Monday, April 23, 2012

Long, Hot, Busy Weekend

Saturday morning, bright and early.  The air is cool, but foreshadows a scorcher day.  This is the time to get the goats moved and milked quickly and start in with the weed whacker.  There is still a lot of grass to cut down, so the rattlers don't feel comfortable on my turf.  This is war.

There's a war on another front, as well.  Over the last few days I've observed and knocked down several new yellowjacket nests in my pickup truck, on the building next to our house, and in the grain shed.  I set one trap Saturday, but too far away.  I moved it closer on Sunday and added another one.

We had a birthday party planned to attend in the afternoon, and my daughter and her hubby were bringing a new mattress up for Becca's bed, so I worked more outside early and started moving the old broken pool, getting it cleared out and ready for disposal.  The new mattress is very much appreciated by Becca!  She's been sleeping on a futon for a long time, and those just aren't comfortable.  She really enjoyed a restful night on Saturday.  The bed is now twice as tall as it was before, and Duncan, our Scotty, was tired at the end of the day.  He just couldn't get up the gumption to make the double leap to the top, so Becca needed to give him a little boost.

After the bed install and a walk around the garden, then the discovery of a black widow spider near the front door (eek!), Becca and I took off for her friend Saul's house.  I love it when we get invited to parties there.  His parents are so sweet, and his mom makes the Best. Food. Ever.  Last year it was tamales.  This year, I couldn't keep away from the sweet green salsa.  I have to find a recipe that comes close, because I'm still craving it!  I loved that it was smooth and rich, almost glossy, but also had little chunks of onion and radish, and plenty of cilantro.  Saul brought out his cotton candy machine and we made some from hard Jolly Rancher candies.  I'd never heard of doing that before.

Besides the good company and food, I love wandering around their property, enjoying the chickens and pigeons and peacocks.  There are a couple dozen or more fuzzy little chicks peeping, hanging out with their protective mamas.  I am fascinated by the rare albino peacock they have.

As evening approaches, every single day he goes into an open area to spread his tail feathers, preen, fluff, and turn slowly and majestically around so we can admire him.

Part of the fun was a short walk to the creek, where the kids waded and skipped rocks.  Becca is really good!  She got five skips out of one.

By the time we got home, we were pleasantly tired, sweaty and ready to relax.  We had to take care of the animals first, and after chores we settled in with ice water and iced tea.  I was too tired to even pick up my knitting.  We watched a television program and talked about the day, then hit the sack.

I "sleep in" until 6:00 am on the weekends, and the sun was shining brightly when I awoke Sunday morning.  I love these long summer days!  The air was cool and crisp and fresh, and just right to do chores without the need for even a sweater.  Just out in the morning breeze in a tank top and jeans.  Of course, I had to have the cowboy boots on, because rattlesnakes are always on my mind now when I'm outside.  I did some more weed-whacking in the field next to the big goats.

I woke Becca, who was in a much better mood Sunday morning!  The new mattress really helps her.  It was time to get ready to go to the farmers market opening day in Windsor.

I was surprised when we arrived at the market in Windsor.  Cars were lining up on Redwood Highway to turn into our usual parking area, and there were no parking spots to be found at all.  I was a little disappointed at the two-block walk we needed to make, because I was planning to bring plants home from the community garden.  When we got to the edge of the market, I was amazed again at how many people were there!  The aisles between the stalls were so crowded that we had to thread our way through.  I was like a kid at Disneyland, wanting to stop constantly, and Becca had to remind me of our established routine and "farmers market rule" several times:  Walk one end to the other, and taste your samples and make your purchases on the way back.

There were a lot of vendors that we recognized and were happy to see again.  We greeted the farmer whose wife always makes the best gypsy pepper jelly at the end of the summer.  We got to meet her for the first time, and they told us there are six jars left that they forgot to bring, but they'll bring them next weekend.  We saw the biegnet booth, with puffy, decadent, fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar that gets all over your clothes and face.  Our favorite dairy farmers had their cheese out with samples.  The cute pony-tailed Johnny Depp look-alike with our favorite farm stand was there, as well.  He is so enthusiastic and proud of what he is doing, and always has the best basil.  We bought some artichokes from him, picked fresh that morning.

There were a lot of new faces and booths, too, though we were sad to see some of our favorites missing.  I know that means that they are enjoying success that makes it not worthwhile for them to attend the farmers market, but we miss them.  The most recent loss was Mama Tina's ravioli.  She has been doing really well over the last year, and has been able to get her products into local restaurants and grocery stores.  I'm happy to be able to pick up her ravioli at Big John's Market in Healdsburg (until I perfect my own!), but am sad not to be able to visit with her on Sunday mornings.

We filled our market bag with cheese, honeycomb, and fresh veggies, and then grabbed a couple of tomato plants from the community garden.  When we got home, hot and tired, we unloaded our things and then Becca made some lemonade.  We'd forgotten to pick the lemons up at the market and stopped by the grocery store on the way home.  A big mistake.  The organic Meyer lemons at the market were half the price of the regular ol' lemons at the store.  You can bet we won't forget next week!  Becca had to work on finishing a school project while I got to relax for and knit for a while.

I checked on the chicks later in the day, and when I did my head-count of the newest chicks, I was one short.  There was a moment of panic, as I started to look at the floor, then I heard a sound near the top of the box.  There was one of the Rhodies, perched on the metal guard wires on the heat lamp, having found a good roost.  Thank goodness it was a warm day, so the lamp was turned off!  I laughed when I realized that this is the chick we've named "Traz," short for Alcatraz.  She's an escape artist, and I knew that we'd have to remind her constantly that she was not going to be able to escape.  The netting went over the top of the box immediately.  Traz will keep us on our toes!

My evening inspection of vehicles and buildings showed more new wasp nests to knock down.  The traps have nothing in them at all, and I keep moving them closer to the house and activity.  I like to keep traps as far away from us as possible, but these guys are intent on making their nests right next to us, so I have to move them closer to the house.

It is definitely springtime on the ranch.  The carnations are really starting to bloom, and their scent can now be enjoyed on the breeze, just by walking out the door.  These are the best-smelling carnations I've ever encountered.

Happy Earth Day!

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