Friday, September 30, 2011

Hay Kitty Kitty Kitty

The boys, Kitty Boy and Kitty Boy, also known as Bad Cat and Good Cat. That's Bad Cat with the half closed eyes. You know he's evil just looking at him. And so do all the rodents - for the last few moments of their lives, anyway.

Her Cuteness

Her Cuteness, aka Dizzy Izzy, at 2 weeks. She's a traffic stopper, this one!

Gettin' a little love from momma Ruffie

I'm trying to look regal, really I am!

Izzy loves to play tag with the wethers. The wethers, they don't really enjoy the game much at all

Some day my butt will look like mom's

But for now, I'm just too cute for words and I know it

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ho Dog the Majestic

Only took him 11 1/2 years to mature. Ho Dog on a fall evening, looking regal against the backdrop of hills, trees and church. Definitely click the pix on this one.

Titanic Tomato

Remember that 'Brandywine' pictured a few posts ago in my hand, still on the vine? Well, as of this moment, it's in jars, sitting on the counter, waiting to go into the pantry to debut later this year or maybe even next as part of a pot of chili or stew. In the meantime, Dale and I played 'Guess the Weight'. Neither of us was right, but Dale was closest with a guess of 3/4 of a pound. The monster weighed in at just under 1.5 pounds! Don't forget to click the pix!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Izzy on the Go

Busy little Izzy, going on two weeks old, following momma Ruffie to the feeder bunks on a fine, warm, fall day

Pretty in Pastel

Who says fall has no good flower power anyway?

Pretty, perky aster 'Liliput Blue Moon'

A plethora of pastels. Dwarf snap 'Twinny Yellow Shades', pansy 'Bolero' and my fave and fragrant flower powerhouse nemesia, whos name has something to do with chocolate and mint I think, because that is exactly what it smells like

Big Rock Project - Finished!

Once we got the pump situation straighted out, the rest was easy. My old wire and bead lizard serves well to 'hide' the water tube. As you can see, Gizmo approves. The last bit to be finished up is the installation of the outlet and switch out of sight. Which means the current, classy extension cord look will go away. Don't forget to click on the pix!

Big Rock Project - Part III

Okay, so it's been up and running for a few weeks now, but I'm just now getting caught up on the blog. The big rock fountain project nearing completion. For the second time. Don't ask, just figure that just like every other 'handyman', neither of us can be bothered to read instructions for something we deem as simple as installing the water basin/foundation for the fountain rock. I mean, how hard could it be? We just figured that the one 'extra' piece that came with the basin was a mistake, even tho it was different from the other four. But, there was only seating for the four. At least, that's what we thought. But once installed in the ground, it flexed. A LOT. With less than 250 pounds on it. We figured there was no way that it would ever support the 1284 pound rock fountain safely. So, Dale dug it all back up, we went and found a cement slab to install under the basin, Dale re-installed it and re-firmed up the dirt around it - and it still flexed. Not as much, but enough to cause concern. So, we took a few days to mull over our options. While we were doing that, I went online in search of the right pump for the fountain. And lo and behold, on that website there was a section for the basins. I decided to see if we got a good deal on ours (we did) and there it was - the exploded view of our basin, complete with the 'extra' piece in it's correct place - the centre of the basin, where the rock was supposed to sit! I ran out, took out the four pieces, installed the centre piece, put the other four back in place and my goodness - NO FLEXING! Amazing what reading instructions can do. In our defense, the basin didn't come with any written instructions and verbals from the guy at the rock place were pretty vague. So Dale got the tractor, we roped the rock and set it in place and surprise surprise - no flexing, a solid base! We were both quite relieved, you betcha! We added water, went to Jerry's and got a pump - and then went back to Jerry's and got a valve to turn DOWN the pump - fired it up and the yellowjackets and wasps gathered to thank us for providing them with a great water source. It was up and running and looking great, so we finished up with the rock ledge and then poured in about a hundred pounds of tumbled, round, flat black stones to hide the basin grid, got a load of hemlock bark mulch to go around the whole thing and then sat back and enjoyed the sound and sight of gently splashing water coursing down this very cool basalt column of rock. Well worth the effort, definitely.

The basin, finally, correctly installed and ready to receive the rock

Setting the rock, gingerly

Rock installed! The pipe is to align with the centre hole of the basin

The first test

Figuring out we have WAY too much pump!

Fall Bounty

A crisp, fall morning. The morning mist and fog have departed, and the day promises to reach the heat of the previous day (87!!). But for now, the harvest continues. Tomorrow, with the promise of barely 60 and the first rains of the fall, the canning will commence. To plant, harvest and preserve from your own garden is something that just defies true definition. You know exactly where that tomato or those pickles came from, to the plant and possibly even where on the plant. You know how it was preserved - frozen, roasted and frozen, canned, and by whom - yourself. And in midwinter, with the snow falling and the fireplace crackling, spooning up a bowl of chili made from those summer tomatoes, onions, hot peppers and your own grass fed and finished beef is just plain gratifying. We are localvores here on the ranch, in the truest sense of the word.

One whopper of a grafted 'Brandywine', one of many just now starting to ripen, two months after 'Costoluto Genovese'. Ya gotta love heirlooms, even more so when they're grafted

A very small part of the grafted 'Brandywine' plant

Tomatoes on the left, 'Pearl' cukes on the right. One basket will become tomato sauce, the other bread and butter pickles by tomorrow afternoon

And this 10.5 pound load of tomatoes brings the 2011 tomato harvest, from two grafted plants, up to 52 pounds! Amazing, especially considering the late, late start to the summer season and the shortness of the same

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Day in the Life

Dainty Miss Yzzy (Izzy) at a whole 24 hours old. Already had a halter on and met the ol' man, Ho Dog. Just too cute, our little pixie!

Don't forget to click on the pix!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Say Hi To Ysabel

Our long awaited first ever fall calf (well, okay, late summer calf) arrived in fine form early this afternoon. Ruffie (JB Ruffian, aka Ruffie Baby Boo Boo Girl), our senior cow, started showing me this morning that today was the day, and by noon, it was on. Ruffie is a good calver and a great momma, and this calf was no exception. Ysabel graced us with her lovely, tiny self at 1335, tipping the scales at a petite 58 pounds. She was early, so that wasn't a huge surprise, altho at the first sight of her, I just knew there was another baby in there. I had even told Bonnie on Wednesday I thought Ruffie might be carrying twins. But no, the next item to exit was the end of the birthing process, so it was just one tiny, impossibly cute and lively little girl. She was up on her feet within minutes and nursing shortly thereafter. We had to go run some errands so I didn't get any 'dry' pictures yet, as it was a tad too dark when we got home to take any, but rest assured, there will be more pix tomorrow afternoon. Both mom and daughter are doing great; when I checked on them just before dark, Ysabel was bouncing around, trying out those little legs, and taking every opportunity to jump at something. She kept running up to me, sliding to a stop, then sticking her cute little wet nose right in my face (I was sitting on the ground) and giving me a tiny lick before bouncing off to see if she could annoy one of the weanling girls.

In honour of the great cellist Yo Yo Ma, her registered name will be Yo Yo Moo. Okay, maybe that's not really an honour for a cellist of Ma's calibre, but it is for Yzzy.

Ruffie looks for just the right spot. I wish it was anywhere but here in the feeder bunks, but YOU try moving 1200# of momma cow about to calve out to the pasture

The peanut gallery, including daddy Roar, watches

And here she is!

Picking her head up for the first time, covered in hay

What a little hay magnet!

And she's up!

With mom having cleaned off all the hay, her total cuteness just shines thru

Standing confidently at all of 55 minutes old

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day of Remembrance


Dedicated to the millions of innocent lives lost to the cowardice of terrorism in all forms, against all people, over the centuries

In hope that in our lifetime, such cowardice becomes merely a footnote in history and the cowards dust beneath our heels forever

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Toasty and Roasty

Yes, thanks for asking, it HAS been hot (for us) up here. We did touch 90 briefly this afternoon, but the Willamette Valley and even up into Portland has been in the mid 90's all week. I knew that at some point, we'd have to make up for all those months below average and it looks like this is the make up time. The good news - the tomatoes, corn and peppers are absolutely loving life right now. So much so that I can barely keep up with the tomatoes. First salsa, and today, smoked and roasted on the MAK grill and popped in the freezer for future use. I envision a bright, cold, winter's late afternoon, some homemade sourdough rounds hot out of the oven filled with a roasted tomato soup or maybe a fine chili made with ranch-raised beef and roasted tomatoes. Maybe a nice beef stew with some hearty Pinot Noir and roasted tomatoes added for maximum flavour. Any way they end up being used, it's a bit of summer to remind us of why we tolerate the winters up here - for the generous bounty of summer veggies that we squirrel away for later.

I think I'll can the next batch. I see some fine pasta sauce coming out of the jars that I will put up this summer. Especially once the 'Brandywine' start ripening. Thus far, I've harvested 23 pounds of tomatoes, all 'Costoluto Genovese' heirlooms except the one lone 'Brandywine' that surprised me yesterday. But there is still a lot of 'Genovese' on the vine and the 'Brandywine' is simply loaded. And I haven't started taking off the newest blooms yet, as I have hope that we might have a long enough season to ripen a lot more.

10 pounds of garden fresh, organically grown heirloom tomatoes ready for their boiling water bath (to make it easier to peel them for roasting)

Peeled, cored, sliced and ready to go on the MAK grill to be smoked and roasted. The lighter bits are a few 'Sweet Pickle' peppers I threw in for flavour

The end product, cooling before going into the freezer bag. Eaten right off the pan, they are unbelievably sweet with flavour that would make a tomato lover out of even someone like me who hasn't ever been a big fan

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fountain Rock Project, Part II

After doing some chores in the early morn before the heat arrived, we pottered off to pick up the pieces of the fountain rock project and a load of mulch from Lane Forest. We'd already picked out a bunch of nice stone to put around it the day before, so Dale unloaded them so we could use the trailer to haul the mulch. And yes, that is Roar in the background enjoying a nice stretch after his mid-afternoon nap. The box is 40" square, and will have some sort of river rock, probably Mexican black 1" ones, on top and the rest of the rock around the tree is to cover the base once it's in the ground.

Next, we have to move one bush, maybe two, and take out some more lawn, as the final location of the fountain has been established as next to the steps going up to the deck. Removing more lawn makes Dale a happy mower. The lawn and bush removal will probably have to wait for morning, as it's just hit 89 degrees here, and we hear the MAK grill calling for some burgers.

Poor, Overworked Big Red

Little bro Jim, whom I traded Big Red to for his Really Big Red, the F-350 FX4 dually, wanted to caption this 'things you should not do to an F-150'. I'd say, 'things you should not do to your big sister's ex-F-150 that she loved and pampered its entire life while it lived with her - and then send her pictures of it'. You can take it to the bank - 'Built Ford Tough' isn't just a cute marketing slogan. Of course, Really Big Red doesn't exactly live the retired life here on the ranch, but at least when we put a load behind/in him, we aren't loading him 5000# over his rated capacity, not that I'm sayin' anything here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tomatosaurus Rex

They just keep coming. I pass over the cukes one day because they're the size of my little finger, and two days later they're the size of my forearm. I pick all the ripe/near ripe tomatoes one day, and two days later all I see is red out there. Three gallon freezer bags of blackberries in the freezer already and 4 times that waiting to be picked on the vines. The peppers are rocking along, the yellow wax beans are about a day away, the Brussels sprouts are begging to be roasted, the 'Fall Gold' yellow raspberry fall crop is going to be awesome, and the corn - I have no words for the corn. Slow smoked baby back ribs and fresh picked 'Mirai' corn on the cob the other night had us both bursting at the seams, and hoping for a repeat the next day. Labour Day will have us flipping ranch raised, grass fed, all natural burgers with ranch fresh onions, tomatoes, pickles and corn on the cob. Truly a bounty worth the labour that went into them.

More 'Doyles Thornless' blackberries waiting for the freezer

Tomatosaurus Rex, aka 'Costoluto Genovese' heirloom grafted tomato. I will never grow another tomato from seed again. The output and the fact that I have only watered the two grafted 'maters two times since planting have convinced me the upfront cost is more than worth it

Bigger, front tomato is a grafted 'Brandywine' heirloom tomato, still a few weeks away but loaded with green fruit. If nothing else, I'll can green tomato relish from those bad boys

Fountain Rock Project, Part I

It was a bit of a job, getting that 1284# monster off the pallet, upright and in place. And then realizing we had it facing backwards, thus having to spin it 180 degrees. On top of that, we're not quite sure yet that's where it's gonna be. We did get a load of facing rock to hide the water basin/base/pumphousing today, as well as got the base on order. There is still the pump and filter to get and electrical to plumb, but that's a project for another day. With a major heat wave bearing down on us the next few days, unloading the facing rock will probably be as far as we get for a while. But, at least it's upright.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

East Coast Seal Spotted

An extremely rare (and impossibly cute) black tri seal was spotted off the Mass. coast this week. Sybil's cuz GG enjoying some swim time. Don't forget to click on the pix!

A Summer Morning?

Yesterday got up to a whopping 65 here at the ranch. And then, this morning's packwalk bade me wear a JACKET (okay, a heavy flannel shirt, but that's a kind of PNW jacket), whilst watching the cloud of my breath and that of the dogs in the frosty morning air. I'm a bit leery of seeing how the tomatoes and peppers fared, and it's supposed to be just about the same tomorrow morning. Our first day where the average low is 43 is October 1st. I think maybe someone misread the calendar, but I'm not namin' names.

However, we will return to summer again this weekend, bringing our sum total of summer this year up to three weeks total. In the meantime, I need another cuppa and to go find a dog to lay on my frozen toes up here.