Does that say 95 F? And its time to get another load of hay. 6:09 pm and we set off for the field. Got the call at 4 pm but still had to get the chores done. We thought Callum would miss all the fun Maureen and I had earlier, but luckily there was one more potential field with a few bales (71 to be more specific). Off we went, before dinner, to finish off the day. Callum had a go at being driver for the pickup on the field. Thank heavens for 4 wheel low. Its a great learning speed AND a wide open field! Callum did great. Job done by 7 pm. and off to dinner.
88 F now. Phew... Always hot when its hay time! Take care, stay cool... G
92 degrees.in he shade. got to work on Lulu's field under a heat advisory notice. We think we wore the boys out...Who's old ? says who ? Enjoying Callum's visit to Granny and Grandad villa ! Love M xx
As the last horse tail was brushed, the last horse's hoof picked and as the door latch was closed on the last horse stall, Greg and I took a rare moment to pause and enjoy the peace and serenity around us. The sun was still beating down in a cloudless blue sky, and a gentle breeze was blowing through the big cedar barn. Seven heads were quietly resting on wooden stall doors and the only sound was the relentless chirping of the insatiable Barn Swallow chicks crowding their nests high in the rafters, the gentle lowing of Bella the Jersey heifer and way up in the sky foolhardy crows squabbling with a regal red hawk soaring on the thermals. Our peace and tranquility was sadly short lived !
As the ranch gate swung open this morning and the big Chevy truck growled into the barnyard, Tiger and Shy the barn cats, always waiting to welcome us, were nowhere to be seen. Without warning, a deafening bellow came from the direction of the cow barn followed by a scuffle as Sirloin, the little red steer hastened to be anywhere that Bella the Jersey heifer wasn't !!! The first unexpected bellow was followed by a constant cacophony of bellows, the whole valley resonated with Bella's frantic hormonal calls, poor Sirloin had nowhere to hide, Tiger the ginger tabby had taken refuge down by the creek and Shy was nowhere to be seen. Bran the Border Collie hastily disappeared into the relative quiet of the barn kitchen and little black and white Luke fled into a Luke sized burrow in the haystack. Clearly, nature had thwarted our scientific attempt to induce pregnancy....the man with the straw was going to have to make a return visit and poor wanton Bella was going to have another whole day to make the whole Pacific Northwest aware of her hormonal dilemma. I guess we just have to take advantage of peace and tranquility.....even momentarily as it is clearly short lived !
In the ranch garden, the corn is growing tall and strong. The beets are flourishing, the grapes have already developed little bunches of tiny grapes and the thriving squash and cucumber plants are spreading their tendrils across the soil. The strawberries are already ripening and the melon plants have doubled in size. Happily, the warm dry Spring has accelerated the growing season.....not so happily, the weeds, nurtured by the rich chicken manure somehow always manage to germinate, multiply and spread at twice or three times the speed of my cultivated garden. Doris the deer and her extended family will have to forgo their feasting on the fruits of my labors this year....Maureen's very fertile vegetable garden is safe and secure within the fortified fence of the erstwhile chicken pen.
Looking out over the ranch, the sun is setting. The glassy pond is quiet and still and the towering cedar trees are casting long shadows over the pastures. Mr. and Mrs. Canada Goose are taking their rapidly growing goslings for a walk down the farm road and the cuckoo clock has spoken. Must be time to draw to a close. Take care, keep safe and cherish those you love...M
And, it's ready.....steady go !! Bran the over enthusiastic Border Collie, tail waving like a black and white banner, eyes focused intensely on the leading ewe...... ready for the chase, waits anxiously for the gate to open. Little rotund Mr. Luke, the "almost" Australian Sheppard isn't really sure just exactly what his purpose is but when those ladies run, little Luke's head goes up, four little legs go into canine overdrive and his little stubby tail wags like a rudder. Yesterday as the mutton and lamb freestyle waited at the starting gate, both dogs, impatiently anticipating the morning's pursuit were keenly watching Greg's every move. The gate opened.....Chance, Baby Doll and Momma Bear followed by the ovine "also rans" headed determinedly for the pasture, Border Collie Bran set off in pursuit, little Luke, on his tail (but not sure what he is chasing ) when suddenly and unexpectedly Dottie the big Oxford ewe turned to face the canine assault ! Bran and Luke screeched to an abrupt stop. Dottie lowered her head and advanced on the startled dogs.... Bran totally intimidated by Dottie's brazen posture instantly adopted a "who,me ?" attitude, head lowered, tail between his legs, he retreated behind Luke who, frozen to the spot wasn't sure whether to stand or run. Dottie the mutinous ewe, stared the dogs into submission then turned and followed the flock into the pasture totally unconcerned by her terrified would be pursuers.
Barney the currently celibate ram and his woolly ladies have been suffering in the intense heat of our very unusually warm, dry, Pacific North West Spring. This week, all four were unceremoniously loaded into our less than luxurious stock trailer for a scheduled road trip. Our four over heating sheep were ( to put it mildly !) reluctant to leave the safety of their cedar barn and, with a little (lot) of gentle coercion....(Greg pulled, Erin and Jim pushed and I heaved) were safely installed in the trailer and unsuspectingly heading to a local farm for a drastic hair cut. Pushing pulling and heaving was repeated all over again and within moments, their heavy woolen fleeces were piling on the barn floor and our ladies were NAKED...and cool. Barney the ram was less than impressed by all the attention and has, for several days been bound and determined to make us pay for the indignity of baring all (and a little bit more !) to the world. Thank you Erin and Jim for risking life and limb in "Operation Makeover". All in a day's work ( or maybe not !!) here on the ranch.
Take care, keep safe, M
FRIENDSHIP....affection, brotherhood, fellowship...harmony. That sounds just about a perfect definition for the activity on the ranch today and we are happy and proud of the family and friendships that we have forged over the eleven years we have been fortunate enough to call the Key Peninsula our home. As usual, Erin and I resolved all the differences in the world, international tensions, political debates and religious disparity. Constant animated conversation and all the while, horse stalls are cleaned, shaving beds neatly swept into military straight lines, buckets filled and Hay mangers re filled. In the livestock barn, Greg and right hand man Jim cleaned the cow and sheep pen before beginning preparations for traditionally the most arduous day in the farming calendar..... bringing the hay bales in from the pasture and stacking them in the barn ready for the Winter.
As the sun rose higher in the cloudless sky, family, friends and neighbors arrived at the farm gate offering their help. Son Matt arrived with our two rapidly growing grandsons and, as the mercury in the barn thermometer indicated sweltering temperatures, our old farm Chevy truck growled out of the ranch gate followed by the noisy rattling trailer. Children we remember as babies in our early years on the ranch now buck bales and enjoy the familiar camaraderie as we toil under the baking afternoon sun. Young Aiyanna, barely tall enough to reach the pedals in her flip flops peered over the dashboard and maneuvered the hay laden truck between the waiting bales. Equally anxious and excited our young teen driver now has to grasp the very significant distinction between accelerate and BRAKE and even more significantly the importance of the word GENTLY !! Sadly, as truck after hay laden truck returned to the barn, all was not well with the laboring hay baler, as firstly an integral piece of the machinery apparently baled itself and then not content with slowing down the days activity..... frustratingly blew a tire.
Today, friendship, affection brotherhood, fellowship and harmony were demonstrated as family and friends spread out across the hay field, as bales were loaded onto the trucks and trailer and stacked in the barn. We want to thank you all for your friendship and love.....without you all, life really wouldn't be so special. Take care, keep safe, M
Sometimes life is so hard to understand. The oldest ranch hand in the world has moved on to Heavenly pastures, the oldest ranch cook in the world is now cooking pirogue and, now in the celestial kitchen, she is asking St. Peter just WHY he is doing it that way ? Mom is quite possibly loving, encouraging and chastising generations of long passed Sikoras and after 94 years feeling that she is "home". Mom Sikora knew that her usefulness here on earth was done and asked to be released from her tired old body. Mom passed away in her sleep last week, her life long faith in God and family will surely have earned her a fast track pass through the gates of Heaven and she and Dad will be reunited once again where the trials and tribulations of Earthly life no longer cause concern. Whilst Mom is at peace, the family has to reconcile itself with the loss of the loving matriarch that has for so long been the guiding spirit for a family divided by miles, States and sometimes even countries. It is our duty now to keep the family that she nurtured for a lifetime together knowing that she will never be far from us, with every sun beam, in the shadow of every cloud and behind every thought and decision. Rest in Peace Mom, we will miss you here on the ranch.
Greg's back problem prevents him from travelling and after much deliberation, I chose to travel down to Albuquerque alone to pay our respects and say goodbye to a much loved and respected Mom. Whilst my three days in sunny New Mexico were overshadowed by her demise, I had the opportunity to spend time with geographically distant but much loved family. I had three days to be granny to 4 little sweethearts, I was a trampoline.....pacifier....back scratcher and body cushion. I watched Sponge Bob the Movie three times, I hugged and snuggled and I held my breath as 2 little daredevils revved up the throttles on pint sized motor bikes and fearlessly wobbled their way to the STOP sign.( thank goodness !!!) Thank you Amanda and Jason for your hospitality, thank you, Jaden, Jordin and Coltan for all the Granny hugs and Maddox for those special smiles. The reason for my trip to Albuquerque was desperately sad but somehow Moms leaving was a time for her family, young, old and older to recognize that we ARE family and that is her legacy to us. With love and thanks Mom.
Take care, treasure the time we have together. M
Something apparently got lost in the translation here.... "We are off to put a drain down the hillside" he said as he and Jim disappeared through the farm gate. No apparent reason to question the validity of the statement: the old green farm tractor was groaning under the collective weight of every imaginable instrument of construction and destruction and the glowing white ten foot drain pipes were already in situ in the tangle of blackberry, fern, nettle and foliage. Unsuspecting any modification ( to put it mildly !!) to the drainage installation plan, happily unaware of the proceedings in Greg and Jim's world.... Erin and I cheerfully sorted out family, friends, the world and all its issues whilst tossing multiple piles of poop into a waiting wheel barrow and ensuring that the stalls were clean enough for our equine residents to destroy in 3 seconds flat...or less. Clearly if I had been aware of the proceedings on the hillside, our morning may not have been quite so lighthearted.
"Before we lay the drain...we have to do a little clearing" he said. "Fine, what do I need to do" I remember replying as Jim silently...knowingly, looked on. I'm not sure if Greg ever mentioned that we were bound and intent on re creating St. Andrews Golf Course on our overgrown hillside but as the sun beat down, the chain saw chattered, the blackberry and brush cleared and where there once was jungle...we have a clearing. I think, I need a re definition of "a little clearing". We are scratched and bloody, sore and bruised BUT we have created a masterpiece ( well...nearly !). I'm going to let the photos tell the story as Lulus field was transformed. I would like to say that the ten foot white drain pipes have moved....but sadly I can't. What I can say is....teamwork is amazing !! Thank you Erin and Jim for sharing and enriching our world. Jim...that smile by your woodpile made our day. Now I'm going to soak my poor aching bones !! Take care, keep safe and cherish your friends. M
Young Jim has a hard hat, a bright yellow hard hat that will protect him should a tree happen to fall where it shouldn't. Greg also has a hard hat, possibly half a century old, forest green and a little beat up and discolored (discoloured, Brit. speak) from years of abuse. In 1969, in a surplus store in Missoula Montana, Greg bought that trusty old green hard hat and over the years, when the big growling chainsaw was fueled up, the forest green hard hat was dusted off and Greg the lumberjack went to work falling trees, dead trees, rotten trees and overgrown trees. Today, the trees got their revenge.....fortunately the hard hat protected his head...unfortunately, Greg currently looks like he has just gone ten rounds with Mohammed Ali....and lost !! His right eye is currently showing three shades of intense black and purple and Greg is feeling appropriately sorry for himself tonight. Clearly the ice pack treatment failed to reduce swelling and disfigurement....so he has settled quietly (almost !) for a cold beer and sympathy. Greg looks bad...but the fallen tree looks worse.
I had resolved to spend a relaxing afternoon steering the ride on mower around the ranch whilst Greg and Jim rendered mayhem and carnage with chainsaw, axe and brush hook in Lulu's field. ...I spent the afternoon battling dense, thorny blackberry bushes, leafy brush...and looking at Greg's rapidly swelling black eye. Jim, in his yellow hard hat had no aspirations for a peaceful afternoon and, trusty axe in hand enthusiastically worked his way through the blackberry thicket, hacked his way through fallen branches and hauled logs. Thank you Jim..we couldn't have done it without you ! Maybe I'll get to ride the mower tomorrow !
Postscript on Greg's condition...his eye is black to purple...his glasses are a little (lot) worse for wear....and he is getting appropriate sympathy. Take care, keep safe, M
The sun is shining, the sky is blue... and the grass and weeds are thriving in the humid warmth of a very uncommon Pacific North West Spring. It must be gardening time.....darn it !!! My trowel, fork and weed plucker "thingy" have been resurrected out of the spider web infested gardening bucket where a colony of nasty crawly eight legged squatters have taken up residence. In the vegetable garden ( which once, not to long ago, served as a five star chicken residence), the sweet corn, beets, cucumber, melon, cantaloupe and some disagreeable squash plants are all either peeping up out of the very well fertilized ground or already starting to spread their tendrils across the garden. Sadly...the weeds, equally well nourished on healthy chicken by product are thriving and I'm trying to work out just how the weeds can be ten inches tall and my lovingly tended seedlings are only just appearing. Clearly, there is no justice.
As the days began to grow longer and the prospect of a night time freeze grew more remote, I started to propagate my Rose of Sharon cuttings. I watered those cuttings regularly, I fenced them off from the dogs, I checked their progress daily...and the greater majority of the spindly stems died. Today, as the sun was high in the sky and the thermometer rose, I went to work in the house garden. Several years ago, I coerced several visiting family members into my new project. I saw the pictures...I read the catalogue, I bought the 3 inch, leafless twigs. We shifted earth, we laid plastic, we transported stones one wheel barrow at a time we sweated blood for those twigs (thank you Annie and Pauline) and then just as I saw life... Doris the deer brought her extended family to feast on the moist green nearly leaves. I digress....the struggle for my Rose of Sharon shrub and my cuttings took on a new meaning today. As I went to work, the dandelion, chickweed and nettle were clearly struggling to compete with the thousands of Rose of Sharon seedlings that are obviously intent on taking over the world !! Decision time...tend to my struggling cuttings...or replant the millions of seedlings. Again...no justice !
While I have been busily occupied ( preoccupied ) with the state of the garden, Greg and Jim have been pro active with the flooding in our lower pasture. It would appear that an irrigation pipe was previously installed... it is still present, sadly, such pipe apparently ended abruptly causing water entering the pipe to leave said pipe with nowhere to go but right where it was at !! result...marshland. I hate the word "temporary"....temporary can mean 10 days ...or ten years ! Greg and assistant Jim went to work "temporarily" solving the problem and now I have a drainpipe log flume cascading down the hill. I hate drainpipes..I hate temporary.....am I being difficult ?
There are so many stories, so much transpiring, so little time. Over the past weeks I have re connected with former class mates at the boarding convent school that was my home for several years and have become more aware than ever that who we were is what we are but it is really up to us to utilize our past to form our present and our future. Thank you "my past" for the present that I love and the future that I embrace. Life is good.
Take care, kill those weeds, M
Its me, Maureen, (the Boss)