July 26, 2008


Ever seen the movie "Wildflower?" I highly recommend it. Its hard to find though so I'll mail and loan you my copy perhaps if you really want to see it. Anyway, this isn't about the movie, but I thought of it as I typed in my title.

When took the truck to Billings for work I went to B&N, did you expect less, and picked up a copy of the Audabon Wildflower book for western regions. Because as it turned out, due to the unseasonably wet and cool weather, the wildflowers were a little later this year, and I got to see them. There were dozens and dozens of them everywhere. I only photographed a few, but I have a list of about 20 or so that I identified...or I think I identified them anyway. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Echinacea....aka: Purple Cone Flower as Mom always called it....This beautiful and medicinal plant grows everywhere out here, mostly I've noticed it on the hills in the dryer rockier soil. There are huge patches of it and then there are random single blooms here and there.
Common Sunflower: These happy little guys are all over the west and midwest. They grow in the ditches like weeds. I'm glad to report that the road approaching and in front of my house is FULL of them.

This little guy forgot to turn his head towards the sun which is the sunflower rule, but I'll forgive him because it provided a really nice shot for my camera. I love taking pictures at this time of day.

Chef Sarah In the Kitchen

I want to start by saying thanks to my Mom for being the kind of mom that let her kids play in the kitchen. Starting at an early age....there are pictures of us in diapers sitting on the floor surrounded by her pots and pans. Probably at the time we were practicing musicians, but regardless, my sister and I eventually learned to love what those objects were intended for. Mom let me and Meagan cook. She let us "help" by stirring a pot, grating cheese, or whatever. She was even brave enough to turn us loose in her kitchen to make cookies, or whatever. One of my lessons from that experience was....if you cook you clean. I was guilty of having the fun, and leaving all the dirty dishes for Mom to take care of. But she straightened me out, and just for the record, I now can not STAND to have dirty dishes sitting on my counter or in my sink. Drives me nuts.

When I was a junior in high school, Mom went back to school to become a teacher. Don't know why she needed the degree for it. She'd been a teacher to us all her life and they would have had a spectacular teacher, with or without the official documentation. During her college years, she often had late afternoon or evening classes, and so I remember taking over dinner preparations one night a week or so and having supper ready when Mom and Dad got home from school and work. Then it was fun and a game, and gave me a feeling of usefull responsibility feeding the family and helping Mom out. I still love cooking and feeding people.

Obviously I don't get to experiment in the culinary art much seeing as how I live in a truck. But when we go home, I go all out and make the most of the opportunity. Thougth I'd share a couple of recipies with you from this trip home.

Malcolm's a mexican food fanatic and I bought a "Border Cookbook" and tryed a couple of things. My Horchata (mexican rice mik drink) was blah compared to the stuff at the resteraunts so we'll stick with that being an eating out treat. (try it sometime when your at a Mexican resteraunt. Its really good) One night I made my favorite cheese enchiladas, and not wanting to serve up yet another scoop of refried beans, I pulled out my cookbook. I keep thinking surely Mexicans have more side dishes that beans and rice. Well according to my cookbook, they actually don't use veggies as side dishes that much, but I did find a recipe that sounded appetizing and wanted to give it a whirl. Turned out it was a great complimentary dish to my enchildas, and Malcolm and I really enjoyed it. Give it a try sometime:

Zucchini Con Queso

1T butter
1T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Two 5-oz cans evaporated milk
1/4 cup sour cream
4 oz grated pepper jack cheese

2T butter
2T olive oil
5 cups zucchini, cut in fat matchsticks
1/2 medium onion, sliced in thin strips
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 small tomatoes (preferably roma or Italian Plum) sliced into thin strips
1/2 tsp dried oregano (didn't have any so I left it out)
1/2 tsp salt

In a large skillet, warm butter and olice old over medium heat. Add the garlic, evaporated milk, and sour cream and heat through. Stir in cheese, cover pan, and remove from the heat. Stir again in several minutes if needed to melt cheese evenly. Keep sauce warm.
In a large skillet warm butter and oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, and garlic. Saute for abotu 5 minutes until wilted. Stir in the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until zucchini is very tender.
Serve hot with spoonfuls of the cheese sauce.

Here's another of Malcolm's favorites, and I like it too. This is his favorite pepper jelly. I made a couple of batches while we were home to keep on hand. We like it on Ritz crackers with cream cheese. I didn't have Ritz crackers because I forgot them at Walmart, and Baker's grocery store didn't have any. This was as close as I could get. They were good too, but not the same. It really ought to be Ritz.

Pepper Jelly
1cup minced bell pepper (about one pepper)
Tabasco sauce (1 1/2 T for mild; 3 T for hot)
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg Certo

Put the minced peppers, Tabasco sauce, and cider vinegar in the blender until well blended. Mine usually has some tiny pieces of pepper still intact, but I like the way it looks. I guess if you want the clear perfect jelly look, you could strain it through cheese cloth or something. Pour the mixture into a pot with the sugar and bring to a rapid boil that can't be stirred down. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Skim off froth from surface and stir in Certo. (Momma taught my to always use the liquid form. It works better.) Seal in hot, sterilized jars. Makes 6-7 half pints.

I had a major craving for watermellon for weeks before we went home. I even bought one of those little tubs of pre-cubed watermellon one day at Walmart, but it just wasn't the same. So on our grocery trip for home, Malcolm picked me out two smaller seedless watermellons. Two because he thought it would be good to have with our 4th of July dinner with his family. Well, we had SO much food, as usual, that not much watermellon got eaten. And Malcolm's not a big fan, so there I was with left over watermellon that was quickly becoming too ripe to eat. A few months ago I picked up one of those little grocery store booklets of recipe's from Taste of Home. It was a book of smoothies. So there was a recipe in it for Watermellon Cooler. Its mild in flavor, but refreshing. It makes two servings, but you know how that goes. I put both servings in the same glass. This is a great solution for the quickly ripening watermellon because you freeze it and then you can keep it on hand for a LONG time.

Watermellon Cooler
2 cups cubed watermellon, frozen (hint...cube it before you freeze it!)
1 cup ginger ale
2 mint leaves

I didn't have mint leaves so I used a small drop of mint extract. Probably not the same effect, but it did give it just a hint of mint.
Put the gingerale and mint leaves in the blender and blend a few seconds. Add watermellon and blend till smooth.
Now its kind of thick, so you almost need a straw, or you can do like me, and eat it with a spoon, drinking off the melted liquid as it thaws.

I have decided after many failed attempts that I will never be able to make buttermild biscuits like my mom and grandma. However, my mom assures me that she is just now managing to make them well. I don't know...I feel hopeless in the matter. But I have discovered a close second that I havn't failed at yet.

Sour Cream Biscuits

2 cups self rising flour

1/2 cup softened butter

8oz sour cream (I havn't made it with low fat, I use the 'real" stuff for fear that the low fat version will make my biscuits flop)

Cut butter into flour until it resembles meal (you know the routine here). Gradually stir in sour cream. The dough will be stiff. Turn onto floured surface and knead 10-12 times. Roll to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into biscuits. Place on greased bakingn sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. (10-12 biscuits)

I will also admit to attempting to make dumplings like my grandmothers. We were hungry and so they were eadible, BUT they were NOT my grandmothers. Close, but not nearly close enough. Another skill of the master cook, that I will never gain I think.

Hope you enjoy these recipes. I thought they were tasty.

Oh I almost forgot. I also made this super yummy batch of strawberry ice cream, but I don't have the recipe with me. I tryed to make it from memory based on Mom's ice cream. I used a can of eagle brand, and then I had like a cup of cream left from something else, so I threw that in. I think it was two cups of sugar, and then...I don't remember how much milk I put in. And then I had a quart container of frozen sugared strawberries that I ran through the food processor to chop of a little more. Anyway....yummy. I wish I had some now, even though its only 10:30 in the morning. Whoever made the rule you can't eat ice cream, or desserts in general, in the morning???

Treasure Hunt

I didn't exactly go on a treasure hunt when I was home, but I did find a few, and so did Malcolm.

The first "treasure" we found, is really less of a treasure and just something we thought was neat. We were out walking in the yard one evening on our way back from checking the colts water, when Malcolm looked down and right there on the ground was a button. It wasn't pressed into the dirt or anything. It's almost as if someone had just dropped it. It almost looks like some kind of military button. It has an eagle on the front and some kind of inscription on the back, but we can't read it. Malcolm says its either copper or brass, but he's not sure which, but probably brass he says. We don't know what it is exactly but we thought it was really neat, so we kept it.

Among the old buildings on the property there was a trailer house that was a little beyond use. Lets just say it had a tree branch through the kitchen cabinets. Last May, Malcolm and his Dad hooked the thing up to our pickup and pulled it over to the pile of debris and garbage thats collecting back in the corrals for burning and disposal. I'm throwing this picture in because it has a humerous, to us, story. You see our friend Brandon and his wife had just purchased a brand new camper. Malcolm and Brandon like to harras each other all the time. SO...Malcolm had me take a picture of him pulling HIS "new camper" and email it to Brandon and Jessica. So thats that story.
It just goes along with the wierd twisted sense of ranch and western humor. If you don't see the humor in it, thats ok. I guess you had to be there. There's a company that publishes and sells in gas stations out here all these really stupid post cards depicting silly western humor. You may have gotten one from me in fact. A few of you did. Like one shows two pickups parked next to each other on an empty road and two guys talking and it says "Montana Informaion Superhighway" or something like that. And another one shows two redneck people pointing in opposite directions with a passle of kids standing around them. Behind them in a truck hooked to a trailer house, and it says "Land Development Planning Committee" or something close. Anyway, maybe I ought to sell them my photo of our camper.

In the old trailer was an ancient refridgeratoor that Malcolm wanted to get and use in his garage as air tight storage for his welding equipment. So one day while we were home, he had me come back to the trailer to help him load it into the pickup and then unload it at his shop. Just out of curiosity he plugged the crazy thing in, and wouldn't you know...it still works. It works so well that when he turned the temp. down on it, it froze the water in his cooler solid. SO....instead of being a storage bin, its now his cool, retro shop fridge, complete with originall ice cube tray and little freezer compartment. Doesn't he look proud?

Back to the trailer. For months now, Malcolm's Dad had been telling me there were some boxes of books in that trailer and I should go see if there was anything I wanted before they got burned, demolished, or whatever is going to happen to that trailer. I just hadn't done it because the trailer is full of piles of junk, quite mousy looking, and I just didn't feel like running into any surprises while I was snooping around. But, since I was already in the trialer on the fridge errand, I went snooping around the perimeter of the piles. The boxes of books were in the bathroom, partially covered by an old mattress that had been tossed in there. The first box was full of old childrens encyclopedia's, not really of much interest to me. The second box closest to the door was 1970 and 80 religious books. Not much of interest there either. The next box I found some old hardbound children's books that I thought were neat so I got brave and dug in a little deeper and Malcolm was in the other room when he heard a very load squeal of delight. Check it out....

This is an original 1936 Little House on the Prairie that has the original illustrations by Helen Sewell. I've wanted these for a while now, but just couldnt' bring myself to pay over $300 for a book, no matter how much I wanted it. My treasured copy is worthless due to the binding damage, but at the same time its priceless....I LOVE my book. I was ecstatic...what a surprise, what an unexpected discovery.

Needless to say, I threw caution to the wind and plunged into the pile of junk with abandon. Actually I flipped threw a few more books, and told Malcolm to just load them up and I'd pilfer through them in the safety of my kitchen. But I did have to dig around to make sure I had all the boxes. See all my treasures? This is only half of them, because the next day I went back and really dug around and found more.

In addition to my Little House book, I also have two original Nancy Drew's, an 1926 Hardy Boys, a book about some military guy that was published in 1899 and little book missing the title page that was published in 1898, a very old looking copy of Black Beauty that I can't find a date on, but its really neat looking so...., several old horse books, that I kind of collect anyway, a 1950 Hymnal from First Baptist Church of Baker, a 1950 hardbound Webster Dictionary in really good condition that looks just like my Mom's, and so many many more. If you want the complete list, I've got them all written down in a notebook I brought with me. Email me...I'll share the list if you really want to know.

One of the books I found first, that let me know I might actually be onto something other than boxes of dusty outdates religious material, was Never Tease A Weasel, which was a book from my childhood, that ironically my Mom had just mentioned on her blog because she was reading it to Bentlee, my niece. The copy I found is in near perfect condition, and looks, and even smells like the one from my childhood memory. Yes, I stuck my nose in a book thats been sitting in an old mouse infested trailer house....because the smell of books will always be one of my favorite "perfumes."

There was also a little book of poetry written by a previous resident of the place where I live, and this 1968 Carter County Brand Book that had pages and pages of brands in it. (our county)

The inside Cover had this poem in it, which I wrote in my notebook to share with you, because I like it. Here it is:

The houses were scattered
The fences were few
But the people were friendly
The country was new
The range stretched away
With the sky for a lid
I'm old, but I'm glad
That I lived when I did.

Also I found this harmonica in its box. It was made in Germany. The box is a little flimsy, but the harmonica is new and shiny looking.

Needless to say, I now have a problem, because my bookshelf, which you met in my previous blog of favorite things, is alreay full. Don't ask me how, but somehow I managed to force myself to put all my new treasures in boxes and stash them in the closet instead of reverently placing them on the bookshelf. Well....some of my previously owned books had to sacrifice space because the Little House book, the Nancy Drews, and a few of the neatest horse books, went on the shelf with their appropriate companions that had resided there for years already. It would have been sacreligious to put Laura in a box anyway!!!!!

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

In continueing my "series" on favorite things, I pulled out the camera while I was home and snapped a few shots of some of my favorite things there to show you.

Now, my favorite things. Last time I shared three of my favorite beauty products with you. Today I'm sharing a few of my personal treasures with you.

1. This is my favorite lamp. Dad brought this home to me when I was a kid, knowing how much I loved horses. I think, if memory serves me right (which isn't always the case) that he found it at a yard sale? Anyway, I have always loved it. The carved horses are actually modeled after two Breyer model horses. I'm not sure if its actually a Breyer lamp, but I still love it. Last summer I left a window open and got a surprise rain storm which blew rain in the window. The lamp now has some water stains on the shade. I was upset about it for a while, but if it ruined any value it had...well I never intended to sell it anyway, and now it has another memory for me. Montana leaves its mark on more than just my heart!
2. These are my first and favorite set of Little House on the Prairie books. I have two sets, and am considering buying a set with the new cover designs (though I can't decide because I'm kind of offended that they changed it.) Anyway, these I've had since I can ever remember. Mom bought them for me. They are read and read and re-read and tattered and the cover is taped onto the volume of The Long Winter with masking tape. I'd like to get a set of the light blue hard backs like my Aunt Lisa has. Is it really necessary to have so many sets of the same book, you ask? Absolutly.....you can never have too many books in general, but especially you can't have too many copies of one of your best friends, and Laura will always be one of my best friends. I'm kind of attached to the girl. In fact I'll confess to being 31 and just having finished reading them once again. The little angel music box is also a gift Mom gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. I sat her with my books on my bookshelf.

3. This is my Christmas Cactus. Here's the story. For as long as I can remember Mom had a Christmas Cactus. I found out in my adult years, again if I'm remembering correctly, that it was born of some cuttings from Granny's plant. (is that right Mom?) And oddly, the cactus, which I remember being a very robust plant, died the same year Granny did. Anyway, the first year we got married I had decide I wanted a Christmas Cactus of my own, but being me, I talked about it and looked at them at Walmart, but just never bought one. None of them satisfied me.

So a few days before Christmas, Malcolm stopped at a florist shop in Hixson on his way home from work to get me flowers, and the lady had a very pretty Christmas Cactus, which he remembered me talking about. And so he bought it for me. It has since doubled in size. I repotted it in May, and came home a few weeks ago and I think it just trippled in size. It is covered in new leaves. So this is one of my favorite things, that I will always treasure for the reminder it gives me of three very special people in my life.

4. My birdfeeder....Mom gave it to me. She had one just like it and I was admiring it every time I went over there, thinking how nice it would be to have one, but they were kind of pricy, plus I didn't know where to go. Some man was making them I think down in Georgia. So a couple of years ago, Mom showed up with this one for my birthay. Malcolm and I finally got it set up this past visit home. I don't have any seed in it yet, and I don't know if Montana birds will even bother with a feeder, considering the abundance of natural food for them, but I still love looking out my window and seeing it standing there. I look at it and think about my Mom and Grandma's yards, and their lovely flowers, and all their song birds at their feeders, and it brings back memories of sitting on the porch watching birds with Mom. Below the feeder are my two metal bunnies. I'm not a big yard ornament person, but I was on a shopping trip at Lowe's with Mom and for some reason was looking at the concrete yard junk, saw these bunnies, and....well this is one impule buy I allowed myself. Actually Mom might have bought them for me, I can't remember.

5. My bird bath....I wanted a bird bath to sit next to my feeder Mom had given me, but I couldn't find one I liked, and of course when I did, typical me didnt' want to spend money on something silly like a bird bath. Malcolm's good for me in that way. I won't spend money on myself, but he makes me, or shows up with the things I have talked about. Anyway, I was debating, so one day he drug me to Holcomb's Garden Center in Fort Oglethorp, GA where I had found this one, and loaded it into the truck for my birthday present. I like my bird bath because so many of them are so modern looking, or they've got little concrete birds perched on them, etc. But mine is elegantly simple, and looks like the older designs that I like so much.

6. This bookshelf is something Malcolm built when we live in the little green house after getting married. The house didn't have a doorway for the bedroom. Well it did, but it was also open to the hallway. So Malcolm's solution for this was to build a bookcase that fit into that opening perfectly. I enjoyed my bookcase so much, that when we moved, I insisted on taking it with me, so now that hallway is re-open to the bedroom...sorry to future residents. Figure out something for yourself. I love my bookshelf because its the biggest one I've ever had, and Malcolm made it. True to form, because Malcolm made it....the thing weighs a TON because he didn't use cheap stuff to make it. Its always such a joy to move it.....

So there you have it, a few of my favorite things at home. In reflection I realize they all were gifts from people I love, and they all have multiple memories associated with them. That must be why they are favorite things. Because I'm not so much a materialistic person, but I am nostalgic...terribly so....and I treasure material things that remind me of memories and love ones.

Aside from favorite things, we got to see some of our favorite people while we were home, some expected and some by surprise. Fourth of July evening, Malcolm's cousin, Michael Paul, called from Billings. He and his wife Jennifer were on their way to Glacier National Park, and called to say "hey were in your country." They hadn't realized we were home, but since we were, they took a HUGE detour in their trip (we're over 200 miles the other direction) and stayed with us for a couple of days. It was so much fun. We hadn't seen them since we moved over a year ago.

July 24, 2008

Those Crazy Crestie Kids

I'm often commenting on no blogging day being complete without my girls, and of course they enjoy being home as much as Malcolm and I do. It is so much fun to watch them go tearing around the house. They OWN the place. Paris and Carlie had a few adventures of their own.

One Saturday Rachelle brought up her Crestie kids and we had a Crestie party. My two girls wern't that impressed. They are not all that fond of their cousins. My girls tend to be a little anti-social with Rachelle's Cresties, which is odd because hers so desperatly want to play, where as my parents dog Tuffy detests my girls, but they are DETERMINED that Tuffy is going to LOVE them! Anyway, we made everyone pause for a photo. And before I get a bunch of emails.....I know its mid July and Rachelle and I are wearing hooded sweat shirts. I'm sorry....in Montana the weather's just different. It was hot while we were home, bit a couple of days it was just down right chilly, and this was one of those days. Just thought I'd say so, before you decided your seeing things, or that Rachelle and I have lost our minds...naked dogs, and now they are wearing winter clothes in July....hmm.

After a day of play my two girls were pooped. They don't usually lay head to head like this, and it was just too cute to resist.

I'm going to show you our home in another blog. Its in better shape than this picture will hint at. Here's the deal. A few of the screens have holes in them from age and weather. We just havn't repaired them. When your only home a few weeks of the year, some things just arn't priority and we can live with it the way it is. Its not one of those things driving us crazy. The worst that happens is an occasional fly finds its way in, but you'll find flys in any house out here, no matter how in tact their screens are. Anyway, what I'm about to show you does not leave this blog....its a little embarrasing.
Carlie and Paris have discovered its great fun to stand on the back of the couch and take in the view of the back yard. Got to make sure there's nothing lerking around that needs a good barking at.

The biggest adventure the girls had at home happened this past Saturday morning. Malcolm had gone to Miles City to get our load of peas and my and the girls stayed home. I was enjoying a cup of cappuccino (not the real thing, though wouldnt' it be fun to have a machine at home) and reading a little before I began getting our things together to leave. Here's where the "oops" happened. I had drunk about all I wanted of the coffee, which was about half of it. I drink slowly an it usually gets cold on me so I don't finish. Well, I thouhtlessly left the room for a minute, never dreaming my sweet innocent girls would partake. But partake they did. Ever heard the slogan "good to the last drop?" Well Carlie and Paris apparently fully agree...because my cup was bone dry and they were licking their lips. I don't know who the actual guilty one is, maybe one, but I'm thinking both. All I have to say is I had SERIOUSLY hyper dogs all morning. Got almost nothing done because I was constantly tripping over them, looking for them, trying to get them to slow down, and they were all up in my business constantly. They came the grand finale. I was taking them outside frequently, because lets face it, I know what coffee does to me, and I didn't want to clean up a million puddles. So we made lots of trips outside and on the last trip, I turned back in to the porch for just a second and turned back around and Paris was outside the yard (a no no) and Carlie was no where to be seen. One minute she was snooping around the yard, the next she was gone. I quickly walked to the back yard calling her name because she does have a tendency to chase bunnies, or whatever moves, around the yard. No Carlie. I called and called and called.

Remember my blog from a few weeks ago "A Runnin Fool" where I posted pictures of Carlie Jean running around like a crazy girl. Well I was standing in the yard trying to think what to do now, when something caught my eye. And there was Jeanie, waaaayyyyy the other side of the HAY FIELD running for all she was worth, around and around and around a hay bale. Fortunatly she must have been getting tired out, because I yelled real load at her, and she came bouncing back just oh so happy and having the time of her life, and I guess I'd be a rotten mommy, but it was just so funny that I couldn't punish her. After all, I'm the one that left the coffee sitting there unguarded. I'm just glad they didn't have a heart attack or something, but I've never in my life seen them that wound up. It was so funny, but not funny, but really really it was.

All Creatures Great and Small

Having been an animal lover all my life, I think I started on early also wanting to live on a farm. (well....a ranch is close to a farm. I probably chose "farm" because, well there just isn't any such thing as a ranch in Tennessee) All that to say I love all the animals at home. I love being around them. And I guess I'm still "new" enough to still enjoy it when its time to work with them. While everyone else is kind of groaning at the prospect, I get excited. There wasn't any big animal project at home this time. Only checking cows periodically to make sure the right ones are all there and no one elses have mixed in. Thats a job I can't do yet, because I can't tell at a glance if they are all there and if they are the right ones. I can, and did, drive out a couple of times to check a fence that was getting repeatedly torn down by cattle that wanted to go visiting. The exact culprets were never pin-pointed. Whether it was Johnson cows or the other peoples....regardless they kept mixing. So that was my big animal "work." Rachelle keeps telling me to just give it time and it won't be so "fun" anymore, but I don't know. I think I'll always enjoy the prospect of working with animals, even when I know I'm going to have ears and eyes full of dirt, and raw fingers from grabbing fists full of wool to shove an unwilling ewe into the shearers wagon.

Here are a few of the domestic, and not so domestic animals from around our home. I think in a couple of the pictures the subject is kind of small. I'll see if they are going to show up and then decide whether to leave them on here or not.

I like cows. Here are some of the cows and their calves grazing peacefully. Its one of the prettiest sights I know of.

This little fellow managed to be born after his momma had been turned out, with the cows so he avoided the ear tagging/branding party. His buddy behind him wasn't so lucky. The brand is really clear on him. This is one of the calves from Rachelle's longhorn. I like his black ears and nose.

A group of this years bum lambs. The black and white one is "flower" and she is from Rachelle's last Jacob sheet. Her momma departed this world shortly after birth and flower has been a spoiled baby ever since.

This is just one of the bums but he seemed to be saying "please take my picture....or better yet give me a bottle!" I obliged him with the picture part.

A view of the mares. Considerably fewer than last years pictures. They downsized the herd. I'm sure you know you'll be seeing more pictures of them later.

Several months ago a neighbor gave Rachelle four pea fowl, two cocks and two hens. The hens havn't been seen for weeks. We assume (and hope) they are nesting somewhere. The two cocks run around down where we live. They wake at 5:00 every morning and proceed to announce their plans for the day to the world at the top of their voices. If you've never heard a pea cock do his thing....well you'd know if you had. One morning I found them strutting their stuff in front of my house, and dashed inside to get my camera. I have fond memories of going to see the peacocks at Mr. Gibson's farm with Pawpa, so I'm especially fond of these two guys. And they've taken to coming to my yard some mornings and evenings.

There are always a lot of wild animals too. Last year a white tail doe had her twin fawns in the tree row by our house and they were in our yard all the time. This year she didn't put them in the tree row. We've seen them down by the creek and across the creek. One morning we got up at 5:00 to go to Billings, and they were in the hay field across from our house. I snapped this shot just as she was taking them around back. It blurred a little, but its the best I got. Every year a pair of fox raise a litter of kits in a bank near Malcolm's parents house. This year was no different. The nearly grown kits are always out on the bank playing, stalking, and doing what nearly grown fox do. Its neat to watch them. This mule deer buck was in retreat when I stopped along the road to take his picture. Looks like he'll have a pretty nice rack on him when he finishes out.
This antelope was grazing near the road on my way home one afternoon.

Can you see the prairie dog sitting on top of his burrow? He's kind of small in the picture but he's there. It was hard to get a nice close shot because some guys had been out hunting them a couple days earlier and they were all pretty warry of any vehicle.
I've never seen a dragonfly this color before. He was pretty...and very cooperative for the camera.

These are a brood, or maybe two, of sage grouse. I saw them on the road several times, but this one time I had the camera and drove almost right up to them before they decided to get up and move. Mommy had already vacated the premesis, but the babies were just enjoying the sun baked gravel too much to leave right away.

My Boys

I had asked Malcolm before we got home....long before....if he would help me get my two colts in so I could work with them. I had not, however, expected it to be done the first day we were home. I had also not expected it to be an entire family endeavor....but it was....and so I offer once again my thanks to Malcolm's mom and dad, to Rachelle, and to Justine for sacrificing their evening on my behalf.

The horses were all up just north of his parents house on a piece of property that has an old house and some dilapidated corrals that have parts fallen down...thus the need for everyone to help. The job involved Malcolm's Dad driving in the herd with the four-wheeler, while the rest of us stood in holes or behind buildings and stepping out at strategic moments to change the horses minds about making a run for it through those spots. Finally confined to the corral by fences or wood and humans, the desired horses were cut and loaded into the trailer. We took my two yearling colts, Lajar and her new colt, and Justine wanted her mare, Misty, in with her colt as well.

We trailered them to the other house, and turned them out in the runway, herded them into another corral where Malcolm and his Dad proceeded to rope the two colts and halter them. I won't go into great detail, but lets just say its a somewhat violent process that was more distressing to me at Christmas when we did it the first time than it was this time.

I was surprised to see, that having only worked with them a few hours at Christmas, my two boys remembered. Once haltered they stood (fairly nicely) and led fairly well. I was surprised and pleased. The rest of the evening we spent petting Misty, who was worked with quite a bit as a colt and is friendly, watching Malcolm saddle and attempt to ride Lajar who has been free as a lark for the past 5 years (it didn't work well, but it did give me the chance to see her colt up close...the little devil kicked me!) and leading my two colts around.

Remember me telling you about them a few weeks ago, when I announced the arrival of Lajar's new colt? They've grown a lot since Christmas when I last had them in. And something else happened between then and now as well. My little red roan baby has recieved some kind of injury. Rachelle first noticed when we had them in the runway and were herding them to the corral that he walks funny. After further observation we saw that he indeed didn't walk quite right and that his front hooves looked like they had been cut up badly at some point. We attributed his strange gate to this. However, once he was roped and hatered, he proceeded to fight it, as the othe colt also did for a few minutes. However, this one proceeded to continually fall down everytime he tryed to pull away. A few days later we took them down to our place. In the process of getting them out of the trailer, my red roan colt fell. Because of his legs and the slippery surface of the trailer, he could not get back up. He repeatedly tryed to get his legs under him, only managing to fall again and again, cutting up his head and legs. Eventually he gave in and laye there out on his side, heaving, bleeding badly, and seriously looking like he would not live much longer. Malcolm had to leave and told me to stay out of the trailer because everytime he did try to get up, he thrashed around terribly. I stood outside the trailer, peering in at him, trying not to cry, and talking to him, begging him to get up. My blue roan boy stood at the gate of the little work area we had him in and called to his brother over and over, not understanding why he didnt' come. I opened the door to the trailer and stood there talking to my little beaten horse. Hearing his brother calling to him and seeing him just outside, he gave one last great effort and got his front feet under him. He sat there, looking rather commical, or it would have if he hadn't been so beaten and bruised, with his front legs straight out. could just reach his lead rope and I took the end of it and tugging gently, encouraged him to please stand. Just stand...you can do it. He gave a great heave, and he was up. Blood was dripping from his eye lid which he had split and his knee which he had cut on the trailer floor. I flagged Rachelle down as she drove by on the four-wheeler. Now that he was up, I hoped we could get him out of the trailer without him going down again.
By some miracle, we were able to coerce him from the trailer and get him in with his brother. He was very weak, staggering and stumbling around. It took three weeks for his eye to heal. He stumbles all the time, walks on stiff legs, and has little sense of balance it seems. My poor boy is so pathetic.

I spent the weeks playing with my colts, convincing them that I was a friend and trustworthy. By the time we left they would come to me, gradually, and my gray colt would eat grain from the bucket. The red roan, surprisingly, will take grain from my hand. I worked at leading the gray colt around in my work area, teaching him to let me touch him all over. He's still shy on his right side. I let the red one alone. There's no point in teaching him much, and so I just worked at getting him to trust me. He is very skittish, understandably so.

All that and I havn't properly introduced you. My appologies.

Its hard to get a picture of my red roan. He tends to stay behind the other colt. And when we loaded them to take them back to the north place before we left, there was rain coming so we hurried and I didn't get a picture of them up close like I had intended.

The is my red roan colt who I call Joe. He's the one standing behind the gray one. This was taken before the trailer accident.

The other colt, the blue roan, is a really handsome boy. I keep going back and forth about what to do with him. I'd love to keep him. However, I'm not confident in my ability to work with a young horse. I'd have someone break him for me, but I'm not there to keep him broke. However, I'm become rather attached. I'll probably keep him anyway, at least until he gets to be too much for me to handle. His little brother, who you'll meet in another blog, looks identical to him right down to the white sock on his rear foot.
He's a sweet horse and his curiosity always gets the best of him. I'd stand in the pasture and he'd pretend to ignore me, but it was only a matter of time before he was casually meandering over to me to see what I was doing.

I named him Reb, short for Rebel, as he is the gray color of the Confederate Army.

I had hoped to have a nice little visit with them on our last day together before I had to take them to the other place to turn them loose in bigger pastures. They were in their barn, which they come and go from at will. I had gone in and to see if I could get a hold of them. They don't catch easily, but once caught, they are both big puppy dogs that follow easily. Anyway, Reb shot out the door, but Joe, in his confusion, turned the wrong way and got cornered. I was inches away from having hold of his halter, when Reb stepped back in the door to see what was keeping Joe from following. This would not habe presented such a problem, except that he disturbe the peace of a rattle snake I had not noticed lounging just inside the barn door. Needless to say, I abandoned my efforts to snag hold of Joe, letting him leave the barn.

After a brief debate on what action to take, retreive the pistol from the jeep or get Malcolm from his shop, I opted for Malcolm. I'm better with a rifle and didn't want to miss. I generally and a "live and let live" kind of gal, but I don't really like rattle snakes living in such close proximity to me. So, I had Malcolm go dispose of my barn guest. Of course mutiplt gun shots did little to calm my two colts who were already worked up over being cornered in the barn by me. So I waited a couple hours and enlisted Rachelle to help me get them in. In trying to herd them into my work area, Joe took a dash for the fence, fell into and over the fence seperating them from my yard, and, having finally gotten his footing again, he dashed into my yard. Rachelle ran to the front to block the opening in my yard fence, while I cornered Reb and got a lead rope on him. From there it was easy, as Joe will follow Reb anywhere. I simply led Reb out to my yard, and Joe, relieved to see his brother after the long seperation, followed us back to the work pen. We put a lead rope on him. At that point Malcolm came with the trailer. They loaded surprisingly easily, with most of the hesitation on Joe's part...who can blame him. I wouldn't want to get back in either.

We were turning them out in the pasture around Malcolm's parents house so they would be easier to get back in. The other options were to turn them out with the geldings, but because my two boys arn't cut yet, they would have fought with the geldings to that really wasnt' an option after all. The other possibilty was to turn them back in with the mares, but there were two reasons not to do that. Mostly because we would have to go through the whole process of "hole blocking" in the corrals up there to get them in again, and also because the stud had been turned in that morning and wouldn't have appreciated two yearling stud colts showing up on the scene.

So we crept up to his parents house, me cringing at each bump and turn, just knowing that Joe was going to fall. I was relieved to see him on all fours when we reached their place. I opened the door and Reb cautiously came out and hopped down, taking off for a short distance at a trot before stopping and turning to see what was keeping Joe.

Joe, my poor sweet Joe, walked to the end of the trailer and looked down. It was one of those moments that you see before it happens and have no way to stop it. He tryed to step down and his front legs went out from under him. My poor Joe, instead of nimbly hopping down as his brother had, instead did a summersault out of the trailer, landing on his side. Never one to be beaten though, and not wanting to be left behind, scrambled to his feet and took off at an ackward trot to his pal, Reb. The two of them ambled off down the driveway nibbling at grass as they went. My last parting view of my boys was of the two of them contentedly standing under a lone tree, tails swishing flys for each other, and munching on lush green grass.

They seem so attached to each other, its hard to think of seperating them. And Joe is such a gentle sweet soul, its hard to think of letting him go. My much anticipated time with my boys was bitter-sweet. I found two friends that I love dearly. I found a beautiful potential saddle horse to maybe spend years with. And I found a gently loving soul that should probably be mercifully put down before he gets hurt. Its hard to know what to do. Part of me says just let him be mine and Reb's pal, and the other part of me says let him go before he gets hurt bad.

Anyway, those are my two boys, two of my treasures, two of my friends. I have a feeling they will teach me much more than I will ever teach them.

I'll introduce you to this years new babies in another blog. They were another day and another adventure.