Friday, March 29, 2013

The Broken Gun

We have finally just finished up this book:

The Broken Gun by Louis L'Amour. It was actually pretty good. The boys followed along well & we just read it here & there as we went along.

You will see a large amount of what we are reading is Louis L'Amore. My husband doesn't read fiction very often, but when he does it is by Louis L'Amore. So one day browsing a thrift shop he came upon a collection & bought the whole thing. All 100 books that they had. My boys love the "cowboy" books as they call them, & are always grabbing one & begging we read to them.

This one is about a current day writer that bought an old gun at a pawn shop. In the gun was pages written out of a journal from a man that disappeared over more than a 100 years ago. He is now determined to find out what happened.

I didn't do anything extra to go along with this book, but I am making plans for our next 2 reads.

One is the Last of a Breed . We are half way through it. I have been going through all sorts of ideas to go with this one.

We also started this one today. Ragged Dick, or Street life in New York with the boot blacks.
My little brother bought it for me to read to my boys. You can also find it on kindle. I downloaded it yesterday for free. That way I have always have it with me. I am going to do some extra activities to go along in the future. I will share once we finish.

So that is what we are reading next. What are you reading?

- Tiffany

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For the Love of Lambs: Shearing

    Things are slowing down here at the ranch, so I thought I would catch you up on something that happened  in January.

 Shearing Time.

 Now before I walk you through the process of Shearing, many people want to initially know why in the world are we shearing in some of the coldest months of the year. To some it seems counterproductive  I mean they sheep have wool to stay warm & now we are just cutting it off.

Here are a few reasons why we shear in January. Most importantly is we also begin to lamb at the end of January & our 1st prorirty is to grow & raise healthy lambs. This is best when the mother is sheared. It prevents infection from happening. Let's be realistic it gets a bit messy giving birth. The less wool on the sheep, the less mess remains on the Sheep & has a chance of creating infection.

2nd. Milk. The baby has an easier time finding mommas milk, if there isn't a lot of wool in the way. The easier they can find milk, the more they drink the healthier they become. Healthy lambs is what we love.

Now onto Shearing. We don't do any of our own shearing. We hire it out. There is a skill & system to shearing sheep & we don't have it. However we know of a few crews that do. So we hire a shearing crew.  They come, campout out & shear for however many days it takes, & then load up & take off.

So here we go . . ..

Now there is always some Ewes that don't follow the plan, & decide to have the babies before shearing time, So we have to take those of out the Lambing shed, shear & then return the right momma to the right baby. Here are some nice Ewes ready to be loaded into the trailer.

This is the chute into the Shearing Wagon.  If you notice there is 2 levels. There is a little hole on top & then a another hole underneath. The sheep are standing on a chute on the highest level. I will explain in a minute what the other level is for.  Here they are standing in line waiting.

    These next pictures are a little rough, I apologize. This is the inside of a shearing trailer.  You have a 5 to 6 man crew. They spend 8 hours a day shearing sheep as fast as they can.  They lay them down a certain way & for the most part the wool comes off in one large piece.

  This is the end of the line to wait for being sheared. This one looks proud to me.

                And a close up of its wooly face.

  More of the shearing .  They have an precise way they do it. The sit them a certain way & follow a pattern. Every time & they are fast.  Really a fast. It is noisy, but kind of fun to watch.


They open the door on the right, & shear them, once they are sheared. To the left (on the other side of the trialer is a door.) They can simply push open.

          This is the other side of the shearing trailer. The side the sheared sheep come out.

 The shearer opens they door & the sheep think for a moment if they truly want to come back out into the cold.

                    Sometimes it might take a little encouragement, but eventually they run out.

      And join up with all the others.  Now, a brief moment to mention a few things. This doesn't hurt the ewe, (okay they might get nicked with the clippers, just like when anyone else is shaving), but really it is just a haircut.  As for now are they going to get cold. Yes, they might. After the ewes are sheared we keep them     in a pen where they can be out of the wind & elements a little more. Sheep produce what is called Lanolin, on their wool. It is a little greasy, but it was helps the moisture stay off & keep them protected. After shearing it takes them a couple of days to produce the lanolin to recover their wool. Once they have that lanolin back on them, they are fine.

Okay now back to the other side of the shearing process.

We are back to loading side of the table. Remember how I pointed out the 2 slits you could call them in the trailer. The sheep are standing on the top one & the bottom one is where the shearer pushes out the wool  to the graders.

 The men grab the wool & put it on the skirting tables. This is where they skirt the wool & also grade it. Wool has different grades. They grade the wool & sort it accordingly.

After the wool is graded & skirted, it is handed off to this man. Who with his big 'ole machine stuffs the wool bags full of wool.

Stuffed full. Look at all that nice warm wool. Okay so it needs washed. This fancy machine, pushes & stuffs the bags full.

Once these babies are full we line them up.

And remember these babies. . . .

Those few babies that had to come before shearing season. They wait patiently  in the jugs & make a new friend or two while it all happens.

Eventually the mommas return, just a little smaller. They are sorted back into the proper pen with their babies.

 The babies are back with clean mommas, easier milk to find, & the rest of the sheep get sheared.  We continue this process for however many days it takes.

One the job is finished, the Shearing Crew packs up & moves to the next job. And we have just survived our 1st shearing!!

Thanks for joining us on a little glimpse of our love of lambs & shearing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Farewell Gift . . .


We had friends moving. We wanted to get them something, but what do you get someone, who usually is trying to downsize their stuff, so they can move cross-country?

When we moved away to Montana years ago (we since have returned back). It was 12 hour drive to get to get to our new home, my good friend, made goodie bags for each of my kids. My oldest at the time was 5. In the bags she had 6 or 7 wrapped gifts. Some were treats, some toys, it varied & the were all wrapped. Most of the items were picked up at the dollar store. For every 2 hours we drove, the boys were then allowed to open a gift. It was awesome because of their little attention spans. They would unwrap their gift & play with it & after a while they would get bored, but soon they had something new.

  I thought about doing something similar for this family, but for various reasons I wasn't able to make it happen.

 So after much contemplating this is what we ended up with.


      In the first pile is coloring & activities pads, one for each kids. Something to keep the kids occupied while traveling that far. Our friends kids are 5, 8, 11 so these should be able to keep their attention span hopefully awhile.

   In the second pile is stuff to keep in contact with. There is a  writing pad, envelopes, stickers, pens, A book of postage stamps & of course address labels with our address pre-printed, so they can always keep in contact with us. The last thing, that wasn't added at the time was a mini-photo book. Pictures I have taken over the years of our kids together.
And of course in the bag we tossed in treats & candy, to eat on the road. We wrapped it all up in a bag along with our farewell card & gave it to them. We miss them, but wish them the best in their new adventure!  

Now we are just waiting on a letter . . .

Monday, March 25, 2013

Menu Monday: March 25

          L - Spicy Ginger Pork In Lettuce Wraps  

  This Week's Menu     
    So in the upcoming weeks & months you will save a massive amount of pork for dinner, lunch & breakfast. We recently butchered a couple of pigs & right now that is the meat  that I have abundance of. So it all means it will be majority of our meals. So if you have any favorite ways to cook pork, please let me know!  Also with Easter on Sunday our plans are still yet to be determined. So I am planning as if we are eating here & that means lamb. Yummy! If you have never tried lamb, easter is a great time to so.  Last but not least I tried out 2 new recipes over the weekend. One was fair, but this Easy Garlic Chicken was pretty good.

        B- Oatmeal
        L - Pick up Something
        D- Fried Rice with Pork
Santa Fe Chicken Packets
         B- Fried Egg on Whole Wheat English Muffins
         L-  Ham & Bean Soup
         D - Steak with Baked Potato

          B- Muffins & Fruit
          L Ginger Pork in Lettuce Wraps
          D- Santa Fe Chicken Packets from Ready, Set, Eat

      B-   Cream of Wheat/Oatmeal
      L - Homemade Pizza. My favorite Pizza crust is this one!
      D-  Pork Chops w/ Apple Sauce from  Skinny Taste

       B: Cold Cereal
       L: Pork Enchiladas 
      D - Cajun Chicken Pasta from Skinny Taste w/ Steamed Broccoli

        B - Oatmeal
        L - Traveling
        D - Hubby Birthday - Dinner Out.

        B-  Waffles
        D - Roasted Leg of Lamb, Mashed Potatoes, Deviled Eggs & A Little Chocolate For Dessert

Baking:  Homemade  Bread, Lemon Bars, & Cornbread

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As always I am linking up to Organizing Junkie

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Five: Sewn Baby Gifts

So it has been awhile since I have done a Friday Five. Let's be honest I have barely blogged lately. So my baby turns one next month, which is so hard to believe. I also have friends & neighbors having babies in the upcoming months. Though my sewing time is limited right now, here are 5 cute things to make as baby gifts.

Friday Five: Sewn Baby Gifts:

1.  This Divided Baby Basket by Noodlehead.

2. Baby Animal Towels by Crazy Little Projects. So cute! 


3. I have always loved this baby quilt by Vanessa Christensen for Moda


4. These look quick & easy. From Moda by AnneMarie Chany {Gen X Quilters}


5. This Baby Kimono Wrap for a little girl  by Benita from Bettsy Kingston , found on Sew Momma Sew
baby kimono wrap tutorial -- so cute!

SO many choices, so little time! There are so many cute things to make for new babies. Speaking of babies mine is ready for a nap. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

To Everything there is a Season . . .

   The other day  I was feeling on kind of sorry for myself. I don't know if you ever have those days, but I did.   I haven't had much time to post on the blog the last few days & that kind of had me down. I was supposed to go to a quilt group, but was in the middle of working sheep & had to miss it.  

Have you ever missed something, because you were heavily involved in something else?

Like having a house stay clean for more than 10 minutes because your science experiment exploded a little too much?

 You know or all those moms that get together for a girls lunch because all their kids are in public school & you can't even go to the bathroom by yourself without a kid knocking on the door.

Or not being able to get a post on your blog, because your kids have decided to wake up randomly throughout the night, just to throw off your game. And by the time they are all asleep, your exhausted & say bag it.

Or miss a picnic in the park, because it decides to rain. 

Or you miss quilt group, for 3rd month in a row, because your lambing.

So any ways, do you get what I am getting at? Now let me say I truly love what we do for a living, I do. 

So back to my story . . . the other day I was feeling kind of sorry for myself. We are going on 60+ days of lambing & to be truthful, there was a few days last week when I was ready to be done, But it isn't done & so we keep going. So I was tired, & it had been a long couple of days, & I was feeling kind of down. Not really feeling sorry for myself, but just one of those moments, when sometimes is just hard to be responsible. I had missed quilt group for the 3rd month in a row because we were working sheep & I couldn't get gone. (Now quilt group is like the highlight of my "Me" time for the month. I love it, it is inspiring, fun & completely refreshing). I then talked to my friends, they were vacationing on a warm summer beach, I was reading my favorite quilt designer blogs & they had just come out with new patterns. (One day I plan on designing & selling quilt patterns.) I haven't made a trip back home to see my parents for almost 5 months now. Anyways you get the idea. 

So I was feeling a little down about all the things I "couldn't do" right then, because I am heavily involved in something else. (Ie. Homeschooling & Ranching).

So as I was going through my down day, I had the thought & scripture come to to me. Ecclesiates 3:1-8. 

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

I realized how crazy it was for me to be in a down mood. Just because I am not currently not doing some of those things I wanted to be doing, doesn't mean I can't ever do them. It just means it is not the right season for me.

My season right now, is baby lambs & baby boys. And that is wonderful. My season is to be working along side my husband every day. To stand back & admire him from a distance as he provides for our family & I get to be next to him. 

My season is cooking meals, & changing a million dirty diapers. It is my season to be snuggling with babies, teaching math & washing muddy clothes from little boys. 

My season right now is reading bedtime stories, playing soccer as a family & eating lunch with my boys, not my girlfriends.  One day I may not be able to read bedtime stories, & snuggle. I may not have any more dirty diapers to change, or spelling to practice.  There will come a time (& I pray not for 75 more years!) That I won't get to stand next to my handsome hubby & work.

One day this season will end & then I will have plenty of time to make quilt patterns, & sit on a beach,  eat lunch with my friends, or have my house stay clean.  But sometimes we just have to remember, to everything there is a season. And how lucky we are to be in the season of life we are in.  And I am sure when that day comes I will dearly miss this season I am in. 

So since that day, I have been keeping that in my head, to everything there is a season, & I have tried to enjoy it more. Snuggling a little longer, loving the curly locks of my baby, letting them stay up a little longer, trying to say yes instead of no more, admiring my ruggedly handsome hubby more,  reading another chapter because they asked, slowing down & being grateful. Just grateful that I have been so blessed in this wonderful season of my life. And you know what, once I changed perspective I feel so much more at peace & I found time to sew! 

What is your season of life right now? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cooking with Kids

I have always tried hard to let my kids do things when the ask. It has been a struggle at times. I have an awesome husband,who when I am tempted to say no usually asks "Why can't they?"
 This can be a blessing & a curse.

"Mom, can I help you cook?"  is one question I hear a lot.

Sometimes I just want to say no. It gets messy enough when I cook. When I add my kids into the mix, it  looks like bomb exploded. However, I try really hard to say yes. Now keep in mind my kids are 8, 6 & 5.

Here are something my kids help with when cooking:

Washing the vegetables/fruit

Adding the flour.

Cracking the eggs. Initially I made them crack the eggs into a bowl. We could pick out any shells. Then we would add the eggs into the recipe & then do it again. Now they are proficient enough (even my 5 year old) to crack & dump the egg directly into the bowl.

Stir the meat or whatever is cooking on the stove.

Roll out their own bread loaves.

Make the cookie dough into balls, and place on the cookie sheet.

Cut up vegetables. (Yes, with a sharp knife).

This is one I initially said no to when they kids asked.

 "Mom, can I use the knife & cut up the vegetables?" Then would ask. I said no.

 My husband replied, "Why can't they?"

"They might cut themselves." I responded.

 "So what? You have been cooking for years & still cut yourself. If they cut themselves they will live & know to be more careful next time." He replied.

He was right. There have been a few cuts over the years, but for the most part they are great.

So yes, cutting up things with sharp knives.

Peel boiled eggs.

Put things in & take them out of the oven.

You get the idea. My kids can do a lot if things to help cook. They are getting pretty good & I am starting to see the benefits.

Take yesterday for example. I was feeding my baby & almost had him asleep. My 5 year old came in & said he wants to make a treat.  I inform him I can't help right now.

He informed me, "I've got it."

I hear him find a bowl, open some boxes, find the eggs.

He comes in once to double check on the right measuring cup for water & oil.

He leaves. I hear him mix it.  I finally get up & double check to make sure he gets it all mixed.

We have this cute conversation while I double check his work.

Me: "Your good at cooking, do you enjoy it."

My little dude: "Yes. Mom, sometimes I can't find the remote to watch PBS kids, so I watch cooking shows instead." He pauses, "I kind of like them."

He pours it in the pan.

He adds it in the oven. I do watch the clock & make sure they don't burn.

The end result?

We all were able to enjoy delicious brownies & I had to almost nothing.

So yes, some days is hard to let your kids help & some days it is just sweet!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Phonics

So reading is a sensitive subject in this home. Kind of. As the mom, I am probably the most sensitive to the subject. You see my eight year old is not a reader. He reads little words, but reading has always been a fight.

My husband taught himself to read by age 4. Big books. So years ago when my eight year old was 4, my husband was insistent that my cowboy should also be reading. But he wasn't & my cowboy was happy.

When we started homeschooling we read a couple of books & they suggested waiting until the child wants to read. So we have developed the philosophy that when HE is ready to learn to read he will.

My little cowboy is now 8. He isn't much of a reader (he can listen to stories for hours though). I thought for sure by now he would be reading. It is causing me a little stress. He is in an older church class where they read a lot if scriptures. Right now, my cowboy can't. Then I think, what will everyone else think of me & our homeschooling ideas if he can't read, especially those that struggle with our families choice. Luckily, we are blessed that his teacher of his class understands us & our homeschooling philosophy. (She homeschoolers as well). She doesn't put pressure, & makes it pleasant still. I get worried other kids might make fun of him. Then my hubby reminds me who cares what others think & when my cowboy is ready to read he will.

So we have tried a few things & everything seemed to end in a fight. Screaming, yelling, door slamming, I hate reading fight.

I love the saying, "Inspire, not require." Sometimes I forget it, but I do try to follow it when I can. Then I wonder what can I do to inspire my son to read more?

One day after discussing this with my homeschooling sister. She gave me these to try:

It is Happy Phonics by Diane Hopkins.

It is learning to read with games. This has been wonderful.

It is almost all games. The first time we tried it, I accidentally said, "We are going to play this reading game."

My cowboy immediately got uptight declared his hatred to learning to read & stormed out of the room.

Within 5 minutes he was back in the room asking to play it too. It was the first time in a long time he read & tried to read & was actually happy.

I still am using my sister version, but plan on buying my own in the future. It is exactly what the name professes. Happy Phonics. I would recommend it to anyone who is having a time similar to ours.

We are moving slowly through it. Very, very slowly. But we are moving & that is progress. Happy progress. Check it out & I will keep you up to date on our reading progress.

So thanks again for stopping by. We love visitors! If you like what you see and read here, please consider "Joining This Site" on the right sidebar. Thank you & may you have a happy day!

- Tiffany.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Menu Monday - March 11

 Just a little house keeping that need done:
    If you like what you see, please click on the button to the left & become a follower. You can remain private or public, but I am trying to do some things on my blog & I need so many "Followers." SO please click the followers to join this site.   It helps me out & I really appreciate it. Also you will notice you can now grab a button for this blog. Feel free to do so, & share the love. I would appreciate it tons! Thank you.

This Week's Menu     
    Lambing season is in full swing over here. So we are staying at the ranch pretty much, but will be making a trip home possibly. Honestly even when I make a plan, things change. So we go with the flow, which means I know this menu. We are trying out a new recipe this week with the Santa-fe Chicken Packets. I will let you know how they go. So here is what we are eating this week:

        B- Oatmeal
        L - Pick up Something
        D- Hamburgers with Italian Pasta

         B- Omelettes
         L- Fajitas
         D - Bar-b-que Pork Ribs w/ Cabbage Salad

          B- Muffins & Fruit
          L - Homemade Pizza. My favorite Pizza crust is this one!
          D- Santa Fe Chicken Packets from Ready, Set, Eat

      B-   Cream of Wheat/Oatmeal
      L -  French Dip Sandwiches
      D-  Pork Chops w/ Apple Maple Glaze

       B: Cold Cereal
       L: Ham & Bean Soup w/ Corn Bread 
      D - Chicken Alfredo w/ Steamed Broccoli

        B - Oatmeal
        L - Traveling
        D - Frozen Pizza & Caesar Salad

        B-  Waffles
        L- Cheese quesidillas
        D -  Roast &  Mashed Potatoes

Baking:  Homemade Wheat Bread,  Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies or Lemon Bars, Homemade Granola

As always I am linking up to Organizing Junkie

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Today I thought I would share with you our families favorite cookie recipe. It's originally from my mother-in-law & the most requested cookie in our home. (Most often by my hubby or my little dude.)

Cookie Dough- My Favorite Part

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
2 1/2 c. White Sugar
2 1/2 c. Brown Sugar
2 1/2 c. Shortening
5 eggs
2 Tbs. Vanilla
1/4 c. Milk

Stir & Mix it in all together.
Then add:
5 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

Beat until it is all mixed well.
Then add:
5 c. of oatmeal &
2 c. (or More) of Chocolate & Butterscotch Chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe makes a lot (like 7 dozen or so) So I would cut it in half unless you want to have cookies galore. Usually I make a full batch & freeze most of . For some reason when I make them they are almost softer after I freeze them & then thaw them. So enjoy.

- Tiffany.