These are exciting days on the ranch. There are more warm days than cold, even though there was a lot of snowfall on the Steens this week. The grass is starting to grow and I was able to put in some of my landscaping, another step towards finishing my ‘dream backyard’.
With 3 different arches made of cattle panels, I planted vines to cover them and even though it won’t be noticeable until next summer, I know I will have years of enjoyment from them, like I did at my old house. There is just something about flowering vines rambling over the top of something that is very settling to my soul. Firecracker Red Penstemon join Purple Coneflowers in the corner of the flower garden and soon I will be planting seeds of Cosmos and Shasta Daisies to keep them all company. The yard does double duty, as I’ve planted Apricot, Apple and Peach trees, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries and Currants. In spite of the new fenced in vegetable garden, I can’t resist tucking a few things like cabbage or squash in with the flowers for handy access and to fill in empty spaces while everything grows and evolves. I love old fashioned flowers like towering Hollyhocks and Sunflowers, along with Cosmos, Calendulas, Foxgloves and others.
The first hummingbirds have already made their appearance at the feeder. Buffy the chicken loves her new, sexy, camo vest so much, that she is raising a family. She’s been setting on eggs for the past couple of days and I am going to have to move her. Everyone has been wanting to lay in her nest box and I really only want Buff Orphington or Australorpe crosses. At least Stickman the ditzy rooster is gone so he won’t be siring any chicks. Mr T, an enormous Australorpe, is the head of the harem.
Tonite we will sneak out and carefully lift Buffy off the nest, move the eggs and stuff her in a small kennel where I can confine her with food, water, and the kids, until they hatch. It’s really kind of exciting. I haven’t had a hen hatch any chicks for several years.
Our dear neighbor has seeded some large bare patches in their lawn where the trees all fell down in the windstorm, and a huge area where there was previously a big weedy burm. For reasons unknown to all of us, Cletus and Bruno have decided that is a great place to go in the early evening and wrestle before going on patrol, leaving huge pawprints and body holes in the damp earth. I’ll put some step in posts and rig it to look like its hot-wired later today, so it is protected.
Last nite we had stuffed the dogs into EmmaLouMoo's old corral to confine them due to the lawn damage, but after dark their barking became pretty urgent. Something was approaching that shouldn’t have. The sheep and goats were out loose with no one to protect them, so Randyman went and let the dogs out. Cletus immediately rounded up the sheep and goats and escorted them to the corral. He doesn’t do this by pushing, like a herding dog would do...he just walks over, says something to them and they obediently walk alongside him to the corral, and they stay there while he joins Bruno, who was waiting, and sprinted off into the dark of the night, in pursuit of the intruder. How the heck he is able to communicate with a completely different species is a mystery to me. It’s just terribly interesting to watch. As I have said before, LGD’s are not like any other breed of dog in existence.
I am expecting meatie chickens to arrive this week. We have to build something in the milk barn. Randyman said he will get on it right away. I hope he doesn’t forget!
Meanwhile, knowing that we only have about 60 to 80 days before these chickens will need to be processed and knowing Randyman’s proclivity towards putting things off until a decade AFTER the last minute, I asked his permission, jumped on ebay and we are now the proud owners of a brand new WHIZBANG CHICKEN PLUCKER kit! All we need is a small motor and belt to run it. This will save us $100 in processing fees, and over $200 in fuel. We can eat a LOT of chicken for that kind of savings. It will pay for itself by next spring. Not everyone can appreciate how truly wonderful this is, but I would much rather have this than a diamond necklace.
It’s that time of year again, when I need to get back to making soap. I seem to sell out every Christmas and every spring. I’ll have to see if I can stay on top of things better and have more in inventory so people are not disappointed. It’s such great stuff, just hard to have to store so much in such a tiny house.
I have started a “Soap page” on its own blog. The link is off to the right on my blogroll, or you can just click on http://ranchrustics.blogspot.com/.
Everything around here does double duty. The cow gives us milk and fertilizer. The garden gives us eye candy and vegetables. The dogs give us companionship and protection and the soap provides aromatherapy, cleaning and conditioning.
I mean, what better way to end a hot, muggy day working outside than to jump in the tub or shower with a bar of luxury soap that soothes your senses and nourishes your skin? ...except to maybe take a candle and a glass of wine with you.