Hiatus

It has been quite a while – too long – since I posted regularly on the blog. Through a set of unusual circumstances my attention has necessarily been directed elsewhere. While this was not a situation of my choosing, it has given me some new perspective. Sometimes you see things more clearly and appreciate them more fully when you have been away for a while.  As I walked around the ranch the past week or so, I took pictures of all the things I’ve missed the most.

Trees, fresh air, clouds.

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Our fearless watchdogs – with one ear up and one ear down.

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Flowers that grow wild.

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Cows – nosy creatures that they are.

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Berries growing wild. Planted and watered by God, ready to be picked by me!

Berries

 

Reflections

It has been a difficult few weeks for us. On April 25th we lost the kindest man I have ever known, Rick’s dad Russell. Though we rejoice that he is healthy and happy in heaven, it is a sad time for us. We put together a slide show of pictures that was shown at his funeral. Here are a few of my favorites in no particular order.

He was born in a holler in Kentucky.

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Father of three, father-in-law of three.

Christmas

  He loved coffee! Even in the garden he has his cup with him.

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He had six grandchildren and pulled them in his new lawn tractor and trailer one Christmas morning.

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He enjoyed spending time at the cabin; here with a very young Alex.

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He honorably served his country and was a faithful husband to Mary Lou for over 60 years.

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He let a three-year old Megan help him blow out his birthday candles.

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He had a soft spot for animals and adopted more than a few strays in his life.

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Never forgot his country roots.

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Celebrated his 50th Wedding Anniversary at the coast with his family.

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Had a smile for everyone and made friends wherever he went.

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Returned to his hometown with his children and grandchildren and visited the war memorial in the town square.

Alex and Russell war memorial

Went back to his Kentucky roots and took his entire extended family with him to share memories of his childhood with the next generation.

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Loved and was loved by his family.

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 Rick did the eulogy at Russell’s funeral and did an amazing job.

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As he was preparing the night before Rick said something that has stayed with me “I have so many good memories of my dad I could talk for hours.” What a tribute to a life well lived. I will miss him.

Mudslide

You may have heard about this mudslide on the news, it is about 40 miles S. E. from our ranch, between Darrington and Arlington on Hwy 530 – the “back way” down to Seattle.

before and after mudslide

I mentioned in my last post that we have had a lot of rain and Saturday about 11 am the hillside gave way and mud, rocks, trees and debris covered the north fork of the Stillaguamish River, Hwy 530 and a whole neighborhood. Four people have died so far and 18 more are still missing. Six houses confirmed destroyed and the estimate is up to thirty more are as well. It is a terrible thing.

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They estimate about one square mile is covered with mud and debris and it is over 15 feet deep in places. Many of our local volunteer firefighters have responded and are helping in the search and rescue effort. If you are a praying person, please keep all those affected by this tragedy – and their families – in your prayers.  You can read more about the story here. 

What to Do??

There is a lot going with us and round the ranch lately. Many, many things actually happening or need to happen or should really happen or I wish would have happened. Building a shed in the south pasture for the cattle to have shelter from the rain this winter, we’re in the middle of a drought, I went on a Quilting Shop Hop with my friends to Eastern Washington and with all the fires there it was really, really smokey but we still had a great time, Rick was in California for over a week and got a lot done but he still needs to make a couple of follow-up phone calls, fall is in the air and our low a couple of nights ago was in the 30’s, Rick and Alex got the new fence and gate in at the north pasture feeding trough, the minutes of my last board meeting still need to be approved, the potatoes in the garden really need to be dug up and stored, the utility ditch across the yard needs to be backfilled so we can get access to the squeeze and loading chute, I need to send a follow-up email to the wonderful people who have pre-ordered our beef,  we need at least two loads of gravel delivered and spread before the fall steers are harvested, there are two chickens who have learned to fly over the fence every day and scratch around in the garden and we can’t catch them to clip their wings, the guys got the water lines and electrical conduit run to all the pastures so this winter we shouldn’t have to haul water to the cattle even if it is freezing, I need new winter tires on my car, we are renting out our bull to another local rancher and will have to deliver him there, I bought a huge box of Honey Crisp apples while I was on my trip and now need to do something with them, we need to move the cattle to new pasture more often because we are in the middle of a drought and it hasn’t rained in two months and the pastures are not growing back as quickly as they were, I need to start a new spreadsheet to track our beef sales so we know how much we have pre-sold and how much we have left, the whole house needs to be cleaned, I had to write up an addendum to the HACCP plan so we could say “Angus” on our beef labels and I really hope the inspector approves it, we could use a bit more firewood cut and stacked in case it is a long, cold winter, I have a baby quilt finished and I really need to get it sent out but I forgot to get a card and I don’t know where I put the new address, the new chickens we got in the spring are starting to lay eggs and even though they are very small we have five dozen in our refrigerator right now, we got DSL internet but still have a useless satellite dish sitting on our roof, I need to make airline reservations, I wish we had a couple of pigs to harvest because we are all out of pork and it was delicious but we didn’t do any this year, I need to stain the underside of the rafters in the Gazebo that I pressure washed last week before they pour the slab, the fall flowers on sale now are so pretty, but should I get some because how long will they really last before winter, Rick has a conference call board meeting tonight and I am supposed to remind him about it so I hope we both don’t forget, our printer / fax machine died and I need to ask Alex about what kind I should get to replace it because I hate having to buy ink that is so expensive so I want the one that I can get refilled at Costco, our Liberty apple tree has lots of apples on it and the birds are starting to peck them. Lots of things and I can’t find anything to write a new blog post about. It would probably be a bit presumptuous to say I have writer’s block, because I don’t really think of myself as a writer, more a reporter and as mentioned above there are lots of things to report and I can’t really get interested in any of them. So, I say to heck with the words and I will just show you more pictures. Totally random, unrelated pictures with no theme. I hope you all understand – oh and that’s another thing. We got a new computer so my old photo program isn’t available anymore and I had to switch to a new one which everyone says is actually better but I still don’t know how to use it very well so it takes me twice as long to do pictures.

A Year in Review – Part ll

In June the days were warm and sunny under the snow-capped peaks. Here Alex is taking a water break after working on fencing with our 1961 Scout. 

It was also time for outdoor cooking and dining.  We had some memorable meals cooked over the open fire grill under the Gazebo that included this one of our own grass fed beef hamburgers, potatoes in foil and Rick’s favorite (NOT) asparagus.

July brought our first crop of raspberries from our very own bushes. MMM good!

July also had some very cool cloud formations and sunsets.  We may have  had some great looking sunrises as well, but I wouldn’t know as I don’t do mornings.

August was one of the driest months we’ve had here.  For us dry weather means more fencing and I did my share. And yes, folks – the fences we build are level and straight!

Our first crop of apples from our own trees were ripening in the August sun. I made an apple pie from them and it was delicious!

September was time to make sure that we had plenty of dry firewood split and stacked for the coming winter.

Also in September it was time to start building a cattle shed so the bovines  would have protection from the wet winter weather.

October brought beautiful fall foliage to the ranch. The vine maple colors  are vibrant in the sun.

The fall sunshine was perfect for our cranky cat Patches to groom herself on the shelf overlooking the chicken yard.  She loves to lay up there and look down on the chickens.

Also in October there were some beautiful fall days with the mountains peaking out from the clouds.

November had another critter in the spotlight.  Our little calf Millie was expecting a treat – she loves alfalfa cubes – and all I did was take her picture.

Just before Thanksgiving the sunshine gave way to snow.  The snow didn’t keep Rick from taking the dogs on their daily walk.

December was filled with visitors and sunshine. The heifers wanted Megan to hand over the treats.

And finally, December brought the arrival of our much anticipated new tractor.

So there you have it folks – a photo journey through the year here at the ranch.