day… I'm gonna miss her sweet face though.

There are several fires going again this summer, not terribly unusual as there are often lightening strikes in the summer that start the sagebrush aflame. Most of the ranch is gone fighting fire, with the heavy equipment from here. One night a drunk driver took the boss' semi truck head on. I heard the driver was going close to 100 mph while trying to pass another car. It destroyed the boss' truck but fortunately, the boss was not injured. That's not the case for the driver who hit him however. Please let this be a reminder to all of you, there is no excuse for drinking and driving and nothing is important enough to make risky passings on the road. Life is fragile and can be gone in a second. We are grateful the boss is ok, and that no other innocent person was injured in the wreck. We are very sorry for the driver and his family, for what they must be going through.

TheMan is home, running the pivots and fixing equipment. I'm hoping against hope that he will be able to help me finish the mile of dog fencing as I really need to get the Maremmas back out with the sheep where they belong.

He bought the rest of the cavvy in from across the road...

The ducks are nearly fully feathered now and having a good time playing outside in the grass and water and are slowly getting used to us and the dogs. Bruno has opted to stay outside and keep an eye on them, as something got one of the guineas the other night when the dogs were inside.

Potamus, on the other hand, is an aspiring couch potato and slyly stretches his feet out towards me to let me know he is here and no one is petting him…he thinks that little issue should be amended.

My time has been spent pulling weeds, putting down mulch in the garden, feeding critters when I can, and filling orders. I also made a 'by request' soap. It is a beer soap scrub with Lemongrass&Poppyseed and ground luffa. It should be really nice and will be for sale in the shop in another week or so. Look for it there. Ranch Rustics Handcrafted Soaps

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wild Wild Weekend

We had esteemed visitors last weekend. My brother, who has never been here before came up to see us. He is the only one of my childhood family that will ever be here, so it was pretty exciting. We’ve had many losses over the past couple of years and I don’t see either of my citybred sisters wanting to experience ranch life. He brought his nifty little Ranger ATV that carries 4 people easily so it was pretty fun because I got to go everywhere with him. My niece and nephew came up the day after his arrival so it was exponentially more fun. Usually I pretty much stay at the house while everyone does there thing and get to enjoy their company at meal times. Feeding them good, at least, is something I can do most of the time. We still managed to eat pretty well, even though I was gone most of the day.  The night he got here we had some lambchops, brown rice and Arkansas green beans, along with a salad and homemade bleu cheese dressing. It was a good start.

The first morning I got up early for me, as I knew he is a very early riser, waking about 4:30 each day. The cowboys were sorting and shipping cattle on the other side of our rock wall in the big corral and I thought he might like to watch. I ran over to the cabin he stayed in and knocked, but no answer. I tried the door and was surprised to find it locked...not so much that I found it odd he would lock a front door, as living in the city, it would be a natural habit, but surprised that one of the buildings on the ranch HAD a locking door! I took some pics of the cowboys working for him. 

Eventually he staggered out of bed 5 hours later than usual surprised he could sleep so long. I think the lack of sounds had something to do with it. Just another one of the perks living so far from he was situated in probably the ONLY place on the ranch one doesn’t hear my rooster.

We ran up the mountain to the weir, which is always an amazing view. After bouncing off of the rocks on the way up and the way back we went to see the pivots going in across the ranch. It took most of the day with TheMan driving and answering all the technical Y-chromosome questions while I sat in the back seat enjoying the scenery. We drove out to the processing corrals and passed a pair of pheasants, which are always beautiful to see.

We brought the sheeple in, locked up the calves so I could milk EmmaLouMoo in the morning, gathered eggs, picked some strawberries and raspberries and BBq’d steak for dinner. My niece and nephew arrived that evening.

The next day, the kids wanted to ride their dirt bikes so we went North of the ranch headquarters back into the canyon. Just after we passed a natural hotspring we looked back to see a cloud of dust moving along the edge of the mountain. We stopped and as the breeze changed and the dust reorganized we saw a herd of wild mustangs that passed us up. They stopped after awhile and we pulled ahead of them so we wouldn’t be pushing them as it is a drought year and we were afraid they might be searching for water and it was a very warm day. They began running again, catching up to us once more. We stopped again and they continued on, crossing the dirt road right behind us, then pulling up ahead to charge into the valley for which we’d been heading. We could hear their hoofbeats and almost feel the thundering in the ground, even though it was a small herd of only 13 horses. We decided to turn around so as not to excite them, but not before we got a few pictures. I think it was probably the highlight of the trip as it’s not something you see everyday.

The last day we went out on the dry lakebed. There is no way to describe how vast it is in size, except to say they set the women's land speed record there in the 60's in excess of 500 mph. The views are astonishing and camera shots cannot do them justice. All in all, I think it was a pretty good first trip.

We made Boule Bread and 4 loaves of Sourdough so the kids know how that is done. I had the bathrooms stocked with Ranch Rustics Soaps and Whipped Tallow which came in handy after being out in the dust and dirt all day.  They all purchased a dozen or so soaps to take with them. 

I fattened them up with Sourdough/Buttermilk Waffles made with homemilled wheat flour and some BIG dinners, and the "Coup de Grace" was  Beef Kebabs followed by Bananas FlambĂ© on homemade crepes with homemade vanilla ice cream on top. Ahhhhh….Sorry, we were in too big of a hurry to eat them to take any pictures for you.

 I suspect they will all be back. I'll be looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Duck Whisperer

It seems as though we are going to town every month right now, which is WAY too often to suit me. But, the upside is, we get to listen to a book tape, eat in a fancy restaurant and...bring home DUCKS! My online friends keep telling me how duck eggs are superior to chicken eggs, as far as being larger, richer and making amazingly fluffy baked goods, so I broke down and decided to try some, Our egg laying flock is getting geriatric and this might be their last year so we had to replace them with SOMEthing. The good news is, ducks don’t crow, they don’t eat much commercial feed as they love to forage on grasses and bugs and can be very friendly. The downside is, they are pretty dirty. I picked up 4 Khaki Campbells as they are supposed to be good egg layers, 2 Indian Runner ducks just for fun, because it cracks me up to look at them with their upright stance and long necks, and 2 Roeuns which are supposed to be superior meat birds and great mosquitoe eaters. We shall see. 

The first night home, a moth got in while we were dragging a water trough in to use as a brooder. It was flitting around their heat light and 2 of them JUMPED UP IN THE AIR. One successfully snatched it and the 8 of them went to feasting. It was nearly as big as they were. I found it impressive.

One of the ranch mechanics who works with TheMan came by last night. He likes EmmaLouMoo’s milk so we have worked out a deal whereby he will milk her a couple of times a week for me and we will split the milk. I guess he drinks a gallon a day all by himself. I throw a loaf of fresh bread at him now and then also, and in return he occasionally prods TheMan to help with some chores around here, by pitching in himself. I really do appreciate it.

 Last night he came in to see the ducklings. He picked up every single one and held it until they were mesmerized. Who knew there was such a thing as a “Duck Whisperer”? 

Today, they were all much calmer. Now I will admit I have been handling them every day to help them get used to us, but I haven’t had half the response he had. I guess some folks just have a gift. My Grampa was like that. People would lose pets and they would all wind up at our house, in his room out back. Parakeets and pigeons would fly in his open glass door and perch on his chair or shoulder. It was just weird, but I, of course, loved it. He was quite a guy.

I had a couple of red letter days last week and went riding. Mister is losing weight out with the cavvy, so he gets to come in for supplements. He’s the only horse I know that can lose weight on 200 acres of grass. During one of our treks we saw no less than 6 coyotes cross our path, one of which was enormous. I think it is the biggest coyote I’ve ever seen.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I got  3 heads of iceburg and 6 heads of romaine lettuce torn up and jarred for salads for the next couple of months. I have mentioned in past blogs that using an attachment for the vacuum sealer will keep the lettuce fresh for 6-8 weeks this way, as long as you reseal the jar if you don’t use it all up. We eat pretty good when we first get back from town as we get to feast on all the stuff that won’t last so long. Today was fresh avocado and bacon sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread with salad on the side. It was delish.

The next order of business will be to get the rest of the radio fence up so the Maremmas can be back out with their sheep. It won't be soon enough for me. Meanwhile, they've taken over the house.

Never a dull moment.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

About Traveling...

Most definitely spring has arrived. Weeds are trying to dominate my landscaping and I am determined to make sure my flowers have a fighting chance. I made a purchase a few years ago from a nursery in Colorado. It was the only place I could find an Austrian Copper rose for sale. I am so glad I did. It gives me enormous pleasure to look at it.

My brother in law was here for the first time. I did a bit of cooking, but not much else as it was a rough week. Not much has changed in that department, although I am having a great day today and hope to have another and another...

I’ve got lots of soap cured for summer sales. CucumberMelon, Lemongrass, KiwiLemon and Jasmine, just to name a few. Check out the sales page at RanchRusticSoaps at , or go the store.

Because of the cheatgrass seed heading out, I can’t let the dogs in the sheep’s night pasture until I can get rid of it as they keep getting into it. The horse corral is even worse so they are guarding at night from the yard. Daytime, the sheep are on their own as I have yet to get the radio fence finished. We are having to string almost a mile of wire and I have been incapacitated and TheMan won’t take time to do it so it’s going to be a problem for awhile, I’m afraid. I hope I don’t lose any lambs before I get things straightened out. I had to haul the dogs in to the vet because Mr Potamus got a cheatgrass seed caught in his throat. He doesn't like leaving home anymore than I do. He likes even less getting in a pickup truck. So, we had to take the Potamus Limo.

They didn't like it much. 

We have had to make a couple of trips into Burns this year. The last one, we stopped at Dairy Queen for a to-go bite. Upon leaving town, we discovered they left out half of the order. We turned around, drove all the way back and waited for the second half. Part of that was a large side of onion rings. For this kind of service, some folks think they are worth $15 an hour. I don't think so, Sherlock.

This is the smallest 'large' I ever saw.

But, once again, the good news is that if you have to drive for hours into town, you might as well have views like this along the way. This is heading for the small town West of the ranch, which is really only 2 hours, but it has very few stores so we don't go there often, choosing instead to make it a day and head to Idaho where there is everything we might need in one trip.

It hard to see them in the picture above, but we passed some of the wild horses on the way out. We also passed a herd of antelope, several cows (as it is open range) and 13 snakes on the dirt road!

Yeah. I can do this.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back…It's Still Progress

We decided it was time to take the goats into town to their new home. As providence would have it, my new medicine arrived the night before and I needed to see the nurse in town about administering the shot to myself, as I do real good with injector pens, but this only comes in a needle and syringe, and being quite needle-shy, I have a nasty little habit of passing out when something pierces my skin. Yeah, go figure. I could break colts and bust a leg or ribs or whatever, but a little thing like a shot or piercing my ears knocks me flat. Just one of my idiosyncracies, I guess. At any rate, this was a very good thing, as town is nearly 4 hours away and we don't like to go there often. The timing was impeccable and knowing what I do about Him, it was no accident.

We figured that if we left at 6 am, we would have time to stop for breakfast, before heading to the hospital. All we had to do was grab Annie and lead her to the long horse trailer we pull around with us. Patch and Shugar always follow her so there were no worries there….

Morning came (too early) and after throwing on some clothes, grabbing a few things we would need for the trip (which always takes about 20 hours or so, to get there and back) such as the Ipod with the booktapes on it, a grocery and errands list, a couple of big coolers and the house dogs, TheMan fed MissEmmaLouMoo who how has 3 calves on her as I have been unable to milk lately and she needs to have all the milk she is producing used up, to prevent mastitis.

We headed for the goats.
 With Annie and Patch in hand, we marched confidently across the sheep pasture, through the Maremmas and toward the front gate. My confidence didn't waiver until I looked back and saw Shugar (the only one who is pretty wild yet, due to holding a grudge about her early horn disbudding) was firmly planted at the other end of the pasture hiding behind the crazy ram. After much cajoling and pleading we made no headway so chose instead to push all the sheep and goats into the little area where the dogs eat, in order to capture Shugar. With a little sweat on our part, we had success and dragged everyone to the horse trailer…one hour late. Mr Cider got out and that slowed things down as well because in his advancing age, he can't jump back in. I know how he feels.

I decided to comfort myself with the thought of over indulging in Maple Bars which they usually have fresh at a little gas station store in Jordan Valley, a couple of hours away. It's the only town between us and civilization and it's pretty much a one blink experience. After an interminably long drive through the chapparal of South Eastern Oregon, enjoying the varied scenery of sagebrush and mesquite, mesas and hills, gullys and small streams we made it to Jordon Valley. Mouth watering, I ran in to find they only had 3 Maple Bars, so I opted to eat one and split one with TheMan. They are tasty, but not very filling.

I suppose because you drive for hours in SE Oregon without passing a town, that a building by the side of the road merits the sign above. After all, there might be another truck on the road somewhere.

Also, SE Oregon is famous for having pretend towns. This is the booming town of Rome, Oregon. The whole thing. One little gas station/cafe kinda thing.

We made it to the hospital and the decision was made that TheMan would have to learn to give me the injections as the passing out thing just isn't feasible these days. I don't get up as easy as I used to, and I could just visualize the damage I could do falling forward with a needle in my gut. He did an admirable job, despite my squeaking and complaining and we took off for the goats' new home.

The people were super nice, had goats, sheep, llamas and some calves, but mostly, they had 6 kids and that is what the goats need is someone to play with them. Annie and Patch are people lovers and Shugar just needs to learn that not everyone wants to hurt her. We left with a dozen of THE BEST cupcakes we have ever tasted. We'll be back for both more cupcakes and goats milk in the future.

Back home only 16 hours later we hit the sack. Next morning, we woke up to this.

Good thing we brought the tomato starts back in the house. Looking forward to some warmer weather coming and a visit from a brother in law who has never yet been here.

Mother's Day was wonderful. Cold, but I had recieved a beautiful email from one son and the next day, a phone call from the other. Even though I don't hear well, and usually discourage phone calls, it was great to hear his voice. I'm so grateful for the time I had with them, and for the beautiful wives and mothers they both married. Our girls are doing well too, one moves her family into a new house this week and the other is having another baby.

This week I'll be making more Whipped Tallow for the store. It sells on Etsy, if you click the link, or at my webstore at Ranch Rustics. A few new fragrances of wax tarts and candles might be in order too, along with making some more super rich, amazing ice cream.

Just because it's so amazing, I am going to share the recipe.

First off, I separate the yolks from 16 ranch eggs. I break them into a bowl, so if there is a spot on one, or if a yolk breaks into the white, it doesn't ruin the whites, which can be used later for either a pavlova or angel food cake. Even a speck of yolk in it would inhibit the whites from whipping properly. So yolks in one little container, whites into another, then the yolk is plopped into the measure cup with the rest.

Combine your 16 yolks with 2 cups of castor or Bakers sugar. It is a much finer sugar that will more easily blend. I run it in the Bosch mixer until it thickens. Meantime, a quart of milk heats on the stove until it is scalded. Luckily I got several gallons of milk from Emma before I had to quit milking her.

Next is the tricky part. You have to 'temper' the eggs. Pour a small stream of hot milk into the egg mixture while the mixer is running. Just a bit at a time. You want to slowly bring the temperature of the eggs up, otherwise you will wind up with scrambled egg instead of ice cream. Once you have blended enough of the hot milk into the egg mix, pour the egg mixture into the pan and put it back on the burner. Heat until the mixture thickens up and coats the back of a spoon. DON'T let it come to a boil or it will curdle your eggs. Once it is thickened, pour it all into your ice cream container and chill it over night.

The next day, add a quart of heavy cream (EmmaLou's heavy cream is divine, btw) and 8 tsp of vanilla. (In our case it is homemade with vodka and vanilla beans infusing for months) Add the ice and salt to the ice cream freezer according to directions and churn it.

This ice cream was so rich, with all the homegrown and homemade ingredients it was actually YELLOW.
It was also really good. We've had it every night so far. Sometimes in a bowl, sometimes on a cone, sometimes with homemade Dulce de Leche caramel poured over the top…Oh My Heavens! It's some radically good stuff.

THE Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

16 egg yolks
2 cups castor sugar
4 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
8 tsp vanilla

Beat yolks and sugar until thickened.
Pour quart of milk in sauce pan and scald. 
Pour some of hot milk into egg mixture while beating, to temper eggs.
Pour egg mix back into pan and heat until mixture thickens enough to coat back of a spoon.
Pour into container and chill over night
Right before churning, add 
4 cups heavy cream
8 tsp vanilla.
Churn according to freezer directions.

for soaps, candles or whipped tallow butter, here is a link to the Etsy store: