Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heritage Breeds/Varieties

I've been doing a little research lately on heritage breed chickens because of a hen of mine going broody.  Broody means that she has gone into the state when she is bound and determined to raise her own brood of chicks.  It has been really quite interesting to watch, and although I was not going to raise chicks, I have decided to do so because of the health of this chicken.

Broody chickens go into a zen, almost comatose state and will not leave their nest, and with my chicken it has meant even to the detriment of herself.  When I would try to put her back in with the other hens, they would pick on her terribly, so I just decided to let her stay in her nest.  The point that I am trying to make is that these chickens have a strong instinct that is almost impossible to override, and I got to thinking, why would I want to?

I have a huge demand for my organic eggs, absolutely adore having my chickens, and have the facilities to raise the chicks safely until they can live in with the rest of my chickens.  So, with a little research, and a couple of days of  collecting just the right eggs, we have placed the eggs under our wonderful broody hen.  But with that research, I have learned some very interesting things about heritage breeds.

First and foremost, heritage breeds are very hearty and intelligent breeds, just like my broody girl.  One of my new favorite sites is the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and according to them: "The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy protects genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of endangered breeds. These rare breeds are part of our national heritage and represent a unique piece of the earth's bio-diversity. The loss of these breeds would impoverish agriculture and diminish the human spirit. We have inherited a rich variety of livestock breeds. For the sake of future generations we must work together to safeguard these treasures."

The site also has a great list of all heritage breeds, whether it be poultry, goats, sheep (which I have), cows or horses.  So if you are at all interested in raising livestock, look into heritage varieties, you won't be sorry.  It takes much less work as they tend to do part of the work for you.  And not only that, you will be keeping a part of our history alive!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Chicken Dance Poem

 My rooster does not like my brown pants,
He made me do a very awkward dance.
He came running up from behind,
And really, I tried to be kind.
But that darn Roo, just kept coming back at me,
I think he even did it with a look of glee!

I assumed it was my pants,
and that I would no longer have to dance.
I went back the next day to his door,
And lo and behold that Roo wanted some more!

A hen that has gone broody,
And is feeling very moody.
A ram that used to be quite lazy,
now is acting a little crazy.

I have done all my reading,
And hopefully patience is all I'm needing.
If it is the change of the season,
That is actually his reason,
Neither McLovin' or I... should come out bleeding!

The above photo is one I took this morning of Tom and our naughty Roo working on a desensitizing exercise!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Once in a two moon(s)!

Photo taken in June 2006 by Judy

Man, am I really disappointed!  I hate it when I find out something I was really looking forward to was a big old hoax!  Our neighbor had told us that there was going to be two moons tonight (on his birthday, Happy Birthday Old Man!), and I should have known better.  Two moons?  It actually has nothing to do with two moons, people somehow got a moon mixed up with Mars.

Actually, according to NASA: "The origins of the Hoax can be traced back to 2003 when Mars really did swell to unusual proportions. On August 27th of that year, Mars came within 56 million km of Earth—the nearest it has been in 60,000 years. People marveled at the orange brilliance of Mars in the night sky and crowded around telescopes for clear views of the planet's towering volcanoes, ruddy plains and glistening polar ice caps. At the height of the display, Mars was about 75 times smaller than the full Moon."

And the old fashioned "telephone" game started from there.  One science guy said to the next not so sciencey guy, use a 75x magnifier and take a look, and then he forgot to tell the next guy that important piece of information, and so on.  And here I sit on the 27th of August, seven (my god, I first typed in four!) years later, all excited thinking I'm going to see two moons, when I darn well know better...Thank goodness I have this blog to keep me researching and on the straight and narrow!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Judy, on being a mom, a volunteer and a politico

So Tuesday I was on my way to my last School Advisory Council (SAC) meeting for our middle school; I no longer have a middle schooler, so I was just going to finish out my post for last year.  I had a lot on my mind, I had started my new SAC post with the High School the day before, was really looking forward to teaching my new class, but was a little concerned over some things I had heard at the HS meeting.

You see, I am in a very interesting position when it comes to the schools and this town.  I am quite active in politics as a Registered Republican, and in Park County, that means that you are involved in all of the action because it (the county) is entirely Republican, sorry Democrats, but it is how I keep tabs on the pulse, if you know what I mean.  Now, in general, and I do say, in general, the school system is run by Democrats.

As we all know, education and politics go hand in hand.  Especially when it comes to the Sheriffs race.  What?  At least in Park County.  Okay, it doesn't all boil down to the Sheriffs race, but it came darn close at the last Board meeting, sounds like.  Which is a shame, because it was the last meeting of our very distinguished President who has to leave our area. 

Anyway, it turned into a circus, the day before election, ironically, or not, with allegations against the Sheriffs Dept that turned into screaming at our Superintendent to step down.  (The reason the two are connected is because we have a Sheriff Resource Officer (SRO) at our school, please follow the links if you'd like to catch up on the whole sordid story.)

Well, I wasn't at that meeting, and hadn't heard anything about it until the HS SAC meeting on Monday, been under a rock you know.  But, I went home and did some reading and found some very interesting information.  Well, as I said, I know some things that the people at the school don't know because I knew the names of the folks that had raised a stink at the board meeting... they were a lot of the same people that I had recently spent the day with up at the Republican Assembly where I was a delegate. 

My feelings on the matter were...uneasy.  I knew that it had been politically motivated, but was concerned about the schools as a whole.  Well, I was walking into a trap.  By the end of my last middle school SAC meeting I had somehow been voted Chairperson for this coming school year, as a community member, since I no longer have a student at FMS.  This will involve another year of meetings (me running them-yikes!), all of the District meetings and who knows what other duties they did not inform me of-ha!

But, I may be a great person for the job.  Although there was a little chuckle when I said that I recognized the names of the trouble makers (they must think it's the tattooed, hillbilly in me), I think the real surprise to these ladies might be that these are the same folks who are running this county.  Or at least representing them when it comes to voting at the assembly, again sorry Dems, but numbers don't lie.  So I can see both sides of the coin so to speak.

But, the very good news, is that in all of this brew-ha-ha, I have answered one of my own questions!  So, our Sheriff beat the first guy in the Primary.  My question was, does this declare him the final victor or can people change parties?  Well, I don't know about changing parties, but I do know that you can still become a write in candidate after the primary, and I'm adding my name...Just Kidding!!!!  No, but another fella did just that, and lo and behold if he isn't one of the fellas causing trouble for the school district/SRO relationship.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I knew I liked his name...

"We have bigger houses but smaller families,
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense
more knowledge, but less judgment
more experts, but more problems
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We've been all the way to the moon and back
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever...
but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but short on quality.
These are fast times of fast foods but slow digestion.
Tall man but short character.
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It is a time where there is much in the window
but nothing in the room."
~the Dalai Lama

My friend Tiffany wrote a great post on acceptance yesterday, check it out.  It led me to a great new blog, that led me to this poem.  Thank you, Pilgrimsteps, for the inspiration!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

 My new favorite picture

Happy Sunday to all of you!  I hope you are having a great weekend.  I know I have been a bit sporadic about my posting this week, and that has been for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, I have been letting my brain recover, secondly I have had a lot going on with getting the kids back into a school routine, etc.  But, you all have been on my mind a lot.  So much so that I have decided that I am going to make YOU, yes, YOU, my Royal Rebels, today's Royal Ranch Royalty.  So here goes (in no particular order, of course):

To ifhpueblo:  You are Royalty for being such a great commenter and being so strong in everything you do.  I can tell you are a backbone to your family and friends, and I am so sorry that our country does not take better care of its service men and women.  Because you deserve the Royal Treatment!

To Tina D:  I have heard through the kids that you read everyday and really enjoy my blog, thank you, and I know you are out there.  Thank you for all of your compliments on Metaphysical Monday, it really means a lot, and you too are clearly a Royal Rebel!

To My Parents:  Thanks for being such great supporters of the blog, I know you look forward to it everyday.  I think you have finally gotten used to my rebellion, and maybe even embraced it, and for dealing with it when I was growing up, the biggest thank you of all!!!

To Daisy:  I know that you just dropped off Amigo at College, and I think this might mean you are an empty nester now; clearly a weird time in life, I think of you often.  You have been one of my best blogging mentors, and a great "green:" wealth of knowledge, thank you!

To Tiffany:  You are my friend and teacher, and you even give me wonderful products to review for this blog!  You too, are a partner in green living, and understand how challenging that can be at times.  You've even asked me to come help you teach, WOW!!!  Thanks, rebel sister.

Speaking of sisters:  Kelly, although you are quite busy you were kind enough to forward the blog to Lisa when you thought she needed to read it, Thank you.  I truly appreciate your comments and input.

To Mishaun:  Who is so dedicated to homesteading in this technology filled world.  I am very impressed with all of the work you have done over the past year or so, thanks for sharing all of your knowledge.  You my dear, are definitely a Royal Rebel.

To Irina and Matthias:  Reading all the way from Germany.  I really love that.  My heart is with you during this adoption journey, but you are two very strong, rebellious people that can handle just about anything this old world tosses at you, I know things are going to work out just the way they are meant to.  Until then, know that I am sending positive vibes your way.

To Amy:  You are such a great neighbor, and supporter of all of my writing!  I love to hear your kids playing outside, and can't wait to hear news of the new arrival-Good Luck!

And to those of you that I didn't name, know that I appreciate you as well.  I know that you are out there, because the numbers show it.  I'd love to get to know you better.  So, nobody freaked out and jumped ship over the ads, so it will soon be time to start Royal Rebels officially.  Have you, my dedicated readers, been thinking of a daily and long term goal you would like to work on as a group with us?  Come on, get ready to get your Rebel on!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A quick note on Karma

To the jerks who left my spectacular campground a mess,

My husband let you stay for free because you said you were Veterans, that alone could get us fired.  You left your campsite dirtier than any site I have ever seen in the five years I have been cleaning sites, I have my doubts you are truly a Veteran.  After you filled the legal fire ring with trash, you built a half assed, illegal fire ring, and almost caught my forest on fire!  Although you stayed at the only campground with a dumpster, you could not get your trash bag over to it, along with the rug that your mutt crapped on.  Thank you for that nice surprise.

I guarantee your move across the state is not going well.

But on the other hand...

To my friend Kristi,

I hardly remembered referring the folks from The Royal Roost to you when they told me they were looking to buy real estate in the Jefferson area.  So it was such a wonderful surprise to receive a $100 gift card right when I was back to school shopping for the kids!!!  You helped us buy The Royal Roost, oh so many years ago, you are a wonderful Real Estate Agent and friend, you go girl!  Thank you and you know that only good things are coming your way.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making every last minute count

The kids are headed off to school tomorrow; one of my saddest days of the year.  I get so used to having the little pains in the rumpy around that I really miss them when they are gone for the day.  But, as they remind me, I will have some time to work on my next book, so I guess it is a trade off...

Since today was our last day of summer, we had to make every minute count.  My daughter saved up her money this summer from taking care of the neighbors house while they were on vacation and decided to repaint her room; a girl after her own mother's redesigning heart.  Of course the process took a lot of prep work which entailed cleaning out the "little girl" toys.

The morning started with getting every last bit of paint out of the gallon that the dear girl had worked so hard to buy.  I of course will need one more gallon to finish the job while she is at school; three ten year olds did quite a job on the trim, etc, but what the heck, her and her girlfriends thought it was a great way to wind down the summer!

My middle boy starts high school this year, and my eldest made the mistake of telling him that all the high schoolers wear hats to school since it is allowed now.  The sucker in me gave in, wanting him to feel at his best on the first day as a freshman and headed down the mountain to find him a hat.  

It all worked out just fine because I could donate the "little girl" toys that my daughter had gathered to a local charity (making the trip down the mountain more worthwhile in my mind), take my youngest two to an inexpensive lunch at our new local diner (supporting a great new business), and I got the "lid" covered!  And speaking of back to school fashions, they are fantastic!  The colors this year are so vibrant  and beautiful (yes, even for the boys), that I didn't mind doing the laundry, and that is saying quite a bit!

The best part about it, was that I got home in time to catch my oldest son cleaning out his car.  So I pulled my truck up next to his and started cleaning it.  I have asserted for a long time, the best way to talk with a teenager is to do while you both are working.  The words seem to flow easier, the teen seems less defensive, and you're accomplishing a task on your to do list on top of it!

So, for those of you with school age children, good luck this year, and give your kids an extra squeeze, they will be graduating high school like my boy (soon) in the blink of an eye!  And please, by all means, please be aware of the school buses and zones!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Washing away the smell of seizures

I should have known I was getting into trouble.  Stress and interrupted sleep are my triggers and I am dealing with both, so you'd think I'd be smart enough to prepare for this sort of thing; it's not new to me.  It makes me mad that I let it sneak up on me every time,  and then it makes me mad that I'm feeling that way in the first place.  Doesn't make for very good company.

It took the smell of my bedding to make me realize what was going on.  I crawled in the other night, miserable as hell, confused, disoriented, sad and pissed off at everything and realized that it smelled funny, not at all like me.  That's when it dawned on me, strong sense of smell, metallic taste and scent, uh huh, I was having brain issues.

But, see that's the irritating part, I'm so busy struggling to keep up with the daily things, covering up the fact that I don't feel quite right, that I forget to keep an eye on myself.  And it just gets worse and worse; I forget to eat, drink water, etc.  So pretty soon, even my body is not functioning well.

So, yesterday I spent the day washing away the smell of seizures.  I washed my bedding and every other blanket in the house I think.  I also scrubbed a bathroom, swept and mopped the floors, vacuumed the rugs and stairs...and that is when it hit me.  I was not going to be able to clean my epilepsy away.  

I do this every time.  I start coming out of one of my fogs and clean like a mad woman.  Partially because the housework had fallen so far behind (but that doesn't usually bother this rancher too much), and partially because physical labor is so good for my tired brain, but it was when I was scrubbing to the detriment of my back, that I realized I was trying to wash away my epilepsy.  And it also dawned on me that it wasn't going to work.

I had a good cry, I'm a little ashamed to say.  But you know, I haven't cried much over being diagnosed with this damn disease or whatever it is, so I probably deserved it.  I think that is one of my problems, I just take my lumps in life and deal with them, knowing that it will make me a stronger person in the long run, blah, blah.  But everybody has to process things.

I think part of my problem has been not being able to talk about my brain issues.  I don't think that anyone likes to come off sounding like a complainer, I know I sure don't, but talking about things is a natural part of processing, in my opinion.  But my disability is a tricky one to talk about without sounding like I'm complaining in my mind, because it is so hidden, especially to describe in words.

When someone asks me about my brain issues, the best way I can describe them is to say that I struggle for words, and that I can't concentrate, that I have a hard time remembering things and have often lost things of importance during these times; so much so that I am no longer allowed to keep the check book, keys, and debit card while I am "off".  Now, let me guess, your first reaction was, that happens to everybody!?!

Let me apologize here, but that is one of the most offensive things you could say to someone when they are talking to you about their handicap.  I found this out in a rather odd, unexpected way.  I knew that it always kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but like I said, I've never given it much thought.  I just shut up and move on.  But I know for a fact, that it does not happen to everyone.  Not everyone has abnormal activity in their left temporal lobe and has to be on life changing, brain altering medication for the rest of their lives.

So I thought it was kind of funny when I found support in the very last place I was looking.  I was actually there to learn about autism for when I start working with special needs kids and my book.  It was a post about talking about autism, and how people perceive the conversation differently.  I had been following A Life Less Ordinary for a few months, commenting infrequently, because the first time I commented I made a fool of myself, or so I thought, but I made my intentions clear; I was there to learn more about these wonderful kids whom I really would love to help.

So I was quite shocked and pleased when one of her posts said that she was hoping to have heard from me.  And obviously when she did hear from me, I didn't disappoint her too badly, because she then took my comment and used it in her next post about how to talk to people about autism.  It wasn't only the author who affected me, but the comments as well.  These folks really got it, they understood how I felt, and that being blown off was just as bad as the people who thought that epilepsy was contagious!

I don't talk about it with anyone, not even Tom.  When I write about it here, that is pretty much the extent of it.  Which is pretty funny, don't talk about it with the ones you love, or put it out there for the world to see, but it seems sort of anonymous, just typing it, you know?  I hadn't even really mentioned it to the people on A Life Less Ordinary, but their comments and lives are the ones that help me realize what it was that was troubling me so.

I often wonder if things would be different if I had been diagnosed as a child.  Looking back on things now, I know there were many opportunities.  Would it have been better for me to have gotten used to the meds as a child?  Would I not have this adjustment time of learning to remember to take care of my own basic needs and balance life (family, ranch, business, etc.) if I had had an advocate (my mom and dad) like these commenters?  And then I realize of course things would be different, and maybe not for the better, and it all goes back to my basic belief that everything happens for a reason.

But, you know me, I will turn this piece positive, I will not let it be a negative thing.  But I wanted this post to sink in, and sometimes to do that, I have to not be all happy all the time, I guess.  Life is not happy all the time, but if you deal with your crap and move on, well then more power to you.  But my point here, is that I had gone to A Life Less Ordinary to learn, and to get my name out there in the blogging world, and that is exactly what I did.  And I found some supportive new friends in the process, so thank you.

Although I can't wash my epilepsy away, I can get rid of that darn smell, if only until next time.  Hopefully I will learn from this experience and my new friends.  But what I can do for sure, is to remind all of us to be good listeners.  When a person is talking about a disability, or even just a hard time in their lives, just let them talk, don't feel the need to compare it to your own world.  I know you are just trying to be empathetic, but many times it just comes off as underestimating the issue.  Many times all they need is an open ear and mind.  And possibly a strong shoulder to cry on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Park County election results and questions

 You know I can't start a post without a picture.  Yes, I know the saying about mushrooms and BS, but that really was just coincidental; politics and BS, good one.

As you all know by now, I am somewhat of a political junkie.  Now, this comes from necessity these days, I believe.  A person can't really go about spreading their opinion if they don't really know what they are talking about, much less if they don't walk the walk, so to speak.  And when I say that, I don't mean that I think a person always needs to be the smartest gal in town to be a part of politics, but I do think that if a person is going to sit around bitching about the place that this country is in right now, well he/she darn well be informed!

Case in point; I have some learning myself I'd like you all to help me with right now.  Yesterday were the primaries here in Colorado.  I won't bore you with all of the results of the bigger elections, because those are all over the news!  What I had a little bit of a hard time finding, until early this morning, was news of our anxiously awaited Sheriff's race.  Incumbent, Fred Wegener claims victory by almost double the votes this morning.
So, my questions may be silly, but I believe the only stupid question is an unasked one, so, what if he had lost?  Since it is a primary, would he have been out of office, or would it have waited until the actual election, even if no one is running against him?  And couldn't his opponent pull a Tom Tancredo and switch parties and still run against him in the main election?  Please, please people, not only do I want to know these answers, but my kids do too, so make me look smart to the kiddos!!!

By the way; David Kintz will be representing Republicans in the election for our Coroner, as will Mark Dowaliby for a commissioners seat, which is quite interesting because at the assembly he was the under dog.  Most of our other offices were uncontested, so Debra Green (County Clerk), Dave Wissel (Assessor), Michelle Miller (Treasurer), and Jack Kirby (Surveyor) will all retain their jobs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recycled Roof

Yes, a recycled roof.  I was bragging on my daily (almost) blog yesterday about my environmentally, money saving, recycled roof; but I wanted to wait until today, when I could share it with all of you, even the GSO readers, because this is a pretty good one.  Wow, another sentence that would have my English teacher popping migraine (or worse) medicine!

I have to give you a little background here.  I have mentioned (groan, many times, over and over, you, my dedicated readers say?) that our little piece of heaven, The Royal Ranch, sits at almost 9,000 feet in elevation.  It also sits at the base of two almost fourteeners, Mt. Logan and Mt. Rosalie.  Now, I'm not just telling you that to brag, okay maybe a little-ha!, but we get some wicked winds up here, and I do mean wicked.  

This last winter seemed to be particularly harsh.  We had quite a bit of damage, we lost our historical sign, which I posted about here, and we had lots of little pieces of roofing come off the barn.  Well, I hadn't really noticed that those little pieces had all really added up to one big problem until we got all of this rain.  And then the other day, I went to step inside the barn and sunk six inches into the mud.   Now, I'm no genius, but when you are inside the barn, I don't think you're supposed to be slopping around in mud like that!

So, I get to thinking.  We have tried multiple kinds of regular roofing on this barn and it has not worked because of the tree limbs rubbing on it and the wind tears about anything paper like or shingle like, ie: typical roofing.  Okay what about a tarp type situation?  Now wait, I know you all are thinking, what, a tarp?  Now that's pretty hillbilly.  

But wait, these are the sides and the tops of the old hay barn that the wind took year before last.  It was one of those car port type things you buy at Costco, and it would have worked out great if it weren't for the wind picking up the whole thing, that was concreted three feet into the ground, and throwing it around like a ball of play doh (I told you we got wicked winds!).  It bent all of the poles beyond recognition and tore a few of the tarps, but for the most part the tarps were still in tact, and just awaiting a new life.  I recycled the poles, why not the tarps?

As a matter of fact the buildings themselves are recycled.  My tack shed is a six seater outhouse from a Civilian Conservation Camp from the Depression era that was moved here by Charlie Royal.  And the llama/sheep barn is an old chicken coop that old man Royal built himself.  When we first got llamas, we had our then renter, remove a wall and reinforce it for the larger animals, and voila, a loafing shed ideal for ruminants (which is what sheep and llamas are).

Well, it wasn't exactly me that did the work on the roof, anyway.  I don't think any of us would want to know the outcome if clumsy old me had gotten up on that roof.  But Tom did a heck of a job.  He laid the first tarp down and nailed it around the edges, and then a second one over the top, to make sure to cover any of the seams of the first one since these were meant to be walls instead of roofing.  He then sort of wrapped the barn roof like a present, and it looks great.

He also used some wood to reinforce where the wind will catch it.  He just took a long 2x12 and nailed it over the tarps.  It will hold down the tarps and to a certain extent guide the runoff away from the front of the barn.  The great thing about this is that now it is essentially one piece, so hopefully the wind won't catch little bits of it.

While Tom did the roof, the kids and I worked on the drainage around the barn.  I dug a few trenches, not really dug, more like guided the mud, to get as much runoff away from the barn as possible.  We all worked on raking up the loose dropped hay to put in the barn to soak up the mud; so it got recycled too.  Normally I would be able to rake this up once a week and feed it, saving myself quite a bit, but it is all too soggy to use; although I did see the chickens happily scratching their way through it, so that is good.

Back to me and my brilliant ideas, thank goodness I have a husband to help implement all these crazy ideas of mine.  I'll let you know how this one holds up, but in theory it's a good one, and it didn't cost me a dime.  So far we have had some really amazing rain storms and the barn isn't any wetter, which is of course what we were going for!

Sorry folks, I am experiencing technical difficulties, and have been waiting all day to get my links together and post this, but it isn't looking like the problem (within Blogger) will be fixed anytime soon.  So, I shall go ahead and publish without the links, hoping that you will come back and check those out another time!  Thanks for your patience~Judy

Monday, August 9, 2010

What the heck day is it anyway?

Poor Tom knows, it's go back to work day for him.  But that does explain why I have been a little messed up on my days.  When Tom is off work, plus the kids being out of school, there is just no way I can keep track of what day of the week it is.  When I last left you I wished you a good Sunday on Friday, but it worked out just as well, because I wasn't able to get back on until just now, so anyway, I hope you had a good Sunday.

We sure did, we got a lot of work done around the ranch, but more on that tomorrow (once again, I have amazed myself in my recycling and money saving endeavors and want to save it for a Tuesday when I write for GreenSpot-On), today I need to keep my promise to my dedicated readers.  I told you that I would share some photos from our Royal Llama Adventure from Saturday and here they are:

This is how the morning starts out, me in the kitchen.
Our first snack break.

Practicing knots?


"The bowl" at Mt. Logan

Having fun skippin' rocks at "the bowl"!

He's always climbing something.

Finally, food!!!  A quick side note here, although I take paper napkins, we use cloth to wrap the silverware in.  Then I can use the dirty ones to put in between the dirty plates on the way down.  I came home with four paper napkins in my trash bag and only recyclable water bottles and soda cans, that's it, no other trash was created from this picnic.

Look at the size of this mushroom!

We all had a wonderful time and the rain held off until we got to the gate (in our cars), it couldn't have been any better timing!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Royal Llama Adventures, LLC

 Royal Llama Adventure photo from 2005

I was worried that I needed to get right to work this morning and not post, but I realized that I could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.  I of course would never even kill one bird, but you probably have already gathered that by now-ha!  We have a family coming for a llama adventure tomorrow and so today is the day that I will prepare for said adventure.  Instead of making my lists on paper, I will share my prep work here with you, my dedicated readers, which gives you an insight into our adventures and will help me prepare for our big day.

Our guests are a family of four.  Two adults and two teen boys, the teen boys have me a tiny perplexed as I hope that our hike in interesting enough for them.  I am hoping that like most teens they will bring their ipods or whatever to tune out Tom and I droning on and on about the cool history of the area, and the B52 plane crash that ended with one of the flight crew hiking out to The Royal Ranch.  See, I have been telling you we are steeped in history, but is it enough for teens?

So, back to me preparations.  I need to go over all of the food.  Lunch will consist of Royal Chicken Salad, homemade potato salad, cut up fruit, chocolate covered strawberries (always a huge hit on the trail) and chocolate chip cookies Royale (notice a theme here?).  We will also provide multiple snacks throughout the hike, like fresh watermelon, pineapple and nuts.  And oh lord, don't forget the water, I even bought bottled water, which I hate to do, but guests don't like to use our old yucky reusable water bottles!

So, the day has passed by, before I was able to get this post published, but once my family and critters start rising, the day gets busy, but I still wanted to share the work of the day.  I started with the potato salad.  While the potatoes boiled I pulled anything I might need out of the freezer, including the banana bread I will serve at one of the snack stops.  

I then moved on to my cookies and discovered that I was out of brown sugar, which led me to our new favorite cookie, Chocolate Chip Royale.  It is really quite simple, just follow the directions for chocolate chip cookies on the Nestle Toll House package, except use all white sugar, add 2 Tablespoons cocoa and 1 teaspoon dried orange zest.

Chocolate covered strawberries are  a breeze, look fancy and make a big impression on guests.  I made those with leftover chocolate chips and just a touch of vegetable oil.  One of the fantastic things about hiking with llamas is being able to take this type of thing.  I will even pack real plates and silverware for our guests.  It makes for a fun picnic, we have plenty of room, and it is very green and environmentally friendly; and with the gentle gait of the llamas, you could take the fine china!

I used the BBQ for the chicken for the Royal chicken salad.  Keeps the kitchen a little cleaner, and I threw on a few extra and called it dinner as well.  My momma didn't raise a dummy, if I'm going to be in the kitchen all day, I;m going to have a meal for my family, and a container of each item for the kids for tomorrow while we are gone.

Tom worked on getting the packs and various bins that I will use to pack the food in together, and the llamas, well, they just ate and enjoyed a little bit of dryer weather.  They will do their part tomorrow, as for me, I will get to enjoy the feast I made along with my guests while sharing the wonder of this spectacular area.  I will try to take lots of pics and post them when we get back.  Have a great Sunday.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Judy on being a Jeute, or is it Judy?

You know it really doesn't matter which way you say it, I was destined to be a double Judy.  In the past few days I have had the most unreal experiences that a person can have, and it feels like it has been an ongoing test of my strength and courage.  I must tell you, I am quite proud of myself, I have passed this battery of tests with flying colors.

Last I left you, "Change" was in the air, if I only knew how true that statement was going to be!  Saturday was Bailey Day, and oh what a glorious day it turned out to be.  As a matter of fact, I reserve the right to come back and write about it again.  But, suffice it to say, that once again, we blended our biker, mountain hillbilly friends with the historical (literally-ha!) park crowd beautifully!  My book signing was a huge success, twenty books sold along with small town folk coming out of the wood work to congratulate me.

Although that should be the highlight of this post it gets crazier from there.  I mentioned that I would be offline for a few days, but I didn't say why.  Well, I read somewhere your not supposed to advertise when your leaving, if only for a short time, so I didn't.  We had a quick family trip planned in Fort Collins, and when I say family, I mean my entire family.  So we were really looking forward to this one. 

As usual, I was as unorganized as can be, but I felt like it was really important to get these two blankets into the camper; a piece of our family, so to speak.  Nathan was already up there with my parents so the four of us headed up the road, and all was going well until we got onto the scariest part of I25, just full of construction, and the motorhome starts to overheat.  We chug, chug along until she just dies, and luckily we coast to just inches off of the busiest Interstate in all of Colorado. 

We look up and the reason we had been stuck in traffic in the first place is because of an accident that had been caused by the construction.  A truck had rolled over and caught on fire, terribly!  So, not only are we front row to watch them put out this fire, and turn the truck back over, etc. Tom has to try and work on the RV on the side of the road.  I am keeping the kids and the dogs out of the back, as I am just praying that we won't get hit, because those assholes passing by sure weren't slowing down any.

As many of you probably know, the engine compartment in many RV's is inside, so Tom got a mug of gas and primed the carburetor and got us on our way.  He had done some testing and knew that we had one fuel pump down, and yes this is important,  with one working.  Now, I have talked about my "trouble bubble" before, but I have never worked so hard on concentrating on getting us safely off of a road in my life!

We made it about a mile off of the exit and she died again, that was it.  Tom was getting really frustrated and the kids were dying to get there, so he got that damned mug back out.  The one that I had kept trying to take from him the first time!  And that was when it happened.  The engine back fired, and there was a fireball two feet wide inside the motorhome with all of us and the dogs!  Tom was on fire, the mug was on fire, the chair, my purse, the engine, My God!!!

Tom ran out with the mug, I screamed at the kids and the dogs to "GET OUT!!!", who immediately froze and sat down because they had never heard that command and didn't want to go out as Tom had started a huge grass fire outside!!!  Yes, a huge grass fire outside with his mug of gas!!!!  I can't use enough exclamation points here, I'm sorry. 

People had immediately stopped and were kicking dirt on the ever growing grass fire while I was inside throwing things out that were on fire, hoping to save the motorhome.  Blessedly, one of the things that I threw out the door was one of those blankets I had insisted on packing that morning, and it was what Tom used to put out the grass fire.

Thomas, my oldest son, had not wanted to come with us in the first place really.  He is seventeen now and getting a little old for family vacations, especially when you add that he missed out on one of the parties of the summer and a day of work!  But, late the night before we left, I had finally given in and told him that he didn't have to go.  He had said that he had gone to bed that night saying he would see how he felt in the morning and then decide, and thank God he felt like coming, because he was the one who had run off with the gas can when the grass fire had started!  The three of us worked together like a well oiled machine to save the motorhome, the dogs and possibly our lives.

To be honest, I can't even really remember how we got the damn motorhome running again, but we made it to the campground where we were to meet up with my family.  The funny part is, is after all of that trouble, my husband being on fire, and almost being a demolition derby vehicle on I25, it was a pulled wire!  And even funnier, I'm afraid that wire might have been karma from when my red heads were younger.  This wire had been pulled when a mysterious little red head came to play on my wonderful day (sorry T, had to out you here, but better to face the horror now than in a decade, like I'm afraid happened with me-ha!). 

So, all is well that ends well, as they say.  I'll go back to an old purse, dang, I really liked that purse, and as for the blanket, well, it's a total loss.  But me, I faced the fire, head on as a matter of fact which is a big accomplishment; we had a fire in our house when I was a kid.  And although the whole way home I didn't think I could face getting straight to work when I got here, I did it.  I had guests to prepare for, who else was going to do it? As a matter of fact the everyday work of cleaning and cooking (last breakfast ever-yeah!) was quite therapeutic.

We are all much stronger than we give ourselves credit for, if we dig deep.  I mentioned that change was coming, and I can feel it in the air.  I have been quoted on another blog (more on that later), I faced the fire and won, had a wonderful book signing and even got a few hours in with family.  Today, I will work on grounding myself, as funny as it sounds, but I need to do it or I will fall apart.  Mother Earth and I will be working in the gardens today, reconnecting and revitalizing.