A Thanksgiving Visit

Alex flew up to visit for a few days and spend Thanksgiving with us.  We drove down to SeaTac (Seattle Tacoma International Airport) to pick him up. Though we have heard news reports about fewer people traveling this holiday, you sure couldn’t tell from the traffic we saw.  


Seattle is a beautiful city and the Space Needle is easy to identify even at night. 


Though his plane was delayed for three hours, Alex did eventually arrive and we all drove back to the ranch safe and sound.  We will miss Megan, she is still in Texas, but she will be home for Christmas in a few weeks.


Not one to miss an opportunity for free labor, I had Alex help me by digging holes to plant tulips and daffodils around the new trees in our orchard.  Amazingly enough, he found some rocks!


I told him that really wasn’t even a big one – look at all the rocks behind him.


After a beautiful, sunny day it was a gorgeous sunset.  We are very thankful this holiday for the many blessings we enjoy.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday Mary Lou!

Preparing for Winter


A little storm blew through that left the first dusting of snow on the mountains around us.


There is a definite nip in the air these days.  We are trying to get everything prepared for winter. Last year we had snow on the ground from the second week of December until March.  Some of the folks around here are saying we should expect another snowy winter this year.  One of the guys at church who is an Indian says you can tell how hard the winter will be by how high the white man’s wood pile is 😉 


This farm is about a quarter of a mile down the road from us. 


Rick dug lots of holes with John’s excavator.  It was a lot easier than digging them by hand, but they are big holes to fill – after you pick out the rocks.   


We pick out the really big rocks by hand, then use the screen – it started out being a grill for the fire pit but it works pretty well with rocks too – to sift the smaller ones. 


When you’re done you have nice, rock-free dirt to plant with. 

It takes about five or six wheelbarrow loads to fill each hole. 


One of our newly planted apple trees.  We have ten trees (apple, cherry, plum and apricot) in our little orchard now.


Rick also dug a new permanent bed for my asparagus so I could transplant them – after I got all the rocks out.


I bought the asparagus as two year old crowns this spring, but didn’t have a permanent bed ready for them.  I don’t think it is really a good idea to move them at this time of year, but we are going to rototill the spot where I put them temporarily so they had to go.  Hopefully the move won’t hurt them too much.


And look at all those nice rocks we have to work with.  (Michael do you think we could sell them in Indiana? ) I am going to try and learn how to construct stone walls. 


So far I have just made stacked low walls, but they are pretty wobbly.  We think the Skagit River flowed through here at one time before they built the dams above us, as all our rocks are all rounded, which makes them kind of hard to stack.  I need to find someone (or maybe a book) to show me how to build sturdy rock walls that will last.  One more item on my list of things to do!    


Digging Holes

Our friend John went deer hunting on the east side (over the Cascade Mountains to eastern Washington) and left Rick the keys to his excavator.  Those of you who have read the blog before know that our soil has LOTS of rocks.  Big rocks.  Digging holes by hand in those rocks is not fun.  We had a whole list of things needing to be done, so we decided to make good use of the equipment while we had it.


Rick is digging the hole for a new apple tree.  It will be a pretty big hole, but that will give us room to put in amendments and fertilizer.  And best of all, the rocks are already out! 


There is a group of small pine trees growing out into the area we use as a driveway to the back.  We wanted to take them out to make more room to drive to the back pastures. 


Pulling out the pine trees.


Hiding among the pine trees is a huckleberry bush we wanted to save to transplant. 


Rick scoops it up very gently.


And the wild huckleberry is ready to plant in the orchard area behind the fence.  Hopefully that will keep the bears out so we don’t have to share all our berries with them. 


We also had a couple of pine trees along the driveway we wanted to take out.


Rick is very excited about getting it out in one piece.


With the pines out of the way we have room to plant some Japanese Maples to give us some more fall color.   


We are going to put a row of berries along the orchard fence.  So far we have four blueberries, a gooseberry and the wild huckleberries we will transplant.  We have never tasted a gooseberry, but folks around here say they are very good. 


It was almost dark, but he had time to dig out the two rows for asparagus and rhubarb.  So, we got a lot of holes dug that would have taken a very, very long time to dig by hand.  John may never leave us the keys again.


A Visit to Aggieland

We have just returned from a long weekend visit with Megan in Aggieland.  It was great to see Megan and a very busy few days.  We went on a football game weekend, so there were even more activities than usual. 


We started at the Aggie tent sale.  They set up a huge tent in a parking lot and have rows and rows of Aggie T shirts, sweatshirts, and most anything else Aggie you can imagine.  Your Aggie T shirt is the fashion of choice for most every event in College Station, so you can never have too many.


Megan and Rick at the tent sale.  Yes, for those of you looking closely her hair is no longer the blonde it has been her entire life.  College is a time for new things, and I guess that includes your hair color. 


Many of the businesses in town are decked out with Aggie colors and flags.


After the tent sale we had a barbecue at Megan’s house.  She invited all her “fish” (fish is Aggie for freshman) from summer camp. 


 She had a total group of thirteen, but only a few were available.  Gabe, Sean and Josh joined us for dinner, along with Brandon (her boyfriend) and his roomates Kyle and Alex. 


Alex is enjoying the chips.  Funny how you mention food and hungry college boys appear.  


After the food, Megan’s cat Lucky makes a pest of herself as Brandon tries to use the laptop.


And then it was time for midnight yell.  For those of you not familiar with Aggie culture, Aggies do not cheer, they yell.  They practice these yells before home games at midnight on Friday night before the game Saturday.  This was the last home game of the season, so it was a poignant moment for the seniors.  Half the stands are full, which is about 40,000 people. 


The band plays and the Aggies yell; it is quite a spectacle.  You even see fans from the opposing team who come to Midnight Yell just to see what all the excitement is about.


Saturday is game day, and the Aggies go all out.  These are the guys in charge of the cannon that they shoot off every time the Aggies score.


There is live TV coverage.


You get to the stadium at least two or three hours before the game to take in all the festivities.


Aggie fans come in all ages.


Fans line the streets to watch the band (made up of cadets) and the rest of the corps of cadets march through campus towards Kyle Field.


The cadets pass the reviewing stand – this day former President George H.W. Bush was there – and circle the field.


Aggies take their football very seriously.  They are the original  home of the 12th man. 


Neither the students nor the corps sit down during the game.  They stand and yell during the whole thing.   


When you look up into the stands, all you see is maroon.  Maroon out they call it.


The Fighting Texas Aggie Band performs at half time.  They are truly amazing to watch.  They do the most intricate marching maneuvers I have ever seen. 


Though the game didn’t turn out quite the way we had hoped, it was still quite an experience.  And as they say “Aggies never lose, they just run out of time.”


Even if your team doesn’t win, you still need to go out for dinner.  Megan and two of her roomates, Lindsey and Amy. 


Megan’s roomate Amy was the employee of the month at the deli where she works.  She’s a very sweet girl and will be a great nurse. 


Brandon and Megan.


A visit from Mom and Dad isn’t complete unless they treat you to a pedicure. Yes, her toes are polka dot.

And then it was time for us to fly back to Washington.  It is hard to leave our baby, but she will be home for Christmas.

The Buck Stops Here

This morning as I was eating my muffin and trying to wake up, I looked out the window and saw a deer walking across the lawn.  


We see deer quite often wandering around, but this one looked like it had horns.  


Sure enough, a buck walking up the driveway towards the house.  He looked pretty big to me, at least  compared to the does we usually see.   


It is unusual to see a buck that close around here, and coming toward us.  We’ve seen him a few times before – at least we assume it is the same one – but he has been very wary and always stayed at a distance. Alex had the great idea to shoot them with a paintball gun to mark them so we would know for sure if it was the same one or not.  It probably would work, but I don’t think they would be anxious to come back very close.  So we will just have to guess. 


This time he strolled along for quite a ways and then wandered back into the woods by the side of the house. 


After just a couple of minutes he disappeared from sight. 


It did not seem to bother him that he was about 100 yards from our construction site (more on construction later) where men and equipment were working.

My Vote for President


If you are like me you are completely sick of all the political melodrama and want this election to be over already.  At the risk of adding to the rhetoric, the person I want for president is one who would write – and live – this prayer written by one of our former presidents.  Can you guess who?

“O eternal and everlasting God, … increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works, pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation, teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments, make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life, bless my family friends and kindred.” 


If you said George Washington, you are correct.