Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Are The Champions

You guys all know that I am not a sports writer.  Like at all.... I hardly know anything about any sports that don't involve horses.  But I'm learning.  I've learned that sports are really, really important to the kids in this town and many other little towns like it.....
Saturday was probably this BIGGEST day of the year for our little school in our little town.  Our beloved, six man football team made it to the state championship game.  Our co-op team of Geraldine/Highwood played the co-op team of Stanford/Denton/Geyser.  The other team only lost one game all year.  The game they played against our team.  They were worthy opponents and everyone knew it would be a very good game.  The other team comes from the little towns that are Geraldine's "neighbors".  So it was also a hometown rivalry. 
When I pulled out of Geraldine to head over the mountains to the Highwood field, Geraldine was already a ghost town.  Nobody was here! I am certain Stanford, Denton and Geyser were also ghost towns.  I drove the dirt roads over the mountains to Highwood because it cuts off the miles and it's such a pretty drive.  So many people had done the same thing that there was a hazy cloud of dust all the way through the hills. A dust cloud of hope and anticipation. 
11-Wyatt McKinlay, 22-Dawson Baroh, 34-Jordan Lafontaine, 32-Darren Malek
When Payson and I arrived at the field we found it was standing room only on the side lines of the field.  Well, actually there wasn't even much for standing room on either side of the field. Some folks had even parked one of their vehicles in the "perfect spot" next to the field, days before the game to ensure they'd get a good view.

17- Jeremiah Hinkle, 21- Sean Bronec, 28-Devin Leistiko

Our boys started the game by getting some touchdowns right out of the box.  From then on you could feel the hope in the chilly late fall air....

Coach Tweet with the boys.  55-Ben Rayner, 17-Jeremiah Hinkle, 56-Braden Urion
Mr. Tweet has been the coach at Geraldine for 32 years. His teams have won the State Championship in 1989, 1997, 2001 and 2003. He was inducted into the MCA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009. Everyone I have spoken to speaks of his fairness and ethics on the field.

The boys maintained the lead for the length of the game. At one point the other team rallied and made us all hold our breath for a bit....

25-Sam Bronec, 32-Darren Malek, 34-Jordan Lafontaine

7- Jake Malek, 25- Sam Bronec, 34- Jordan Lafontaine


Our boys were not about to let the opponents get a lead.  You could feel their determination building.

3-Riley Kurtz gets tackled.

22-Dawson Baroh    He catches it....
and is tackled.

The end of the game arrived to find us with a score of 50-18. The "blue side" of the field erupted with ten years worth of exuberance.

"Good game."

We are the champions again....

Congratulations to our Rivals!  Geraldine and Highwood could not be more proud! 

This post was written with the intent to share these photos with the parents and families of our players.  Please feel free to copy and save any of these photos and use them as you wish.

Bye for now,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Weather Report

One of the things we deal with living in this part of the country is some rapid changes in the weather.  We get sudden storms.  We get "Chinook winds", that are quite a phenomenon. This is the Wikipedia explanation.

 " The reference to a wind or weather system, simply "a Chinook", originally meant a warming wind from the ocean into the interior regions of the Pacific Northwest of the USA. A strong Chinook can make snow one foot deep almost vanish in one day. The snow partly melts and partly evaporates in the dry wind. Chinook winds have been observed to raise winter temperature, often from below -4°F to as high as 50-68°F for a few hours or days, then temperatures plummet to their base levels. The greatest recorded temperature change in 24 hours was caused by Chinook winds on January 15, 1972, in Loma, Montana; the temperature rose from  -54 to 48°F."  

Then there's the cold, fronts that blast us from the North.  Like yesterday.  We the kids and I went out to do chores it was 38 degrees.  But there a thick bank of fog forming to the North and the air was thick with moisture.  A couple of minutes later the wind shifted and came rolling in from the North and it was cold!  We hurried to feed the calves and by the time the hay was in the bunk it was 21 degrees.  We had taken my car down to do chores so the little ones could stay warm.  It also has a very handy temperature gauge.

By the time we got to the barn, about 4 minutes later, it was down to 18 degrees.  A twenty degree drop in less than ten minutes. 

I love how that camo coat is doing it's job in this picture.... Where's my boy?

The fog thickened and the temperature dropped some more.... After supper we were at 11 degrees.  Almost a 30 degree drop in about an hour. 
This morning we have a lovely 8 degrees and snowing steady in the form of teeny, tiny little snowflakes.  The horses were kicking up their heels to stay warm.  Well, Fancy Pants was....

I think I'll be staying inside today....after the chores are done of course.

Bye for now,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Hardest Part of Farming

This is something that is on my heart....

I absolutely love what I do.  I am beyond blessed to be able to live my dream and raise my sons on this little piece of heaven.  Most days are enjoyable to me in almost every way.  Rewarding, challenging, interesting and fun. In the last week there has been a few days that were not fun.  Those are the days we butcher the animals we have produced.  We raise them with a very holy purpose.  To provide my family and others with clean, healthy, ethically and humanely raised meat.  We love our animals and enjoy the process of raising them.  When I say "we" I mean my sons as well as myself.  They are a huge part of this even at such a young age.  They're right there with me every day.  Helping fill water tubs, carrying buckets, gathering the eggs....

The other day I hauled some lambs to town.  That was quite a story, as you all know....(Check it out here if you missed it!)  I didn't have to participate in their processing, but it was very hard to walk away, knowing their fate.

Yesterday we butchered our three hogs.  One for my family, two for other families.  I was an active participant in the processing this time.  Just me and one guy from the butcher shop.  I'm thankful for the respect and kindness Chris showed towards my hogs.  He came to the farm, which greatly lessens the stress for the pigs, since they don't have to be gathered, loaded in a trailer and hauled to town.  We now have an abundance of wonderful, organic pork for our freezers.  But the necessary events to get them into the freezer, are with out a doubt, the hardest part of farming. 

I write this to shed some light I suppose.  Just because you can buy meat in a neat, tidy little package at the store, doesn't mean it was without cost.  Please respect what it takes to put meat on the table and if at all possible, buy meat that was ethically raised.  Get to know your farmer!

Last night we were able to enjoy a meatloaf made from our own grass fed lamb.  It was delicious, lean and healthy.  Absolutely worth the hardest part of farming....


Bye for now,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My How They've Grown!

So, yesterday morning it was 10 degrees when I left the house to haul the replacement lamb to town.  This morning it's 60 degrees!  I am actually writing this post from my sunny back porch! I've got a great cup of coffee and some home made pumpkin bread. The sun actually feels hot on my black, polka dot t-shirt. I also have a 120 pound dog laying on my foot....

Remember these rascals? I wrote about them on "The Judge and Jury" and also here

Well now they're each 120 pounds of fun!  They really are both amazing dogs and I am very, very glad I have them.  The coyote problem here is a major one.  I'm certain that with out the dogs I would have lost more than one lamb to them.  They do an awesome job at holding them off and alerting me so I can jump on my four wheeler and chase them away! I try not to leave them to deal with a pack of coyotes alone.  Prairie Momma Trish lost a dog to coyotes and I'd hate for my pups to get torn up.

They also behave perfectly with humans.  They are leery of strangers and bark to alert me if someone shows up unexpectedly.  However, when I am there with them and tell them someone is "Ok", they completely respect it just chill out.  I have socialized these dog's a LOT more than most people socialize Livestock Guardian Dogs.  I really didn't want them to be human aggressive unless there was an obvious issue.  Judge did hold the city water man in his vehicle once, while I was gone.  But he just sat and stared as long as he didn't try to get out of his car.

 Jury has had some issues. I call her the naughty one.  For a while she was really after my chickens and killed a few.  Just when I thought I had her broke of it, she killed another one two days ago. It makes me so mad! So she's back in boot camp. She also has more of a tenancy to chase things.  I have to watch her with the alpacas and the calves.  She's usually good, but gets to running them once in awhile.  There was also the day she took after the sheep....ugh.    But for the most part I do see improvement in her behavior so I haven't given up on her.  They are just exactly a year old this month, is the puppy phase gonna be over soon?

With my kids these dogs blow my mind.  Especially Judge.  I love that dog so much! He is an absolute gentle giant.  His favorite thing is in the world is to lay down and let the kids snuggle up with him. Jury is not quite as calm with them and really wants to play all the time.  She can be a little too rambunctious but I know she would not every act aggressively towards them what-so-ever. They also adore little Miss Gwynne and even though they could almost swallow her whole, they treat her like she's the queen!

I hope you enjoyed the doggie update!

Bye for now,

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday was such a peaceful day on the farm....  Today was not!  This morning I was up extra early to take two lambs into Fort Benton to be processed. It snowed during the night so everything was extra cold and icy for my trip to town.  Twenty seven miles of solid ice.  Both ways.  With a trailer.  Sounds fun right?  I would've rescheduled but those boys at the meat shop are very busy this time of year.  So I crept into town and pulled up behind the shop.

 I hopped into the trailer and caught the first lamb, the one I'm keeping for our freezer.  After I put a rope on him and handed him off to one of the guys, I went to catch the lamb I had sold to a nice gal from a neighboring town.  I jumped in and told the nice young man to please hold the trailer door.  Which he did.... for a second or two.  Then he got distracted and stepped away from the door.  Just then it swung wide open and that lamb took off like a bullet and was gone in .5 seconds flat.

Have you ever seen how fast sheep can run?  They are fast!  The fastest thing in the world if you are trying to chase one down while running on a sheet of ice.... while it runs amok all over town.

The butcher shop boys jumped in a 4-Wheel Drive an sped away after the lamb.  I had a big ol' trailer on, but tried to follow and keep sight of the lamb.  That lamb was like a ghost, there one second and gone the next.  It ran up Front Street.  It ran behind the Grand Union Hotel.  It ran past the Police Department.  It ran all the way down river and disappeared.  Old men were out standing in their driveways laughing and shaking their heads.  People out shoveling snow where wondering if they really did just get passed by a sheep....

The city cops tried to help.  A sheriffs deputy tried to help.  I lost track of the butcher shop boys and the sheep and gave up.  I figured it left town and would be on the next Greyhound to Florida.... But low and behold!  The butcher boys showed up with the lamb on their lap.  After it's two hour jaunt around town, the lamb got to come with me.  All that adrenaline would not make for tasty lamb chops.  So I unloaded the naughty lamb and tomorrow I get to do it all again.... Hopefully minus the icy roads and two hour marathon around Fort Benton....

Judge thinks we work too hard....

On the up side, it's a gorgeous day.  The snow makes everything so beautiful!  And I'm certain that nice young man will never walk away from an unlatched trailer door again.  Like.... ever.

Bye for now,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The View From The Porch

It's a very cold, damp day here today.  But it's also very peaceful.  I thought I'd show you how peaceful....

Now that my big boy and I gathered up the calves from their overnight adventures, they are peacefully munching grass where they belong....

Rhett and Fancy Pants are cozied up....

The alpacas are chillin' up close to the house....

and the chickens are really enjoying their new, winter digs.....

I took all of these shots, standing on my porch in my pink, fuzzy slippers.  Now I'm gonna enjoy this Sunday with my kiddos.

Bye for now,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Took Your Advice


A couple of weeks ago I had written about some rainy day projects that involved redoing some things in my room.  That post turned out to be one of the most popular posts I have written.  Go figure!  I never saw that coming. I received a few suggestions after publishing that post.  So enough I had to try them!  Prairie Granny came into my room to find me flipping over my king sized mattress.  "Are you crazy?!" She asked.  "Yup! I probably am," I said.  Then she helped me move my big ol' bed....
One of the suggestions I got was to go ahead and put the bed along the longest wall of the room.  Since I discovered I would still be able to see the pine trees through the window, from my bed, I love it now!  I also covered my box springs with the fitted sheet as suggested by cousin Joellyn. You should check her out over on www.montanaprairietales.com!  She is an actual  designer and always has great ideas.

The cowhide from my great room asked to please be put in my bedroom.... and the bench that I had dragged up from the barn, moved to the foot of the bed from it's old hangout by the window.

I also like the way my photographs "pop" against the darker wall....   So ya see I took the advice of my dear readers and ended up with a room I can finally say I love!    Thank you!!

I almost forgot!  I also wanted to share with you some of the inspiration I had for my room.  This bedroom was one of my favorites on Pinterest.  Over time I have been able to find little things that helped me with my dream....  Now go make something beautiful! ( If you want to.) 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A New Leaf

 Those of you that know me, know I am always in the middle of a project or two.  Or six.... But after a lot of thought I decided it was time "Prairie Barbie" became real.  I have launched my new website and I am pretty excited about it!  PLEASE check out www.prairiebarbie.com !!

My hope is that the new site can be a hub of sorts for us like-minded country girls to find and share what inspires us.  I am NOT an interior designer or an expert on anything what-so-ever.  But I believe we don't have to be experts to do inspiring things and chase our dreams. 

It's my wish to include content and ideas from others that have dreamy things to share.  I will visit some beautiful homes and share them with you.  I will try and share yummy things, especially if they are locally grown, organic or homemade yummy things.  I will share with you the things that tickle my fancy, because it might just tickle yours  too!   Please don't be afraid to toss ideas at me.  If something touches your heart and puts a spark in your eye, I'd love to hear about it.  If you are a farmgirl that writes and want to share something on the Prairie Barbie site, let me know!  Let's make something beautiful!

Bye for now,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Good Enough Is Perfect

I'm not a perfectionist.... well, maybe I am sometimes.  But, like many of you I have dreams and visions of the way things should be.  Here on the farm I have wanted things to be a certain way.  I do not like clutter and junk laying around.  I wanted all my barns and sheds to be clean and bedded deep with fluffy, gold straw.  The garden was supposed to be abundant and weed free and the yard ought to look freshly mowed.  The animals are supposed to always behave themselves.... My little farm is supposed to be perfect.  Ha!  I bet your laughing at me right now!  That's ok because I am laughing at myself.

We've been on the farm for only six months.  I dove right in to many projects.  We raised thirty five baby chicks in the garage if the town house before we were able to move out here. We invested in two wonderful, Livestock Guardian dogs and went to work on their obedience training. I bought a small herd of alpacas and quickly learned all I could about raising happy, healthy camelids.  Then came the ten bottle calves.  Twice a day, every day, for sixty days we were tackled by ten hungry babies. I brought home ten lambs to help with our weed problem and provide us with another source of grass fed, all natural meat.  The weaner pigs arrived in June.  An acre of garden was planted including several raised beds that are scattered around the yard.  Irrigation hoses were laid out. By the end of June it was set up for perfection....

The first week of July brought the biggest, nastiest hail storm I had ever seen.  (I wrote about it here.) The garden had just enough time to get a good start and then it was annihilated.  It looked like there was no way we'd see and produce from this years efforts. The roof of almost every building was damaged. We were lucky though, the animals were all fine no one was hurt.

Soon after the storm we discovered our water system couldn't support the garden that had survived.  We had planted too big for our britches.  We saved what we could and watched the rest wither on the vine or get overtaken by weeds.

One of the "LGD's" had taken a liking to killing chickens instead of guarding them.  We lost about eight before we solved that issue.  We were sure she was going to have to find another living arrangement.

The lambs absolutely refused to stay anywhere we wanted them to stay!  For a while I had a daily round up using the four-wheeler.  Then I put them in the "riding arena" that happened to be full of grass and forage and they actually didn't escape from it. Except one.... We had a lamb just up an vanish.  I like to say it was abducted by aliens.  It was there one day and then "poof", gone.  No sign of a struggle or a coyote feast.  I actually think it must've been a cougar that stopped by for a sack lunch.

The pigs weren't much trouble except for when they figured out how to push their shed door open.  Thankfully they like their home and didn't run too far.  It's just that they like to pick nasty, windy days or the day I'm on vacation for their little excursions.

The tractor broke down and my mechanic was out bringing in the wheat harvest for month before he went on vacation for a month.  Needless to say, the sheds didn't get cleaned out all summer.  The poo piled up until Hired Man Jim bought himself a little tractor and  tested it out on my barn.  We're still waiting on the parts to come in....

Somehow I haven't found the time or energy to get the shop area cleaned out and free of junk.  I have seen worse, but there's definitely a few trips to the scrap yard that need to be made and some clearing out and organizing to be done....

In all of this I have learned a valuable lesson. Joel Salatin has a saying that I just love! "Good enough is perfect!"   If it is working, if there is a profit, if things are trucking along ok, it's perfect.  For the most part, things are working. The kids and the critters are all thriving....

 I have so very much to be thankful for!  I did get an amazing harvest of tomatoes after they regrew.  The alpacas did provide an abundance of fleece that is becoming yarn that is so beautiful it has inspired me to learn to loom knit and people actually want to buy it!  The lambs fleece happens to be just the thing to blend with the alpaca to make even more amazing yarn. 
 The chickens are laying wonderful, fresh, organic eggs.  The calves are all healthy and looking fat and sassy.  The hogs grew like the weeds and are ready to harvest a month ahead of schedule.  The dogs now do a great job of holding off the coyotes and protecting things, most of the time.... I was blessed with a yard full of flowers and beauty all summer.  So even though this year hasn't been just like I had imagined it.  It always feels good to come home.... because it is perfect.

Bye for now,