Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I Went Out to the Garden. . . II

I had to make a special trip to town to pick up a prescription, and of course, one does not go into the grocery story without thinking about what to fix for supper. I had just grocery shopped the end of last week, so I needed little, but I did pick up a package of turkey kabasa with a recipe in mind.

When it came time to fix one of our favorite meals, stir fry vegetables served with a lean meat over a bed of pasta, I realized that I didn't have any vegetables in the crisper to stir, so I made a trip to the garden. It is just beginning produce, but let me tell you it is an ugly sight out there this year.

 I'll not show any photos of the actual garden spot because it is a weedy mess. Some how I am able to find a lot of reasons not to go out to pull weeds:
  • Too Hot. It seems that the older I get, the less I can tolerate the heat, but then it has been above ninety most of the summer.
  • Mosquitoes. We have the dreaded West Nile disease here in Northern Colorado. Not as bad as it has been in years past when I would saturate myself with bug repellent and head to the garden, but still--I'm not in that mood at all.
  • Weed pulling is a thankless, endless job. No matter how much weed control a gardener does, the weeds keep coming.
In realty, the Head Garden's spring go off to a dismal start when he dropped his work here to go help the farmer friend in Eastern Colorado get ground ready to plant millet. His absence but us behind. The weeds really took over while we were on our Texas vacation and we have not been able to keep up with them since; however, the good news, the garden plants thrive despite having to share living space with weeds. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen right along with the cucumbers, so we have enjoyed garden fresh salads. We have a hardy crop of peppers and some very nice cabbages. The butternut squash will be a winter favorite. I went to the garden and  I picked zucchini both green and yellow, fresh onions, and two bell peppers and a healthy meal was a "GO." Left overs today.

As the vegetable garden begin to mature, it is also archery season for Pronghorn antelope out on the prairie. I don't hunt, but I do go with the HG when he puts up his hunting blind. The prairie is so interesting and while the vista and the landscape may seem uninteresting, if the visitor pays attention, the photo ops are abundant.


As we turned into the pasture where the HG would be hunting, a hawk seemed to stand guard on the power line at the gate.


Working windmills still provide a water source for both wild life and cattle. With the slightest breeze, the giant blades begin to turn and whirl. The camera is on auto shoot for this photo.


I changed settings to get the motion in the photo, using the action or athletic mode.


With his blind in place, the HG inspects the tent stakes to make sure that they are secure because a brisk wind will uproot them.


A distant farm house gives the aspect of the vastness of the grasslands of Northeastern Colorado. It really is a pretty landscape, especially with all of the rain that the grasslands have received.


I am not sure why the exposure on this photo is darker, but I like it.


Even at what seems to be a slow trickle, the windmill will pump the water tank full.

Now my photographic fun began. 



At home, I tightly cropped the photos and was so surprised at the color. I didn't adjust or edit the color; I just cropped the photo. We have a lot of hazy skies these days because of all of the wildfires burning in the part the United States, so that may be why there's purple in the images. Even in the ones that are not cropped, the water has purple shading.


The sunflower photo was taken from the other side of the tank. I had to crop out the pipe railing around the tank and only then did I see the bee in the photo. Not a photo bomb--a bee bomb.



We leave the windmill, with the Head Gardener satisfied that his blind is secure. We see the hawk again, this time with two king birds heckling him.


He lands on a land structure, not so much to get away from the annoying birds, more likely  to probably to let them know that he's done playing.


How many birds do you see? Look careful and you will the king bird's feet as he comes in for landing to sit next the hawk.


One with think that the two are friends.


And off he goes.




I do enjoy photographing birds. 

Back to the garden: Again playing with my setting, I photographed the tiger lily.


and the rose



Now, isn't this a nice way to end a garden post?  Thanks so much for joining me. Time to get some housework done.  I missed Mosaic Monday; I'll be there next week.


Thanks so much for visiting both posts. See you soon.





Monday, August 6, 2018

Peachy


I have a lot to share today, so pour yourself another cup of tea, coffee, water--your choice. Last time I wrote about buying peaches in Palisade, CO, the peach capital of--well, I'd like to say THE PEACH CAPITAL, but I hear that Georgia peaches are pretty fine too, so I'll limit the fame to Colorado, with Clark Farms having the best.







So you all know the process: blanch, ice bath, peel, slice, and for me bag to freeze. I just was not up canning. To keep the peaches from turning brown, instead of making a special trip to the store to buy the ascorbic acid, I followed the suggestion of a web site: good old crushed Vitamin C tablets. They should work??? I'll let you know. I even did a second box a few days later, a box that was meant for Heather, but we wouldn't be seeing her before the peaches went bad I froze them, too. There weren't that many since we had been nipping one them. Should I share? Well, of course I will.


Let's Go to the Fair

4-h Club logo vectorI suppose most everyone has heard of  4-H, a youth organization that promotes leadership, responsibility, and learning for children between the ages of 8-18. Local clubs are partnered with a state university that provides the support for the groups. Briefly the 4 H's stand for these qualities: Head for clear thinking; Heart for greater loyalty; Hands for larger service; Health to better living. Click here to read more about what each H stands for.

A year's worth of hard work and training culminated for the girls at the 4-H Fair.  Mom hauled Mariah to the fairgrounds, while dad towed the camp trailer so that the girls would have place to stay for the week. The horses had to be there August 29th and were released August 2nd. Then on Friday Ellie had to take her rabbits to show this past weekend. The events for the horses began at 8 AM Monday morning and I was there, excited to see how the girls would do.

Both girls were entered in the Walk Trot level as very novice riders. The girls worked all year with their riding trainer who is also a 4-H leader and first grade teacher at their school. Now it is time to see how all of their training and hard work paid off.


Ellie leased a horse since her old mare is not able to compete, so this is Dunny, a small quarter horse who has been doing this 4-H competition for 14 years. I lost track of how the girls placed, but Elinore placed first in all of her events--except for one, I think--. Her first event was showmanship where the horsewoman leads the horse through a pattern to show how well it behaves and performs the pattern. She took first place.


Showmanship is a very formal, requiring the handler to stand straight, face the judge, and mange the horse. For Dunny, he must be quite bored, but he was perfect.


After the event, the girls went outside for the formal photographs. 


I didn't get good photos of Lucy's showmanship class because the lighting the arena was so poor. She took sixth. I wish you could see her long blond hair all rolled up in a bun at the back of her head beneath her hat with a black net over it. She looked very glamorous.


Lucy placed lower in a couple of her events because of mistakes that she made in the patterns: standing on the wrong side of the cone, for example, in the showmanship class. Hers really is the success story because she has had this little mustang mare for less than a year and this is the first time Mariah has competed. She spent all of her life in the mountains with her girl riding her on mountain trails. She did everything that Lucy asked her to do. She is an amazing little horse. At 16 she has a whole new life. Her former owner left work one morning to come see her perform. So while Lucy didn't show as well, she had a personal victory in accomplishing so much: learning how to ride while learning how to show.


The Larimer County fair grounds are fairly new and state of the art. The stalls are spacious and the kids have to keep them and the aisles clean.This is Dunny's stall. The girls made posters telling a little bit about their horse for the public visitors.


Ellie, age 11 with Dunny's briddle. 


Lucy with Mariah. At this moment in time, Lucy is 9. She turned 10 after fair.


Mariah getting a little snack.


Next event: Horsemanship. Again photos were pretty hard to take in the arena, but outside the girls are in the practice arena practicing their horsemanship. 


Ellie has been riding Dunny in training, so they know each other. She looks confident.



Wednesday was fun day where the kid competed in gymkhana events, all timed and for the girls performed at a trot: barrel racing, key hole, and pole bending. Here, Lucy is running the barrels. So the idea is to do a clover leave pattern racing around each barrel. Lucy looks like she is going pretty fast, but she actually trotting.



Ellie headed at a trot to the finish line. Breaking into a lope disqualifies the rider.


I like this photo because the horse's head is the only thing in focus. I used the action feature on the Canon because it offered the best exposure.


Keyhole, another timed event: rider rides forward between four poles, has to make a sharp turn without stepping on or crossing a chalk line at the end of the four poles. 


Here you can see the poles better.

Next is pole bending. The ride weaves the horse between six poles. The fastest time wines. Lucy took second place.


With the horse events over, we returned yesterday to the fair grounds to watch Elinore in rabbit showmanship. I think she told me tonight that she took first. I had my doubts as I watched her. The poor little bunny's little legs shook like crazy when she was on her back. This is a new rabbit that Ellie bought this spring at the rabbit show in Cheyenne. She turned out to be a champion because she won best of show, grand champion. I was curious about the judge, that's why I used him in a mosaic. I like to watch his expressions.


With the awards ceremony happening as I write, Jen sent this photo. Ellie's little Reign took grand champion Best of Show in her breed and Ellie took first in her division for showmanship. 



Ellie's success didn't end with he 4-H fair, but she also entered the photography competition in the county fair. She took a photo of her mare, Honey and won a second place. Yes, we were really surprised because the competition is so tough.



To finish up, Lucy's leather project, a little coin purse won a blue ribbon, too. 

The girls are already planning on what they are going to be doing next year. Hope, mom can keep up with them.


And this last photo sums up Fair. The kids are to take the initiative to keep the horse barn clean so that visitors enjoy their tour as they visit the horses. The 4-H'ers are to be on hand to keep the barn clean and to visit with the public, showing their horses and equipment and answering questions. 

So as I left Wednesday after the last event, I turned to take one last look to see Lucy sweeping.


One Last Thing

I'll be linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. I hope you get as much of a kick out of the Rabbit Mosaic as I did. I am also going to join Susannah at The August Break 2018 to take a photo everyday.  She provides a list of suggested topics and I am choosing "Younger Me." It's a simple concept because any one of these photos certainly reminds me of a younger me back in the days when I spent my life with a horse, my friend, my companion, my spirit. 

And a PS

I've updated the dollhouse blog with my clock project. Take time to see what's ticking over there.

Thanks for stopping by. 






Monday, July 23, 2018

I went out into the garden. . .

From Texas sunsets to rainstorms over a ragged Rocky Mountain vista in western Colorado, July has taken us thousands of miles. We have a special place on Texas that we like to visit. There are some favorite things that I like about the area. One is this tree, a giant live oak tree. It is a beautiful evergreen tree with its long, low branches that create a beautiful canopy where the local white tail deer and their fawns linger in its shade during the heat of the day.



The sunsets over the Texas Hill Country can certainly equal any sunset. Once it begins it's end of the day descent, the sun quickly disappears below the tree line of the woods as it slips through the clouds.




One of my favorite things to do in Texas is to photograph the wild cardinals that live in the woods on the ranch that we visit, which isn't an easy task. This beautiful male was feeding in the bush, offering only quick glimpses of himself, but I kept clicking the shutter, hoping that he would reveal himself, and finally he did. I don't always get the best photos; I consider shots like these lucky. The birds often land in the big tree tops and quickly disappear into the wooded canopy. I used my Canon Rebel with a 70mm-300mm zoom. 



This last weekend we traveled to Montrose, Colorado over on the Western Slope. Now, let me explain if you are not familiar with Colorado. If you look at a map, you will see that Colorado is a rectangle with the Rocky Mountains running through the middle of the state, from the north to the south, not quite dividing it in half. The Front Range lies east of the mountains. We navigate along the Front Range using Interstate highway 25 that takes commuters from as far away as Cheyenne, Wyoming down to Pueblo and on into New Mexico. You'd be surprised how many people commute daily for work from Cheyenne to Denver, over a hundred miles. 

The Western Slope, naturally, lies beyond the mountains to the west. In between are the ski resorts-- Loveland, Vail, Breckenridge and any number of small mountain villages once mining towns in the 19th century, now swelling with an ever growing population. 


It should be a six hour drive to Montrose, the small town where we stayed; instead, because traffic coming through Denver and on into the mountains is brutal, awful, terrible, it took us two hours longer; it was a very long drive over and back home. 

We were invited to a wedding that was held in the the high country outside of Montrose.  I took this picture along the way to the wedding of this mountain range  that is part of the San Juan mountain range and one of those craggy peaks is Wetterhorn Peak, (Click here for information on the mountain) a fourteener. The fournteeners are the mountains in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet. There are 53 peaks that exceed 14,000 feet and for mountain climbers, many accept the challenge to climb all 53 of these mountains. 


With the milder weather on the Western Slope, the climate is perfect for fruit orchards, so we stopped in a little town, Palisade to buy peaches. The Head Gardener and I shared stories about our grandparents making the long drive to get a truck load of peaches to take home. His grandfather took took the old farm truck to buy peaches to take back home to sell. My grandparents made the annual trip and one year when I was very young they invited me ride along int the new 1951 red Chevy pickup with a red wooded camper top on it. I remember getting very car sick and sleeping in a hotel room. 

Today, we travel I-70 west over the mountains, a modern four lane highway that winds itself over the mountains, through the forests, and aside the rivers-- Clear Creek running to the east toward Denver and the plains and the Colorado River flowing to the west through the Grand Canyon and on to the Pacific. Our grand parents, however, took the old road, Highway 40 over Loveland Pass instead of through the mountain via Eisenhower Tunnel. Highway 40 still goes to California, too, just not as swiftly or gracefully as the interstate. 


The transitions in landscape and topography are gradual, and you know that Grand junction is not far away as the palisades begin. They are very unusual formations, barren of greenery, looking like sand, but they aren't, maybe held together with rock. I wish I had spent more time taking photos of the strange formations. We found a grower who had road side stand where we bought four boxes of peaces and a bag each of bing cherries--Colorado grown--not shipped in from anywhere--, Rainier cherries (yellow, sweet, and, costly in the super market), and a bag of freshly picked apricots! Now that is what I call from farm to table.




On the way home, located on the east side of the hills, we saw the George Town Loop, a vintage train that takes people for a train ride. A fair picture taken with iPhone traveling 70 miles an hour--or maybe we stopped in traffic? 

With July nearly spent, I'd say that the garden is at its peak. It has managed to do okay with our absences, but don't look too closely because you will see that we are also raising a very healthy crop of weeds this year.

I went out into the garden this afternoon. . .  


Our college student--who has long graduated--(the one lived with us, now out on her own)--has asked us if she can have her wedding in our barn in 2020. Of course we said yes. She likes sunflowers, so I picked some of the wild ones and made up a little bouquet of sunflowers and dill and sent it to her. 



                  

Sunflowers and Dill. Just as they are growing in the vegetable garden. 



           

By the back patio the echinacea  thrive.




           

Sometimes flowers don't cooperate. It's hard to center a flower when the breeze is swift.




Roses and rain always make a pretty picture--so you have to take two.



This Gertrude Jekyll is a bit shy.




This little garden I call "the point" has become over run with weeds, but the floral colors are so pretty.


I just heard that the bumble bee is on the endangered list and now I am not surprised that I haven't seen any this summer. Here as I photographed this sweet pink holly hock, I got a bonus, the green flower bee loaded so heavy with pollen that I wondered if it would even be able to take off, and it did. 

I went to out to the garden this afternoon. . .and came back with a handful of happiness.

When I opened up my blog to write this post, I had a moment when I to pass by the post on Boone. We miss him so much. He was such a part of life, in part because he required constant attention either to keep track of him, making sure that he didn't leave the yard or tending to him in the house. He was a handful. Whether he was outside running constantly, patrolling the fence line looking for feral cats that live int he back alley or chasing rabbits, he never stopped. In the house, he was constantly steeling something--socks, the HG's hat, a towel, a shoe--whatever he could use to trade for a treat. He was always busy, up to something. I don't know if he was just plain stubborn or persistent--either way, Boone got his way, so he was spoiled. 

Now we find ourselves headed to check on him, and he's not there. 

We had free time on Saturday before the wedding, so we went to look at puppies. The HG found a breeder of German Short Hairs in Montrose, so we paid her a visit. While she had two new litters only a week old, the HG did not put one on hold. Maybe after the first of the year. I'll let you know.

So, thank you for all of your kind words of sympathy and comfort. I sincerely appreciate your kindness and friendship.

I'll be joining Mosaic Monday, so I'll see you at Maggie's. Have a fabulous week and thank you for visiting. I've missed you.