Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blueberry Jam

 One thing I can do with Mom and my step-dad here is make jelly. It just happens that I'm a little low on jars so I've made rose pedal jelly, and with the food organization, Bountiful Baskets that I buy from, there has been a good deal on strawberries, blackberries, and now blueberries.  

I've always wanted to make blueberry jam. Yee haw, I get to cross one more thing off my Want To Do list. Of course I'll just add two things to replace the one I've done but oh well.

I searched the Internet for a low sugar recipe and found one using Sure-Jell, my favorite pectin. What got me really excited about this recipe was I didn't have to juice the blueberries. I was afraid if I did that I wouldn't end up with nearly as much jam for my dollars spent. It turned out I was able to make two batches. One like the recipe called for and one with 3/4 a cup less sugar.

The first thing the recipe said to do was briefly blend 6 1/2 cups blueberries. It looked pretty awful and I began to wonder what I was doing.

 Then as it cooked it began to turn.
 It doesn't look too purplely but still a whole lot prettier than after blended.
I turn my jelly jars upside down for a while after filling them. Is that what you do?   I haven't tried any of the jam yet.  Mom is in love with the sugery kind and I think I'll like the less sugar one.

I think blueberry jelly on pancakes sounds especially good. Wish our soil was acid enough to grow our own blueberry plants. Alas, our soil doesn't grow anything but grass well.  I guess I'll just have to savor these few jars.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is It Male or Female?

More and more antelope are moving into town and the surrounding plains as the heat and winds suck all the moisture from the plants and ground. Soon the animals will be in everyone's yards munching on flower beds, gardens, and treasured bushes.
Like the whole west, we too are fighting fires that erupt on a reguler basis. Several right next to town like this one that my husband help to fight with our lone shovel from the corrals. We had just passed this spot by the road and had arrived at the pens to let the does out to be milked when my husband looked up and saw flames racing across the prairie, chase by the wind. The wind that almost always blows. A blessing as it tempers the heat but a curse as it creates a kiln baking the countryside along with my garden that now has to be watered every other day.

I stayed to milk since I could only observe yet I occasionally peeked outside our milking parlor to check on the guys progress for others had joined the battle before the town's volunteer fire department could rally.

On the high plains dessert, where we live, fire trucks are tucked inside barns here and there on ranches, everyone pitching in to keep things under control for towns are few and far between. With over an hour between fire departments and winds that commonly push forty miles and hour or more, a fire can cover a large area in a hurry.

 I knew of one personally where fire fighters were bouncing across the prairie at 60 miles an hour unsuccessfully trying to get ahead of the racing flames. Wind driven fires like that can't stick around long enough to properly burn fence post to the ground but hay stacks and houses, well, they are just too delicious to pass up.

 I feel for those in the western states whose homes are threatened or worse have lost theirs. I pray for their safety as it could  just as easily be us next.

But if you are one of those lucky ones who are on their way to visit our fine state, Wyoming, I want to give you a heads up. Though these Pronghorn Antelope are behind fences, they are not like cattle and being raised. They are not contained but will slip under fences and if they must, jump them. These unique animals roam wild across the prairie and our town.

So you will be really smart, this is a buck. Note the black cheek markings. There is usually a black strip down the forehead to the nose but how much is unique to each animal with the buck's strip being more dominate and darker than the doe's.

In May and June the bucks gather together in bands of approximately 12 males while the does are off
having their fawns in early June. Since the does stay far away from humans during this time, you don't see many fawns until late in the month, about now. While this doe ate, another doe was laying down with her twins and this doe's twins also. They do lots of babysitting for each other.

I've a picture of the doe and fawns but can't make it large enough in this blog so you can see them hiding amongst the grass. I'll keep trying to capture a photo of them when I go to the corrals morning and night so stay tuned.

This website will give you a basic run down about this unique animal.

As for that puffy white hair on her butt, well, it is raised in alarm signifying danger is near. The buck wasn't any further away than this doe when I snapped the picture but he is quite a bit older than  and I'd guess wiser  to the habits of humans. I'm no threat with my camera lens.  

Dairy goat owners, note that udder on her. LOL Sometimes a little does a lot.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Milk, Tomatoes, and Summertime Fun

 What do you do when you have old goat milk?  Mix it with lots of water and pour it on the tomato plants of course. The reason for all the extra milk is of course the lack of time to create buttermilk and butter. What between caring for three munchkins and Grandma Great and Grandpa Great too there isn't a spare moment. But "waste not want not" still applies to the best of my ability. Last year I added old milk to the mulch pile but not directly to the garden so this year I'm giving it a try.

Gary, a friend of Kirk's, says he puts 1 teaspoon of powdered milk in the soil around his tomatoes every year when he plants them. The farmer on the Internet from whom I got this idea of using excess milk on the garden, uses gallons and gallons from his dairy on his fields along with some other nutrient. Wish I could remember which one it is.

Don't have either of these on hand, I'd guess that if powdered milk works, store bought liquid milk should too.  Anyone given it a try?
 As for the rest of the day toady, it was filled with meals and entertainment. The smaller fry thought a tent created with the willow tree would be cool. Not that temperature had anything to do with it. They just wanted to pretend to camp out with their play microwave. LOL The old blanket was too short and even the blue tarp. Yes, Grandma has cut all the lower branches to keep from getting coal cocked when she mows the lawn and now we don't have anything that touches the ground when slung up.
 They still thought they should anchor the tarp's ends as that is just what you would do if you had a real tent.
Then when the late night of sitting on the sleeping bags on the living room floor playing Crazy Eights and Go Fish had caught up with them this wee one gave up and fell fast asleep on Papa's chest.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Antelope, a Recipe, and a Give Away

Funny thing is, no matter how often I see them. I still feel it a privilege to live amongst so many wildlife.

Now I'd recommend you head on over to my other blog at for a recipe of rose pedal jelly and a project bag give away. Meanwhile, I'll try and catch up on a few things, the house, the garden, the business etc. etc. And I think I'll use that half gallon of goat milk in the fridge that needs used up to mix with water and fertilize my tomatoes. Yes, the calcium and nutrients in powdered milk or fresh milk does good things for the garden, especially tomatoes.  I've put in lots and lots since it is suppose to be a long hot summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Goat Appraisal Day

 Linear Appraisal was awesome!!! If you have the opportunity to attend or participate, don't cough, sneeze or hesitate, ru....n. It is a fantastic learning opportunity. If your goats score well, that's a bonus but education is the real reason for the event.

 Well, that and having fun for we can't help but have that when we get together. Our appraiser was soon getting in on our bantering conversation heightening the fun and learning. We came to the conclusion my friend had way too many bucks and needed to cull a few does.

I had the wrong buck for the does I have and he suggested that Anne and I pool our efforts and head in the same direction to get there quicker.
And Kirk and I had to smile really big when the appraiser insisted on going and getting his camera to photograph our buck, Touch of Classic.

He is the largest buck he has ever seen scoring a 37 out of 35 possible points on depth. We figure Touch weighs in over 300 pounds and he isn't fat. He is just a really big boy and has pretty shoulders.  If you need width on a doe, he's your goat and best yet, he's for sale.

What made the day fun was we knew we weren't pulling wool over the appraiser's eyes so we freely discussed the excellent, good, bad, and down right ugly parts of each goat.

This is a little of our banter:

"Oh sorry, you didn't want to judge my behind. Wait just a minute, I'll have hers in view, it's much better."

"Got a paper bag anyone, this head is not presentable in the Nubian category."

"My..., that is a narrow escutcheon. Oh, maybe I shouldn't of said that out loud."

Giggle, "I think he already knows."

We told the appraiser it was like Christmas, and it was. Not sure he believed us but Anne and I have been looking forward to this day all spring.  
 To top off such a wonderful day was this little beauty that came home with us. I saw her shortly after she was born and commented how of the sixteen kids in the pen, I liked her by far the best. It wasn't just the markings either.
And it wasn't that cute look in her eye but her conformation was what drew her to me.  It didn't hurt that I happen to love her momma's conformation too. I can't wait to see how this little girl looks at a year old.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gardening With Epson Salt

How many of you have gardened with Epson Salt? I haven't until this year. I've been reading about it for the last couple years but you know me, it takes that long before I put ideas to action. There is such a backlog of things to try.

The reminder came when I was in Billings to the doctor with my step-dad and Mom this last Wednesday. We were shopping for medical supplies and I saw some Epson salt for 88 cents. I mentioned the gardening connection to my mom as I added a few boxes to my cart and an older gentlemen, who overheard the conversation, piped up, " I can't believe you know that." He of course doesn't know that my dear friend calls me a walking encyclopedia. LOL I told him I hadn't tried it but had been doing some reading on the subject.

I bought four boxes and now I'm waiting to see the results of my sprinkling it around my plants in the garden.

What's so great about Epson salt. well, read what the following site has to say.


Magnesium is beneficial to plants from the beginning of their life, right when the seed begins to develop. It assists with the process of seed germination; infusing the seed with this important mineral and helping to strengthen the plant cell walls, so that the plant can receive essential nutrients. Magnesium also plays a crucial role in photosynthesis by assisting with the creation of chlorophyll, used by plants to convert sunlight into food. In addition, it is a wonderful help in allowing the plant to soak up phosphorus and nitrogen, which serve as vital fertilizer components for the soil. Magnesium is believed to bring more flowers and fruit to your garden, increasing the bounty as well as the beauty of your space.

Sulfate, a mineral form of sulfur found in nature, is an equally important nutrient for plant life. Sulfate is essential to the health and longevity of plants, and aides in the production of chlorophyll. It joins with the soil to make key nutrients more effective for plants, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Sulfate works in conjunction with Magnesium to create a “vitamin” full of minerals, nourishment and health benefits for your garden

This is only a taste of the article so I highly recommend slipping on over and reading it in its entiretity. I'm not done spreading this wonder supplement yet. I have the fruit trees to do and I'm going to continue giving my tomatotes and peppers a dose throughout the summer. It will be fun to see what difference this makes.

I'm also wanting to use Borax in the garden. Has anyone tried it with beets? I'll tell you all about that experiment I want to try but for now I have got to get some badly needed sleep. Tommorrow is appraisal day. I can hardly wait.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

 Aren't they cute? They are the newest arrivals at the corrals.
 Just a couple days old. Their momma, who will turn one this summer, tucked them inside this piece to a farrowing crate. Pretty smart spot I thought. Then of course their momma is out of old Sue. Sue as in our going on nine year old TOM cat who lost one of his legs when he was just a couple years old and in his wild feral days. He has calmed down a whole heaping bunch since then.

He's smart and tough and my favorite barn cat and the oldest. I've been waiting for years for one of his kittens to survive. Of course I'm not positive one hasn't as the only way I can tell for sure one is his is it looks like him. This little momma is his spitting image except for the gender of course and I hope she makes it a number of years.
 And the other little coming year old female had these three kittens a few weeks ago in the hay shed. She lets me love on them and I move them from time to time as I use up hay bales but she doesn't seem to mind. My mom loved holding these precious little bundles.

This is the barn cat gang minus the first kitten's momma and Purrcy, a cantankerous grey male who limps. The calico licking the male gray and white cat lost her kittens this spring and the black female in the lower right hand corner had all five of her kittens disappear when they were of the age to run about. We'll never know the fate of them as is the story with so many. The thing that puzzles me is where is the elusive Siamese male who shows up now and then to spread his royal jelly. I've yet to catch of glimpse of him.
Meanwhile, I'll continue fighting off Chicory so the cats can get their share of her milk.

Though she'd drink it all if she had her choice. Sometimes I let her. It is just a good thing she can't reach back and suck from the tap. LOL

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Disquieting Days

{Yesterday we had our youngest grand daughter while her momma made the eighty mile trip for a gallbladder test. Luckily, she takes a bottle of breast milk as well as she nurses. Poor tyke had a bad day though with her reflux. The photo is of her checking out her great grandma, my mom.}

After such a long day of not feeling well with a sinus infection and pulled muscle in my back while struggling to take care of my parents and grandchild, I needed a moments reprieve.  I sat outside in the dark with my laptop listening to the Night Hawks call while typing. This is what I wrote. The Night Hawks have declared its  June. Normally, this mating dance would be at the end of June but with the Canadian geese arriving early everything seems a bit ahead of schedule. Wonder if that will include the coming winter? 

This mating dance happens most typically around sunset. in the twilight hours. The males will gain considerable altitude, then perform a power dive tucking their wings tight against their sides. Then after plummeting quite a distance they pull up from the dive by spreading wide their wings, this produces a distinct buzzing sound that is called "booming".  Somehow this ritual is especially soothing right now. Maybe because though my world is turned upside down,, this one thing remains constant reassuring me that their is a ebb and flow that contiues on around me.

 I've grown rather fond of these interesting birds over the years.They are just a bit different as they perch the same way the fence runs, not crosswise like other birds.  They nest on the ground and their flight pattern is erratic to watch as they dip and dive for insects, the staple of their diet. I kind of like different. Of course that probably doesn't surprise many of you.   

I stepped in on the last act for the evening as it is now quite dark, the moon not having made an appearance.  It is as if a lullaby is being sung as the darkness snuggles around me, soothing my tattered soul as the crickets chime in occasionally and the frogs at some unknown watering hole are making their voices heard.

Some things have become easier. Mom has begun to remember the morning and nighttime routine I have established for her. I lay out her grooming supplies and I rarely have to remind her that the new pink toothbrush with the tape around the handle that extends out   like a flag, is hers. She had a tendency to grab her husband's if it was handy and use it. A habit I figured he'd appreciate if we broke.

Then with that accomplished, I help her change for bed as she becomes confused about how to undo her shoes and slip her pajamas on as she grows weary from a long day. Tucked into bed, she sighs with pleasure reminding me once more how wonderful her new pillow is. The one she hasn't quit talking about since she discovered it on our grand daughter's bed. 

Nights are now peaceful as she sleeps through the night, no longer waking up imaging thieves  slipping in to steal her clothes and replace them with ones that are too big. This thief has never been caught but she has pegged the identity definitely old and female for who else would want her clothes she reasons. Most interesting of all, she said they must like her because they choice to steal her clothes and not her husbands because of course they didn't like him. You can't help but smile for trying to convince my mother that this is just a delusion of her mind is impossible. Her tender heart bought the story her husband told her about how this woman needed her clothes more than she did.  Mom could buy new ones.

 Sure enough, when my sister, from Utah took her shopping for shoes and clothes, the thief no longer came stalking in the middle of the night. With my step-dad's surgeries and declining health, their diet has gone down hill. They have been too far away to help and not willing to move until now.   

He needs help and Mom definitely needs care. Her balance has been stolen by Dementia and her eye sight by Graves disease. These limitations do not fully compute as though she can not walk in a straight line but weaves back and forth in her unsteadiness, she still volunteers to help me tote hay bales and buckets for the livestock. She wants to haul around my two month old grand daughter, her great grand daughter, making safety a full time job. Dementia is not a part of growing old as most will luckily never experience this disease that robs the mind as well as the body of its functions and in that I hope I'm blessed.

The care that is constantly required to keep my step-dad off his feet and on the road to recovery and my mom with a sense of being needed is draining to say the least. 

My wise husband before he headed to Atlanta to a knife show for the weekend led me out into the backyard as our day was winding down as he had done several nights before. This night he said, "You've got to see the moon." It didn't look so different to me but then he handed me a pair of binoculars. I'd forgotten how much that changed the looks of the surface from what you could see with the naked eye. These few minutes stolen for myself reset the balance buoying me up for another day and I thank him for his gift.

As challenging as things are right now, I feel the Lord's hand in each day with blessings flowing to ease my tasks. I want to thank you for your prayers, he has heard them, and they have been felt. 

Hopefully next week as our routines become more established, a little of my world will return and I'll have something more to blog about.  If nothing else, it is linear appraisal week and I can't hardly wait to see what is said about my goats. I've so.... much to learn.    

And maybe if the Lord is willing, Mom and I will get to make rose petal jelly. The neighbors have offered up their blossoms. Though she has never made it before, it might be a trip down memory lane as she use to make Buffalo berry, chokecherry, raspberry, or strawberry jam each year. Have a wonderful Day and I hope to talk with you soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Moldy Mess!

Got to tell you this because I've been doing some rushed research and it is important to know. Some you in the south may already be experts but up north living on the high plains dessert where we get on average 12 inches of rain a year, we don't deal with mold much.

Yes, our food still gets the white fuzzies when left in the refrigerator too long and grass clippings from the lawn in the mulch pile does get all slimy and yucky but soggy cracker syndrome just doesn't take place in the dessert. You can leave your pack open with no fear of them loosing their crisp. It's one of the things tourist say about our area in the summer. The air is great and believe me I know the difference as I've stepped off the plane in Georgia in the summer and gasped as my lungs about drowned with the fluid in the air.

I try and stay away as that moist mold filled air does my lungs in though not quite as badly as smog which is another mold filled atmosphere and will put me into pneumonia within twenty-four hours.

So you could say I'm a bit allergic to the stuff, in fact I tested back in the 1980's to be allergic to the mold on my own skin.

But back to the subject of house mold. My sister, just before she left to take my folks to the hospital, discovered mushrooms growing on the carpet and became alarmed. Down south I suppose this isn't so unusual. We decided to have it checked out before returning knowing that mold can be dangerous especially to the very young and those with immune compromised systems - essentially, my mom. 

So while they were gone, she hired someone to come and check out some suspected moisture damage and they discovered water soaked walls and black mold under the part of the carpet where the mushrooms grew. Yup, theres a leak somewhere. I of course hit the Internet trying to see what we were dealing with.

Mold can be beneficial, think molds that form your favorite cheeses, penicillin and mushrooms so I knew not to panic for after all I do like a good portabello fungus with my steak. In fact, we encounter mold on a daily basis, some of us more than others, and we do fine. Pretty fine that is as I've a sinus infection from tilling the dirt, cleaning the goat shed, and shuffling the mulch from weeding but then remember, I'm allergic to a number of molds. Nothing so serious that a high dose of  Vitamin C to boost the immune system won't rid .

There are three basic types of mold - Allergenic, Pathogenic, and Toxigenic. Some molds of varying color can change into Toxigenic but they rarely do, so cleaning up mold yourself is rarely a hazard. A good dose of bleach should do it. And had we wanted to know the type of mold that was growing in our folks home it would of run us $800 smackers, ouch!! Most times it is not necessary.

Different kinds of mold have different feeding troughs and carpet with it's host of dirt is a prime spot for many. It's one of the reasons I can't handle carpet. It holds dirt, allergens, and is made of man made chemicals. All three a no no that makes my face flush bright red in its presence. The sheet rock and insulation in our home's walls also collects dust and this is another fine breeding ground for mold.

Allergenic molds irritate those with allergies and those with  immune suppressed bodies. Other folks get along fine. Pathogenic molds give most everyone an infection, runny nose, swollen lymph nodes, cough, and the like but again those with allergies and immune suppressed body can have some pretty serious infections.

Keep in mind that many molds are helpful. Some the less reactive mold do have a potential to turn into Toxigenic if the conditions are right. Thankfully they have a sweeter nature and rarely do turn nasty. So there is only scarce instances where you encounter the really dangerous ones that can attack your body and cause serious damage to the average Joe. Mold will comprimise the structure of your home and so must be treated before it gets out of hand.

We all know that if you add some moisture from a water leak most mold will flourish. What I didn't know was that a particularly nasty type of mold called Stachybotrys requires a high moisture level such as a water soaked dry wall and is characterized by its black color, slimy texture, shiny appearance when wet, and a slight greenish tint. Cold /hot variations makes this mold really flourish. Think the outer walls of a home where it is just at freezing at night and the furnace is cranked up on the inside. The good thing is that undisturbed, this mold is not airborne.

Of great concern is that mold can lead to Cellutitus,  which stems from Streptococcus. Yes, a staph infection and with an amputation, this bacteria could invade into a weakend body through this open wound and wreck havoc via the mold which is a bacteria which can cause this infection.  And yes, there are good bacteria and bad also but Streptococcus isn't one of them. With a compremise immune system, this mold could poise a real threat.

Is the house safe for these two individuals to live, definitely not but how to convince them of that. It won't be easy as they feel to be at the bottom of a well and just want to close their eyes.

How exactly to proceed? Don't know but the days ahead are sure to be challenging and educational to say the least.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tyrying Times

With frost almost every night for the past couple weeks, enough you had to scrape your car windows., I think the  Wall Of Waters above and the home-made tomato cages I made out of cow panels fared about the same.

The other discovery I made this past week is how much better strawberry and blackberry jam taste made with fresh berries versus frozen. So if you have a choice, choose fresh.

As for what else have I been up to well, I'm still trying to get my garden in, dehorned again tonight, and yesterday some friends and I gave the yaks a thorough grooming. Cut off all the hanging winter fuzz, combed them and trimmed the length of their hair. The cuts were a bit jagged but still they looked a whole lot better than they did before. I of course wormed them and Roger trimmed their hooves while I held them up. I'm in love with my sweet Jasmine. Gracie on the other hand will not stay after we have a replacement. When that will be I'm not sure.

I've got plans to make Deviled ham and goat milk soap but I've been pushing my body to the brink already so that will have to wait until hopefully, next week.

If I seldom write in the next few weeks, please stick with me, I'm doing my best. My folks are both in really bad shape, one just had a partial foot amputation, the other has Dementia and I'm headed out tomorrow to relieve my sister at the hospital and take them home to my house. We kids are scrambling trying to find a path that isn't closed to them. The outlook keeps looking grimmer and grimmer as one catastrophe after another takes place.

After what I've experienced in the past month, may I give you a little advice. Enjoy life but take it seriously. When you make a choice, look wa....y down the road to where it leads, not just a few years ahead. That includes where you live, what you eat, and how you spend your money or how much you save. You may not like where you end up if you don't. I can see Kirk and I need to take a hard look at our life choices too. 

In my folk's situation, they are refusing to stare at the cold hard truth. It's ugly but avoidance will lead to more direr consequences and I pray that their pride softens before that happens. Pride goeth before the fall the scriptures tell us. I just pray they don't fall too far before they except the few choices left to them.