Cowgirl Up on

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My First Blog Award

I have been awarded this by a couple of different folks today.

Cactus Jack Splash’s DOR (Dope On a Rope) gave it to me, as well as Cheryl over at Desert Horses.

Here are the rules for this award:

  1. Put the Logo on your blog
  2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
  3. Nominate 7 fellow bloggers for this award
  4. Add Links to the recipients
  5. Leave a comment to recipients or email them to let them know they have an award.

I am going to try and give this to folks who don’t already have it. DOR already gave it to most of the folks I would have given it to! I’m awarding it to:

First and foremost, Mugwumps Chronicles. I love this blog and hang on Mugwumps’ every post and can hardly wait for the next one!

Barn Door Tagz gets one.

Innstyle Montana gets one.

It’s Sunny in SD gets one.

Rancher Ron gets one.

Western Sky Riders gets one.

Cadence Horsemanship gets one.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Information on Berries

Some folks are probably wondering “What is with all of the berry and jelly posts lately?” Let’s just say I get on a bit of an OCD streak sometimes. Lately it’s been berries and jelly. I love this time of year because it reminds me of being a kid and eating berries for hours on end in my parents’ back yard and throughout the neighborhood. Of course at the time I sort of loathed berry picking, too. It was one of the jobs my brother and I had to do for Mom. Cherries (sour pie and Royal Ann), raspberries, blueberries and wild blackberries. In June, right after school was out for the summer, we would go to one of the many local strawberry farms and pick flat after flat.

If you are local to the Puget Sound area, I found this great article the other night while looking for information on where the best wild berry picking areas are around here. Not much detail, but good general guidelines. Wild, wonderful Northwest berries, July 9, 2003, Seattle Times.

In a past post I mentioned a few things in comments that some of you might have missed. I’ll recap here. Huckleberry jam/jelly is on my list of things to try. Just need to finish up the currant and other berries in the fridge before I start going huckleberries and wild (NOT Himalayan) blackberry picking. I would like to try both red huckleberries and evergreen/mountain huckleberries. Taylor Mountain Forest has a good selection of creeping blackberries and the red huckleberries. I think you have to be up pretty high to find the mountain ones. Luckily I am close to the mountains here and also visit the Olympic Peninsula frequently. I despise Himalayan blackberries and that is what most people around here think of as “wild.”

I would like to find some berry picking spots that are closer to me than Taylor Mountain so any southeast King County folks that know of some good places off of SR410, please let me know. I promise not to give away any secret spot information to the rest of the world! Mostly I am interested in the creeping blackberries right now. I may try for mountain huckleberry in mid to late August.

One of our blueberry bushes protected by netting and reflective tape, and guarded by Buena in the pasture.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

No Sugar Added!

The other day I made a batch of “no sugar added” red raspberry jelly from berries I picked at my parents’ place. Tonight I made a batch of red currant jelly, also “no sugar added” from part of the last of the currants that I finally finished picking. I have about 2 cups of juice left and it may go into a combination jelly of currant, blueberry and creeping blackberry. Or I will make red currant syrup instead. My son is asking for a batch of blueberry jelly, but the husband, aka Paddock Boy, likes his blueberries whole in pancakes all winter. I don’t know if I can sneak enough berries away from the stash he wants to put in the freezer or not. I refuse to buy blueberries at the store or Tracy’s Roadside Produce since we have access to our own bushes, but I will keep Tracy in business with other purchases. The Washington corn from Wapato has been spectacular lately!

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Looks Like It’s Going to Work

I found a Wintec girth today at a local consignment shop! I am not quite to the last holes on the leathers so I think this girth will work out just fine.

I didn’t ride, but I did saddle her up and then did some hooking on in the round pen after I attached the stirrups. Considering I haven’t done much of anything with Buena since riding in the Peter Campbell clinic back in March, I think it went really well. The hooking on felt really good. A little crankiness when asking for transitions, but nothing serious. A good thing is that she never offered to buck with this saddle on and also cinching up went really well.

I am going to stick to saddling with this one for a while and see if I can build a good foundation in for when I go back to saddling with my Wade. It’s so heavy and also has a back cinch, so it can be its own beast. I want to get some good stuff going for a few work sessions and see if it helps. I don’t know if I will take my next ride in the Wintec or not. I think I might go for the security of the Wade until I can my seat built back up a bit better.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Little English Pony

Picked up a used Wintec 2000 not too long ago. Yesterday I bought a 44" girth. Well, it’s way too big, so I’ll return it for something much smaller. The saddle looks like it is a good fit, too! I had to snap some pictures to see if she looks good in different attire. Of course she does! :)

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shed Before and After

This shed is what we use for our manure composting and also as a run-in shed for horses. Take a look at what it was before we bought the place back in 2003:

The first year we moved here Ariel used the shed as her shelter unless it was super cold and icy. That first winter we ended up eventually putting her in the barn only when the ice and wind didn’t let up for 3 days. That was a long week as our son was only a few months old and we also got Buster, our yellow lab. Buster is exactly one month younger than the Little Man.

Anyway, once we started using the barn in the winter and had more than one horse (we have had as many as 3), the shed ended up being a full-time manure-composting factory. It worked quite well. Only way to get the compost out without a ton (literally) of manual labor. It worked great for a while since I spent time sifting the compost to use in the flower beds, herb garden, etc.

It became increasingly apparent that we needed a tractor and a manure spreader. The stars finally aligned and we were able to acquire both in the past year. This past weekend we put both the tractor and the spreader to work. After we did some demolition on the shed, we were easily able to extract the compost with the tractor and load it into the ground-driven manure spreader being towed behind GT (Grandpa’s Truck).

The whole system worked like a charm and within a matter of a couple of hours the shed was empty and ready to be converted back into a combination run-in and compost shed. Look for further updates on this project in the coming weeks.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mmm, Rrred Rrraspberry

I just finished licking the pot of the batch of red raspberry jelly. Tasty! Better than the raspberry jam in Fisher Fair Scones—little to no seeds!

I think more red raspberry will be on the agenda soon. Heading over to my parents and they have quite a few bushes that need picking. Plus we have a few berries here to pick here, now that we can get to the bushes. The hubby took the tractor and removed a fairly decent sized area of the nasty invasive blackberry bushes.

Also on the jam/jelly making agenda is blueberry. Our bushes are starting to pump out some big fat berries and the birds have been thwarted by netting and reflective tape. I think the blueberry batch will happen this weekend.

So far I haven’t run out of jars to fill. Still have a few unopened boxes in storage and then there are the old jars that need to be washed and reused. Only need new lids for those as I am pretty sure I have plenty of rings. May have to see what Mom has when I am over there tomorrow afternoon, too. She’s who I got a majority of these jars from in the first place; long ago crafting projects that have since been left behind.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Barn Herb Garden

I have mentioned my herb garden in previous posts and comments. Here is what it currently looks like:

And here is a labeled larger photo that shows most of what I am growing this year:

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Jelly Batch #3

A repeat of red currant. This time I only had to process it once! I didn’t strain the juice this go around, so there is the occasional seed and quite a bit of pulp. Not as clear looking, but just as tasty! Strange that the yield wasn’t the full 12 jars, but oh well!

Next up: Red raspberry. Not sure if I am going to get “creative” like I did with the golden raspberry ginger. I have ’til the evening to decide.

Oh, and there are still a few more currants to be picked.

And blueberries. Maybe I’ll try a triple berry jam! I picked up Ball Blue Book of Preserving at Tracy’s Roadside Produce today when my son helped pick out the half flat of red raspberries. Guess I have some reading to do!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Now That the Hay Is Up

Buena gets to be back out on larger pasture! I staked out a new area with Gallagher Pigtail Posts and Turbo Wire on Thursday, the 17th and she now enjoys having a much larger area to roam. This section will be intensely grazed until fall when we renovate and reseed, hopefully resulting in more hay next year!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

My Horse The Ham

No words today, just pictures from July 16th. Sorry, previously I had said 17th and I was mistaken.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jelly Batch #2

My son and I stopped at Tracy’s Roadside Produce on Tuesday. I needed to drop off my second batch of herb bundles to sell. Yes, I am really farming! Sold 3 bundles last week. Took in 5 more on Tuesday.

Little Man said wanted some berries. We had a choice between blackberries, tayberries, and golden raspberries. He picked the golden raspberries.

In reading some blogs the other day I stumbled on the Crunchy Chicken Cooks blog where she mentions a great recipe for Triple Orgasm Strawberry Jam. I decided to play with tweaking a raspberry jam/jelly recipe this time around.

My end product...Golden Raspberry Ginger Jelly. And I must say, that I am very happy with the resulting taste. The color, however, isn’t the most appetizing. Probably comes from the fact that I didn’t cook the jelly right after squeezing the juice and refrigerated it overnight in the stainless steel pot. Or maybe the ginger juice made the raspberry juice turn brown. Oh well. Next time I will try it differently.

Oh, and this is where my rosemary and other herbs currently reside. Most are in pots in front of the barn, and most are planted in composted horse manure!

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Monday, July 14, 2008

My Son and My Horse

I’ll add some more pictures to this post later, but I though I would share this camera phone shot since I have it handy.

Here is a slide show of the pictures from the afternoon of July 14th. Forgive the quality as they were taken with my cell phone.

Yes, Buena is a total ham. I really enjoy her being so chummy and I hope that reconnecting like this means that our upcoming rides will be good ones. I attempted some lame bareback rides while we were in Montana and they didn’t go so great. Just confirmed how I felt at the time, which wasn’t all that hot. I know better than to go against my gut feeling.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jelly Anyone?

Batch number one of my currant jelly is done!

BUMMER! Only one of my twelve jars is properly sealed and it looks like my jelly hasn’t set quite well enough either. I’ll remake and reprocess this batch tonight I guess.

As for it being so clear...I have learned that you don’t squeeze the juice through the cloth; in this case a flour sack towel. Let gravity do its thing. Squeezing it makes the fruit juice cloudy and results in a more jam-like looking jelly.

My helper likes the way the KitchenAid juicer attachment “poops” out the seeds, skins and excess pulp. ;)

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New Additions

I have alluded to something in a couple of posts recently. During our trip to Montana we made an effort to take the horse trailer and Buena with us. I didn’t get much ride time in, but I did get horse time. Some folks may have wondered “Why haul that big trailer 2400+ miles around the state? Seems kinda silly to use up all of that fuel with prices being what they are.”

Well, the intention was to possibly bring home a horse or two from the far northeast corner of Montana. We have distant relatives that raise AQHA horses and we had been interested in a couple of them. The intention was to bring one home if we liked what we saw in person. While the horses we looked at were nice, they weren’t exactly what we wanted right now. However, this relative has lots of horses and we did like what we saw out in a couple of the pastures where mares and babies were turned out with studs for next year’s foals.

One of the horses we had originally thought about getting was a 2 year old bay roan filly. We quickly spotted her and watched her very closely over the course of the 2 days we visited. I spent a few hours working with her in a small pen and eventually got her haltered and did groundwork as well. Nice big filly, but there just wasn’t a compelling connection for me/us. If we were in a different place financially and lifestyle-wise then she probably would have come home with us. I got quite a few really nice changes with her. Whomever takes her home will probably have a lot of fun with her.

Another horse we looked at while there was a big black 2 year old filly. I really liked the way she moved and how she was put together, but I never did get a halter on her. Heck, she wouldn’t even really let me touch or pet her. A very sensitive filly, but also very scared. Just hasn’t had much handling at all. Too bad, because we really liked her. Just too much of a project for us being such a big horse and being so scared.

What we did end up deciding to do is get a couple of weanling fillies! They won’t be weaned until August, but that is just fine. We have quite a few projects going on here and a few new ones to accommodate weanlings now. We discussed it in great depth and decided that getting them really good and halter broke when they are smaller will be much easier on us (well me) and then we can have that much more of a foundation when it comes to getting them started under saddle.

They don’t currently have names, but when they do, I will for sure let everyone know. In the meantime, I anxiously await new pictures and updates from northeastern MT!

NOTE: The second filly is pure AQHA, not an appaloosa. I have had my fill of appies over the years, since I was a kid in fact, and I am not likely to own one any time soon. Sorry to disappoint (ducking).

And I am sure quite a few folks may be shocked to see me stray from my Arabian preference, but I am the first to admit that it takes a very special Arabian to be dog gentle with green riders and little kids. When I find that horse, I will get it, but in the meantime, we’re going to give some quarter horses a try. Oh, and Arabs don’t come in bay or blue roan colors!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Hay Harvest

The hay has been baled! We are a bit disappointed at our bale count, but there’s not much we can do about it except to try and make things better for next year. We put up most of the hay last night with the help of 2 local high school boys, my dad and my friend S. It wasn’t without some stress in just getting started. I bent the top link for the tractor in trying to figure out a way to pull the flatbed trailer with it. I ripped the tarp in the back of the Ford trying to pull out the debris from a few weeks ago with the tractor; way too heavy. All in all though, we got most all of the hay we need put up in the shed. At least two or three more loads tomorrow and then the rest in the field goes to a few close friends. Not much hay left over with a couple of extra mouths coming in a few months. (:-o More on that later.

Here are some of this year’s hay harvest pictures. And if you are in the area here, please make sure to check out the class on August 6th!







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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Around MT in 10 Days

Here are some photos from our trip.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Home Again

I had sporadic internet access while on the road last week. So much so that the Dillon post didn’t get posted until we got home.

No rest for the weary, either.

We spent our first day back doing laundry, unpacking (sort of) and getting ready to harvest and stack hay. Plus, we have a masonry company supposedly coming this morning and we had a demolition project in the kitchen to get done. Most all of those projects got pretty close to being completed.

Our hay guys started swathing early this morning. Now I await the chimney repair guys to show up!

Over the next few days I will post some snippets about the rest of our 2400+ mile trip around the state of Montana.

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