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 !


  1. Any turkeys on the horizon for this year?

    1. I think I am gonna skip turkeys for this year and plan on next year. We are so behind on getting things done, there is no way he is going to get turkey quarters put up for me!

  2. I hear you on the weather and mobility - why can't it just settle down and be comfortable!

    Good luck getting the fence to work out so the sheep can stick around.
    Certainly not time to get bored, is there :-)

    1. I hope it does settle down at some point. My 'toughness' is wearing thin and I am becoming more and more a wimp myself! Bored is not in anyone's vocabulary around here! :)

  3. Never a dull moment around there. Whimpy looks like the winter was rough for him, too. Sure not the sleek fellow of a few months ago. Oh for some green grass and sunshine.
    The bread looks heavenly. Mmmm I bet is smells good in your kitchen. Yum. I think sourdough is my favorite. Dad used to make it. I never learned how.
    Emma looks good, I hope she has an easy delivery and no milk issues. (And the new offspring is not the little bugger that Sushi was!)

    1. I love sourdough! It is so forgiving and so much easier than commercial yeast…and of course it is someone else in the kitchen to talk to. It has such a bubbly and effervescent personality when it is well cared for! I do so hope and pray Em has no issues. The staph she got last year has me in a real sweat!

  4. I don't like sourdough anything. Not too many things I don't like but that's one. Our horses are still in their winter fuzzy coats but it looks tired so it will soon come off. Emmy looks like the milk cow here but no calf coming for her this year. Daniel calls her No-name for no-reason. I call her Cow-doo for a good reason. We had meatballs with pasta last night, yum. They are looking for me a puppy. They asked what I wanted and I said four legs. two warm eyes, a waggy tail, big ears, and big. I'd be happy with that. Taciturn is a good word. Hope you start feeling more peppy and enjoy your niece. ale-Xander

    1. I am finally getting facefulls of horsehair so our winter coats are already coming off. Mine is still on though, most of the time. Cow-doo is a fitting name, I can see how you might have come up with it! Thank you Al-X the grape. It's always a pleasure to hear from you :)

  5. Wow! I'm SO glad you posted on the April calving watch on KFC and that I noticed you have a blog and checked it out--and your Darkest Valleys one, too. What can I say? You are an inspiring Sister! May the Lord bless you, give you relief from pain, and increase your joy.


    1. Thank you Susan! It's a pleasure to 'meet' you! )