Friday, April 30, 2010

Give the plants a bath

I remember reading about this one time.  You know, I bet it's from my Better Homes & Gardens Houseplants Book, but anyway, I gave a couple of my plants a bath the other day and they really seemed to enjoy it.  No big thank yous or anything, but they do seem to look a little perkier!  Isabella had taken a bath the night before, and you know me, that is an awful lot of water to just go to waste (especially down my very old septic system) so I started watering the outdoor plants with it, then the indoor plants with it and then remembered the bath idea!
Obviously, this will only work with certain plants, but I had a Christmas Cactus, that just got done blooming at Easter (don't ask me!) that was quite dusty and had no loose dirt, so I held the pot upside down and swooshed the greens around in the water and then let it soak for just a minute or two while I grabbed the next plant.  The next was a spider plant, also with no loose dirt, that I just set in the water and rubbed each spider around until it was clean; I have lots of spider plants I did this with and they all seemed to love it!
A couple of precautions; if you are using leftover bath water like I did, make sure that the soap you used was all natural like my girly soap for Bella is.  If not, just use a shallow tub of cool fresh water, they'll love it.  Watch out for loose dirt, this can turn into a big mess if you're not careful, don't be cussing me out while you're cleaning mud out of you're shower, I warned you multiple times-ha!  Actually, this was the fastest and easiest way I have ever come across of cleaning my plants, and they are all very dirty after a winter of burning wood in the house.  Spring is a great time to give those plants that help our house breathe a little easier a good cleaning, go ahead, give it a try!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stress and Life

My neighbor, Royal Ram
Okay people, I have a confession to make.  I have been suffering from a writers block,  Odd, that has never happened before.  But, I come by it honestly.  My rabbit is very sick, I think she is dying.  My sister has been waiting for some very serious test results and we finally got some good news yesterday.  I actually started my post for Tuesday, which would have been my cross post for this blog and for GreenSpot-On, but it was just not flowing the way I wanted, so I ended up posting a recycling post from here at GSO and leaving you all in the dust instead.  I know, I know, shame on me.
So, last night I get home from my weekly conference call (which entails sitting on the side of the road for an hour and a half for a cell signal so I don't pay long distance here at the house) and Tom tells me to sit down, I had no idea how wound up I had been until that point.  When he handed me the package that said Royal Ranch Publishing on it I literally quit breathing; my book was here.  I had not realized how stressed I was that it would not be right, or that it would look homemade or "hillbilly", as I told Tom.  It looks really great and very much exceeds my expectations!
With a few minor corrections and adjustments,  that hopefully will be worked out today, my book will go to print!  WOW!!!  The funny thing was that seeing my book kind of broke free all of the stress of the last week, the stress that I hadn't even realized I was experiencing.  I took one look at that book and started sobbing.  I was so happy about the book, and relieved about my sister, and so sad about that damn rabbit.  God, what a mess I was, I bet the kids thought I had lost my mind!
I'm still a mess today, but as you can see the block has mostly passed, but the rabbit has not.  She is not suffering at all or I would take her in.  She is almost twice the age rabbits normally live to be and is a very tough old girl.  I have spent my days making her comfortable and feeding her all of her favorite foods every few hours, which is how I know she is not suffering because she is still eating and drinking.  She is with her beloved, Rusty, and that is all that counts in my book, so I am doing the best I can.  Who knows, she may surprise us all and come out of this.
I must say, this has been one crazy week.  I know I'm supposed to be a tough rancher, and that I have been rescuing animals for years.  I should be used to this by now, but if I was, would I be any good at what I do?  No.  So I shed a few tears, endure a little stress and hopefully write one hell of a childrens book from my experiences. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Off to the Planetarium

The fourth grade is off to The Gates Planetarium at the Museum of Nature and Science today and I am one of the lucky chaperons.  We will see an IMAX movie and then will follow it up with a tour of the museum and some of the cool exhibits.  This is all very exciting, but for a gal that suffers seizures, it is also a tad bit nerve wracking, so keep me in your positive thoughts today!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

Good Morning!!! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.  I had hoped we would be camping this weekend, and that I would possibly be downloading pictures from one of our spectacular state parks.  Well, next weekend.  In a move that I would normally really support, Park County Government has closed all offices on Fridays in an effort to save money.  I really wish the clerk that I talked to on Monday and said that I would pick up my plates and proof of insurance on Thursday or Friday would have told me that, but I guess that was too early in the week or something.  Tom didn't take me up on the idea of faking temporary plates, darn him, so we decided to take Nathan bowling for his birthday instead.
So, this is where the big decision comes in.  Do we head to the big city of Denver, or go to Fairplay?  In general, if given a choice, the kids always want to go to the city; I mean these kids live in the mountains.  But, my poor husband on the other hand, commutes to the city at least four times a week and will do just about anything to get us to not go back down there on the weekends!  When I reminded him about the bowling alley in Fairplay, he was on the phone in no time flat- checking prices, menus, etc.  Lucky for him, we are a very food oriented family and the menu in Fairplay sounded much better than anything we could get at a bowling alley in any city.
So we climb into the truck and head toward South Park, yes, that South Park, and yes, it is very much like the show from what I gather.  Mother Nature really put on a show for Nathans birthday; we saw a very large herd of antelope which is rather unusual, a huge herd of elk which is usual, and of course the occasional deer.  The drive up and over Kenosha Pass is one that I even remember from when I was a child, coming into South Park is quite a spectacular view, you can see for miles.  I think it may be one of my favorite places in Colorado, it is also a popular aspen viewing destination in the fall.
Yes, this is where I finally get around to announcing Royal Ranch Royalty, it is hands down, South Park Bowl!  (Sorry, no link, couldn't find one) This place went all out to make sure that we had a wonderful evening, which we absolutely did.  I think it must be a husband /wife team, and they both work their butts off, but still took they time to ask Nathan things like "what's the best thing about being 14 that's better than being 13?"  And they had the kids go through their music collection to put on whatever they wanted, you know, a real small town place.
As for the food, oh lord, did we make the right choice.  The specials were beer battered shrimp and ribs.  We had already decided on the way up that we would each order one item and then share everything.  Yup, that's two full racks of ribs we ordered and two orders of beer battered shrimp-YUM!!!  It's funny, because in my family we have a rib competition going; my nephews say I make the best ribs in the world, so my brother-in-law is always coming up with some crazy new way to try and beat my recipe, which he has not done so far according to the nephews.  Isabella and Nate say Fairplay's ribs come close to mine, boys!
After we ate, we got right down to some serious bowling.  I did some real butt kicking on my family and then we went home.  Okay.... I can't tell a lie... I came in fourth out of four, but I had a lot of fun trying!  The family says they are going to use the bumpers for me next time, can you imagine the gall of them?-Ha!  Tom who hasn't bowled in years, had the entire bowling alley beat and crowed about it the whole way home!!!!  (I'm sure this is why I did so poorly, I was just being support for my macho husband---I almost laughed myself right out of the chair typing that one!!!  Sometimes I just kill myself!)
Anywho, we really did have a great time bowling.  The people around us were a lot of fun, some were local families, but we were a little surprised that people had come over Hoosier Pass from Breckenridge to bowl as well.  I guess bowling is a popular sport and draws a crowd.  But it was when we were done bowling that the tears started flowing.  The waitress brought Nathan a brownie sundae while a Happy Birthday song blasted over the entire sound system while everyone in the whole place sang to my fourteen year old little man.  It was exactly what my middle son needed.  He was the center of attention of the entire family, restaurant, heck he had given the entire town of Fairplay reason to celebrate it felt like!
So, if you are ever in our neck of the woods, and have the urge to knock a few pins over, head to South Park.  On the way there you will have your breath taken away by a view that you'll never forget, chances are you'll see a huge herd of elk, too.  If you are really lucky, like my son Nathan appears to be, you might even see a herd of antelope!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Earth Day!

In doing some research for this post I found out that Earth Day and I have something in common, we are both turning 40 in the year 2010!!!  So, Happy Birthday Earth Day!  That's just downright fun to say.  To be honest with you, I had no idea that Earth Day was that old, I thought it was a much younger, more new fad idea.  Maybe it's just because I think of myself as much younger and newer too, ha!
From the sit ins of the Vietnam war came the lesson of a teach in day that became Earth Day.  A young senator from Wisconsin (doesn't that make you proud Daisy?) by the name of Gaylord Nelson proposed the nationwide teach in day in late 1969 and word traveled like wildfire across the nation, and the world, 175 countries take part in Earth Day.  20 million people participated in the first ever Earth Day, and the response was overwhelming according to wikipedia:
"Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself."
I think one of the most striking things for me in this article is that it reminds me that grassroots movements really do make a big difference, and that one man or woman really can make a huge difference.  They talk about all of the various groups that were trying to save the whales, and fight pollution, and were horrified by these gargantuan oil spills that were happening coming together and realizing that they all had a common goal and common values.  And here we are 40 years later blogging about it on a computer system that those folks would never have dreamed of; I mean to me, that is simply astonishing!

My friend Tiffany has a great Earth Day post at her blog today as well,  I really enjoyed reading it this morning, thanks Tiffany!  I couldn't agree with you more.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gardening and Composting Challenges with Altitude (and chickens!)

Gardening at 9,000 feet in elevation is not even exactly considered gardening; it should really be called trial and error.  But, after a couple of decades I'm learning a couple of things, like always plant stuff that deer don't like, never waste your money on annuals (we've just got too short of a season), and reuse everything I possibly can, including seeds.  The seed thing has come from necessity; the plants that do well up here do very well and therefore tend to take over the garden with seeds if I am not careful to collect them.
I do not do much to prepare my very hearty perennial garden for winter as you can see by the picture.  I try to cover it with a good layer of mulch if there is one available, but I do not pay for mulch, because many of them have ingredients in them that I don't like and it is a product that is usually readily available if you wait for the right time.  I wish I hadn't had to lose my trees, but now I sure have plenty of free mulch, thanks to road and bridge.  Back to winter preparation, I have read that it is good to leave the plants standing for the winter because it gives bugs and such places to winter over and it also avoids premature pruning.  One of the main reasons I do it is to avoid my beautiful perennial garden becoming one very large cat litter box over the winter months-eeeewwww!!!!  If the large poky plants stay in it, the cats stay out of it, works for me.

So, early Spring, like last weekend (for us this is early), I use my spiffy new pruning shears from my great Mom and prune everything down to the ground and rake it all out.  This year I am composting everything so I tried something new.  I put all of the large clippings into the trash bin and used our weed whacker to break them down into smaller pieces so that they would compost faster.  Again, this is one of the biggest composting tips to come across, the smaller the pieces to go into your composting bin, the faster you will have compost.  This is a little difficult to do, and I went through quite a bit of whacky string, but I got the job done as you can see.

Now, the object of the composting game will be to see if I can beat the chickens.  A year ago when I started composting, we didn't have chickens, so it was a great way of using up our kitchen scraps, which of course now go directly to the chickens.  Well, the chickens discovered the compost bin and its tiny morsels of year old food a few weeks ago and must have worked together as a team to get the very large wood block off of the cover and have absolutely cleaned out the entire bin!  I guess I don't have to worry about stirring it!  The good news is, is that the stuff that the chickens have kicked out is quite black and nice looking, so at least I know I was on the right track, I just need to start over on a new chicken free track!

Obviously instead of composting with food scraps I will be composting with chicken manure, which means I will have to be very careful that my compost pile does not get too hot in the summer months and cause a fire.  That is when I will be very thankful for our high altitude and cool temperatures.  So, I will be mixing manures plant scraps,  a beer or two (shh, don't tell the big guy) and a little of the mulch from our beautiful trees that the county cut down for good luck (shh, don't tell the county).  I wrote a post on composting (pre-chickens) that has a great breakdown of things that can and can't go into your compost bin here.  I had to laugh when I saw the pictures because the bin was so full, and now the chickens have dug through and emptied the entire thing!  Oh well, this way I will rake up what they cleaned out, use it on my gardens and start fresh this year; that is what you are supposed to do with a compost bin, right?  Pop back to the other post, it's worth just looking at the pictures to see what the chickens have done, it will give you a chuckle for the day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Crashing" Down the Fences

Well, my babies are growing up!  The other day I went to go do chores and Crash was on the wrong side of the fence!  His mama was in an uproar!!!  I knew the time was coming and that he was getting tired of just hanging with girls because he had gotten out once before.  Our poor renter had seen him in with the llamas and his daddy, Paco, who was giving him a heck of a time.  Tom and Thomas helped him get Crash back in with Mama and Princess and fixed where he got out and we left it at that, but I knew my time was limited.
I have learned a lot about Rams since getting Paco, and I love him dearly, but I'm not sure that he will stay at The Royal Ranch.  As you all know, I am very careful about breeding programs and will not tolerate any unaccounted for breeding or aggressive behavior in between breeding times.  Paco is having a very hard time understanding this concept; he is a ram and that is what rams do for a living.   But, he has made life a little difficult here on the ranch by making us have to separate pens out for different fellas.  Luckily, I had done this a couple of days before Crash came crashing through.
So, as I said, I go up to do my morning chores to Esther's panicked bawling (Crash was not so happy himself at this point either); he had done quite a number on the fence so I got everyone fed to try and calm them down and started to try and repair what I called the nesting area fence where I was keeping the lambs and Esther.  Crash had himself so worked up that he couldn't find his way back in with mama so I kept making the space a little bigger, pretty soon I turned around, and the sheep were out and the llamas were in!!!  Oh, and did I forget to mention how happy my chickens were to have access into the barn where they had been locked out of for weeks; they were happily clucking and scratching their way through the layers of straw that I had neatly laid down for the lambs!
Yes, it was as backwards as I could get it, and I just stood there laughing.  Esther, Princess and Crash were happily trotting around the edge of the bottom pasture, Marcel and Jasper were eating Esther's breakfast and the chickens were in chicken heaven and I had lost complete control of my little piece of paradise and was supposed to be at a meeting in about 15 minutes!  The only thing for me to do was to run back home, postpone my meeting, grab my fencing supplies and get to work!  Thankfully I had my plan already in place, as any rancher does, and just had to implement it!
As you can see, there are smaller panels that have to be moved, and corral panels that have to be moved, all in the name of safety for Princess and Crash...
(The bucket is a step for the chickens to use to get over the panels, because this was their favorite exit, which is how I knew the lambs could get out; when, or where, will it end?)
My old boys, Marcel and Jasper, had been appointed lamb sitters.  Llamas are fantastic guards; as a matter of fact many of them are put to work in fields specifically for this purpose.  They are very aggressive towards coyotes and many progressive ranchers are now putting them to work to save their herds of cattle and sheep from losses of babies.  I had already divided out the rest of the herd from these two, so it was just a matter of taking the panels from the "nesting pen" and placing them around any danger spots in the lower portion of our llama pen to make sure that little Crash is not going to escape to the outside world.
I would like to leave you with a mental picture of how things are done here at The Royal Ranch though.  Keep in mind that I was dressed for a meeting, nothing too fancy, just dressed.  Anywho, when there is panels being moved around, that means excitement, and I don't do it alone.  I usually have a string of cats following me, one long haired black, at least one orange tabby, and one gray.  The chickens are always following me, again at least three or four; I have to always be careful where I step.  Marcel, my big white llama is at least one half step behind me because he is hoping for some grain, and after Crash's big scare, he was a little upset and needed reassurance, so he was rather clingy too.  So, each time I got down on the ground I found myself with a lamb on top of me, doesn't do much for the hairdo, although he is very proud to be in with the big boys now.  Needless to say, I had to redress and rearrange before I left for my meeting 1.5 hours late!!! Oh, the life of a rancher, wouldn't trade it for anything!
Yes, I know it is Tuesday, but I have had this post sitting in my drafts folder since the weekend, shame, shame!  I decided not to cross post to GreenSpot-On for that reason and because I wanted to share with those readers about my recycled chicken coop, which of course you all have read about before!  But, make sure and pop over there to check it out and leave me a quick comment, I'm curious as to how their comments come through!!! Thanks again for being such loyal fans!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Royal Rambler

I don't know if being in the right place at the right time fits best, or "It was meant to be" or knowing the right person; or probably a combination of all three is what landed us such a great deal yesterday, but I'm sure happy we were there for the taking, er, buying.  I would not have guessed when I woke up in the morning that I was to go to bed the proud owner of a motor home, no sirree.  I probably would have blogged about it if I had known-ha!!!

Tom first mentioned it to me yesterday morning.  A friend of our neighbor, Dan was trying to sell it, and had been for months; the price had started at ten grand (I found out later), but after trouble with the city he had to sell quick (we all know how that can be, if you make 'em mad, they'll come and cut down your trees-ha!).  Turns out it had been his parents, they were the original owners and had taken fantastic care of it; it only has 60,000 miles on it!  Although it is older, a 1983, we decided to go check it out since the price was right and we did some quick research and thought that we could probably resell it and make some good money.  The guy was wanting $2,000 and we could sell it for around $5-7,000 we thought.  Then we found out it has a brand new generator and tires, hmmm.

As I mentioned, we were pleasantly surprised with it's condition.  The interior is in great shape as you can see by the pictures.  It is The Executive model, meaning it came with all of the bells and whistles that were available at the time.  I had to chuckle when I found the central vacuum, thinking this must be God's peek into heaven.  No phone, no bills, no e-mail, my family trapped in my teeny tiny nicely organized little home where the dirt just disappears down the tube-GONE!!!  (I'm assuming there is a container that will have to be emptied at some point in time, but in my little dream, the dirt just vanished into thin air, amazing!)
Well, back to earth Judy, now you have an extra project!  Tom has already started work on a few of the very minor mechanical things that need done and we are hoping to go camping next weekend for Nathan's birthday.  There is a lot to do to prepare for our maiden voyage, like 5 years worth of cleaning and some mouse poop removal, but it will be so worth it!  I had to laugh, because Tom was dying to get to work on it, and people kept stopping by, and I hate to say it, but they were green with envy when they heard about the deal!  We all agree that it was definitely meant to be here at The Royal Ranch. 

As for our plans to "flip" the motor home....we'll take it day by day, and enjoy it while we can, for now there are just to many ironic things happening to keep us wanting to "raemble on".  First and foremost, our son Thomas likes it, which is amazing, he's like Mikey, he doesn't like anything!  Secondly, I found a video from the previous owner that was labeled Royal Rambler, Royal sound at all familiar?  Lastly, the motor home was titled on my daughters birthday.  So as I said the last thing I would have expected to wake up to this morning is a huge gaudy motor home in my driveway, but I am ecstatic.  It is a reminder, and a really large one at that, that we must always keep our eyes open for those little, or not so little, gifts that are sent our way.  Here I am in a time in my life where I feel I am getting ready to lose my family and a tidy little unit that my family can inexpensively travel in together for our last few years, was literally dropped onto my ranch, unbelievable!
So, in honor of the little (4'11") old lady who could back this monster up with the boat on the back and just perfectly drop her (blind) husband in the boat into Blue Mesa Reservoir while all the old men had to use their front hitches to push their boats in, we will keep the name Royal's only fitting!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A New Look

Good Morning All!  I didn't want you to freak out!  I have been wanting a bit more of a polished look for my blog, and I think I have achieved it!  I did not like the look of all of the negative space that was on the page before and also this template puts a frame around my photos.
Also, I did a post for yesterday, I am just behind in getting some pics taken.  I will catch up today and post it, it is a good one!  Again, I just didn't want you to jump on and think someone had hi-jacked me-ha!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Working with the Commissioners

Tuesday was my big meeting with the Commissioners.  I was locked and loaded.  I even had handouts for all of the attendees, which there were ten of, including myself.  Two of my immediate neighbors had been calling almost as much as I had been, with not quite as much luck getting calls back, so I had told the Commissioner that I would be inviting them.  But, the news got out, and the group grew over the weekend, so I was getting a little nervous.  
That is when I knew I needed to be very prepared to take charge of the meeting and not let a lynch mob mentality take over the crowd.  Not only are these people mad about the trees, but years of neglect to our roads that have huge potholes (if you recall that is what prompted me to write a letter in the first place), and many residents have very bad drainage issues due to Road and Bridge problems as well.  So, I took some pictures and made my handout, attached pertinent e-mails, highlighted the most important info, etc.; mostly just to make sure to keep things on track.
 Thankfully, no one was lynched.  Obviously, it is too late for my trees, but I have stopped them for cutting anymore.  It was a mistake; at some point in time, who knows when, they are going to be coming through here to put in drainage ditches, so that if our road ever does get the potholes fixed properly, they will stay that way.  Yes, the trees were cut way too far off the road, and yes they are sorry, and yes they should have told us first, and yes they are changing it right now.  Hope that's not all because it's an election year....
Ironically, this picture is taken in front of my one remaining pine tree in the front of my house.  Look at the tiny little, lonely thing!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CFL Bulbs

Good Morning!  I hope you all are having a good week and welcome to the middle of it!!!  Today I am posing a question more than posting a blog.  I need a little feedback from you, my dedicated readers.  I have the strangest problem going on and I can't figure it out.  Since the birth of the CFL bulb craze, I have purchased a couple of varieties of them, and I must say we have been sorely disappointed.
Granted, I never have the big bucks to pay for the top brands I'm sure, but I know that the last two boxes I have purchased have been name brand, because they have been from Costco (GE).  As a matter of fact, the first box that I bought from Costco, I had so many go bad in such a short amount of time, less than a year, I took them back thinking that they were defective.  I am currently on the replacement box now, and just walked into my office and blew one of the new bulbs, which is what has prompted me to pose this question to all of you.
As crazy as it sounds, I am honestly thinking it has something to do with this being an old house.  I am wondering if any of you have older wiring and have had issues with these very expensive and then hard to dispose of bulbs lasting even shorter than regular light bulbs would in your home?  I am all for helping the environment (as you have probably gathered by now), but The Royal Ranch consuming these CFL's like they are going out of style doesn't really seem right to me, what do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Leave No Trace

Royal Mountain

The Royal Ranch sits right at the base of two beautiful trail heads in Bailey, CO.  A hiker can climb Mt. Rosalie, Mt. Logan and can even reach the Mt. Evans Wilderness from our neck of the woods.  There are two spectacular campgrounds that Tom and I manage in the summertime that ironically enough I used to camp at when I was a kid just a mile from the house here.  So, needless to say, we can always tell when "Spring Fever" has hit by the amount of traffic passing by, and with the warm weather this past weekend here in Colorado, Spring has Sprung!
This has gotten me to thinking about all of the visitors headed our way, and to be honest, all of the trash that is headed our way.  We have some of the best visitors around, I must tell you, but even the best tend to forget a few little items.  The top three offenders on my list are cigarette butts, twisters and straw wrappers from juice boxes.  Yup, tiny little offenders, but boy do they add up!
So, as you are headed out the door on your first or second or any spring picnic, think about using reusable drink containers and don't forget a good trash receptacle.  A lot of picnic grounds are still officially closed until after Memorial Day, so you may have to haul out your own trash.  Double and triple check your site before you leave, and make sure there is no trace of your visit.  The less impact you leave, the better it is on the environment which leaves it just as beautiful for the next time you come to visit!  Oh lord, and don't forget the camera to take pictures of all the wonders of nature!!!

Don't forget regular readers, on Tuesdays I am cross posting at GreenSpot-On.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catching Up

If you look closely, you will see that Fat Gary, Marcel, Iowa and Elway all decided to help with the gardening on Sunday.  Not included in the photo were Lily and Rosie who were oh so helpful in removing my rocks, not, and Hector who kept pushing me over because he was rubbing up against my legs as I was pulling weeds.  By the way, thanks Mom for the new pruning shears, they are fantastic and made my job easier this year than ever before.  Doesn't it look fantastic?!?

Lordy!  I can't believe it is already Monday and it has been so long since I have blogged, please accept my apologies!!!  I have been one busy lady.  I last left you all on Thursday, running out the door to work on the cover of my new book, Llucky Llama.  Well, I am proud to say the cover is done and it looks fantastic!  Today Vivian and I will be working on downloading the book to the printer-yeah!!!!  At some point in time I need to write about writing, this has really been a great project, and I think more people should learn about it; really.
After the work on my book, I did something that I have never done before; I went to look for a missing person.  Here in Colorado we have a missing 12 year old girl by the name of Kayleah Wilson.  She vanished from Greeley, CO two weeks ago on her way to a birthday party.  I'm not sure what is bothering me the most about this case; if it's the fact that she is so close to Bella's age, the small town thing, or what, but I can't get this one out of my head.  To be honest with you, this was more of a "psychic search" and I really wasn't sure what to expect.  I do feel that I was able to tell her energy what I wanted to, but I did not accomplish anything specific, so.... I guess the mission in itself was a failure.  For more information on the missing girl, please go to this link.
After the more than two hour drive back to Bailey, I had a meeting with the Destination Bailey group.  I am very excited about this committee.  Aside from one rude, cranky old guy, the group is made up of excited business owners like me who want to bring tourists into our cute little town.  Not just people who pass right on through on their way to someplace else, which is what happens now; Bailey is the definition of a highway town.  Destination Bailey is also very involved with the Park County Historical Society which is near and dear to our hearts for many reasons, not only do we love the history of the area, but the society loves us because we bring our llamas to their big event each year!
Friday was filled with playing with pre-schoolers.  Well, at least that is what we tried to convince them of; it was actually what our school district calls Child Find.  The day when all pre school aged children come and get their vision, hearing and any other thing the district can possibly think of to test, tested.  The cops are there to fingerprint, there is a cute little old lady to face paint, even a couple of home school groups were represented.  Me, of all people was doing vision testing.  No, I have no medical background, but at least I have two boys who have hit their heads more times than I would ever like to count and know how a pupil is supposed to react; one of the tests I was to perform-ha!!!!
Saturday, too, was a whole new experience, County Assembly, WOW!!!  You know, I have avoided talking politics on this blog, and I will continue to do so, for now.  But, I am going to come out of the closet, there is just no way around it... I am a registered Republican.  I often wonder if this will come as a surprise to my friends like Daisy and Tiffany, who are teachers and have strong political opinions.  But, I digress, back to Saturday.  Park County is allowed 125 delegates at the County Assembly, and for the first time in what anyone could remember (and there were some really old people there), we filled every one of them!  This is grass roots politics at it's very best people, that is the only way I can describe it.  
One thing you must keep in mind, is that our county is almost entirely Mountain Hillbilly, I mean, Republican so everyone who is anyone in the county was there.  The Sheriff, the commissioners, the clerk and recorder, etc. all the way down to the coroner race is all Republican pretty much.  That other party may have a name or two on the ballot, if they're lucky, LOL!  No, seriously, it was overwhelming the emotion that was in the room, and to have an impact on voting at such an early stage really made me feel like I was making a difference, and I was.  It was also a great way to meet my candidates in a different setting, many of whom I already know, but have not seen "campaign".
So, needless to say I needed a day to decompress and spend time with my family and animals.  The chickens have gotten into my compost bin and torn the darn thing apart and cleaned out every speck of food that was ever in it, which has prompted me to get to work on Spring projects; Thank you chickens!  The weather was beautiful yesterday so I raked out the perennial garden and lo and behold there was some green underneath!!!  Of course with us working outside in the beautiful weather we had neighbors popping by so I spread the word of the meeting I have with the Commissioner about the cut down trees for tomorrow.
I went to bed with a smile on my face because my son, Thomas had told me that he and his friends had been talking about my trip to Greeley.  He said he wasn't quite sure what to say, just that I was hoping that I could help, and that one of his friends had called me a hippie, and he said "yeah, Mom, you're like a modern hippie", which I took as a huge compliment.  It got me to thinking about these last few days, and how they all may seem kind of contradictory.  A searching psychic and Author one day, a volunteer the next, Gun Totin' Republican on Saturday and wrapping up my weekend composting and saving the planet with my family, now that's what I would call one hell of a week!  But, it's who I am, and what I believe in, so that's what I'll do.  Oh, and did I forget to mention I'm raising heck about the trees tomorrow?  (I remembered, I'm just making sure you caught that one-ha!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's all a cover up!

Oh come on, folks, you know me by now!  It's just a play on words, today I don't have much time to post as I am rushing around getting ready for a meeting with my book designer for the cover layout.  Boy, doesn't that sound fancy!  Not everyone has to know that it is my dear friend Vivian and the meeting is at her kitchen table, but we are doing the cover layout!
I was very careful when I chose to work with a friend; as a matter of fact I even broke a rule of ours.  We don't usually do business with friends or family.  Gets a little tricky.  But Vivian is the best in the business, and I always keep my business local anyway so this worked out great!
I have my ISBN's in hand, the book has been patiently waiting in the background, now all we need is to finalize the cover and download to the printer!  I'm off and running, literally!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Deviled Eggs

When I was growing up my Grandma was always in charge of bringing the deviled eggs to all of the family parties, and they were the best deviled eggs you have ever tasted!  One of the things that she used to do to prepare for this big egg making event was to buy her eggs well in advance, her belief was that the fresher the eggs, the harder they would be to peel.  Now, whether this is a wives tale or not, I do not know; but it has had me quaking in my shoes since I have what I would consider the world's freshest eggs.  Directly out of the chicken.
Up until Easter Sunday, it really hadn't mattered how the eggs had peeled, it was just my family eating them, and if quite a bit of the white came off, no biggy, just feed it right back to the chickens for a strong healthy egg the next go 'round.  But for deviled eggs, for company no less, I really wanted them to peel nicely.  So, I hard boiled them, cooled them, and then cracked them all in the pan of water and then let them soak over night so as to let the water seep in between the egg and the shell.  If your pan has any aluminum showing, please use a different container to store the eggs in the fridge (in water) overnight, we don't want aluminum to leak into your wonderful eggs!
 Notice I'm using my non paper towels from my friend Tiffanys Etsy shop

In the morning I was really quite pleased, I still had quite a few eggs, probably the majority, that did not come out perfectly, but it went much more smoothly than I had anticipated!  You have to keep in mind when you get frustrated that the whites are the bottom of your deviled eggs, and that no one really sees that part after you decorate them anyway.  I had two trays that I planned on serving at the party and one for "Yucky's" as Isabella and I called them and it really took the pressure off when peeling and cutting them in half to have that extra tray to put the not so perfect ones; and believe me, they got eaten just as quickly!  
Okay, enough of the peeling secrets and on to the recipe, which as usual is not really a recipe because it depends on how many eggs you're making and what your tastes are.  But here is a list of my ingredients:

Eggs (duh)
relish (Grandma always used vinegar in hers, I think relish takes the place of that)
yellow mustard
spicy mustard
salt and pepper
chili pepper for garnishing top
We just put all of the yolks into a bowl as we were halving the eggs and the whites into the trays.  Mix all of the devilish ingredients to the right consistency and taste, meaning that you have to snitch here and there of course, and put it all into a baggy.  A funny side note here, Isabella, shocked, looked at me and said "We get to use a new bag, Mommy?"  Poor girl, traumatized by a cheap, tree hugging, mother!

Anywho, snip the corner off of your brand new baggy and fill your awaiting vessels, top with a sprinkle of the chili pepper, it's okay to get a little on your beautiful serving tray, no one will notice!  Grandma used to go to all of the trouble to make them all and then transfer each and every one of them, but not me, takes too much time!  Share with your loved ones and enjoy the fruits of your labor, and hopefully not so much labor!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another First

Good morning all!  This is really very odd,  I am actually writing this as my second post for the day, now don't go getting your feathers mussed.  I'm not going anywhere, I'm just adding on.  Well as soon as I can figure out how that is.  But for today, it works out just as well.  Let me back up a step or two.  I am now an author at a great blog called GreenSpot-On.  I can't tell you how impressed I have been with this group of ladies.  The blog is really cool and it is all about things that are very intriguing to me as you will see when you go to check it out.
Normally, I will just cross post, meaning that my Tuesday post will automatically appear on both blogs; but since today is my first day, there are a few technical issues.  Let me rephrase that.  There are a few user issues.  As I said, it works out just as well, because I really wanted you all, my very dedicated and wonderful regular readers to go and check out this new site.  Yes, I am buttering you up so you will click on the link to read my post, but mostly just for humor, this really is an impressive and informative site (and my post is pretty funny if I do say so myself)!  Don't forget to go all the way to the bottom of the page for the wonderful slide show of some of the animals that have been rehabilitated, simply amazing!

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's All About Family

I have to tell you, although we don't celebrate Easter in the traditional sense by going to church, I had a wonderful day.  I mentioned in my post yesterday that I was having my family up and that I might add some pictures, but the day was truly worth its very own post.  With our families getting older and our schedules being so hectic we will take any opportunity to get together that we can get, and Easter Sunday is one tradition that we will not let go of, no matter what our religious preferences are; and they do vary even within our own family.
We were truly blessed to get my Grandpa, and as you can imagine that is a real coup.  My Mom has a brother who has a son and a daughter, and a sister who has two daughters each with families of their own; so my Grandpa has more than enough invitations for holidays now that our family has grown so large that we can no longer celebrate them as one large group.  My Mom's family is from Iowa, if you remember, so I always really enjoy getting my Grandpa up here and showing off my little ranch to him and asking him questions about his old farming days.  Thomas, my oldest son, really thinks Great Grandpa Spring is something, so to watch the two of them interact almost always brings tears to my eyes...

I also got a very precious gift from my sister Kelly.  She has received her fist copies of her book for teachers "Making the First Six Weeks a Success".  Kelly Bergman was a teacher for years, and then an administrator, and now while she is raising her girls she is teaching teachers how to become better teachers!  The gift to me and my family was not only a copy of this great book which I plan to share with some very lucky teachers, but a dedication in the book to me and my children as well.  Talk about bringing tears to your eyes... the whole room was tearing up (we all shared in the love, of course)!
Anywho, the company was fantastic, the food was great, and the kids all had a wonderful time.  See all the pics as proof. 
We even got to see my nephew's science fair experiment!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

Happy Easter!  Today I will have my last house full of people for Spring Break, and I can't wait; it is my family!  We are expecting both of my sisters and their families, my parents and even my Grandpa.  I will post some pictures later if I am not too tired.  
This has been a very odd Spring Break for Tom and I; the kids have pretty much ditched us. Tom had taken the time off of work so that we could all go skiing or something, but between my back still recovering and Isabella's whiplash injury, that was out of the question.  So, we thought we would just take day trips, but that never happened because the kids always had bigger and better plans. But, that is the point of a break from school, for the kids to have a great time, and they most definitely have, so who am I to complain?
Aside from keeping the troops fed (they still magically reappear, and multiply at meal time, thankfully), the laundry done, and figuring out which group of kids is going where, I have actually gotten a lot of work done.  Which brings me to this post.  Royal Ranch Royalty, hmmm does The Royal Ranch qualify?  Absolutely!
I have done it!  I have finally gotten all of our new gardening line up and running on our website.   The has been updated with our new logo and new pictures as well.  I was really quite surprised when I got to work on it, as to how far behind I had become.  I had not even put our fantastic new "Naked Johnny" logo on the site yet, and we all know that is a big deal!
Naked~Nure also has a shop on Etsy that I got updated as well.  If you are not familiar with Etsy, I highly recommend you check it out.  It is a site for all things handmade, and I'm not talking about Grandma's crocheted doilies (you can find those too), I mean some really cool, and earth friendly items that can replace just about anything you were going to buy at another traditional store.  I have my t-shirts, hats,  and wildflower seeds on there as well, so not everything is hand made, just eco-friendly.
I must say, that I had a really good time with the sites this year, as you will see.  In the manure business if you take yourself too seriously, you might end up feeling kind of crappy, I have found out.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Two days of taking pictures of, and writing about poop has left my sense of humor with a little to be desired I think.  But, anyway, really, check out the website, and my shop on Etsy because the pictures that are here are the ones that did not make it, the ones on the sites are even better.  And, yes, I'll say it again, I know it is shameless of me to use Crash as a marketing tool, and NO I don't care!!!!!

Have a Hoppy Easter!  And don't forget to watch out for surprises that bunny might have left for you in the yard, I heard they are great for the garden...hey that gives me an idea...gotta run!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hershey's Hoppy Easter Basket Blog

It's almost Easter and my friend Daisy over at Compost Happens passed along a virtual Easter Basket that I am passing along to all of you!  The best thing about it, is that the basket is fund raising as we are virtually passing it along, easy as pie!  This is the scoop:

Better Basket Blog Hop started as a charity blog meme, bloggers were able to raise $10 by writing a blog post of donating a virtual Easter Basket. HERSHEY’S promised to donate $10 per each post written for the Children’s Miracle Network, up to $5,000. Within the first week, over 200 bloggers participated, and soon it was 400 bloggers, and HERSHEY’S was so impressed by the kindness and caring of the hundreds of bloggers participating that they decided to donate $7,000 in honor of all the caring bloggers who are part of spreading the word of paying it forward this Easter season.

So here is all I have to do to be a part of the seven grand:
  • Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
  • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
  • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
  • Leave your link at comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
  • This started as a meme of HERSHEY’S donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network up to $5,000 – but after so many bloggers participating, HERSHEY’S decided to donate a total of $7,000 honoring the kindness of blogger community .
So, thank you, Daisy, for the basket, and I am truly offering you, my wonderful, dedicated readers to get involved as well.  Heck, this time it's not even our money that's involved- let's do this thing!  LOL!  Have a great, safe Easter weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ain't Misbehavin'

I'll never forget the time when Thomas was just a tiny young boy, probably only three or so, old enough to be a smart alec, but cute enough to cause a lot of trouble; and we were in the mall.  He'd been doing something that he shouldn't, I'm pretty sure that it was that he was getting too far away from me, and every time I would reprimand him, he would say "Sorry" in this little smart mouth sort of way.  Well, I'm not one for giving too many chances, especially when it comes to issues of safety, so I took that cute little red headed boy under my arm and hauled his cute little butt out to the truck for a good talking to.  As you know, in the mall, this is not a short or direct route.
So, as I am winding my way through the halls, and stores and food court of the echoing mall, this adorable kid is screaming at the top of his lungs "I'm sorry, Mommy, I'm sorry Mommy" crying and hiccuping the whole way.  To this day, more than a decade later, I can still remember the looks of contempt and concern on the people's faces as I carried my very naughty toddler to the parking lot for a conversation about safety in the city and what the word sorry truly means; and I really do mean a conversation, not a beating.  
I know that the people were concerned for the safety of my young son and that all they could see was a very young, frustrated mom and an apologizing cute, very upset, toddler.  But, the background on this is that Thomas at the time had learned that a quick sorry could get him out of trouble, or so he thought,  and I had had enough.  Especially when it came to his safety, again, I am not one of those moms who believes in discipline in times of convenience.  Strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.  We had our discussion, and headed home for the day; Thomas learned very quickly there are consequences to his actions; but, sadly, so did I.  As I said, I will never forget the looks on the faces of the horrified people as I very rightfully so, disciplined my child at the mall that day.
This incident has been on my mind because of a big blogging blunder.  And I do mean BIG.  I had never heard of this blogger before, and to be honest, I'm so irritated, I'm not even going to directly link to the original blogger from here, but I do encourage you to follow the links.  What started out as a post from the original blogger fuming about her perfect children's right to time on public computers turned out to be quite insulting to the autistic blogging community and friends.  I found a great response post at one of my new favorite blogs, Mom NOS and am really happy that I signed up to read the follow-up comments as well, because I have learned a myriad of new things about Autism, it's kids and their families in the process.
So, here I sit a week later on Autism Awareness Day.  I brought that story up because I completely understand what some of those parents must go through on a day to day basis, worrying about the judgment from other people.  And, to be honest, I hope and pray, that if I'm in a hurry and cranky and late, and whatever; that I am always at my most tolerant, and aware of what is going on around me.  I also found some great information on a new blog that I am following called A Life Less Ordinary? and really like it.  It has some great insight on Autism and it's signs and symptoms so that maybe we can all be more aware.
But, you know, the one thing that I have taken away from all of this, is that it has had me, and for that matter, a lot of others, thinking about it a lot this week.  You know me and timing.  I think everything happens for a reason.  There is a reason this happened at this time, near Awareness day, and there is a reason I have been constantly thinking about it and following up on it.  We must simply learn from it and move on, yes that is easy for me to say from "the outside", but I am definitely learning from it....
Learning how to better serve the needs of the kids who need us most.  
Learning how to become more aware of people who could use a hand in public.  
Learning to appreciate a blogging community that is as tough as I am.  
Learning I can't wait to work with some of these kids and moms at my ranch!