Today looked and felt like the sub arctic, at 7am, getting ready to go down to the barn, I looked out and questioned just how insane we really are......once we got there, I knew, MANIC !!! Even Bran did a double take as he left the garage....."you CANNOT be serious mom.....it's COLD !!!. The temp' guage in the truck read 22 degrees and with the wind chill it was really really cold. I'm a city slicker, I'm not made to tough it out, my body doesn't do freeze.......oh boy, I REALLY wanted to go home to a nice warm comfy bed !!!. My cell phone rang and I couldn't find it, I had so many layers of clothes on, which pocket was ringing ? ....My feet were numb, my fingers were more numb....I hesitate to admit it but I'm not sure where the brain was !!! In a lucid moment, I realised that New Year was going to happen in 5 stages for myself and my siblings. My twin sister had New Year in Sydney ( 19 hours difference), my youngest sister in England, (8 hours difference) my next sister in Holland (9 hours difference) and my brother in New York (3 hours difference), I could have been quite inebriated if I had tried to celebrate New Year with each of them......but that may have been preferable to working down at the barn this morning!!!. The wood stove in the barn kitchen was like a magnet, the steaming wet gloves lined up in front of it to dry like a Chinese laundry. The cats Tiger Shy and Lucky mewing to get in from the cold, Molly Moo and Dolly the cows huddled up together in the barn, their bodies steaming, the sheep nestled in a bunch at the back of the pen, the chickens lined up on the perches, feathers fluffed up and standing on one leg to retain heat.....and Greg and I FROZE !! Now, warm and dry in the house, the cuckoo clock marking 8pm and it's New Years Eve, time to reflect on the year gone by and the year to come. It has been a good year for the Ranch, we have made so many new friends and so many new memories. We would like to thank those who have supported us through the past years and welcome those who are going to discover us in the year to come. We wish you all a Happy and healthy New Year, take care and God Bless. M
The Gentle Giant Meadows Ranch beauty salon was open yesterday. Our very mottly flock of hairy sheep were in need of a manicure, seriously in need of a manicure ! At this moment in time, Greg has 3 chronic discs and 2 border line chronic discs and I have come out in sympathy with him....we like to share ! Something has happened to my lower back / hip and between him and I we don't make an even half perfect specimen, if we were a critter we'd be shot !!! Despite all the grunts groans moans and wimpers out came the tilt table. The tilt table is a magical invention, you just catch your victim...sorry, sheep, get it into the contraption, close the door and then tilt. Just like that...NOT !! All our ladies were happily chomping on peanuts, fighting each other for attention...then Greg arrived with his lassoo. POOF, everyone disapears like a puff of smoke. Under (or in ) the feeder, crammed into the corners, under another woolly tummy, if they were "hiding" we wouldn't get them. Greg looks great with a rope, move over John Wayne and the Lone Ranger, Gregs in town. Unfortunately, although he looks great, the finer arts of roping has never quite been added to his CV. Luckily for us, and unlucky for the ewes, they are pretty stupid and after two circuits of the pen once through and once over the feeder they generally put their heads into the loop.( If this entry ends very suddenly, its because Weebly is having a problem and having typed at the speed of light with 2 fingers, I'd hate to loose my brain dump ! ) Once into the loop we have to get the less than impressed ewe into the contraption. Bearing in mind Gregs back and my "issue", this was a push , pull and lift method. Sheeps butts are not the most hygenic areas of the animal but that was my end. oops..I'll be back, ..later !
Me, back again. Well, as mentioned in my earlier entry, my sister is currently soaking up the sunshine in australia....NOT !!! The happy holiday makers are ankle deep in the wet stuff, I bet she neglected to pack her umberella. My brother, again mentioned in the earlier is in New York, what I didn't mention was that he was due to come here today. He is knee deep in the wet white stuff and our volunteer / slave isn't going to make it. He just called and no, he wasn't at the airport !!! Doesn't Frontier know that his chore list was full as of touchdown in Seatac ! Some good news, one of my other sisters is coming to the ranch for 3 weeks, she has been before so she knows what a "visit" means...it's mandatory that all house guests leave here to go home and have a rest ! Hopefully by the middle of January we will have a hand of 3 here....only two of the family absent to make the set. We love house guests !! House guests especially English ones give me an advantage with "the cow". For those of you who haven't been crazy enough to visit, the cow is a fixture on my Welsh Dresser. The cow was a gift from my niece who very cleverly painted one side with the Union Jack and the other with Old Glory. When said ornament arrived I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I like things to match, blue with blue, red with red...and 2 of everything. The cow is red white and blue, whichever way it is turned and there is only one of it...it gave me a problem so I set it down on the dresser ( Union Jack side out) while I considered its fate. Greg noticed that I had been patriotic to the wrong country and promptly turned it back to the Stars and Stripes. Since that day in 2006, the cow has been an issue, visitors arrive and the cow is turned so often it could turn to yoghurt !! That cow has been the cause of strife in the Sikora house...you can't be caught turning it and you can't move it. My sister kidnapped it once, the cow went on a day trip to Seattle and left a message "we've got the cow, call the feds and the cow gets it" Greg about lost the plot and Annie was severely chastised for her crime. Time to go, it's almost 7.30 and time to take care of the real cows. Greg got the advantage turn while I was writing and the cow will be American for the morning....I'll bide my time. Take care, M
Good day after Christmas morning !! Just a very short diary this morning to let you know that I wasn't kidnapped by Santa, mowed down by Rudolph and his friends or comatose after overeating. Santa must have thought I was a very good girl and was very kind to me, clearly, my mince pies must have been favourable ( we left him a Tums just in case but since he made it to the neighbors (neighbours for UK readers) I guess he wasn't poisoned. Santa gave me some very beautiful and precious ear rings that I will treasure, thank you Santa, I love you. The critters down on the farm were a little suprised by our Santa hats but I suppose it was put down to our pending senility, smile. After we did the chores,....(.unfortunately they all still poo, no concessions for us even if it was Christmas day !!) we did a little neighbor hopping until it was time to go down for the second shift. Our hot spiced wine ( gluh weine) in the barn kitchen, toasty with the wood stove kept the Christmas spirit going, I think maybe Santa paid a visit to the barn 'cause the bottle was looking a bit empty last night. I'm going to have to get going, fortunately the over indulgence(s) of yesterday didn't come back to bite me on the butt this morning, but something else did and I'm having to write this brain dump standing up. Don't worry, I'll be fine,( my family say they are going to put that on my headstone) Take care, keep safe, M
It seems to have a magical effect on man and beast... around the ranch everything melts and all it takes is a simple back scratch. Our day starts when the alarm clock goes off, the melodious sound of BIG BEN in London starts off low and if it doesn't get turned off, turns into something akin to an air raid siren ! Greg yawns, stretches and rolls into backscratch position...cue business meeting. I can usually work my way around Greg when he is having his back scratch, he often doesn't remember what he said yes to...but I do !!! When we go down to the barn, the cats, Tiger and Shy wait to have their back scratched as we scurry through our early morning chores....Lucky can't be bribed," just feed me", his green eyes glowing through the depths of the barn. Quest hangs his head over the stall door, gentle brown eyes following us until we scratch his neck and ears, his huge brown head lowering as he melts into the scratch, nose snuffling through pockets for a bonus treat. I have found Molly Moo and Dollys scratch spots and those girls just go into ecstasy, Dolly runs across her pen on her 18 inch bow legs when I appear with the carrot bag then she adopts "the position" rocking back and forth, her head between her knees, snuffling and grunting, oblivious to everything as I run my nails up and down her spine. Anyone who knew Dolly the Mutant when she first arrived here will remember her as the "wanna be rodeo cow" that head butted me off a bucket when she arrived. I remember Gregs throwaway challenge..."good luck with THAT !!!". I think I won that challenge. Now she's a pussy cat ! Well, almost. Molly is a little more restrained but her head also drops and her eyes glaze as I rake above her tail. Bran will roll over legs all akimbo to have his tummy scratched and Danielle and Alissia the kid goats melt for a scratch. Well, it's Christmas Eve, looking out the window all the Christmas lights on the deck are twinkling through the darkness, In Australia, it's probably already already Christmas Day for my twin sister and her family, my brother is visiting New York with his significant others' family, another sister is waiting for Christmas with her family in Holland my other sister, the only one in England. My 3 boys and their families live in England and Scotland, we are wishing them all a wonderful Christmas and health happiness and peace all around the world . Merry Christmas from Greg and I, here on the ranch. Time to go, it's 7.30. Take care. M
If it wasn't Greg I'd have called it sabotage !!! but since it was Greg and Greg is THE biggest cookie monster in the world, I guess I'm going to have to put it down to operator error. DOH !!!! I was ready, enthusiastic and keen to get to work, mixer, rolling pin, and measuring cups all ready, somehow coated in flour before I even got going, I scoured the holiday recipe books. There it was, THE recipe that got my taste buds drooling and then,.....there he was !!! Greg had chosen yesterday afternoon to do some plumbing ....on my kitchen sink !
I blame the fact that working round Greg, prostrate on my kitchen floor head buried in the kitchen cabinet caused me to forget to check the sell by date on the evaporated milk. It must have been that I was distracted....or maybe that I should have cleared out the "out of daters" before I started my dream dish. Whatever it was, it all went great ( well, sort of, the recipe called for a 14oz can of evaporated milk , preferably NOT sour and I only had a 12oz, but just adding a couple of oz of full cream milk should work, right ?) Brimming with confidence and overflowing with enthusiasm I popped my creation into the warmed up oven, set the timer, quite proud of myself, after 6 years I have worked out how to work it. I have never said I was technical, I'm creative ( I think !). After the designated time, proudly I scrambled over Gregs legs, barged my way through all my cleaning products that I had worked round as I prepared my cheese cake bars. Ooops, don't quite look like the ones in the picture....but it's how it tastes, right ??? Tasted FOUL ! I rechecked my recipe for the umpteenth time and then I knew.....the offender...the evaporated milk was a sell by Spring 2008. I can't even feed it to the chickens ( who usually get my burnt offerings and rarely complain ) AND Greg saw my failure....well, he couldn't miss it from his vantage point on the floor under the sink. There was some good news though, I have some bright shiney new chrome taps ( sorry, fawcetts) and no leak under the sink. It may have been all his fault but he's still my hero. Time to go, Take care, M
Oh my gosh, December 20th already, ...tomorrow is the shortest day of the year, by the time we get down to the barn and do all the stalls it will be time to start evening chores !!! In the Winter we watch dawn break and then scurry down to the barn, 5 or 6 layers of clothes, that gradually get shed as we start to steam. In dawns early light, horses start to stir, whinnies and whickers, bleats and baaas, low,deep mournful moos and Adolf the rooster cockle doodle dooing as we open the ranch gate. Destiny hangs her pretty grey head over her stall gate, nose wrinkling as she quietly welcomes our arrival. Tiger and Shy the resident barn cats sit perched on the fence posts and then leap onto the warm truck bonnet almost before the engine has been turned off. Lucky, the black cat, always aloof and generally a loner ( except at feeding time !) lounges on the horses blankets, ears pricked and one eye cautiously watching the door to the feed room. In the barn kitchen ( ranch control room ) Greg busily starts the woodstove and soon the smell of woodsmoke and a thin whisp of grey smoke curls out into the early morning sky, Bran the dog finds a warm spot to wait for the action to start. Apart from the gentle sound of animals stirring, all is so quiet and still. In the distance an eagle calling, a cayote family yipping and howling and sometimes the noise from the highway breaks the peaceful morning. I love the mornings.....then the day begins and everything changes ! Ooops, got to go,...it's still pitch black out there and the cuckoo clock just told me it's time to move. Take care, enjoy that coffee, M
It's looking like Christmas ! Yesterday Greg put on his Santa head and put the rest of the lights on the house, I felt quite sorry for him out on the deck in the wind, driving rain and gusty winds but it did keep him out of my kitchen. It was Christmas cookie day and I kept catching the cookie monster "sampling". I'm going to have to find a mission for him to save some cookies for the holiday and to save Greg from himself !!! I have 2 Advent Calendars loaded with chocolate and there is a trail of wrappers leading to the guilty looking culprit . Last night, just to add a few more inches to his waistline and put an even BIGGER smile on his face, Heidi came by with a big plate of scrumptious cookies. ...Thanks Heidi, he'll be rolling by New Year. Just a quick entry today, yesterday was pretty much a poo poo and more poo day, all the critters ( except Greg) behaved themselves, cookies all came out well ( so no evidence had to be disposed of !) and the Christmas lights and garlands are all up and twinkling, the house looks like the illumination lights on the golden mile in Blackpool England. ( some of you will have to google Blackpool illuminations to know what i'm talking about !). Time to go, the cuckoo clock just cuckood and Bran is moving...Look after that sore throat Mum, take care, M
Matcho is our Boer buck. Macho is growing into a very impressive big boy and I think his testosterone level is bigger than him. This is turning into a bit of a problem because big Boer buck with lots of testosterone means potential bigger problem ! Allissia and Danielle are two of the cutest little doe goats, just like loveable little puppy dogs they have suddenly found hormones. The two girls are to young to be moms (mums) and it's proving difficult to persuade them that the handsome guy calling (incessantly !!!) and the overwhelmingly disgusting aroma ( which lady goats find irresistable ) just have to be ignored until at least next autumn. Sometime yesterday the constant bleating and answering bawling from Machos den ceased.......cause for concern.....red light went on....somehow Matcho the lusting buck had managed to get within rub nose distance from the wanting girls. All there was between them and 2 sets of kids in the spring was a stretch of field fence. Those girls knew all the right moves and Matcho was in the mood for love ! We were in trouble.....Matcho was in no mood to be interupted...enter Bran the border collie. Bran loves nothing better than an argument with Matcho. Greg pulled, I pushed and Bran harried the disgruntled buck back into his space and the 2 disapointed girls were hauled back into their pen to continue their courting from a more manageable distance. Matcho, your time will come,...patience ! Since we were in a Matcho mood....Matcho got a manicure. It's not easy to give a Boer buck a manicure, especially not a Boer buck with 2 little bucklings on his mind but between the three of us.....Greg me and bran, Matcho was unceremoniously loaded onto the tilt table and while I whispered sweet nothings in his ear ( very aware I wasn't whispering the sweet nothings he wanted to hear) and popped peanuts into his mouth . So, Matcho has 4 nice tidy toenails the 2 doelings are safe and still pure as the driven snow (for now) Bran got his workout and we had a nervous breakdown and acheing bones. Just another day down on the ranch. Life is NEVER boring. Take care, keep warm and dry, (we wont !) and enjoy your coffee Mum. M
Roosters have a very different walk, they have a very different walk to a hen, they goosestep ( wonder if geese walk like that ???). Adolf our Rhode Island Red rooster is very much in charge of his ladies, he goose steps and struts around the chicken pen, beady eyes and bright red wattle very much in evidence. When I throw goodies over the fence into the pen Adolf always has to check it out before he summons his harem then he struts back and forth clucking and encouraging his ladies to tuck in before he stops to partake. He probably has an ulterior motive, when his ladies are preoccupied he craftily sneaks in and does what roosters do best. Adolf doesn't tolerate misdemeanors and his ladies fighting is definitely top of his misdemeanor list. Yesterday two of my particularly disruptive chickens fell out, it was apparently a very serious falling out and after a very verbal squabble with much screeching and squalking the two got into a very aggressive punch up. Adolf was out of the roost, in the pen and he quickly abandoned his lusting to investigate the uproar, I watched him strut into the pen.....he goosestepped through the door and surveyed the combating birds. Apparently, less than impressed he half flew, half strutted between the ladies and broke up the fight then proceeded to give both birds a good talking to before he turned his back on the chastised combatants and without another cluck went back to his roostering. Well, the cuckoo clock has cuckood, I can see daylight over the tree line and Adolf is welcoming another day. Time for me to get back down to the barn. Take care, enjoy your coffee and have a great day. M
Its me, Maureen, (the Boss)