Rain, Rain, and More Rain

Right now the south is experiencing some record-breaking rain amounts.    I have been reading about the amounts they have received and the damage it has been causing.   Everywhere so many of us have been praying for rain, as much of the country is dry.    Our prayers are being answer, it seems we did not specify how much or when the rain should come and now it is coming in quantities we are not sure how to deal with.

I spent last week in a rural county in Montana that only gets 12.99 inches of moisture a year.   It is bunch grass and sage country with a lone hearty tree found once in a great number of miles.    They too were getting their rain in an unseasonable amount at one time.   When the rains broke it was some wonderful open spaces with breathtaking views and I knew that this job was what I was suppose to be doing this summer.

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Driving in the rain on the two lane highways one could almost imagine that they were somewhere else. like the rainy Oregon coast, because it the clouds were so low and the vegetation crawled up close to the edge of the highway.    You could not see the Montana landscape.

I grew up in the Midwest where snow fences were common place to catch the snow as the wind blew it around.   Snow fences were rolled out each fall in fields off the highway each fall, nothing like they are in Montana, where they are build and stay in place year-round.   I have been here 13 years and the snow fences in Montana still strike me with awe.    I don’t think it is the snow that is the problem.    It is the wind that blows that causes problems.     I swear snow can fall at my house and the wind will carry it to the next county.    The rain was starting to break up for a bit when I took the photo of this fence, with a little snow still left that collected in bowls in the background.

As you can see we have monster tall snow fences that are never put away. The trees there give you some scale how tall they really are.

As you can see we have monster tall snow fences that are never put away. The trees there give you some scale how tall they really are.

My job this week was setting out gypsy and other invasive species moth traps.  I am given a book with a map with dots on it, along with hand-drawn site maps, where we are to set the traps out.    These take you to some of the most remote locations in the county.   When you are setting traps a sparsely populated county you can go for hours and miles and not see a sign of human existence except for the barbed wire fence and the cattle.   It also meant that I saw this sign often when I was  setting traps.   The rain made these roads a challenge to navigate, but there was only one time when I said this has reached the top of my 4-wheel drive skill level and turned around.  The rain was pouring, the road had miles ago turned to mud, there were blind hills and curves and I was about ten miles from the paved road.    There is one thing you don’t want to do is get yourself stuck miles from the last ranch house you saw in the pouring rain.

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I got a break on the first day with the rain and am so glad I took this picture of one of the seasonal roads I traveled to set traps.  On this road I found more than mud and puddles I experienced something the locals call gumbo. I am not sure even how to explain it, but it grabs on to your tires and truck and doesn’t let go. It builds up inches thick on everything, making driving one nasty slow going experience.

I did capture one picture of the one of the three mountain ranges that surrounded me this week.   Even with the clouds and the distance there is always something that takes your breath away when you look up and see natures amazing handiwork.

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Recycling Encouragement

Fox as a symbol for recycling?!#?

Fox as a symbol for recycling?!#?

In my hotel, last week, there was a hang tag with a fox on it to encourage recycling.   Really?!? Using a predator to encourage recycling what was the ad company thinking when they made this?? Have we gotten so far away from nature that people do not know that a fox is not some warm fuzzy animal.   I know that right now I am a little tainted in my view of foxes, but seriously I think that they could have found some cute “nice” animal like a rabbit or fawn.  Some sort of “helpless” creature that needs our help.   A fox for the most part is smart enough to take care of itself.

Timing is everything.   This  well-intended, well-placed reminder caused shake my head in wonder.   Not the good kind of wonder either.

Fox in the Hen House – Literally

Tonight we had the local fox visit our chicken coop.  It is one of the backyard chicken wrangler’s worst nightmares – predators.  We had lost chickens before and each time took another step to protect them better based on what happened.    This time unfortunately the fox actually got into the coop.   It was not a case of them finding our free range chickens.

We lost five birds, one of the bigs (last year’s hen) and five of the littles (this year’s 8 week old chicks).  I am sad and mad at the same time. A fox came in and cleaned house literally.  They were taken from the coop this time.   Yes the gate to the run and coop was open.    The fox took more than he could use at one time and ended up burying carcasses for later use. I am mad because as the keeper of livestock, my job is to ensure they are fed, watered, kept healthy and safe. We failed them.   I am sad because being a victim to a predator is not a nice way to go out.

Now the battle is on.   We are looking at options to improve how we allow our hens to have outdoor time without putting them at risk. This fox hit the jackpot today and we are fairly certain that he or she will be back soon.   There are lots of options for us to explore.   We are looking for something that can be done relatively fast, easy and inexpensively.   We will keep you posted as we work through solutions to this problem.

Yes I Own a Sewing Machine

It seems when people know you have a sewing machine they think that you want to do their mending, alterations and hemming.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked to repair or rework someone’s clothing. I almost always tell folks no I can’t do their little job.

I have been sewing in some form for as long as I can remember. I am not exactly sure when I started, but I know by the time I had my first home ec class in junior high school that the first project, an apron made out of a quarter-inch checked fabric, was too simple for my skill set.   There were girls who must have tore their seams out ten times.   The whole concept was new to them. I was done several classes before the other girls in my class. So I was expected to not only sew an apron but embellish it with embroidery.   Over the years I have made clothing, quilts, curtains, slipcovers and about everything in between. I like to sew. I have always had a place to sew and a nice machine.  That being said I hate rework…mending…alterations…hemming.

I have been short with a non-standard body all my life.    When it comes to store-bought clothing nothing fits off the rack.   When I worked a corporate job, all my clothing went directly from the department store to the lady who had a shop that did alterations.   She hemmed the sleeves of my jackets, linings and all. She not only hemmed my pants and skirts, but reworked the waist band because my hour glass shape was not what standard clothing manufactures expected, my bottom was way too big for my waist.  This woman was priceless to me and though I had a sewing machine, she did what I could not.   My tailor’s  skill was an art; she made my clothes fit properly and they did not look re-made.   I valued her more than I did my hair stylist.   There were many more stylist to pick from than tailors. I don’t have many tailor clothes any more, but when I put them on I do miss that perfect fit that she gave me.

Now I am getting ready for my new job that puts me out in the field.   I will be wearing cotton jeans every day. I have been scouring thrift stores for new jeans (I don’t want low rise or big legs for work).    I have already hemmed four pair and this morning I just cut off excess fabric on four more pair that I will hem today.   I still don’t like hemming but I am managing to get through the process.   I am not however adjusting my waist bands, I just plan to cinch that belt a little tighter.

It all has made me reflect a little about that tailor with her little shop back in Minnesota.   I had not thought about her in a long time.   She was part of a dieing occupation, like so many others like shoe repair, small engine repair and others.   It makes me sad when I think about it.   I bet there are lots of folks who wish they could make a living at those things, but in our changing society it just doesn’t seem possible any more.

May is National Egg Month! Do you know where your eggs really come from? Is

I have written on this topic before, but thought that with this being National Egg Month, it was worth repeating. This time I am sharing this well written blog post from Cheese Acres Farm on the topic of eggs.

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Where do your eggs really come from? What do all those confusing terms and labels really mean? Hopefully we can clear up a bit of the confusion for everyone by answering some common questions.

Is there any difference between white eggs and brown eggs? Nope. They taste exactly the same. In fact some hens lay blue, green, pink and other colored eggs! They all taste the same and have the same nutritional value, depending on where you get them of course.
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I buy “cage-free” eggs from the supermarket. Doesn’t that mean the hens get to roam outside? Not necessarily. It just simply means they have unlimited food and water and roam around freely in their habitat which is usually indoors. Most likely they are very crowded.

Farm Fresh, that means I can be sure my eggs are fresh right? Only if you know your farmer and you get them straight…

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