Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hay Prices, Rain, and Purpose

Rain on the Ridge

It's raining. And since this part of Colorado is in a "severe drought" category, that news just tickles the hell out of me. I think I've mentioned how I have cultivated the habit of looking just for green things this summer which has been some peace in the midst of worry. Hay for the critters is topping out at $8 a bale - due to the drought most folks only got one cutting this year.

But, it's raining now, the kind that soothes the soul. I've been thinking some about how weather connects us all to our One Purpose which really is to just live. That's all. Glorious.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Rains and Drop Noodles

It rained at home while I was at work! I saw the clouds and the darkness covering the Wet Mountains and was so excited all afternoon. Drove home - lickety split - and delighted in the few light showers on the windshield that splattered all through Coal Creek and lands south. Tried to prepare myself for the likelihood that there was nothing more than wetting sprinkles. I even ditched yoga class. It's cooler here - about 70 degrees and it looks like there was SOME moisture. Not the deluge I had been imagining - but some rain. That is more than we've had for two months. The air is humid now and there is that smell in the air that is promising. How does that smell so fine? That mixture of dampness, sheep manure, grass, and buffalo grass. I inhale it, I gulp it.

I made harvest stew tonight to celebrate early summer and the rains. New potatoes, new carrots, new peas, some scallions, chicken and broth. The drop noodles are scrumptious and are made simply with 3/4 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, some pepper, 1 egg, and a little milk. Drop them into the finished stew by scant teaspoonfuls and cook for 7 minutes or so. I always make a double recipe because everyone loves the drop noodles so.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Drought, Pestilence, and Dreaming of Yurts

So we had another wildfire close to our place yesterday. I was quite dismayed and even more so to hear that it was caused by a small plane crash carrying our neighbor, Doc Hamilton, and the pilot. The pilot died on impact but somehow the doctor bailed out and is the hospital with undisclosed injuries. So sad for their families. The wildfire crew was here is less than 2 hours with slurry planes, "smoke jumpers", and ground folks. All day yesterday helicopters and planes flew over our house, rattling the windows and ruffling the chickens. My daughters and I climbed the hill that is front of our place to get a better view. (I've still got my apron on - so handy to pack refreshments.)

The reverse 911 call came at about 6 pm to "prepare for evacuation". Rats! I'm really getting tired of this routine. If we were nomads we would simply pack up the yurt and move to a place where it friggin' rains once in a while. It's hot today and very dry but the winds are down. Another positive is that this fire is very close to the wildfire in 2005 that burned 14,000 acres so a lot of the underbrush and "old growth" is already cleared.

And the very, very Good News is that some monsoonal moisture is making it's way up from Old Mexico! You can see the white vapor coming up in a clockwise motion (it's circling a high pressure area right over Colorado). In the next few days we are promised our summer rains which will hopefully end our extreme drought conditions. If the rains don't come, I'm seriously considering the yurt idea.

As an aside I think you need to know that the natural ant remedy that I made a week ago did have a little effect on the ant population in the garden. 6 tablespoons of sugar, 1/3 cup of molasses, and 6 tablespoons of dry yeast. It was an incredible bait - thousands joined the feast - but we noticed them eating around the yeast for the most part. Still, many, many ants met their demise. And many more were still chomping my vegetables (which has to have something to do with this drought). In desperation I used some pyrethrum and neem oil to spray on the vegetables to protect them from the ants. Pyrethrum is made from chrysanthemums and is supposed to be the least toxic pesticide if one must be used. It was such a relief to go out to the garden this morning and see healthy ant-free plants.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Haven't had rain for weeks and we're parched in this part of Colorado. We keep hoping for the monsoonal weather patterns to kick up and I check National Weather Service every day to see if it's going to happen this year. It always does but can it possibly get rid of this scorched desert land that we have become? On my way to work every morning instead of noticing the brown - ness I have cultivated the trick of searching for green. It helps. We're putting water on the garden a lot and are keeping things alive out there. Nothing beats a nice summer afternoon cloudburst, though.

I have thousands of sugar type ants eating anything green -that is, they are eating my garden. Googled for some natural ant remedies and found a recipe for "bait". Molasses, sugar, and powdered yeast. I mixed some of this goo up this morning and laid it about. The ants love it -they're swarming all over it - but I don't see that they are decreasing in number at all. At the very least it provides some distraction from my poor vegetable plants.

It's still beautiful around here in a sort of dry way. I'm working on my knitting and finished some awesome curtains for our 1978 wilderness camp trailer. They totally fit in with the plaid and paneling. Jerry and I have gone for a couple of trips in this little vintage wonder. I love it. Especially when we go someplace that is still green.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Soil Testing and Cousins

It has been nasty windy for the last two days. Too windy to plant anything, really. The garden is ready and waiting, but we've had a cold Spring so far. The peas are up finally and they love cold weather so you can guess how cold the soil has been. Barring planting I decided to do a soil test using the "Mosser Lee Master Soil Testing Kit" that I purchased last year and never got around to using. I felt like I needed a lab coat - it was very cool. It seems that our soil is pretty nice provided that these home test kits are at all close to accuracy. I always fret about soil amendment and whether we've done enough - and Jerry always tells me that we have. "That garden soil is PERfect, Suzan!" I need proof.

Memorial weekend has been oh so fine because all our lovely daughters came to visit. I made gathering bags for the grandkids the week before. I can't say they were an extreme hit but there was some gathering going on.

There was some wagon play, too. Those cousins went down the hill a thousand times. Fell out, too. They're still in their pajamas. They got up at the crack of dawn and dashed outside while the adults were still drinking first cups of coffee.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So Much More

Well, I haven't been able to post for awhile but just changed Blogger back to the old editor. What d'ye know? It worked. Let me review the month or so that I've been idle on line.

Each item below would have made a delightful post.

  • We had a wildfire just to the west of us and were evacuated. Crazy weird. House and land okay. Lewis Creek Trail burned. Smells like a wet ashtray around here.

  • Baby chicks are now in the big girl coop.

  • I made goal weight of 132 pounds using Weightwatchers. I can have six points more every day. Whoot whoot!

  • Peas are coming up. At last.

  • Lots of lettuce, radishes, and spinach in the cold frame.

  • It's finally started to rain a bit but we're still in severe and persistent drought. Grass is green.

  • The scrub oak is leafing out.

  • I adore the lone barn kitten. I'm wooing her (because she is very skittish).

  • Lambs are playing together. Sylvia, one of the ewe mothers, made a miraculous recovery from pneumonia.

  • Jerry and I are going to "camp" in Estes Park in June. We are proud owners of a 1978 fifteen foot Wilderness camp trailer. Plaid and paneling galore.

There was so much more - fantastic dinners, trout fishing, wonderful and beautiful adult daughter report. And what about the Ready Ice truck that flipped over just at the Hwy 67 and Hwy 96 intersection? So much more!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Bit of Rain on a Tuesday

Egads! I think it actually rained some last night!   I see little puddles of water on the porch.  This is special, for sure, because it is so dry here.  Humidity is less than 5% most of this spring.  The little grasses that did come up were withering away and our volunteer fire department has asked residents to attend their wildfire preparedness training on a weekly basis.   And - it rained some last night!   Old Virgil's mother (a pioneer in this area) used to say, "Well, it'll rain someday...."  There is hope, but it's rather sad to miss the spring wildflowers.

We've kept the sheep, donkey and horse in the corrals to save what little pasture there is.  Had to move Angel, the donkey, out of the sheep pens when she started to drag the sheep around on the ground out of sheer boredom. 

I need to get ready for work.  Egads!  Just found myself sitting and thinking. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Red Flag Warnings and Love

Pike's Peak seen through the scrub oak

I woke early this morning to the wind howling yet another day.  The humidity is low, too, which means another "red flag warning" day.  There is a bit of green here in the Wets but on the plains it's looking brown and dry.  I got up at just before 6 am - because there are few things I like better than to make coffee at the break of dawn and NOT go to work.   The habit is to pour a cup and then wander from window to window to savor the four directions.

My youngest daughter, Madeline, has returned home for awhile.  She has brought Rooster, the blue heeler, back with her and her huge yellow cat, Moses.  Last night my middle duaghter, Emily, came home for the weekend and she brought her dog, Bear, with her.  We now have four dogs and two cats who are used to being allowed in the house.  My first task this morning was to feed them all (the animals, not the daughters) and send them outside to play.  They've been in and out all day.

My daughters each are moving on their journeys through this time and I am honored that they allow me to be, in some small way, part of them still.  They are truly my pride and joy.  My daughters, not the animals. 

So, I'm wrapping the day up now and stopping to reflect again.  Despite the wind which has only just now calmed it was a lovely day.   The daughters have gone together to a girlfriend's 30th birthday party and Jerry is downstairs making some music.   He's wooing me, I think........ 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Fever and Farm Update

Ohhhh, it was a long day today. The afternoon stretched on and on. And when I looked at the clock it wasn't cooperating at all. Others at work seemed tired and worn a bit at the edges. It's gotta be Spring. Farm update - I planted my pea patch this weekend. It snowed the next day so that was perfect for snow peas, wasn't it? I've put lettuces and radish and spinach in the cold frame (although I could have done that even earlier - we'll see if it helps at all - still a month of freeze possible). We woke Saturday morning to find a surprize lamb! A little April Fool. Our ewes are real young and we didn't think we'd have lambs this year. He's adorable. People ask what we do with our lambs and of course we eat them at some point. A good friend's mother once said that she would prefer to know and name the meat she eats - and I agree with her. Good karma. New chicks are due to arrive next week. We're all set up for them. So are the coyotes, I'm sure. Damn coyotes. Eat the rabbits! Eat the rabbits!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oven Cleaning the Green Way

I cleaned my oven yesterday. It is a totally Big Deal as it is not a "self cleaning" oven. Oh, if it only were! This is the same stove that was in the double wide trailer house that we lived in on our property while we built our current home. It's an old LP propane Kenmore that works just fine - but, you have to clean the oven the old fashioned way. It hasn't been really cleaned for 11 years. Now before you go all weird on me and accuse me of being a slob I have to tell you the the damn oven sort of self cleans itself whenever you bake in it. You know, stuff turns to ashes so it's really not seething with maggots or anything like that. Yesterday I cleaned it with some sort of spray that is pure lye based. It's nasty stuff. I tried using the vinegar in a boiling pan of water left in the oven overnight "green clean" idea but 11 years of gunk does not render itself to "green clean". It's spanking new looking now. But, I'll bet you anything I won't clean it again for another 11 years.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Modern Medicine

It snowed a little last night. A surprise in the night kind of snow. There is that comforted feeling that comes about from the realization of how buffeted from the elements one can be, all snuggled in a warm bed. Entwined with that one person who is as familiar with your life as you are.

There hasn't been a lot of that entwining business going on here for the last week until last night because of the Illness. I thought I'd go to work yesterday because I was feeling like the Illness might be leaving me. I was wrong. Started the "Zpack" antibiotic and some kick ass steroids yesterday and I just about feel human again. Does anyone else ever think about how many times they might died in their lifetimes without the miracle of modern medicine?

It looks like it will stay cloudy today. I will hang out some sheets later if it doesn't snow/rain and knit on my sweater and be grateful for kick ass modern medicine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scrub Oaks and Restoration

Sick. I've been sick since Sunday with a cold. Bleh. Cough, cough, cough. Makes me regret the day I threw away that old bottle of codeine cough syrup that had been hiding out in the back of the medicine chest. I think it would have helped even as old as it was. I've tried to knit a couple of times but just don't have the concentration for it and ended up unraveling as much as I knitted.
This morning instead of futile knitting the dogs and I took a little early March hike about. The bare scrub oaks are kind of lacey against the blue sky.
I'll go to work tomorrow. And feel restored. How fortunate I am!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturdays and Possibilities

It's so sweet to wake up on a Saturday morning after a week of workdays. Saturday just bursts with possibilities, don't you think? Even washing the bed sheets and hanging them out has promise. There are always those sewing projects, the garden, ideas for dinner, throwing a little hike in somewhere - these are stuff of Saturdays.

This morning the clouds are roiling about and it is windy and cold. My brother Tom and his new bride are coming tonight and will stay until Sunday. Tom - at 51 - was a total bachelor until he married Deborah last Fall. I am very happy for them - they just seem so right for each other. Tom has always been kind of a loner. He loves his family but really never went out of his way to visit us for heaven's sake. What would be the point? So, here comes Deborah who hales from a huge Hispanic family and is related to everyone in Pueblo. Family is important and she is quite responsible for orchestrating several family gatherings in the six months she and Tom have been married. She is exuberant - and I just get a kick out of her for that.

Have a wonderful full of possibilities weekend, all.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Long Weekends, Hiking, and Knitting

Sweet weekend all in all. Jessica and the grandkids came to visit Saturday and left Sunday. We had fun looking for elf doors in the "woods". At four, almost five, Evan really didn't think there was anything unusual about finding elf houses sprinkled around Grandma's farm. The matter of fact reaction surprised me a bit!

And, what a treat it is to have President's Day holiday. All day I've been grateful. A few times I caught myself thinking about work tomorrow - and promptly reminded myself to focus on the moment. We got up early and went into Canon City to do errands, came home and raked up the yard a bit, planned a few garden-y type projects. After lunch we took a hike and because Jerry was there - we ended bushwacking up the back of the property on deer trails through the scrub oak. Jerry loves a good bushwack.

I've started another knit project - the February Lady's Sweater which is a "big ass version of the February Baby's Sweater" originally patterned by the queen of knitting, Elizabeth Zimmerman. And - hey! - it's February!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tandoori and Weight Watchers

So, I'm really into food this month. Cooking it and then tracking how many points in Weight Watchers lingo I've consumed. WW's point system is becoming a byword in my family. Even my 4 year old grandson, Evan, makes guesses about a food's point value. " Ah, yeah.. that's six points probbly. " It's actually been quite fun to try new recipes. I was in such a rut with my meals.

If you want to know the truth of it? I was very impressed with the Julie/Julia Project and started to cook with an adventurous attitude about a year or so ago. People who know me well know that I cook basics competently. You know, a mean leg of lamb. I have never been one to go to specialty grocers for anything. Shit, I live 50 miles from the nearest specialty grocer and there is no way I will spend a precious day off going to shop for FOOD, for heaven's sake. I still feel this way - but, it's fun to replenish the old spice jars with fresh content - and I can do that in CaƱon City - and look at different ways to combine these with food.

I'm making some tandoori chicken thighs tonight. Page 184 Weight Watcher's New Cookbook. 8 points. Roasted green beans 0 points. Whole Wheat noodles 3 points. I haven't lost one single pound this week but haven't gained any, either.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lasagna rolls and Rob Roy

I made a scrumptious new recipe tonight from Cooking Light - lasagna rolls with spinach, mushrooms and roasted red pepper sauce. Very nice. Actually I have been cooking a lot lately. I joined on line Weight Watchers and am enjoying making a shopping list and cooking food using some different ideas. Jerry has been liking the focus on venison - which we have quite a lot of in the freezer- it is very lean meat and flavorful. I don't really want to lose any weight but it would be nice if I could stop gaining weight, for Pete's sake.

And I drank red wine and watched Rob Roy for the umpteenth time. I love that movie, truly do. When Liam says in his gruff Scottish brogue, "Do ye know how fine ye are to me, Mary McGregor?" - well, I just melt. Who doesn't? I want to get to the loom and weave plaid, drink Scotch and have babies. Or rather, do the things that cause babies....

We are getting through the dark winter days. February is always wonderful as the sky is still rather light when I leave work, not dark like it is in November. It almost makes one think that after work walks with the doggies are just a minute or so away. Usually by the time I actually get in the door though, it IS dark. But the thought is there and very possible - and that is so uplifting to my heart.

Hoping you all are loving the dregs of winter. (BTW -were you aware that snowshoeing for a mere thirty minutes earns 5 activity points?? - that's practically a whole bar of chocolate!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nursery Print Nostalgia

I had a nice long weekend which seemed to revive any spirits I might have lost. Some friends came from Michigan and we cruised the antique shops in Florence for a good part of one day. I found this lovely little nursery print of which the photo above is only a detail. Have tried to find the artist and cannot. I thought it was maybe Dutch as there are some windmills on the horizon and came across Henrietta Willebeek Le Mair whose work looks familiar but is not my illustrator. This has got to be 1940s or '50, don't you think? The little girl is waving her handkerchief at a woman down the shoreline a bit, there are many ducks and some water lilies. Maybe it is from some story of which I am ignorant. Help me out if you can, please!!!

The very cool part of this print was the internet journey I took in trying to discover my artist. There are whole sites devoted to nursery illustrators! Here is my favorite from yesterday.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Elf Doors and Snowstorms

Jerry presented me with several little elf doors, windows, and even a wee lantern for my Christmas gift. My daughter, Emily, came down to visit us over the holidays and she and I looked around for suitable tree homes. It was fun, I mean really fun! When we got back to the house we searched the internet for more of this type of thing. I think it's a cult. Could definitely use more of these whimsies in my life, who couldn't?

We are expecting a fabulous snow storm tomorrow into Monday! So very hopeful on several levels. First, southern Colorado is in severe drought. It's not extremely dangerous in terms of wild fires this time of year, but come spring and summer? The prospect is terrifying for me. Second, I love the snow and want to snowshoe - jeezo peezo - sometime this winter without having to travel to do so. Third, I want a snow day on Monday. And who wouldn't???