Friday, June 29, 2012

This Moment: The cowboys

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a moment. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's been going on...

Haven't really had too much to say lately. I'm pretty sure we have settled into a very predictable routine. Kyle has been working his (now typical) long days. Mostly he is on a tractor, done plowing for the moment, onto rolling and seeding most of last week, then more brush hogging and spraying. Unfortunately there is no rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, so hopefully the new seed won't bake (it is supposed to handle this heat.)
Our weekend was very intense but good. The boss had company. So, they spent a lot of time riding and roping in addition to regular duties. It was nice that it was only in the high eighties.
Sorry no pics of the fun, the boys and I were busy in the house helping prepare lunches and dinner. It was wonderful to visit with the couple that came, a fresh face is always welcome around here as going out and meeting new people is proving more difficult than thought.
When we were not helping up at the main house, the boys and I did take a moment to cool off. We splashed, and I admired my automatic lawn mowers. (there is no reason to mow when A: you have 21 young heifers on hand, and B: grass is getting so scarce, one need not waste it on manicuring a lawn when said heifers could be eating it.)

Monday morning everyone was back at it Cows needed to be moved to a new pasture, and we happened to  stumble on Kyle, Wayne and guest Abbey doing the work on our morning walk.

The cows were very curious about us visiting.

Tuesday, we went for our normal walk, of course we saw a snake, though this time it was a large but harmless Black Rat Snake. Colton was thrilled.

We also stopped at the drinker and checked the progress of the tadpoles. Colton was very excited when Ms. Therace found one very near to completing its transformation into a frog.

At home Therace and I spent the better part of the afternoon canning tomatoes. 1/2 bushel done, gave us 22 pints. I still need to do another 1/2 bushel of tomatoes and if I can find Romas, I will do a 1/2 bushel of tomato sauce. Apparently the good peaches are ready, (which I cannot even imagine, as the ones we have been eating are so heavenly.) So, hopefully I will get some of those put up as well.
What a good feeling to think I will get the bulk of the hard preserving done before baby arrives. I am also ever grateful for Therace's willingness to help. Many hand really do make for light work.

Well, I think that catches us up. I hope everyone is able to stay cool as the mercury rises, not only here, but from the sounds of things most everywhere we have been or where loved ones are.  Summer is truly upon us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Best EVER! Peach Pie Recipe

I'm going to share a secret with you all. It is a secret I have harbored since I was in high school when I worked part-time as a house keeper/companion for a dear old lady named Agnes. I learned a lot working for Agnes things like sweeping carpets (I had always called it vacuuming), what a davenport was etc... but my most favorite thing to do with her was bake. And she kindly shared her many wonderful recipes with me, some in written form, and some I had inscribe somewhere in my scattered brain only to resurface much later at random but very appropriate moments.  This peach pie recipe is no exception. I remembered all of the albeit simple but forgotten ingredients, just as a case of the most delicious, sweet, tender peaches you ever tasted were dropped off at the ranch earlier this week.  I guess they don't call Georgia the peach state for nothin'.

So here it is the easiest FRESH NO BAKE PEACH PIE recipe.
(Oh, and even my husband who does not care for fruit pies likes this one.)  

One pre-made pie crust - regular, gram cracker, short bread - there all good
1 cup Sugar
3 heaping Table Spoons Corn Starch
1 3oz package peach jello (I know, I know this is a no, no ingredient, but we're indulging here)
1 Cup Water

3-4 cups peeled and sliced peaches

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan mix sugar, corn starch and Peach Jello. Add Water. Cook on med/high heat stirring constantly. Cook mixture until it comes to a low boil. Continue cooking, until mixture forms a very thick bubbling gel. Remove from heat and cool 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and slice peaches. Fold Peaches into gel mixture. Fill Pie Crust. Chill completely. Serve with whip cream or ice cream.

P.S. You can also use this recipe to make a very nice Strawberry pie. Just change out the fruit and Jello flavor.

Enjoy :o)

Friday, June 22, 2012

This Moment - Gold Mine Mountain

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a moment. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

(And this moment was a few weeks ago, but it is a favorite place that we visit often. "Gold Mine Mountain" is really a Mica deposit, and on a sunny day it sparkles like gold on the red rock.)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Snake

We haven't seen him in a couple of weeks, and yesterday I had the passing thought that maybe he had moved on. But, this morning on our walk, there he was in all his 24-30inch glory. We stopped to look at him and I got brave and snapped a quick photo, of course at this point he decided it was time to depart to his lair in the rocks (Which was fine by me.)

Now my question is still: What is he?
He definitely has a pronounced head of the more diamond shape variety. But, in all the research I've done I still can't conclusively say 100% for sure he is or is not a Water Moccasin (a.k.a. Cotton Mouth)
I suppose as snakes go he is rather beautiful, but his scale pattern is unique enough I just can't really say for sure what he is. At this point we err on the side of caution and presume he or I suppose she is a young Water Moccasin.

So, here is my invitation, feel free to share this post around to any and all snake savvy friends. Perhaps we can get some help in identifying him as friend or foe.

Oh, and for all the Grandma's out there, I want to ASSURE You we were not this close to him. he was a good 8-10feet down the creek bank. Zoom lenses and creative cropping are what bring him in for this close view.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On Fathers Day

This fathers day Kyle and I will be 870 miles from our dads. We love our fathers and are so grateful for the life lessons they taught us and the love and discipline they faithfully applied in their years of raising us.
 So, Dad (Ron & Nick) if your reading this, thank you for be our dads. We love you!

Closer to home, I  want to take a moment to honor Kyle the father of my children Colton, Alex.
Did you know there is a deeper reason as to why we have chosen the ranching lifestyle? We are not doing this because of Kyle's dream of being a "cowboy". We are not doing it for money. We are not even doing it for the adventure of saying we did it. Though those are all factors, the reason we do this, and live this way is for our family.

It is no secret that when Kyle and I got married we made no plans for a family. Children just were not in the picture. But, God saw the void in our plans and graciously gave us Colton. At the time of Colton's birth I had been working full time and was the primary breadwinner as Kyle built his farrier business. I was heartbroken at the thought of leavingg my baby to go back to work even though we had the best grandmas to care for him. As I neared the end of my maternity leave, one day Kyle got up, got dressed and informed me he was going to go find a job. I was so surprised by this and honestly skeptical that one could just go out and get a job. But, sure enough God provided and Kyle returned that day with a job. Thus releasing me of the pressure to return to work full time.
God knew what he was doing when he gave Kyle that job at a local dairy. It opened our eyes to a lifestyle we thought was dead and gave us the vision for how we wanted to raise our family.

You see that little part time job at VerHage Dairy and Kyle's business as a professional horse shoer turned out to be so special because it allowed, not only for me to stay home and care for Colton. It made it possible for us to be a much bigger part of Kyle's life. When Kyle worked at the dairy, he was up early every morning to go milk, but was almost always home by 10am, which let him spend some time with Colton before heading off to shoeing appointments. The schedule of a horseshoer varies greatly, but because of this and the flexibility we could often ride along with him to appointments. Even at the dairy, we were welcome to come watch him work, and we often did if he was working a night shift or doing something special.
Through this experience we realized that we could have a lifestyle that would keep us together and allow our son(s) to receive a very important gift. They could learn not only about being close with their family, but they could also literally watch their father work.

Today, so many fathers have to leave to go to work, precious time is lost and few children even know or truly understand what it takes for bread to be on their table. While we understand and respect this is often a necessity. We can't help that we were drawn to an older simpler lifestyle, where from early on the children work alongside their parents. We truly feel this is the best way for us to teach our boys work ethic, responsibility, and how to be

This desire to impart our values in a very kinesthetic manner led us to further pursue a lifestyle that not only made ends meat, and was something that Kyle enjoyed (after all if you are going to bring in the bacon, why not try to have a little fun too.) but allowed us the flexibility to still be a part of Kyle's work. Ranching seemed to be our next best option.  Once again God blessed us with a wonderful job opportunity in Montana. The Hatches fully embraced our family and supported our desire to work closely together. Colton loved beging able to go out irrigating with Kyle, or feeding in the tractor. Even Alex (from a few weeks old) and I got in on the act from time to time.

And still when we had to move back to Michigan, God faithfully provided jobs that even though the opportunities where much more limited we still got to see Kyle work.

I don't know how much Colton and Alex are really absorbing through all this but I can tell you this, They know their daddy works, works hard, and they have a pretty good idea what he does.

Once again we are blessed with a job, that though Kyle works long hard hours we still are able to observe him working and occasionally help him.

And though Colton has plans to be a paleontologist, super hero, police man, cowboy, bull rider. He will also tell you that he wants to be just like his dad.
And Alex... Well, if dad has a rope, he wants one too. And I can't think of a better person for these boys to look up to.

So, Kyle if you read this, I just hope you know how much we all love you and appreciate the sacrifices you make and time you spend with us, you are so important to these boys and to me.

Plow Boy

The events of this week have been pretty low key, not too many exciting events to write least for me and the boys. We have just enjoyed our routine of morning walks, house work, a little helping Kyle in the corrals and play time. Oh, and a couple midwife appointments - but, that's another story.
For Kyle on the other hand... Well, he had plenty to do.
The first part of the week was occupied by two days of very welcomed rain. And once the down pour stopped it was time to hit the fields.
This ranch, just like any other has one main concern - having enough grass for the cattle that graze it. However, the distinguishing feature down here is that it means making grass, as opposed to just growing it.
It appears that there will be a fair amount of the summer season spent plowing and seeding or re-seeding pastures. Because of the mild climate, the goal is to NOT have to feed hay. In fact if you do need to feed hay it is likely to be in the summer months because of drought not because of winter weather conditions.
Also, apparently because of the soil conditions (the soil here is a very hard clay.) and because this area is naturally very dense forest.  There are very few natural pasture lands.

So, now that the rain has freed up the clay, Kyle and Wayne have spent most of their working (& waking) hours plowing fields for pasture. Admittedly plowing is not Kyle's favorite job, but the cows need grass, and more urgently than ever since the boss has increased the herd by 40 cows.

(Kyle and Co-worker Wayne discuss where to go from here.)

These fields (I don't really know how many acres, but its a lot!) will likely be planted with Bermuda grass which is a perennial grass that tolerates the heat better. Other pastures have been planted with a type of Rye for the chillier winter months.    

Thankfully this last rain & barring a break down, the last portion of plowing should be able to be completed today sometime. Overall this project has been going on for the past month or so, in spurts for as long as the ground stayed wet enough to do it. When it is very dry the clay is too hard for the plow to turn the soil over. Instead it would just cut useless grooves. 

And even though this section of plowing is almost finished, the work is not. Post plowing, then the fields will need to be rolled and finally planted, then lots of prayer for rain, and after the rain...On to the next section, I guess.   

Friday, June 15, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fresh off the needles- at least that's what they say

This post is not so much about life on the ranch, and yet it kind of is. By now you know we are expecting a little bundle of joy in August. And as things go, I find myself doing a bit of nesting here and there. Most notably described as this overwhelming urge to knit and sew.

Now, please understand I am very much a NOVICE knitter. In fact I can count all of my projects on one hand, dish clothes (I have made lots of these), one hat and one very simple child's sweater (which the child intended had outgrown by its completion.) these projects have spanned the course of the last, oh 5+ years. Because of this track record it may surprise you to know that I actually love knitting. Its more of a patience and attention span issue as to why I have not done more of it, or expanded my project list.

Anyway, out here without many of my past common distractions, such as ... TV, driving places, and visiting with people of the in person human variety etc... I find that I have a wee bit more time to devote attention to such projects, along with this moderately intense urge to make something for this new babe.

So, here it is my first test project, fresh off the needles:
What is it? A wool soaker (a.k.a.  A wool diaper cover)
and yes I am aware I am having a girl. 
But begone stereotypes. I just love this pale blue Merino wool. It is so soft and light. I will admit that I originally purchased it to make Alex a soaker, but it will work for the little miss too. 
In case you are wondering I found the free pattern on Ravelry

And once I did the math (read algebraic expression) to figure the gauging -- because, though I am a novice knitter, I like some adventure and want to use what I have, even if it is not the correct needle or yarn size-- it really was a pretty simple pattern to follow. I will say, that I might try to make another in the next larger size, and maybe adjust for a slightly higher rise.

At the moment however, I have my eye on another project, and I think I just might have enough yarn to pull it off too...I'll let you know how it turns out.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This week...

It has been a relativity quiet week. I wish I could think of something exciting to write about, but, then again maybe I am a little glad for the more peaceful days.

Some things that we have done:
Enjoyed lots of play time,
We made a new friend, and deeply mourned that friend when he returned to his natural home. I must say that it is my honor to parent a boy with such a kind heart, and who already at age 5 is learning to look beyond his needs and to the interest of others (even a box turtle). 

We watched dad mow the pasture behind our house.  It's a very different method of grass management here. We will put up no hay. And they are working on brush hogging (or "Slashing" if you are from Australia) to knock down the cool weather grasses and allow the warm season grasses more rain & sunlight.

 Of course there was laundry to be done. I'm sure that I am not the only person who feels like this chore never ends.

 We also spent some time this morning helping dad and Mr. Wayne do some work.

 And then we welcomed 40 new ladies (cows) to the ranch

This has been some of our week. We hope you have a had a wonderful one as well.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Did I mention...

Did I happen to mention that we made this move to Georgia while I am rather... pregnant?
Well, I am. Twenty-nine weeks actually. I have to tell you based on my experience a mid-pregnancy transfer from Michigan to Georgia has been one of my more frustrating challenging experiences.
 I won't bore you with all the details, but lets just say Midwives are extremely rare. Medicaid is less than simple to get going (as opposed to other states I've worked with.) and medical record transfer is nearly impossible. But, with a lot of prayer, a few tears and a lot of phone calls between Michigan and down here in Georgia. I can happily tell you that I have insurance. I found a midwife - on the first try even, which is good because there are only two within 40 miles.
And I have my first prenatal check up since moving down here scheduled for next week. This all feels pretty good.

On a side note: as we were driving home today from meeting our midwife, I realized something... Did you know I have never had the privilege of working with one doctor/midwife from the beginning to the end of my pregnancy? (unless of course you count my miscarriage last summer.) 
With Colton I started with a women OB ( I'm sorry I forget her name.) But then she had a baby and went on Maternity leave and I switched to Dr. Savage somewhere around 20 weeks. Though Dr. Savage was o.k. I wanted a midwife the next time around. So, with Alex I sought out Sue a CNM. But, then around 29 weeks we up an moved to Montana, and I finished my care with Carol who was actually a PA, but by far an amazing Midwife. And now I began my care in Michigan with my midwife Trinnie and because of another move I have a new midwife by the name of Jeri. This is all very interesting to me. I wonder what purpose if any there is in making so many changes? But God always has a plan even if I don't know what it is at the moment.

Another thing to note, is that not a single one of our children has been nor will be born in the same state. Colton was born in Michigan. Alex was born in Montana, and by the looks of things this little one will be born down south in Georgia.

Life sure is funny sometimes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our Adrenaline Walk

Alex & Colton ready for our walk, sporting new hats and new boots. 
I'm going to make this short as I am exhausted and have another big day planned for tomorrow. But here is the much anticipated story of our normal walk experienced turned adventuresome.  
(Please excuse the lack of pictures - I wasn't going to stop to take too many snap shots. Also please excuse poor spelling, grammar and punctuation, because as I said, I'm tired and it never has been my strong suit.)

It was a beautiful morning, over cast, and not too hot. The boys and I got around in record time and headed out for our daily jaunt.

Now, I should back track because there was a change made over the weekend.
On Saturday we had moved the little replacement heifer calves to a new pasture. Not so much because they were out of grass but because the cows were, and since we were running solo, it was easier to move 45 calves a couple pastures over than 180 cows. 
Anyway, in the pasture behind our house are all of the cows. We have forgone our walks for Sunday & Monday to let them settle, but by today we were all getting stir crazy so it was time to head out.
Now, thankfully these cows are pretty used to people being around, and are generally respectful. Looking out in the pasture they were well spread out and contentedly grazing. Yes, the coast was clear...I thought.

As we came through the gate all seemed well. Some heads lifted and chewing paused as they watched this lady and two small people one inside a cart of some sort begin walking slowly across their pasture. And we did try and move slowly but consistently along the path. And all was looking well until we rounded the first bend and right in front of us appeared a cow. We both paused and sized up the situation. Colton was close and Alex in the stroller.  It was a stale mate for a while and then we opted to make the first move.  We slowly began to edge our way toward the cow, hugging the tree line in hopes she would move off easily to the large open space on our left. And while the logic was good I did not anticipate the speed at which she would make her exit. Which did turn out to be a full run.

Now, all would be well if none of the other cows had noticed her bolt away from us. But apparently 179 other pairs of eyes were watching us. And all simultaneously decided it was time to move very quickly. I should point out we were kind of at the point of no return. 1/2 the herd behind and the other half in front. My instinct was to flee as cows ran around us, but I forced my feet to stop and Colton bravely followed suit. When we stopped so did the cows. We decided to edge our way very slowly ahead, but every time we moved 180 bodies began to run. some toward us out of curiosity. Who knows, they probably thought we had mineral or something. And some toward our next gate and point of exit. These cows anticipating being moved to another pasture.
Now, one should not worry, and while they did attempt to crowd us a time or two a simple shooing did the trick. And all in all we made safely into the next pasture which has no animals in it.
(Insert deep sigh of relief here.)
Some of the Cows as we left them behind

We continued on our walk at a leisurely pace until we came to the dip by the creek. This used to be a favorite place to stop and throw rocks, but not of late because what we think is a water moccasin has taken up residence in the rocks down at the creeks edge (well off the path, but still a little close for comfort.)
Today was no different. As we all huddled to the middle of the path, with me scanning both banks for any sign of movement. Sure enough down in the rocks I see the brown and black body of a large snake retreating from view. He is retreating but, my heart still pounds a little. In case you are wondering a Water Moccasin (a.k.a. Cotton Mouth) is a large bodied snake (this one is about 2 1/2ft. long & 2 in. in diameter) and is very poisonous. They are very common down here and probably our largest personal threat IF PROVOKED. I do not wish to provoke him so we just move along. But, still coming in close proximity to such an animal does get my heart pumping. Especially when we encounter him again on the way home. This time fully in view warming himself on the rocks. Please excuse me for not pausing to take a picture. 

And yes, we returned to walk through the cows again on our way home. This time with less fanfare. But, surely an adventure.
Oh, I should mention that in all the in-between times our walk was quite enjoyable. Colton caught a grass hopper, we checked the progress of the tadpoles in the drinker. Had a lovely visit with daddy and Mr. Wayne & Mrs. Terrace freshly back from Nebraska, and enjoyed their many tales of their first real branding.
played with the dogs and returned home for some well earned Peach Pie.

I wonder how tomorrow will go...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Moving Cows & Calves

The cows
This past week has been glorious to say the least, and often felt more like a vacation than a work week. But, reality is returning today and we shall see if the groove we settled into will be allowed to continue or if the previous more....chaotic schedule will resume.
So, why was this past week like a vacation? Well, simply everyone else on the ranch was gone.
Our boss also has a partner ranch in Nebraska. If you followed a week ago we shipped the steer calves there.
The next day the boss and other ranch hand and his wife all left for Nebraska. Not only were our calves going there, but it was the Nebraska Ranches annual branding so they went to help.
Now, don't get me wrong, Kyle worked very hard all week tending to the ranch. Spiffing it up, cleaning and tending to the never ending weed battle. Of course he checked calves and cows daily. All in all he put in his required 10 1/2 hour days +. But, the vacation part...well maybe that applied to me and the boys more than to Kyle. Because we just got to see him a whole lot more. He was home every night for dinner, and despite his long days gave me a huge break by helping with the boys each evening. We also got to visit with him pretty much daily as the boys and I went on our daily walks and our paths crossed.
Then this weekend when Kyle needed to move calves and cows to new pastures we were able to tag along and "help". I use the term help loosely because the fact of the matter is that Kyle really didn't need us. But, I suppose we were there just in case.

How did we help? well, me and the boys bounced around in the Mule while Kyle was horse back. Mostly we were just positioned at gates to help prevent the cows from dumping to the wrong side of a pasture. Though really Kyle did all the work setting everything up so things would go as smoothly as possible. And they did.

I have to tell you I just love these rare opportunities that we get to be close to Kyle when he works. It just never ceases to amaze me at how well he does this job. How effortless he makes it look. My passion grows  for this life more each day and appreciation for him abounds.

Also, inside the Mule something else extraordinary was happening as well. These boys of mine, these two little cowboys are soaking up this life and learning. I had so much fun listening to Alex's giddy laughter as we bounced and followed calves, and answering Colton's questions (as best as I could) about what dad was looking for and doing. My heart swelled with pride when I told them they needed to sit very still and quiet as calves or cows came through a gate past us, and they were still as little stones. They seemed to know just how important their job was, even in the waiting. They glowed when Kyle praised them for their obedience and patience and I did too.

I did realize something in this process. Though I am very glad that most days Kyle is not working alone, that  he has quality help. I really enjoy feeling useful beyond dishes, diapers, and dinner. I suppose in a another month I might feel differently, but for this past week/end it was just what I and our family needed. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Recipe: Chicken Forsyth

When we arrived here we were a little low on resources for a few days. And with a month until our first paycheck being resourceful especially when it came to groceries was key. So, at the end of the week I found myself looking at the cupboards and freezer wondering what to cook. And well, with a little creativity we came up with a very simple and delicious meal that the whole family loves.

I give you ....CHICKEN FORSYTH
(Thank you Joanna for helping us come up with the name.)

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup onion - diced (or onion powder- to taste)
1 or 2 cloves of garlic - minced (or garlic powder- to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Italian Seasoning (to taste)
1 14oz. can Diced Tomatoes
1 or 2 T. Butter

Slice raw chicken on bias, season with salt, pepper, & Italian seasoning. Saute'  Chicken, onion & garlic in butter until fully cooked and lightly browned. Pour Diced Tomatoes over meat and simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes.

Serve over Rice.

Can't get much simpler than that.

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Moment

Borrowing this ritual from Soule Mama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.