Saturday, June 19, 2021

Country Days at the Ranch!

 We left Irving on Tuesday afternoon and drove straight to Mart and then the 7 miles or so on to the ranch without stopping one single time!

I love this sign!!
Nearly there!

Arriving is always more fun than leaving and there's nothing quite so special as that first few minutes when you go through the gate and know you don't have to leave for days and days and days.

Dean had told me I had sunflowers and so I DO!!!
I took this seeing bees on our flowers!

But would you look at this one???
I made it extra large so you could see it better.
At first I thought it was a beautiful insect of some kind......but upon closer inspection.....and after Dean and Sherry pointed it out to me......this villian was eating a honeybee! At least that's what it LOOKS like!

On our way down to the ranch, Dean called and said he spied red tomatoes so as soon as I got here, I went out to gather up some fresh produce!

The rains are gone and everything is dry now but the purple hull peas were good enough to pick.

After giving everything a look-see, Dean and Sherry picked me up and we headed back out to I35 for our bee meeting in Hillsboro.

We left early enough to eat at Bush's Chicken in West, Texas.
SO good!
Louis Dean stayed at the ranch unloading the truck but I bought three big pieces to take home to him.

It was wonderful to wake up Wednesday IN the country!

I cooked us up a big breakfast for lunch using eggs and tomatoes and peppers from right here on the ranch. While we were in West, we had stopped at the Czech Stop for some pastries and this delicious Jalapeno Jelly. Not as good as the Pepper Jelly Rosey gave me last year, though!

Louis Dean has spent quite a bit of time pondering the water situation in the camper.
That awful Arctic weather busted the water heater and we haven't had any water in here since.
Son Dean had worked on getting the old rusted water heater undone while we have been away and so Louis Dean was able to pull it completely out. He said it was used up and would most likely have gone out sooner rather than later anyway. He needed a part from Home Depot in order to hook the water up directly to the camper bypassing the water heater connections.
Anytime you go into Waco for something, you may as well expect to be gone for hours!
It just always seems to work that way.
This trip, we shopped HEB for some things before heading back to the ranch.
It was too late for him to work on the water line so we did a little work in the garden - which had grown a really good crop of weeds while Mr. McGregor was gone!

The ground was soggy not so long ago that Dean sunk his shoes down in the mud when he was up here checking on the place. Now it is dry as a bone and hard as a rock!

We took a big bag of weeds and all the lettuce I had in the herb garden. It had gone to seed and didn't even LOOK like lettuce anymore - but it made a nice salad for the goats.

They have a new Billy goat and he's sure pretty!

I love the wide rectangular-shaped pupils goats have.

Always fun to visit the goat pen!

The mops do such a good job with guarding them that I can't even remember the last time they lost one.

Sweet dogs!

And there's Mama cat.....the only one left, I think.

Wednesday night we had a nice campfire burning mostly our paper trash and weeds!

Thursday morning Louis Dean got right to the water situation and then we waited for several hours before turning it on! YES!!! I have running water in the camper now!!!! Bathroom sink, toilet and kitchen sink - all WORK!!!!
AND now I was able to put my Girl Bunk back together again!
The water reservoir and heater are UNDER the bunk so all that bedding has been in the tiny kitchen area. Campers are small spaces......and I am so glad Louis Dean built the cabin on.

Thursday night was dinner at Dean and Sherry's!
She brought out a bottle of the blueberry mead they made with honey from our first year doing bees - 2019. It has aged well and made an excellent wine spritzer when you filled the rest of the glass up with ginger ale!

Sherry is talking about making some this year using the technique called back tasting.
Or is it back flavoring? Back Sweeten, I think.

Pepper Poppers for appetizers!!
You betcha!!!!

I brought salad using the cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden plus a yellow-meated watermelon and some coleslaw. I also cooked up a pan of our purple hull peas - much like black eyed peas - with some onion, seasonings and smoked pork that Sherry gave me.
She made her famous gouda mashed potatoes and was sweet to send the leftovers home with us.
I could eat her potatoes every single day. Potatoes is actually my all time favorite vegetable and has been since I was a little girl.

Dean grilled great pork chops for us.......

and dessert was a pan of brownies that I totally butchered when I cut them up!
They tasted good, though! A $1 box of brownie mix + 1/4 cup of wine in place of water, the oil and eggs they called for and I added a handful of our shelled pecans. 
The whole evening was an absolute FEAST!!!
Since Sherry works from home 4 days a week, Thursday is like a Friday - it's the work week's end!

We woke up early - as in Sherry called me at 6:17 Friday morning and the sun wasn't even up yet!

We had bee work to do and wanted to do it before the heat set in for the day.
They say do it in the morning or when it starts to cool off in the evening - but in Texas  it doesn't cool off much until the middle of the night! We are up to 7 hives now thanks to Dean and Sherry splitting the three we had and then catching a swarm. I missed out on a bunch of bee activities since I was last here in April, leaving all the work for them to do.

I was eager to get my bee suit on and go to the apiary!

Smokers are essential to a beekeeper and making a good 'smoke' is an art that Sherry has mastered and one I am trying to learn. Going into a hive without a smoker for protection is a mistake we will never make again! The smoke runs the bees off and if you have thousands of hostile bees coming at you - the smoker is your very best friend!

The bees were actually gentle and we very well could have done without a smoker or even our gloves.
But we remain cautious.
I do intend to work without my gloves in time to come since the bee stings would be beneficial to my arthritic hands. I had a bee sting once and it did make a difference. But I am a bit wimpy about doing it on purpose!

Our purpose that day was to mow around the bee yard and pull the grass and weeds from in front of the hives. We checked four hives which included the swarm one for hive beetles as well as looking at the condition of the hive itself. Did it have brood and larvae and honey stores? We opened up the entrance to give them more room to enter and exit. All four hives are holding their own and one was considerably stronger than the other three. The swarm hive was doing as well as could be expected. No honey in the supers of any of the four.  The honey in the brood box (the bottom of the hive stack) is for the bees to feed on. With all the rain we had for so long, the pollen was washed away as quickly as it was made and without pollen - the bees cannot make honey.
We have to bucket feed them until they can get natural resources.
Everyone at the bee meeting on Tuesday agreed that our area is about a month to 6 weeks behind where we were this time last year. But we can catch up!
Bucket feeding is preparing sugar water and filling up a bucket, putting some twigs and long grasses for the bees to stand on so they don't drown and then enticing them to the sugar water. Sherry takes a stick and dips it in the feed, takes it over to the hives and when a bee lights on the stick, she carries it back to the bucket. Once one bee knows where food is - she communicates it to the others and so it goes!

Once we were done with our bee work, we rested up and then headed to Waco for a Girls Day Out!
Started with a ladies lunch at Pandera Bread. I say ladies since neither one of our Deans would want to eat there - but we love it!

Our second stop was the second location of Firewater Liquor.
The original store is on Texas Avenue in Mart - which is the one we usually shop.

I have been looking for Troy & Sons Moonshine aka Platinum Whiskey or something from this label.
I read her book recently and thought it would be so cool to buy a bottle!

Troy Ball is an inspiration and I do so admire her and her story.
It says the brand is sold in most states but the owner of Firewater didn't know anything about it.
Hopefully that will change. I am planning on giving Collin (the owner) a copy of her book and perhaps he will stock it in due time.
So, instead of Troy & Sons, I bought a tequila for making margaritas!
Still a win!

From there we shopped HEB, Walgreens, Aldi and Sam's!
It was SUCH a good day!

Louis Dean had stayed busy mowing and moving stuff around - as in the leftover materials from the red roofing and the extra used tin Cheyenne had brought for ranch projects.

I wandered around the garden - like our front yard - and admired the honeysuckle we planted last fall. It is BLOOMING!!!

The one trumpet vine we planted seems to be thriving.

And my sunflowers make me smile!

The pond garden is minus the lettuce and I added some oregano and purple basil.

The fig tree from our friend, Sheryl, has tiny fruit on it and our Chinese elm tree, gifted to us by our neighbors, Olga and Antonio, is growing by leaps and bounds.

We arrived on Tuesday and it was Friday before I even opened my laptop.
Things are falling into place and I am loving everything about being here.
No more hauling water from an outside water faucet and no more heating it with a tea kettle!

Our kitties are such good travelers!
They love being here as much as we do!

I'm a COUNTRY girl!
At least for a few weeks~


Bluebird49 said...

You are making me so hungry with all the good food you and Sherry and Dean fixed. What a country feast! Didn't know your water had been out, and it sounds like the bees are okay if not the best. But I don't know much about them. The kitties and Mama Kitty look well, although her babies look so much more furry! Fluffy? I don't know. Keep on enjoying yourselves!! Happy Father's Day to the fathers in your life!

Ginny Hartzler said...

I like whatever kind of edits you have used for these photos! Our Pstor had awful arthritis in his hand, and it even really hurt him to shake hands. He got the bee stings, and they cleared it all up. Now his hand is as good as new! Your pond is looking so pretty.

Deb said...

Such great pictures of your time in the country. I know it makes you so happy to be there. You guys get so much done! Hope everything continues to go well. That is so great that you have running water once again. Have a great Sunday. See you again soon.

Vee said...

What a nice, newsy post. Glad that you are at the ranch that you and Louis Dean love so. Yay for water! That is a good chore accomplished.

MadSnapper said...

welcome home to your country home, i always love your posts when they come from there to us. so glad you have running water and this time of year, i could shower with cold without a problem. my grandmother here, lived her entire life with no hot water. only cold. she died in 1969. i love that big billy goat, his eyes are wonderful and the Mop twins look so sweet. good guard dogs. enjoy your stay cation

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

You sound so happy, I know you are doing what you love...beiing in the country again. Loved all the pictures especially the sunflowers. How nice to have fresh things from the garden too. You do have a wonderful life there! EnjoY!

photowannabe said...

I'm so glad you are back to your little piece of heaven. I think the Ranch missed you as much as you did it.
Love how you fill your days and the peace and enjoyment it gives you.
Here's to several more weeks of rest and new adventures.

Carole said...

Woohoo for water! Do you have both hot and cold or just cold? Cheers

Changes in the wind said...

How wonderful to have the water situation fixed! The bees are so much more work than I would have thought but know you love doing it.

Deanna Rabe said...

I can tell how happy you are to be back in the country! So glad you have water in the camper again! I always feel as if I am with you there when you share your comings and goings! So much fun!

Hootin Anni said...

Am extraordinary time in the country! From the bees, to the fresh produce and now running water!! You two live a charmed life indeed.

Linda, if your question in my comments "book?" is about the book I published thru Amazon...yes I do have one. Personally, I think Amazon has the price too high for the color version, but it is filled with over 200 birds from Texas. All textured photos that I took with oil painting affect.

Arlene @Nanaland said...

Enjoy your long visit. We leave on Wednesday for Grimmwood, visit a bit, then pick up Audrey and bring her home to stay with us all week.