Thursday, June 30, 2011

We have a few castaways here at the Cease Fire Ranch

So yesterday, I was joyfully (and I say that with great sarcasm) taking some chicken poop out to the compost heap. Yes, my life is THAT exciting. The truth is my chicken coop smells like... well, chicken crap.


On the way back to the coop for another load (yes there's many), I saw a chicken pecking at something out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and saw the biggest spider of my life! Well, except for that tarantula almost crawled up my LEG in Arizona once. (true story). Other than that it was a huge spider.

I went in for closer inspection... cuz, I'm not askeered of spiders, but what did I find?


This guy! A big old fat crawdaddy.

Now, I was kind of impressed considering the fact that where I live is in the middle of a bean field, very flat with no water (well, except for that 3 inches of rain we got the other night). I always thought that crawdaddy's had to live in/near a lot of water. I mean, they look just like a mini lobster so you know, water seems to come into play here.

I scooped him up with the bucket I was carrying and he was kind of pissed about it. He kept saying "hhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeehhhhhhh" to me.. very quietly, so really he's not all that scary. Well, except for his pinchers. A well placed pinch wouldn't go over very well - with me anyway. He'd probably love it.


Don't worry that I had *A* crawdad for dinner. I took his photo and then re-released him back to the wild. The "wild" being the grass under the propane tank that everyone seems to not notice when they mow.

Btw, he told me to tell you "hhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeehhhhhhhhh"


My other castaway is kind of hard to see in these 2 photos. Can you figure it out?

I'll wait.


You're right! You're so smart. :) Ignore the pulvarized hosta plant on the left. To chickens hostas taste like... well... chicken. What we're looking at is that blurry plant on the left of the photo. In the right photo, right in the middle of all those grasses is my hidden pulvarized hosta, and also a tree!

This spring when we were working on the flower bed, we noticed that there was a twig sticking up out of the ground right next to the hosta. I was puzzled as I didn't remember planting something there, yet, there was this twig. I knew it wasn't a plant stake either. I was baffled.

So I did what every lazy gardner does.... I left it.

Imagine my surprise when a few darn leaves popped out! Now I'm a little excited since trees in my bean field chateau are kind of scarce. Oh, I have like 10, but most of them are only 4 foot tall. Plus, most every tree I plant eventually dies anyway, and here's one that just grew up willy nilly all on his lonesome!

He can't stay, of course, because it's so close to the house, which would be wonderful if it could stay. So eventually it's going to need to be moved.

That's where you all come into play.

Anyone ever moved a wild tree before? (feral woman, you tree wrangler, I'm looking specifically at you).
Any tips?
Does it have a tap root I should be concerned with? (it's either a red or a sugar maple)
Any certain way it should be dug?
What do I do to make sure it lives?
Do I wait a couple years before I move it?

Oh I'm all atwitter.

OK, not really... I mainly wanted to say "atwitter". However, I am kind of excited about a tree that is so darned determined to live, he set up home HERE. Sucka

Oh, and guess what!?


I'm pretty sure there's 2! That one is tiny.

In other news, it's my birthday today. bleh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A wedding sneak peek - Keysa and Andy got married

A mini sneak peek of Keysa and Andy's wedding.
I love these two!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A bumper crop this year

I have apple trees. Exciting no? Except for the part were it literally took me like 2 years to figure out they were actual apple trees.


This is my ENTIRE crop of apples this year, and they are about the size of my big toe. (I have normal sized toes fyi). It seems a little disappointing, until you see this:


Right: The "mamma" tree growing apples. (which leans to the north because Iowa sucks. Ha.... I can say that because I grew up there)
Left: The "pappa" tree who donates the pollen to make toe sized apples happen.

I kind of imagine the pappa tree saying "Don't cut me down! I can do this, I swear!" Then the mamma tree says "gawd you are useless" (btdt)

I think I will celebrate their struggle and survival by making an apple pie. It'll be a pot pie sized sadly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sooooo... I have a question


If crab grass grows pretty much anywhere, quickly and hardy, why don't we just have yards made of crabgrass?

I mean.. apparently it's working for me right?



You know, I think we did a-ok in the rooster department.

This is Rufus, or maybe it's Roofus. I mostly call him rooster, or Mooster like my niece Tayen does. He's pretty easy going, no pecking feet, toes, legs, arms or eyes - all good things. He crows, but not so much that it's annoying. He is protective of his girls (all 18 of them) and quick to break up any arguments - or maybe he's just running over to watch. (you know how guys are wanting to watch girls fight over them. sigh).

When he thinks he's found something interesting to eat, he makes a little gutteral noise in his throat and everyone comes running... he always lets them eat it first. ALWAYS. I know the noise so well, that even I go and look to see what's on the menu.

He just has one downfall... He can't help it that maybe he's a little rough in the horizontal Chicken Dance, he can't help it if he has really big....


I mean look at him...


What's a happenin' hot stuff.
{name that movie}

No wonder the girls crow over him... I mean.. swoon. They'd crow if girls could crow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slugbug anyone?

about a year ago, volkswagen put out a series of commercials that was a throwback to the "slug bug" game. You know, see a beetle, punch a friend. Tanner decided he was going to start playing "red one".... "Green one". I frankly wasn't cool with that since I have no idea what car is a VW unless it's a beetle.

Cuz you you know, I'm a girl.

I explained the old rules (or just one rule at the time) to Tanner. "See a beetle, punch a friend".

It kinda caught on.

It took a little nudging, but I got Gene in on the act, and before you know it we'd just be sitting there chatting in the car and someone would say "SLUG BUG!" and you'd get thwapped. Sometimes hard.

So here we are, a year later and the rules of slug bug have developed on their own.

1. It's called slug bug, not punch buggy as the word "buggy" makes me irrationally angry. Don't ask, I don't know why either.
2. First one to call it gets the point.
3. Ties each get a point.
4. Miscall a slug bug (DAMN HHRs ... GRRR) and lose 2 points!
5. Convertibles are 2 points.
6. Vintage beetles are 2 points.

Of course, Gene sometimes makes up rules as he goes, like you have to call the color too, or that the first one to 10 wins. But mainly he tries to get a couple bonus points because he has to drive.

Never works.

Recently on our trip to Minnesota we came up with rule #7.

7. Vintage convertibles are 3 points!

I proclaimed that this will be rare and is the holy grail.
Less than an hour later, Tanner slug bugs me for 3 points.


I missed a photo, but the NEXT DAY, Gene spots one while out and about.
I got slug bugged again.

Damn rule.


As I walked past the owners of this beetle, I informed them that this was a 3 pointer. They were all "uhh.. that's *nice*".

Some people just can't appreciate a fine slugger.

Who else plays slug bug?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bovine in the mist

Just up the road from me, is a herd of cattle. On one side there are red ones, and on the other there are black ones, that's as technical as I can get when it comes to describing cows. If you've read my blog more than 7 minutes, you know that I kinda have a love affair with cows.

Once in a great while on my way home from a shoot there will be this pretty fog that covers the bottoms that we live in. There's a sweet spot in the light where it's almost gone, but not completely. To me, the cows look almost magical peeking in and out of the mist.

Saturday, on our way home from a wedding - exhausted from standing/moving/walking/crouching/carrying a 10 pound camera all day, I spotted the cows once again in the mist and said "wow, look at that!"

Gene, without complaining, pulls over and lets me go get all my equipment out for a shot.

Bovine in the mist

I'm working on the pefect shot, but feel like I did "ok" for a first try.

Canon 5d
iso 1600
1/30 of a second
handheld because I didn't have the adapter for my tripod.

Monday, June 20, 2011

You will be hungry by the end of this post. Promise.

Friday, Gene had a doctors appointment in the morning. No worries, he still has that cob up his butt. :p

Anyway, so I suggested that he just take the whole day off and after the dr. appt since he'd be missing a half of a day anyway. It doesn't take much to talk him into vacation time.

We just so happened to have a couple groupons that I bought this winter set to expire soon so we decided we'd be eating fancy. Date day!

This is the Missouri River as it looked on Friday, if you are wondering about how we're doing, most of us are ok unless living along the river. (I don't) It's a mess, I'll leave it at that.

Our first stop making it into the city was Michael Smith's downtown.

It looks a little unassuming from the outside, but the inside is full of pretty light. This is important if you're a photographer... or care about light I guess. :p Beautiful and simple decor. I really liked the place. We did not feel crowded at all.

We started with appetizers and I had the soft spanish tacos. They are braised chicken, fresh avocado, manchego cheese, oregano and spanish olive with red pepper salsa. I ordered an extra so we could each have 2. Very good, and you could almost eat that for a meal itself. I'm glad I shared.

Gene got the torn romaine salad with garlic anchovy vinaigrette and parmesan croutons. It looked great, even with the anchovies. He said it was one of the better salads he's ever had.

I'll not be offended by that statement.

Here's the BEST PART. I decided to live dangerously and eat something I normally would not order. It's kind of fun to try out new things, even if they sound odd as you never know what you'll love.

For me Friday, that was braised rabbit. It is made with potato gnocchi, shiitake mushrooms and shaved parmesan. I have to tell you, that this is probably the most tasty thing I've ever eaten in my WHOLE life!

So happy I don't work there.


I had it with a glass of Leitz Riesling which was very good. I should have bought a bottle while I was there, because now I can't find it!

Gene ordered the pan roasted wild striped bass with peanut potatoes, sauteed spinach guanciale & red wine reduction. He also took this photo himself so this is why the focus is off. LOL. (he's still learning).

I tried it myself and for someone that does not like fish, I could totally eat this. It was delicious. (not as good as my rabbit. Sorry bass).

No great meal is complete (and over stuffed) without dessert!

Gene got the dark chocolate torte, and I can't remember what mine was called. It was a strawberry gelatin on a dark chocolate layer with champagne sorbet. This was the only part of the meal I didn't love. I didn't realize it was dark chocolate, and I'm just not a dark chocolate fan.

Please don't take away my girl card.

I went to the restroom before leaving and had to share with you the sink in the ladies room. The water drained behind the mirror. Very unique.

Over the men's restroom was a huge wine cellar I noticed as I waited for Gene.

I love you riesling. I'll visit you soon!

{Insert 5 hours of antique shopping and 1/2 hour of scrapbook shopping.}

Next meal was at Webster House. A very old, former school house, now turned antique store and restaurant. {FYI I didn't even know about the antiques}

I'm going to be up front. Both Gene and I felt like we were "sized up" as we came in for our reservation. I especially noticed it when the hostesses walked away to talk about us as they were deciding where to seat us... which was in the bar. The bartender was our waitress and she couldn't keep up with her whole 2 tables she had to cover.

I was NOT impressed as we were crammed in with all the bar people, and 4-5 other tables in a room that was not overly large, while in the next room, only one group was there.

Gene had the Pan-Seared Colorado Striped Bass with Fresh Corn, Mission Figs, Crispy Spanish Chorizo, Mache, Chipotle Vinaigrette. I'm just now realizing, he had bass twice on the same day.

What's wrong with that guy?

It was the chorizo that sold him. He said it was good, but not as good as the earlier bass.

I had the Cavatelli Pasta Verdure with chicken. {Leeks, Zucchini, Haricot Verts, Fresh Spinach, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Lemon}. It was quite good and very filling. I had to take about half of it home and we shared it for lunch the next day.

I think what impressed me the most, was their bathroom. So of course, I took a photo. LOL.

Overall, consider the treatment we received, I doubt I'll go back there again. Michael Smith's however, will name a table after me when I die.

We then rolled to our car and drove our bloated selves home.

It was a fun day trip, in a city we've been to a thousand times, but saw things (and ate them) that we'd never seen before.

Day trips rock.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And now - for some Cow Haiku

First some lazy chickens
Then a crazy fast turkey
Haikus for them all

She is majestic
This sweet, old cow chewing cud
Chew, burp, chew, burp, chew

Laying in the grass
Loving her life on the ranch
Squeezin' out babies

There she is again
Annoying photographer
Mooove out of my face

"She's" really a he
"She's" just thick in the middle
Kinda just like me

Thursday, June 16, 2011


One of my new favorite photos. Love the focus point, the tiny bit of scruff on his beard, the almost kiss. I want a photo of us like this!

See the rest here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DIY Chicken Saddles - Part 1

I have a couple naked ladies at my house. Well, more than a couple really, more like 6.


It seems that when Mr. Roofus the rooster likes to "do his business" (aka the horizontal chicken dance) with the ladies, that sometimes he gets a little over zealous and pulls out some feathers.


So what happens is, a few of his favorite girls will get bare backs. (you can kind of see above). This is not good because Mr. Roofus' talons are pretty sharp. When he comes back for round 17, he could potentially harm the hen by puncturing her skin as she has no protection. This can lead to serious and sometimes life threatening damage. Plus, I've noticed that the girls that have exposed backs are getting sunburned pretty badly. They tend to hid out under the jeep or under the apple tree most of the day. That can't be really all that much fun for them.

Really the only solution is to create a chicken saddle for them. This allows them time to regrow their feathers, without having to be removed from the flock. It also protects their back from rooster talons and other hens picking at the new pin feathers that will grow in.

I've been doing a lot of research to find the perfect saddle. Thing is, I can sew. I can sew very well. In fact, I can design my own patterns and be in the chicken saddle business by 6 p.m. tonight.

I just don't want to!

So there's the rub. I don't want to do all those things. Eurethra! I mean, Eureka! I found someone on the internet that made a simple saddle out of fleece. I found a cheap fleece blanket at ikea. $2.00 for a large lap throw that was very thin. I didn't want it to be big thick polar fleece as they have to wear it in the summer. Plus, it needed to be a nice light color to reflect heat. Super simple, easy peasy, no sewing, just a pair of scissors.

Oh hey, I have scissors (I had to look for 10 minutes but I did have some).

I gave it my first best shot, just going off some internet measurements:


9" long, 7" wide and 2 holes for wings.

The result?


One pissed off and humiliated chicken.

It's too loose, so I will need to adjust my pattern, plus I think I need to make a hole for the tail feathers to go through since the wind seems to blow it around a lot.

I imagine the conversation in the yard goes something like this:

Humiliated Hen: What is it!? Get it off get it off!!
Best friends: bwhahahahaha
HH: No really, get it off of me!
BFF: *breath* bwhahahah
HH: Get it off!! *distracted* Oh look, a bug.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pardon me!


Why is it, that every time I get this view of a chicken, I feel a little like I'm looking up her skirt?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fully supporting a behemoth TV

Gene and I really enjoy (for the most part) home improvement projects. Well, mainly the ones where we get to make pretty things. The ones where we (him) climb under the house for 5 consecutive weekends to replumb the house, yeah, those aren't all that fun.

However, in our excitement to create our little dream home here in small sky country, we sometime get our horses a little ahead of our cart. Meaning: Sometimes we buy our supplies long before we actually need them.

Case in point:

{please ignore the man behind the tv}

About 3 years ago, we purchased this antique buffet. We really liked it, and thought it would make a really awesome bathroom vanity for our master bath. Little did we know, we'd drag our feet for months years. What can I say? I'm really scared of tiling a shower. I feel very confident, I'm going to screw it up.

Out of sight out of mind right?

Well, this behemoth is a little hard to get "out of sight". For a year it sat in our dining room where it actually fit in quite well. Almost to the point where I thought of keeping it there for good. Then, we decided to build the library/bar and it had to go. So we did a little rearranging and it became our entertainment center for our behemoth TV.

I realize now, looking at the photo that it's a giant black hole up against that wall. oops.

While on vacation in MN, we went to Ikea. Yep... us lil' old rednecks don't get to them big ol' cities thar much.

While we were there, we found a simple and inexpensive mount for a televsion.... something else we'd put off since they are really expensive! $100 to hang my tv on the wall? What ever happen to a good old cup hook?

Saturday Gene and I got up early to go to garage sales. Actually, we HAD to get up early to take Tanner to work, but decided we should go to garage sales too. It pays to go early, I'm just saying.

One of our awesome finds was an antique buffet, Gene pretty much said sold without even confering with me. Our plan was to purchase it and put it in our booth at the antique mall. A threat of rain made us bring it in the house and that's when we realized that it was so much nicer than ours.

So we took it as a sign that we must rearrange everything we own (again) and make room for it.

{construction zone, please excuse the dust. Well, that's my excuse anyway}

And by golly, Gene also took a moment to hang the black behemoth on the wall.

Look! A horizontal surface to set things on. Ahhh... the possibilities.

The old black one will now go in our booth, and hopefully we'll break even on this whole deal. I'm not going to place any bets on that prospect though.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Turkey Haiku


He sprints back to home

He thinks I'm gonna eat him
You go turkey, Run!

Extra Paranoid

For a bird that can not fly

They sure are flighty.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My sickly green thumb


As someone who's gone from a decidedly brown thumb, to someone with a lightly tinged green thumb, I look at my wee little garden once in a while and say "hells yeah!" I seem to have mastered anything that is purple. Why? No idea, but my salvia is doing so well, I pretend that I'm a salvia expert.

Truth is, knowing my luck it probably would grow well in a rock. But regardless, I still feel good about it.


See? This purple "thing" is doing so well. Just wish I could remember what the heck it was.


This purple thing was part of the pound of wildflower seeds I threw out in April. It's the ONLY THING that grew. See? I told you I was good at purple.

Sadly it was only 2 plants out of a potential 25,000.

They probably should have given me more purple stuff.


It's not just purple though. This little tree seesm to be doing pretty well - considering.

Considering it sits in a corner and doesn't get much attention. It's doubled in size in 2 years - which means it's now TWO feet tall. At this rate, I'll have a 10' tree just in time to celebrate my 60th birthday.

(And everyone knows I'm just 28 now.)

It's not all glory though:


My poor impatiens.

Poor, sad imatiens. Or as I prefer to call them, my impatients. To be fair, I actually bought these plants LAST YEAR. Yes, I bought an annual last spring. I potted a few and set them on my kitchen counter where they lived all winter. They even blooomed a little. This spring I transplanted them to the outside garden and they didn't fair so well.

I prefer the indoors too.

They are kind of ugly, but fighting to live. Someone doesn't seem to mind much though....


I had a little visitor the other day, and didn't even notice until I'd stood there beside him for several minutes.


He appreciated the shower.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's that time of year again!

Time for all my couples to start getting their engagement photos done for summer/fall weddings. This past week was almost a blur.

Calee and Charles - see a few more of their sneak peek here.

Candi and Rico - see a sneak peek of their engagement session here too!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

how to kill a beaver.... or a wombat... or a hedgehog or something.


A couple days ago, in a fit of lawnmowing rage (because lawn mowing around here usually results in a near child like tantrum by the glass man), Gene happened across a hole in the ground. He then proceeded to tell me "hey there's a big hole in the ground over there".

I flashed back on my childhood for a millisecond remembering back to when I discovered the open hole in my own childhood backyard.

"Mom, there's a hole in the yard."
"oh, it's just a snake hole."
"no it's not, it's big!"
"yes it is, we have some big snakes." (we did, fyi. I found those too)
"No!! it's huge, you have to look!"
(repeat this for a while until I finally get my mom to look).

In the end, it was the top of the septic tank caving in.
Told you it was big hole.

So when Gene said there was a "big hole" in the ground, I had that sinking feeling that my own mother must have had when she realized what it was. I said "you sure it's not the septic tank?"

Gene: "uhh... no. It's 'something'"

He was right, it was 'something' indeed.

Something bigger than a snake and if you don't believe me, look here:


Yes, I threw a hanger next to the hole as a size reference. Mainly because I didn't know where a ruler was, and I was entirely too lazy to go look for one.

The thing is, this hole is just plonked down randomly in my back yard. What you should know is that we live in bean field - quite literally. I can see at least a half mile in most directions and we have exactly 2.32 trees on our property. There's no access to water (well, there's the leech field to the still working properly (knock on wood) septic tank). There's no food (well, there are a herd of chickens that run around here sometimes. And voles... there's always voles.)


OK, it might be something, but still the logistics of the placement of the hole makes zero sense, it was right out there in the open, with no easy access to chickens or sewer water.

We determined it was probably a ground hog or a fox. My lengthy (4 minutes) research on the internet suggested that it definitely WAS a bad spot for a fox to build a den. (Maybe it was a really stupid fox). Which isn't good if it was, you know that old story about a fox in the hen house? Yeah... not cool.

So we did what all good rednecks do. We decided whatever it was, needed to be kilt ded, and here's how the glassman set out to do that.

Gather some newspaper, and a lighter. Shove it in the hole and set it on fire.


Use your wife's only dustpan to get it smoking and wave the smoke around a lot.


Gather your garage sale lawn chair with no cushion and a shot gun and wait for something to shoot out of the hole so you can take a whack at it.


{I'm strangly attracted to him right now}


That's it. Exactly nothing happened. I kinda expected that to happen anyway, as in my head I shot about 7 holes in this theory but it was fun to watch regardless. From the safety of a telephoto lens FYI.

He was armed after all.

After investing about 12 minutes into this process. The glassman lost interest and did what I figured he'd do from the start.
He crushed the hole and peed on it.


If you want to have a deterrent for pests, have a male regularly pee in that area and the critters (may) disappear. Guess what. It worked.


Either that or the nagging groundhog/fox wife had this conversation: "Do you really expect me to hatch out a nest of critters HERE?? It's in the middle of nowhere and all we have to eat is voles and fast chickens. Don't even get me started on the sewer water, and to top it all off it SMELLS LIKE PEE! Now go find me something acceptable before I chew your face off."

At least that's how *I* would do it.
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