July 29, 2011

Maiden Voyage of the S.S. JMBAR Cruiseship

It rained again yesterday afternoon and put a halt to haying for the remainder of the day. I don't know if Malcolm or his dad have noticed, but every time Peggy and I go to town for any reason, it rains or storms. We were in Bowman getting parts when the rain came. Personally I hope they don't put two and two together, or we may be forbidden to go to town!

Malcolm's mom loves the beach and the water and last spring she got to talking about getting a boat to enjoy on the lake. Around that same time, Malcolm and I were here at the ranch for a visit, and he or his Dad spotted an add somewhere for a row boat over in North Dakota. So we piled in the pickup and drove an hour or so east of here to a little old farm house, inhabited by a little old lady who was trying to sell a few things, one of which was a row boat.

A year later, that boat had yet to touch the water. There is an on going search for a little boat motor for it (Malcolm and his Dad were thinking that would be better than rowing), but before we got home to help hay, Malcolm stopped at a sporting goods store to buy some oars for the boat.

Since haying was out for the afternoon, and we all could use a little recreational break once in a while, Malcolm and his dad decided it was time to take the boat out for its maiden voyage. They hauled it up to the lake behind the house, insisting that Peggy and I come along to watch.

They unloaded the boat and drug it to the shore and Malcolm climbed in to man the oars.
And seeing as how the boat was still floating with a person in it, Malcolm's mom boarded next.
So far so good! And they were all settled in and comfy!
And if it can hold two, surely one more will not swamp it. So, we convinced Malcolm's Dad to climb in too.

What a cozy picture! Now it was my turn to come aboard, and since we didn't know for sure the boat would hold all four of us, I opted to leave the camera ashore at this point. So there are no pictures taken during the voyage. I sat there in that empty spot in the bow.

We Malcolm rowed us all the way to the other side of the lake and up into one of the ditches that drains into the lake that happened to still have high water in it. It was about 3 feet deep up in there and nice and wide, kind of like canoeing up a narrow stream. We were impressed with how long it took to get across that water! When you just zip around it on the four wheeler, it seems like no big deal. But this was quite the boating excursion. Later we wished we'd taken a look at what time the cruise ship departed so we could know how long it took.

We laughed so hard at so many things, both genuinely funny and some really dumb stuff. I think maybe we need more sleep. And we only had one near mishap when someone, I think Malcolm, leaned too far over the side. And I'm not convinced he didn't do it on purpose. As luck would have it though, the guilty party is the one who got the wettest when the water sloshed into the boat.

In the end, when we made it back to port, we hadn't taken on too much water, even though we were WELL over the boats weight limit.
There were two more brief voyages made for photographic documentation. One of the proud boat owner and her ships captain.
And then another embarking for a picture of me and my man on a romantic boating excursion, with the sun glaring in our eyes.
Another return to port and another near mishap, as the dock crew decided it would be a good idea to haul the whole craft ashore before the passengers had finished gathering their luggage and departing.
it looks like I'm trying to shove Malcolm forward, but actually I was just using him for balance as I was half way standing when the boat suddenly surged forward onto land
Malcolm's baby sister just got engaged and is wanting to have a beach wedding somewhere. We decided that we could probably get there in time if we start rowing tomorrow. I don't know how my internet signal will be once we get to the big water so I may not be blogging for a while. On second thought, I think any spare inch of space in the boat better be used for hauling food supplies and drinking water, so probably no room for the laptop. If we don't reach land by February, send out search and rescue!

July 27, 2011

Storm update and Snakes

I have no pictures today. I had one on Malcolm's cell phone actually, but he took it with him to the hay field and I dont' want to wait to post b/c then I might not post at all!

Sunday evening it had finally died out enough that we could go work on the hay again. Up until that point I'd spent the days at home, running lunch to Malcolm and his Dad. But thanks to Friday night storm, I found a job!
Being that I'm the only one who doesn't know how to run the tractors, I volunteered for pitch fork duty. And so, since Sunday night, I've been picking hay out of fences with a pitch fork.

We heard, through the neighborhood grape vine, that Friday's storm dropped a tornado over there by the hay fields! So that would explain the horrendous wind, the downed tree branches, the wagon rolling across the yard....
...I think we were lucky!

And then yesterday we found out that the neighbors about a mile or so down the road got hailed out. Lost their corn and wheat, and their silage bags are all busted up. They're out there tying to patch them in time to save the silage. What a mess!

Given that, and then being reminded by my blogger buddies about the horrible drought conditions in Texas (and other places too) I feel kind of bad for complaining about our hay issues! It might have been spread hither and yon, but we still had a lot of it once it was gathered back up! It could have been a lot worse.

My mother-in-law, Peggy,  ran the tractor with the rake to gather it back into windrows for baling while I used a pitch fork to pull it out of the fences, and often had to crawl across the fence to drag back huge armloads of hay from neighboring pastures. We wouldn't have bothered except it was an aweful lot of hay. We finally finished cleaning it all up on Monday afternoon.

Peggy and I left the guys to continue swathing and baling while we ran to town to get some groceries. When we left the fields, there were more storm clouds gathering in the southwest. And about an hour after we left, Malcolm called me on the cell phone to tell me he and his dad had just sat in the tractors and watched the storm blow all the newly mown hay all over the place and into the fences. I told him Peggy and I were just going to keep going on past town, maybe to Great Falls or somewhere, and to call us when haying was over.

So, Tuesday evening, around 4:30, after it had had some time to dry out again, back to the hayfields I went, pitch fork in hand! It actually wasn't as bad as last time and I was able to finish picking it out last night. Peggy had to go back and rake some more today, but I got to stay home with the girls and relax.

Thank you for all the comments! I've gathered quite a few new friends since Danni at Critter Farm posted about meeting me. Normally I've been trying to reply to each comment, but due to being gone all day, and tired at night, they've gotten away from me! So I won't be able to get back in touch with everyone, but I appreciate the comments, the encouragment, and all.
Just a few responses:
Several people commented on how bad it is in Texas. Believe me they do not exagerate! We've driven through Texas several times in the last few months, and recently too. Its really bad! I hurt for all the ranchers (and everyone else too) that are having to deal with the heat and drought! And it has made me apprecaite all the more our blessings. Our hay may be scattered, but we have lots of it!

Someone asked what kind of dogs I have. They are Chinese Cresteds, and they are a hoot. If you click on the tab under my title that reads "The Girls" it will pull up all the posts that have pictures or events that the girls were involved in. I'm still working on my organization though. They enrich my life so much. I'd be lost without my girls!

The other night, Malcolm's dad killed a rattle snake out on the road. I swear it was as big around as my wrist, maybe bigger. I wish I'd thought to get my camera. He, of course, brought it home to show us. I think they measured it and it was around 41 inches. That was a huge snake, at least the biggest rattler I've seen so far!
And then today my Mom tells me, "you've got to go read my snake stories on my blog" because I was behind on keeping up with blogs, as seems to be my habbit lately! There are just too many good blogs to read and I can't get them all. But its pretty bad when you neglect your family's blogs! Anyway, so I'm passing on the message...
You have GOT to go to my mom's blog and read her snake stories! Here's the most recent, and here's her other one.

July 23, 2011

Home for Haying

On Tuesday night, after only three weeks on the road this round, we arrived back home for another break! What a treat to be back so soon! For those new to my blog, Malcolm and I stay out on the road for 5-6 weeks at a time usually, and then come home for a week or two for a break. So any extra home time is MUCH appreciated!

It was so good to sleep in our "real" beds again...
...and to eat at home instead of on the road!
We love all aspects of being home, even the chores that have to be done become fun instead of mundane (though I still resist the need to scrub tubs). Paris's personal favorite household chore is laundry. She loves doing laundry!
There's lots going on here to keep us all busy. The trip home was made with a purpose other than just taking a break from the road. We came home to help Malcolm's parents with the haying. Really, Malcolm is the help. I don't know how to run any of the machinery (though I plan to learn one of these days). But I can make lunches and run errands for parts.

Between household chores and haying chores, I've been sneaking out to the pasture to visit Dawn and "little bit." I've been wracking my brain for a name for the new filly, and coming up with nothing!
She still thinks I'm awfully interesting...

But a tad bit scary too. The picture above is the closest she's dared to get to me, and I made the mistake of clicking the picture at that moment, which of course caused a quick back up. Thoughtless of me, I know! Impulse...
But we're working on getting acquainted a little at a time.
Yesterday it was time to move the swather (the piece of machinery that mows the hay) to another field down the road. I love the way hay smells when its baking in the sun! Our summer's are short, but they sure are beautiful!
Malcolm's Dad has been baling, while Malcolm swaths, and then his Mom and I have been running errands and relaying messages and fixing food, etc. Malcolm really likes haying. He finds great pleasure in making straight rows and neat, tidy bales.
I guess all that rain in May and early June (and you know there was lots of it) at least came in handy for something. The hay this year is fabulous! There is TONS of it! One of the fields has produced more bales than anyone can remember.
They've gotten a lot done, but there is still a lot to go still!

Yesterday afternoon, I had returned home from delivering a late lunch and was down at the corrals with the mare and foal, when Malcolm's mom drove down in the pickup to tell me the swather had broken and we had to run to Bowman to get a part. It took both of us because the parts store was going to be closed by the time we got there (Bowman is an hour away) and they were going to sit the part outside the door for us, but it was heavy. So we both went to help each other load it.

As we were leaving, there were storm clouds banking up to the north and west and we were under a tornado watch till 9:00pm. We were hoping it would rain at home where the hay is already cut and baled because its getting kind of dry here. But the catch was we didn't want it to rain east of us, where we still had a lot of hay on the ground that wasn't baled yet.

We got to Bowman and picked up our part, grabbed a couple of Vanilla Bean Frappe's, (because you have to treat yourself to one since you came all the way to town!) and headed home. The clouds were really impressive, and bizarre, and not too friendly looking. We kept hoping to get home before the storm broke, but no such luck. We hit heavy rain about half way home and within moments we were being pummeled with hail. The lightening was zipping around everywhere and it was just not a pleasant evening for a drive!

The hail passed over within a few minutes without causing damage to the truck, and then the rain let up. We debated whether we were supposed to take the part to the hay field, or whether Malcolm and his Dad would have gone home. When we got to the turn where we had to make a decision, we decided to head home. It didn't look like it had rained as hard in our area, but it was still pretty soppy.
And sure enough, Malcolm and his Dad were home. They'd come in just a little before the storm hit. It had stopped raining when we got home, and the clouds were breaking up, though looking no less threatening.
Malcolm and his Dad were glad to see us home. It hadn't rained horribly there, but the wind had blown badly. While driving home, we hadn't been in much wind, which is uncommon in storms around here, but at home, it had been horrendous! Malcolm's Dad said the gusts had to have been close to 70mph. Do you see the wagon frame on the right side of this picture?
Malcolm and his Dad stood in the kitchen and watched it roll across the yard until it ran into the bridge on the left. You know that had to be some powerful wind to move that!

There was evidence of the winds strength all over the place!
There were tree limbs a half mile down the driveway where there aren't any trees! And as bad as that was, what was in the fore front of all our minds, was all that beautiful hay that had been cut over the last couple days. The mood was rather sombre, as Malcolm and I climbed into the Jeep and drove over to the hay fields to check on things. On the way, we stopped to admire the sunset peaking through the ragged remains of the storm clouds.
 The sunset was beautiful, but, as feared, the hay fields were not. And though we expected some damage, we were not expecting this...
All those beautiful windrows from the earlier pictures? GONE! And not just tossed about or blown crooked. In this particular part of the hay fields, the hay was GONE! It looked like it had been baled and hauled out of there already.

Down in the lower part of the field, we found a mess! It was, to say the least, discouraging.
it was getting too dark for pictures, but you can still tell the field is a disaster
But that's the way the wind blows, the cookie crumbles, etc. You take the good with the bad, and being the perpetual optimist that I am (annoyingly so at times) I had to point out that if the swather hadn't broken down mid-afternoon, we'd have had a lot more hay on the ground. Everything happens for a reason, I guess. At least it was the hay blown all over and the trees broken up, instead of the buildings!

We got home just in time to slip inside before another drowning downpour  arrived with more lightning.
And so, since everything was so sodden this morning, instead of haying we spent all morning and half the afternoon dragging tree branches out of the yard, and raking up twigs.
Between the branches in the yard, the ones tossed into the pasture, and the limbs broken up in the trees that had to be gotten out with a chain saw, we ended up moving three big piles of limbs and branches. To look at them, you'd think there weren't any trees in our yard anymore! And though we didn't lose any trees, several of them have taken on an entirely different look.

(perpetual optimist kicking in again) On the bright side, Lucy and Zadie sure did enjoy having us hang out with them in the yard today!
Its only been in the high 70's today but its really humid! Not good conditions for the hay to dry out. Hopefully we'll be able to get back to work by morning, though I don't know how much, if any, of the hay that was down can be salvaged. Time will tell.
We finished the yard, and I visited with Dawn and her filly before turning them back out. I'd just left them in the corral for the evening when we had to leave for Bowman yesterday before the storm. She finished off an entire square bale over night, but was still eager to start grazing when I turned her back out, thus the expression, "eats like a horse."
During lunch, we watched little bit play and kick and run big circles around her mama.
Tomorrow, if time allows, I think it will be Sky's turn to get some attention. He was happy to visit with me across the fence the other afternoon, so I think I'll give him an opportunity for some closer interaction and give little bit and her mom a break.

Despite good intentions, I never seem to manage to blog consistently when I'm home. Just too many things I want to do, and too many things that come up that have to be done. But I have big ideas about posting again in a couple days or so. Hopefully I'll be able to make that happen! Until then, welcome to all you knew readers, and I'll be back for a visit with everyone soon!

July 17, 2011

A Memorable Evening in Portalnd

Late Saturday afternoon we rolled into Portland, OR.
I was excited!
I'd been looking forward to getting to Portland since Friday morning!

The reason you ask? I'll tell you! But first let me ask you...

...do you recognize these feet?

Many of you just might recognize them, but if not, its probably because we usually see them clad in green rubber boots while visiting with a couple of donkeys and a certain llama, or perhaps taking a stroll with a pair of mischievous goats. Do you recognize them yet?

My excitement was all about getting to meet the person attached to these feet! And Saturday evening, it finally happened!

If you haven't figured out yet who it is, I'll go ahead and tell you.
Danni, otherwise known as farmgirldk of On the Way to Critter Farm, and her husband came into Portland to have dinner with us at the truck stop!
I have to tell you, I've enjoyed reading Danni's blog for many months now! She has a gift for writing and sharing her life and her animals in pictures. On the Way to Critter Farm is one of my favorite blogs. I never leave her blog without a smile on my face, even on the bluest of days!

But reading some one's blog and meeting them in person are two different experiences all together. The idea of meeting bloggers is fun, but when it comes down to it, you start to worry a little! Kind of like reading a book and thinking its great, but when you go to see the movie it just doesn't work for you and then the book is kind of ruined too?

I didn't have any anxiety about meeting Danni, though. And I was at ease for good reason! Do you ever meet someone and instantly know you're really going to like this person?

It was that kind of experience! Both Danni and her husband were such nice people, and we had so much fun! So much in fact that it was hard to get a good picture of the two of us to document our meeting! Too much laughter and goofing around!

But Malcolm and Danni's husband kept snapping away with the cameras and eventually we managed to get a few that were usable.

It was a great visit. We laughed, and talked, and told stories! It was just a great time. And then of course the girls wanted to meet her too, because they love hearing the stories about the farm dog, Roxie, and the llama and goats and chickens, so we walked out to the truck for a visit.

Danni was thoroughly welcomed and loved on!

And then, sadly, it was time to draw the evening to a close. Goodbyes were said, last hugs and handshakes given, and just as I thought the sparkle of the evening was over, Danni came skipping back over to me with a gift!

I'll be rationing this out to make it last, and every sweet berry burst of flavor will remind me of our fun evening with a treasured blogging friend!

Since we got together on my turf this time, at the truck stop, we're going to try to have our next get together in her territory, the barn! Now that I met the critter's lady, I'd really like to meet the critters too!

Thank you Danni and "Ed" for a marvelous evening of laughs and memories!

Sunday Stills: People

This weeks Sunday Stills topic was to photograph people, which is a real challenge for me. I'm rarely happy with how my people pictures turn out.

Redding, CA on Friday:
We stopped on an exit ramp to let the girls out, and Malcolm made a discovery...
...a WALL of blackberry bushes!

I'm more timid than Malcolm about stuff I can't wash off first, and since he's not timid, and since he LOVES blackberries...well he was in heaven.

The canes were loaded with HUGE berries that were so tempting...

ok, I know there's no people in this one, but you had to see the berries!
...that I caved in and ate a few myself! California roadside blackberries...the sweetest I've ever eaten!

How could I just stand by and let him have all the fun?

There was no hiding the evidence that he'd thoroughly enjoyed himself!

A very happy truck driver!

And then that picture gave me another idea to work on...

And then we started getting goofy. Sleep deprivation has a tendency to do that to you! And so, I present my favorite picture of the whole experience, and its a favorite because its a goof up. I don't know exactly what caused it, but it looks like he's giving a lecture on trucking in front of a giant TV screen.
I promise I did not photo shop this!

He's pointing to the steps, so I told him he must have been speaking on the importance of "three point contact." (that is to always have three points of contact when getting in or out of the truck, for safety)

That's it for my Sunday Stills this week. To see more contributions to this fun weekly photo challenge, visit the Sunday Stills blog!

And be sure to check back in with me in the next couple days. The coolest thing happened this weekend and I can't wait to tell you about it!

July 14, 2011

On the Texas Coast

Tuesday morning we delivered another load of pearlite, this time at La Porte, TX. La Port is just a little east Houston.

Our reload was in Freeport, TX, about 75 miles south of La Porte. We took highway 146 south almost all the way to Galveston. I'd like to see Galveston one day. There were quite a few stoplights, but it provided glimpses of the gulf here and there and some pretty waterfront scenes.

 By the time we turned off 146, I was ready for a beach trip, even though I'm generally not a beach person! Overall it was a pretty developed and industrial, but once we were on FM2004 it was more open, not to mention flat.

We stopped on the shoulder of the road to close the tarp on our trailer because there were rain showers ahead, and while Malcolm was taking care of that, I watched the scenery, and the random pedestrian taking a stroll down the side road.
We did run through a few little showers, but nothing significant.

 It was dry and hot in Freeport and we sat there on the port for more than 7 hours waiting our turn to load. Not a very pleasant way to spend the day. Eventually we were loaded though and around 8:00 that evening we were headed back through Houston making our way to a little town called Mineola, 300 miles from Freeport.
We delivered in Mineola Wednesday morning, a load of rice hulls to Cargill. And then reloaded 50 miles north in Mount Pleasant.

We pulled out of there around noon yesterday, suffered through Dallas traffic and heat, (The truck said it was 108, but I'm not sure its exactly accurate) and kept trucking on through the night.

This morning shortly after sunrise, I drove through Tuscan, AZ and down the road a ways passed by Picacho Peak. I thought it was just a neat looking rock, but it turns out to have some history, including being near the sight of the westernmost American Civil War battle! I had no idea there was fighting as far west as Arizona!

As I finish this post, we are parked in Yuma, AZ which is near the California line. We pulled off to get a Subway sandwich, before finishing the last 60 miles. We'll deliver in El Centro, CA this afternoon and then head north. We have a 560 miles empty bounce to reload in Oakland, CA in the morning.