Sunday, July 30, 2017

A week with Aunt Bonnie

I spent a few days with the nieces at their farm. Then loaded up a majority of them and brought them out for a week with Aunt Bonnie.  I look forward to their visit every year and try to come up with new and interesting things to do.
 My oldest niece loves to ride and she practiced with her horse Roo before we left.  I wish I could have rode also.
 The two littlest ones aren't old enough to come out for the whole week.  They were sure excited to show me that at three his sister taught him to ride the bicycle without training wheels.  

The oldest three came with me.  We spent the day feeding fish and playing in the creek at the Spearfish Fish Hatchery and park.  Complete with a picnic lunch.  
The next day was the annual "Aunt Bonnie's Hike from Hell."  We were going to Custer State Park to roam with the buffalo.  Unfortunately, the hike was rained out.  The girls did end up taking some wonderful photos of the wild life.  

 Baby buffalo photo by Taylor
 Antelope photo by Sierra
 Woodchuck photo by Sierra
 Buffalo Bull by Taylor

 Buffalo Calf by Haley
A day at the cabin is always filled with activities. We made jam, pies, and jello. We got the kitchen dirty then cleaned it up again. We had plenty of food ready for when their dad came with the two youngest.

I try to help the girls with 4-H projects when they come.  Taylor always makes jam, but we also try to make something using wood working or painting skills.  This year we combined them.  The two older ladies made birdhouses, while the youngest made a walking stick.

 Aunt Bonnie was very careful teaching them how to properly run the chop saw, sander and nail gun.  We measured once and then twice to make sure we got our cuts right.  We were very careful about where we put our hands and aimed the nail gun.  The girls paid careful attention and did a great job.  I was very proud that they made the birdhouses all by themselves.
 Meanwhile, too little to run the woodworking equipment, Haley sanded and sanded.  Photos by Sierra.

After the serious work was done, the fun began and they painted the houses to suit their taste.

The littlest two came and we immediately went for a hike.  It is a five hour drive to Aunt Bonnie's so getting out and stretching ones legs is important.
 We toured the gardens and played outside.  Then had a big meal.  The next day was a rodeo and parade.  Then a long drive home.  The house seems empty and quiet.  Next year we will have four.  Aunt Bonnie just needs to figure out how to fit them all in her Jeep.  I had tons of fun this year and can not wait for next year.
 Any ideas for projects next year?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Buffalo berries?

If you haven't followed my blog, I am a berry picking fiend.  I love making jams, wines, and syrups from the bounty around me.  This year I am super excited as the buffalo berry bushes on our prairie property have berries.  Last year a late frost crushed all hopes of a harvest.  This year I see jam in my future.  Unfortunately, the area received golf to baseball sized hail.  I am not sure how things on our property fared.  We had just been out there to pick currants and check our game camera.  I can tell you my husband's pickup did not fare well.  It was a pretty terrifying experience being trapped in a pickup during a storm with hail that large.
 Things were peaceful, before all hell broke loose.  We had fawns all around us.  They really didn't care that we were there.  They were actually miffed that we were on their nicely mowed trails.  Little did they know, we mowed the trails for them.
 On the home front, I am busy with Juneberries and raspberries.  I don't think the raspberry harvest will be as good as last year.  Everything is a balance, as I didn't have any Juneberries last year.
 Besides the fawns, I met a few other friends picking berries.  I've never seen a baby Wooly Caterpillar.  He was adorable.

I'm berry picking like crazy.  That and the peas are ripening pretty quick.  What are you harvesting?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The beauty around us...

Swallowtail Butterflies drive me nuts.  They just flutter through the yard on their way to somewhere more important.  Not today.  Today one was a camera hog and hung around for a photo shoot.  I really had fun following him around the yard.

 Despite the heat and thanks to my husbands routine watering schedule the rose bed is an absolute riot of color.

 These clouds didn't provide rain, but did give us a spectacular sunset.

One of my favorite quotes is by Rabindranath Tagore..."Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."  I have found it to be so true.  I hope everyone is enjoying their sunset skies.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Butterflies, Bumblebees, Berries, and a Project Review...

I made a butterfly house.  Not because I think a butterfly will use it, but because my husband gave me a square table leg that he had made an error on.  He knew I would come with something to use it for.  I made a roof, a bottom, and cut entry holes.  I  read it needs a branch inside for them to sit on, so I stuffed one in there before I nailed it shut.  I'm using stain leftover from our picnic table project.  I am pretty certain it will be like the butterfly feeder that has yet to be touched by any insect, much less a butterfly.  Still it is better than just gathering dust in the barn.

My poor husband never knows what I am up to.  Today I got everything set and then asked him to come hold a ladder.  Before he knew what was happening, I was shimmying up the ladder with a very awkward and heavy bat house and juggling his lovely power drill.  I managed to prop everything into place and voila..... a bat house.   I love to sit outside in the evenings and watch my one bat eat insects.  There used to be two, but now I'm down to one.  I cannot see inside the bat house to know if it is working, but hopefully I will see an increase in bats.

I also tried my square foot stamps and am extremely pleased with them.  I used them to replant my lettuce, spinach, and carrots.  To make the indents I stood on it and that worked perfectly.  I am very happy to report that everything I planted is coming up.  I did take some yellow paint and labeled the templates.  Not the nicest handwriting, but at least I don't have to look up what template for what plants.
I had every intention of replacing the bird house in my red yellow bed.  It only had birds once in the 15 years we have been here.  It has big gaps and isn't well made.   I don't remember where I got it.   As I was removing the screw that holds the house down, I heard a buzzing.  It seems my old bird house has tenants.  A family of bumblebees.  Yikes... I was out of there.  After things calmed down, I tried to put the screw back in.  This has proven unsuccessful as they were quite agitated.  I tried to get my husband to do it, but he is smarter than I am.

I didn't just spend the weekend trying to evict bees.  I did some serious berry picking.  I found lots of wildlife from friendly caterpillars to not so friendly robins.  I picked gooseberries, wild strawberries, Juneberries, currents,  and nanking cherries.  I love picking berries.  It is my way of meditating.  I did pretty good with the Juneberries and gooseberries.  Unfortunately, it will take years before I get enough wild strawberries to make jam.  As you can see below, they aren't very big.

 It was a busy weekend.  They go way too fast.  I'm not sure what other projects I will work on this summer.  Probably a lot of wine and jam making in my near future.  I used my chamomile to make some hair detangler.  This is much needed since I have taken the top and doors off of my Jeep.  

What are you harvesting?  What are you doing with your harvest?  Have you ever seen a butterfly use a butterfly house?  Have you ever seen a nest of bumblebees?  Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July and wishing you a great week.