Friday, July 30, 2010

Change is a good thing

Big change is coming to The Royal Ranch, mostly here at the blog and in my writing career.  I have decided that it is time to grow-up, so to speak, and so we are all going to go through a few changes together!  I know that you, my dedicated readers, will be along for the ride, and I hope to attract new readers and make this blog a little more interactive.

As you know I recently celebrated my first birthday on this blog.  It has been the most wonderful year, but it is time to grow up and be a big girl now and stretch my wings a little bit.  I went into this to get my name out there for writing and in business, so let's do it!

So how am I going to accomplish all of this?  Well, we are restructuring things at The Royal Roost so that it is now a "short term rental"; meaning that I no longer will be making breakfasts.  This will be a good thing and will free up some of my time and allow me to concentrate on my writing.

I am also going to being placing an ad or two on this blog.  Yes, I can hear you, me dedicated readers, groaning and reaching for the delete button as we speak.  But hold on just a second, I have done a lot of research on this and not only will the ads help me, but Google is very good about matching up the ads with the content and they may actually end up being helpful to you, my oh so dedicated readers; and yes I'm kissing up-ha!  A girls gotta make some money somewhere, being a starving artist isn't all it's cracked up to be.

My friend Daisy turned me on to the blog Problogger, and I have really enjoyed it.  One of the ideas I have gotten from there is to do a series of posts where we as individuals determine a couple of goals and then work on them as a group.  I'm going to call this series Royal Rebels, after my own rebellious spirit and to remember to remind ourselves of our own royalty each and every day as we strive to reach our goals.  

Just so that you can be thinking of a goal to work on for the big jump start of Royal Rebels, I am going to be working on getting and handling the mail each day, making a business contact each day, and have not yet determined what my long term goal will be.  Maybe I should be open to input on that?  It will definitely be writing related.  It can be to lose some weight, work out a little bit each day, whatever. But statistics show that no matter what goal you are trying to accomplish, it is better to do it with a support group.  And that is what I am going to offer with Royal Rebels.

Now, don't worry, I still have plenty of things to share about crazy life here at the ranch.  I'll break you all in slowly, as a matter of fact very slowly (I may even be offline for a few days, nooo!).  The next few days are very crazy around here.  Tomorrow is Bailey Day; our big town celebration.  We have the llamas in our cool historical park as we have done since 2003, and  then I have my first big book signing!  But get ready to grow with me, because I hope it will be a fun experience...and please bring a friend.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oil Spill...In the Midwest?!?!

 Thank you Huffington Post for the photo

Oh no, not again!  Another worst for our country.  They are calling it the largest oil spill in Midwest history.  You know, I really like making history, but this is getting ridiculous!  

As you, my oh so dedicated readers know, I write for another blog on Tuesdays, Green Spot-On.  Well, the home of Green Spot-On sits pretty darn close to where this disaster is.  So just hours after I posted last night, an open letter to readers was posted about this horrific event by my friend, follower (here at RR, thanks Khrys) , and co-worker at GSO.

So I was assuming I have just been out of the loop or something and immediately got on my regular news networks.  Well, it's on page four or so of my Denver news, what the hell?  I then do a Google search and read that the Governor says that she feels that the response was "anemic".  Did we not just learn our lesson?

It appears that a 30 inch pipeline from 1969 was leaking for a few hours before it was even reported, and then it broke.  Close to a million, and I did read a million in one article, of gallons of oil have spilled into the Kalamazoo River.  Canada Geese and fish have already been seen to be affected, let alone the long term affects on the wildlife.  Twenty families are out of their homes due to environmental hazards like benzene.

Good lord people, wake up and smell the sun shine and the wind blowing, I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A work day poem

I didn't want to go to work,
My life was feeling a little too berserk.
Cleaning fire pits and picking up trash,
Can really be a big old pain in my ass.

But I really must go,
they aren't going to clean themselves, you know.
So I will make the best of it,
Because I am a tough little chit.

I grab my shovel and rake,
along with my pail I do take.
And there as I work a Stellar Jay flies by,
While a chipmunk is running up high.

A Gray Squirrel gets mad we are in her space,
And throws pine cones at Isabellas little face.
A chickadee is hopping down a nearby pine,
Gee, I am really glad this job is mine!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Metaphysical Monday

Although it is Monday, I don't have much "metaphysically" to report.  I think I'm too tired.  What a wonderful weekend with my sister's kids!  Yesterday I had a really tough Yoga/Pilates workout, which is going to really help my back.  I found a gal who comes to the house, cheaper than any PT, and kicks my butt to stabilize the muscles around my damned spine, and every other muscle for that matter.  It's a start.

Speaking of MM, I got so excited when I posted about my altar, I forgot to mention that it is of course, a work in project.  As a matter of fact, last week when the kids and I were working at the food pantry, Nathan and Isabella came in from a trip to the dumpster, all smiles, with the most beautiful hawk feather I have ever seen.  Well, that's not all that fair, because it's only the second one I've ever seen up close, and it is from my kids, I'm just sayin... But it is beautiful, and it has this soft downy stuff at the bottom, very special. 
The feather on the top is the one the kids found, it is a wing feather of a Red-tailed Hawk, while the  tail feather below is one that I found recently on a hike with my sister.
I feel quite a strong connection with the Red-tailed Hawk.
 
Now, on that note, if I was reading this blog (and of course did not know what a totally cool person I really am), my first smart ass thought would be "Damn, this girl mentions her volunteering a lot, and links back to herself a lot.  She must really like herself."  I want to talk about that for a second, because I mention the places where we find the feathers because I think that it has karmic value.  And yes, I am proud of the fact that I volunteer, and that is what this blog is about (you know green living, and "making a difference"?), so it is something that you will find linked to again and again.  I am very committed to teaching our children, and I do mean all of our children, about community service, and it's karmic value, and I have found that I can teach by "doing" better than "saying".  So when I can, I do.

So for a gal that doesn't have much to say on this Metaphysical Monday, I, as usual came up with a little something-ha!  Don't forget to make a miracle today and everyday. 

Oops! It's Monday evening and I almost forgot to post this!  Hope your day was great!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

Happy Sunday!  We here in Colorado are enjoying a reprieve from the heat, not that I can complain of it too much anyway, but it still gets hot up here...midday!  I say this as I sit in front of my fire typing this post-ha!  Anyway, I hope that you too are enjoying your weekend.

Today is Royal Ranch Royalty day and I thought I would introduce you all to Pepper because he really had my back earlier this week, so he absolutely deserves the title of Royalty today!  I have introduced you, my dedicated readers, to his beloved friend Snickers in a previous post, but I will give you a quick run down of their story again here, just to refresh your memory.

A co-worker of ours with the campgrounds had taken a job at a Girl Scout camp as a maintenance person.  He found out that four years, yes four years, prior to his arrival the camp had decided to stop their llama program and just let two llamas loose in the forest surrounding their camp.  So these boys, Snickers and Pepper, literally survived on their own, in the woods, for four years!

Blessedly with a little help from our friend, and quite a bit of luck, they ended up here (and of course some good coordination on my part).  Thank goodness Tom was with me that day, because Snickers is the biggest llama we have ever dealt with and to get a halter on him was way too high for me!  I can do it now, now that he is not always trying to avoid the halter so badly, and trusts me more.

But back to Pepper and how he really had my back.  Paco (my ram, or male sheep) had rammed me for the first time ever.  Now mind you, this was a very small, even hesitant, ram to my hand because he wanted what was in it (chicken feed).  Well, I don't take any crap off of any male animal on this ranch, I just can't, it isn't safe for me.  You must keep in mind that all of the males in that pen outweigh me by at least fifty pounds in the case of Paco and triple my weight in the case of the llamas.

So I got pretty aggressive with Paco, I started yelling and screaming and chasing him around the pen.  I pretty much tried to emulate what a much larger, much more dominant animal would do, and that is to scare him and to make sure that he knew I was boss.  Well, as I'm doing all of this, I hear footsteps following my every move, even as I'm darting left and right to try and keep up with a very agile, scared sheep.  I glance over my shoulder, and it was Pepper!  He was following me step for step.  He literally had my back, and when Paco would dart one way Pepper would sort of chase him back into "the game".  It was the funniest thing, this all only lasted the span of about two minutes, but they are two minutes that will last a lifetime.

I mentioned that Pepper's friend is his "beloved", and I don't say that lightly.  Pepper absolutely flips out if we take Snickers out of the pen and not him.  We have to be very careful that he doesn't jump the fence to stay with Snickers, even if we are just moving them from pen to pasture!  When we take one of them on a pack trip, we of course must take them both.  Even with his buddy Snickers with him, Pepper is rather high strung and was one of the main characters of a post I wrote about my husband being on a pack trip by himself.  That one is worth the click through if you haven't read it!

Pepper is also our very best guard llama.  If there is something in the 'hood, Pepper will let us know.  He is always the first, and definitely the most persistent, llama to make the very distinct alarm call.  It is high and shrill, and I promise, one day I am going to get a good recording of it, but for now you'll just have to take my word for how totally cool it is.  One time a renter for our cabin came and let their (very large) Mastiff out of their car and Pepper couldn't figure out if it was a bear or a dog, so he just stood their "screaming", just to be on the safe side!

So, here's to Pepper, and any other animal that has our backs!  Respect them, give them a job and a purposeful meaning, and they'll trust you back.  It is amazing to watch these fellas that came from out of the woods, literally, to one that has my back in a brawl!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Weekend for family

This weekend my family is a little bit jumbled, and it is wonderful.  My oldest son is with my Dad at a Leadsled Spectacular event in Kansas.  I have my youngest two and my niece and nephews, and my other sister and BIL will help pick up Mom from the airport so that Dad and Thomas can enjoy their time with the cool cars!
 That's me, on the far right.  Nice hair, huh?
Dad's Beautiful '56 Chevy

The event in Kansas is one that goes way back with my family, so I am very glad that my son gets to participate with my Dad, let alone the quality time that they are having.  We used to go when we were kids; imagine my poor Dad dragging three daughters to these car events.  One year we went, and my parents had poodle skirts and sweaters made for all of us.  They were absolutely adorable (I still have mine), and Mom had the gal put our initials on the sweaters, like Laverne used to do.  The problem was that my sister's name is Lisa (you know, L, just like Laverne) and she was 21 at the time, so you can imagine how well that went over...
These events are something.  Thomas called me last night just wound for sound.  They had been to the drag racing event and he was so excited because a "gnarly"  looking car had won the race, gnarly meaning it would have fit in fine in my neighborhood he said, versus the very expensive looking competitors.  The year that we went, there was a Marilyn Monroe look a like contest that Dad and I spent the day getting me ready for and due to last minute jitters, I backed out of, so I know how much these folks get into the "swing" of things!
My weekend with the kids has been pretty uneventful for me.  As I have found with older kids, they tend to only pay attention to us adults when they are hungry or tired.  Which to me is fantastic.  They have spent a lot of time in the RV that is parked in the driveway; listening to music and sharing all sorts of "cousin" memories I am sure.  I do have the joy of sharing my critters and my lovely mountain surroundings with the city kids, but they can only stand so much of that, so we break it up into intervals-ha!
So, here is to spending time with family, whether it be your own, or your sister's, or maybe your daughter's.  It doesn't really matter whose family you chose to spend time with, I suppose you could even make the neighbor's family your own, as long as it is one you enjoy spending time with, do it.  Just make sure they know how much you love each and every one of them.  You never know, you might learn that you have a rebellious nephew just like you who is out to save the world too, amazing!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aunt Cake on aging...gracefully?

We are so excited because today we will pick up our niece and nephews for the weekend.  Who the hell cares where my sister and BIL are headed off to, we get the kids!!!  Just kidding.  All of the cousins have been counting down the days, my sister told me on the phone last night her kids started at the 21 day mark, I can't think of anything that makes me feel better.  Well, I can think of a pretty close second.
It was a couple of weeks ago when we went to the funeral of this family's beloved Grandma, one of my nephews was really having a hard time with this loss.  I of course had run a million errands since we had gone down the mountain, and to freshen up, I had put on some of my friend Tiffany's hand made lotion when I put my hair up, etc.  When we got to the funeral and I hugged my very upset nephew he was so happy to see me, and kept talking about how I smelled like cake.  So, in my mind, every time I use that lotion and think of my nephew, I call myself Aunt Cake.  
Well, recently it has come to my attention that I am no spring chicken.  How you ask?  Aside from my computer work, and some very intermittent reading, my eyesight is used for very large things in general.  Animal husbandry does not need microscopes, and if it does, I need a vet.  A B&B does not take good eyesight to run.  So, I thought that my eyes were still very good until recently when a friend from town and I traded plants for trees.  He had told me to watch for bugs, and I thought I had been, but I missed them, come to find out, due to my bad eyesight...Damn!
That very same day, I was showering and when I went to comb my hair, it would not go into place properly.  Now, I have worked with hair my entire life, and I know if hair is behaving that way it is because it is gray.  Yup, sure enough, I found my first gray hair.  To many of you dark haired ladies, to have found my first gray hair at the age of 39 is just unbelievable, but it is still my first gray hair.
So, Aunt Cake has decided to grow old gracefully, I guess I have no choice.  I'll get some cool readers from the store, my daughter has been trying to get me to buy some for a long time anyway!  As for the hair, I could really care less, for now anyway...Especially if I can keep smelling like cake!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Have I lost my mind?

Photo form GreenIrene

I would like to start off saying that I would really like feedback from this post, actually I would like it to be interactive even, because this is something that I am really curious about.  I have been reading lately about how our food affects our carbon footprint.  I recently had the need to look up locavore is what brought this up I think, and a locavore is a person who tries to eat all of their food from local sources, to help reduce their carbon footprint.  They probably have other reasons too, I don't know, but that is the biggy.
In this research I found out that the best way to reduce your food CF (carbon footprint from here on out) is to not eat meat as it creates the most gases, etc when being produced.  Well, pshaw, is what my family would say to that!  There is absolutely no way you are getting my carnivorous crew to not eat meat!  So, how does a greenie like me, cut my food CF?  (Just a funny side note here, spell check doesn't like locavore and greenie, but accepts pshaw, what's up with that?)
We do our own hunting, but that meat really does not last as long as you'd think.  And the grocery store meat, well don't even get me started...I buy it when I absolutely have to, but I am very particular and only buy stuff that is on sale and that I know where it has come from, hopefully.
But on to how I have lost my mind.  Yesterday a truck drove in my driveway and I bought a crapload of meat off of it.  I know, I can't believe I did it either.  Tom just about killed me.  I have never done such a crazy thing. 
The company is Pacific Prime and I don't know what the hell happened to my brain while the guy was here, but actually it all worked out okay.  I got a good deal, but Tom got us an even better deal.  See, I had asked and read and looked, but you know how the big bad biker is, if not every label says "Made IN America" he won't touch it.  He called the guy back and left a message for him to come and pick up his chinese tasting meat, since the guarantee was only good for taste.  God the man slays me!
During that time we made some calls and did more research.  It was exactly as I thought.  You pretty much never know where your meat is coming from.  If it is labeled, you best hope it is labeled correctly.  King Soopers gets most of their beef from US, Mexico and Canada the old man was horrified to find out, and pretty much every single package I have ever brought home is labeled US.  I don't think I get that lucky, even the butcher on the phone joked about the box in the back saying US but having a different product in it, it was being reused.
The meat from Pacific Prime on the other hand is all labeled correctly from each place, is very high quality meat and above all, is all natural with no extra crap in it like I would get at the stores.  The other thing is that it is simple stuff too, easy to defrost and prepare a very healthy meal for the family.  Especially now that Tom got all that money off I will be feeding the family for at least the same price.
So back to my food CF.  I am wondering if that is what was in the back of my mind when I lost it yesterday with this salesman, that I normally would have chased off the ranch.  Although some of these meats, specifically the seafood are imported, the majority of the food is US we found out after going rounds with the company.  So my question is this, does a company like this, one that brings things to your door, help you reduce your overall CF?  I have to keep in mind the packaging, and yes there is quite a bit of it, but none of those styrofoam trays and yucky pads; just recyclable boxes and the plastic the meat is flash frozen in.  
But, the big thing for me is that this will cut my trips to the store drastically.  With working at the food pantry, we will fill in with fruits and veggies and breads there; Lord knows there is plenty to go around.  Tom can pop into Costco for milk and cheese and we are pretty much good to go.  Therefore, you have taken one F350 truck off the road for at least one hour of driving for five trips let's say.  That's quite a little impact, I'd think.
Now not everybody lives as far away from the grocery store as I do, etc., but I am curious to know your thoughts.
So weigh in on this subject folks.  Have you chased these people off before?  What about your food CF?  Where do you get your all natural meat from?  Does anybody have a good Colorado source they'd love to share?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Metaphysical Monday

Good morning and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Did you stay cool?  We tried to beat the heat with a few walks in our wonderful mountains, and it was really funny because I hadn't started out on a feather mission, but I sure completed one.  Let me explain myself a little bit here.
I have been wanting to start an altar here at the ranch, a healing altar for myself.  A place for me to do my Yoga and some meditating on healing my back; I also plan on meditating on my businesses in front of this altar.  And as funny as this sounds to you, it sounds funny to me too, because this is the first time I have ever done such a thing.  Really, I have never done any "official meditating" either, so this is one giant step for me.
I have been gathering pieces for this altar for months, well frankly for my entire life (like my Bible from my parents), so I knew a few of the things that I wanted to include on my altar.  I even knew the piece of furniture I would use so that it would be multi-tiered, movable, and have a surface I could safely put a candle on.  So, anyway, something was just holding me back... until this weekend.
On Friday I met up with my sister and nieces at Mount Falcon park for a great little hike with the kids.  It's probably only about a mile, but has really spectacular views (can't believe I didn't take my camera, sorry!) with a cool historical castle at the end of the loop.  As we were ending the hike we spotted a Red-tailed Hawk diving for a morsel of food, it was so cool!  What I didn't mention to my sister is that to me this is a very common experience, actually daily.  Not the diving, I knew that might be a sign, but I am always followed by the Red-tailed Hawks, and feel a very strong connection with them.  So it was no surprise to me that I finally found a hawk feather in the parking lot that day as I was on the phone, a feather that I have been searching for for a long time.

I mentioned our Heron quest yesterday when I introduced you all to our adventurous cat, Hector.  See, Blue Herons are somewhat new in our area, you know the last decade or so.  So they still totally amaze me.  In my research of the birds I have found out that if you find the nest of one, you will find the nest of many; so I of course I am challenged to find a nesting area of this giant fascinating bird.  The evening before we had spotted her going from the neighbors ponds to a tree and sitting for almost a half hour before jumping to this tree and going in and we thought staying.  We hiked over with the whole family, and I do mean the whole family, on Saturday and didn't find the nests, but we did find some feathers, which is to me, an honor.

On the very same day, I found a Magpie feather up at the barn when I was doing my chores.  Magpies and Ravens (and Crows of course) are said to be the most commonly worked with birds in metaphysical lore.  I had been waiting for a Red-tailed hawk feather, and in the span of two days, I had been given the gift of many feathers, it was definitely time to get moving.

A lot of people don't know it, but when a person is doing metaphysical, or energy, work and would like help from animal or nature's spirits, which of course I take help from quite often (usually without knowing it), things like feathers and crystals are very helpful.  These are very precious gifts to me and have been placed on my new altar that I finally made yesterday.  It literally took me about five minutes to pull this together because as I said, the pieces have been coming together in my head for a long time now.
As you can see my feathers are there, along with my Bible, a copy of The Secret, a yummy smelling candle and of course my healing crystal and amethyst.  I chose to cover the seat of this old phone table with a deer hide that my boys got to honor the deer, and covered the yucky table part with an antique pillow case that I found at the ranch when we moved in to represent it's spirit.  The doll is one that I gave my Grandma so many years ago I can't remember now, but she always said it looked just like me, and it was the only thing in her entire house the great-grandkids weren't allowed to play with, so I know it meant a lot to her.  If you look closely it still has the tag on it, so you know it wasn't fooled with all these years.  The cat, well, I guess that is probably self explanatory for me, the animal lady; plus the weight of the brass animal weighs everything down so I know my real cats won't knock it all over!
Right now my altar is placed on a wall facing west, the direction the sun sets and it just sort of felt right.  I like it there because it sits under a few of our favorite wedding gifts; the first being a framed, cut-up and re-made version of our wedding invitation and the second these very neat soaring wooden birds.  It seemed like the wall was just a continuation of my altar.
The direction didn't have me overly concerned, but when I did a little research, it did not surprise me to find out that if you are wanting to work metaphysically, a person might want to face their altar in the direction of the west.  Gee, what a coincidence, oh wait a minute, there really are not many coincidences in my world are there?  It is all about making sure that we are open to receiving each and every little gift we are given, even the little gifts like always having the guide of a Red-tailed hawk nearby, or a simple feather being dropped in your path.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

I can't believe that I have not introduced you all to Hector before now, but it works out just as well because I didn't get the evidence pictures until yesterday.  For years my neighborhood has talked about this cat going on walks with me, and I have been wanting to get pictures of him doing so, but I of course am always the one with him, so it just never works out.  Well yesterday, we went on a Heron hunting mission (you know, we thought we might have finally found where she nests) and Hector went with us.  There were plenty of people to catch a shot of him, so finally I was able to catch a shot of the elusive cat going on his long walks with me!
I mean this cat is really an adventurer.  Yesterday's mission took us through the beaver ponds, which had many creek crossings.  Hector would fall behind and we would hear him start to howl.  I told him many times that he should just wait there for me and that I would be right back for him, but he would not think of it.  We got to the tree that we had seen the Heron go into from the house, but keep in mind that we had walked a good half mile by this time, and here came Hector.  His back legs and tail were all wet from one of the creek crossings, but he was just as happy to be there as the dogs were!  Even Tom was pretty impressed with the cats adventurous spirit.


Hector always goes to the bus stop with us.  The kids on the bus get a real tickle out of seeing the dogs playing with rocks and Hector over the hill sunning himself.  He is very much a "Mama's Boy" and pretty much goes wherever I go.  He is constantly with me when I do the chores, etc.  As a matter of fact, as I write this I have decided that Hector may be the feline character in my next book, Happy Hector, perhaps?  Each book has all species represented of course, I am an equal opportunity employer, you know!
Look closely, he's in there, this is after the crossings, he's having a little rest!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We finally met a moose...

 Not my photo, obviously, but too cool not to share!

We did not have the chance to give him a muffin.  Of course I am only joking, you know that I would never feed the wildlife.  It is a series of books that my Mom reads all of her grand kids!  He was just passing through, and did not even stop for a snack, but was here long enough for me to thank him, and wish him luck in his breeding endeavors in our neighborhood!
We had heard of him passing through the campground right before we got there yesterday afternoon to clean the fire pits.  I was broken hearted to hear we had missed him by minutes.  We did our work and headed home, where we got the message that another neighbor had seen him working his way down the valley.  There was still hope!!!
I kept my eye out the rest of the afternoon, but you know how it gets at dinner time and chore time.  I also snuck in a couple of hair cuts during that time too.  Whew, I am one busy gal-ha!  Anyway, after keeping my eye out the window for hours, I'm up finishing the chores and putting Marcel back in after a day of grazing when I hear Tom honking his way home from his turn at the campgrounds.
Isabella is yelling, "there's a moose in our yard", and sure enough, big as day, there he was.  Right in my yard.  Like I said, he just quickly passed right on through, no time to get the camera or we would have missed seeing his big bad self.  He was almost jet black, still had felt on his beautiful antlers and looked as if he knew how spectacular he was.
The great part of the story is that he must have spent the afternoon in the dark timber right near where that neighbor who called lives.  He chose to come out onto the road right in front of Isabella and Tom on their way home and just sort of walked in front of them until he got nervous when another car came by our house and then came here.  That gave them time to come and tell us, so that we could catch a glimpse of him as well.  Man I love living in the mountains!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Milestone

One year, could it really be?  One year ago today was The Beginning of this blog, aptly named, I suppose.  It really is quite fitting that it happened to be on a Tuesday, and let alone the 13th.  I had to look it up, but I knew the anniversary was coming up and was pleasantly surprised about those two facts.  Tuesday because it would fall on a day where I do double duty and write for Green Spot-On too; and the 13th because that was Grandma's favorite number.  Her birthday was August 13th so I'm assuming she was a little partial to it.
What to do on such a milestone?  I mean, it's not like my birthday or something.  I don't see any gifts coming my way... damn!  But I do feel like celebrating.  This really has been a blast for me, getting to know my readers, but better yet, getting to know how my blog affects my readers.  Not only do I share funny stories about things that happen on this crazy piece of heaven on earth, but I have tried to share some things that hopefully make a difference in a persons life.
Maybe in just a little teensy way, admit it.  Okay I admit it, blogging reminds me constantly to stay true to the course that I have chosen, you know the environmentally friendly one.  Recently a friend of ours was making these huge bear traps (don't worry, they are only for decoration) and I encouraged him to use recycled material.  He came roaring in the driveway the other day to tell us that his product is now 85% recycled (thanks to me, he added) and he has already sold one!
Or maybe I have helped you deal with a health issue, because Lord knows, I've had my share.  Hopefully I help you deal with them with dignity and humor, because sometimes that's the only way to go.  But above everything else, I hope mostly I brought a smile to your lips each and every time you saw that there was a post.  I also hope you have learned by now that I am a total rebel at heart, as a matter of fact, many times my own rebellion is my worst enemy, so I thought it quite appropriate that I close this milestone post with a hillbilly "Rebel Girl" song from Miranda Lambert:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty...or not!

A relative of my intruder?
(Pic taken in 2006)

There was a fox in the hen house!  Or damn close enough for my liking, let me tell you.  I went up to do my chores the other morning with my daughter in tow as usual, and thankfully had Rosie and Gigi with me like I always do.  
Well, that morning the chicken scraps were particularly yummy for dogs, so I set them up high on the top of the hay stack so that Rosie would not eat them.  As per typical fashion the baby sheep and the rest of the critters were cramming themselves up against the fence where the hay is stored impatiently waiting for their breakfast, when suddenly Rosie pushes past me to growl at my feet.  These vicious little snapping jaws come out from underneath the pallet from where we store the hay, just inches from where my foot had just been and the faces of my beautiful animals!
I freaked out and yelled for Isabella to run and tried to get the dogs away from the snarling and snapping unidentifiable jaws; all the while the llamas, lambs and sheep are still yelling for their breakfast as if nothing at all is happening.  See, I thought it was a badger, which are very mean.  Either way, I was getting the hell out of there!  
A badger

We got the dogs home, and got the live trap that we recently found in the campground.  I thought it through, and realized that whatever it was could really only have two options.  The first being that it was not a well animal and that it had accidentally gotten trapped under there when we went up to feed and might need some help.  The other option was that it was a very well animal and that it was waiting to ambush my chickens when they came out that morning after I did my chores.  It had chosen the perfect spot to do so.  Again, either way, I was not taking any chances.
I prepared the trap the best I could and psyched myself up into going back up there.  Isabella stayed at about the halfway point.  She said it was to keep the cats from going up there, but we both knew it was so she had a straighter shot to the house!  My feet stayed as far away from that hole as I could possibly keep them while I literally threw the hay to my critters, and then I used a looong stick to retrieve the bucket of chicken scraps that I had placed unknowingly above the attackers hiding spot.  
When I set the trap up is when I found out it was a fox, and the damn thing had the audacity to be napping.  Here I was on a total adrenaline buzz, and he's having nap time waiting for my chickens for breakfast!  Needless to say, the chickens stayed locked up that first day.  The fox did not go into the trap, because when it came out from underneath the pallets to have a look around, Isabella taking off for home like a shot, scared him off!
All joking aside though, this could have been very dangerous for me (I don't particularly want a bellyful of shots thank you).  We have talked with a few neighbors since then, and we are a little concerned about this fox being ill and/or aggressive.  It really saddens me, because it is only because people have been feeding the local wildlife that we find ourselves in this predicament.  The foxes are one of the worst up here as far as people being guilty of feeding them.  It's not until the bear shows up for the foxes portion that the people quit, and then the smaller wildlife is already dependent.  
This is something I feel very strongly about, and even touch on in my book.  When I was doing a little bit of research on this fox's behavior, I found a great link on living in red fox country at the Colorado Division of Wildlife.  There is of course a different one for each species ( bear, mountain lion, etc), so take a look around the website, it is quite informative.
Well, although we did not trap him, and have not seen him since that morning, I still feel his presence "hanging around", so I'm afraid we are not quite done with this little guy.  Hopefully I will learn that he is a typical healthy fox that was just after an easy meal, but my gut tells me otherwise...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shorn Sheep!

So I have two naked sheep running around producing Naked~Nure, now if that is not one of my very favorite play on words ever, I don't know what is!  The babies did not need to get shorn this year as they did not have enough growth, actually it was a close call, but I decided to err on the side of caution.  I am very glad I did because it has been quite chilly since I took the shirts off their backs, so to speak!
I was supposed to drop the sheep off inside my trailer at the ranch where the shearing was to be done the night before, and that of course did not happen.  Between my being hesitant to have them in the trailer for twenty-four hours and the fact that our B&B guests were really late, I got them there the morning of the shearing.  I knew I had given them plenty of time to settle back down after their ride as the shearer was not to come until the afternoon.  The arrangement was made for them to give me a call when it was almost "our" turn.
I took a lot of photos, but no video, and I wish I had, because the sounds were outrageous!  I thought it would be good training for Princess and Crash to have a ride in the trailer with their parents and to see how the process is done.  Well, I hadn't counted on how loud three nervous sheep can be when they think the other one is being viciously attacked!  Surprisingly enough, the sheep that is being worked on is very quiet and pretty calm. So, from here I'll pretty much let the pics speak for themselves, with a bit of commentary thrown in by me....I can't help myself...

To shear a sheep, or for that matter, any "maintenance" on a full grown sheep you just set them on their rump.  It reminds me of grabbing a cat by the back of the neck, it sort of freezes.  It helps if you're plenty strong to tip the sheep in the first place.  Hmmm... maybe this is where all that talk of cow tipping started!

She started right down the center line...
Princess, Crash and Paco all making sure Esther is not being killed!  (Notice the devoted son got a bit sidetracked by the bag of grain...)

The beginnings of a Fleece.
Look at that beautiful wool!
To restrain Esther when she got nervous, they simply held on to her legs so she couldn't kick and covered her head to minimize the stressors.  I kept trying to jump in and help, but they didn't want the newbie...Plus who would've taken all these great pics?
Roll over Esther, roll over!
Now Paco gets tipsy, I mean tipped!!!
Start all over again, at the center line and out...
I am downloading these in the order I took them.  Now it is Esther's turn to worry that we are killing Paco!  At least she has sense enough to keep the children in a safe corner-ha!
I'm pretty sure my ram had a head when I brought him...doesn't this look terrible?  Again, this is actually the least stressful way to shear them.  The owner of the ranch that I got these guys is gently holding his head back and covering his eyes, to keep him from looking around and getting all freaked out.
You know, I am really disappointed because Paco's wool is spectacular!  Literally some of the nicest wool I've ever seen.  I had previously agreed to not keeping the wool (a little under false pretenses, so next year will be different...)  But, to not even have a better picture of the wondrous fleece that came off this boy is a tad bit of a bummer.  Black wool on sheep is not common, and his is a very high grade at that, this has determined the new goal for my breeding of the next few years.  I have a wonderfully healthy wool herd that I pretty much fell into and I intend to keep the genes strong.
The wool is son nice, as a matter of fact the breeder offered to take both Princess and Esther off my hands.  No cash involved, she wanted to do a trade...We'll see, but right now I've got a good thing going, and until I have to worry about a ram for Princess, I will keep this amazing creature.  Even if we can't find which end is which!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

She will be missed...

Funerals are not my cup of tea.  I know that nobody really likes them, but I have a real "issue" with them I am learning.  Maybe it comes from my "spiritual" beliefs, and in knowing that the person's soul has simply moved on, it is only the body that has quit working, and so therefore I have a very hard time with these sort of formal goodbyes.  I find myself wanting to deal with life traumas in private, maybe in Mother Nature, so in other words I usually turn tail and run!
But today is a little different.  Grandma Boehme is my brother-in-law's (BIL) Grandma.  Now, to many families this is a very distant, possibly even unknown relative.  Fortunately in our family that is not the case.  I was blessed to know Grandma B through my nieces and nephews various activities, and of course way back when, when her wonderful Grandson became my oh so lucky BIL.
It was her keen intelligence that always struck me; and the twinkle in her eyes that went with it.  She was a woman with a story and was glad to share it.  She had been a school teacher for many years, and was very flattering when I got my first article published years ago.  She was one of the first people that really encouraged me to write professionally, although I would imagine she was the type of gal to encourage just about anyone to do just about anything!
I know that my sister and her family will miss her terribly.  But I hope they find comfort in the knowledge that their little Grandma Boehme touched the soul of everyone she came in contact with.  She lives on and on in all of us with our special memories of her and her little pieces of encouragement and advice.  Thank you for sharing her with us.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Green living through dentistry?

I just got done e-mailing my dentist.  We've been chatting back and forth all weekend.  Now, my situation is a little atypical, but the dedication of this woman is amazing!  She is a student at The University of Colorado Denver Dental School, and for Green Spot-On readers please catch up with this story here.  My journey with this school started clear back in February and has been a great one.
Now, what does all of this have to do with green living?  A lot.  I have found that this is a great way for me to do community service, save money and that the school is on the cutting edge of technology which includes green practices.  When I say community service, I really feel as if I am helping these kids when I go in there.  I have the attitude that I am forming the minds of the future dentists of the world and what better way than to be totally open and honest and give them feedback and to help them learn?
It was really interesting this last Wednesday when I was in there, the student had the instructor come over, and the teacher asked why my hygiene area was still blank.  My student said she had felt awkward about asking that, so that is one of the things her and I have been e-mailing back and forth about.  Brainstorming ways of finding out true tests of ones personal hygiene without embarrassing them.  I said maybe she could ask the patient to grade themselves and then she could ask why they gave themselves that grade.
My neighbor, Mr. P. has even gone after asking me about it, and calls and updates me each time.  He is so proud of all of the work that he has gotten done there, it is almost funny.  Most of his dental work was done many years ago in Germany and is now needing to be replaced.  He is proud to tell me that for the thousands of dollars that his regular dentist was going to charge him, his total is at about $330!
Now, as I said in my first post about the dental school, it has to be a proper fit.  Meaning you must be able to devote quite a bit of time to your student.  I don't think I've ever gotten out of there in under three hours.  Mind you, I have gotten a lot done in three hours, but when you include a 1.5 hour drive each way, you're talking all day for each appointment.  But for me, it is worth it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Holy Holiday!

Wow!  This has been a very busy few days, and yes I know I say that all the time, but I've been on a book buzz!!!  It's been wonderful.  Amongst all of the other busy things that I always brag/complain about like the campgrounds and the critters and the kids and the B&B, we have had a wonderful fourth of July and my books are literally flying off the shelves, okay I don't have time to even get them out of the box onto a shelf.
It has been wonderful to hear from friends and family on Facebook and here on the blog.  We have also had people stopping by, just to pick one up.  The regular flow of traffic yesterday was downright funny.  The kids were laughing because usually the cars stopped on the road are because of Tom, but yesterday they were all stopping for books.  And of course, the one time it was a person I didn't know very well, we had a loose llama.  Oh well, at least she was an animal control officer in some county and was helpful in getting our errant llama back into his pasture.
As for our holiday celebrations, I had to laugh at the men.  I think they were really disappointed that the cops didn't come.  They were like a couple of kids.  They'd blow something off and then throw the evidence in the fire and hide the rest of the fireworks, and then wait a bit.  Darn, no sheriff deputies.  Blow off something a little bigger, follow previous steps, damnit, still no cops!  Good thing it was raining the whole time, or I might've gotten a little bit nervous with these two almost fifty year old kids!  
Poor Isabella had her seat for the fireworks from inside the motorhome where we all spent the night last night!  She thought it was safer to watch from the back window, wrapped up in a blanket with a dog or two in tow.  I say "poor Isabella" quite loosely, because she was in there shouting out which fireworks were to be next, and which fireworks were to be saved for today when her brother Nathan gets home.  She also had a stash of soda (!) and snacks in there, so I don't think she was suffering too much.
Also, I wanted to give you a quick update on my drowned hen; she is doing fantastically.  The morning that I took her back up to the barn, as soon as she got within sight of it, she started squawking.  The minute I got inside the fence I had to open the crate so that she wouldn't injure herself banging around in there and she came flying out and has been acting like a perfectly normal chicken since then.  I am assuming she will steer clear of the water trough from now on, but if not, I'm ready for her!
On Saturday, the adult sheep were shorn and that was a big deal for our little ranch as this is the first time for us with sheep.  I did take pictures, but left my camera case, which has the cord to download said pictures, at the farm that we went to to shear, so I think I will do an entirely separate post about this sheep shearing thing when I get it back.  Let me tell you, it was a learning experience, and it really has me thinking about my sheep breeding program...but more to come on that.
I wasn't exaggerating when I said I've been running, but I couldn't let this holiday weekend pass without popping in to say Happy 4th of July, even if I am a day late.  Actually, this is one of my favorite holidays of all.  There is no gift giving expectations, you can almost always find free things to do, and the patriotic spirit is at it's highest in all Americans-how wonderful!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A wonderful day...

So I really had a nice day yesterday.  I had been looking forward to my books arriving all week.  That's right, I said it, my books are here!!!  They are also available at Amazon.com, but I will get to all of that later; that wasn't the only great thing about my day.  The day evolved into a wonderful book welcoming party!  This book has worked that way all along, things have just really flowed when they need to, and if I fight it... I came up against a road block.
As I posted  yesterday, I had a hen in a crate in my garage because she was in The Royal Ranch's version of the ICU.  Well, I was getting ready to take her back up to the barn, which of course got her riled which in turn got the dogs riled.  I was glad to hear her acting like a chicken, but did not want her to get injured in the process of getting her back home to safety.  As per Royal Ranch custom even at 7 am, if things are at all crazy, someone will drop by.  A long time friend stopped in to pay for his kids' and grand-kids' campsites for the big holiday weekend.  With all of the madness, I of course had to explain to him what was going on and he just laughed and new that this was quite typical for our house.  He said "You should write a book".
Llucky Llama, the third proof, is always at hand, and I proudly showed him it and told him that today was the big day!  UPS was supposed to bring my box, etc.  I don't know why me having copies was what made it official, because actually it's been available at Amazon a couple weeks, but this made it tangible, you know?  Well, I'll be damned if he didn't buy three right then and there.  I mean before the box had even arrived, I had sold my first three.  And you know what, the other day, when I was at the feed store, they had heard through the Bailey Day planning committee about the big book signing event about Llucky Llama and they were downright hurt that they don't have any copies on their shelves yet.  My neighbors are asking too.
But, let me get to the best part.  So, I have a dear friend  that I mention quite frequently on this blog, Tiffany.  She is quite a brilliant scientist and not only does she teach our local middle school kids and help me with the recycling program, but she makes these fantastic all natural products.  Her and I slowly became friends through the kids being in her class, and then sadly through the horrific shooting incident that our town endured, and then because of both of our passions to be "green" and to teach our middle schoolers that passion.  Well, anyway, Tiffany has really had a lot of impact on my business and my blog and hopefully we will even teach a class together next year. So, it seemed so very fitting that her and her two wonderful sons were with us when the UPS man drove in the driveway with my first box of books and theirs was the very first book to be autographed.
We had spent the day bartering.  And it was something that we both absolutely love to do.  I ended up with all of these wonderful, all natural, decadent products made by a mad scientist that I could never recreate in my life.  I mean the variety is amazing, like cleaners that will even work on some of my animal messes,and lip balms that smell delicious,  facial scrubs and wonderful moisturizers some with sunscreen (again all natural), and some great eye serum, just to name a few; you've got to check out her Etsy shop!

Not only did we trade for the book, she got to go home with a car smelling of Mother Earth.  We spent the day collecting roses for her rose water, and  a huge box of chamomile for something, I'm not sure what she will concoct with it.  And she got multiple bags of  Naked~Nure and a large bag of loose manure to work into her garden as well.  The boys were most proud that they got to take the eggs that they specifically collected.
We were still celebrating the box and Tiffany and the boys had just left when another neighbor from the cabin stopped by.  He is a Special Ed teacher in Jefferson County and my book is perfect for his students.  Again, the timing was amazing, his wife is an administrator and he kept saying he didn't know we had a celebrity in the neighborhood, it was a total crack-up, but really very complimentary, and hopefully a great contact!
Well, as usual, I got a little side tracked, but my point being is that this book is meant to happen, things just roll with it.  It will bring a smile to your face and I am proud to present it to you.  It sells for $8 anywhere+ shipping and handling of course.  My shipping and handling is $3, on Amazon it's $3.99 for my area.  It isn't available on Barnes and Noble quite yet (I don't know why, it will be soon), but if you'd like to order it from me, I'll save you $.99 in shipping and handling and autograph it for you.  I think PayPal is the best way to handle this at this time, so just either send me a comment on this blog, and I will get back to you, or e-mail me at judy@royalranch.net with your $11 and your request of names for the autograph.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Stir Fry

 (Not my photo, I of course was not thinking of blogging as I was rushing to get dinner on the table, but it gives you an idea, minus the pasta.)

I've got to tell you, this is one of the family's favorite new recipes, and I came upon it completely on accident.  And when I say I came upon it, it means that I just made it up...so please feel free to adjust it to your tastes.  As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the easiest things to make, because it is almost entirely made of leftovers, and only heats up your kitchen for just a few minutes, so is very temperature friendly on those very hot sticky days!  Here are the ingredients that I use:
~Leftover cooked meat; so far this has been diced pork that has been cooked in the crock pot or BBQ'd chicken.
~1 bag broccoli coleslaw mix (I get mine at the food pantry, but it is very inexpensive in the produce aisle)
~2 or 3 colorful peppers, I use 2 pretty non spicy peppers and one spicy
~veggies of your choice (I use whatever is good that week, squash, snap peas, the sky is the limit, or better yet, your kids are the limit!)
~cooked pasta or rice (we like our Chinese food lo mein style and I always have leftover pasta in the fridge that I can just toss in there so it saves me the time of cooking rice, but knock yourself out.)
~Soy sauce.  No kidding here, the first time I made this, I used leftover packets from when we had take out, and believe me, we can't afford take out very often, so it doesn't take much soy sauce!  We like this recipe so much I did break down and buy a bottle of soy sauce though and it is very cheap, look for it on the "Asian" food aisle.

Since everything is usually precooked, just start by heating your pan with just a tiny bit of olive oil in the bottom while you cut up your veggies.  Place all of the veggies, along with the slaw and brown for just a few minutes before you add your cooked meat and pasta.  Heat all the way through and add the soy sauce to taste and consistency.  I do want to remind you that soy sauce is very salty.  Tom got a little carried away with it the last time we had this and added some after I served dinner and had a stomachache in the night, so don't serve it on the side!  You'll hear about it later-ha!
This is a great dinner because all of your veggies, carbs and protein are all in one helping; I simply get my fancy bowls out and serve it up!  The family thinks they're getting a fancy schmancy dinner and it probably only takes me about fifteen minutes from start to finish, I haven't heated up my kitchen too much, it hardly cost me a dime and I cleaned out my fridge...let alone how many veggies I just snuck into their unsuspecting little bodies!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

ICU at The Royal Ranch

As soon as I walked in I knew I was missing a chicken, which is funny because with a dozen hens you'd think one wouldn't make a difference, but it did.  My little welcoming committee was smaller than normal.  I searched for her in the chicken coop, I looked for her in the barn, I looked for her everywhere...I even looked for the explosion of feathers; the telltale sign of a fox capture.  But no missing hen, I found her egg, but no hen...
So, I went to finish up my chores and start looking around the rest of the ranch for her, and that was when I found her in the water trough. OMG!  I mean Oh crap, did I feel like a schmuck, here I'd been looking all over for her and she was drowning in the trough!
Well, thank goodness I don't know how to give a chicken mouth to mouth, or I probably would have, because I thought about it.  I did put her under all except my very bottom layer of clothes to start absorbing the water and started praying!  Maybe that is why us mountain ranchers still wear layers in summer time, just in case they are needed to shed (or share) in an emergency, hmmm...
I was hoping that she'd warm up or die quickly, and she did neither.  She just sort of convulsed and shivered  for about a half hour while I wrapped her up and held on tight.  Tom finally found me and helped me down to the house with a crate, the hen and my soaked self and he got a roaring fire going.  Which is where I currently sit to report, in front of the woodstove with my hen in her crate; Royal Ranch's version of the ICU.
Amazingly, she made it through the night.  She must be one tough chick (sorry, you know me, I love a play on words!) to have survived her time in the tank!  Now if we make it through the next few days with no pneumonia, we'll be good to go.  Well, I better sign off now, my patient is anxious to get back to to the hen house and warn all of her friends about that very dangerous swimming hole!

A quick side note on safety here, I mentioned that we lost a squirrel in a trough a while back in another post, and after that drowning I placed a bent wire "ladder" over the edge of that trough so that a critter could climb out.  This trough that my hen was in isn't near any trees, so I didn't put one in it, now I really wish I had and today I will!  If you have any large amount of water on your property that a critter might not be able to get out of, take an old piece of fencing and put it along the side to allow a critter to climb up.  Obviously, I am learning this the very hard way, and am embarrassed about being dumb, but I do say I blog to help people, so I am putting this out there.  I feel about as tall as an ant today, let me tell you.