Category Archives: Ranch Garden

April Showers Bring Snow-plowers.

My daughter's pony.

My daughter’s pony.

In Wyoming we have a saying:

“April showers bring snow-plowers.”

Last week we had a bit of snow, again. It covered the mud and made it pretty for a day or so. We have had some type of snow/sleet/rain mix periodically over the past two weeks. Great stuff for a ranch! Moisture at this time of year should make the grass (hay) grow pretty good.


cats in snow

My parents were here for a little over a week in April. My sister Jane and her family (5 kids) came up for a couple days too. That was fun! Our kids played in the mud, fished in the creek, and just ran around like cousins like to do!

Family hotdog roast.

Family hotdog roast.

While my parents were here, we received a call about a little girl who needed a place to stay. We had said “no more foster kiddos”, but when there’s a need, the DFS tends to call anyways! Ha!

Well, hearing her story turned our hearts to mush, (every story does!) and we said ‘yes’.
foster kid

I bought a smoker/grill combo last summer. I am finally trying my hand at smoking, recently. The first attempt was tasty, but not soft enough for pulled pork. Yesterday I loaded my smoker in the morning and by evening it was done. The ribs were less tender than I wished, but the pork butt was pretty great! The elk roast is surprisingly tender too, although the outer crust is pretty hard. I may try wrapping in bacon next time. I can say I am hooked on smoking! Delicious! I miss southern bbq sometimes, so now I can finally make my own!

 

smoking meat

smoked, pulled pork

smoked, pulled pork

Smoked elk roast

Smoked elk roast. Check out that smoke ring!

The month of May promises to be full to the brim with fun events. Brandings, recital for my musical kids, church meetings, visiting with old friends, a wedding, and more brandings! 😀 Not to mention; gardening time is here! Chicks! Flowers! Woohoo! 😀 I have started working on my raised beds, and plan to finish them and plant them this month.

That’s what we’ve been up to; what about you? Anything special going on?

Are you ready for spring?!

Our Lord's Candle (Texas)

Our Lord’s Candle  amid mesquite. (Texas)

Spring is so amazing; green grass sprouting, fluffy clouds racing across the blue sky, baby calves in the meadows… I can barely stay indoors when it is warm! After a long winter of snowdrifts and blizzards, the sunshine feels wonderful! Last winter was not very extreme, but it is still lovely to watch spring unfold across the high prairie.

I am quite eager to plant seeds in my garden, and today I had the brilliant idea to look on Amazon for seeds… yep! They sell seeds and potting soil! What? They sell everything, I think! :)


And here’s a cute sunhat to protect your face…


I have been chopping and pruning branches, grubbing out wild rose vines, and plotting my garden beds. They say it’s too hard to grow things here, and they are probably right, but it is an incurable desire – I have to poke a few holes, pull a few weeds, and stick green plants in the ground!

My goal is to cover my raised beds with plastic hoops, kind of like mini-greenhouses. There are 4 raised beds here currently, and if they do well this year, I may add a couple for next year. When we lived near Laramie, I made hoop-houses like that, and they did quite good!

Here’s something similar…

The cows are moved out of the hay meadow by the house, the bluebirds are flitting around, probably building their nests, and my niece found a goose nest & eggs down by the river last week. My parents were here for 8 days, and my sister was here two days, and my other (married) sister & family spent 2 days here, also. It was a busy, busy week! 16 people squished into a double wide for several days, haha! But it was good.

We roasted hotdogs, caught & fried trout, and whipped up yummy desserts like strawberry pie and chocolate layer cake! Family is special. I always tell my kids that no matter what happens, their family will always be their family. Friends come and go, but family is always there. And the older I get, the more I appreciate my family. Even when we disagree and have issues to work through, they are special.

Spring cow and calf

Well, the day is moo-ving right along, I better get busy mopping my kitchen floor! All you mamas keep trusting Jesus with your problems and trials. He knows you perfectly, and understands. Listen to His quiet whisper.

I went back east… a woodsy photo post.

My one sister had a birthday, another is headed to a  foreign mission, so my sisters and I all gathered for a few days together in Pennsylvania. It was good to reconnect in person. Facebook and texting have their place – but there is nothing quite like face to face and heart to heart.
Also – sis has a massage chair.
Nuf said.

Pennsylvania porch

Unlike me – a person who has no decorating sense – sis has a lovely home and tastefully decorated rooms. Check out her porch! I just want her to fix up my home. :)


Pennsylvania porch

I ate fresh tomatoes out of her garden – even a few late raspberries! I am a bit crazy about fresh veggies, after living in the barren West for 10 years. I mean, between the short season and critters around here, it’s pretty hard for me to grow a decent tomato. So I enjoyed her garden, even if it was at the tail-end of the season.

Spider and Zinnia Cosmos

We drove to the Flight 93 crash site, which was sobering. I can’t help but think about the spouses, kids, parents, siblings, friends – all saddened by the passing of loved ones. Leaving politics and theories out of the  picture, it is a heart-breaking memory.
Flight 93

Then we drove to Ohiopyle State park. Yep, that’s a real name, folks. It took me awhile to figure it out, haha! It had two falls, one low and wide, and one high and narrow. Bothe were pretty. It was rainy and misty and cloudy – but I loved it. I wanted to sit by the falls and drink in the mossy, woodsy air for a long time… but then it started raining.

ohiopyle-fallscucumber-falls-ohiopyle-falls-29cucumber-fallsmushroomfernsfour sisters
We took the ATV through the hills and hollers, i walked in the rain-damp woods and picked up acors for my western-raised kids who’ve rarely seen them, we stayed up much too late every night, talking. We ate pumpkin dessert with ice cream, drank gallons of fresh cider, laughed and yawned and discussed potty-training and teenagers. Oh, it was great! I can’t wait till next time.

Birds in my yard.

My parents visited us a couple weeks ago. Mom would not stop bugging me about a bird feeder! Finally I hung one up just to please her. :) But you know – I have been having so much fun trying to capture these little guys mid-flight. They are so cute! Mostly sparrows, but then there’s this jay that keeps coming and chasing the others away. Jays are so ornery! Bossy and obnoxious. But strikingly beautiful.

Thanks for bugging me, mom!birds

birds birds birds birds birds birds birds


An Owl in my yard…and she has a baby!

Great Horned Owl babyMost of the wildlife around here has been very frustrating to me. Now, I like animals more than some people, I think, but there is a definite difference between a raccoon in a pretty picture, and a 30-lb one eating your chickens! Or a funny looking porcupine who strips your precious apple tree of bark, or innocent looking deer who devour whole gardens in a single night, or rabbits who do the same.

But I finally have a piece of wildlife around that is on my side!! Yay for owls! I have always loved their soft hoo-hoo-hooooo! Their ridiculously solemn, round eyes and heads that swivel. They are cool creatures, indeed. But the coolest thing is that they are predators! They eat mice, gophers and rabbits. (I suppose chickens too, but I can keep those inside a run) And when I discovered that a pair had built a nest in my backyard, I was simply delighted.

It’s been really hard to get a photo of them, tho, as they always fly off the nest the instant they see me. So yesterday I tried sneaking out with my camera. Newsflash: with their eyesight being some of the best in the world, you cannot sneak up on an owl. :) Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl


 

She immediately spread her wings to cover her chick in a protecting manner.  I think you’d get your hand pecked off if you tried reaching under that wing! Great Horned OwlBut my waiting was rewarded. When mama owl flew off, finally, I saw the cutest little fuzzy head in that tree! It was not making any noise, just hunkered down, waiting for mama. I yelled, clapped, whistled and banged on things, trying to get it to raise it’s head and look at me. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl chickGreat Horned Owl Chick

Oh, I was so excited to see this cute baby! I’ve never seen an owl chick before, to my knowledge. I believe this is a Great Horned Owl, but I am not a bird expert. Do any of you know for sure?

Hello, Winter!

They were calling for snow… I kept hoping they were wrong. They sometimes are, you know. 😉 But this morning when I walked out through my yard, this is the sight that greeted my eyes:

winterMy lovely, bright flowers are each sporting a white cap of fluffy snow.

winter


 

The grass is holding up a layer of snow on its green spears…

winter

 

I walked out to my garden and unplugged the electric fence. For there is very little left alive in there to protect. The corn may look nice – but I bet it will be brown by the end of the day. Besides, the coons have eaten most of the ears, anyways. :(

winter

Zucchini plants. You can’t plant too many here in WY, as you only get to pick a few before the plants freeze! ;)

 

Thankfully, I don’t think a bit of fluffy snow should hurt my apples. 

 

winterIt’s been but a short time since my last snow post, but I am hoping for a nice, long Indian Summer after this! 😉

Happy Winter, my friends.

 

 

Wyoming Garden Update – the greenhouse edition.

I have been meaning to get this update up sooner… but aahhh. Life is full and wonderful, and not to be over-crammed. :)
Here is a photo taken during July, and the broccoli has all been picked since then. You can see the strawberries have most of their leaves eaten off. Not sure if it was deer or what – but I am going with deer, since they have been my main nemesis in gardening! I have pulled and eaten the onions in this pot.
garden tour 3

The carrots have all been pulled and eaten, the cilantro has been picked and picked and then went to seed, the basil is still doing pretty good, although the leaves are getting smaller.garden tour 4
Wow! I can’t believe how much this plot has changed in a month’s time! This photo was taken in July…garden tour 7Same spot – about 5-6 weeks later! greenhouse in wyI tossed a wildflower packet I had in there, just figuring nothing would bloom before frost. Well, I was oh so wonderfully wrong! There are bachelors buttons, zinnias, marigolds, baby’s breath, and lots of unknown pretty flowers. So fun to see what all is coming up!greenhouse in wy

I need to look up the name of this beautiful flower...

I need to look up the name of this beautiful flower…

Inside the greenhouse, the tomatoes have shot up to hit the roof! I have harvested a handful of grape tomatoes, two ‘Cherokee Purple’ slicing tomatoes, one HUGE green bell pepper, a chile pepper, and about 6-8 small cucumbers.

Tomatoes are hitting the roof!

Tomatoes are hitting the roof!


 

Bell peppers

Bell peppers

Speaking of cucumbers… This is one plant! Going crazy. Gonna have to train it better next year.

 

Cukes are taking over! Help!

Cukes are taking over! Help!

 

Tomatoes galore!!

Tomatoes galore!!

 

 

My sweet helper!

My sweet helper!

Overall, I am delighted with how things are progressing in my greenhouse, and have learned a lot for next year. Hope you enjoyed this greenhouse tour! :)

 

Wyoming Garden Update – August, 2014

Hi friends! Just a quick post to give you an update on my precious, struggling garden! :) I have not photographed everything I have harvested – but today I thought I would give you another peak…

Carrots, two zucchini, an onion, a handful of crab-apples (seriously – is that all you can do?!) and a few new potatoes – just for fun. :)  The onions are all nearly ready, but since I don’t need them yet, figured I’d let them stay in the ground till they are bigger, or till I need them. I love going out and pulling a fresh onion for dinner. And the potatoes I dug just to see how big they are… yes, I am quite childish about waiting on root crops! I am leaving the rest till they mature, no worries.

The carrots are actually going crazy out there, and last week I pulled about two pounds of nice sized carrots! I planted them ‘way too thick, so I am pulling them here and there to thin out some of the thick spots. And my kids love them – they are so tender! I do pick zucchini pretty small – who needs huge nasty ones?


I also picked two cherry tomatoes from my greenhouse today, but they went straight into my mouth! 😉 and yesterday I picked some cucumbers. So I am feeling pretty happy about my garden this year.

My favorite is the flowers – all from my little flower patch! So pretty…

wyoming garden 2014

Blurry cell phone pic!

Yesterday I made these yogurt/fruit parfaits for breakfast. I ran out of yogurt, but they were still delicious! I used my own homemade granola, vanilla yogurt, and peach pie filling (also homemade). My son plopped a spoonful of Cool Whip on top of his. :) Yum. If I would have had more yogurt, I would have added another layer on the top.

peach breakfast

While I was hunting for crab-apples on the tree today, I found this cute little bird’s nest.

nestWe started school Monday. So far it is going good and we are enjoying it. My 18 month old wants to practice phonics with her sister everyday. :) She knows all her letter sounds already, the little stinker! (I want my baby as long as possible!!!!)

Anyways. That is what I am up to.

Oh! And I sent my very first international cinch order last week. All the way to Australia! Kind of big for me, I admit. :)

mohair cinch

Wyoming Garden Tour ~ July, 2014

Hi friends!

I have been wanting to get a garden tour up much earlier, but just haven’t had time. Been spending too much time in my garden, haha! :) Anyways, I am a pretty big gardening addict, although I am not a great gardener – really. Most of my gardens have been duds, or at best – sad sights. But I struggle on! 😀 In 13 years of gardening (on my own) I have had exactly ONE garden I was completely, 100% satisfied with. And that was in MO. Back there where you throw seeds on the ground and a few weeks later pick veggies.

Anyways. Wyoming gardening has been a struggle for many reasons, let me tell you. But I am learning! And this year my garden is at least passable. I want to show you around my garden today…


From the outside it looks trashy, I know! It is an eyesore. But – the bird tape was given by my mom to keep deer out, so I put it up. It doesn’t even keep the birds out! Worthless. Gonna rip it down eventually. The ‘regular’ fence was there when we moved here. I added the tall poles (cheap conduit pipe) and stretched nylon netting around it the first two years. That actually did keep the deer out for awhile, but once the coons ripped it down to get at the corn, the deer went in too, and happily ate off my ENTIRE garden in a single night. This happened two years in a row, and after that I said enough! This year I added an electric fence outside the existing fence, (3 strands!) with the hope that between the shock and the 3 ft gap – they would’nt try jumping over or going through the fence. So far it’s working! Yay! But this year, for the first time – we have rabbits. Wretched varmints.

wyoming garden 2014

Standing at the gate… the wooden fence is pallets sawed in half (my son’s work!) and it was covered with netting to keep the birds out of the strawberries. I didn’t think of rabbits… they went right through the slats and chewed off all the strawberry leaves! No berries, just the leaves. :(

wyoming garden 2014

Rhubarb plants I transplanted from a different spot where they barely grew. (under trees) Here they seem to be doing well.


wyoming garden 2014wyoming garden tour

My garden looking south. Before I decided to get electric fencing, I built this wire enclosure for my peas. (determined to get some peas!!) I found instructions HERE.

I have three veggie beds – separated with mowed grass.

wyoming garden 2014

 

I crammed a LOT of stuff in the wire hoop-house! :) Probably too much. I have been picking a ice-cream pail of peas every other day, lately. On a side note: now I know why my mom said peas take too much room. As many beautiful peas that I have – yet I am not getting enough to freeze much. I would need a lot more plants to get a substantial amounts to freeze. Anyways.

garden tour 2014

So proud of my first ever cauliflower! Who knew they are so easy to grow?!

So proud of my first ever cauliflower! Who knew they are so easy to grow?!

For some reason, rabbits only eat the green beans and strawberries. :/

 

garden 6

Garden plot #1

IMG_7217

Garden plot #2
Onions and potatoes

wyoming garden 2014

garden plot #3
Just corn

wyoming garden 2014

My little helper

wyoming garden 2014wyoming garden 2014

Some of the challenges I have encountered in my Wyoming gardens are:

1. Short growing season. Literally 2 months. Or 3 if I’m lucky. And even when it isn’t ‘freezing’, the nights get cool, so warm weather things just don’t ripen before frost. Tomatoes and peppers just sit there. So this year I put them in my green house.

Yes! I have a greenhouse!! I will share a post on it soon…

2. Deer. These are seasoned veterans of eating gardens. They are practically tame. Seriously the most annoying thing ever.

3. Rabbits. First year for these critters, but quickly rising to the level of annoyance that the deer are at.

4. Cows. Thankfully on this ranch my garden is not too clse to any fences/pastures. Last ranch I have had entire gardens trampled into the ground by these ferocious, obnoxious beasts.

5. Hail. (3 inches across one time. Shreds plants!)

6. Late Snows. (a foot on Mothers day this year.) Or early snows. (Sept one year)

So there ya go. Are you tough enough to garden in WY? Good for you! tell me your tricks! :) It is not for the faint of heart, I’m tellin’ ya! But with a lot of work and a little luck – you might just get some garden fresh veggies that make it all worthwhile. :)