Cutting Our Own Tree

Merry Christmas to All!  We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones.

I’m a little behind (OK maybe a lot) in posting activities here at the ranch this Christmas. Our daughter Megan and her husband Brandon arrived from Texas a few days ago and we have enjoyed spending time with them.

One activity we were looking forward to was cutting our very own Christmas Tree from our very own woods. We really did get it done before Christmas, but I am just now getting the pictures posted.  Before you can cut a tree of course you must all agree on which tree to cut.  Brandon and Alex picked out this little Charlie Brown tree – which we didn’t cut.

 After much careful deliberation and tramping around in the woods for a while, we did settle on a tree. Rick cut it with his chain saw.

Alex hauled it back out to the clearing.

We loaded it in the bucket of our favorite neighbor’s tractor and Megan – after driving instructions from her dad – took it back up to the house.

It was a beautiful day with glorious sunshine; the mountains around us were glistening with snow.

In spite of our careful calculations, when we got the tree in Alex’s house it was a bit too tall.

But that was easily remedied. We decorated our first home-cut Christmas Tree with some traditional and some not-so-traditional ornaments. And it turned out nice.

Oh and one last thing.  Remember the Quiz?  How much rain does it take to fill the water trough?

Our answer is about two inches. We don’t have a digital rain gauge, so we pretty much just eyeball it and guesstimate.  At two and a half inches it was running over.  Thanks to all who participated and Merry Christmas!

Quiz – Full Disclosure

Well folks, as usual you have impressed me.  Clearly many of you are much more mathematical and engineering savvy than I am, which honestly should be no surprise to any of us.  There is a reason I write the blog and take pictures.

Anyway,  your very pertinent questions and comments (see below on The Quiz) have caused some further research on my part so I can provide you with the precise, accurate information I should have given you to begin with.

For those of you who have just joined us, the question is: How much rain will it take to fill up the water trough?

Here is some corrected and additional information you will need to answer the quiz question (unless you are in the wild guess category with me and then it doesn’t really matter):  1.  The shed is 12 feet deep x 20 feet wide;  however the roof hangs over by a foot on each side so the roof is actually 14′ x 22′ – I’m pretty sure that is important to know for your calculations.  2.  The water trough is sloped at the standard 1/4″ per foot fall and is as stated previously 10′ long x 3′ wide x 2′ tall.  3. The bulge in the trough is pretty much solved by the strap Rick put across the middle.  4.  The picture below is the official AAR rain gauge and the answer to the quiz question was calculated using this gauge.

 As you can see it is not a digital gauge; it is more the “I think the water is about up to the line” model.  Just want you all to have accurate information.  I do hope that will help with calculating the correct answer!

Since we have this additional information and need to re-calculate, I feel it is only fair to extend the answer period by a couple of days. We will now reveal the correct answer and the winner of our quiz on December 22nd.

Now, on to the best part of the quiz – the prize! I thought something hand-made from our own ranch would be nice.  Spiced plum jam is something I make every year and it is delicious if I must say so myself. Unfortunately, though our apple crop was good, our plum-tree died this summer.

So the  plums for this year’s jam were ones I bought during my Quilt Shop Hop trip to the eastside (of Washington) in September.

And you thought all we did was visit every quilt shop in Central Washington.

The spiced plum jam recipe is one I got from Mary Lou – Rick’s mom. Delicious, fragrant plums, with just a hint of cinnamon.

I had enough plums to make a double batch of jam. Every time I make jam or jelly I have a little bit left over,  not enough to fill another jar. I put that little bit of left over jam in a bowl and . . .

. . . it disappears in about ten minutes.  Rick assures me this is because he takes his job as Quality Control Officer  very seriously.  Hmmm. Anyway, he does say it is a good batch of jam.

So, get your revised quiz answers in and we will reveal the correct answer and the winner on the 22nd of December.

A Quiz

Today friends we are having a pop quiz.  Didn’t those words strike terror in your heart when you were in school?  No – maybe you all were better prepared for such things than I was.  Anyway, our quiz is easy – I promise – and guessing is allowed, perhaps even encouraged.  See the large object below that Rick and Alex are moving?

That object is a 425 gallon water trough – or in some parts of the country it is called a water tank – which is the water source for our cattle.  The trough is filled from rainwater coming off the cattle shed roof.  This system works really well as long as there is regular rain; in November we got over 14 inches of rain and it was overflowing.

So, here is our quiz question:  How many inches of rain does it take to fill the water trough?

I know you mathematical and engineering types are going to need precise information to make your calculations.  The shed is 12 deep  x 20 feet wide and the roof hangs over the edge about 2 inches on each side.  The rain gutter is a standard size that we got at Lowe’s.  The water trough is 10 feet long x 3 feet wide x 2 feet high. When we originally installed this system in November we had the rain spout running all the way down to the tank.

A couple of things didn’t work too well that way.  First, the cattle used it as a rubbing post – they seem to use anything they can reach as a rubbing post.  Second, and entirely unrelated, the first water tank was defective and when  filled with water it bulged out at the seam.  As you can see above, Rick put a strap on it to keep it together until the replacement tank came in.

I believe I have provided all the pertinent information necessary to answer the question – again: How many inches of rain does it take to fill the trough?   If I have left out some necessary part of the equation  (entirely possible) please let me know.  The quiz will be open to carefully calculated predictions and wild guesses until the 20th of December when the answer and winner will be revealed.  Please post your answers as a comment and let the games begin!  The answer closest to the correct answer without going over will be the winner.  There is an actual lovely prize for this quiz – which will be revealed in a day or two.  So, get out your slide ruler (do they will make / use those?) and get to work on your winning answer!

A Busy Couple of Weeks

I must apologize for my very scarce blogging the past couple of weeks. It has been very busy here! We have had two weeks of glorious sunny-but-cold dry weather.

That is most unusual for this time of year, we had over 14 inches of rain in November to give you an idea of normal, and we have been running around trying to get as many things completed as we can while the weather holds.  I will try to remember all of the things that have gone on.  We got two big loads of hay on our friend John’s flatbed trailer.  Patches the cranky cat likes the trailer best when it is empty and no one disturbs her.

With our son Alex’s help we put together a loading pen for our steers.

A brief side note here, today is our son’s birthday. Happy Birthday Alex!  This is one of my favorite photos of him.  I believe he was four years old when it was taken, which means it was approximately 22 years ago.

Back at the ranch, the dogs are always around when we are working outside.  Here they are supervising the loading pen construction.

The cattle are so curious – we barely had the panels up and they were nosing around trying to figure out how to get inside.

Our little calf Millie is still very curious too. If you go into the heifer pen she is the first to come up and see you.  She was checking to see if Alex might have an alfalfa treat for her.

On very short notice we got our four  steers loaded, transported and harvested.

No, the picture above isn’t a mistake. That was the view when we were loading the steers into the stock trailer.  It was so dark they couldn’t even see the trailer to get in.  I may have mentioned before that I don’t do mornings; so loading steers at 5:15 am ranks on my fun things to do list somewhere between jury duty and a root canal.

When we got to the farm where the steers were being harvested, after the sun came up, I wandered around the saw the cutest litters of pigs.

Doesn’t this just make you think of the line in the Christmas Carol  “asleep on the hay?”

They had about forty little pigs all told on the farm.  Two of the sows were sharing their litters – there was a  divider between them and the little piglets just ran back and forth underneath to whichever sow was laying down to nurse.

Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of many of the activities lately. I’ll try to get caught up and get them posted.

Fun in the Sun

After the big snow . . .

. . . we had about five inches of rain which washed all the snow away.  Then the sun came out and we’ve had days of beautiful sunshine; unusual for this time of year, but we will take it!  The mountains around us are snow-capped and gorgeous.

The dry, sunny weather has allowed us to finish up a few projects before the real winter sets in.  The hay feeder for the heifers is now complete.

Dolly, one of our bred heifers, is enjoying her hay.

The feeder keeps the hay dry and the cattle out of it so there is hardly any waste – a huge improvement.

The feeder allows the heifers to eat as they want to throughout the day and we only have to fill it up once. Better for them and better for us. It works for the bigger half-blood bred heifers and our little full-flood calf Millie too.

It continues to be cold but clear so we have another feeder under construction for the bull and steers. Hopefully we will get it finished and installed before the weather changes. For now  we are enjoying the sun.