Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Onward to April

It snowed again last nite. The apricot and peach trees had blossoms on them but may not have fruit again this year because of the cold snaps. 

My sweet tooth flared up. I pulled out the sourdough starter and started feeding up a ‘Herman” starter. My regular starter (Sam) gets just flour and water, but when I want to make cinnamon rolls or biscuits, I take a portion and feed it equal amounts of flour, sugar and milk for 2 or 3 days. Everything here gets a name, btw. Even our truck. It makes me feel like I am surrounded by friends and family.

It was a happy, happy starter and when I made the rolls, they rose in just a few hours and I had to bake them that afternoon. Usually it is 8 hours for the first rise and over night for the second. Not so with this happy mixture!!! The difference seemed to come from measuring my flour and water in the first starter. Instead of just scooping equal volume of each, I weighed them. 5 oz of flour was a heaping full measuring cup while the 5 oz of water was barely more than half. It became absolutely giddy.

I also made 4 loaves of bread. It is so much easier now that I have the Bosch mixer and can make twice as much at one time as I did before, plus it is a lot faster.

I didn’t take a picture of the rolls, but I split the batch with the new neighbor. They have a cute little girl that giggles and waves at me. Makes me miss my grandkids even more, if that could be possible...but they will have fun together when the kids come to visit.

As there is a half beef coming and we lost one of our freezers and it is NOT in the budget to replace it, I'm canning more meat. A few batches of jerky is on the shelves and I canned up a lot of meatballs to use on sandwich rolls, in spaghetti or just to eat out of the jar. I use this recipe,  mix it up in the stand mixer, use a cookie scoop to put them on baking sheets but I only bake them about 15 min. then put them in sterilized canning jars, cover with hot spaghetti sauce and into the pressure canner for 75 min pts and 90 min qts. Keeps several quick meals on the shelf, and makes room in the freezer for other things.

I am thinking I will can the recipe for swedish meatballs as well, just to change things up and have more choices.

The volatile changes in weather have taken their toll on me and I have spent too many days unable to do much. The house became a dungeon and a filthy one at that. With company coming I was struggling to get things back in order when a neighbor, from the ranch down the road, showed up with her daughter to clean it! I was flabbergasted as they tore through the house cleaning, walls, ceiling fans, pictures, dusting, vacuuming, mopping...and all just to be a blessing. The next day the mom came back and washed windows. Ranch folk are the best and as far as all concerned, they are also part of our ranch family which we are so lucky to be a part of. As we were conversing, she told me that wolves are already in the neighborhood. I am desperately hoping to keep Bruno and Potamus safe without having to dispose of our flock. We’ll be using radio fencing around the big pasture and hoping that keeps them contained by day. However, the problem is, even if it keeps my dogs in, it won’t keep anything else out...so we also have to pray that the activity around the ranch headquarters here will keep wolves away during the day time, and I will have to lock the dogs and sheep up securely by night. Hopefully, we will know in a few weeks if the fence works or not. Otherwise, all the sheep will have to go, as I will not risk the lives of my big dogs, who would sacrifice themselves to protect them.

I had a couple of good days and really, really wanted to ride so I grabbed Mister, who turned up sore footed. Nephew who now works at the ranch down the road is going to try and fit him in for a trim, when he gets a chance. Next day I got up and limped out to the corral early before they turned all the horses back out and I was hoping I could catch Wimpy. He’s a wily old thing who loves to make me run around after him, between every other horse in the cavvy, to avoid being caught. This time though, I walked right up to him and he never moved. That seemed odd. I was feeling the effects of another barometer change already but hoped I could manage at least a short ride. As I brought him into the corral behind our house, I noticed he was keeping right up with me, which was also uncharacteristic of him, as he normally prefers to lug back at the end of the rope being slow and lazy for the most part. 

He had lost a great deal of weight since I’d seen him only 3 months earlier. He also had bite and kick marks on him, which was unusual as he always got along with everyone.

 Bringing him in with Mister, who, being a herd-bound turd was always excited to see Wimp, was another puzzling occurrence because Mister bowed up his neck and came at him like he was a total stranger. I began to wonder if it was really my horse. I looked at his distinctive snip (white marking on the muzzle) checked the two white saddle scars on his withers and the old barbed wire cuts on his hind leg. They were all the right ones, but I knew there was a horse that looked similar to him which is one of the boss’ horses. I became more and more fuzzy and confused and started second guessing myself. I actually posted before and after pictures of him asking people if it looked like the same horse to them. The loss of weight changed his angles dramatically and even Randyman said he didn’t think it was really Wimpy at all. Not that he would know, since he never rides and had hardly ever laid eyes on him. Since the horse had a bad looking coat, I wormed him and turned him loose again.

The ranch kids were home from college and THEY would know. Sure enough, it was Wimpy after all. (Which I would have known for certain, had I not be 'fuzzy headed' as now he looks exactly like himself only with a bad coat and much thinner.) 

One of the boys kindly re-captured him for me as I was no longer able to get up early enough or walk far enough to get him. I figured I had better find out why he lost so much weight and if it was his teeth, I needed to attend to it. When I was finally able to go out to see him, he kept his distance. I set out a flake of hay and a little SR feed for him and backed away. It took him awhile to come close enough to eat it as he could see me through the crack in the gate. It relieved me to see him acting like his usual anti-social, ornery old self. He’s not in BAD shape or poor by any means, but has lost enough weight in a short time for it to be disturbing. If he was fit and had lost the weight from working it would be a good thing, but that isn't what has occurred. I wonder now, if it is just the drought and the manner in which the cavvy is being fed. He’s getting older and he has always eaten REALLY slow. He might just not be getting his share. I found no sharp points on his molars and when I give him supplement, nothing falls out of his mouth. I’m pretty confident he will be just fine and I will be riding the next good day I have.

I spent a day making more Whipped Tallow and another trying out some new wax tart fragrances. The house smells amazing. My niece will be here in a couple of days and is bringing up an order from the candle supply store, so I’ll have plenty to do to keep me out of trouble.

First thing on the list, however, is fencing. The dogs are my top priority, and part of that will be buying a stronger fence charger, then after that is all handled, a rototiller for the garden and getting Randyman to actually help me put up the fencing he promised oh so long ago, as the meatie chickens will be here in May.

EmmaLouMoo is due anytime and I am still hoping Sushimoo is pregnant, but still don't know for sure. I should have had the vet palpate her, but I was just not well while he was on the ranch. If she is, she won't calve until August and if she isn'tthere won't be a bull around for awhile anyway.

Well, it's time to go do what I do. Have a great day/week/month and if you are looking for soap, candles or body butter, check out Ranch Rustics !

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Simple Life

The weather has been teasing lately. A couple of beautiful sunny days, then more snow, but I feel blessed for the nice days when they are here, as there is never any expectation of them in March.

Mr Potamus and Bruno are adjusting to life in smaller spaces and I am yet determined to find a way to fence something safely so the sheep can still graze this year without the dogs going out to patrol on the ranch. Meanwhile, I had Rosemary confined to the lambing shed as she is huge, her udder (notice the ‘d’s...utter is something else entirely, people! )  is also huge and I was expecting her to be the next ewe to lamb as the only other one left is Thyme and she is not very big, with very little bag at all so I assumed she had another month or so to go. I walked out one afternoon between storms and saw Bruno sitting in the near corner of the pasture, but not Mr Potamus. Curious, I headed thru the back yard, past the chicken pen and the cow corral to enter the little field the sheep are in, when I saw Potamus come around a corner back by the orchard, looking at me with his big plume tail waving and when I spoke to him, he returned in the direction he came from. I headed that way and he was happily parked on his belly admiring Thyme’s new twin lambs. It was her first lambing and I had only expected a singlet, but she went ahead and had twins anyway and turned out to be a very attentive mother. 

Salty's "Sage" (Captain Marbles twin sister) is twice the size of Thyme's twin lambs in just one week. It's amazing how fast they grow! Thyme did an outstanding job, having her babies with no help at all and being very motherly to them.
I couldn’t be more tickled with her. 

Meantime...Rosemary remained pregnant. I kicked her out with the others as the weather has improved a bit and she is obviously in no big hurry...nor is EmmaLouMoo who I thought was due this month but isn’t even bagging up yet. I'm very concerned about her staphA infection she came down with but I am praying hard that she will culture negative and I will not lose her.

Salty’s little lamb she rejected, who we alternately call “Creep” or “Captain Marbles” is doing very well and has finally moved out to the pasture with the others. I feed him 3x a day by bottle and he follows the Maremmas everywhere. He is slowly bonding with Madge’s twin boys, since Salty won’t let him near her or his sister. It’s been fun watching him follow the dogs as he seems to be learning THEIR job instead of his own, which is eating grass.

Annie the goat was being mean, mean, mean to the Captain, so she and her cohorts were removed to a different pen. The next day, I found her in the chicken pen, stealing their food. I hobbled out as quickly as I was able and grabbed her up. She had effectively climbed up her cattle panel shelter and used it as a springboard to launch herself into the next corral, where she was free to go where she pleased. Randyman and I moved the fence to prevent any further escape. Two days later, I found her and her friends this time, BACK in the chicken pen once again. I grabbed her up and noticed the gate to their pen was wide open. I shoved them in and made sure it was latched properly. The following morning..they were out once again. Annie had figured out how to open the latch by herself. The gate is now CHAINED securely. If that doesn’t work, my only other option is an armed security guard.


Annie completely redecorated their corral, re-engineering their shelter. After quite a bit of work she seemed satisfied with the results and went to dinner. Good thing she doesn't have am HOA They'd be all over her!

Rosemary finally went and did it. She had TRIPLETS! Two girls and a boy. I’m so pleased because even with the loses we incurred earlier this year, I had the 9 lambs I’d been counting on. It's been fun to watch all the little lambs get together and boing-boing around the pasture. The Maremmas are pleased as punch to have all these babies to watch over and have been seen snuggling with as many as 3 at a timeand of course the Captain always has to sleep with one of them.

We had another freezer failure so I am desperately canning again trying to get as much out of the freezers as possible as the boss is giving us a ½ beef and I need to get everything that was crammed in to 3 freezers, to fit into just 2 and still have room for the meat that is coming. I'm sure we could have worse problems. I made broccoli cheese soup with the frozen broccoli, have 3 big meatie chickens thawing out to can (except for the wings and breasts, which will be repackaged) and most of what would have been roasts that is coming I asked to have cut into stew meat so I will be able to rapidly can that as well. We use a lot of canned beef in sandwiches, and things like burritos. Stock will have to be made as well, and more tallow rendered. Hopefully I can pare things down to 2 shelves in the freezer and not have to buy another one, allowing us the time to have one repaired instead.
Foremost on my mind still, is containing the dogs. I need to have a system in place whereby the sheep can still graze but the Maremmas cannot leave to go patrol anymore. It's a puzzling problem, which I hope to overcome. That and a rototiller are my two biggest obstacles at the moment. Here's hoping. It's going to be a frantic spring but I am hoping it all pays off. Meantime, we will have a visit soon from my niece and her son and I'm excited about that. It'll definitely take my mind off things and a little fun is definitely in order!!

In addition to all the regular stuff, I've been stocking my little  webstore, with candles, and wax tarts in new fragrances, as well as soaps and body butter. Stop by the store at ranchrustics.com

Bread making is next on this weeks list.
Living the simple life can sure be complicated.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Goodbye February!

I haven’t blogged in awhile. That is because life sort of got in the way and there are times it takes a certain amount of restraint not to let life’s disappointments leak onto the page. So in this case, I felt time was the best balm to ease over some of those difficulties and it took a bit more time than I had expected.

I’m back now, at least for today. Storms have been making doing ‘normal’ things difficult so I am behind on pretty much everything. A lamb was born, then subsequently died, so that was a heartbreak. Each animal in our care means a lot to us. Don’t think for a moment that just because people raise livestock that they have any less feeling for them, whether they be for pets or consumption.

I have had some real anxiety about the polarbears as wolves are reported to be getting closer and closer to the ranch all the time and my two dogs won’t likely stand a chance against them.  I’m not willing to risk them, so from now on they are confined 24/7, which is depressing, not only for them, but for me. They did such a good job of keep predators pushed back when they were allowed to and it was easy to see how that all falls apart, when they were locked up the two months that trappers were here. A cougar strolled past the houses with regularity, even eating dog and catfood out of the boss' shed and coyotes were boldly entering the pastures and standing on the lawns of the houses. I imagine that will be a more and more frequent occurrence now and any extra funds that come my way, will have to be spent on beefing up fencing to make sure these guys can never, ever get out to patrol again, because there is no way of knowing when it will no longer be safe. 

 Frankly, hearing coyotes close to the house has always given me chills and keeps me awake at nite and that will be another downside of this, since the dogs can no longer displace them.

I invested in a couple of GPS trackers for them, so I will be notified when and if they get out, as well as where they are at. It was pretty interesting to see where they were going BEFORE I pulled the plug on them. Bruno wasn’t leaving the pasture out back much, except to run off intruders. One night, he ran something to the fence 2x but the third time he apparently pursued it all the way to the bench, about a mile from here, before trotting back home. The following night, he was checking the lower pasture when suddenly he took off after something in the other direction. He ran a long distance very quickly, then remained in nearly one place for 30 minutes. He was too far away for me to hear him. Meanwhile Potamus was barking furiously in that direction, so I worried Bruno might be dealing with something he could not safely handle alone. I let Potamus out, risking re-injury to his foot, but couldn’t think of what else to do. He took off like a bullet in the direction the GPS said Bruno was located. Almost immediately whatever the situation was, got resolved  and the GPS showed both dogs taking a round about way, patrolling fences in the area in their journey back home, checking the big pond near the houses on the way in. They were, in my opinion, pretty effective.

Meanwhile Salty the hair sheep had twin lambs. She was partial to her ewe lamb and totally rejected her ram lamb so he is now inside with us, being bottle fed. I am finding it exponentially harder to feed ONE lamb than two, as he has no company and is constantly underfoot. He is known by several names, but doesn’t answer to any of them. No matter, he is always in my shadow. He naps at my feet and is awake instantly if I move...particularly if any noises that sound remotely like a bottle being warmed up are involved. At least he is someone who desires my company...not that the dogs aren’t always happy to see me, but, like TheMan, they have a job to do. He's pretty comfortable around all the dogs and they, naturally, have accepted him as one of the gang.


Rosemary is in the lambing shed now, waiting her turn. She and Thyme are the last ones left to lamb this year and I am praying all goes smoothly. Salty’s rejection of the twin was a complete surprise to me, but she had no trouble delivering at least. Hoping for clean births and happy, nurturing mamas shouldn’t be too much to ask.

On one of my better days I raked up some more tumbleweeds in the dry lot next to the big horse corrals so TheMan could burn them for me. We wanted to give EmmaLou and SushiMoo a little more room so their small corral wasn't so squishy and gross with cow flop. Bruno was determined to put himself protectively between me and the cows,. He was alarmed when miss Sushimoo peeked thru the gate behind my back, and gave a little snap at her. I tried to reassure him that I was all right, which sent him pouting by the rock wall, but he jumped up when the cows ventured close again, insisting on standing between us, just in case. He's such a great guy.

Patch is slowly working himself up to being a manly buck, as Shugar shamelessly flirts with him. I’m not sure he has had much success, which concerns me, as I will have to find an alternate source for goatsmilk this year should he not get the hang of things. 

Mr Potamus has his own Facebook page now, as a couple of people on the  various forums I am a member of, suggested it. His popularity has been eclipsing mine at a rapid pace.

The rest of my ‘free’ time has been spent soaping, making wax tarts and candles and rendering tallow for body butter for the store. I’m trying out some new fragrances in wax. 
I’ve added chocolate lip balm to the roster, as it has gotten great reviews.

Next on the list will be starting seedlings for this  years garden. I hope we have better weather this spring and summer than we did in 2013!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And Another Week Goes By

Mr Potamus is still suffering from being trapped, so he has been confined to the sheep pasture by himselfwellby himself with the sheep and goats that is, with his leg wrapped to keep him as quiet as possible hopefully allowing it to heal. I brought him in to check on it. He was being a pitifully pathetic Potamus, hiding in the bushes when I wanted him to come inside. I called him again to come in the house so I could unwrap his leg.

He made it three or four steps and then.

I think this was his way of saying his foot was killing him. Not that he is a drama queen or anything…

 Bruno relentlessly teases, chases and wrestles with him, so Bru is usually confined to the house or yard. He’s been climbing over the fence at night to patrol alone, which causes me more than a little stress and apprehensionand I guess, technically, it also means he isn't confined at allbut I digress. There really needs to be at least 1 other LGD with him, to back him up against the predators we have here, so having one dog down and injured really concerns me. It’s already tough enough for Potamus when he ISN’T injured, because he has to somehow keep close to protect the stock and still back up Bruno, if he needs help. I am praying for an answer to this dilemma. Stress just messes me up on all sorts of levels.

Because of a 'Potamus hug' deficiency, I sometimes switch dogs and put Bru in with the sheeple while Potamus comes to sit with me on the couch for awhile. Bru comes in to visit, but he isn't as needy as Potamus, therefore isn't quite as much into the touchy-feely thing. He'll come and ask for a belly rub, and of course to pay attention to his ears, but then he is satisfied to go outside on his loveseat for the rest of the day.

There are days you just need to be able to squeeze someone big and fluffy in order to get through it.

We had some pretty nice weather for awhile, then the inversion layer made it here. I think it caught Cowboy the rooster by surprise.

We really need snow on the mountain and rain down here in the basin. The county has been declared a disaster area because of the drought. I can only imagine what it must be like down in California.

I took a little road trip last week. I haven’t seen my brother or his family for several years and they only live about 5 hours away so I have been anxious to go visit. After mentioning this to TheMan, I found out that he couldn’t get away until sometime this month but the sheep are due to lamb soon, so that wasn’t going to work at all. I decided my best option was for him to feed the critters for me, while I went on to make the drive alone. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to MOST of you, but consider the fact that we own ONE vehicle and we always do everything together...this means I myself, have not driven for over 8 years. I used to pull a big gooseneck trailer full of show horses all over through traffic, with no problem but now, 8 years is a long time, especially when we have been living where there is NO traffic at all. So, it was a pretty huge undertaking for me just to drive our little old truck.

I packed my bag and carried it out to the truck. As soon as I opened the door, Cider tried to stow away. This was not a trip he could come on and I had to use a lot of cheese to get him back OUT of the truck, because even warning him about my deteriorated driving skills wasn't enough to scare him out of the back seat. He's either very brave, or very foolish. Perhaps both.

The boss passed by on his way to somewhere and said he'd go get TheMan so he could say goodbye. I waved goodbye to the Maremmas, who were devastated that I would even consider leaving the house, and headed to Reno. I turned an audiobook on the iPod and tooled on down the road. Three hours later, I was slapping myself in the face, trying to stay awake on the way into Winnemucca, NV. I wondered how on earth I was ever going to make another 2 hours to Reno without falling asleep. I stopped to top off the tank with diesel. My credit card got declined. I had no cash. So I called the company to find out what was wrong. As we usually use our card in Idaho, not Nevada, they flagged it as possibly stolen. I assured them that it really was me trying to use it. After that was straightened out, I found a cappucino machine that said “French Vanilla ALERT”. Sounded like just what I needed. I also had a revelation. Everytime we go to town, we turn on an audio book, I go back to sleep and TheMan drives...I realized I am like Pavlov’s dog. The book was putting me to sleep, even though I was enthralled by it. So off with the book, on with the music and I rocked out for the next two hours, wide awake, with a death grip on the steering wheel as traffic moved at 85 mph. I was sooo happy to see my brother when I finally made it there.

We had a good time. We were hoping to go out and play in his ‘gator’ but it rained all day the next day. My niece and her family came for dinner both nights. I brought down lamb and some homemade applesauce so we had a lamb roast one night and laughed at u-tube videos. It was great to see my family, but the next morning brought heavy snow and the forecast said snow at our house later, so I figured I had better hit the road and try to beat the storm home. There was no way I was gonna be able to make that drive in a storm. 5 hours later, as I came up the road to the house, a bunch of deer stood up to welcome me home. Wellprobably not intentionally, but it was nice to see them anyway.

 When I finally arrived, there were two big white fluffy dogs bouncing up and down, ready to have a full on puppy party with me. It feels good to be loved.

Being the only cook in the kitchen again, it is time to restock the pantry. I got some meatballs canned and chili is on the stove today. We’ll probably have that for dinner and I will can the rest tomorrow for future dinners. No one in MY crew seems to be wanting to help out much

UPS brought me packages today. Some new fragrances for soaping, more Himalayan Salt for Salt Bars and the meatgrinder finally got here from Japan so I can get the rest of the tallow rendered for Body Butter.  Spring will be here before long and I need to have the spring scents ready to ship.

One of the guys walked in the house today and asked “What scent do you have in that thing there, now?” (Pointing at my tart warmer)  I told him what it was and he said “I like your choices”  Who knew guys were fragrance fans?? At least when it smells like food, they are.

The Ranch Rustics webstore is still evolving. I think it is going to be a long process to figure this all out, but there is a ‘gallery’ showing photos of most of the products ( I still have pictures to take) and there is a ‘forum’ for customers to leave their ratings and feedback. If any of you who have used  Ranch Rustics products have a minute to take the time and leave a review, it would be much appreciated, and helpful for those who have not yet tried them. That’s http://ranchrustics.com.

Hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

All's Well that Ends Well

As January comes to a close, our friend, Afif and his guest are packing up to make the long trek home to Nebraska for another year. They had a gppd trip, considering it was a bad year for hunting. Luckily, that is because they are not as much into shooting birds as they are into the experience of watching the dogs work and enjoying the scenery...and they covered a lot of that. Several days they hiked 4 miles or more up the mountain then back down. They ran across bighorn sheep, mule deer, chukars, several different varieties of partridge and quail, antelope and just about all the neat things the area has to offer. After a daily dip in the hot springs, they would then come to the house and cook dinner for us all. That in itself was pretty neat, in my opinion. Prime Rib, Lamb Kebabs with Bernaise Sauce, Braised Spanish Chicken, Rib Steaks with Maitre'D Butter, Bananas Fosterwhat a month!

Having them fix dinner freed me up to do other things, and I got a lot accomplished much this month. Ranch Rustics inventory is in pretty good shape and as no one was here during the day but me and the critters, I would spend the days multi-tasking. Here’s what that looks like...

On this particular day.

Take a big chef knife and cut a slab of tallow into small pieces. 
Feed it thru the sausage grinder on the KA and grind tallow into a large stock pot.

 Turn the burner on low (I use a diffuser under the pot so nothing on the bottom will burn) and let it melt down and simmer for a couple of hours. While that is going on, grab 10 beef roasts (average of 4 lb) out of the extra fridge where they were defrosting. Cut away all the fat and bone and cut them into chunks. 

1/2 the meat goes into the big electric roaster with the ingredients to make Charley's Slow Cooker Mexican Style Meat  the other half goes in a large bowl and back in the fridge for tomorrow’s canning session.

 Let the Charley's cook a few hours until most of the flavor has had a chance to work its way into the meat, then prepare to can it. The tallow is pretty much rendered by now, so take it off the stove to cool down enough to strain it into a big plastic bucket. Once that is done, the bucket goes into the 'store' room in the back, with all the soaps, candles and other stuff for Ranch Rustics.

Out comes the pressure canner, 7 qt jars and the rest of my stuff. After sterilizing the jars, heating the lids and filling the jars up, The Charley meat goes in for processing at 90 minutes.  When the 90 minutes of pressure canning is up, I have enough time to go out back and feed the horse, sheep and chickens before the pressure goes back down and I have to open the lid. EmmaLouMoo and Sushi are hanging with the cows at the bottom of the pasture most days, so feeding is fairly quick, barring any filling of water troughs or problems.

Back in the house, its time to remove the canner lid, wait my 5 minutes and take the jars out to cool overnight. I throw everything into the sink, do all the dishes just in time for Afif and his guest to come in and start dinner, while I visit with Mr Potamus, who is still limping from being caught in the leg trap.

I sadly mention that my KA burned out while grinding tallow. Next thing I know, our friend is making a generous contribution towards a new Bosch mixer...which is great, because I need a stand mixer every day. I use it to make all our bread and other things as well as using it to make Whipped Tallow Butter for the Ranch Rustics store. 

The Bosch Mixer…my new love. This bad boy can handle 15 lb of bread dough at a time!
It was a good day.

After a good bye to all the dogs, our friend loaded up with a pile of soap, a tartwarmer and spiced cider wax tarts, and his young friend bought the same for his girlfriend. I'm sure he's gonna be welcomed like a rock star.

Feel free to stop in at ranchrustics.com and have a look around at the homemade soaps, candles, wax tarts and body butters. See ya around!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

After 2 months of being confined to the small pasture with the sheeple, the polarbears finally had the freedom to go back to work and patrol on Christmas. Unfortunately, a recent guest at the ranch decided to do some trapping, setting metal leg traps in one of the pastures just below our house and we knew nothing about it. Potamus was very late coming home one morning and when he finally made it, on 3 legs with one very large, swollen foot up in the air, we could see immediately it had been caught in a trap. This could have been a lot more tragic if he had been engaged with a predator, or a pack of them. Angry as I am, I didn’t feel the least bit bad when I heard he bit the trapper, who finally showed up to set him loose. I would be pleased to do a lot worse and restraining myself is taking a great deal of effort.

A few days of pampering, ice, epsom salt poultices and pain killer and he is back to light duty. They are back in the sheep pasture again, until his foot can handle the extra burden of carrying him wherever they need to go at night.

About 3:30 this morning I heard every dog on the ranch sounding an alarm, including Bruno and Potamus. Mind you, that is a lot of barking as there are 29+ cowdogs here and also our 2 Maremmas. (Cider and Scottie sleep in the house and remain clueless to whatever happens outside)
It's not unusual for all the cowdogs to be barking, but Potamus was doing his 'woo woo' bark and Bruno was barking. If Bruno barks, something serious is going on.

I stepped out back to see what was causing the fuss and made it just in time to see Bruno crash the gate and go through it. This is the same fence and gate that held them for over 2 months. Potamus was on his heels and they tore towards the draw, then veered sharply and disappeared around the corner in front of the cabins. Whatever their prey was, it then led them past the barn and out towards the ‘boneyard’. That is where the cougar was first seen and, I suspect, that is who was prowling around last night. Bruno continued the pursuit, as Potamus ran back and forth, checking on me and the sheep and then checking on Bruno, ready to back him up if need be. After a pretty wild ten or so minutes, they were quiet again and headed home, so I went back to sleep. They were on the back porch this morning, none the worse for wear. Potamus is limping again, slightly, but not like before. I was pretty happy with them.

This has been a really amazing month.
Our friend, the chef, is back for his annual month long bird hunting visit. He brings his 3 upland game dogs and he eats at our house…let me rephrase that..he COOKS at our house! He brought one of his young kitchen helpers along this year and he has been pretty awesome as well, more often than not volunteering for dish duty.
We've been enjoying amazing meals and desserts. Shrimp Scampi, Bananas Foster, Braised Chicken, Lamb kebabs with Bernaise sauce (my new favorite in the whole world). It was a long haul for them from Nebraska. They also met up with another guy who worked alongside them last year, that lives here locally…so one night I had THREE chefs in our little kitchen. I was not one of them. 

After posting these, I had to laugh…these guys remind you a little of anyone on a rather popular tv show? Well, they fit right in here.

In my defense, I fed them a couple of times too. They got some sourdough Belgian waffles for breakfast and beef dip sandwiches, taco salads and a couple of other quickie things I whipped up when they were too exhausted from hiking and hunting to fix dinner. Our friend also brought us a beautiful french chef's knife as a gift. It's awesome!

Not having to worry about cooking has freed me to get my inventory built up. My little cottage business now has its own webstore now, at RanchRustics.com It’s been wonderful because you can now browse through the products and pay right online and I can ship it out immediately. I also want to take the time to thank all of you who have already dropped by and those who have ordered. I so very much appreciate it. Your response has been VERY encouraging!

I've been working on putting a little extra into the newest soaps I am  making. Not ALL soaps are quite this fancy, but I am workin' on it.

The new Honeysuckle

The new Bay Rum

Valentines Day is around the corner and coming fast! I have a few ideas for you this year on what to give your sweetheart.

...And since I can, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell a little about my products.

I love heart shaped shortbread cookies or chocolates, but now imagine pairing them up with a beautiful tartwarmer and some wonderful smelling wax tarts in Simply Vanilla, Chocolate Brownie or Pumpkin Spice! I also currently have some Spiced Cider and MacIntoshApple tarts. I'm open to suggestions of any fragrances someone might like me to try and explore.

Pictured left to right, front to back: 3 oz clamshell tarts (spiced cider), med wax tarts (MacIntoshApple) , large wax tarts (LemongrassSage, MacIntoshApple, PumpkinSpice) , 4 oz candle tin, 8 oz mason jar candle, Almond Honeymoo soap

You could add a small tin or mason jar candle for the bath and some Artisan soap in a variety of  fragrances. Think champagne glass and bubble bath and “oooh lala!” 
I really love the tart warmers. They are electric so there is no flame to worry about and they double as nightlights. The little plug-in ones are PERFECT for the bathroom and the larger punched tin rooster ones are wonderful in a bedroom or other  large room. I actually think the warmers throw scent farther than the candles. I carry the little ones in white and black (pretty neutral colors, yeah?) and the large come in French Blue, Dk Green and Ivory. I notice that even Randyman, who usually complains about any fragrances in the house (which is hard on him as I soap and stuff a LOT) turns on the tartwarmer himself. He either likes the light pattern it makes or he is actually loving the smell. Who’d have guessed?

The tarts come in different sizes  (and fragrances) so I suggest the clamshell or medium sized tarts for the small plug in warmers and the medium or larger for the larger punched tin ones with the longer cord.
(warning- do NOT use WhiteChocolateFudgeBrownie tarts unless you actually have brownies made. It makes men very grumpy to smell and not get to eat it.)

Don't forget the Whipped tallow body butters. It only takes a tiny bit, so it lasts a long time and is much more natural for your skin with no unpronounceable, weird additives. Just the pure product with a bit of fragrance to make it more luxurious and add to the pleasure of moisturizing your hands, feet or wherever your skin is needing some nurturing. It’s really nice after being out in the cold, feeding critters or milking cows and not worrying about the effect of all the dishes I wash, drying out my hands anymore. I finally have something that works and doesn’t have to be applied every 10 minutes to soothe my once chapped skin...and that is saying a lot.

Here’s hoping you all have a great week. I’m off to do some canning, housecleaning *sigh* and then I’m making some wax tarts in a new fragrance to test. Poor, poor me. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Let me wipe the smile off of my face so you can try and feel sorry for me. Nawwho am I kidding?
Life is good.