Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year, Dear Readers...

Every year on New Year's Eve, I take stock of the past year and how I lived my life and what I experienced that year. I am quickly approaching my 65th year and everything has a little different hue for me. I certainly feel the richness of my experiences and the abounding love of my husband, family, and dear friends for which I feel blessed.

What I do know is that I'm very happy with my life. I love that we retired to the country where we are in the midst of nature both as observer and as participant. I awake every day with gratitude.

We had a serious loss this past year of a dear friend who lost her battle with lung cancer, some personal brushes with health challenges, friends who received news of serious health issues, but also new babies, new marriages, graduations, travel, visitors and all the other milestones of life. In other words it was another year of human experiences each of which marked my heart.

What with all the political crisis, negativity, violence and meanness in the world in which we currently reside, I try to  live my life with dignity, respect, kindness and love and hope for us all that we can make the world a better place in 2013. One person CAN make a difference, and THAT is how the world will change.

Best wishes and blessings for the new year,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A White Christmas Afterall?

Yesterday the weathermen were right...we got snow...and wind...which blew the snow into drifts...
Small drifts in the front of the house.
This view northeast is minus a beautiful
large pine tree that succumbed to
pine beetle this past fall. It definitely
left a hole in the landscape.
...and drifts also in back
We got just 2-3" and for that we are grateful! Every bit of moisture helps the drought conditions. Plus, it is beautiful, isn't it?
Buddy played in the snow. His
rope was frozen solid so that was
a no-go.

The snow stacked up against the wind
break in the front yard

The guineas, chickens, miniature donkey and horses are all doing well this morning...
It is lovely to look at from inside where it is toasty and goodies are being created in the kitchen...

Looking south to the back of the house
from the dining room; the bird feeders
are outside these doors so we've been
watching their frantic feeding this morning
Speaking of feeding the birds, last weekend our good friends from Denver, John and Cheryl, were visiting and one morning during breakfast we noticed Eastern bluebirds in the birdbath! Six of them! I was delighted because I thought they would be gone by now. We have at least six bluebird houses so we have lots of bluebirds around during the spring and summer but never this late.
Bluebirds in the tree and at the

Closeup of bluebird (r) and house-
finch (l) in December!

We wish you all Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Dots

The Dots are now in full production; this is one day's worth...
24 eggs! As you can imagine, I have to share with friends and family.
This year we chose chicken breeds that were more rare or had lovely feathers and unusual colored eggs.This variety of chicken breeds provide such wonderful color in eggs. Lovely to look at but the same nutrition in each so its really a novelty more than anything.  I love giving away the colorful cartons of fresh eggs. It always makes the recipients happy!

This years Dots are just beautiful as you can see here...
The Dots are fighting over apple cores -
a delicacy.

Most people don't realize the gorgeous
feathers that chickens have. Here in front
left is an Ameracuna (blue or green eggs)
and on the right is a Partridge Rock (brown

A Blue Andalusian (white eggs) shows
off her pretty blue colors
The Blue-red Laced Wyandotte (brown eggs) 
is going after the lettuce leaf. Greens are a
big deal during the cold months when the
foraging is sparse.

The white with black neck feathers on
left is a Colombian Wyandotte. The
Wyandotte breed are hearty and sweet

A Black Giant (L) and Ameracuna (R).

The black  hen on the left with the
feathered feet is a Black Copper Marans
who lays the chocolate brown eggs. The
two Blue-red Laced Wyandottes to the right
are also a fairly rare breed in the US.

This Easter Egger with no rump lays
beautiful blue or green eggs too.

On my way to workout on Friday morning
I had to stop to take this frosty morning
picture of the prairie. I am constantly
caught off guard by it's subtle beauty.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Hi Friends,
I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends. This year my youngest sister, Sandi, visited us again which is so fun for us. She arrived on TG day so we had a chicken noodle soup & fresh bread supper with Sandi and our neighbor, Dick; and then together we prepared our
Thanksgiving for the three of us on Friday.

I spent the previous week making pies; chocolate coconut, chocolate pecan, strawberry-raspberry, 2 old fashioned apple pies, and caramel apple pie. On TG, I made a pumpkin pie. The others all went into the freezer. I LOVE baking pies from scratch, the crust is the fun part otherwise it is just assembling. But when you create a perfect crust, that is satisfaction!
caramel apple
chocolate pecan
Today we had our first snow, not a big storm, but enough to cover the ground and bring many many birds to the feeders and bird bath which is now heated so they have water 24/7.
I was happy to see the snow and will bake bread today. Those two things always go together for me.
...every feeder was full! These are
yellow finches
In the tree awaiting their turn
I'm in the midst of Project FeederWatch season so am counting birds again. It is such a fun project that doesn't take much time and I feel great to be a part of the scientific project. If you are interested in learning more, check out Cornell Universities website @

We had some serious card playing with Sandi
Buddy loves for Sandi to visit because
she is his willing playmate several times
every day. Sandi can't resist the swings.

Buddy with his favorite toy, tug-of-war
rope in hopes that Sandi will get the hint
to play with him! See the pullets in the
background? We got 24 eggs yesterday
and not all are laying yet! Yikes!!
We are still in a drought here without much rain or snow. A few weeks ago, it started to rain and we were thrilled but it soon turned to hail...
and then the rain stopped. The hail were about the size of a large marble and didn't do damage. Because it was cold, they stayed on the ground until the next day. Mother Nature, quit teasing and give us some real moisture to end this drought. Pleeaase.

Mark and me @ friends 50th Wedding Anniversary

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Update on Animals at Edwards Ranch

I've had several of you ask about the pullets that we acquired in the spring. Among all the varieties of breeds, we had two varieties that only was available in 'straight run' which means they don't sex the babies so you could get a mix of females and males aka roosters! Well, we got mostly roosters in that gamble. Roosters are protective of the flock but they can be very rough with the hens which is stressful for the flock so I prefer hens only in my Dot House.

But those roos are gorgeous as you can see here from the pictures where they are currently in 'Rooster Jail' apart from the pullets. Those boys are competitive so it would be mighty risky if we put them where they will compete to create their own flocks from the mass of pullets. So they are in a separate pen waiting to be sold.

Here are some of the roos for you to see...
In the foreground, a magnificent Blue
Andalusian rooster and in the rear you
see several French Black Copper Marans
both of which are rare breeds. The
picture doesn't do justice to their unusual
feather coloring. The feathers of the Blue
Andalusian rooster is considered a fine
material for tying artificial flies for fishing.
Another rare rooster is the Blue
Laced Wyandotte in the center of the
picture. Their feathers are so beautiful.
These are French Black Copper
Marans --- notice their feathery
legs and silky colorful feathers.
The hens of this breed lay the
dark chocolate brown eggs.
A Blue Andalusian pullet
An Araucana aka Easter Egg chicken 
who gives us the beautiful blue
or green eggs. These are one
of my favorite breeds.
A Silver Spangled Hamburg sitting on
the nest roost along with some Black
Australorps and Black Giants.
A few of the pullets we plan to keep;
the others will be sold. Are you interested
in a colorful chicken or a set of three, a
rare rooster and 2 matching hens? Just
email or call me if you are!!
The white with black necklace is a
Columbian Wyandotte, there is a
Partridge Rock in front and a couple
Araucanas. We're getting 20+ eggs
per day at this time so they are just
beginning to lay and those numbers
will just go up. We need to sell some
of  these girls quick.
And then there is our beautiful sweet
dog, Buddy
Buddy cornered a porcupine the other night and ended up with several quills on his lips and nose! It was a painful lesson. I had never seen a live porcupine nor removed quills before so it was quite the experience and one I hope to not repeat. I'm sure Buddy would agree!
Buddy guarding the front of the house

The guineas eating bugs on their
regular route around the house. We
only have six remaining but haven't
lost one in a long time. The baby
didn't survive but there is always next
I hope you enjoyed the update!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Midwestern Riff on Autumn

The last day of color on our trees because strong winds are on their way which will blow the last of the leaves away. We don't have the vivid colors of New England but we have our soft riff on autumn in gold...
The river down the hill from our ranch...
Looking down onto the river valley...
An intriguing driveway...
Along the road...
Indian Hills area, full of native Bur Oaks...
A lone tree in all its glory...
Bur Oak leaves
The grasses and plants provide
rich color and movement to the
autumn landscape
The prairie is not showy but it holds subtle beauty for those who take the time to see it. I love the change of seasons and feel I am in rhythm with each of them now in the country on the prairie. I encourage you to take time to enjoy nature where you live.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm In the Garden

The fall weather has been glorious so you can find me most days..
I put this sign out by the front door when I'm working in the garden so people know where to find me! It works great.

We are getting beautiful color here this fall. The winds have been calm so we are enjoying the color on the trees unlike most years when the winds blow all the leaves off quickly. I can't imagine why Nebraska doesn't have wind farms dotting the state since we are one of the windiest states in the country! But I digress, here's what I see from my windows...
 The ash trees are some of the most beautiful. Of course, Autumn Joy (perfectly named) sedums which surround our cottage and burgundy mums give depth to the fall colors...
Autumn Joy sedums

I've been in the garden cleaning and getting things ready for the winter. I got the potatoes in very late so I'm just harvesting them, one tank is complete and the other isn't quite ready yet, still a little green. I used the Ruth Stout method of salad gardening where I planted the potato starters on top of the soil and covered with 6" of mulch. They are so easy to harvest and I didn't have any pest problems.

The plants that are 'done' such as the potatoes and tomatoes are going into the compost bins. I use the mower with the catcher to shred the plants so they decompose into compost more quickly. It works beautifully. The greens from the garden, grass clippings and kitchen scraps along with chicken manure make wonderful black compost for my plants. I'm always excited to see how it looks in the spring. The soil in all the beds is getting better every year with the addition of homemade compost.

mowing the tomato plants into shreds
 I made more marinara sauce which is a winter staple.
Garlic is planted now for spring and summer harvest. I had a great crop this year so my confidence is up and  I'm devoting an entire tank-bed for next year. I use alot of garlic in cooking so it is great to raise my own.

I have planted several varieties of hardneck garlic this year, all from Seed Savers Exchange:
Chesnok Red (purple striped paper with red cloves from Russia) - sounds exotic and delicious. Best for roasting and baking;
Samarkand aka Persian Star (good all purpose, pleasant with a spicy zing from Uzbekistan);
Erik's German White (white wrappers with red-purple skinned cloves, easy to peel) which is one of my favorite and 3rd year of growing;
German Red (purple-brown clove wrappers, easy to peel, strong full bodied flavor, excellent keeper).
Birds are starting to bunch up so we know it's fall. My feeders and birdbath are getting lots of action every day. Today I had to fill the birdbath four times due to all the bathing. What a great sight especially when five or six birds are splashing at the same time. It looks and sounds so joyful!

I hope you are enjoying your fall season,