The cuckoo clock says it is bed time...Take care, keep safe and dry, M
Nothing says "It's Spring" better than April showers, cherry blossom and leggy little lambs in the pasture. The geese have taken up residency on the ranch pond and the barn swallows have returned to the big cedar barn. The trees in the orchard are bursting with pink red and white blossoms and in the pastures we can almost watch the grass grow. Eddie the eagle is once again soaring on the thermals in the sky above the barns and Terry the turtle having survived his Winter hibernation is sharing the pond island with a somewhat reluctant Mrs. Goose. Brother John and his wife Jean have returned to the West Coast pending their relocation plans and have been spending time on the ranch during a particularly wet and windy Spring.....weeding in the rain really isn't much fun, collecting fallen tree limbs from sodden pastures is a challenge and reassigning a prominent spot for my new flag pole was high on my Spring wish list..thank you both. Jim got to drive the old Ford farm truck for the first time (big smile) and Greg and Jim have remodeled the farm gate way.....we are beginning to look quite tidy ! It has been a busy few weeks and clearly, it is going to be a busy Summer.
The cuckoo clock says it is bed time...Take care, keep safe and dry, M
Hours 5 to 10 of Tylers "Life on the Ranch" Graduation project......
Warm and snug in the ranch kitchen, I watched the rain drops rippling the surface of the murky pond. On the farm road, young Tyler and Greg were busily shoveling gravel into the many pot holes that have reappeared with the snow, frost and repetitive deluges that have been our Pacific North West Winter. Tyler took his turn driving the big green tractor back to the big cedar barn before helping chop fire wood, electing to scorn the gas powered wood splitter in favour (English spelling) of a muscle powered maul. He was still smiling at 3pm.....( I have to say, he was smiling, sitting in front of an open bag of home baked Chocolate chip cookies) in the barn kitchen. Luke the little "wanna be" farm dog was enjoying the attention and outside, it was still raining. Soggy wet livestock were returned to the barn from the pastures and grateful muddy horses to their warm dry stalls. When the barn was quiet and the barn residents all bedded down for the long Winter night, it was time to bottle feed the twin lambs. Ike and Mike are growing daily and spend much of their day anticipating and loudly demanding their next meal. As the big barn doors are closed for the night, we wonder what surprises will await us tomorrow. Take care, stay safe (and dry) M
Tyler isn't our usual Ranch conscript..um...I mean volunteer. Tyler is graduating High School and has asked Greg to share 40 hours of "on the job" ranch life for his graduation project. Tyler's first 5 hours found him learning the basic essentials of how to operate and use a chain saw...oh, and how NOT to use a chain saw (if you really don't want to amputate anything you value) He learnt how to drive the big green farm tractor without knocking the barn down, how not to kill himself on the 4 wheeler and how much he enjoys homemade chocolate chip cookies and Otter Pops. As the sun set over the ranch, our young apprentice graduate helped us bring the livestock and horses in from the pastures, he removed rugs and learnt how to brush and pick the hooves of our equine residents. Ike and Mike the vociferous twin lambs had to be bottle fed and Mrs.Peaches the Jersey cow (with an intimidating set of horns) and her young calf needed to be rounded up and returned to their shelter for the night. Tyler, whilst understandably less than enraptured by the barnyard smells (which are second nature to us) was enthusiastic to share barn yard chores, to love up the dogs, cuddle the cats, bottle feed the lambs and talk to the horses. Looking forward to another 35 hours Tyler !
Good night and God Bless from the ranch. Take care, keep safe. M
The sun is shining brightly over the ranch today. The Canada Geese family have returned from their Winter migration and are basking on the banks of the shimmering pond. Mop and Pop Goose are doubtless preparing their little patch of real estate on the island and the five goslings they successfully raised last year apparently have no idea that their eviction orders are imminent. I heard the first "ribbett ribbett ribbett" from the creek bed, an ominous reminder of the nightly frog chorus that fills the farm valley through the Spring and Summer. (sorry Annie). In the clear blue sky over the barns, Eddie the eagle is sailing effortlessly on the thermals and in the pastures the horses are languishing under the warm sunny rays. Momma Peaches is taking advantage of the Spring like weather and she and her new calf (affectionately referred to as Bozo) are enjoying some bonding time in their pen. Bozo is still a little wobbly on his legs but it has to be said, he is still learning how they work. We are optimistic that the little bull has mastered the fine art of working the milky bar although it is clearly not easy to master an engorged teat whilst still learning how to walk. Momma Peaches was the perfect lady this morning and dutifully surrendered herself to the milking machine although it has to be said, there was a little bribery in the form of her breakfast grain. The twin lambs, Ike and Mike are thriving and very vocal ! The two little waifs that arrived at the ranch three weeks ago are now just a distant memory. Time to go and enjoy what is left of the day..we have rain back tomorrow. Take care, keep safe, M
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball which we typically catch and throw back without a second thought....that's life, right ? So, respectfully "life", can one curve ball a day not suffice ?
Heavily pregnant Peaches the Jersey cow came to the ranch for a short vacation ( Holiday in English speak). During said vacation Peaches was expected to give birth to a beautiful golden heifer which would arrive in the world on her due date...the 9th of February. Peaches long awaited offspring chose not to make the 9th it's birthday which resulted in 3 nights of broken sleep, 3 nights of peering through binoculars at a very rotund cow contentedly munching her way through a mountain of hay without a care in the world..every 2 hours. In the very early hours of this morning, with a very heavy frost on the ground and a bright snow moon shining in the clear sky, Peaches gave birth to her NOT so little calf. Defying science and the theory of sexed semen, the little wet body lying on the stall floor had "extra" parts....Peaches' little heifer was in fact, clearly, a little bull. Ooops. Unfortunately in the excitement of the moment and at 1.30 am Greg mis diagnosed the he/she detail and Mom was happily informed of the arrival of a baby GIRL. Greg maintained vigil on the Peaches and her new offspring for an hour ( I was meanwhile tucked up tightly in my bed completely unaware of the drama unfolding at the barn ) At 2.30 am Greg determined that the calf was not doing well, Momma Peaches had not cleaned up her cold wet calf and the freezing temperature had made it impossible to leave him in the stall. Roused from my peaceful slumber the Sikora team quickly milked momma cow (dodging a fairly substantial set of horns) traded a freezing wet calf for a flake of rich leafy green alfalfa ( which Peaches didn't object to) and took the shivering little bull into the barn kitchen. A hair dryer, hot pad and a multitude of blankets eventually brought his plunging temperature back up and a warm bottle of fresh custardy colostrum gave him the strength to test out his gangly long legs. As the sun rose, we returned the calf to his mom and hopefully awaited mom, calf interaction. The little bull is still searching for mom's ample udder, at the wrong end..we aren't confident. Tonight's plunging temperatures could determine where the little guy (who should have been a little girl) spends the night.
As if our day wasn't fraught enough....Life's second curve ball was just around the bathroom corner. The septic system backed up and Greg was summoned with a frantic GREG !! as the nasty drain bubbled. Almost 3pm..time to go back down to the barn, maybe milk a cow..feed 2 hungry adopted lambs and bring all the livestock and horses in for the night. Today we were going to see Mum J for her birthday....I'm sorry Mum, we will be there to see you..but not tonight. Happy Birthday, we love you.
Take care, keep safe, M
My kitchen is once again an extension of the barnyard. Two fuzzy little grey SOS pads on eight little spindly legs have taken over our lives. The little guys came from another farm, sadly, Momma was apparently willing but the milky bar wasn't !
Currently Luke the "wanna be" farm dog is cowering under the table, Bran the Border Collie thinks he is in Heaven, (sheep in the kitchen) and, as chaos reigns around me..... I'm wondering where the volume button is....must be time for another bottle ! How can something so tiny make so much noise ?
Peaches the cow is due to calve a week from today. Greg knowingly eyes the gradual swelling of her udder whilst I concentrate on keeping the heavily pregnant Jersey happy. Clearly, keeping Peaches happy revolves around a liberal supply of sweet apple morsels, frequent scratch sessions and somehow dodging those horns. Loving life. Take care, keep safe, M
Introducing two new residents to the Ranch...Peaches the Jersey cow with just a little attitude and a fine pair of horns and pretty bay mare Contessa. Peaches who is possibly as wide as she is long is currently in the last trimester of her pregnancy.....update...actually, the last two weeks ! All being well, a bouncing baby Peaches will arrive on the 9th of next month....photo updates promised. Contessa has made herself very much at home and whilst viewing the other mares with total disdain, Mr. Cooper is besotted with the new, younger equine beauty in the field next door. Things have thankfully settled down since Contessa's arrival and peace and tranquility have once again settled over the pastures and within the big cedar barn.
Take care, keep safe, M
Sniff, snuffle, cough, snort, wheeze and sneeze....yes, the dreaded Winter cold bug has infected us both. Mass quantities of cough suppressants, fever reducers, in fact....immense quantities of "anti everything" have been consumed...um, did I mention hot toddies ? Clearly despite our dedication to our health care (or maybe because of it) Sore throats, coughs and snuffles have persisted and we are considering buying shares in kitchen towels ( Kleenex can't cope) and NyQuil. Sadly we are not alone in our misery as it seems the entire Pacific North West is sharing our affliction.....It will soon be Summer ! (wont it ?)
George the big Oxford ram is currently in residence in his bachelor quarters living a celibate existence while his woolly harem are (we hope) preparing for the imminent ( we hope even more) arrival of their adorable little offspring. An overload of cuteness photos promised as soon as four little cloven hooves touch the ground.
Today I realized that maybe I had been thinking American too long ! Foolishly using a British recipe to make British scones my Anglo American brain registered that preheating the oven to only 180 degrees was strange...but never one to question authority (well, not often) I popped the dough into the barely warm, waiting oven and expectantly anticipated my golden brown, vanilla and raisin masterpieces to appear. Not. Twenty minutes later, I still had soggy raisin and vanilla dough sadly still looking like soggy vanilla and raisin dough on the baking sheet. No one told me that British recipes use Celsius not Fahrenheit....well, not recently ! British Scones (2nd effort, I'm not one to give up easily) made using an American recipe, look JUST like Mum's. Happy ( and still snuffling).
Enjoy the photos..a beautiful day on the ranch today...
Take care, keep safe and well. M xx
Christmas 2016 wasn't allowed to pass un recorded into the annals of history down on the ranch. It has to be said, Quest the big bay Shire gelding was less than impressed by the fuzzy felt antlers which had apparently sprouted from my head. Gentle little grey mare Chelsey was unconcerned by anything but the little apple morsel I had in my hand and indulgently surrendered herself to our seasonal insanity . Tiger the ginger tabby cat made sure that his presence was duly noted as Fiona the chestnut filly presented her best look for the barn Christmas photo shoot. Handsome light bay Ky, decked out in Rudolph's antlers was apparently more interested in eating the camera than posing for it and Mr. Cooper clearly decided that co operation with Mom Sue would be the fastest way to get the pesky thing off his head. Poor Charm the golden palomino busily minding his own business, contentedly inhaling the contents of his hay net in the corner stall recoiled in horror at the sight of mum in antlers but was coerced into wearing the fluffy Santa hat under sweet talk and bribery. The occupants of the cow barn weren't spared from participating in our Christmas photo shoot either. Beautiful Bella our Jersey cow and young black steer Kobe quietly resigned themselves to our Christmas shenanigans before they headed out to the pasture. It has to be said...Bran the Border Collie and Luke the "wanna be" Australian Shepherd were possibly our LEAST enthusiastic modelling conscripts ......I believe the picture is worth a thousand words. Misery personified is I think, a fair description.
Our thanks to Sue and Dan for their co operation and to Erin..... for always being there. Thank you to all our equine, bovine and canine models, without you it wouldn't have been possible. Merry Christmas From us all at Gentle Giant Meadows Ranch and a happy and healthy New Year 2017.
Take care, keep safe, M
It's starting to look "a lot like Christmas" ...if Christmas looks like chaos !!! Boxes, crates, bits of tree, garlands and lights...lots and lots of lights. Greg ( aka Ba Humbug) has excelled himself risking life and limb swinging off his ladder draped in icicle lights and fortified by a hearty warm mug or two of steaming mulled wine. The Christmas tree was transformed from three big shapeless black garbage sacks ( bin bags in English speak) into a shimmering glittering red and gold vision...fortified by another mug or three of ...you guessed it..mulled wine. Baby Jesus was placed in the manger, the three kings joined the ox and the ass and the angels glitter around the crib...oh, did I mention the mulled wine ? In the corner, my "memory tree" evolved from the saddest oldest Christmas tree ever, its semi naked branches are now adorned with precious memories. Weary antiquated baubles from my dim and distant childhood, shimmering trophies collected from travels around the world and, the family gifts, each one chosen especially for us. Each box named and dated....memories collected over 20 years loved and appreciated. Tears shed over family no longer able to be with us.....and a consolation glass of Greg's home grown, home fermented.....lovingly prepared....mulled wine to make it all feel better. Christmas is a special time of year, Christmas invokes Joy and sadness....memories and anticipation. I'm sure that I will be inspired to share more Ranch shenanigans before the big day..... but between now and then, we wish you happiness and health. Oh, and if you happen to call by the ranch kitchen...maybe a little taster of Greg's mulled wine. Take care, keep safe and keep us in your thoughts. M and G xxx
Its me, Maureen, (the Boss)