It has been quite a week for the "girl team" here on the Ranch. Just over a week ago our two new farm friends arrived to experience life on the farm..Sikora style. No strangers to farming, Laura and Camrin were clearly prepared for early mornings, hard work and a varied work schedule, evidently they were less prepared for the boisterous welcome offered by our four legged ranch family. Gentle giant Quest, our big Shire gelding is a little (lot) intimidating even for the average horsey farm guest, Chelsey the old grey mare that drools, Charm, the golden palomino (beauty with attitude personified) and ageing bay Mr. Cooper have all taught our two new friends a little about life on the farm. George the big Suffolk ram and his resident harem refused to be ignored whilst Anna and Angel our ewe lambs would sell their souls for a carrot. Docile Bella the golden Jersey cow, beautiful Maybelline Grace her calf and Kobe the black steer know where the cow cookies come from and needy little Luke (the "wanna be" farm dog is everyone's new best friend. It has been a week of firsts for our intrepid WWOOFERS, Camrin and Laura have driven the tractor, milked the cow, mucked out stalls, fenced, used the saw mill, groomed and took care of the horses and livestock, stacked wood, picked grapes,made wine, put cedar siding on the coop, harvested the garden produce and are currently assisting building a staircase in the barn. It has been a busy week.....thank you ladies for your unfailing good humor drive and determination. are you up for another week ? .....Take care, keep safe, M
There is nothing quite as special as family and over the past days we have enjoyed the company of Greg's brother Tony and his delightful wife Debbie, Greg's son Matt, his wife Jodi and our ever growing grandsons. When the last goodbyes have been exchanged and the car has turned out of the driveway, we thank God that our life is so blessed by family and friends. Thank you Tony for making me work so hard for a smile (and letting me win !) ..thank you Debbie for being my partner in crime, thank you both for leaving your city life and throwing yourselves into a world of poo, poo..and even more poo. We do appreciate you so much, and are grateful that you left your safe, sanitary life on the East Coast to get up at 6am for a punishing (less than sanitary) day on the Ranch. Waiting for the arrival of brother #2 now....I am REALLY going to have a problem controlling "the cow" but excited for your arrival Stanley ( wish you were coming Joyce...we could REALLY have given the brothers a bad time). Take care, keep safe, M
It has been a week of firsts for young Mizuki here on the ranch. First time to the Pacific North West, first time helping milk a cow (thank you for your patience Bella) , first time mucking out a horse stall, leading, grooming, cleaning hooves..in fact first time being with a horse ! She has gathered hay, loaded and unloaded bales and help decimate the thistle population in the pastures. In her first 7 days Mizuki has driven for the fist time, found a "need for speed" on the quad, mowed little May the Jersey calf's pasture and driven the big Chevi truck. She has pruned trees and bathed the dogs, helped fix a broken fence and feed a hungry calf. It has really been a week of firsts....she is still smiling and there are two weeks to go !!! Thank you for accepting the challenge Mizuki. It has been a pleasure.
Take care, keep safe, M
Many many years ago ( about 50 I believe) Annie and I shared a rowing boat taking gentle trips around the stately lake which graced the grounds of Lark Hill Convent Boarding School. Today, July 4th seemed a good day to take another trip around a not so stately lake ( theoretically to clear the blackberry off the island) and a great day to have a little fun ! Neighborhood children happened to be passing as Annie and I did orbits around the said island...and were reluctant to leave anticipating us joining the fish and geese in the less than sanitary pond water !
One day we will remember that we have got old....but today WASN'T that day. I couldn't decide which photos.to choose..enjoy our insanity. Happy July 4th. Take care, keep safe, 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
Its me, Maureen, (the Boss)