Friday, August 31, 2007

Four Country Gals... the story of our homesteading experience

Just launched... a new blog, which is a "reality blog book".

I've been asked 1000's of times, just how did the four of us decide to move to the SW Utah Escalante Desert Valley.

Now you can join along as I write the full story at "Four Country Gals". I cover way more there than what I do here on this blog, or what Cindy covers on her blog at Country Musings.

This new project serves as inspiration to those of you who are searching for ways to re-invent your lives. Our message is "Never give up! When you plan, and things don't go quite according to plan, make adjustments and keep moving forward."

Be sure to subscribe to the feed, so you'll get the latest updates.

I'll be continuing this blog, and eventually some of the stories will overlap a bit. Take heart though, there'll be far more detail in the "Four Country Gals" than there is in this blog.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 10:02 AM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dusty, Neche, and Dakota makes three!

Imagine our surprise when Dixie, our neighbor asked if we'd take Dakota, her yearling paint filly.

We'd known since she put her place up for sale there was an "outside chance" we'd get one of the horses... but we never, ever thought it would be Dakota. This is her very favorite little filly.

I hadn't gotten here yet when Dakota was born, but Bev and Cindy were at Dixie's within a few days of her birth.

Her daddy, "Sailor" is a full Quarter Horse paint, and her momma is 1/2 Quarter Horse, 1/4 Saddle Bred, and 1/4 Appaloosa. So that makes Dakota a whole lot more Quarter Horse.

The pictures below start with daddy, and then momma and baby, taken last year in late May.




Yesterday afternoon, Dixie stopped by and asked us to come over later. We hadn't told Mom, yet, that we're getting another horse.

At dinner, Mom inquired as to what Dixie wanted with us at her place... Well, let's just say Mom thinks we're "babysitting" for a while, a long while.

The plan was to "pony" Dakota off the back of the Avalanche. Cindy would sit on the tailgate and "hold" the lead line. In reality, the lead line would be securely attached to the trailer hitch. The idea was that Dakota would simply walk along behind the truck, all the way to our house.

Yeah, right!

The other horses (all 6 of them, including her momma) made darn sure they let us know what they thought. If I could understand horse... I'll bet they were giving us the dickens for taking her away.

About 200 yards passed the last fence (where two of the girls were still calling to her), Dakota said "That's it! I'm not going to follow this stupid truck... I want my momma!"

Well, Cindy and I ended up walking her all the way back to our place. I'm not sure how far that is, maybe 1/2 a mile, since we had to go by way of the road. I know it took us the better part of half an hour, with all the circling around we did.

Once home, we'd already assembled a small corral for her until she can share the round pen with Neche.

Thankfully, once we were on the home stretch, our horses began calling to her, letting her know she's very welcome and shouldn't feel lonely here.

If everything goes right, Dakota is my project. I will be the one who continues her ground training and gets her ready to ride. As she's a yearling, I won't be riding her for another couple of years. In the mean time, I'll teach her all she needs to know about respect, manners, and movement. When she's bigger and stronger, she'll also learn about weight on her back.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:52 AM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Roosters to the freezer!

Mom's dream has come true! She has her very own hand-raised, fresh chickens in the freezer.

When we were building the coop and ordering the birds, besides wanting fresh brown eggs, she told me she really looked forward to "good, old-fashioned chicken" she could bake. She's so tired of the fatty, pale, tasteless store-bought stuff.

Sunday, Cindy and James (the neighbor boy) and I dispatched 11 cockerels (young roosters) to the freezer.

Saturday at dusk, Cindy and I selected and captured the "roo's", placing them in a holding pen. With only water, and no feed, they'd be much less messy to butcher. Since our "butchering station" is pretty primitive, we thought it better to skin the birds and simply cut away the best parts (each wing, both boneless breasts, and the leg/thigh) and discard the rest this year.

It took about 20 minutes per bird from start to finish. James was in charge of keeping us in ice water, and running the finished birds into Mom, so she could do a final wash, pat dry and pop into the freezer bags.


All in all, the job wasn't nearly as messy or traumatic as I thought it could have been. One of the neighbors happened by when they saw us "hanging out" by the trees. I think he was impressed. I think I remember him telling Bev to put him on "Mom's Egg List".

You see, we've promised her that she can have all the "egg money".

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 2:58 PM :: (0) comments

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Corn Fest! Hot hamburgers, right off the grill...

That was fun!

I got to be "the griller"... did burgers and dogs on the grill for about 120 folks who stopped by the Enterprise Senior Center, where we did our part to get folks fed at the annual Enterprise Corn Fest.

It was way hot... I was in the sun for about 7 hours. Thought I'd melt into a puddle. But oh, those burgers... they were perfect! We had 1/4 pounders. I put them on the grill (pretty high heat), and then seasoned them lightly with "California Blend" Garlic Salt. Turned them once when the juices started to rise. Seasoned them one more time and waited for the juices to run clean. Popped them onto a plate and into the kitchen, where they awaited an order.

The dogs were slowly simmered in a pan of hot water and then "striped" on the grill half dozen at a time. They had that great grill flavor, but never dried out on the steam line while they awaited an order.

All in all, I did 116 burgers and 24 dogs.

By the end of the day, my get up and go was out looking for anyone else's get and go... way gone!

What about Bev, Cindy and Mom?

Bev was in charge of assembling all the orders, as well as setting up the "lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles". Cindy was in charge of actually receiving, organizing and then taking the order to the dining area.

Mom was in her element, making sure everyone was happy, well-fed, and generally being the social butterfly.

At the end of the day, we were four very tired, but happy country gals.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:43 AM :: (2) comments

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sheep get some shade today

If it's Thursday, it must be time to build something.

Today, it's a shelter for our sheep. You see, we've been using a couple of old "pivot wheel" shipping boxes. One for all the girls, and one for Al. That's just not enough room.

I talked Bev into enlarging the girls (and lambs) shelter by another 8 x 8 feet. That should give them plenty of room for shade and shelter when the cold weather comes, especially the snow.

We got it about half done... that means half the roof and one side. When we're done, it will have a full roof and three and 1/2 sides. That should also keep the sheep a lot cleaner, as they can escape the sand storms, too.

I'll get pictures when we get it finished.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 3:06 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cooking dinner tonight, and probably tomorrow, too

Now, how did I wrangle that?

You know, the kitchen is "Mom's Domain". Rarely do we girls ever intervene.

I'm on a mission. You see, we have 12 cockerels (young roosters) who really need to get from the chicken coop to our freezer. Only one small problem. All three of the freezer areas are chock full of stuff.

No offense to Mom, but she's just not real keen on getting things out of the freezers and on to our plates. That takes planning, and more effort than she's up to.

We always complicate the freezer issue when Bev does the shopping, bringing home multiples of things. After all, when you live in the "middle of nowhere" you don't just run to the corner grocery on a whim.

One more complicating thing is the monthly food drop. Both Mom and I qualify based on age and income, so we get double of everything. Sometimes we get whole cases of frozen stuff, like Simplot Fire-roasted Onions and Mushrooms. That's what we got last month... a case (8-3lb pkgs). Oh boy... and neither Cindy or Bev eat onions!

So, what's for dinner tonight?

Well, Bev is working late. She has a class of some kind in St. George so won't be home 'til after 8... way past dinner here. Cindy will come dragging in shortly after 5 so I'll have dinner ready within about 45 minutes after she gets home.

We're having breakfast for dinner tonight. I'll do a frittata with farm-fresh eggs, the onion/mushroom stuff, and top it with sour cream and salsa. Along with that, we're having shredded hashbrowns, and bacon... all from the freezer.

For dessert, we have some angelfood cake that is left over from our party. I'll slice that in half and make layers with vanilla pudding, topping it all with Cherry pie filling.

Later this afternoon, I'll make some marinade for tomorrow's steaks. This package came here with Bev and Cindy in 2005, but showed no signs of freezer burn or rancidity. Tomorrow night, we'll have steak. Not sure yet about the sides. These girls are just a wee bit picky!

This weekend is the Corn Fest and Dutch Oven Dinner, so we'll be eating out on Saturday. Hopefully Sunday, we'll have a dozen chickens (most skinned and boneless) in the freezer.

Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:00 PM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fall is in the air... time to shift gears

This morning we woke to temperatures in the mid 40's. That's a sure sign that our first frost isn't far behind. Average first frost comes anytime now, as the old-timers talk of August frosts that leave the tomatoes green and corn not yet ripe.

In 2005 the first frost came August 30 and in 2006, it came close on Aug 28 and finally got us in mid-September.

Bev and I got the sheep feeder moved, and the panels removed. Tonight, the sheep (and I) should both be much happier. They'll be able to reach their food, and I won't get alfalfa leaves in places unmentionable.

You can see in this first photo how we placed the feeder between two fence panels on an east/west line. Once we placed the wire panels, it was like a wind tunnel. The wind blows primarily from the south or west for most of the year, and with the hay laying on top of the panels... it was at the mercy of the wind.

We've moved the feeder adjacent to the gate and on more of a north/south line. Removing the panels will let the sheep reach their hay with no problem. I really don't expect they'll get hay all over the backs of their heads and necks, either. Until we have lambs, this setup should work fine.

Since fall is coming, we have to ensure that what can ripen or mature, will do so. I pulled the sugar snap pea plants today, harvesting as I was going. Most of the hulls were sunburned, so I took the time to shell them... ummmm, fresh, hot, buttered peas for dinner. Now the cucumbers will have more room, since the peas were crowding them.

As you can see, we'll have some nice onions, but doubt if the corn will make it. It's just now tasseling and I haven't seen any little ears yet. We have a pumpkin on the vine. Of course, it will do ok in the first frost.

I heard Mom say she ate the only ripe tomato we have... and Bev told her that would be the last of that... you're supposed to bring things into the house first.

Bev got my skirting table done, so looks like now it's time to finish off the rest of the fleeces. I still have four or so fleeces that I've not looked at. Hope they stand up like they should.

The market lambs are being advertised on Craigslist. If we can sell them privately, we'll make a little more money than at the auction. So far, I'm running the ad in the St. George area, and will expand it to Las Vegas, as there's a huge ethnic market there.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 2:02 PM :: (2) comments

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sheep Feeder Issues...

Ya' know, we built this new sheep feeder a couple weeks ago. Last week we got the final parts (a couple of 4x4 screen panels) which are designed to limit how far into the hay the sheep can get their heads.

Well, after using it for a week, the sheep are still pretty pissed off. Seems we humans may not have ordered the right panels.

When you're a rookie at things, you can easily make mistakes just because you don't have anything to compare. Nothing provides a good education like a mistake... call it the "education process of learning by doing, and doing again in a different manner".

Yesterday, we had a dust/windstorm with sustained winds in excess of 30mph. Now, I thought turning the feeder due E/W so the sheep would have their backs to our "normal" southerly winds made good sense. It did, until this silly farmer had to fork the hay into the feeder from the north side.

I had alfalfa leaves in places no woman should ever have alfalfa!

The sheep are so pissed at me, they keep going over to our ram's area and reaching as far through the fence panels (8x8) as possible. Mind you, he gets exactly the same feed, so it's obviously a matter of access.

This week (tomorrow) we'll be removing the panels, and if I have my way, we'll also relocate this beautiful feeder adjacent to the entrance gate and place it more north/south. That should make things better on all accounts.

With the panels costing about $14 a piece, we'll re-think that process for a couple of months. Until the lambs are born, the current occupants are too large to crawl through the feeder and go walkabout.

When we get the job done, I'll post before and after pictures. Hopefully I'll show you happy sheep again.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:37 AM :: (0) comments

A little off-topic... Hurricane Dean has my attention

Way back in 1998, I had the great pleasure of spending Christmas and New Years at Paamul aka Paa Mul, in Quintana Roo, Mexico. This incredibly beautiful little park is about 60 km or so south of Cancun.

My best friend's brother and sister wintered there for years and had a "palapa" where they would park their huge diesel pusher motorhome from around the end of September until early April each year.

We found a way to serve as her mother and father's caregivers (push them through the airports in wheelchairs as necessary) and got to fly at substantially reduced rates in 1st Class to Cancun. I also was the "designated driver" of our van once we reached Cancun and headed south to Paamul.

What a time we had! I'd never been to Mexico, let alone the Mexican Riviera. The weather was absolutely perfect, not even a breeze coming in from the Caribbean.

While brother and sister stayed in their motorhome, we had rented a couple of condo's about a quarter-mile hike down the beach. Our place was perched right at water's edge. Now I worry about whether that wonderful place will survive the coming storm.

For that matter, I don't even know if it survived Wilma, in 2005.

Jim (my friend's brother) always said that "palapa" was Spanish for "it goes plop when the hurricane comes through". I know they had to re-build in the mid-nineties.

Now my thoughts and prayers are with all the wonderful folks I met when we were there. All the "ex-pats" who retired there (including the folks who owned the condo we rented); Pepe, the owner of the RV Park and restaurant; the folks in Playa del Carmen, where we enjoyed some of the most incredible food I've ever eaten; and the beautiful eco-park, Xcaret, where they are doing exhaustive work to preserve the green sea turtles.

I may never return to Paamul, but the memories from there will be with me forever. It was one of the most beautiful, serene, and friendly places I've visited.

Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:21 AM :: (0) comments

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Woo-hooo! Our Internet connection finally works right

Finally, a technician with the brains we needed...

For two years, we've been connected to the wrong satellite. The guy who set up our dish must have been asleep, or too hot, or just in a hurry.

Since shortly after the first of August, we've been experiencing extremely slow Internet connections through Hughes Net. The support folks thought maybe our dish had been tweaked because of all the wind we get.

So, we've waited until today for a service tech to drive over 150 miles to fix stuff. It took him less than two minutes to determine our dish was pointed to the wrong satellite. A quick trip up to the roof to re-position the dish and voila! Now we have the highest signal strength and the fastest speed we've ever had.

Now I'll be able to get stuff done in record time!

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:42 PM :: (0) comments

It's party time! Our Mentor is moving...

Gonna be a short post today. We're getting ready to party down... well as much as you can party down in a pretty "dry" area. (Besides, most of our friends are Mormon).

Our mentor has sold her place around the "mile square" block and is moving to the Colorado Springs area. We're hosting a "going away" cookout, with the rest of our "mile square" neighbors. That's about 22 all together... by far our largest get-together.

It's potluck so your guess is a good as mine as to what's coming in the way of food. I know we're doing buffalo burgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, marinated carrot "coins", marinated cucumbers and onions, and a melon bowl with some unusual melons.

God only knows how our dogs will behave. Fortunately, we'll be outdoors in the front yard and the dogs will be either inside or in the fenced-in back yard. Our other animals will do just fine, as all these folks have been around them at one time or another.

I'll be back with pictures later.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:36 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Update on "Blog for a Year" and new press...

Has it really been a week? I'm pleased as punch to post this "Blog for a Year" update. I've broken through to page 3 on the results. With 256 votes I'm in 38th place.

Also, I've issued a press release through Free-Press-Release.com. This is a service I've used with some success over the past 3 years. Compared to other services, it is reasonably cost-effective for getting the word out. They've also added a number of new services which makes it even more effective.

You can read my press release here. Be sure to send this press release out to everyone you know. They make it very easy with simple forms to use.

How do I stack up against the other competitors?

I'm not gaining any ground on the leader. She's very popular on an extremely large social bookmarking site. You can help me overcome that large lead by voting for me daily, sharing my nomination page with your friends and encouraging them to vote for me, too.

Remember, this blog forms the basis for my new book about "The Country Girls" as we continue our adventure here in our little corner of the Escalante Desert Valley.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:41 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We're playing in the dirt again, and update on lambs

This a quick post before our neighbor Clyde returns with the big tractor and post hole auger. He stopped by about a half hour ago and was off to return the box scraper and go to another farm to pick up the post hole auger.

This will get a lot of the really hard work done fairly quickly and also make the stable a lot more solid. We were digging holes the other day and hit hard pan at about two feet. We'd like to sink the posts at least 28 to 34 inches.

Last evening, another of our "mentors" came out for a consultation on our sheep. Linda is the owner of "R Ewe Spinning" and was the lady who sold us "Algernon", our ram. She and her husband spent nearly three hours with us, discussing the sheep, the wool, the markets, and the rest of our farm operation.

What a wealth of information!

We learned that our ewes are most likely all preggie (except Beulah, the matriarch) by Al, and we should start expecting lambs five months from when we brought the girls over from Dixie's. That would be the first half of October.

Now, that's just a little disappointing, but not clearly a set back, as we'll hit the Easter market for meat lambs. It also means we'll have to provide a bit more protection from our harsh winter conditions.

On the really positive side, they marveled at "Al". He's grown so much, and has really "beefed up". That's a trait he'll pass to the lambs. We had been down to their farm to observe some of his offspring.

Here's a picture of one of his offspring at three weeks and 30 pounds.

They also shared a lot of ideas about how to build inexpensive "handling chutes". I'm not interested in doing flying tackles as our girls are racing about the paddock. To me, sheep are docile and should be handled in the same manner. They share the same philosophy, so we'll be adding a few more "goodies" to their new pen.

We spent considerable time discussing the wool, and our potential markets. With the suffolk mixed into the Merino, our best market is probably "the rug market". That means I'll be targeting "fiber artists" more than "spinners". They too, were puzzled by the lack of lanolin.

I will definitely be contacting Texas A&M for some testing. First I need to see about a price list for their services.

On a closing note, Linda was so "in love" with the wool that I insisted she take samples of the triplets' wool, as well as a sample of Al's wool. I'll compile her comments along with the comments from the spinners, who graciously have worked their samples.

Ok, the tractor is about to arrive, so it's time to grab my hat and gloves and head into the Utah desert heat.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 9:38 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pay Per Post... interactive monetization for your blog

I've been actively earning an income (sometimes full-time) via the Internet for over 6 years. During that time, I've searched high and low for a way to earn an income while maintaining the professional writing and marketing standards found in typical off line businesses as well as a two-way strategy to drive traffic.

Pay Per Post meets my requirements.

I discovered Pay Per Post as an active member of BlogCatalog. There were several discussion threads which piqued my interest.

My requirements:

No SPAM! Pay Per Post requires this blog maintain solid content in order to have the privilege of reviewing their offerings. That means you, the reader, will get all my good stories and only see an occasional paid posting.

Full Disclosure: I've always believed in full disclosure of who I am, where I am, etc. That carries over to what I choose to write about. As blogging has moved more to an environment which accepts a certain level of advertising, I still believe in full disclosure. Pay Per Post also insists on full disclosure. You will always know when you are reading an "advertorial".

Traffic generation: The ability to help me drive traffic to my site as well as for me to drive traffic to Pay Per Post will generate more requests for product and program reviews.

Reasonable pay for reasonable effort: Pay Per Post offers a very nice incentive program. It is not dependent upon any kind of e-mail effort. As a reviewer I am in control of the minimum offer, which gets delivered directly to my PayPal account.

With that, you can expect to see reviews of selected products and programs. I will always provide full disclosure, so you know when I'm getting paid to post.

If you'd like to get on the same program, be sure to check out the Pay Per Post badge in the left sidebar.


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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:49 PM :: (0) comments

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Neche comes home

Say hello to Neche, which means "friend" in Objiway.

She arrived yesterday in the late afternoon without any real fanfare. In fact, because we were still working on the sheep pen, we didn't even have the camera handy.

When asked, she backed and then easily turned around in the horse trailer and walked out just as pretty as could be. They guys who delivered her had been riding her off and on the last couple of days, so she's getting over her "shyness".

Since her stall isn't completed yet, she'll be spending a few nights in our round pen. Pretty much the same accommodations she's had for the past 6 weeks or so.

Dusty just knew his "true friend" had arrived. I've got to say though, he was quite disappointed that she's some 40 feet away from him. In a few days, he'll get closer. Just as soon as we're sure they'll get along, we'll put them together in the round pen, as well as side-by-side in their stalls.

After we all joined her for a "group love" and quick rubbing, it was time to settle in and let each get acquainted.

Since this is really Bev's horse, she was the first to play the "Parelli game" of let's get acquainted. To do that, the human approaches to a point where the horse is comfortable (that means doesn't back up). Then the wait begins.

With your back turned, you wait for the horse to relax by cocking an hind foot. When that occurs, you back closer to the horse, just a little at a time. At any time the horse moves back, then you move away and start over.

After about 20 minutes, Bev was able to turn and approach Neche, and within just a few minutes she was able to take control, holding the halter and petting all over.

Cindy repeated the process and took things one step further by attaching a lead rope and asking Neche to follow... no real problems, and it took much less time.

I was last to go, and as you can see, I too, had to start a way's away with her.


I added her lead rope and walked her around the pen, even asking her to change directions.

Once she gets to know us all a little better, we'll begin working on her "ground training". We all agree that while she's saddle broke, and quite ridable, she will benefit from us taking her through the ground training series by Clinton Anderson.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:55 AM :: (1) comments

Friday, August 10, 2007

My very first award...

How sweet to find a comment from Kay at "The Rustic Cottage"!

She has awarded this blog (and it's author) the "Nice Matters" Award.

Developed by Genevieve at "Bella-Enchanted", this award is passed on to seven other bloggers who epitomize "nice". They are "good people", they inspire others in the blogging community, they're good blog friends, and they work to spread a positive influence throughout the blogasphere.

So, now it's my turn to pass this award to seven others who inspire me, and who I believe are entirely deserving of this very pretty "Nice Matters" Award.

My roommate Cindy, who writes "Country Musings". You may not see much of her, as she's also extremely busy and doesn't get out to socialize much... but she's one of the nicest and most inspirational women around.

Eshtermay, author of "The Heart of a Pastor's Wife". She doesn't know me, as I "lurk" at her site. I love the inspiration and especially the lessons for women as we all grow in our faith.

Susan, the author of "Farmgirl Fare". Her blog informs, educates, entertains, and really serves as a basis for frequent inspiration.

Andrea, author of "A Ribbon Afficianado". Here's a woman who's very comfortable with herself and enjoys helping others move forward in life.

Lisa, author of "LifePrints-Good News for a More Compassionate World" searches high and low for the really "good news" of the world. What she finds will make your heart happy.

Lucy, author of "Boulder Belt Blog" is one of the real leaders in organic, farm-direct marketing. She provides a ton of inspiration to those of us just getting started. Thanks to her trail-blazing, we'll all make fewer mistakes.

Clare, author of "Farm Style by Clare" and also the "Global Moderator" of "Women Who Farm". She works tirelessly to help and inspire other women who not only own our own farms, but who are also "city girls" wanting badly to become "farm girls".

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:52 PM :: (4) comments

Thursday, August 9, 2007

We're growing again... more building!

Remember the horse we bought? Well, she has to have shelter, so... we're adding to the stable!

Yesterday, Clyde, our neighbor brought the big tractor over to clear the land for us. He and I worked for nearly 2 hours removing about 32 feet of fence that was buried in a big sand drift and covered with tumbleweed.

Then we began working to remove the sand drift from the east side of the stable... that and a "big pile" of horse manure. Once we got down to grade, Bev got home from work, and we settled in to removing the east wall.

Now picture this...

We have a small stable with a tack room. It's a single (12x16) stall for just Dusty. When we took the wall down... he suddenly had the whole farm, if he wanted. We coaxed him into his corral long enough to get three boards across the wall area.

All afternoon, as we replace boards, and fixed a broken span, he was trying to get into our back pockets, wanting attention. If he wasn't knocking my hat off, he was nudging my boots. What a guy!

I'll get pics up this weekend. Cindy took the camera to work (at a local farm) so she can get pictures of a baby red-tailed hawk before it leaves the nest.

Today, Bev and I have been hand-digging post holes, and no a post-hole-digger is of no use in the sand. We got four done, and got the post set before the wind came up and made it just too miserable. Tonight we'll get more holes dug and posts set, ready to frame in two new corrals.

Goal here is to bring our new filly home this weekend.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:31 PM :: (2) comments

Monday, August 6, 2007

Update on "Blog for a Year!"

Time to bring y'all up to date on this incredible contest.

As of today, I'm now in 46th out of about 180. Goal is to become #1, and get paid to write this blog for a whole year.

What will it take for me to become #1?

The leader is some 12900 votes ahead of me... and she's really working the crowd at BlogCatalog. That kind of keeps me from doing much direct promotion there.

I really need your help. You can vote daily for me.

Here's how I can help you remember to vote... subscribe to my blog using your favorite feed from my "Blog Stuff". Each time I update this blog, you'll get a notification... That should help you, eh?

Ok, right now, before you do anything else... click here and vote for me!

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 2:41 PM :: (1) comments

It's all about sheep this week...

Yes, we're officially on "lamb watch". Our two girls, who are pretty pregnant, should be due sometime between now and the middle of August. I'm having to guess the dates as we didn't actually see the breeding, and we didn't have any "markers" on the ram. Of course, all our sheep are black, so marking is a little difficult... have to use white or yellow.

Since Merino didn't drop her little load before Aug 6, we can pretty safely conclude she's bred by our big boy, "Little Algernon" aka "Al". We had put them together in mid-March.

The other gal, Carolyn came to us "perhaps bred". She was sold to us in the "four sheep w/babies" deal in early May. Our mentor wasn't sure of her breeding date, but thinks it's somewhere in mid to late March, as she was the only ewe we thought wasn't preggie when we had the roundup first weekend in March.

We got the lamb pen built, as well as our first "lamb jug". That's a place where Mama and her babies will go for three or four days. We'll have nice pine shavings down, and a private area so she can bond with her babies.


It still needs the 4 steel corner rods, which we'll pick up tomorrow when Bev is in town.

We also got our first "drive by feeder" built this weekend. We still have to install the fence panel, but can get that done later in the week. This will help keep the alfalfa and hay off the fleece, since I believe I've found a substantial market for our black Merino fleece. What's really cool, is that this becomes a part of the fence line.

Hopefully we'll get the fence panel tomorrow or this weekend... we'll need the truck, and I believe Bev is taking a Senior Citizen to town (Cedar City) in his little car.

The very nice Mexican family returned yesterday and bought our other white ewe lamb. They said Crybaby needed a playmate. Next Sunday, they're coming for three of the "extra" pullets we have.

It's nice to see a little income to help with all the "outgo" around here.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:11 PM :: (0) comments

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Crybaby got a new home...

Yesterday afternoon we were checking on our neighbor's sheep. One of the older gals has gone "down" on us, and the neighbors aren't due back home 'til this evening. So we were giving her extra attention, staying there to ensure she's still eating and drinking, and can't get her feet tangled in the fence, AGAIN!

As we were leaving, a Mexican mother and young daughter stopped to inquire about buying some sheep from this neighbor. Well, we couldn't speak for the neighbor, but after discovering what they really wanted, we had them follow us to our place.

When they first saw Al, our ram... the only expression was "Muy Macho!" That was in reference to his "muy grande cahones".

Now, my Spanish was never very good, and having been away from a bilingual area, it's worse than ever. Thankfully, the little girl spoke English and was translating for her mother. As for Bev and Cindy... Spanish isn't even part their profile!

Our two "bummer" lambs are tame enough to allow them outside the pen, so I let Freezer out and tried to get Crybaby to go out, so the little girl could pet them.

Seems they want to raise a couple of sheep rather than eat the first one they get. We don't have any little ram lambs right now, but Crybaby is a little ewe lamb, so she has a new home. She's just over four months old right now, so will be ready to breed this next spring. Hopefully, we'll have some little "ram lambs" in a couple of weeks.

They talked about returning today for a couple of chickens. We have a few extras we ordered for our mentor, but since she's moving, she can't take them. I'm sure we can part with a couple of the extra Golden Laced Wyandotte or Silver Laced Wyandotte.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:37 AM :: (0) comments

Friday, August 3, 2007

Garden goodies!

After planting our garden this spring, we spent many hours "defending" it from the critters. The critters included jackrabbits, cottontail bunnies, chipmunks and birds. Oh, and a handful of unidentified bugs.

For a while, we just kind of "shooed" them away. When they returned with more friends and family, we declared war and got out the shotgun. It took pretty much a full box (50 rounds) of shells, for Cindy (our sniper) to get their attention... oh yes, we have about 45 less critters as she's deadly accurate.

Finally, we fenced everything possible. We've got chicken wire around absolutely everything, and it seems to have done the final trick, although the small birds can still get to the plants. (This picture was taken July 15, 2007).

So now, we have some garden growing, and even producing edible goodies!

What have we had?

We started with radishes... little "firecrackers" as we still didn't understand just how much water they needed. At any rate, we got a very good yield, several pints for Cindy's lunches.

Next up was our broccoli. This we grew from 6 transplants. The critters decimated one before we caged up the rest. The remaining 5 plants have given us a couple meals (4 portions each time) of tasty, tender heads. Mom steams them until just barely done, and adds a little butter, salt and pepper... Yum!

Just last night, we harvested our first carrot.

Now, there's a story about these carrots. They were the next to last seeds to go into our raised box. I dutifully soaked the little seeds overnight to help their germination. Then, I combined them with some radish seeds and began to plant.

The package had suggested the combination as the radishes would come up first and "mark" the rows for the carrots, which are real slowpokes. No problem... until the wind came up.

We found this carrot... the first we've pulled, hiding amongst the sugar snap peas and cucumbers.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 12:10 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Here's how things get done around Beryl...

I mentioned we've made a deal on another horse...

We heard about this horse from a gal Bev works with. Seems her father-in-law bought the horse at auction last month. He actually bought two, but she just had to come with him... and he doesn't even really care for "paints".

We looked at the horse, but being such "rookies" we felt it necessary to drag our mentor away from her "moving chores". Dixie thought the horse looked sound, but felt we should have Clyde check her out.

The next day, as I was skirting a fleece (under the trees on a concrete pad in front of the chicken coop), I saw Clyde drive by with a load of hay... Luck would have it, he had to go for another load in a few minutes, so saw him come down the road again, on his way for the next load.

After waving him to stop, we had a good chat, and a quick "look-see" at all our animals. In that short time, he confirmed my suspicions on the hay we bought (not very high quality), agreed that two and possibly four of our ewes are pregnant, and...

He'd go with us to check out the horse... and

He would bring the tractor down next week to level the building site for at least one more stall, level our front parking area (still a sand buildup), and even help us get the poles set for the stall addition. I offered to trade one of our ewe lambs in return... the deal finished off that we would feed his animals for the next three days while they go to Salt Lake.

Now, because we've purchased the horse, we had to hustle a bale of hay down. The guy who sold the horse to us is feeding... but he is also going to Salt Lake... could we feed while he's gone?

You bet!

So, come next week, we'll get the new stall built, the new horse home, the round pen moved, and who knows what else, all thanks to the way neighbors help each other. I'll be sure to get pictures of the process.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:06 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The weather has cooled... and I've been busy!

Time to get y'all caught up on the happenings around here. The weather has cooled from the 100-105 range down to the 90-95 range, so now it's more bearable to work outside an extra hour or two. Of course, by mid to late afternoon, we're getting thunderstorms that chase us inside... the lightening isn't something to mess with.

This past weekend was taken up with hay hauling on Saturday. With the help of two guys, we were able to get 50 bales (3-string about 110 pounds each) picked up and delivered, then off-loaded at our place.

For their help, we did the cookout... great burgers, macaroni salad, baked beans, and ice cream cones for desert.

Cindy had to work Sunday, so Bev and I kind of "putzed" around, not getting much of anything done.

Our hummingbirds have returned, providing us hours of enjoyment. They're really quite sociable, buzzing right up to you. Of course, they can also be a little dangerous when their on a mission.

Last night Cindy had to go into the covered chicken run to rescue one of the little hummers... he couldn't figure out how to get out from under the netting. With a six-inch overlap of netting on the poultry fence, he'd flown in from below but wanted to escape from above.

Cindy was able to gently guide him down a few inches so he could pop through the poultry wire.

Oh, we've made a deal on another horse. She will be Bev's horse, although I get to do the "ground work" with her. She's a 4-year old Paint that is already saddle broken. A guy in town bought her at the local auction last month, just because he didn't want her to get into the wrong hands. For $350 we get her... such a deal!

Now we have to add on to the horse shed, build another round pen... and well, I get to lose weight "working" her everyday. That's pretty good news!

Also, I may have found a market for our wool. The past couple of days I've been sorting through it, getting it skirted and ready to ship off some samples. If you are a spinner, or know of a spinner who likes to work from raw (greasy) fleece... be sure to let me know.


We have black Merino/Suffolk cross fleece as well as one Polypay fleece. Here's some pictures of what it looks like. This year's crop is the worst condition we'll produce. Most of the flock came to us from an outside pen and shows a lot of "vegetative matter" as well as sun-bleach.

Looks like our weekend coming up will be filled with "projects".

We have two ewes who are very pregnant... time to build the lamb jugs, and while we're at it, let's build a new feeder to keep the hay off the fleece, and then a creep feeder for the baby lambs. Oh, and let's enlarge the pen considerably.

We'll also be setting the plans to enlarge the stable by at least one if not two areas for our horses. That includes creating a "behind the manger" feeding aisle. One of our neighbors has a tractor to assist us next week.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 2:27 PM :: (0) comments