Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Have you missed me?  I admit it – I have really missed my little blog for the last few weeks.  But tomorrow morning we will leave for the big city of Denver where fly off to the tropics early Tuesday morning.  I can’t wait.

I think I am finally ready to go.  The taxes are done, the bills are paid, the fridge is filled so Hubby won’t starve, my time in the tanning booth has started to show, and as of this morning the first batch of calves is branded, tagged, castrated and vaccinated.

Morgan, Dalton and Dani were all here to help.  It was a great day!  And I was sooooo happy to see everybody before I left – vacations are fun but family is everything!

For 2 months now I have been thinking and stockpiling everything I thought I would need to pack for the trip but then one day (mostly due to lack of sleep) I started thinking about all the things I wouldn’t need to take to the island and since that list was much more interesting I decided to share it here.

What I will not pack for the Island:

1.  I will not take the pickup.  There really shouldn’t be any need for a 4-wheel drive, 3/4 ton pickup with a set of tire chains under the back seat.  I really hope we will not need the ice scraper/snow sweeper, extra insulated gloves, socks, stocking caps, coveralls or scarves in the front seat or the tow ropes, jumper cables, diesel fuel additive, winter survival kit, extra food, water bottles, blankets, snow boots, scoop shovel or heat packs that ride around in the back seat all winter long.

2.  I will not take a parka, winter coat, fur coat (even if it is the ‘nice beaver’ as my sister says) or my Carhart coveralls.  I will sprint to the airport terminal in a raging blizzard if I have to, rather than carry a coat with me to the island.

3.  We shouldn’t need the heat gun to thaw out any water pipes or any heat tape to wrap around them to keep the water running.  I bet they rarely have that problem in Puerto Rico.
4.  I won’t pack the Nipco heater, heat lamps or electric dog dish – the calves, chicks and our dog and cats will probably need these here while I am gone.
5.  I don’t care how much she begs – Fat Alice will have to stay home!
She’s the big yellow one and is one of my favorite anniversary gifts (Dan is so damn romantic sometimes!!!).  Fat Alice will just have to stay home to feed the cattle and scoop the snow.  Sorry Alice.
6.  We shouldn’t need any hay bales either because I’m betting no one on the island of Puerto Rico has ever had to stack them around the foundation of their house to keep things from freezing.  For that matter, I bet no one has ever shrink-wrapped their windows with double-sided sticky tape, sheets of plastic and a hair dryer to stop the wind from blowing through and freezing the gold-fish in the bowl on the kitchen counter.  Don’t laugh – I know a guy in Custer who came home one evening to find that the furnace had died while he was at work.  He said it looked like the guppies in the aquarium were swimming in jello.
7.  I’m pretty sure I can leave our electric socks with their battery packs at home – the really nice ones that my sister gave all the girls working at the flower shop for Valentines’ Day one year?  We shouldn’t need these on the beach.  In fact I don’t believe the salt water would be good for them.
8.  I don’t think we’ll have to take any de-icer salt or kitty litter either.  If you don’t carry kitty litter in your car every winter and know how to use it you obviously haven’t lived in South Dakota long enough.
9.  We shouldn’t have to worry about wind chills, white-outs, snowflakes as big as horse turds or snow drifts for a few days.  And I would bet real money that there isn’t a single snow plow/sander truck on the entire island to watch out for.  I passed 5 snow plows, 3 road graders with v-plows, 2 Bobcat loaders and 27 pickups with blades just on the way home from work one night a couple of weeks ago.
10.  We shouldn’t need to take any electric blankets, down comforters, wool blankets, heated mattress pads or quilts – in fact, I wonder if there are even any quilters or quilt shops on the island.
11.  All those sexy (?) flannel nighties that reach from your chin to your toes with long sleeves and enough fabric to build a small circus tent can stay at home too along with the sheep-skin lined bedroom slippers, sweat pants and sweat shirts I often sleep in. 
12.  We shouldn’t need to take any snow packs, ice cleats, moon boots, rubbers, or 4 buckle overshoes unless of course you would like to wear them while snorkeling or wading in the tidal pools – the rubbers and overshoes might actually work pretty well for this but I’m still not going to pack them.
13.  And last but not least I absolutely, positively refuse to pack any wool socks, wool underwear, wool lined pants, wool vests, wool hats, wool gloves or even a wool sweater – I don’t care if it does have a sailboat knitted into the front of it!  The wool stays home!
 I’ll see you when I get home (if not before). 

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The thermometer says 10 degrees below zero and the wind is howling like a pack of wolves as it drives the wind chill to minus 30.  According to the weather man, by morning it will be snowing as well but tonight I am warm, huddled in my chair, under a quilt and a rather large dog and digging through a box of tiny miracles the UPS man brought me.

 Yes, the garden seeds have arrived.

It might not look like planting time outside but believe me, it is nearly time to start my tomato plants. Now, if you remember a post I wrote last spring titled ‘It’s a Tomato Jungle’ you might also remember that I have a slight ‘problem’ when it comes to tomatoes.  In fact I will admit I have several problems when it comes to tomatoes.  But do not fear, for this year I have vowed to break my addiction to tomato seedlings in the dead of winter.

This year I will go cold turkey.

This year I will wait until February 15th before planting the first seed.

And this year, I promise, I will only plant as many tomatoes as I have room for in the garden.

I have also pledged that if, by chance, a few ‘extra’ seeds dare to sprout in my presence I will be heart-less, cold-blooded and cruel. I will rip their frail little roots from their cozy potting soil homes and, ignoring their screams of protest, I will cast them off, not even entertaining the thought of tucking them into another pot of their very own.  No, I will not do it!!!

I will be strong this year and I will show no mercy.  My potting bench will be a veritable House of Horrors for the weak, spindly plants which fail to thrive.  They will be tossed to the top of the compost heap without a second thought to make room for the large, beefy plants with stems like tree trunks and leaves the size of my hand.

This year I will garden like a professional – not the lily-livered plant lover that I have always been!

And because of this new attitude my garden will glow with health.  All who walk the grounds will move slowly,  heads bowed in silent reverence, their lips trembling as they fight back tears of pure rapture at the beauty laid out before them.  Tomato plants will stand tall, stretching for the heavens like Jack’s magical bean stalk.  Blossom end rot will not dare to rear its ugly head! Perfect straight rows of beans, peppers, beets, lettuce and corn will be heavy with a harvest beyond compare.  Squash, pumpkins and gourd vines will sprawl in their designated areas, content with the patch of ground I have staked out for them.  And they will produce thousands of orange, tan and white globes – each one perfectly round and roughly the size of  Volkswagens.   

And the people will come.  They will stop before my Farmers Market stand, riveted by the wonders before them.  Unable to stop themselves they will drop to their knees on the cold, hard pavement as if it were the shrine of the Holy Grail instead of a humble vegetable stand.

Yes, I can see it in my mind. The heaven’s will part and golden rays of sunshine will flow down upon the garden’s gentle slopes. Butterflies and bees will dance above the blossoms and all God’s creatures will gaze in awe from a distance, unwilling to enter this garden of Eden less they mar its beauty.  Abundant rain and humus rich loamy soil will nurture the vibrant green plants and all will be right in the world…

As I breath in the promise of a new garden packaged neatly in the plain brown cardboard box before me, a sigh escapes my lips. The dog snuggled at my feet, looks up.  His chocolate-brown eyes brimming with loving adoration for me – his master.  As our eyes lock, for a brief instant, the pathway is open – his gaze reaches to the very core of my soul and he knows the depths of my desire.  As countless dogs before him he sees my dreams laid bare and he knows the truth…

Then with one furry eyebrow cocked he snorts in disdain, as if to say,

 “Yeah, right! That ain’t gonna happen!”

He rolls his eyes.  His head drops to the quilt.  He stretches out, taking more than his share of the chair and quilt and with a final yawn his eyes close in sleep.

Damn dog! 

He knows me too well.


Hope he enjoys sleeping on the porch tonight!

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I hope everyone had a Blessed Christmas and an exciting (but safe) New Year. 

Like everyone else, it has been a busy time for us – even though the family was pretty much scattered to the wind.  Since our kids had plans of their own on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we have put off our celebration until this Sunday.  The actual holidays were a little sad for me without the kids but it actually isn’t all bad – I had 2 extra weeks to finish my shopping without fighting huge crowds and best of all almost everything was on sale!!!

So I am trying to clean the house, bake and figure out what I will be cooking Sunday morning and most importantly looking forward to the kids being here.

Another thing that has been keeping me totally comsumed is a trip I get to take in March.

Look out PUERTO RICO – here I come!!!

I am soooooo excited I can hardly stand myself.  This will be my first trip to a real tropical paradise and this is something I have always wanted to do.   My Hubby had a chance to go along too as some of our friend are going the week before as couples but he just doesn’t get the whole ‘tropical paradise’ thing like I do so I will be going with the girlfriends instead and you know we will have FUN!  The important items are already packed in my suitcase – my camera, my snorkel and my swim suits.

I will trade in my Carhart coveralls for a bikini,

my snow boots for flip flops

and my favorite Mt. Dew for Rum & Coke.

 I will leave this behind:

 And trading it in for something like this:

I can feel the sand between my toes already.  74 days and counting…

But until then I will try to contain my excitement.

2012 is looking pretty good so far.

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Most people think that cattle don’t have a sense of humor and if you’ve ever had one try to run you down and stomp you into the ground you would probably tend to agree with them.  But I know for a fact that cattle like a good laugh as well as we do and believe it or not, I have photographic proof.

Late yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the computer when I happened to look out the window. 

This is what I saw.

I saw cows.

Well, of course I saw cows – but look at these cows.  What has made them stop in their tracks with their heads up, ears forward?  Something has totally caught their attention.  What could it be?  What would make a bunch of cattle stop to gaze in wonder like this – totally enthralled to the point that all eyes were glued to the spectacle before them?

Perhaps it’s the first calf of the season, a new baby born in the beginnings of the next big storm? 

No…  It’s not a baby.

Perhaps there’s a coyote or wolf stalking the herd and the cattle are frozen in fear?

No…  It’s not danger.

Perhaps it’s Hubby with a hay bale and they are waiting to see where he will drop it so they can pounce like a flock of vultures on fresh road kill?

No…  It’s not vultures on road kill.

This is what they were watching.

It’s Hubby in the pickup, but why would they stop and stare?  They’ve seen this pickup hundreds of times.

  They stopped to stare because there are things you can’t see from these photos.

Things like a roaring engine and tires spinning, and mud being flung out behind him because this is spring at the ranch and there is mud under that beautiful white snow that (just for a moment) he forgot was there. 

The cows saw and heard all that – they had a front row seat and although you can’t see it, they are laughing their heads off!  You can’t see that because cows are very good at hiding their laughter but believe me if it wasn’t wet and muddy they would be rolling on the ground unable to control themselves. 

(No, not really but it’s fun to imagine!)

What do you suppose is going through their minds?

“Ha!  Look at that crazy rancher trying to drive across the pasture.”

“What a nut – my feet are sunk 6″ in the mud and he’s out here with the pickup.”

“What was he thinking?”

“Ha, Ha, Ha!  He wasn’t”

“He’s gonna get stuck!!!”

“No way, the snow’s not that deep.”

“Yeh, but it’s the mud underneath that’s gonna get him.”

“Ha, Ha, Ha!”

“No way – he’s got 4-wheel drive.”

“Yeh, just watch, you can really bury a truck deep with 4-wheel drive.” 

“Ha, Ha, Ha!”

“He’ll have to get the loader to pull that one out!”

“Give her Hell, Ranch Boy!!!”

“I bet you a ton of alfalfa cake he’s stuck.”

“Ha, Ha, Ha!”

“As soon as he stops, I’ll race you to the truck!”

“I want to hear what he says!”

“I want to see his face!”

“I want to see what’s in that barrel in the back.”

“He’s got a barrel in the back?!!!”

“Yep, I bet it’s full of cake… or maybe even corn.”


“No way – we haven’t had corn since we snuck into her garden last year and ate it off the stalks!”

“Dang, that was good.  I’d sure like some more.”

“And maybe some more of those fancy French green beans too.”

“Green Beans…”

“I bet they keep all that stuff in the barrel.”


“Steady girls, he’s still moving.”

“Give it up, Ranch Boy!”

“Come on Mud!!!”

“Darn, he’s back on the road.”


“No corn???”


“No green beans???”


“No way!”


“I really, really hate 4-wheel drive.”




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OK…  it’s official.

I’ve had just about all the winter fun I can stand!

We have snow.  We have lots of snow and it keeps drifting back and forth.  Every day it’s stacked up in a new spot.  The snow can’t seem to decide where it wants to be.  I think snow likes to check out several spots before it decides to stay put.   It’s a theory I have.

Monday night after work I got stuck in our driveway – in the snow that had drifted – with my 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive pickup –  on a cold and windy evening a half a mile from my house – I got stuck!

Here’s my ride when it’s not stuck in the snow.

I didn’t have a shovel or my Carhart coveralls or my snowboots or a hat or a decent pair of gloves.  And the worst thing was that my husband wasn’t home to dig me out.  Wahhhh!!!

So…  I cussed a little and then I walked through the herd of cows to the house, put on my coveralls, a hat, gloves and my snow boots.  I found a shovel and walked back to my pickup.  By then it was getting dark but I spent a half hour digging the truck out anyway.  I drove it about 5 feet and got stuck again!

So…  I cussed some more, then I dug some more and this time when I got the pickup moving I turned off the driveway and cut across the pasture where you could almost see a patch of bare ground once in a while if you really looked.  I followed a cow path, bounced over several frozen cow pies, hit the gas (or in this case – the diesel fuel) and finally made it to the house.

Life is an adventure – go ahead and live it!

That was Monday night.  Tuesday night I made it home just fine because Hubby had been out plowing snow all day but as we were finishing supper the phone rang – the neighbor lady was stuck and her vehicle was stuck a lot deeper than mine had been.  Hubby fired up the road grader and went to plow as close as he could.  He plowed up one side of her vehicle and down the other, leaving her cute little SUV in an island of snow.   I came with the pickup to help too.  He plowed, we shoveled and then we jump-started her vehicle because the battery was dead by then and finally we chained it to the back of the road grader and pulled her out. 

She was very happy to be on her way.

That’s the way things have been going around here.  The scary part is it continues to snow.  It just keeps coming along with the freezing rains, ground blizzards, drifting snow and frigid arctic temperatures.  You just have to love life in the midwest. 

But if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes and it will change.

I keep telling myself spring is just around the corner – it has to be!

I’ve had just about all the winter fun I can stand.

And from the looks of it, these deer have too.  They’ve decided to spend the rest of the winter right here, in the stack yard out of the wind with all these lovely hay bales.

Pretty smart critters – aren’t they?


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It’s been very cold, windy and just plain nasty for the last couple days and I’m afraid I’m getting a little tired of winter.  That’s a bad thing as we still have at least 3 months of it left.  But to make me feel better I’ve decided to show you some foggy pictures I took last November.

We have had a lot of fog in the last year.  This is a good sign.  For the last 8 years we have been in the middle of a drought so any sign of moisture is welcomed and besides – I love fog. 

November 14th we woke up to this funky band of fog to the east of our house and the sun rise lit it up beautifully.

My husband calls this little hill in the center of our place ‘the saddle’ because it kind of looks like a saddle laid out flat.  You can see the fog behind the saddle with the tops of the distant mountains peeking out over the top.  

The saddle is a great place to pick rocks in the early spring (before the rattle snakes get active) and you can get quite a view of the place from on top.  I even drive the pickup up the back side and gather rocks from the top for the flower beds. 

I like to haul rocks – I know it’s weird but it’s what I do and for some reason God put a lot of rocks here for us. 

Maybe so I could build flower beds!

And if the legends are right – in this country, a person could get rich picking rocks…

In 1878 the stage route went by here – just on the other side of Elk Mountain.  On September 26, 1878 the stage was headed to Cheyenne, WY – transporting roughly $27,000 in gold bullion, some cash and a few diamonds and jewelry when it was robbed.  Within a few weeks the law had rounded up the robbers and all but $11,200 of the stolen gold.  

And as far as we know, that has never found. 

Now remember, that’s 650 ounces of gold still missing figured when gold was valued at only $17.25 / ounce. 

Let’s just say it’s worth a little more now. 

 Supposedly, the robbers had hidden the gold under a rock somewhere on Elk Mountain.  Elk Mountain is huge, it runs for about 25 miles North and South along the SD/WY border – just behind our house – now isn’t that handy?  The story goes that the robbers never told anyone where they hid the last of the gold because they planned on returning to get it once they got out of prison.  Unfortunately, while they were behind bars, a forest fire swept through the area and burnt off the mountain – destroying the ‘marker trees’ that would have helped them find their stash. 

It would be pretty exciting to flip over a rock and see the sparkle of gold – wouldn’t it?  I’ll be sure to let you know if I find it.

Here’s some of our cattle with the fog hovering just over their heads.  Notice the little calf in the stack yard.  A stack yard is a fenced in area built to stack hay in.  Hopefully it keeps the cattle, deer, elk and every other critter out till you feed the last bale of hay.  There wasn’t much hay in this stack yard when I took this picture but somehow the calf had gotten through the fence and was standing there bawling for Mom. 

Don’t worry, we did get him out and reunited with his mommy shortly after.

Foggy mornings are my favorite.  They always bring the promise of moisture. 

There’s a saying that 90 days after fog you will get moisture of some kind.

I just hope it’s rain and not more snow.  At this rate by mid February I’ll be up to my eye balls in the white stuff.

Happy New Year!

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There were 6 seed catalogs in the mail yesterday – can you believe it?  6 of them!!!  And each one chock full of every new weird and wonderful garden seed you can imagine.  There are peppers every color of the rainbow, gourds that look like snakes and my all time favorite – pumpkins the size of Volkswagens!  And Sweet Corn – did I mention I love Sweet Corn?  And tomatoes, and peas, and squash, and lettuce, and cucumbers, and beets, and turnips, and onions, and beans, and eggplant, and okra which I don’t know how to cook but I grow anyway just because of the beautiful flowers.  I love seed catalogs – know why?

Is it because I love to garden?  No.

Is it because I love the smell of black dirt in the morning?  No.

Is it because this year I know my garden will look like the International Peace Gardens and weeds will not dare to sprout beneath my feet? 

 No.  I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

Is it because there were 6 seed catalogs and no bills  in the mailbox so I’m secretly wondering if we got someone elses mail instead of our own? 

No, No, NO!!!  It’s because…  It has to be…  It must be my favorite time of year – its spring!!!

Time to dust off and crank up the Troy Built Workhorse rototiller.  Time to clean all the stuff out of the garden shed and lay down the soaker hoses.  Time to stop at every greenhouse at every department store I see.  Time for green grass and tiny spring flowers and flowering bulbs bursting forth from the rich, black soil of the front flowerbed.  Time for baby skunks to be born under the porch step (hey, it happens) and butterflies to flutter passed the windows.  Time for baby calves to fill the pastures and frolic in the wildflowers.

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz – I wonder where the birdies is???

How come I didn’t see it coming.  Spring really snuck up on me this year.  Ha!  I have been busy what with work and all.  Why, it seems like just last week it was Christmas but the seed catalogs are here and that’s enough proof for me.  You know how fast time flies.  You turn around and the whole year has zipped past.  Yep, I’m sure that’s what happened.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Oh, I hear your sighs of doubt – clear out here in SD I hear them.  You don’t believe in the power of the seed catalog to predict the coming of spring. 

Oh yee of little faith.

No really, it must be.  Seed companies wouldn’t lie, not to me. I’m one of their best customers.  They’ve been in business for hundreds of years – they know things that your every day ‘hoe-hum’ gardener doesn’t.   They are the holy grail of the soil and compost world.  They wouldn’t lead me on by sending me glossy catalogs filled with full-color, close up shots of flowers that are so beautiful you can almost smell them if it wasn’t time to garden.  Would they? 

Would they???

That would be rude, crude and socially unacceptable.

But just to satisfy you and not because I don’t trust them, I will go to the window and check it out –  just to make you happy…


 Oh dear…  It doesn’t look to good to the East.

To the North?  Well, there’s my garden tractor getting buried with snow.

West?  The greenhouse is just a shell of its former self.  How about South?


It’s not looking good here either.  And what about the front flowerbed?


So much for the tiny spring flowers and bulbs bursting forth from the rich, black soil.

Seed companies – you should be ashamed of yourselves!


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Coming home from work last night I had to stop and take some photos.

Check out that moon!  It was as big and beautiful as it could be. 

It looked good above the rocky ridge.

And it looked even better shining through the trees.  It lit up the countryside like a giant night-light and the snow reflected every bit of light.  I really didn’t need my headlights but I left them on anyway.  Around here people tend to think you’re a little strange or stealing cattle if you drive around with your lights off and I’d really hate to get shot for taking a few pictures! 

That would tend to ruin my evening.

Don’t you just love new tracks in the snow?  I made the first tracks in the morning and the neighbors added to them all day.  We only have 4 inches of snow on the ground but it’s wonderful powdery fluff.  Thank goodness there’s no wind or it would be in Nebraska by morning.

When I was in grade school, my parents purchased land in the Black Hills.  Where I grew up in the eastern end of the state, there were very few trees and the only thing to stop the wind was a barb wire fence so needless to say, we were amazed at the way it snowed in the mountains – most of the time it falls straight down!!!  I know that may not sound like much to some people but to a kid who was born and raised on the prairie that’s just short of being a miracle straight from Heaven above.  In fact, my Dad was so impressed after seeing the first snowfall that he went out with the tape measure to see how much was stacked on top of the fence post – 8 inches!!!  In eastern SD, snow is usually stuck to the side of the post or compacted into a drifts so dense that cattle walk over the tops of the fence and wander down the roads.  

The cows out here have to jump the fence if they want to walk down the roads.  Poor things.

There is a Native American proverb that says:

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.

Unfortunately, these pristine white tracks will not be my legacy.  That’s OK.  Next spring there will be deep, muddy tracks instead and I’m pretty sure that’s how I’ll be remembered, the one wallowing knee-deep in mud. 

 That’s a little more my style. 

But mud is at least 3 months away so for now I’ll just take more snow pictures.

I tried a few shots with very slow shutter speeds and got some interesting ‘moon tracks’. 

I call this one ‘Space Ship Boogy’

This one I call ‘Neon Moon’.

I’m not sure what these shots say about me other than I couldn’t hold a camera still to save my soul.  Maybe tomorrow night I’ll dig out the tripod before this great full moon disappears for another month.

Hope you’re enjoying the moon and all the Christmas lights!

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Missing Summer


  It’s that time of year –

the time when you start  to believe…

  And what do I believe?

I believe snow is pretty…

 the first time

Snow is even pretty the second and third time…

But this is the time of year when you

start to believe that it will never end!

It just keeps coming!

And I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold.


Can you tell?   

I’m missing summer.

It’s gonna be a looooong winter.

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