Thursday, May 31, 2012

Simple Fun

 I've found that with kids, simple is the best formula for fun. We don't spend much money on entertaining the grand children, we don't have much, yet the grand kids think the best place is without a doubt Ammaw's house, In case you are wondering, I'm Ammaw.

With summertime around the corner, I've stocked up on a few things to make sure the kids keep coming back for more, one of which is sidewalk chalk.  
A favorite activity being drawing self-portraits. The kids lay down on the cement and we draw an outline of their body. They then fill in the details as they like, their personality really shining through.  

The three year old's portrait this last time was most interesting. My husband could hardly believe his eyes, " Is that what I think that is?" Yup, our three year old has discovered that people grow hair in more places than on their heads. LOL Kids do the funniest things.

And the chalk won't be just for driveway art exhibits. Nope, I'm going to use it to help the kids remember their schooling. Let me just say for now it will involve squirt guns and chalk letters on the driveway.

Another great inexpensive toy being kites. I picked up two more  the other day for I can't remember how many we have tucked away in the closet. The problem being I can't remember how many the wind left intact the last time we flew them. Chicago may be known as The Windy City but that's because they haven't been to visit us  yet. Yes, the official records are clear on that point. 

But the fun doesn't stop there for hula hoops don't take up much room and they can be used to whirl around the waist or throw things. Our five year old grand daughter has really caught on to jump ropes and hula hoops. She'd jump rope all over our house if I'd let her and when she is a little older, I think I'll see if I can still remember how to do Double Dutch. You know when you have two people swinging in a arch two jump ropes at the same time and you have to jump one rope and then the other.
And what better simple fun than bubbles, especially since I've discovered bubble guns. With wands a whirling and guns a shooting, our backyard a couple Sundays ago was filled with floating circular rainbows. With only three dollars spent on one gun and five on the other, I'd hardly broke the bank and I'd say these cheap plastic guns will last a long time, especially since Kirk and I supervise their handling while holding the dish full of bubble solution. 
This has me thinking of The Fourth of July. Hmmm.....I think we'll have a scavenger hunt. We'll divide up into teams with a list of items they have to capture on digital cameras. The list might even be a bit creative with items on it like - take a picture of something older than dirt or take a picture of Mother Nature's enemy just to get the brain-ee-acks in the family a thinking and see what they come up with.  

Nope, fun doesn't have to be attached to dollar signs.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Goat Butter Cookies

Split Second cookies are one of the fast recipes I reach for when time is of essence or I'm craving butter. The craving isn't so bad that you will catch me eating a stick of butter like a lollipop as our middle daughter was caught doing more than once when she was three. You might see me eating a little popcorn with my butter or these cookies. I

I figured that switching goat butter for the store cow butter, I usually use, would be a great test for the switch. I had to add a bit more flour and I'm not sure if that was because the butter itself had more moisture or I didn't get enough of the water out when I was making butter. As for the flavor, it was indeed different, quite different, but very good.

The grand kids went nuts over the goat butter cookies and the more jam on the cookies the better they said. I admit that the home-made jam does take this cookie over the edge.

Though I am sometimes limited to frozen berries to make my jam from, fresh does make a BIG difference. I mixed up one batch of  strawberries  last week and today, I made blackberry jam.

Give this recipe a try whether you are using cow butter or goat. It is yummy either way.

2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup jelly or jam

Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Stir in flour and baking powder; blend well. On lightly floured surface, divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each into a roll 12 x 3/4 inches; place on ungreased cookie sheets. Using handle of wooden spoon or finger make a impression lengthwise down center of each roll about 1/2 inch  wide and 1/4 inch deep. Fill each with 2 tablespoons of the jelly. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool slightly; cut diagonally into bars. Cool in wire racks 4 dozen bars.

I believe this recipe came from a Pillsbury booklet I bought years ago in the grocery store. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Experimenting With Butter

 Yum, goat butter! My goat this year was to make more butter and use my ghea more fully. If I was going to achieve my butter goal, I needed to figure out a better way than my previous method because of the time involved. Time is something I don't have much of. So I have begun an experiment to learn to make butter faster, with less effort.
 I have the luxury of using a milk separator so I run my milk through and then the cream through once more for heavy cream. I had a gallon of this heavy cream in our daughters freezer since I didn't have time to make butter when I separated. The freezer was leaving and I needed to empty it. With so little room open in our freezers, my choice was mulch pile or make butter. I just couldn't see using that much cream as a micro-organism booster so I deteremined to try making butter in the blender once more since I'm in a real time crunch right now. 

 I have not had success in the past but was shocked to see that the cream made whip cream in 30 seconds, I know I timed it, and butter in just a few more.

What was the different this time? Was it because I froze the cream?  My brain was a whirling with questions so I tried some cream that wasn't frozen. It worked great. What was going on since I had done this a year or two ago with poor results. The cream would reach the whip cream stage after a while, not 30 seconds and just shy of  the butter stage but turned back to whipped milk when it became too warm from the friction of motion.

This frozen cream was older and the cream in the fridge was older too. So was it because the milk had sat in the fridge for over twenty-four hours before separating and then the cream sat for four more days in the fridge before I got around to putting it in the blender? Hmmm, I must experiment further for the answer.

This freezing of the cream affirms what I've read about those who don't have a separator and must skim cream off the top of their milk, freezing this meager offering until they have enough to make butter. I do know that if you leave a lid off your milk it makes thicker cream skim because of dehydration I'd assume. And if you have a wider container, you will have more cream rise to the top. This is a tried and true method. Since goat milk doesn't separate very well naturally, you need all the advantages you can get. 
 As for goat butter versus cow, well, it is of course very white because goats convert carotene more efficiently to Vitamin A. It has a slightly lower melting point and has a softer consistency than cow butter when making it. As for water content difference, I couldn't find the answer on the Internet. Could be there, I'm just not finding it. Why would it matter? Well, the main point of making butter is to start cooking with it instead of using store butter which fluxuates greatly in price.

You are suppose to be able to exchange goat butter for cow butter in recipes equally but the sites are referring to commercial products. I found there was a difference in using store cow butter and homemade goat butter. The main difference is probably me. I have so far made lemon blueberry bread and a butter cookie so I'm no real expert yet but I'll share my results  and what I've learned in another blog post.

My earlier results are in the following post.

Monday, May 21, 2012

We've Got A Problem

Yes, we have a problem and her name is Meagan. She had this beautiful doeling last Monday and dropped it on the ground and walked off.

 The first few feedings I had to put her on the milking stand and then help the baby to nurse. Then I graduated to holding her collar. Soon, I only had to walk into the small shed and she'd stand still while the little one ate. Four times a day to travel by foot a mile and a half or travel several miles by car to go to the corrals was getting to be a bit much. Finally, all seemed to be well as the doeling's tummy was fairly filled out when we arrived so I backed off to three times a day.

Then Sunday, I put Mom and babe in a pen by themselves since Meagan would run to her offspring when she frantically maaaa...d. Whoo, hoo, I figured we had it made. Hardly, for after church we gathered up our three year old grand daughter, who had slept in Grandpa's arms during most of the meeting, and headed for the corrals.

Skinny minnie met us crying for food. Nope, Meagan hadn't fed her a thing. We were back to holding her collar once again. In the shed they went once more.

As panic surges through my veins I wonder what is a women to do when she has parents, children, and grandchildren that all need her?
Then I remember the words expressed at church, "Be still and know that I am God."  This little episode is in his plan also. Maybe it is once more to keep me from interferring and not allowing lessons to be learned.
So I'll enjoy the sweet moments like this. Our grand daughter discovered the kittens in the hay shed. And with Grandpa's help, she held one investigating it's sweet warmth.

And I'll smile when I see the clumsy kittens tumble all over each other.

But what makes me laugh is watching our grand daughter trooping through the mud in her Sunday dress. Oh I know I really shouldn't but it will wash and how can a child resist a wonderful puddle like this?

So we let her soak her dress and fill  (our buck goat), Touch's water with weeds and dirt as it stirred pleasant memories. Memories of how I loved to play in the mud, making pies and filling canning jars with seeds, grass, water, and dirt while pretending to be a wonderful cook.

And to be honest, every once in a while I steal a moment from childhood and in my size 8 Muck boots, wade back and forth splashing up muddy water because its just too much fun to resist.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's Alll A Buzz

I've become a insectologist. No, not a entomologist for they are knowledgeable about insect. I'm just addicted to watching them. I'm especially facinated by bugs on plants. They remind me of a monkey grooming as they rifle with their front legs through the pedals. Some, like the bug in the photo above, don't have pollen sacks, why? Maybe I just can't see them. Oh how I'd love a microscope. I could discover ever so many things with it.
I could observe this bee closely. It isn't a honey bee but it has pollen sacks like one.

And that gray bee I showed you last month. Well I think you are right, herdog. It does appear to be a digger bee. Wish one would show up again so I could get a another look. I'll just have to keep watching.

As for our honey bees, they are bringing in lots of pollen in the mornings and a little in the evenings. 
The middle of the day you don't see pollen on their legs so I assume they are bringing in nectar. Their pace picks up at that time of day. In part I'm sure because it is warmer and after all they are cold blooded.

I was getting worried for our bees and the countryside as it has been extremely dry and warm. We don't have any irrigation in this country and I feared that there would not be any grass or flowers. There isn't many anyway but a few helps with the bees. 

 Then to my relief, it poured down rain this evening, soaking me completely through as I did our chores and Kirk joined me to do a friends chores. There are five goats to milk and four bottle calves to feed along with a passel of kids to hay.

I don't know about you but it is hard to find someone else who can fill in and milk when your gone. It's why we rarely go if one of the family can't fill in.  Even then, most times when I leave, the goats drop in milk production and loose weight. Yes, they miss their mother. Dairy animals are more emotional. I'd bet it is the heightened hormones associated with milk production.

Oh my, it must be late at night because I started out with a bee post and ended up talking goats. You know what's on my mind. Yup, I've got to decide what kids to keep and what kids to sell. I'd best get some shut eye as it's up early with two sets of chores to do before heading out with my mare to the farrier's to have her feet trimmed. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tomato Cages

 Whew, what a week!! So... much to do and so little energy and time. Sorry for the silence but between dairy goats, garden, and family, I'm buried under. In between trying to get Meagan and her kid, Mercedes, to bond and work as mom and daughter, a four times a day task, I have had several experiments going on.

One is refining my butter making. Our daughter is taking her freezer and I had two gallons of cream in it. I learned a thing or two with that cream but I've one more experiment to try to make sure of my results. Know that it was with a blender and cream turned to butter in a matter of seconds. It was awesome. I'll expound later when I've figured out for sure why it happened.

Another thing I'm about to expound on is baking with ghee. I've still some canned and want to can more but how much? It will depend on how well my baking with it goes. 

The other frontier is the garden. Like you, I'm spending hours out in the yard. I swear not much is getting done but I'm out there a going at it. 

I'm using both the wall of waters and my tomato cages. I was really pushing it planting them so... early but I had run out of room under the grow lights and the  really warm temperatures we've been having gave me confidence.  When in May do I remember ever having 86 temperatures? Is it hot at your house too. It's kind of scary outlook on summer.
Yet, I'm not sure winter has let completely go of his hold. We've had snow into the second week in June before but I can't remember being this hot. I'm guessing he's taking a nap but just in case, I pulled out my Wall of Waters that I haven't used in years. Those are those green things. There are tubes all the way around in the plastic that you pour water into. The water heats up in the daytime and keeps the inside of the tomato hut warm.

I haven't used them since I began making these cages out of torn up cow panels. I cut the bad parts out and use what's left to cut these.  I love them!! Just wish I could coat the ends with plastic because they will scrap you up a bit if you aren't careful.

I've made several changes over the years. I use three panels set in a triangle instead of four. The four tipped over in our wind. I think the square gave to much of a wall for the wind to press against. With three the wind glides on by. Then to stabilize the triangle even more, I cut the bottom bar, leaving rods to stick into the ground. 
 I fasten the three panels together with twine that once held my hay bales together. What would one do without twine? Such a handy thing.
I can't stop here though because the wind beats the tomatoes to nubbins or in other words just twigs. A few hours is all it takes. I've got to wrap the triangle with heavy duty plastic.

It isn't so bad with small tomato plants. But the large ones, I put in to beat our short growing season, play crack the whip in the wind and the leaves all go bye, bye. Without leaves, the plant dies. The plastic also helps holds in the heat at night. These plastic sheets are from last year. The plastic covered our hay for the winter inside the holey shed. By spring it is a bit beat up and perfect for its next use in the garden. Re-cycling helps save money and the earth. Besides, it means one less trip to the store and I'm all for that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's a girl, again.

She arrived at six thirty this morning. I knew she was on her way for her mom, Meagan, had sunk in flanks yesterday morning and last night her bag filled tight. That meant I missed some sleep last night checking on her.

The problem with today is that it is the 152 day. That must mean that Meagan didn't take on the day I put her in with the buck but the next day instead. Meagan's mom and grandma both always have their kids on the 151 day and I can't see her being any different.

I like the fact that Meagan kidded at 6:30 am because that means she will likely do the same thing next year and the year after. Or near that time. That is a whole lot better because I have all day to work with the little ones if need be. And I needed it today. Meagan had her doeling and then figured she was done, or that is what I'm guessing, because she didn't mother the kid. You know, lick it and ma... sweet nothings. She completely ignored it and left it covered in afterbirth shivering in the early morning air.
Luckily, I had arrived within minutes of the birth and wrapped the little doeling up in a warm towel snuggling it close. Getting colostrum into a little one within a short time after birth is critical to survival so I tried to convince mom and the little one to co-operate but that wasn't happening. For one thing there wasn't enough milk down in the small teats to squirt into the doelings mouth and getting the teat in her mouth, holding the doe still, and working milk down from the bag was way too much to accomplish on my own.

So I put Meagan on the milking stand and from their, filled the bottle. The little one ate 3/4th's of it and then settle down along with her mom for a nap. I arrived again at 2:30 hoping the wait had allowed them time to get it together both acting in their naturally assigned roles. Nope, so I put Meagan on the stand and helped the doeling nurse. She finished off with a bottle I'd partially filled from her mom.  At six she didn't want to nurse but took a bottle.

In just a few minutes I'll feed the baby once more before nighty night and snuggle in myself for a good nights sleep. Boy do I need it. Hopefully tomorrow the two will have spent enough time together in the stall and the doeling will be nursing off her mom without my assistance. First time mothers can be pretty dumb but with a little help, usually they catch on. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Garden Trenches

I'm trying something new. Okay, maybe not new but new to me. I've watched a couple food programs on Netflix lately and since all my gardening books have it too, the experts have spoken and I'd better join the band wagon, for surely it must work.
What works, you say, well those garden trenches I keep seeing.

Being the lazy bum I am, I decided to start on the easiest part of the garden. The part that only needed rototilled once. I'm not sure all the garden will get this treatment. Depends on how much clay worked its way up through the manure and sawdust I've been carting in for years.

Our ground should be devoted to clay pot throwers only, its too ugly for anything else. The sage brush is even puny in this section of the countryside. This ground either has to be soaked for a day or manned by two grown large adults hanging off the tractor's post hole digger to penetrate the ground to drill a post hole. In other words, this is not farming country but here I am gardening in it.

This manure pile section of the garden is the only part of the garden I've rototilled to date as I have a tendency to rototill and plant and rototill and plant working my way from the easiest areas to the hardest getting in the bulk of the garden first.

This area is heavy with manure since I've been trying to raise it up and hopefully someday slant it toward the south instead of the north, a task made more difficult since we are on the northern slope of a hill. Next place we buy, it will be flat or on a south slope. 

A southern slope is the best garden spot since warm air rises and you need all the warmth you can get in this part of Wyoming with a scant 90 frost free days a year.

I took out the shovel and rake and strapped on the sore back  and began digging. Well, maybe I didn't strap it on but it came along for the ride none the less. I knew it would since I have a crowd of bulging disks and a plate in the bottom of my back.That being the main reason I haven't done this before. But as I dug and heaped, I wondered how much the cold air would sink into the trenches and the warm rise up onto the platforms, enough to make a difference?

The task turned out not as bad as I thought it would be and though there weren't too many big worms in this area, there were tons of tiny babies wiggling, an encouraging good sign that the soil was healthy. 
We all know raised beds are the king of gardens and this trench digging and heaping method is the raised bed approach without the wooden sides. With a big area to cover, you just can't afford all that wood. Though I've planned for this section to be tomatoes, carrots, beans, beets, and onions, I couldn't help but think how much my potatoes would love it. But as you know, tomatoes hate potatoes, they are too closely related.  

Since I'm spreading out my tomatoes around the area, there just isn't any place for them to reside. My other goal beyond trenches is to enlarge my experiment on confuse them method. Insects that is, but we'll talk more on that next week.

What I hadn't thought about when I was digging was how clearly this marked the walking paths, excuse me, running paths. That is until our grand daughter pointed it out to me. She was over Wednesday, it's our Storytime day at the library. While I dug, she played in the chicken coop I build last year, I mean play house for it has yet to have any chickens put in it. We have fence down due to re-siding the house last year and since we have dirt that needs brought in to slant the ground away from the house, not towards like it has sunk, then there isn't any point in fencing. Hence, no chickens because dogs can get in to our backyard.
But before we get back to discussing trenches, I have to fulfill my promise of showing you our grand daughter's new slippers a friend gave her at Storytime. 
The left one and the right one. Though which is which, I have no idea.

They were her lawn shoes of choice but  as I was gathering up my tools, she wisely showed up at the garden's edge wearing her turquoise colored chore boots. "Ammaw, where do I step?" she asked?  It dawned on me that this might be the wisest reason yet for digging the trenches. The grand kids will know just where to walk. I mean run for she tried out all the lanes several times each, counting 1,2,3, and yelling, "Run!" as she sprinted down the paths.

Who said gardening with the Little People wasn't fun. Okay, that was me a long time ago when I was writing for the local newspaper. LOL but I've changed my mind.

That was back in my early years when our kids use to help me garden by asking for a handful of seeds and them dump them in the rows, equating to three plants per inch and then run back for another handful. Back when they tripped every few minutes over the strings marking the rows instead of going around and then burst into tears, back when I had three little ones in three and a half years and I didn't know how quickly those precious years would pass nor how fully to enjoy them.

Gardening with the Little People has definitely changed and I've learned a thing or two. This year I've learned that trenches might just be a very good thing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Goat Identification

Soon Daisy and her sisters, Bella and Rosey will be sporting green ears. No, the leprechauns have not come to town. Rather, it has been 9 weeks and the girls need to visit the Rexroat's tattoo parlor. Didn't know we ran one. Well, we do. It's an exclusive club for goats only. Every eligible young buck and maiden strolls through and comes out with green ink smeared ears and a number/letter identification all their own.

No, it isn't because I can't tell them apart. I'm not that dense. They have distinct personalities and markings being Nubians. But, I did have some trouble with the all white Saanens we use to raise. I would often put different colored collars on them to be able to quickly tell them apart.

When the girls are tattooed, I'll send in the paper work to the American Dairy Goat Association for registration. Time to say goodbye to one or two of these little ones whom I've grown very attached to.
But before the tattoo parlor can open, we have to first clean the equipment. Yup, big no, no, we  just put it away, smeared in tattoo ink. All that green ink had dried and stuck to the plates. that's where the empty windshield washer container comes in. Kirk cut it in half and put corroborator cleaner inside with the tattoo number and letter plates. After a good soaking, they cleaned easily with soap/water and a small brush.

Then after a good washing with dish soap and hot water, I poured boiling water over them twice and let them soak, then drained ou the water in between. Now we are ready to do the terrible deed.  

The herd initials go in one ear and in the other the designated letter for the year. This year it is C and then what birth order the kid is. For example, HKR for our herd identification. In the other ear, C 1 for Bella who was born first, C 2 doe Daisy, and C 3 for Rosey.

Luckily, the whole thing will be over in a matter of minutes.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Joys of Fresh Milk

 Oops, you can't read the labels. I was using the pocket camera since Kirk had a blog to do on his site and was using the large camera. Made me appreciate the large cannon all that much more. If you could read the labels, they would read from left to right, ghee, small sterile yogurt saved to make the next batch, large quart of yogurt, and buttermilk.
 YES!!!, we are finally get milk.  The fridge has quart jars of milk and I'm starting to culture. Buttermilk was the first one I made. Got to have buttermilk for pancakes and... and.... and... I've become quite dependent on my buttermilk. When Chicory was dry I bought some from the store. It was thin and as usual, pretty tasteless like most of the stores products. Nothing like the thick, thick, homemade goat milk version that I have to add a little goat milk in the recipes because its so.... thick.

Which makes me wonder how come the home grown eggs at my folks were so tasteless, just like the stores. The yolks were a deep orange. You would have thought they would be good. I wonder if their neighbor fed her chickens lots of corn? The corn fed beef from the store doesn't have much flavor but it does have lots of cholesterol just like the eggs would if that was the main feed. Hmm... I'm going to have to ask her. You know how curious my brain is.
 Oh,  sorry, squirrel moment there. I was talking about milk. My new goal for the year is to keep buttermilk going, yogurt, add making my own sour cream, keep making ghee, and also make Feta regularly. Throw in some butter making and ice cream, and I'm going to be really busy trying to use my milk to its fullest. How in the world did folks in the days past ever get it all done?

The plan is to save on our grocery bill. It definitely won't be saving time.

I incubated a little yogurt yesterday with a new culture, the Y-5 from It is the naturally sweeter yogurt. The Bulgarian kind I tried last year was a bit stout for me. Tart yogurt isn't my thing.
 But with this yogurt, I plan on mainly making smoothies. This kind of yogurt is usually not as thick and I do have a couple other cultures to try also. Just as long as this Y-5 culture tastes good, that's okay with me. I'd rather have good taste than thickness any day. So I loaded up the blender with frozen blackberries, frozen strawberries, and a banana to try out our new Y-5 culture.

Bananas add lots of natural sugar, sweetening the mixture without adding sugar. You can freeze bananas and add them to your smoothies which I've done in the past. Don't peel, just pop into the freezer. The ones with brown spots are sweeter and the all brown ones I freeze and use three in one batch of banana bread where it calls for two. This will change your recipe a bit so adjust. 

These are the exact ones I don't like to eat fresh for some weird reason. I want my banana yellow, no brown freckles anywhere. It has to do with the softer textures that displeases me. Why, I love smoothies, and applesauce and lots of other soft things like ice cream?

As a side note, a blender needs to have square sides or like mine, it's round with squared off corners. This keeps your food from just whirling in a circle and not blending.

Alton Brown is who said square is the thing to buy but I don't agree with his using soy milk to put into his smoothies. Soy is not good for the thyroid and the Lord knows how much trouble I have with mine anyway. It's not popular with the doctors either.  When I went to the best endocrinologist in the area, she asked that I find another doctor. Of course my gynecologist said she'd just do the yearly exams too and leave the rest of my hormonal medical care up to someone else also. Seriously, I'm nice, I promise. It's just that I have a very difficult body to medically deal with, so NO soy.
 Wow, am I squirrely this morning. Can't seem to stay on the subject. Oh yeah, were talking about soy milk. The label says it has lots of protein and good stuff. What it doesn't say is it is in a form your body can't use. Like having a can without some sort of can opener. I think choosing freshly made goat milk yogurt is better anyway and that is just what I did.  
What I've learned lately is, add not enough yogurt and your smoothie will be grainy and not thick and smooth. Add fresh fruit instead of frozen and you will need to add 3 or 4 ice cubes to get that thick texture. Need a recipe? Uh, golly, gee, I don't measure. How... about approximately a cup of strawberry, a cup of blackberries, one banana, and a cup of yogurt, give or take?  But then use whatever fruit you want. Keep in mind that the dark  fruit or berries adds more anti-oxidants, really good thing. 

We plan on making these smoothies a regular in the evenings along with soup or salad. Something kind of light, especially since Kirk doesn't get home until 8 on work days. Hm... a stuffed potato might be nice too. 

Oh, and by the way, can someone tell me how to e-mail those who comment and post a reply on my blog at the same time? These computers are so baffling to me. I've got several comments to catch up on and I do like to personally converse with you. That way I can add a comment and add a bit more on a personal e-mail. 

Don't forget to wonder over to I've been talking about buttons.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nearly Blossomless, Why?

 I've been wondering why my apple trees aren't loaded with fruit blossoms, just a smattering of white here and some there. Just enough to entice these beautiful butterflies. 
 I of course looked up why I might not be having many blossoms especially since last year it was the same story. I figured there was a reason. Most apple trees, minus crab apple, blossom heavily every other year in this country. If you can find an apple tree that is. My guess is with the poor soil, it takes a couple years to build up before giving birth to apples.

My research revealed the following reasons for my trees not blooming.
1. They are too old or too young. (Next, because that definitely isn't the problem.)
2. There isn't another apple tree to breed to. (Nope, there is two other trees and one is a crab apple which blooms every year.)
3. There needs to be a cold winter to put the trees into a dormant stage. (Check, our was mild but sufficient and not so cold that is stressed the trees.)
4. Finally, make sure there is plenty of fertilizer, especially nitrogen. (That is where I think my problem lies. I didn't pile manure around the base of each tree nor give them any other fertilizer as I usually do.) 
You know what I'll be doing this summer. By the way, have you seen enough of the butterflies? Not me, and I'll be out today photographing once more if the sun comes out. We finally had a good rain so I'm not complaining. With no irrigation in this country, we are dependent on Mother Nature and she hasn't been generous, in fact she's been rather miserly. 
The butterflies weren't the only visitor to the blossoms. Bumble bees were buzzing about too. I have this thing for them. I wish one of them would take a fancy to me and invite me home. I'd love to see where and how they live. Will this brain ever quit? LOL Probably not. 

Oh yeah, I published over at The Calico Bush about creating a flower button out of bark mammoth ivory. Check it out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Grass is Worse Than Your Grass

 Ever been in love with a weed. Think I'm crazy? Well, it's true. There is this weed I call a button weed and it has short roots and it pulls up easy. It's my friend. No, really, when I see this weed I have the warm fuzzies for it. I think it is because of the this, this in the picture above). This despicable grass - weed is the bane of my garden making that button weed dreamy. Don't laugh, until you have met this grass. I'd bet, if I was a better, that my grass is worse than your grass.

 It is not in the new section of garden, thankfully, but it is just a matter of time before it finds it's way over here.
 This grass isn't like just any ole grass.
This grass has roots that go on forever. They can grow to several feet long. How can you pull up something with roots this long? If you have a solution. You are my gardening savior.

Yes, I could use a weed killer but then there goes my organic garden and in comes the thing I've been trying to avoid - dangerous pesticides. I get enough of those from the food I buy at the grocery store. 

So... instead, I pull the grass and try to keep ahead of it during the summer to allow the vegetables to grow. If I lived in the country, I'd put stock on it during the spring and fall. I'd think of it as taking a lemon and making lemonade or at least making a problem more useful. Alas, towns people look down on goats in my backyard. The place I can't wait to have them. Just a short distance out back and handy, not 3/4's of a mile as the crow flies. 

I have something to look forward to on the new place, where ever I may be - all new weed problems. Because face it, weeds are plant you don't want and that could includes daisies if they take over somewhere you don't want them. At least they would be pretty weeds.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Clone Me, Quick

"Grandma, where are you now? When will you be home?", are the repeated words I heard, via cell phone, on my journey home Sunday as our three little grand daughters called to check up on my progress. It wasn't until 9 oclock that I arrived, an hour past bedtime, but they refused to go to sleep until I arrived, after all, they hadn't seen me in. "ever so long" - four days.

Got to love these little munchkins that sometimes creep into our bed just to feel the comfort of being near us. And the words, " Papa, you come home now, I need to see you." said over the phone during break time at work yesterday, leaves no doubt a certain three year old feels Papa plays a big role in her life. Yes, we are needed.
But I can't help but think as these sweet words run through my head, clone me quick, there isn't enough of me to go around.

Sandwiched in between two generations, both challenged to the brink, I feel just how inadaquate one of me is.

Our youngest grand daughter came home yesterday weighing 5 pounds 9 ounces, just a tiny little bundle that started out at 4 pounds 11 ounces, so she has grown quite a bit in three weeks. She is already grandma's girl for when I start to speak, she starts to grin and it gets bigger and bigger, and bigger until it spreads across her face. Then two little blue eyes peer up at me. She knows who I am, even though we've barely met here on earth, for I have no doubt we knew each other in heaven before this life.

The days ahead will be challenging as our daughter with eyes half open, tries to take care of the older four children and feed the youngest every two hours day and night. Then makes frequent trips to the doctor forty miles away while they work out the health issues with our newest grand daughter.

As many of you have had preemies before, you know how delicate they are and she too will have to avoid the public whether it be going outside her home or anyone coming in for 2 1/2 months. With four older siblings, this means grandparents are going to have to pitch in big time for trips to the park, church, library, and other activities.

On the flip side of the coin, my parents are also in great need right now. My mother has Dementia and my step-father just had surgery to help restore circulation to his foot, having waited too long, he might loose some toes.

They refuse to come over the mountain and stay with me, so a 9 hour trip is in order to run back and forth to help organize care and do things for them. Wish they would allow me to cupple them in with the care of the grandchildren but alas, no, they've always preferred their distance.

I figure the Lord wouldn't have timed these events together if he didn't have a purpose. Both situations will last for an extended time, both need help. This changes my world. There naturally will be greater demands on my time in the near future with the garden, livestock and house repairs. I've chosen to take the first round with my parents for the next few weeks and my siblings, which live a much greater distance away, have promised to come fill in for a time afterwards. I pray for stamina to keep up with the demands.

So even though I'm feeling torn between two demesnes, the newly arrived and the threatening to be departed, I know the Lord's timing of these event was for a reason.

I'm using the word demensnes to symbolizes that it is our daughter and her husband's, and my parent's decisions that have placed them in their situations and hence, ownership of choices means responsibility for the concequenses that come because of them. 

 For each there is need of growth and change. The one to be softened to move from a comfortable, well worn path, to another road they wish not to travel. For the other, strength and foretitude that only trials can bring. The Lord knows if I was capable, I'd probably mess up his plan with my empathy. Neither would learn the lessons he has planned, for I'd cushion the road making change not seem as necessary. I have come to realize that in his wisdom, both events have arrived at once.

So I will try and be a desciple in the road ahead, try to do as the Lord would have me do, not as I would have me do. I need to learn that I can't just step in and fix things. It isn't my place to fix, to take charge. My stewardship is as assitant, not Lord of the Manor. May I gain understanding of my role and if it comes quickly -I sure won't complain Lord.