Saturday, November 27, 2010


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. It is one of my favorite because it is about gratitude, family & friends, and FOOD - one of my favorite things!  We were delighted to have my sister Sandi here to share this holiday with us. She drove here from Denver on TG day so we had homemade chicken noodle soup and homemade bread sticks for supper on TG.

the imperfect but tasty breadsticks - they are more uniform when the bakers haven't been drinking wine!

rolling out the sourdough breadsticks - yum!

Thanksgiving supper of fresh chicken noodle soup & sourdough breadsticks Plus fresh peach pie
Then on Friday we had the full TG meal which Sandi helped prepare. It included turkey breast (there were only 3 of us and we still had plenty of leftovers. The breeders have developed one strange bird with the huge breast.).  We had dressing (recipe from Wine Country newsletter called "Mom's Dressing") and it was a hit for the 2nd year, baked green bean casserole (thanks to Martha Stewart )made from scratch including the fried onions that came from our garden, butternut squash and carrots with a cocoa/cayenne topping, and cranberry/blueberry relish finished off with peach pie! Yum!

We played Sequence and finally a good ol' family favorite - 500 Rummy. Boy we get excited over that card game.
Sandi got the tour of the ranch, met the Dots for the first time, gathered eggs and got to pet a couple hens including "Goldie" who was so happy to see me since they are now free range again once we got the flower beds planted with bulbs and covered with chicken wire. I have to admit it is fun to have an animal like you enough to come running when you enter the yard. Sandi is taking several dozen eggs back to Denver.  When I gardened this summer, I put up produce with the idea of sharing with her. As you can see, she benefited from the bounty of the summer!

Eggs, homemade bread, homemade ketsup, jams of many flavors, pickles, pickled beets, marinara sauce and cherry pie; endamame, corn on the cob and some meat locally raised round out the bounty she is taking home.

At the Dot House gathering eggs

Checking out one of the Dots nestled in for lay'n

TG day opened with below zero temps and high wind but today it is 52 balmy degrees and no wind. Lovely!

The guinea fowl are enjoying the sun

The guineas have all bonded and during the extremely cold nights the babies hide under the wings of all the guineas not just mom because they are getting too big to fit just under mom. The babies are big and strong enough to fly now so they share the upper "penthouse" of the guinea shack where it is warmer and they have the mirror. Even with the cold weather, they continue to be very active during the day patrolling around the perimeter of the ranch.

Project Feeder Watch has begun and I submitted my first count just before Thanksgiving. Our feeders and trees and birdbath were filled with birds since the very cold weather. We have cardinals, chickadees, white breasted nuthatches, juncos, goldfinches, house finches, Harris sparrows, house sparrows, bluejays, flickers, and robins.  Some of these birds will stay all winter and others will move on and return in the spring. We'll see other types of birds who will winter here and some who are just passing through. We are still seeing geese flying V's over the ranch. It seems so late but it has been so mild - no snow yet this year in central Nebraska.

Here are pictures of some of our regulars........
The Northern Flicker that my cousin warned me about; she has one that put many many holes the size of a CD into the siding of her garage - so they are a nuisance. We'll watch him closely. I've only seen him at the water so hopefully he doesn't take a liking to our house. Mark saw him harassing our guineas outside their house so that won't fly at all. Anyone have flicker solutions?
white breasted nuthatch enjoying the bath

Cardinal in tree; one of 4 pairs living here

                           Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cold Frame

I planted greens this fall --- spinach, arugala, swiss chard and lettuce --- with the idea of having fresh greens this winter. In order to do that I had to build a cold frame to protect them from the harsh elements of winter. It's an experiment so we'll see what happens. I went with the simple version - hay bales and an old window. I figured that since it worked in the old days, it should work now. I'll keep you posted.

These are the 'greens' that have been feeding us deliciously that will soon be in the cold frame; the first couple bales of hay have been placed around the produce

All four bales of hay have been placed around the greens.To allow heat to escape, the window can be raised

This is the finished 'cold frame' that includes 4 bales of hay and an old window to allow light to enter which will also heat the greens and keep them from freezing (or that's the theory anyway!)

Today Nebraska had it's second earthquake in two months! I thought we had left that behind in California.

One of our many fat spoiled squirrels who live on the ranch. There is lots of food around the place but Mark is providing really convenient eats for them on our deck. Of course we get to watch their antics up close.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paul and Me

I recently viewed the original video of Paul McCartney of the Beatles singing, Hey Jude! I loved the Beatles when I was young and especially the original "cute one", Paul... and loved, loved, loved 'Hey Jude'. Well check it out, he looks sooooo young! It knocked me out how young he looked so I checked out a picture of myself around the same time. I guess I was that young once too! How fun it is to look at these old pictures and reminisce.


Boy, isn't this a l960's pose?
My Mother often remarked how she felt 18 inside and was surprised when she looked in the mirror and saw the older version of herself looking back. That concept never resonated with me until I hit my late 50s. I don't feel a specific age inside but I think the essence of who I am is ageless and when the reality of age makes itself known it can be a surprise. I've experienced it, have you? I have to admit though that I have loved aging. I have loved each age/stage in my life but really have enjoyed my 50s and 60s. I feel like I've come into my own and I'm not worried about what others think. I've especially liked accepting comfortable shoes. And living the simple life without a career to identify me.  Aaahhhh. Life is good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


On the way to gather eggs!

We had visitors this week and it was lovely. My sisters'-in-law and their husbands visited the ranch for the first time. We had a great time visiting and playing the game, Sequence. I had fun cooking and Mark and I enjoyed sharing our life here on the ranch. Of course, everyone is interested in the Dots and gathering the eggs!! The gunieas had their fans too; as well as the horses. Gathering eggs from the outside is new to most everyone; it is very convenient.

Bill, Carolyn, Me, Marilyn and Micky showing off our bounty!

The baby keets are really growing and all the guineas are hanging out together these days. The youngsters are helping Momma Guinea care for the little ones. I watched them move out around the house today and snapped a few pictures.

The guineas spend their time together and one or two of the youngsters stay with the mother when she has the keets in or near the Guinea Shack; otherwise they all help her herd the keets around the tall grass.  As I watched today I could see the guineas eating weed and grass seeds and the little keets seemed to catch on quickly eating the short weeds and grasses.

Here are a few of our visitors to our busy backyard---

A northern flicker and a goldfinch drinking
White breasted nuthatch enjoying easy seeds
One of two cardinal pairs we know live here
And one of our many well fed squirrels getting a drink

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Alice Herz Sommers - An Inspiration and Reminder of What Is Important in Life

This is a remarkable video. I recommend that you take the time to view it. Alice will be 107 this month and she has an important story to tell. 
I was introduced to Alice Herz Sommer through my favorite garden blog, A Way To Garden by Margaret Roach. Margaret asked her readers what inspires us and what brings us peace. I contemplated her questions all day and thought about this video of Alice. It was a worthwhile contemplation and so I wanted to share it with you, my friends.
 I include reading, thinking, music, art and nature in my life along with gardening, cooking and animal care which all bring me inspiration.  My loving relationship with the good man who is my husband brings me peace. What about you?