Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I planted garden today

How do you like my little flags?  In years past I have tried to mark rows to tell what is planted there and I always get things mixed up.  Of course I know what tomato seedlings look like, but I have different varieties and I want to know what's what.  I didn't mark the head lettuce and cabbage because I only planted one variety of each, and I know what those two things look like when they sprout.    
I've had people ask why I plant so many tomatoes:  it's because of blight, plain and simple.  I know for sure blight will rear its ugly head every year, and I plant a lot of tomatoes hoping I will get enough of them canned before blight shows up.  Sometimes I do, sometimes not.  
My gardens are mediocre at best.  Once crabgrass shows up, there is never another weed-free moment. I am not ambitious enough to keep up with the weeds and bugs.  Nevertheless, we are still eating tomatoes, peppers, peaches, strawberries, and sweet potatoes from last years garden.  Not bad, for a mediocre garden.  
Speaking of my lack of ambition, I will be very surprised if the seeds in the above tray ever make it outside.  I have a tendency to get bored with projects like this and stop watering them.  
We shall see.
Oh, by the way:  Cliff is over whatever plague that put him out of commission for a couple of days.

I would have enjoyed the snow, but...

Cliff hasn't been up to par for the last couple of days.  He sits on the couch and sleeps.  His stomach is unsettled.  He had a piece of toast and an orange for supper last night.  I hope he wakes up feeling better today.  He did force himself to bundle up and go clear snow off the driveway with a tractor.  Anyhow, snow days aren't any fun when my partner in crime isn't feeling well.  

 I shoveled the snow off the sidewalk around our house before the snow was done.  We got another two or three inches after I took this picture.  This is not a drift, so you can see we had a lot of snow.  It was so heavy, I did it a little at a time.  Nothing at all like the last snow we had, which was fluffy and light.  This is very hard to walk in, and I am always aware of my knee replacement.  So, I mostly stayed inside.  Cliff and I haven't been on a walk for days.  Looks like it will be awhile yet before we're able to get back to our normal routine.  Once they get our dead-end road cleared, I intend to walk up and down it for half-an-hour daily so I don't get completely out of condition.

I'm guessing we got fourteen inches or so of white stuff, and we are getting another inch or two today.  
I milked Jody this morning.  She still tries to kick sometimes, so I'm glad I have the anti-kick device to put on her.  Since she now lets her milk down for me, I can go ahead and get my half of the milk before I let the calf in with us.  I really feel sorry for the cows because it's so hard for them to get around in this wet, packed snow.  We're going to have some pretty cold nights this weekend, but I am not letting the cows in the barn.  They make too big a mess for me to clean out.  
Cliff and I are slowly but steadily losing weight, so I decided to share my Sparkpeople weight loss chart with my readers.  
It really is so easy.  I won't say we are never hungry, but we only are hungry for an hour or so before meals, which is as it should be.  Food tastes much better if you are hungry.  
I am getting a lot of help from a book called "Skinny Thinking".  It is making me examine why I overeat and giving me steps to avoid eating the wrong things or the wrong portions.  I've been sharing some of the tips with Cliff, so he decided he was going to read the book.  "Cliff," I said, "You will never make it through that book.  It will bore you to death."  
Sure enough, within five minutes of starting to read it, he was sound asleep.  Of course, he wasn't feeling well, so perhaps that was his problem.  Here's a little snippet from the book:  
"The truth is the truth, though. If you want to maintain a natural, healthy weight, you can’t keep your old habits. You can’t continue to eat the same foods you’ve been eating and not monitor portion size. Let me repeat so this is crystal clear: You can’t ever go back to eating what you’ve been eating. You can’t ever go back to not monitoring portion size. You can’t ever go back to eating when you’re not hungry. Thinking you can return to your old habits is the kind of deluded, egoic thinking that has kept you yo-yoing over the years."
I normally refuse to read weight loss books because they don't work, but this one is different.  I think if I keep it handy on the Ipad, this may be the time I lose weight for good.

Something I was reading this morning reminded me of an old hymn that I haven't heard for years.  It's one of my favorites.  

1.Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.
Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling,
do not pass me by.

2.Let me at thy throne of mercy
find a sweet relief,
kneeling there in deep contrition;
help my unbelief.

3.Trusting only in thy merit,
would I seek thy face;
heal my wounded, broken spirit,
save me by thy grace.

4.Thou the spring of all my comfort,
more than life to me,
whom have I on earth beside thee?
Whom in heaven but thee?

Monday, February 25, 2013

After a while

I first read this in an Ann Landers or Dear Abby column.  It grabbed me then, and I have never forgotten it.

After a While

(You Learn)

After a while you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul.

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses are not contracts,
and presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead...

With the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child.

And you learn
To build all your roads on today,

Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans,
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much…

So, you plant your own garden,
and decorate your own soul...
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…
you really are strong,
you really do have worth.

And you learn, and you learn…
with every goodbye,

You Learn…


This is Gracie, the bottle calf I bought in September.  She has to survive with the big cows now.  No bottle (since November), no grain (except for an occasional treat).  Actually she is doing quite well, and is one of the tamest cows I have ever raised.  We were going to have the vet out this week to dehorn her and the new baby, Jenny; but the storms have put my plans on hold.  This is another of my daughter's pictures.  She works for a photo-processing lab, and I think she has learned a thing or two from the experts.  
Cliff and I had plans to go to the Grand Canyon this year, but we have cancelled.  We do have sufficient funds, but have decided perhaps it would be best not to drain said funds.  Since we won't be traveling much, I am going into the chicken business on a larger scale.  I might be persuaded to buy a feeder pig or two.  Hey, if you are going to be stuck at home, you might as well be doing things you enjoy.  
I am seriously considering looking locally for an infant to babysit.  Just one, that Cliff and I could spoil rotten.  It would be a little extra income and we would enjoy it.  We've done it before.  However, if that doesn't happen I can always buy another bottle calf.  I love babies.  
There is another huge snowstorm headed our way tonight.  I love snow.  Bring it on.  The only drawback is that we can't go for our daily walk when the drifts are three feet deep.  It's going to be hard on us to get back to our routine after being sidetracked for so long.  Wish us luck.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Titan in the snow

As you can see, Titan was in the middle of all our fun today.  Thanks to my daughter for taking these excellent pictures with her fancy-schmancy camera.  


Fun in the snow

 Arick was going to play in the snow in the pasture with his 4-wheel-drive vehicle, but there was quite a bit of thawing going on and he ended up stuck in our yard.  

Cliff to the rescue.  He had planned to pull us around with his John Deere, but it was too little to do the job.  Brother-in-law's Mahindra to the rescue.  

Monica, Natalie, and Heather sat on the old pickup hood we were using as a sleigh.  When Cliff took off, Heather ended up on the ground.  

But then they were off to the pasture.  Titan ought to be worn out; he frolicked along with our "sleigh" everywhere we went.

The cows watched Arick try to slide down a hill with a piece of tin.  

 I got a turn on our sleigh.

 When we were done making Cliff haul us around the pasture, we took turns sliding down a hill on the sleigh.  It was so heavy that Cliff put a rope on it and pulled us back up the hill with the tractor after we reached the bottom.  Sweet!  Arick and Heather decided to stand up while Cliff brought them back.  Cliff laughed a lot at me, wallowing around in the snow trying to get up and down on the sleigh.  It's a cumbersome job for me to get down to ground level and sit.  

Here's a video I took so my readers could get the feel of our ride.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Love this guy from Scotland

His name is Brendan Macfarlane.  His website is HERE.  His Youtube channel is HERE.

I was walking I was talking to the spirit in the sky
saying why lord did you desert me …I never left you
was the reply
and the tears fell on that long road I've been walking
since I was born
in the wrong place at the wrong time well its been that way
for so long

then the night comes in and the black clouds fall around me
I scream in the dark won’t someone come and save me
come and save me...tonight

I was falling I was calling out to the saviour in the night
saying good lord why won’t you help me out
said I'll protect you until you die

and my thoughts turned to the future I was so so
scared to face
many hard times and heartaches not belonging
any place
then the night comes in and the black clouds fall around me
I scream in the dark won’t someone come and save me
come and save me...tonight

I was waiting I was praying to the angel in my mind
saying thank you for all your guidance
said I'll be here all your life
then the night comes in and the black clouds fall around me
I scream in the dark won’t someone come and save me
come and save me...tonight

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sonya's Taco Soup

My bloggie friend Sonya shared this recipe.  The only thing I have changed is that I add a can of Rotel tomatoes.  Also, I buy black beans and kidney beans dry, cook them, and freeze them in two-cup portions, and use those in place of canned beans.  It all works the same, but my frozen beans have no sodium.

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
15 1/4 oz. can corn, undrained
15 oz. can black beans, undrained
15 1/2 oz. can red kidney beans, undrained
1 envelope dry Hidden Valley Dressing mix
1 envelope dry taco seasoning
1 small onion, chopped
Tortilla or Corn chips
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream

1.  Combine all ingredients EXCEPT: chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream in slow cooker.  
2.  Cover. cook on Low 4-6 hours.  
3.  Garnish individual servings with chips, cheese, and sour cream.

This was taken from our Fix It and Forget It cookbook, which we love....Get you one if you don't have one.  We enjoy our fall and winters with lots of these crock pot recipes. 

Digging out

Cliff to the rescue!

There are some big drifts out there.  Cliff made paths through the snow to everywhere I might need to go when I'm outside.  I was going to try using something for a sled and sliding down one of our hills, but after trudging through the snow as much as I did yesterday, I guess I had better pass.  I may be tempting fate being out in the snow so much with my artificial knee.  
We saw pictures on the news of empty grocery store shelves where people had frantically bought food preparing for the storm.  This always amazes me, because even in the worst times when I haven't been to the store in two weeks, I can always come up with plenty to eat.  Back when I wasn't milking a cow, I made sure to have a small box of powdered milk on hand just in case I ran out, and evaporated milk also.  If I happened not to have any bread, I could make biscuits or bread.  Of course, living in the country where you can't run to the store any old time helps one to be prepared.  
I made taco soup yesterday.  Cliff's sister next door came over and ate with us since the snow kept her home, and there's enough left for the three of us to have it again today.  As we were eating yesterday, enjoying it thoroughly, I suddenly remembered I had forgotten to add the onions.  It was really tasting good until that realization, but then it lacked a little something... my imagination, I'm sure.  I keep chopped onions in the freezer, so before I put our leftover soup away I cooked 3/4 of a cup of those in a little water and added them to the soup.  Today I'm sure it will be perfect!  Taco soup is one of those things that's such a treat to me, I'm sad when it's gone.  
I've been separating Jody from her calf for a few hours each day, then milking her.  I have to separate them because I want to make sure her udder is fully emptied at some point each day, and she won't let her milk down for me unless the calf is nursing first.  Eventually she will, she just has to get used to the routine.  I was very surprised at the cream content of her milk.  She gives a LOT of cream.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

OK Patsy, are you happy?

Patsy in Arkansas told me to open up the barn for the cows.  The best I could do was open the horse stall, which is pretty open, but at least they can get out of the wind.  I can't let them in where I milk because Cliff has a lot of stuff stored in there, not to mention the cows could get into the feed and eat too much.


I see the clock in my camera is twelve hours off.  

It's so easy to lose weight

Yes, I said it.  I have lost at least 1,000 pounds in my lifetime.  It's the staying on track that's hard.  We don't feel deprived.  We don't diet, we simply eat the right things in the right portions.  We don't buy low-fat or sugar-free, with the exception of sugar-free Jello because Cliff likes having one thing around that he can eat any time, as much as he wants.  And I use Sweet-and-Low in our tea (because we prefer the taste) and on cereal.  When we're eating right, I make sure we get the proper amount of fruits and vegetables. It really is a lifetime method and there is no reason why we should slip and gain weight back again.  We can eat anything we want!
This morning, for instance, we had a great big blueberry, whole--wheat pancake with syrup AND butter.

That's a full-size plate, and the pancake almost covered it.  375 calories all told, which is about what our loaded oatmeal usually amounts to.  This morning I informed Cliff of this and he said, "Then we can have pancakes every day!"  
I informed him that we ARE going to have other things besides flour and sugar for breakfast, but we could have pancakes once a week.  We do the same with bacon and eggs.  Once a week.    
I've tried to analyze things and try to figure out what gets us so off-track that we gain all our weight back every. single. time.  Best I can tell, it's eating out.  Higginsville has the very best Pizza Hut, so every time we're in Higginsville at mid-day, we HAVE to have the pizza buffet.  If we're in Blue Springs, Olive Garden calls my name.  Lately we have been waiting until right after our noon meal to go anywhere we might be tempted.  That takes all the temptation away.  
Anyhow, my goal this time around is not losing weight, so much as keeping on track and eating healthy for the rest of our lives.  We can eat out once a week, even eat too much while we're eating out, as long as we don't eat out more often than that.  
I quit smoking many times before I finally quit for good.  I hope something clicks in my brain that will let this be the last time I ever have to worry about losing the excess weight.  Wish me luck.  

Cliff is ready to walk, so I hope there aren't too many typos here.  We want to get our walk in before the 12 inches of snow is on the ground.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Milking Jody

Last night I put Jody's calf in the stall, separating the two.  It was a noisy night around here, with Jody bawling at the top of her lungs.  You can understand her dismay:  She had just learned to love this baby, and now for all she knew, she would never see it again.  
This morning they were reunited in the barn.  As soon as Jody saw her baby, milk started streaming from all four quarters. I shoved the calf around to the cow's left side, put the kicker on Jody on the right side, and milked her two front teats (much bigger and easier to milk than the back ones) with no problems.  Jenny seemed to prefer sucking on the back teats, so she and I are going to get along great.  

three hours after their reunion this morning
Jody is not going to be a heavy milker.  If I had a commercial dairy, this would be bad news, but as things stand, it's wonderful.  I won't be pouring milk down the drain for six weeks, like I've had to do with Bonnie each year (of course I won't be making cheese, either).  I will milk only when we need milk, right from the start.  Jody is a very young heifer, only twenty-one months old, so chances are she will give more milk next year.  But I don't care whether she does or not.  

This would be a great time to put Jody and the calf up for sale.  A just-freshened heifer with a heifer calf would probably sell pretty easily... but I can't bring myself to part with these two.  Not yet, anyway.    

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tales of a cow learning to be a mother

Jody wasn't quite sure what to do with her daughter the first twenty-four hours or so.  Sometimes she would let her baby nurse her, but other times she would kick her away from her udder... not terribly hard, but still.  She would spend ten minutes licking her pride and joy, then just wander off and leave her with the rest of the herd.  By yesterday, though, they had bonded well, and Jody wasn't letting the calf out of her sight.  The mother gene had kicked in full-blast.  
I was putting the finishing touches on dinner at noon when I thought I heard mooing.  "Is that a cow bawling?"  I asked Cliff, who didn't answer because he probably didn't hear me OR the calf.  
I didn't enjoy my dinner much.  I was picturing a calf in the canyon.  
Every cow we've had that misplaced a calf has come looking for me, even the Limousin  that didn't particularly like people.  They somehow know they need help from a higher power (that would be me) when the rubber meets the road.  
So once I finished eating, I put on my coat and went to Jody's aid.  The other cows were east of our house, down in a valley grazing.  I thought perhaps Jenny was curled up somewhere near them.  I called Jody and headed that way with her following at a distance.  There is only one ditch in that area, so after looking around where the cows were with no luck, I went there.  I did see a gray cat curled up on an old, discarded recliner, but no calf.  
Any time you are looking for a cow's calf, you must pay attention to the cow, because if she knows where it is, she will often look in that direction.  It's a dead giveaway.  Of course, Jody didn't seem to know where her baby was.  But wait...
She kept looking across the fence toward the big lot where the horses hang out.  I stopped, looked closely up and down the fence line, and sure enough spotted the baby all curled up in the sunlight.  All Jody needed to do was go west to the gate, turn back east, and she would have joined her calf, but she was looking for some way to get there in a straight line.  I never said she was the smartest cow on the place.  
So I called her by name and went through the gate with her following.  

 Do you see Jenny?  

From this vantage point, Jody couldn't see her, and at first refused to join me, but when Jenny stood up she came trotting to us.  

Finally, mother and daughter were reunited and Jody took her to join the herd.  

I saw a rather touching little cow drama this morning that I should have videoed.  The cows were gathered around the bale ring; Jody was laying down chewing her cud, Bonnie and the others were eating hay.  Baby Jenny got up and ran around the bale ring for awhile bucking and playing, and then approached the only udder in sight while her mother was laying down:  Bonnie's.  Obviously it was time for breakfast.  When she latched onto a teat I figured Bonnie would kick her to Kingdom Come, but she didn't.  She gently lifted a hind leg and pushed the baby back away from her udder.  Jenny made several attempts.  Each time, Bonnie very gently let her know she was barking up the wrong tree, once even turning around and pushing the calf softly away with her head.  I was amazed that she took such care not to hurt a calf that wasn't hers.    

Bread, rice, and other boring stuff

Cliff and I use about half a loaf of bread a month, if that.  I buy Iron Kids bread for two reasons:  It keeps better than some kinds, and it's only sixty calories per slice.  The main thing we use our bread for is toast, about once a week, so even though bread gets old even in the freezer, it makes decent toast.  I am loving the 1990's toaster I got on Ebay; the toast is hot enough to melt butter when it pops up, and it only takes half as long as the old toaster that my son-in-law or somebody used for target practice.
Sometimes I'll fix something that Cliff really likes to have bread with, and he gets a slice then.  We have biscuits and gravy once in awhile, but I use canned biscuits because of calories, and limit the gravy.  Once we get down to a decent weight, I will fix real biscuits once in awhile.  Presently, Cliff has lost eighteen pounds and I've lost seventeen.  If we could each lose that much more, we would be at a pretty healthy weight.  We do so little physical activity in winter (just our walk), it amazes me that we're doing so well.  
Oh, I was talking about bread, wasn't I?  Cliff's next-door sister, living alone, doesn't use a lot of bread either.  A couple days ago she brought over half a loaf of Old Style Potato Bread that had grown too stale for her taste, asking if I wanted it for my chickens.  Of course I did.  
When I took a slice out of the sack to take to my chickens, I examined it closely.  It was a nice, thick piece of bread, and felt fresh to my fingers.  I pinched a piece from the middle to taste; tasted fine to me.  Looking at the label, I saw that each slice was a hundred calories.  I told Cliff, "We are going to have French toast tomorrow!"  
It was delicious.  I reminded Cliff to eat a piece of fruit at some point this morning, since we had nothing but starch and sugar for breakfast.  
Cliff's weaknesses, it seems, are white flour and sugar.  I sometimes think I should just make a paste of flour, sugar, and water and hand him a bowl of it three times a day.  
I have succeeded in switching to brown rice in place of white.  Honestly, I prefer white rice and I'm sure Cliff does, but we're doing OK with it.  Cliff does not like whole wheat bread and in fact refuses to eat it if that's all there is.  So I've left that alone, since we don't have bread that often anyhow.  
I mentioned a while back that I've tossed out all the Teflon pans in the house except for one big skillet that I like to use for frying fish or morel mushrooms.  I can't believe I ever stopped using stainless steel! No more searching around for a special utensil because metal might hurt the surface of non-stick cookware.  No more worrying about using the wrong scouring pad.  I am especially loving the double boiler for cooking rice.  Yes, it takes longer, but you never have to worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pan.  I set the timer and go about my business, never even peeking at it.  
I cook brown rice, then freeze it in one-cup portions so that when I make one of our many dishes that need rice as an accompaniment, all I have to do is put it in the microwave and heat it up.  I've done that with beans for years, cooking up a big batch and freezing them in two-cup amounts to use in recipes.  Black beans, red beans, pinto... I always have a good supply of all kinds in the freezer for the various dishes we love.  They are cheaper than buying canned beans, and they're unsalted.  
I consider this a boring entry, but there is absolutely nothing going on around here to blog about.  I intend to start some seeds in the house next week, and if Cliff ever gets our plow home from Hamilton, Missouri, it won't be long before I'll be planting lettuce and spinach and peas.  Meanwhile, the weather-guessers say we have a storm coming.  I want snow and lots of it!  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jenny Longlegs, meeting the herd

If you click on the lower right-hand corner (arrows pointing in all directions) You can view the slide-show full screen.

Yes, at one point Jenny is trying to find some milk on the bull.  Obviously she isn't the brightest candle on the cake.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

It's another girl!

Yes indeed, I had three cows who gave birth in the past year, and all of them have had heifer calves.  I happened to be outside messing with the chickens this morning when I noticed Jody heading toward the back of the place all by herself.  For a cow that's due to calve any time, that is suspect behavior.  Having learned a few lessons the hard way (about calves falling into ditches), I got her to the barn and put her in a pen where she soon began having obvious labor pains.  Three hours after penning her up, she had her calf.  I have decided to name the baby Jennifer, after the lady who kindly allowed us to use her Jersey bull last Mother's Day (thanks, Jennifer!).  Keep in mind that a few months ago we were going to butcher Jody because she had such a terrible limp, but Cliff talked me out of it (thanks, Cliff!).

Perhaps because it's Jody's first calf, she didn't seem to know quite what to make of her little bundle of joy.  Normally a cow will get up as soon as that calf is out, but Jody was still laying there fifteen minutes later.  Oh, she licked her baby and seemed interested, but she just laid there.  I finally encouraged her to get up, and after a little confusion, she figured things out.  In the following pictures you will see the baby taking her first steps.

Didn't take her long to find where the grub was
And now, a video I shot an hour later to let you see the baby walking around.  Don't let the pile of afterbirth bother you; I'm sure Jody has eaten it by now.  (I love to gross city folks out with farm lore.)
Jody is part Holstein, and seems to have passed the long Holstein legs on to her baby.  For a mostly Jersey heifer born to a first-calf heifer, Jennifer is a BIG calf!

Reading my life away

I discovered a new (to me) author yesterday:  Robert B. Parker.  When I mentioned him on Facebook, several friends and relatives seemed amazed that I wasn't familiar with him; one guy pointed out that the TV series "Spenser For Hire" was based on his "Spencer" series.  I asked Cliff if he was familiar with it, and he was.  I don't recall ever watching it.  
Here's how I discovered the guy:  I have put a hold on a couple of ebooks at the library that I want to read, but meanwhile, I figured I'd find something available that I could read until it becomes my turn to read the ones I'm waiting on.  I found "Night and Day" and was hooked before I was finished with the first chapter.  
What people don't realize is that I had had no access to books for years, unless I bought them.  The library is eight miles away and I don't drive.  Thanks to the invention of e-readers, I've experienced a renaissance of reading.  I can't get enough!  

Someone suggested I should start with the first in a series (Spenser,  Jesse Stone, or one of the others) and read the books in order.  Well, I can't do that because the library doesn't have all of them.  I'm not going to pay ten bucks each to buy the ones that aren't in the library.  I could go to and buy actual books pretty cheaply, but I haven't finished reading the Waylon Jennings autobiography yet because holding a real book wears me out.  I never realized how tedious it can be to read an actual book!  You can't lay it down or you'll lose your place.  You have to use both hands to hold it.  I'll admit it, I'm lazy and spoiled!  
So, I'll probably read whatever of the Robert Parker books I can get, in whatever order they present themselves.  That's how I've done with John Sandford's Prey series; sometimes it's interesting to go back in a character's history and be surprised to find clues to why the main character behaves as he does in the later books.   
I do occasionally purchase a book for my Nook, but when I do, I try to make it one that is so good I'll want to read it more than once; and with all the books to which I have access these days, I hate to waste time re-reading anything!  
Books are the icing on the cake of my retirement.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I've had a revelation!

I know it's a drag to hear people talk about their food intake, but hey, that's all I have today.

The way Cliff and I try to stay on track with our eating habits (notice how I carefully avoid the word "diet") is by counting calories.  Cliff doesn't count them, I count for both of us.  No food is off-limits, but I try to keep the calories in check most of the time by using portion control and limiting how often we eat out.  Most days we each take in from 1,600 to 1,800 calories; this assures that we're seldom hungry.  It also assures that we don't lose weight very fast, but then we aren't running a race.  
Cliff loves pancakes, and because he tends to over-indulge, we don't have them often.  This morning I decided to treat him.  Because I'm using to track calories, I typed the recipe into that site to see how many calories I would be eating.  Forget about Cliff, he'll be over-indulging anyway.  We usually have two pretty big pancakes apiece, even though I'm not that crazy about pancakes.  Then there's the butter and syrup, which I decided to measure today, just to keep me honest.  
I told Cliff, "I think I'll just have one pancake this time.  That's probably plenty."  
No response from Cliff.    

Ignore the vitamin pills; I add those to track my nutrition intake, not the calories.  Thanks to Sparkpeople, I found out my diet was woefully lacking in calcium, and bought myself some pills.  Oh, and the Coffeemate amount is for my whole day's coffee intake, not just breakfast, just so I don't have to add it again at dinner.  
By sticking to one pancake and not drowning it in syrup, my breakfast calories are pretty close to where they should be.  Now I am asking myself, "Would I miss that butter if I left it off?  Do I even TASTE the butter when I'm eating my pancake?"    
I'm not so sure I do.  
So I told Cliff all of this, and he said, "Next time we have pancakes, make just one for me, too."  
"Really?  Well, if you only have one, you could eat pancakes once a week!"  
Sometimes I amaze myself.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Cliff and I don't do Valentine cards much.  I don't have any desire for flowers, and I certainly do not need candy.  The one thing we usually do to celebrate Valentine's day is this:  we eat out someplace, usually Olive Garden.
Well, we're trying to behave ourselves.  We're each down thirteen pounds or so, and neither of us wants to ruin that with a day of gluttony.
This morning Cliff said, "I wish I could buy you a meal somewhere for Valentine's Day, but that's out."
Since we were going to hit the roads today, I said, "Hey, we can always get a Subway sandwich.  Let's do that!"
He agreed to that.  But then I remembered we were going to be stopping by a Walmart and I changed my mind.
"Instead of the Subway sandwich, which we can get any time, how about we get one of those rotisserie chickens, take it home and heat up that leftover macaroni-and-tomatoes from yesterday that's in the refrigerator.  I'll cook some baby lima beans, and we'll eat healthy."
We each had a leg and thigh (with skin removed).  Cliff had a few bits of chicken in his salad tonight.  And we'll have the chicken breast as the main course in tomorrow's dinner.  It was a good Valentine's Day around here.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Early-morning online experiences

We use one credit card, mostly for gasoline.  We pay it in full every month, so there's no interest to worry about.  We get air miles or money back for using the card; I always take the money.  If we are going to make some major purchase, I will often put it on the card and then get online and pay it two days later, just so I get more money back from Visa.  In other words, that credit card company is losing money on us.  
I peeked at my bill this morning and there was a pending charge of $155 from  Now, as far as I know, I have never signed up for a paid account there.  I didn't see a phone number for, so I started looking for a customer service number for the credit card.  As I was poking around the site, a popup thingie appeared telling me I could chat with an agent online.  
This same thing happened on the ATT website when I was setting up an account there.  
Believe it or not, I LOVE this method of communicating.  After years of talking in chat rooms and instant messages, typing comes as naturally to me as breathing.  My experience this morning was a positive one, as it was with ATT.
Communicating in this manner, you don't have to worry about being able to hear the person.  If he is in India, you don't have to decipher what he's saying.  No problems with a foreign accent with the written (typed) word.  Another benefit to this online chatting is that the person I'm talking to doesn't have to hear my screaming or crying.  I don't intentionally raise my voice when I'm upset, it just happens.  Yes, I get extremely upset when a charge shows up on my credit card that I had nothing to do with.  
So this morning my customer service person asked for the vital information he needed to make sure it was really me and gave me a phone number for  I called, but they don't start answering phones until 10 A.M.  
Turns out I didn't need the number because when I went to the website and went to my account, I was able to get online and fix the problem.  Problem solved.  I do have an account at that costs me nothing; it's linked to the information my cousin Pauline puts on the site.
Now I could use a nap.  

There are more horses coming to our property in May:  Adam, who has kept his horses here for several years, has a lady friend who needs a new place to keep her animals.  If it's another drought year, I may have to sell every cow but Bonnie, but we'll hope for the best.  One thing about it, we won't have to supply hay for the horses; the owners are responsible for that.    

Saturday, February 09, 2013


The best thing about getting old

Sometimes I will tell Cliff about something I would like to have, or someplace I'd like to go, and he'll say, "Well if there's something you want, you'd better get it, because we don't have that much time left."  
We had a discussion yesterday about how very special every minute is.  When I wake up in the morning, I have a profound sense of gratitude that I've been granted another day.  I can see, hear, walk, smell...  
When I was young, I didn't think about how precious a day was or what a great thing it was to see the sunrise and hear the birds singing.  Looking ahead, I saw what seemed like an endless supply of days ahead.  Of course I was aware that everybody dies, but it isn't anything I was worried about yet.  
I've seen people cringe when I say, "Cliff told me to get what I want, because we're dying soon."  
I've even had someone tell me to quit talking like that.  It's as though they think that if you don't mention death, it won't happen.  
I don't find it morbid at all to admit our time is short.  
The best thing about getting old is that, knowing you have a limited amount of time left, you treasure the time you are given.  

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!'” Robert Browning


And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.  Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Fun with Remley

People on Facebook have seen most of these pictures, but it's time I shared them with my non-Facebook friends.  My husband keeps saying David (Hyperblogal), who takes my pictures and plays around with them, has too much time on his hands.    

I was a precocious child, learning how to use an Ipad at an early age.  

My yard during the last snowstorm 

 Strange photographers

 Eight head of cattle

 Our Russian Friend, Meesha, invading my pond.

Various livestock in my yard

David suggested our new neighbors might construct a home like this.  

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Annoying man

There is a certain person in my town who used to come here often asking me to put ads on Craigslist for him.  He fancies himself quite a hot-shot trader.  He would want me to scan pictures to go with his ads, and was very picky about how it was done; usually he'd be here an hour or more just to get everything to suit him for an ad that should have taken ten minutes.  Then he would want me to print something for him, several copies please.  Oh, wait, I don't think he ever said "please".  He sure never bothered to pay me for ink.  
Here's an example of how annoying the guy is:  He is the one who came to our house for the logging crew, asking if we wanted to sell our walnut; I assume they pay him some sort of finder's fee for every land-owner who signs up.  That's fine, but once the crew arrived, he took the liberty of driving into our pasture every day, sometimes more than once, while the logging was going on.  He was here when they gave us our check, and had the nerve to ask how much we got for the lumber.  
One time he came for some reason and I told him if he wanted some tomatoes from my garden to help himself.  He took some home with him.  A week later I looked out my window and there he was getting more tomatoes and picking peppers as well!  He just drove up, didn't ask me or Cliff if it was OK.  Nervy, right?  I told him I wanted what was left, and he got in his truck and left.  
A few months ago I finally refused to do one of his little ad-placing freebies.  
You can't insult the guy, believe me.  Cliff and I have both tried.  
A while ago he showed up at my door.  I saw he had a manilla envelope in his hand.  I didn't invite him in.  He says, "I need a favor."
"If it involves my computer, no," I told him.  "You need to learn to do that stuff yourself."  
"Oh, well.  I guess I'll have Shelly do it.  How do you like your new neighbors?"  
Seriously?  See what I mean about how you can't insult him?  I brush him off and he tries to make conversation.  
I don't know who Shelly is; if I did, I would call and warn her.     
I know this makes me a not-so-nice person.  But I'm telling you, this individual has pushed me to my limit.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Canines, containers, and cows

My daughter has given me some inspiration, or perhaps I should say motivation, a couple of times lately.  
I used to buy Hill's Science Diet for any dog I owned.  I assumed it must be the best because veteranarians sell it, although I bought mine at various farm stores.  Rachel told me about a website that compares the various brands of dog food (click HERE), showing that Science Diet only gets a one-star rating, the lowest possible.  Not that Iris has been getting that brand for the past couple of years; I received a free sample of Purina One, dumped it in the dish beside Science Diet, and Iris obviously preferred the sample.  That's what we've bought for her ever since.  That one gets two stars.  
There's a list of the best dog foods (HERE), but on that very long list, the only one I've heard of is Diamond.  That's the brand my grandson was getting for Titan; it made him have terrible gas, and he was losing weight.  So they switched him to Iris' brand.  
What I'd like is a sample of Diamond before I buy a big bag; It's available on for about the same price I'm paying for Purina One.  Shipping is free.  If Iris seems to like it OK, we'll switch.  I'm hoping Titan's gas problem was just some sort of food allergy.  So much for canines.  

On to the containers:  Rachel mentioned a while back that she went through all her containers like these, and the ones that had no matching lids, she tossed.  That jogged me into action, and I followed her example.  It seems she found more containers than lids.  It was opposite for me.  Now I'm wondering whether we had one another's containers and lids!  Food has been known to travel between our houses, in both directions.  Anyhow, after the purge I had very few containers left, so I bought some new ones.  The Glad freezerWare in the picture is the size I use the most.  I got attached to those because they would fit in Cliff's lunch box.  Of course, when he retired, so did his lunch box, but I'm still partial to that size.  The multi-use-but-semi-disposable sort of container is one of the better inventions to come to pass during my lifetime:  Cheap enough that you aren't afraid of losing them, but durable enough to use over and over.  

It was fairly decent weather this morning, so I spent a little time with the cows, giving Jody her daily bite of feed.

from the side

from the rear
With only two weeks until her due date, Jody continues to "make bag", as my dad and mom used to say.  

 Crystal, Bonnie's calf, has always been on the shy side.  When a calf runs at Mama's side all the time, it's hard to gentle her down.  Thank goodness her curiosity makes her want to inspect things and people.  Today I could see she wanted in the barn when I let Jody in, so I stood back and watched her slowly enter.  Then I shut the door.  She panicked briefly, but when I put some sweet feed in front of her she lost most of her fear.  At one point I was sitting on a stool less than three feet away from her, watching her eat.  This little girl has her mom's personality.  

Crystal was born in November, two months later than George and Gracie.  She has almost caught up to them in size, and I imagine she'll pass them up before long.  All that milk makes her grow fast.