Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Break = More lambs + a schoolboy surprise!

Hip hip hooray, it's March 20th...the official start of Spring!

After the past wonderful weeks of sunny days I woke to an overcast sky and the scent of a warm spring rain that had come while we slept. When I opened the back door for Jenny I stepped out & took a deep breath of the most delicious, fresh, moist, clean, invigorating, put-a-smile-on-your-face country air.

Peeking around the still-bare lilac tree, and looking out towards the garden, I spotted the bright yellow of my first daffodils in full bloom. Three days ago Papa noticed them in bud and said, "Hey, look at your daffodils! they're gonna be opening soon...", and there they had gone & done it!

My desk calendar for today says 'Spring Begins' and boy howdy yessiree bub, it sure has! But I know it really came earlier on March 1st with that hike Peggie & I took and my first look-see at some of her lambs.

Since that last journal writing she took me out to Rising River to see her other flock of ewes & babies. The short drive out there was an absolute delight; good company, beautiful landscapes, & an early Spring sky that was constantly changing between shadow & dark in the East over the Rim as evening was coming on, to facing West where it was filled with puffy clouds, and light, and color worthy of a painting:

Unfortunately I didn't notice the electric line in my lens frame when I took that picture.. I was too entranced with the sky at the time :p

Heading down the dirt road, and before we reached the pasture with the sheep, we passed the chicken coop where I was completely caught off-guard by some of the exotics wandering around:

It's just not what you expect to see in your average chicken coop driving through the piney-woods :D

As soon as we get to the barns the sheep start gathering 'round the gate. They know what's comin' ... Peggie with the hay!

In the following pictures, I'll clue you in, there's more to see than ewes & lambs. There's also 'Babe'. It took me a couple times, while previewing my shots, before I realized that Babe was in so many of them. She blends right in...

Did you spot her in all 3 photos? She's a sweetie; lives day & night with her flock and watches over them loyally: 

And now for some live action shots (with improved video quality & size thanks to my techie trainer Abby =). 

Watch for the lambs jumping straight up into the air while cavorting about.. and watch for Babe frolicking with them all (disguised as one of the sheep again ;) near the beginning of the first video!

...just a few more still shots before moving this along to the next bit 'o Spring Break fun:

The day after this pleasant outing I get a phone call...

"Hi Mama! Guess where I am?" It's the middle-child on a quick Spring Break ski-trip to Tahoe. "..and hey, I want to come see you!"

I kick into cooking & cleaning mode anticipating Eli & lady-friend Brittney's arrival the next day. They did some snowboarding Saturday & spent time with Uncle Marc (but sadly, no Aunt Rebecky, who was away at a conference), then arrived in Hat Creek Sunday afternoon. 

After lunch we took a field trip out to Peggie's so the kids could see the babies. Brittney thought they were pretty cute...

...until Eli decided she needed to hold one :D

The lambs didn't mind her reaction at all and seemed pretty darned interested in more attention :)

New mama & baby with handsome papa ram on the right

Next came a walk across the road from the sheep barn to the pasture with more ewes, lambs, & the commercial trophy trout ponds:

Heading home from the ranch we stopped off at Frog Pond for a little hike.

"Look, I'm picking up litter. Aren't I such a good boy?"

For a contrasting view of this 'good boy' I want you to check out the side-ways glance Eli's giving Brittney in this very next photo. Can you see the beginnings of a mischievous plot brewing? Watch as his plan develops:

The boy just can't seem to help himself....

After our little adventures we went home for a supper with my version of this yummy Asian Chicken BBQ crock pot dish (*see below for my changes), steamed brown rice, a tasty vegetable stir-fry made by Papa, & coconut topped chocolate pudding. Before bed Eli & Brittney took Jenny for a walk down the road, ran into Peggie & Kay & had a nice little visit, then came back & watched some of the old home-videos of our adorable little kids while Eli uploaded them to his laptop. The kids showered & headed off to bed, planning an early start for their long drive back to college, while I decided to stay up & make some Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins to go with breakfast.

Their early start ended up being delayed; reason prevailed & they got more sleep instead. After breakfast I sent them back to University loaded up with extra Granola, the rest of the Blueberry Muffins, and a loaf of my sourdough Deli-style Rye Bread.

Before leaving Eli announced he was taking some of Ben's things from his room. I told him, "Hey now! this is just what you did when he moved to Montana for 2 years.. you went through his room & decided what he didn't need anymore!" 

"No, no, don't worry Mama. I already talked to Ben & he said I could take stuff."

I talked to Ben later in the week about this moment of déjà vu & the same Eli-ish activity back in 2006 when Ben'd left for Montana; how it reminded me of that part in Dicken's Christmas Carol where the scavengers are taking away Scrooge's belongings after his 'passing'.

Ben started laughing and, using this rejoinder from the tale, said:

"Yes, and '..his blankets are still warm!' "

Yep. That's our Eli-o... ever the opportunist :D

The End   =)

*My changes to the Asian Chicken BBQ dish: 

I cut the garlic down to one clove, used low-sodium soy sauce, cut oil to 1 TB (used olive, didn't have sesame), used raw sugar (not white), added ½ tsp red pepper flakes & thickened last 10 min with an arrowroot roux (2 TB arrowroot powder & just enough cold water to make a slurry). Served over brown rice w/chopped organic raw cashews. Dee-licious!

I don't do crock-pot dishes well, so this is a pretty big deal that I like it so much. Love that it makes enough for left overs for lunch the next day...

Monday, March 11, 2013

March came in like a lamb.. it will probably go out like a lion. In the meantime we are basking in this warm, early spring weather and taking fun pictures. 

I've been spending some 'quality' time ;) with Peggie; taking a great hike up at the Spatter Cones Trail & checking out the lambs her ewes have been dotting the ranch lands with. 

First the hike... Papa & I have done the Spatter Cones a couple times already and Peggie had expressed interest in doing the trek, too. So, since March 1st was an incredibly sunny warm day, she & I took off for Old Station and the trail. 

When I'd last been there, a year ago in January, it was pretty easy going. This time, however, Peggie & I found a few spots rather treacherous since there were still quite a number of snowy, icy places along the way. I liked to keep her walking behind me since, at one point, she was able to catch me when I fell in one particularly slippery spot :D

The views, as usual, were beautiful. 

Here we are at the top where we had terrific views of Lassen to the south. You can see a part of the frozen, snowy trail snaking along to the right between Peggie & the mountain..

..and then, to the east of the big spatter cone, the view with West Prospect Peak (in skyline above & to right of Peggie) :

Here are a couple more images of the area at the top we explored. There's this picture at one of the several deep lava tubes. The next is of Peggie on the far side of it (or a different tube..I can't remember now!):

This one is looking north towards Old Station & the Hat Creek Rim (with Hwy 44 coming down the rim -off center to the right- just above the base of the tree line & the bare, burned off portion)...

Since we'd come up on the South side of the Spatter Cones loop trail, going down on the North was even more exciting since, of course, the sun doesn't hit that side much. Some spots could have made for an excellent high-speed Luge track. And might have even been fun if it weren't for the fact we had no sled & everything around us was jagged, sharp volcanic rock!

Finally reaching the smoother, non-wintery parts of the trail we stopped for 'A Kodak Moment' at my favorite rock bench (which Peggie says she's going to re-create in her yard)...

It was a GREAT afternoon. Took a bit longer than the normal 1½ hours due to all the ice & snow but we neither cared nor noticed that over 2 hours had gone by since we'd parked the car. And even though I've been on that trail 3 times now there were new caves & crevices to see that I'd missed before. It's always nice to have an extra pair of eyes out there with you!

I drove Peggie back home to her ranch & finally got to see some of the new lambs she's been telling me the ewes have been dropping for several weeks. We stopped at the barns & bummer lamb pen where we got more way-cool pictures. Doncha just love that little black-sheep-of-the-family baby?

I couldn't pick just one of the 3 shots Peggie got with me & her babies, the little guys are just all soo precious and these pictures make me feel like I'm there again...

So until I decide which of them to delete you get to see all three :D

The little spotted lamb nuzzling my arm belongs to Cooper (Peggie's grandson).
He named him 'Chipmunk' :D

To end this journal entry all I can say (very sincerely!) is.... WISH YOU WERE HERE, kids! You'd love it.

Oh wait... as of this writing Eli DID get to be here with the babies & the warm weather this weekend. I'll get some more pictures of our time spent with him & his guest (Brittney) plus a few more earlier photos of another gorgeous afternoon trip Peggie & I took down the road to Rising River where she has literally DOZENS & DOZENS more lambs...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Living in a Christmas Card..


Oh yes, it is beautiful. It's lovely. It's gorgeous.

Still.. I'm ready for a return to our California winters with the following equation: snow storm = cold for a little bit = melting = warm temps = the ground exposed again. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

But it hasn't happened since this stormy weather hit back on December 21st. At the worst of the cold-snap the rooms inside this old place have been 27º. The norm is now hovering around 37-43º with the living room at 49º every morning. Outside temps have dropped to 0º.

Frost is almost melted off by noon on entry hall window! whoopee ;)
Do you know just how happy it makes me to know my babies are free of this?! I LOVE knowing you are all living in normal, warm homes.. wait a minute. That sounds real familiar. Do I say this to you several times every winter?

Just before New Year's I finally dug & chopped through the frozen, high center berm that had prevented the Honda from making it out the driveway for over a week. You may have heard a whoop and a holler of joy. That was me!

It was just as night was falling. There was this amazing, awesome, STUPENDOUS full moon rising over the valley with a mist just hovering above the creek between us and the farm buildings in the distance.

I was so excited to be free of Siberia that I jumped in my car and took a spin all around the valley. Well, no spinning. I've got front-wheel drive with those great studded snow tires. And I'm here to tell ya.. THAT was the definition of an honest-to-goodness joy-ride :D

Notice the awesome appearance of Mars straight up above the road way in this next shot:

Out the back by the garden. Amazing to think this is at night! Wish my camera setting had worked better..
So finally, at long last, just the-day-before-yesterday, there came the incredibly welcomed drip-drip-drip sound of snow melting off the trees & roof eaves. Didn't last. That night we got hit with another big snow & I was back out shoveling. Seems it's what I've mostly been doing for weeks now. Oh ya. It is.

These past two mornings the sun has been shining; the sky, a beautiful blue above. But we stay encased in a frozen white world.

The afternoons turn gray & cloudy. It's staying cold and the snow never falls off the slender branches of the deciduous trees. Tonight everything looks the same as it did when the sun came up. It is 5º and dropping.

Cold, cold, cold is predicted for days to come.. with more lows in the single digits & teens to highs in the mid 30's.

We are burnin' through the firewood. And I mean that both literally AND figuratively. We've gone through over half our winter wood supply & are now supplementing heavily with the living room propane heater.

Talked to Ben yesterday afternoon. He said he was driving with the air conditioning blasting. More of the same when Abby called today. Ahhh, the good life on the Islands!


Weber State called at 4:45am with an automated phone message. The University is closed due to a big storm over the Wasatch. Talked to Eli. Do you think logic would prevail & he'd stay home & do a way-cool papier-mâché project I emailed him with a catchy subject title of: Project For A Snowy Day?

Ohhh, nooooo.

Disregarding my respectable age & accompanying sage wisdom he said he was heading out 'Boarding'. 'Challenging-the-avalanche-weather-at-the-ski-park' is what I call it!

I'd feel better knowing he was doing the crafting.


First, the back story: Jenny's 3 acres of fencing is buried, collapsed, and/or broken under snow 2 feet deep in some places. So after discovering she'd been making escapes for a week we had to get drastic in order to protect her, the neighbors, and drivers from this mutt's wanderings.

I've always thought the unusual 'Silky' chickens were soo amazing & bizarre looking with their furry 'feathers' (hold on..this DOES tie in).

Despite all the breeds we've raised I never owned one. 'Til now:

Yep, this is the drastic action we had to take. [Silky] dog in the chicken coop.

Here she is getting up from the nest I made her (of last year's fluffy, dry, sweet orchard grass clippings), lickin' her chops & anticipating the cookie bone I brought..

..and then, the second after, when she realizes I also have *THE DREADED CAMERA*

So until the snows melt, and we can reconstruct her fencing, she lives either on a hundred foot leash (placed strategically around the property at her favorite spots) or in the ol' chicken coop where she mostly sleeps curled up in her cozy nest. Which is basically all she does when she's free anyhow. That's what I tell myself repeatedly so I'll feel better about her confinement.

Time to go break up Jenny's nice dinner. At least, it was nice when I made it for her a couple hours ago: hot turkey leavings strained from the broth I made, homemade heel of bread, and her favorite kibbles. By now, what she didn't consume, will be turning slushy in her dish in the garage. Good thing she's into smoothies...