busy june

June has been quite busy so far. I keep thinking I must write a post for the blog, but then I get carried off again to put out another (metaphorical) fire, or tend to something that needs tending.

We have traveled a bit recently, to Santa Fe for vacation. I do love the high desert, and all those juniper trees. We did a lot of yummy eating (they have amazing restaurants there, tons of them!), some hiking and adventuring and sight-seeing, but boy, after a week, I was ready to come home to my quiet prairie, chickens, garden, and long, thinking walks through the countryside.

I did not grow all those roma tomatoes. My tomato plants are only just starting to flower. I belong to a food co-op and was able to get a 25 lb box of tomatoes for some canning. I actually put up a lot more cans than the picture shows – that seems to be the only pic I took of the fruit of my labors – silly me! I canned about a dozen jars of pizza sauce, and about a dozen of salsa. Both came out deliciously. My family raved and we are almost out of the salsa already. I plan to get two boxes next time, unless my garden is producing enough, and get ahead of the salsa addiction my people seem to have. Would any of you like those recipes?

The garden is fully planted, and now I am engaged in a daily battle against insects, rodents, deer, and wind. It does not rain much here. I am told that it hails quite mercilessly. We have had one good drenching so far, and a few sprinklings. That is something I miss about gardening in Florida: the daily summer rain storms. I took it for granted. Here on the high prairie in Colorado, rain is precious. I find myself praying for it, asking for it, daily.

The wildflowers here are beautiful. That orange one is Indian Paintbrush. It is so vibrant. I often stop on my long walks, and get down on the ground to take pictures of insects and flowers. I just cannot seem to get used to the beauty of all the tiny, lovely, living things. Maybe that is a good thing.

A couple of recent Colorado family day-adventures: we drove to the top of Pikes Peak on a foggy, rainy day. Driving up through the fog and aspens was eerie, wintry, cold. Then, suddenly, we were above it, and the sun was shining again. Up on the Peak, you could look all around at the valley enshrouded in a thick layer of fog, with the sun shining down above it, unable to penetrate. There was snow up there too! In late May. I suppose it is not that unusual. But I am a Florida girl, so snow still seems like a miracle, always.

And the other adventure was an afternoon hike at Castlewood Canyon State Park, which is gorgeous. We saw rattlesnakes! This was a pair of Western Rattlesnakes, entwined round each other, right on the trail, mating, I think. We decided to leave them alone and call it a day, as we’d already hiked a few miles by this time. But I would like to go back there and explore some more. There is an old, crumbling dam, some waterfalls, and of course, the canyon is lovely.

P.S. That is an airsoft gun that my son is holding. Our boys like to shoot at targets and such with them, around the property, but we are careful to teach respect for any sort of weapon, and also, for life. The best hunters are those who deeply revere life. Killing is not a sport. Just to clarify.

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all the little secrets of the prairie

One of my favorite things about the prairie is all of its little secrets. You can look out at its panorama and fail to really see it. At first glance, it can seem kind of boring and not as lush as other places. But if you look closely, and even get down on the ground on your hands and knees and really look, it is amazing to realize the prairie is teeming with life.

Tiny wildflowers and succulents, a myriad of birds calling and singing and flying from tree to tree, trees slowly coming into bloom, rabbits and coyotes and beetles and worms. There is so much happening here, and so many lessons to learn about life, seasons, diversity, and the interconnectedness of everything. There is so much beauty here, some of it huge, much of it tiny.

My life is like that too. Sometimes I can look at a season or relationship and see with eyes of not enough. I can rush through the day without stopping to cultivate gratitude, hope, wisdom, or joy. It’s when I slow down and actually savor the moments and notice the details that I find a symphony of loveliness everywhere I look.

This weekend we planted raspberry canes, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, onions, cosmos and globe flowers. I still have so much to plant. We will be out in the garden working all week, every spare minute that we can. We started tearing the privacy fence down, and clearing out the overgrown raised beds.

The apple trees are blossoming. I have been watering them, and I top-dressed both with a bag of compost each, for a slow nitrogen drip all season. I noticed some big, fat bumblebees buzzing around today when I was out for a walk. Maybe they will come and visit my apple trees soon, and pollinate their blossoms.

The hens are laying daily now, and they love foraging for bugs in the afternoons. We have a couple of retaining walls on the property, built of big stones. I walked outside yesterday just in time to see a hen jump off of the wall onto the ground several feet below. She sort of flapped her wings, gave a panicked squawk mid-fall, and landed in a flurry of feathers, almost tipping over as she fought for balance. Then she stood up very tall, looked around to see if any of the other girls had noticed, flapped her wings a few times, and marched off into a tall shrub to scratch and hunt for bugs.

spring is (slowly) creeping in

The weather this week was indecisive. It started out warm and friendly, with the strong hint of spring in the air, and then twice, unexpectedly, and on days that started bright and sunny and replete with birdsong, it suddenly snowed!

I can’t say it wasn’t beautiful, seeing the whole world again frosted over with a thick layer of crystals. Perhaps it was more beautiful because of impending spring – it is only a matter of days now.

The fence company came and dropped off the materials. Because of the snow they cannot start the work until early next week. I am quite excited to have the whole 6 acres fenced, a vast playground for our children and dogs, and, well, us too. I am especially looking forward to the sprouting of the pastures, because I have spotted a dozen or so wildflowers and grasses, dried and brown from last summer. I have my flower field guide standing at the ready, to identify and learn them all. I have given strict instructions to all males living in our house not to mow until I give the green light. A girl needs to know the plants she’s living with.

I already have a fondness for my land. We have been here less than 2 months, but oh how it fits already. When I drive up to the house after a long day out and about, it is as though my soul finally exhales. Ah. I am home. A refuge for my soul and a place to recharge and process the stirrings of my heart. Home should be a refuge. I am so grateful…I pray that you too have this blessing of home. If not now, then may it unfold at the perfect time, in a way that is so right and true, there is no doubt in your soul that God was orchestrating the details of your story.

I told you I would tell what yarn I used for that hat, only now I cannot find my label. It was a wool blend, very soft, that I picked up at a local yarn shop. The pattern is One-Night Hat by Stitchnerd Designs. I found it on Ravelry. I made this for a friend. I kept thinking I might keep it, but it kept telling me it was destined for another head. Haha. Yes, the yarn speaks at times 🙂 Finally, I finished it, blocked it, and tried it on and that’s when I knew for sure that it would be a gift. I shall make another for myself when the weather becomes cold again later this year. I love the pattern of little triangular knobs. It is thin and lightweight, while being quite warm and cozy at the same time. A great hiking hat.

Yesterday the fog came rolling in, thick and oppressive, but still eerily beautiful at the same time. Hubby went down to the barn to check the chickens. I stood and watched him walk down the hill, and suddenly he was swallowed up by it. Everything was still and quiet. I could not see far. All the air was cold and gray. It was like another world, mysterious and creepy.

This week I have a list of projects I would like to accomplish. One of them is to stack the dryer on top of the washer. Our laundry room is teeny tiny, and serves as a mud room too. One has very little room to take shoes off or put them on or even turn around. In order to put a shelf for shoes, and hopefully a hamper for random articles of dirty clothing that seem to get tossed on the floor and then walked on, and a drying rack, I am going to have to make use of vertical space. We will see if that makes a difference in the flow of the room.

I saw a bright blue bird this week while I was out for a walk. I haven’t figure out yet what it was, but I have narrowed it down to either a tree swallow or a mountain bluebird. Stay tuned for more on that.