Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ready, Set, Salsa!

Every ingredient except the apple cider vinegar and salt came from the ranch garden, fresh picked (except the onions of course), totally organic and with more flavour than you can even imagine. Seeing as how it was all of about 65 degrees today, it was a perfect canning day - no worries about heating up the entire house. So I got after it. Several hours later, all of this was in jars, cooling on the counter, awaiting that first cold winter day, some ranch raised, grass fed, all natural beef, Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream and some burrito wrappers.

'Costoluto Genovese' heirloom tomatoes; 'Pearl' and 'Miss Pickler' cukes; 'Cipollino' onions; serrano, 'California Wonder' orange bells and 'Sweet Pickle' banana peppers. A colourful and tasty symphony of fruits and veggies

The end of several hours worth of work

Mutant Corn

The first of the 'Mirai' corn was harvested the other day, and the result, you can see in the picture. This corn was so happy and so fertile that it started reproducing itself on its own. Good stuff, that 'Mirai'. And it sure was, cooked and smothered in butter later on too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shasta, Framed

Ho Dog's daughter, Shasta, poses on the A frame. She is just the spittin' image of her old man!

East Coast 1st Birthday Party

Cricket's sister Macy and Ho's bro Couper got to partake of their own party over on the other coast. Pay no attention to how dignified Couper (blue merle) looks - he's just as goofy as his big bro Ho Dog. At least Coup's better looking than Ho....

Okay, when you see OUR group shot, I hope you have forgotten this one by then. GG, momma Macy, daddy Coup, bro Woody

Woody at a year. That boy had coat when he was born that would have kept him warm in Siberia

Handsome devil, isn't he? He just started his stockwork with owner Joe

Cricket's brother Grissom, Woody the one year old, and daddy Coup eye the cake on the table out of sight

Griss (lighter red merle, Cricket's bro) and young Woody snarf some cake

Can't be of my bloodlines - mine aren't nearly that polite with a cake being waved over their heads. Daddy Coup (blue merle), Woody and Griss' nose. Love Coup's expression!

The Western Oregon 1st Birthday Party

On August 6th, 4 siblings - Riley, Sybil, Jan and Tazz - gathered at the ranch to enjoy some playtime and lots of great food and conversation. Hank with owner Mark and Mark's pal from Florida Donn were still on the road, running behind, and didn't make it until later that evening. Everyone missed not getting to see Hank! But, a good time was had by all.

All pictures courtesy of Anna H, Riley's co-owner. Anna entered a shot of Sybil that she took in the Lane County Fair contest and WON big time! That shot will be coming to the blog soon. There are still pix on Dale's camera of the group that I need to get and will post as soon as I get 'em downloaded.

Little Jan takes Tazz to the mat

Tazz - all legs and tongue. Tazz is doing agility and has just started stock training with Dave Viklund, our trainer

What a mug! Tazz looks sad eyes at the camera (or maybe the cake, hard to tell)

The cake for the two legged ones

And for the four legged ones

Little Jan, fully recovered from the pelvic rebuild this past winter. She too has started training with Dave, using owner Don's cows, which she started working on her own at a very early age

Tazz, Jan and Sybil roar thru the north pasture

Little Jan

Riley, Sybil and Jan

The SoCal 1st Birthday Party

Our Hoke X Cricket kids turned a year old on August 3rd, and the party was spread out from coast to coast including the Coup (Ho's bro) X Macy (Cricket's sister) kids, who turned a year old just a few weeks later. We start with Henry in SoCal, enjoying his cake, and I'm sure great- grandma Catera was waiting in the wings to claim her share. Henry is in training with Tom of Southern Cross Aussies in Ramona, Hoke's breeder, and doing great for being handled by Guy, who has never, ever done stock work before - ever.

Kallie At 12

Our little SoCal lovebug, Kallie (Kane X Jazzee 1999) at 12 years young

All nice and cozy in that frigid SoCal weather

Her fave spot at the foot of the bed, still all cozy. What a comfort hound she is!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ode to the First 'Mater

Finishing up the first potato box harvest, I chanced to see a flash of red in the tomatoes. And sure enough, there was the first tomato of the season - a month overdue, but at last, there it was. Not a monster in size. It's odd shape might turn some off. But with a load of fresh bacon already smoking on the grill, suddenly lunch went from 'oh, yeah, a bacon burger' to 'OH YEAH! A fresh tomato on my bacon burger!'.

A more succulent, sweet beyond your wildest dreams slice of tomato does not exist in this universe. This humble 'Costoluto Genovese' heirloom rose to become King of the Tomatoes this very day. Freshly plucked from its vine, the warmth of the morning sun still in it, a quick rinse and then its ripe firmness cleanly sliced, Dale and I shared a piece of heaven this very day. Be it ever so homely, it's still homegrown goodness you can't put a price on.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Little Sunday Afternoon Excitement

We were watching the final round of the PBR San Antonio bull riding when the phone rang. It was my pal Jan. And a quick note here - Jan's hubby Steve, their daughter Mandy, Mandy's husband Orin, and Orin's parents Sharon and Frank are all volunteer firefighters with the Monroe Fire Department, a largely all volunteer department and one of the best in Oregon. Thus, Jan always has the scanner going and knows what's happening where. Dale answered the phone and Jan immediately said 'there's a fire at Dawson and Reese Creek'! Now, Reese Creek is the eastern boundary of our north pasture and Dawson is the north boundary of the north pasture. Across from us on the north side of Dawson, to the west of Reese Creek, is Jeff's place. To the east of Reese Creek is Cindy and Gary's place. Then there is our place, on the south side of Dawson to the north of Reese Creek, and Sharon and Frank lease almost everything else to the east and south of that intersection for grass seed and hay as well as grazing. Dale and I immediately thought 'Gary's place is on fire!' so we both bolted out the door. What we found instead was what was ultimately confirmed as a broken power line snapping and sparking well to the south of the intersection, well to the southeast of our south pasture, along the abandoned rail tracks that lead to the mill. It had ignited a grass fire in one of Sharon's fields just west of their ranchhand Pablo's place. Thank goodness for the cool, wet spring and summer - everything is finally getting pretty dry, but that field had just been harvested and was still pretty green. Still, it was pretty exciting, for Bellfountain. Jan showed up with Mandy and Orin's 3 year old son Van and we watched what ended up being 6 fire rigs show up and put out the fire, followed shortly by the Consumer Power line truck to put the line back together and back up. We had a lot of wind about the time this all started, and Dale thinks that a branch from one of the huge old oaks might have come down and snapped the line. I know when I was first watching it all, there was a series of explosions that appeared well above ground level that must have been the broken line sparking before the power was finally cut to that line. But, all's well and at least the fire trucks all got exercised. Just a quiet Sunday summer evening out here on the ranch.

The first fire team arrives

The brush rig heads in. Dale thinks that Sharon was the hoseman

Don't forget to click on the pix

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Plethora of Flora

Please enjoy the summer garden at the ranch by clicking on the pix. Wish I could include scent for ya, but that technology is still waiting to be discovered and patented

Lamb's Tail 'Joey'

A pot full of wildly coloured daisies and yellow starred deep purple petunias rubs shoulders with a pot of free range blue lobelia

An elegant Martha Washington geranium hobnobs with another pot full of purple diasca, nemesia and yellow Marguerites, with another pot of free range lobelia (I have a lot of those this year) tucked in there

A very cool dwarf snapdragon called 'Twinny Peach Shades' shares living space with a very fragrant and colourful nemesia

Dwarf snap 'Twinny Peach Shades'

For my 50th last year, Dale got this way cool lizard plant stand up at Homegrown Gardens in Corvallis. A brilliant dahlia shares top billing with two very happy potato vines. 'Meyer Improved' lemon in the background, loaded with tiny green lemons and happy as a clam in chowder

And speaking of things growing wherever they want - a gaggle of free range snapdragons of all sorts of colours popped up by the greenhouse, in the 3/8 minus packed gravel, with zero water other than rain - and are doing fantastic. There are also free range pansies and alyssum in that gravel patch. Guess we know who the really tough flowers are, eh?

Hollyhock Explosion

Last year, I planted TWO hollyhocks, both out in the veggie garden. Figured they'd bring in the bees by the boatloads, and I was right. And never gave a thought to the whole 'self-seeding' bit. I went thru that with the bloody cosmos, which are STILL popping up from time to time even tho I ruthlessly tried to eradicate every single one that I saw and cut the flowers off the ones I missed or left for the bees. And before the cosmos was the borage, and yep, still yankin' them outta the garden altho the ones on the perimeter I leave for the Bee Girls. I keep forgetting that unlike SoCal, if a fertile seed so much as gently touches the ground - any ground - around here, within moments it's sprouting and from there on out, it's a race to see what grows the biggest the fastest. If you actually planted something on purpose, you better stand back once the soil is tamped down around the newly planted.

So, the hollyhocks. Dale has ruthlessly sprayed the ones that popped up in the gravel parking area next to the veggie garden and around the old red barn and the dairy barn garage. I kept after the ones that were popping up in inappropriate places around the garden, but they got way ahead of me at the cuke A frame, so I let them have that and planted the cukes on the pea fences this year. But around where the original two were came up glorious colours and colour combos, tall and strong (and yes, pretty rusty as hollyhocks are wont to be) and absolutely traffic stopping.

I suspect that next year will be much worse. Maybe I can charge people to have their pictures taken in the middle of them.

The lone 'Creme de Cassis' hollyhock that appeared by the west side of the deck

Couch Potato in Training

Sybil at a year old emulates pop Hoke (and momma Cricket) on the 'training couch'

How could you not adore a goofy face like that?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Plant ID'd

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the mystery weed. Melissa, OSU Extension Agent extraordinaire and all around PNW plant ID expert, gave me the news last night and we have since properly disposed of that nasty ol' jimsonweed. Altho, as mad as those wethers made me by mowing the Bee Girl's flowerpots, I had a few thoughts about lettin' have a go at it and watching the ensuing riot....but I didn't.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mystery Plant

Can anyone ID this monster? It popped up in my veggie garden several weeks ago. Might have come in with a load of Lane Forest Products Frugal garden soil, as all three were right together, two in the pepper bed and one in the next bed.

It's quite stout but also very succulent in the stems. The leaves are fairly large. The flowers open briefly in the morning and resemble white morning glories. The fruit, as you can see, is very prickly. The entire plant emits a fairly unpleasant odour that I can't describe other than, well, it's not my cuppa. I pulled up two of them and they have a long tap root. At this point, the plant is approximately 4' tall. The pepper bed that it's in has mature sweet pepper plants in it so you can kind of gauge the size.

I think it's some sort of noxious weed, but I didn't find it on the ODA website. Any help is appreciated. I'm about to pull this last one as well, as it's shading my peppers and I would much rather have them than this big brute in my garden. Don't forget to click on the pix for a better view.

They Make Scents

No, not the dogs. Yes, they make scents, but their scents make your eyes water and cause you to run for fresh air. These guys make the kind of scents that waft about you on a warm summer's evening, causing you to linger and sniff awhile. Much better, those scents. Between them, I don't get a lot done right off the start when I'm working in the garden. I just stand and let the scents combine and wash over my nose, close my eyes, and just enjoy it all.

A very fragrant sweet pea, 'High Scent'

Another one, one of my own, named in memory of Trish's Jagster, 'Perfect Storm'

One of the first fragrant lilies blooming, 'Lombardia'. It's as fragrant as it is beautiful and I have a LOT of them around the deck

The ultra fragrant English shrub rose 'Savoy Hotel' adds its strong, honeyed floral notes to the melody