Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Midnight, the escape artist

Two weeks ago, we lost our Lab, Emily.  It was a sudden, unexpected death. 

Kev and Andy were home with her and they buried her in our pasture.  While they were taking care of Em, they made sure that our other dog, Midnight, was with them the entire time--to ensure that he knew where Em had gone and that she was gone.  They were buds. 

For the first couple of days, Midnight would look for Em.  He wouldn't eat because he was waiting for her to eat.  He would go around the house and look for her.  When we'd let him out, he'd wait for her to join him.  It was heartbreaking.

He'd go to their pen and wait for Em to join her and would look at us with such pitiful eyes when we'd shut him up alone.  We've always penned our dogs when we're gone for the day--to ensure their safety, and the safety of my chickens and goats (when we had them.) 

Last week, Midnight got out of his/their dog pen.  He then tried to get into the house.  We found pieces of the brick molding from around the door scattered on the ground.  The trim around the door itself was destroyed.  There were claw marks in the siding and even beside the garage door.  (We have cedar siding, so it's relatively soft.)

I checked beside the sliding door upstairs, and discovered a nice "hole" in the trim and a pile of splinters.  I wouldn't put it past him to figure out how to open the sliding glass door.

Andy and I discovered that he'd chewed a hole in the chain link of his gate and pushed through it.  We blocked it (we hoped) and made sure we left him toys and chew treats the next day.

He was out when we got home.

Kev spent the weekend reinforcing the gate and put up some stock panel on the gate.  It's a heavier gauge than chain link, so he was fairly confident that it would deter more escapes.

It didn't.

Midnight was out again last night.  He didn't chew through, but had pushed the gate frame enough it's stretched and created a gap large enough for him to squeeze through.  And this time, he tried to open the screen door on the sliding door.  He managed to yank the screen door completely off--but left incriminating teeth marks on the aluminum frame.

Obviously, he doesn't like being alone in his pen.
Obviously, he doesn't like rawhide bones, beef bones, or chew toys.
Obviously we have a problem.

We either need to find another dog--soon, or figure out a way to stop the destruction.  If we can't...well, we won't think about any other options at this time.  He's a good dog...most of the time...he's just never been alone and obviously doesn't cope with being alone well.

It's frustrating.  I'm not so sure our house can survive Kev's remodeling and the dog...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Stair project, the continuting saga

Christmas is 3 weeks away. 

I'm hosting the family Christmas dinner. 

And THIS is what my house looks like..

Yep, I have a hole in my floor. 

A hole that also has a water line, furnace duct work, electrical wiring and cable wiring that all goes to mystery locations.  All need to come out and be re-routed before the stair framework can be put in.  Which has to be completed before the staircase can be put up. Which has to be put in before the old stairs get removed which will require more wiring to be moved... and so on and so on.

And, Kev thinks he can have it all looking nice before Christmas...


Christmas is in 20 days...

And we still don't have any stair treads.

And I've expressed my doubts about any real progress being made before Christmas.  Which  Kev shrugs off...


We've made a bet.  I bet Kev that he won't have this project completed in a year.  Completely finished in a year.  If he loses, I get a weekend trip planned by him.  If I lose, he gets the satisfaction that he's right, "as usual."  (That's what he picked folks!)

I just want it somewhat put together by Christmas.  USEABLE by Christmas.  Safe for little ones to maneuver by Christmas. 

Stay tuned...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Always a bridesmaid

So...I'm going to be in another wedding.

You'd think that at my age, all of my friends were done with the wedding thing, but that's not so.  One of my friends, of over 20 years is getting married--again.  It's her second marriage, but the groom's first.  And, since she didn't have a wedding the first time around, they've decided to go for it.  And she asked me to be one of the bridesmaids.  Or matron.  Whatever.

Saturday, we met in Salina at the David's Bridal Store to find dresses.  And everyone who reads here knows how much I like to shop.  And you all probably know how much I detest dresses.  Yep, I was NOT looking forward to this...not at all.  And, the bride knew it and let me pout and pretty much ignored me and made me do it.  Basically she reminded me it's all about her and not about me.

She knows me pretty well.

But you know what?

It wasn't that bad.

Granted she made me try on 786 dresses. (and I even shaved my legs.)

But it still wasn't that bad.

It was my first time ever actually trying on dresses for a wedding.  In all the ump-teen weddings I've been in, I've never had any input in what I was wearing.  I was just called and asked, "what size of dress do you wear?" 

And I didn't have a "real" wedding dress when Kev and I got married.  My dress came from a department store.  I saw it in the window, went in, tried it on and bought it probably 2 years before Kevin ever proposed. 

So I never tried on wedding dresses.

The bride did try on a dress--she'd been in before and had narrowed down her choices to two.  The first dress she put on was the one she bought.  We all agreed it was the right dress, and shared a few tears too.

So...all in all, I'm glad that I'm a my age.  Cause otherwise, I would have never gotten to experience this custom.

Miss Kat was with us.  She soaked it all in.  And...somehow, I think that someday, I'll find myself in a bridal shop, trying on dresses and watching a different bride and I'll probably cry on that day too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Working through the pain

I haven't stitched much in several months.  Why?  Because I've been struggling with "tennis elbow," or tendinitis since July.

Since I don't like going to the Dr., the diagnosis came from the resident PTA, who can't legally diagnosis.  But, I'm pretty sure he's safe from me suing him since I have intimate knowledge of his financial status, and I already have everything he owns.

The "Tennis Elbow" in my case should be called "Shifting Elbow"...or maybe "Moving-too-many-damn-books Elbow."  I'm guessing it's a repetitive stress injury from 20+ years of moving lots and lots of heavy books.  This summer, for example, I handled approximately 20,000 books.  All of them were picked up, 4 at a time, by me.  All within a 3 week time period.  Using the same arm...which led to the injury. 

It's one of those hidden aspects of librarianship.  I knew I was at risk for Carpel Tunnel, I was warned of that 20+ years ago.  And the primary culprit of Carpel Tunnel?  Shifting books.  No one told me I could also get Tennis Elbow.  Not that it would have changed a thing, because I have this tendency to think "that won't happen to me."  (Thinking that tends to get me into sooooo much trouble...) 

So, my elbow hurts.  It hurts when I lift anything with that one hand.  It hurts when I hyper-extend that arm.  It hurts to drive, it hurts to reach and grab things.  It hurts to put stuff up on a tall shelf.  It hurts to get things down from a tall shelf.  It even hurts to stitch.  The usual prescribed treatment?  To rest the elbow.  To not use it. 


My personal therapist also told me to ice it and to do some electronic stimulation on it.  We have a e-stim machine at home.  I've used it twice.  Ice?  Haven't done it.  Rest the elbow?  ...well...why don't you give that a try and see if you are better at it than I am!

I've just been dealing with it, and trying to not do anything that would make it hurt.  Not successfully, but I try.  Which means I've stopped doing a couple of things that would aggravate it, like shooting my bow and stitching.

So, I'm not bow hunting this year.  And I haven't been stitching.  Even though some special little girls have needed their gifts.  They are five months old and I had a goal of getting them their gifts much sooner than now.  BUT...this weekend, I finished up their project.  It's in the mail, and will arrive at their house tomorrow...

Here's a sneak peek...

I hope the girls, and their Mama enjoy them!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The first and final harvest of 2011

We've been expecting a freeze any day now, so on Sunday, Kev and I decided we'd better put the garden to bed...what garden there was.  With the excessive heat and the drought this summer, our garden lacked a lot.  We got a few potatoes, a very few onions and once the heat ended, we hoped we'd get to harvest something...anything!  So, we ventured out Sunday afternoon and harvested. 

I planted pole beans this year and bought a variety that grows purple beans.  They turn green when you cook them.  I chose these because I hoped they would be easier to pick than green beans.  However, the leaves have enough of a purple cast that the beans weren't any easier to find on the vines.  We picked over a 5 gallon bucket full of beans.  They are now sitting in the freezer, waiting for me to have time to can them.

This is a shot of most of our tomato crop.  We finally got a few tomatoes to eat, and quite a few cherry tomatoes, but not enough to can.  However, we have gotten enough to enjoy a few BLT sandwiches!
A new crop for us this year was peanuts.  Kev loves to snack on roasted peanuts throughout the winter, so I wanted to see if we could grow some.  Grandma B. grew them one year, so I was pretty sure we could.  Unfortunately, we have a resident mole.  Who ate most of my seed.  I had two plants left.  And we got a very few peanuts.  Not sure if we got enough to roast.  If not, we'll save them and plant them again next spring...if it rains...
 Mr. Mole also harvested most of my carrots for me.
 This one was a prime example of his work.  He ate from the bottom up and left the tops.  So, when we pulled the carrots, we'd find these...
Crazy, isn't it!

So, this year, we didn't grow enough food to live on for the next year.  Fortunately, I still have plenty of  products that I canned last year.  I'm saving  seeds for next year and we'll try again... 

If it rains...and if Mr. Mole moves away.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The living room...before...

The stair project is presently stalled.

Boy, do I know how things work at my house, don't I! 

Kev found someone local who owns a sawmill.  This person also thinks they have enough pine around to cut treads for us.  However, it's been 2 weeks, and we haven't heard from him, and we won't for another week.  He'll get back to us after next week...  Which is fine. 

I suppose.

Kev and I did run to Hutch last weekend to visit our closest Lowe's store (a two hour drive.)  We went to buy a curtain rod for the bay window.  We also window shopped for "stair items" and kitchen ideas and tile...remember, Hardware/Home Improvement stores are one of my favorite places to shop!

We got some ideas, normal...this project is started, but not progressing...

And...I thought that maybe I should post some photos of the "before." Or should that be photos of the "during?"

 This is the current stair layout.  The wall they follow is the center of the house.  (Our house is a modular, so this wall is a supporting wall.)  So, in essence, Kev wants to remove that half wall which would move the couch back to the supporting wall.
 Just a view of the fireplace.  Note how nice and clean everything is...Oh, but we've also discussed replacing the fireplace surround and rock this entire angled wall of the fireplace.  Our house is just chock full of angled walls, like this one.  (And, doesn't everyone take pictures of what is on TV?)  But, you can see that there's not much space between the couch and the outside wall (that's the wall with the DVD player and the corner of the bay window.)  It measures approximately 5' 6" across there.  So, it's tight.  And that's the space that Kev wants to open up with this project.  He wants to be able to lay on the floor, in front of the fireplace and stretch out.  That is what  started this entire process.
 I took this view while sitting on the window seat of the bay windows.  Just to show how close everything is...and how dirty my couch is!  sigh...
Now this is the corner where the new stairs will be.  This is the main angled wall--the outside wall.  The door will be gone.  We'll have to take it out.  Which is fine, we never use it.   But, that means new sheetrock, and painting and flooring and...well, you know.  The stairs will be where this couch is.  Which also happens to be my favorite spot to sit and stitch...  (Can you tell which couch is used the most? too.)

So, this is what my living room--upstairs looks like now...stay tuned for the next episode of...The Stair saga...

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Stair Saga

 Let me preface this post by stating loudly and clearly...

I love my husband.

I really do.  But once in a while he gets these wild hairs...and these wild hair ideas...schemes...whatever they me up the wall.

And this particular wild hair, he's had since we moved into this house. 

He wants to move our staircase.

And he's "started". 

Without a plan, without an idea of the final look of the plan.  And without my support.
This is what my basement looks's all tore up with a partial project "in the works."  This is the wall that Kev wants to put the stairs on.  It slants.  Our house has a...peak? in the center of it.  Both walls angle from that peak.  Kinda like the point of a pencil.  And Kev wants to move the stairs to this wall.  See the stick sticking up in the middle of the picture?  Yeah...that's where the stairs will go...and that wooden monstrosity...that's the landing and then the stairs will turn and be a U shape, with 3 stairs coming to the floor.
 Here's a different picture of the "landing".  It takes up a HUGE amount of floorspace and I'm not convinced that it will ever look nice...
And another view. 

Now, Kev has been observant enough to pick up on my reservations.  he knows I'm not real supportive or understanding about this project...Cause, he'll take at least 7 years to finish it...and it will mean more cutting another hole in the main level floor...and it will mean covering up the old hole and putting in floor joists and re-doing the basement ceiling and the flooring and some electric work and new carpet or something upstairs and relocate lights and...get my drift?  And I know from experience that "little" "easy" projects somehow never quite get finished.

However, I will give him some credit.  He's changed his mind on some of  his plans.  He's not going to have a closed staircase.  Instead, we're going to have open treads.  Chunky pine treads.  Because we like the rustic look, and I absolutely hate sweeping stairs with carpet and stairs with risers which seem to collect dirt and dog hair.  Open stairs will be much easier to clean.  And we've compromised on the balusters and the hand rail and even the monstrosity sitting in the basement right now that Kev calls the "landing."

So, we're compromising.  He's giving me some say in how I want this...thing to look.  And I'm letting him build this...thing.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of "The Stair Project."

Monday, September 26, 2011

One of those days...

Yesterday was one of those very productive days for me.  I love days like yesterday, when I spend most of it in the kitchen, making various food items for my family.  I didn't have anything else that had to be done, so I could just enjoy myself and putter all day long in the kitchen.

I made jelly from our first ever picking of grapes from our 2 vines!  I had 5.5 cups of jelly, but somehow, only got 3 half-pint jars of jelly out of it.  I used a "low sugar" pectin and it took f.o.r.e.v.e.r to jell!  So, I guess some boiled away.  However, there are more grapes out there to ripen, so maybe I'll get more grapes for another and larger batch.  (Early taste tests say that the jelly is just scrumptious!)

We were running low on bread, so I made a batch of bread.  Not sure if I'll break open a jar of jelly now, or if I'll wait for a later date.  I really like this wheat flour I've been using, and I love this bread recipe.  It uses honey instead of sugar.  I've always loved baking bread and having a recipe for whole wheat bread that has never failed me yet makes bread making more enjoyable.    Someday soon, I'm going to try sourdough and a wholegrain bread and a rye.  I've got the recipes, just haven't taking the time to try them out.

Since my chickens are laying like crazy, I decided to make a couple of pies.  Mom is our expert baker, and I'd like to someday be as good of a pie maker as she is.  In addition, I also want to improve my pie dough skills.  Many years ago, when I was in 4-H, I could make an excellent pie recent years, it hasn't been good, and I've taken the easy road and used store-bought pie dough.  Well, yesterday, I tried it again, and came out with a couple of pretty good crusts.  Not quite where I want them to be, but definitely better than store-bought! 

I made a coconut cream pie for Kev and a butterscotch pie for Andy.  (Miss Kat doesn't like pie, so she didn't care what kind I made.)  Both recipes came from Mom.  The Butterscotch recipe came from my Great Grandma Woodruff.  Kev and I tried both pies...and both are just pretty tasty!

Now, I'd have taken pictures, but my allergies kicked in yesterday something fierce.  To be honest, I was afraid I'd sneeze all over my food, or sneeze while taking pictures.  Besides, you'd just get hungry from the photos!

Yesterday was one of my favorite kinds of days.  The best part was sitting down to enjoy the fruits of my labors.  Bon Appetite!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Girls of Fall

 It's that time of year...
 When we spend many Tuesday evenings watching this girl play.
She's doing great this year!  Still playing JV Volleyball, but getting lots of time in on the floor.

Wanna know something funny?

Her Dad and I really don't know much about fact, Kev is pretty good at asking more experienced parents why certain calls were made. For example...first game of the season...I mean MATCH...first match...  The girls won their first game... of the MATCH.  So, during the second game, Kev noticed that the scoreboard had the number 1 up in the foul box.  He asked me who got a foul, and how on earth did you get a foul in Volleyball anyway!  I told him that I suspected it wasn't a foul, but was instead a way of signifying that they'd one one game in the match.  But he was teased all night long about the "foul" by a couple of other parents sitting near us. 

It's nice when I'm not always the

Oh, and typically, Miss Kat plays only on the back row.  But, one of the other girls was ineligible this week, so Missy has been playing the entire games for the whole match.  Confession time...I'm kinda glad that this gal is  ineligible, it means my kid gets to play more!  So...anyway, Miss Kat is now playing all positions.  She's even gotten a couple of kills and has a nice serve!  It's much more fun when your kid is on the floor for the entire game--even if you don't know what the heck she's doing!

So, at our house, it's not the "Boys of Fall," but the "Girls of Fall."  And that's just cool.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tree stands and Monarchs

I realize that the official start of Fall is 2 days away, but since the heat wave broke, it feels like fall. Deer season opened last weekend. It's still to hot for anyone at our house to hunt--especially since we process our own meat and we can't let it hang when daytime temperatures get up to 80.

Last Sunday, Kev, Andy and I went to the farm to hang up another tree stand and to scout for deer. That's Andy, up in his tree stand. He's a handsome lad...all black and all...

I took the camera along, hoping to see some Monarch Butterflies. Last year, when we ran out there with Mom and Dad, the cedar trees were full of Monarchs...and there I was, without a camera. There weren't as many butterflies this year--either I missed the peak period, or there just weren't as many Monarch due to the heat and the drought. But, I managed to get a few pictures of uncooperative butterflies. The one above is the best shot. I just held the camera up above my head and had the zoom on max and prayed that I got a shot!

You can see a slight hint of orange in this one. If you look in just the right spot...I told you they wouldn't pose!

Just the shape of the wings here. Let me tell you, it's hard taking pictures of Monarchs when you just have a point and click camera and your subject doesn't cooperate at all!

We also saw a Tarantula. Seeing him made me wonder if the farmers were drilling wheat yet. Around here, it's time to drill wheat when you see the Tarantula's migrate. My fella wasn't migrating--he was just hanging around. And yesterday, we saw several guys drilling wheat. Which proves you need to listen to those old "wives tales!"

Other wildlife we saw included our resident doe with 2 fawns and a gecko. I hoped we'd find a horny toad, but no such luck. Maybe next spring...

Two posts in two days...I'm on a roll!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Cattle Drive

We were able to go see the Kansas Sesquicentennial Cattle Drive as it traveled through Ellinwood on Saturday. Fortunately, the heat wave had broken around the first of the month, so the trip was much easier on the cattle, horses and cowboys. Steve had a great time and said he loved every minute of the trip. They were fed very well, eating steaks for supper and having nice big breakfasts.

We viewed the drive at the north end of town, just before the headed out to their pasture/bedding area for the night. We were about 3 blocks from Steve's house, so it was a nice walk to and from the "viewing."
Steve spent most of the trip at the head of the herd. Probably because he learned long ago that the back of the herd is the dirtiest place to be. The big longhorn to the left is their lead steer. The rest just mosey along behind the head guy. He's the only one who's supposed to know where he's going. Steve is on the right, here in the front.

Of course when his sister wanted him to look at her, he looked the other way. Typical, he has NEVER done what I've wanted him to do.

The cattle came through in three smaller bunches. They tend to break up that way naturally. They also were very interested in the nice green grass and the water in the ditches...

Yep, these guys had to stop for a drink. And after a drink...

They had to return a little "old" water in thanks. (My mother told me that I'm probably the only person on earth who would take a picture of cattle pee...)

After they headed out of town, the locals came back to put their horses away. Steve stopped by the house first--to visit.

We chatted some, but he couldn't stay long. There was also a ranch rodeo, and he was running the chutes. Dad and Mom stayed for that, but Kev, Andy and I came on home. We had chores to do. Steve did share some stories about the trip as we watched his horse mow his lawn and break off a sprinkler head.

Some quick facts he shared:

  • They had 200 head of longhorns for most of the trip. A few days before, they picked up another 200 head, so 400 head came through Ellinwood.

  • The cattle walk at 3 mph.

  • They averaged about 15-20 miles a day.

  • They usually started fairly early, but stopped each day around 2-3 in the afternoon. So, yes, it was a nice leisurely pace.

  • Most of the trip was along county roads, but Steve said there would be people stopped at every intersection--just to watch.

I think he'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I've seen cattle "drives" before, as Dad and other ranchers would move cattle from one pasture to another. But this will probably be the only time I see a drive that re-enacts a big part of Kansas history. Let's face it, by the time Kansas celebrates its bicentennial...I'll be 97! While I plan on still being around then...I don't think I'll be out watching a cattle drive!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Kansas Cattle Drive

This post is not about me or my kids...

Check out this link:

This year is the 150th anniversary of Kansas's statehood. And to commemorate it, there's a cattle drive from Caldwell, Ks up to Ellsworth, Ks. And my baby brother, Steve is on the drive. If you check out the photos, he's a part of the Ellinwood bunch.

He's one of the crew that will be on the trail for 3 weeks--the time it will take to travel the entire way. Thankfully, the weather is cooperating. Instead of temps of 100+, this week, they are working in 80 degree temperatures. Much easier on the cowboys and the cattle.

For this cattle drive, Steve had to adapt his wardrobe. He normally wears shirts that snap, but to be historical accurate, the organizers have required all cowboys to wear shirts with buttons. And their bedrolls couldn't be nylon sleeping bags, but had to be cotton or canvas. Other than those two details, I think Steve was all set.

We're hoping to drive over to "watch" them drive through one of the towns on their route.

Be sure to check that link above. They'll have lots of photos and details of the trip.

I'm rather proud of old Steve...he's following in the footsteps of his Great Grandfather, Harvey by going on a long cattle drive. I hope he brings home lots of cool stories.

I'll close with this link, it's to a video that was broadcast on one of the local TV stations:

Friday, September 02, 2011


September...the end of summer...

We're at day 53 of over 100 degrees.

Record breaking summer. 53 days over 100 broke the record of 50. Average summer temperature? 98 degrees. Making this the hottest summer on record.

Normal rainfall is 25 inches. Amount received this year? 6 inches.

I'm ready for fall...and rain.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Water and electricity

When you live in the country, there are two things you think about having...and NOT having.

Power and Water.

Growing up and living my entire life on the Great Plains, I'm used to being aware of the importance of both power and water. We lost power on a frequent enough basis that we kids used to joke that the power would go out any time a cow peed near a power pole.

And there are a lot of cattle--and a fair number of power lines in SW KS!

Even today, the power will flicker, flash off and come back on fairly often. If we have a bad storm, the power can go off. Blizzards, thunderstorms, straight line winds; all can and do take out the power. I am prepared for the power to go out. I have lamps, we can keep warm, and usually, we have water available. So, a power outage is inconvenient, but not a big deal.

But when you well goes out...that's another story.

I don't have backup plans. I don't cope as well without water when I do have power. I worry more about the well and the water situation more. Maybe that's because I know that the maintenance of the well is OUR responsibility. The electricity? That's someone elses problem. They have to worry about the logistics of getting it back on. But water? That's all on us.
And since I don't know how domestic wells are set's a big worry for me.

With the drought going on and on , Kev and I have discussed our water situation. We've worried about running out of water. We worry because we don't have a clue as to how deep the well is, how much water is in it, or how old it is. No one could tell us any of this information when we bought the house. We've been running on faith with it. Faith that it's nice and deep. Faith that we have plenty of water. Faith that the well will run. Faith that we'll conserve and use our water wisely. Water is not an endless commodity out here and we try to be responsible users.

Friday afternoon, around 4, Andy called with news that no one wants to hear when it's 106 and dry..."Mom, there's no water."

I hoped that perhaps, with the demands on the electrical system, that we'd just blown a fuse. So, I told him to hang on, and we'd (meaning Kev) would look at it when we got home--around 8 p.m. because Miss Kat had a Volleyball scrimmage.

Once we got home, Kev went out and checked the breakers and flipped them off and on. Still no water. At 9, I decided to go back to bed and read for a while. As I walked by Andy's bathroom, I stepped in a wet spot.

What? I assumed that one of the dogs had been laying there licking themselves or maybe it was blood. (Emily, the lab. had scratched her neck raw earlier that day and it was still a mess.) So, I flipped on the light and discovered water. Looking in Andy's bathroom, I saw the sink full of water and water was running over onto the floor. The bathroom was flooded and, water even dripped through the floor down into the garage.

While I was glad to see we had water...I wasn't prepared for the mess. Apparently, Andy had tried the faucet in his bathroom and didn't get it turned off. We're guessing that Kev must have restarted the pump when he flipped the breakers and it just took a while for the water to fill the pressure tank and then come inside the house.

So, we cleaned up the mess, put fans out to dry out the carpet and the garage, and went to bed.

All was normal again until...Sunday at lunch time. I was fixing lunch, went to turn on the water...

And nothing.

No water again. And, of course, it was 106...again.

I'd done 2 loads of laundry and had Kat's clothes in the washer. I immediately shut off the washer, and we waited, hoping it would "fix itself" like it did Friday night.

By 4:30, Kat had given up on waiting. So we loaded up her laundry and drove to my Mom's to use her washer. While there, Dad gave me the name of a Well Guy he really likes. Dad even thought he'd come on a Sunday--when most Well guys won't. I Kev with the number.

In the meantime, Dad decided he'd call the Well guy himself. But, fortunately, Kev had just called him. (And of course the well guy told Dad, "Hell NO!" he wouldn't come see us if we were related to him. All good natured teasing...)

Kat and I finished up her laundry and headed home. By this time, it was around 7. We pulled into our house at 8.

Kev told me that the Well Guy had just left and that he'd have to come back tomorrow because he'd have to check out our pump.

Ugg. A new pump would be $1500 or more. But...we need water. So, I asked Kev if he looked at the well and if he could tell how much water was in there, or if it was dry. Kev looked at me and just walked over to the sink and turned it on.

WATER! We had water!

And then he laughed--at me--cause once again...he was a BIG FAT LIAR.

The Well Guy had fixed it. Our pressure regulator was fried. Deader than dead. It was an electrical issue--not a water issue.

And MY idiot husband led me on, let me worry about having to pay a $1500 to $3000 bill. Let me worry about not having water. Let me worry about how I was going to water my chickens. Letting me worry knowing that it was fixed.


But, once his joke was over and done...Kev said that the Well Guytold him that he's replaced over 300 regulators this summer. We're all putting demands on our wells that they aren't used to having, and aren't set up to handle. We also learned that several families have had to dig new wells, or deeper wells because theirs have gone dry. This drought is serious folks. It's very serious.

We avoided a major personal disaster this time, but I still can't help but worry about the availability of water now and in the future.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mountain views

Our favorite vacation spot is in the Routt National Forest, North of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We've gone there at least 6 times over the past 16 years. This year, it was so wet there. Wetter than we've ever seen it! And the greeen-ness was such a contrast from our drought ridden plains. It did rain 3 days while we were there--and not one of us complained about the rain!
We took Kev's folk's camper this year. They have a 5th wheel and since the kids are getting bigger, we thought it might have more space. It did. Besides, we might want to upgrade someday. We do all our cooking over the campfire and basically use the camper for bedrooms. But, believe me, dry and warm bedrooms are very nice!

I've included a few pictures of the scenery below. This is a shot of the Elk River. The guys like to drive down the mountain to fish for Rainbow Trout in the Elk River at least one day per trip. I like to go along and sit by the water, enjoying the view and the sound of the water rushing by.

This is a shot of Miss Kat on top of "our" mountain. This is the first time we've ventured this high, as the hike is long--probably 5 miles straight up. No kidding, the trail gets very steep up above the Elkhorn Mine. We've make it to the mine annually, but this time, with the 4-wheelers, we went to the top.

Whiskey Creek is "our" creek. We love camping so close to it that we can hear it throughout the night. There's nothing better than falling asleep to the sound of running water.

This is a view we took looking North from the top of the mountain. You could see forever!

I'm not sure how many more times we'll get to go to the forest. Our kids are old enough to have their own summer plans and commitments and the big "boys" have already eliminated some of their more difficult hikes because they can't physically do it anymore (Lynn's hips just don't like that angled 7 mile walks anymore.) Even if we never make it back up there, this small part of Colorado will always have a special place in all our hearts and memories.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Boys and their toys...

We went on our "semi-annual" vacation the end of July. (And I can't believe that was almost a month ago...already...sigh...) This year, Andy didn't go because he's 20 now and he had to work. Which was disappointing, but at the same time, it was a relief because he kept the dogs at home and he could take care of the chickens and rabbits. With the summer we've had, we just couldn't go on vacation without knowing they were being taken care of.

Steve, my brother, also couldn't go--because he's going to use his vacation time to re-enact a cattle trail drive from the Oklahoma border up to Ellsworth, Kansas next month. But, Steve's boys were eager to go back to the Mountains, so we let them join us. My "Other" husband, Lynn Dale, of course went along. It's just a given...if we go to the Mountains, Lynn goes along.

This year, we did some finagling and took our 4-wheeler along with Lynn's. And while they weren't a necessity, they sure were nice to have along. I ran down from camp to Whiskey Creek to check on the fishermen one afternoon, and the kids enjoyed riding them all over the place--on the main roads. They weren't allowed to go off-road alone.

But the people who enjoyed the 4-wheelers the most were the BIG boys...Kev and Lynn.

In this shot, Lynn is "stuck" in the creek and "afraid" he'll be washed away--downstream.

Right... Yep, he's obviously in no real danger...

However, it gave the "boys" time to play with the winch that Kev had just installed on our 4-wheeler.

Here's Austin hooking it to Lynn's machine so Kevin could pull him out.

And, Kat and Kev had do "drive down" and save Lynn...with the winch.

Later this same day, Kevin, Lynn Dale, Miss Kat, and Austin decided to check out one of the 4-wheeler trails in Whiskey Park.

FOUR hours later (about 4:00), Cody asked me if we should go check on them. And, then he asked what we'd do if they didn't come back. He was getting worried (and maybe feeling a little left out.) I finally told him that if they weren't back by dark, we'd go get some help. I knew which trail they headed up, but none of us had any idea what it was like once you went out of sight.

Around 6 p.m., they made it back. Finally. In one piece, but full of stories of their adventures. Apparently, the trail degenerated the farther up you went. Very narrow, very steep, and very rough/rugged. I heard stories of them being on two wheels, and climbing boulders and about Lynn sliding off the trail and scaring Kev, thinking he was going to roll the 4-wheeler down the mountain. I heard about areas where they made the kids get off the 4-wheelers--just in case...

NOT something a sensible, and cautious Wife and Mother wants to hear. Seriously, they game me new gray hairs just listening!

And you know what?

They thought it was a fantastic trip! They thought it was great fun and a wild adventure.

Miss Kat wasn't as impressed. She told me later that she wasn't sure they'd ever find their way back--or come out alive!

That's my girl!

The entire trip just proved to me that Boys are boys--at any age, 14 or 50. The only difference is the size of their toys. And at any age...boys just look for trouble, or danger...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


THIS is what happens when your darling daughter plays with your new camera...

The boys are my nephews, Austin and Cody. Cody is in the brown shirt, Austin is in the yellow. The creature in gray is Miss Kat...

Evidently, there's a setting on the camera that does this kind of layout.

No, I don't know how to do it.

Obviously I'll have to ask Miss Kat for lessons on using my camera...


I was gently reminded that I haven't blogged for almost a month. I say "gently" reminded, but it really was a not-so-subtle comment about the lack of posts on my part from my Mother. I think my MIL has also made a slightly more subtle comment about the same thing...

You've got to appease the senior women in your we go :)

There's a new Menard's store that recently opened in Wichita. And, since Kev and I are "Home Improvement Store Junkies," we just had to check it out. And we had so much fun! We decided that Menard's is our new favorite Home Improvement store. We found so many things we liked's a dangerous place.

So dangerous that we walked out with new laminate flooring, a new front door, and we ordered new garage doors.

Kev installed them himself.

One thing that we didn't do was order garage doors with a window. That would have been an additional $300 per door and we're cheap. While we'd both love having natural light in the garage...we just couldn't make ourselves pay that much more--especially after dropping a bundle on the flooring and the new front door.

The front door had to be painted. We could have forked out more money and gotten one pre-painted, but, like I said...we're cheap. I am happy with the door, but the installation wasn't as easy or straight forward as I hoped it would be. Kev was a wee bit crabby by the time he got the door installed and level, plumb and working.

The flooring is now residing in the garage, awaiting a time when we rip out the basement carpet and lay it. Kev says that project will wait until after he moves the I'm guessing we'll wind up using the flooring somewhere else, cause I am not convinced that he will ever move the stairs...and I'm not sure I want him to move the stairs cause he has a tendency to n.e.v.e.r finish a "big" project.

So the flooring might wait a while. But, the new doors are great. The garage door's seal--making the garage toad and snake proof. (Yes, we've hosted both.) AND, the electric garage door works! It had stopped lifting the old crappy doors a couple of years ago. And it's so much quieter--something Miss Kat will appreciate this winter when we leave at 5 a.m. every morning.

Isn't it amazing how something so simple as new doors makes life just a little bit nicer...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too hot to butcher

If it wasn't 108 outside, I'd butcher a few of these guys and gals... Mainly because...the young-ins have started laying! Whoo hoo! This week, I've gathered 4 pullet eggs. They are a little small, but they're layin'!

The older girls just have quit. Out of 15 hens, I've been getting 2-3 eggs a day. Well, I was until it got so dang blamed hot. They've given up almost completely on laying. But now, the young gals, who can tolerate the heat slightly better--or are too young and dumb to know that they can "shut her down" during the heat--are laying.

Which means that I'll soon need to cull the flock.

I was ready to cull last night...those "free" seven roosters who came with my 25 pullets this past spring are really making me mad. They're horny. They're aggressive. They pick on one poor rooster all the time. They're horny. They won't leave the hens alone, and, did I mention that they are horny?

I've had enough of their shenanigans and am willing to butcher, but it's just too hot.

The light birds are my 3 year old hens. The darker ones are the youngsters. That big guy in the middle is the King. He has 2 inch spurs and does try to keep those other young whipper-snappers in line, but he's just one guy and has decided that it's too hot to chase the boys around. Just call him "Rosco P. Coltrain." He's doin' his best, but the odds are against him! He's not getting culled cause he's the nicest Rooster I've ever had. He's begging me to do something about those delinquents...I will, I will...

Just not till it cools November.

Monday, July 25, 2011


It's been a record dry summer here in Southwest Kansas. In fact, it's dryer than it was in the depression. We're in what the weather experts call an "exceptional drought."

We've had less than 10 inches of rain in the past year and there's not much in sight. We've also been hammered with 30 days of 100 degree temperatures. And, again, no relief in sight. The grass crunches as you walk across it. Weeds aren't growing...neither is anything else.

This picture is of our grapes. They are green and loaded. They are also watered by a drip system. Hopefully, we'll get grapes, cause nothing else in the garden is doing well. This is our corn. By now, it should be 6 feet tall and full of ears of corn. Instead, it's 2 feet tall, some is 3 feet tall. It has ears of corn on it, but there aren't any kernels and it's burning up. And, we water daily. Kev has a drip system set up, but it's too hot and dry.

Look across those pastures--no green.

We've been watering the trees at our place, trying to keep them alive. All are young trees and we hate to lose any. But, in this photo, you can see how the buffalo grass greens up with a little bit of water. That that hasn't been watered is brown. You can track our sprinkler through the yard.

Kevin and Andy actually mowed last mowing. They only mowed the weeds that had been "watered." Mowing usually takes 1/2 a day. This time, it took an hour. Yep, it's dry.

So, if you are so inclined, please pray that it rains in SW Kansas. We really need it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In my freezer...

In the freezer, you will find packages that look like this... Or this...

And then there's this...

And sometimes you'll get a little love...

The freezer is just full of specially labeled meats that you'll never find in your grocer's freezer!

(I take credit only for the bacon wrapping. The rest were labeled by Miss this instance, the apple didn't fall far from the tree...)