Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Snow

Happy Memorial Day! While the rest of the country was basking in beautiful weather, we had two days off (Sunday and Monday) and THIS to celebrate with. Jason, as always, was excited. I was bummed. Praying for some warm weather this coming week!

Because of crowds in the parks and stinky weather, we decided to stay at the Ranch this weekend. (We also wanted to save some cash!) Our original plan was to hike locally, but that didn't work out because of the cold and the mud. Instead, we got all settled in our new cabin (it's awesome - pictures soon!) and were forced to relax and lay low!

Chad is home in Colorado until Wednesday, so in addition to Indy, we are dog-sitting Buddy, one of the ranch dogs. He's sort of smelly, but couldn't be sweeter!

The best event of the last week was our surprise horse ride on Saturday afternoon. We were blessed with some surprisingly decent weather, and J.W. decided to start putting us through our paces with the horses. We're expected to do all of our own tack and grooming, and should be able to take the horses out on our own in another month or so. It's amazing how easily everything came back to me - the knots, the grooming, the tack... It's all still there in my mind from all of those lessons I had as a girl. It's a fortunate thing I had those lessons (thanks Mom and Dad!), since on our ride something was really bothering my horse and she got crazy out of nowhere - I kept my seat and my composure and was complimented by J.W. for my excellent horsemanship. :) Nice. Also, while out on our ride, we encountered a Bull Moose on the property. It's one thing to see a Moose in the Parks, but here on the property? More awesome than you can imagine. The location where we saw it was literally less than a five minute walk from our new cabin!

Speaking of the new cabin, Indy's a BIG fan. It has lots of windows and a direct line of sight to the "big doggies" (or horses). He's obsessed.

We also got the okay from the boss this last week for my parents to stay on the ranch for a few days when they arrive in Wyoming on July 8. They spend a month in West Yellowstone (on the other side of Yellowstone Park, in Montana) every summer. This year, they're driving up through Wyoming and into Cody to see us for a few days before driving through the park to the other side. They're pretty lucky - they're going to be staying in the Deer Creek Cabin, which is one of the nicest, coolest buildings on the property. It's awesome. We're super excited to see them and share this amazing place with them, and they're really looking forward to it, too. Dad's especially stoked to get to fish on the Shoshone River here on the property. It's a very, very famous location for flyfishing, and few anglers ever get to fish the South Fork of the river, simply because it runs through private property on both sides. You have to have the property owner's permission to fish it! Hopefully the fish are biting when he's here, and the river has slowed down after the massive snow run-off.

In Greenhouse news, we have not yet caught the Chipmunk that has decided to live in there. (For the record, I am trying to catch this one ALIVE. Indy, however, has another idea about that.) It has decided that it needs to dig up and eat some of my beets. Grrr. They're almost ready to be pulled up - I hope it doesn't get anymore!

Well.... that's probably it for today. Lots more to tell, but I think I'll save that for separate posts. Check back in a day or two for photos of the new cabin, and some more stories that I really want to share!

Oh! And check out Jason's photos from our trip last weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Super Housekeeper Rides Again... and again...

I feel like the super housekeeper this week. Or a little like Superwoman, although I'm pretty sure she doesn't get as tired as I've been.

It's busy time here at the ranch. I'm currently doing the jobs of TWO people (and technically, I'm doing the jobs of FOUR, since in prior years they've hired three housekeepers and one gardener). We're two weeks out from having guests, and two weeks from moving all the plants outside, and two days from moving into our individual cabins. So... I've spent my week cleaning all the staff cabins, and since I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, I won't walk away from them until they're as clean as I would want them to be were I to live in them. I'm a bit of a germophobe, and other people's dust, scum, and dirty toilets makes me gag. But give me a pair of rubber gloves and a closet full of cleaning supplies? You could eat off of the toilet when I'm done (not saying you'd want to, but still...)

In addition to that, there's the regular upkeep in the greenhouse, and I've started to plant anything that's weather-hardy in the outdoor garden (beans, carrots and lettuce seeds are now in).

Fortunately, our wrangler/part time housekeeper will arrive tomorrow night and start work on Tuesday morning. I'll be glad to have some help with the housekeeping. :)

Apparently Wyoming missed the memo that Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be the kick off to that fabulous season - SUMMER. It's barely Spring out there today, since it's been snowing off and on all day.

It only makes me appreciate the sun even more.

Jason and I will move into our immaculately clean cabin this weekend since they're no longer worried about the pipes freezing. It's pretty awesome, and relatively new (built last year) with high ceilings, walk in closet and a bathroom larger than the one in our old rental in Redondo Beach. I'll post pictures after we get all settled in.

So that's where we're at. Looking forward to dinner tonight since Fridays are for fancy, plated, multi-course meals. Short ribs are on the menu tonight, and let me tell you, they look and smell awesome! Tony's been working on them for days. :) Speaking of which... it's time for dinner!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Close Second

On Sunday we had another great day - not as wonderful as Saturday, but definitely a close second. :)

We started slow, having breakfast in Jackson and then talking with my parents on the phone for a little while. Got lunch to go and packed it with us into the park, taking advantage of a brief lull in the weather to get out on the only "open" trail in Teton.

Open... HA!

The trail was 1.6 miles each way to Taggart Lake. The first part was the easy part, and it was uphill. The second half of the hike was in 4 foot deep snow, walking on the snow pack. Poor Jason kept sinking all the way! That's almost a mile in the snow each way!

I realized a very large victory on our hike - I did not once have trouble with the circulation in my hands and feet. I've written briefly about this before, but due to my celiac disease, I developed a circulatory disorder called Raynaud's Syndrome when I was 23, where I lose circulation in my hands and feet whenever I get chilled. Prior to our time in Wyoming, I would lose circulation in my hands when the weather dropped under 70 degrees (if I was not appropriately dressed - long sleeves and a jacket.) Now, I can take a two hour hike in the snow if I'm dressed properly. That's a BIG DEAL! It was pretty exciting. :)

We ate lunch at Taggart Lake and hiked back out just in time. Right after we got back to the car, the skies opened up and the rain started coming down. I don't think my circulation would have done as well in the rain if I had gotten wet.

On the drive back into Yellowstone, we finally saw another Moose. This was actually a pair of Moose (the male is just starting to grow his antlers back after dropping them last season), and the first we'd seen in a month since one ran across the road in front of our car.

I Love Moose. They're so amazing!

We also encountered this little lady eating an apple core someone must have tossed from their car. Isn't she sweet?

We stopped for dinner at the Yellowstone Lake Lodge at Lake Village in the park. The food was SOOOOOOOOO much better than what we'd had at the Old Faithful Lodge, and the view was spectacular. Add to that the Pianist they have on staff who plays music nightly in the Lodge, and the setting is complete. The Pianist was playing all the old standards, especially Gershwin, and I was charmed. There's no other way to put it. Charmed. I couldn't stop singing along and think I was making Jason a little crazy.

We finally got home to find out that one of the mares had her foal on Saturday morning as we were driving out. (I KNEW I saw something!) She's all gangly legs. I can't get enough of watching her play and nurse and sleep. :) It's my new favorite pastime on the ranch. We have another foal due in early July - I can't wait!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Best Day

Yesterday was (in my opinion) the best day we've had since we've been in Wyoming. Have you ever had one of those days where everything just works out perfectly? Where you're totally open to where the wind takes you and the pieces just magically come together?

It was one of those.

It started early - too early since I woke Jason up a half an hour before our alarm. I got confused and thought it was time to get up at 5am. Oh well. We were sleepy, but excited to get going on our adventure.

Upon entering Yellowstone Park, we saw THREE Grizzlies. We had gotten in there early enough, and well, we just got lucky. (I have a video of the mama bear and her cub, but the internet here is pretty slow, so it will have to wait for upload until we're back at the ranch. In the meantime, you can see Jason's photos of them by clicking here.)

There is something I call the Yellowstone Effect (and Jason thinks should be called the Yellowstone Syndrome). The minute one person stops on the side of the road to take a photo, they are immediately surrounded by at least 20 other people with cameras so expensive they can't possibly know how to use them - all shooting in the same direction just in case something's out there.

In the case of the bears, we saw the crowds and looked and saw the bears - it worked out for us. A few other times in the morning, we stopped for Jason to take a photo of the landscape and were swarmed - all by disappointed amateur photographers who thought we saw a moose or wolf or grizzly. In our mood yesterday, it was all just funny. :)

Jason essentially says "Kiss my ass (crack)" to all the amateur photographers following him around.

We had lunch in Teton National Park at the Jackson Lake Lodge. Beautiful Lodge overlooking part of Jackson Lake! We had lunch at the diner there, where the only seating is at these big wrap around counters. (There's a diner like it in Yellowstone, too, at the Fishing Bridge). Because we were bellied up to the counter, we of course had neighbors, all who had traveled in on or another tour bus, most seniors.

I happened to be sitting next to a particularly charming woman (and I mean that without any facetiousness - she was great.) She is widowed, traveling alone on the bus with all the other couples. She was trying to figure out how to delete old photos from her digital camera (from last year's trip to Turkey - my kind of woman!), so she'd have space. We offered to help and struck up a conversation. The conversation began like this:

"Can we help you with your camera? We'd love to."
"We have a saying where I come from: 'Does a bear s*%$ in the woods?'"

It was awesome. She and her buddies from the bus were the quiet protesters, the ones who sit in the back and grumble about the driver and how they never get to stop and see neat things - they just keep on driving. They're on a two week tour of many of the parks in Utah, Arizona and Wyoming, and will wrap up their trip with two days in Vegas.

We told them what we were up to, about working in Cody, and she said to me, "Do exactly what you're doing - see the world, take risks, enjoy your marriage before you have kids. Enjoy every moment and explore." It wasn't that, verbatim, but it was something to that effect.

Like I said - awesome.

After we left our new friends at the Lodge, we headed South through the rest of Teton. It's all frozen over still, but just gorgeous. Prettier than I expected, in fact. Jason continued to stop for his photos - I would get out, check it out, and then freezing jump back in the car to wait for him. All the normal stuff. At pilgrim creek, though, I got out to follow Jason, only to have this angry Yellow Bellied Marmot (Close cousin of the woodchuck, just smaller) barking at me in a tree. She was not happy to see me. Unfortunately (for the Marmot), I was very happy to see her. Cute, isn't she?

Jason's idea of parking.

Jason at Jenny Lake. Even he thought this one was awesome. Go me. :)

We ended up in Jackson Hole. I had been told it was an awesome town and thought I was prepared. I was not. Jackson Hole is a REALLY GREAT TOWN. If you've never been here, you have to make it a point to check it out sometime. It's a little hippie, a little ritzy, a lot of western, and just downright cool. This weekend also happens to be the big ElkFest (celebrating the nearby National Elk Preserve). These arches are permanent in the town square - they really love their Elk here.

We explored Jackson, and ended up in this store that sells pawned and never claimed jewelry from New Mexico. We bought this piece for $29, and it's all real. It wasn't in our budget, but geez.... you can't pass that up. And the woman who owns the store is a character and a half. She's the kind of woman I expect my sister to be when she's in her 70s. Totally done up to the nines - hair and makeup always with HUGE pieces of jewelry on. Again - awesome.

We bought tickets to an early evening showing of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and saw it with all the Jackson locals. Again, we were shocked at regular priced movie tickets for adults UNDER $10!!!!!!!! Wyoming has their movie tickets priced correctly! Anyhow, the movie was awesome - MUCH better than at least the last Pirates and probably the second one, too (in my humble opinion.) Penelope Cruz is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than the combo of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, you don't even miss them. In fact, you realize just how much they muddied up the last few storylines. Go see it. You'll have a blast. :)

Entering Jackson, through our windshield. The slopes are LITERALLY in town.

After the movie, we had dinner at the Snake River Brewing Company, which is in fact the most award-winning small brewery in the United States. The food was awesome, and according to Jason (since I can't have beer... sad...) the beer was really great, too.

The Jackson Hole Visitor's Center has a grass roof!

Finally, we made it to our classy accommodations - the Super 8. There are some really, really awesome hotels here in Jackson, but they're all way above our super-saver budget. This Super 8 is pretty nice, though, and one of the cheapest in town. We're happy. And aside from Jason snoring last night, I slept great.

OH! We watched a couple of episodes of Extreme Couponing on TLC last night. We'd never seen it before and were both hooked (especially Jason). Have you seen it before? Those people are crazy! They're like organized, super saver hoarders. You sort of envy them and pity them at the same time. Definitely something to be learned, though. We're not taking advantage of any coupons really, and should be saving SOME money at least. :)

The only mar on the day was a bug that decided it needed to fly into my eyeball. Nasty. Fortunately, Jason was able to gently get it out.

Sorry for the super long post, but like I said - Awesome day. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Of Chipmunks and Waterfalls

We had a couple of inches of snow on the ground this morning. It's so cute how excited Jason gets about the snow! I'm just hoping and praying that it will get cold enough just once to kill all the ticks that have hatched out all over the place. Fingers crossed for a summer without ticks.

My day was a slower one, at least at first, so I took a walk down to the fishing/swimming hole to see the baby geese. Yes... it's a stocked trout pond so the guests can feel like successful fisherman. And yes, the goslings were precious.

My day got much more exciting this afternoon when I discovered that the "mouse" in the Greenhouse Indy has been crying about all week was, in fact, a chipmunk. A circus ensued, involving Chad coming to try and chase it out. All to no avail. There is STILL a chipmunk in the Greenhouse. The idea of Indy killing a mouse is much different from Indy killing a cute little chipmunk. But the chipmunk can't stay, no matter how warm and comfy he is. A chipmunk can do much more damage to my veggies than a mouse can. And let me tell you, there are some serious green tomatoes going on those plants. I'll keep you posted on how the chipmunk ordeal pans out. I'm trying to get the little guy out alive.

This little steer cracks me up. The roping steer are very cute and super skittish. They're not at roping size yet, so they just eat and roam around the arena.

Let's see... what else? Oh! With the snow and the rain, the waterfalls have started back up again. It's hard to see them, but there are four in this picture. Maybe I can get Jason to take a better one for me. We'll see.

Jason and I are headed to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton for a one night stay tomorrow after work. We're hoping to go through Yellowstone to shave off some miles and time. That's only if Sylvan pass is open with all the new snow. If not, we'll go the long way around. Either way, we're going since next weekend is Memorial Day and tourist season really kicks off then. We're interested in getting in there before it's a zoo. :)

Next post? Hopefully photos from Teton!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Honey, I'm still a guy"

My husband is a guy - a man's man. An outdoorsy, active, mechanical-brained male who happens to take beautiful photos. But no mistake - he's a GUY.

And I love that about him.

I was listening to my iPod in the greenhouse today while Indy chased a mouse (I was trying to avoid being a part of mouse murder, but well, we've been through this before...). The Brad Paisley song, "I'm Still a Guy" came on, and I just started laughing since it made me think immediately of Jason. I was lost in flowers, thinking of my man's man, when he sneaks into the greenhouse and scares the crap out of me. He then proceeds to tear apart the storage corner with Indy, trying to get the mouse (which is still roaming free). In the process, he found a dead mouse in the container and took care of it for me...

Thank God he's a GUY.

If you've never heard the song, you have to take a listen. Just click play on the link and then keep reading the blog. (There are photos below!) Ignore the photos in the youtube video... cheesy.

My favorite lyrics are:

"These days there’s dudes getting facials
Manicured waxed and botoxed
But with deep spray on tans and creamy lotioney hands
You can’t grip a tackle box.
With all of these men lining up to get neutered
It’s hip now to be feminized.
I don’t highlight my hair,
I’ve still got a pair,
Yeah, honey I’m still a guy.
My eyebrows ain’t plucked,
Theres a gun in my truck.
Thank God I’m still a guy."

And speaking of my GUY, he grabbed my little point and shoot camera and took some photos of the greenhouse today, cause he thought you all should see it. He said, and I quote, "Well honey, you definitely have a green thumb." To which I replied, "Oh, I've killed a couple of plants, but I always get rid of the evidence before someone can see it."

So here's my cheerful greenhouse, courtesy of my guy. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Harvest

I got to harvest the first of the greenhouse crops today! Granted, I have been harvesting all sorts of herbs and lettuces for weeks, but I somehow don't feel like those count.

Anyhow, I was very excited and took these pictures for you. I picked green onions, red radishes and white icicle radishes this morning. I also picked quite a bit of baby greens - red and green salad bowl lettuce, iceberg and arugula. :)

Aren't they pretty? It's hard not to get excited about crops. :) I started a bunch of veggies seeds in small pots today, so that I'll have little seedlings ready to plant out on June 15 when it will finally be safe from frost.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring has Sprung!

We've had a gorgeous two days here - short sleeve weather even for me - which has meant a return to working outside after three days of snow and rain. Weather like we yesterday and today gives me the urge to pull everything out of the greenhouse and get it planted and placed. My saner side, however, knows that the weather in Wyoming changes as quickly as it did in Michigan. Blink and you can go from short sleeves to a snow jacket in one day. Heck - in an hour! Which means I have to tamp down my instincts and protect my little plants from frost. Still... the potatoes and onions are in, and I put in an experimental three rows of Spinach today. It's too hot for spinach in the greenhouse, so we'll see if it's hardy enough to be outside. If it gets frostbitten, well, I'll just plant more.

Working outside also means a return to cleaning out the outdoor beds and lots and lots of rocks. I finally took a picture as I was working today (Solange, this is for you). These rocks are from a quarter of the bed you see. Just a quarter. And most are within the top two inches of the soil, which hasn't been turned since last year, so someone was very, very lazy last Spring. Oh well.

The return of Spring here has meant the return of all the birds and bugs. The birds are awesome, but I could do without the flies. You should see the size of the bumblebees that are always in the Greenhouse! They're so cool, but a little scary on the occasions where they buzz my head. At least we have no mosquitos yet, and we're hoping that the snow this weekend killed all the ticks that had already hatched out!

The sunshine has also caused regular avalanches in the mountains by the ranch as the snow up there melts. Don't worry - they're small! You'll hear a big booming sound like thunder and then look up and see rocks tumbling down (not onto the ranch - we're far enough away!). There are also some beautiful waterfalls that have appeared across the mountainside!

No leaves on the trees yet, but the lilacs are budding so that's a good sign!

The food is still incredible - we are so spoiled. We had dinner at the Old Faithful Inn on Sunday, and even though it was a $50 dinner, all either one of us could think about was how much better the food on the ranch is. We're ruined for restaurants!

We'll be moving out of the bunkhouse and into our cabin in another few weeks here and we're really looking forward to having our own space. The bunkhouse has been great, but sometimes you just want to sit and watch TV or a movie without other people around, you know? There are currently four adults (the chef is in here, too) and two dogs sleeping in the bunkhouse, and although there are four bedrooms, there's only one bathroom. It's working out, but again... looking forward to our own space where I only have to pick up after Jason. It's a lot like living in my college co-op again, actually!

And I'm watching House Hunters International as I write this (they're in Makarska, Croatia on the Mediterranean and it's gorgeous), and Indy is chasing flies. Life is so good.

Flower update!

Just to show you how fast things are growing and changing in the greenhouse, I took another photo of the barrel I planted two weeks ago and put them side by side so you could see the progression in two short weeks!

Back out into the sunshine and warm weather for more work!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Horse Breeding 101

There is a stallion/stud here on the ranch named Nick (and yes... he's a horse). Every year, they breed him with several mares, some that belong to the ranch, and some from people who pay a stud fee to breed their mare with him.

Yesterday, Jason and I got a lesson in Horse Breeding 101. There's a mare in heat (a former barrel racing champion with a thoroughbred pedigree) that was delivered here to be bred with Nick (who has a pretty fantastic pedigree of his own).

Jason and I were very curious, and so as J.W. went through the process, he explained the how and why to his interested staff members (Chad, Jason and I). That's about all I'm going to say, but know it will continue for the next few days (every other day while she's in heat).

Anyhow, the mare is just gorgeous, the kind of horse I always dreamed of having.

Other than that, Jason has spent the last few days working outside with the boys, which has made him very, very happy.

Things are looking great in the greenhouse, and I'm just pretty much on hold until we can move everything outside.

Since I have plenty of time on my hands, and our housekeeper Elizabeth is now off the payroll and working on her painting full time, I've taken on the housekeeping duties until our young wrangler/housekeeper arrives in June. No problem. :)

And the food continues to be outstanding.

Here's a couple of photos I've had sitting in my hard drive for a few days!

Buddy waits for Chad to come out of the kitchen.

The hummer in the foreground, while Jason shoots a frozen Yellowstone Lake.

"Mom, that was soooooo fun! Thanks for throwing the tennis ball for me a hundred times!"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jellystone and its Buffalo

Sunday, we finally made it into Yellowstone and stayed in the park for 12 hours. I'd never been in the park during the Spring before, and have to say that it is AWESOME when there aren't a gazillion people around or in your way. Unfortunately, several roads in the park and all of the hiking trails have not yet opened due to snow. So, we'll get to do some hiking eventually.

If you want to see some gorgeous photos of the Park, you should go to Jason's Blog and see what he shot. It was exciting to see him so inspired - inspiration doesn't always come when you want it and other times it comes in a tidal wave. This was a tidal wave day.

He was so excited and inspired that he leapt out of the car and asked me to take a picture of him with the Yellowstone sign. If you know Jason, you know it's like pulling teeth to get him on the other side of the camera. But on Sunday, he actually volunteered. If you click on the photo, it will enlarge and you'll be able to see how happy he is. :)

Did I mention that they've had more snow in Yellowstone this year than they've had in the last fifteen years? Here's the Sylvan Pass from the East Entrance into the park.

In this video clip, Jason tries to get on top of the snow to shoot the trees on the other side. Pretty funny - third time's always the charm. :)

We saw tons of Buffalo, like this guy...

and these guys butting heads in Mammoth Springs while we were having lunch...

In fact, there were so many Buffalo that they had to give us this card when we entered the park:

But then we saw this little guy and his mom:

He couldn't have been more than a couple of days old. And it made me think again - Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there. Thanks for putting up with behavior like this:

Other than that? It was a super enjoyable Sunday with my husband in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Did I mention it was cold?

Here's another comment that Blogger decided to delete when it went down for the day:

From Jess:
You guys are so cute! I can't wait to see more photos from Yellowstone as Spring and Summer progress. And the baby buffalo is so sweet!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I've been struggling with this post, trying to get it just right... It's not quite right yet, but I don't think stewing on it any longer will get it there. Sometimes you just have to let it ride and embrace the imperfection.

I've started a lot of seedlings (literally thousands) in the last five weeks, and transplanted those seedlings into potting soil - either 3 1/2 inch pots or into the big planters that will soon adorn the property.

Some of those little seedlings grow great big stems and leaves quicker than their brethren. Those showy traits, however, are not what I look for when I choose a place to place into a pot. I'm looking for something less showy - the plants with the best roots.

A plant with a good root system will last longer and be healthier. Eventually, it will become more visibly productive and more beautiful than its showy brethren who put all of their energy immediately into what we see as pretty instead of into what is most important - their foundation.

Don't you wish humans were more interested in others roots than in their showy stems and leaves? I will admit that I love those stems, leaves and blooms, but aren't they all rather shallow without some base to give them depth and longevity?

Sometimes those roots get all tangled up and bound together, and need a little roughing up to grow. My own tangled roots sometimes NEED a little roughing up before I can make change or thrive in a new environment. And when those root systems are unbound and growing deep - isn't the result so much more beautiful and long-lasting?

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all worked on our roots and the outcome was beautiful, well-grounded blooms? Or if we gave less attention to beauty that is fleeting and focused on the beauty within? That we valued a person based on their character and not on their appearance?

And that's not to say that physical beauty doesn't have it's place. But it's so much more satisfying when there's depth there, too.

Take my sister for example. She's gorgeous - smoking hot, really - but what makes her so beautiful is the woman she is inside. Tender-hearted and kind. A person who will befriend a homeless man named Willy and then go out and buy him a couple pairs of shoes because he needed them. Who she is inside glows out through her eyes, and makes her so much more beautiful.

Character is important. Roots are important. Depth is important.

Hmm... Anyhow, that's just something I've been stewing on in the greenhouse. Feel free to let me know what you think!

And speaking of roots, let me say a very Happy Mother's Day to my own incredible Mom, who is having her first Mother's Day without her own Mom to celebrate with. I miss Grandma Joan, too, Mom - and I think of her every day. Happy Mother's Day, Grandma Joan. I love you. And I love you, too, Mama. Thanks for praying so fiercely for us every day. We can't wait to see you in July.

To Catherine and G'ma Joyce - Happy Mother's Day to both of you, too. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your family. Love you!

And to all of you moms out there, thank you for being the loving nurturers you are. I hope you have an incredible day filled with love and surprises.

Update: Here are a couple of posts that Blogger decided it needed to delete when it went down for the day. Take that, Blogger! I'm still putting them up!

From Kelli:
Er seriously you made me tear! I for sure do not deserve any of those kind words...but thank you! You're the BEST, and I love and MISS YOU sooooo much!

From Jess:
I love this post, Erin. Mom and I went hiking on Sunday and I brought up your root analogy. I'm so thankful to have friends who are growing strong roots, and search for that quality in others as well. I love that your experiences during this season are providing time for reflection and growth - in you and the plants :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

They grow Rocks...

... in Wyoming.

It's true. They do. It's actually a saying around here, because the soil is so rocky. Every year you clean out your planting beds and every year you wonder how you could possibly have any more rocks hiding in them. If there's nowhere for them to appear from and the rocks are so bountiful every year that you could build a serious size doghouse out of them, the only answer is truly - they grow rocks in Wyoming. I've found this to be very true.

Digging up rocks.

Yesterday, Cinco de Mayo, delivered us the most beautiful day we've had yet. 70s with tons of sun and a wind that wasn't freezing, just nice. As such, I totally changed my plans for the day and (covered in sunscreen), took my butt outside to work first in the berry garden (did I mention that there's a whole separate totally fenced in berry garden?) and then in the vegetable garden.

You know what I found? Rocks. Lots and lots of Rocks. If the weather holds up today (and it looks like it might), I'm going to make a pile of the rocks that I pull out of one bed, take a picture and show you. You will not believe it.

After I remove the weeds and rocks I loosen the soil with this huge tiller thing. And no joke... it will hit some HUGE rocks about 6 inches into the soil, and then I'll have to go dig those out too before I can keep tilling.

Doesn't Indy look happy? Photo by Jason Speer(he wanted credit).

As far as the berry garden goes, my big job is lowering the soil Ph to a more acidic, berry loving level. The soil here is very alkaline. An 8.0 or higher. Strawberries need a Ph of 6.0-6.5 to really produce at their best and sweetest, and blueberries need a Ph of 5.0!!!!!! The raspberries and huckleberries need their Ph to be somewhere in between. So - long term solution is to dig in Pelleted Sulfate, but that won't really do it's job until next year. (Check. Done yesterday.) Short term solution? 2 Tablespoons of Vinegar per Gallon of water. (Check. Also started yesterday.) And you have to do it daily until you get the pH where you want it, and then, regularly monitor it after that or the well water will drive the pH right back up.

But the strawberries are starting to come up. Their little leaves are pushing up through the soil and I'm having visions of strawberry feasts come June. Can't wait.

Now if I can only succeed at getting the other berries to produce for the first time. I think handling the soil acidity should do it.

And to top off our beautiful day? Cinco de Mayo fiesta. We had Mexican feasts for lunch and dinner, along with Appetizers and Margaritas in the lodge. Alice has "duded" (as in Dude Ranch, not "DUUUUUDE") me all up with hat and pink cowboy shirt, now I just have to pick out a pair of boots out of the gazillion pairs they have floating around the ranch. Jason has a hat. They said they have a shirt for him, too. Now they're going to order a pair of boots for him. They like their staff to have a "dude ranch" feel when there are guests here for events. :)

Still loving life on the ranch!

Indy greets Jason at the garden gate. Photo by Jason Speer.

And Jason wants full credit for the photos of Indy. He was testing out a new camera for Mitch and I told him I wanted the photos for the blog. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So lucky

Food is good. So good. And you can never really appreciate how good wonderful food can be until you can't have an entire food group.

I waxed poetic about our new chef Anthony when we first got here. He's back. And last night was our first meal of the season. I have to say, that if he keeps making food like he did last night (after a 6am flight out of San Diego, not arriving in cody until 1pm, doing a TON of grocery shopping, arriving at the ranch at 4pm, getting settled and then finally making dinner which was ready at 6:30 on the nose) that I'm going to have to start using the gym at 5pm with Jason. Three courses last night: a salad with an orange vinaigrette, crispy prosciutto, cheese and grapefruit slices; filet mignon (I'm not sure that was the cut, but it sure tasted like it) on top of a butternut squash risotto, with roasted asparagus and green onion and a red wine jus (That risotto was to die for); and dessert - macerated berries, some kind of special cream, and roasted, cinnamon-ey apple slices. The only thing I couldn't eat in the whole meal was the puff pastry base for the apples - he made mine without. Did I get sick? No. Did I eat everything on my plate each of the three courses? Yes. And that's how we'll be eating until the fall.

So lucky. So, so, so lucky and blessed to be here. Living rent and utilities free, having all of our groceries paid for (that was a huge surprise), working for people who appreciate hard work and treat their employees with respect, doing work that I enjoy with people I enjoy, getting out of debt and saving 2/3 of every paycheck, and now... eating incredible food every day.

So lucky.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I haven't been writing on this every day like I'd like to. I will try to remedy that for you few (my family...) who have been checking this blog daily.

Here's the news - the Chef, Anthony, arrived today and will be filling our tummies for lunch and dinner every day but Sunday for the rest of the summer. Hooray!

In other news - I forgot to let you know that we caught and killed another mouse in the greenhouse last week. Where there are two, there's probably more. Haven't seen any signs just yet, but my eyes are open.

We've had two beautiful days in a row (50's and Sunny - This won't last long), which means I've started to work in the outdoor garden. (As an aside, I have a two inch stripe of sunburn on my lower back from the combo of my shirt riding up and my pants riding down. I put sunscreen on my low back that morning, but it must have rubbed off with my shirt and pants moving around. Jason thinks it's funny. I think it hurts. I spent all day with my shirt tucked in today.) Because we've still got at least one or two snowstorms and it gets below freezing at night, the only things I could plant outside were potatoes and red and yellow onions. No pictures because frankly, potato hills look like lumps of dirt. They're not cute. This was my first potato planting experience, so hopefully it all goes well. I did lots of reading before planting and hey, I'm Irish. Except for the potato famine, the Irish have always been gifted at growing potatoes.

Indy got in big trouble today. I leave the door open to the garden (which is fenced in) as long as the weather's decent. This way he can play and be outside. It keeps him happy and busy. Which keeps me happy and busy. Apparently, Indy got bored with his ball today. He dug up 5 of my potatoes and unearthed about 5 more. Not only did I have to replant all of them (except for the one that had all the teeth holes in it - that one went in the compost bin), but I now have to check the potatoes every time I walk in and out of the gate. Indy knew he was in trouble and that I was very mad because he proceeded to hide under the planting table in the greenhouse for an hour. I just don't know what I'm going to do with him if he can't stay out of the things I've planted. He's been okay so far, simply because the outdoor garden hasn't gone in. But seriously? He can't keep doing things like this. So, three strikes, and Indy will get to spend lots of time in the bunkhouse until he learns the error of his ways. Any ideas on deterring him? I can't spend my whole day watching him - I have work to do. And my squirt gun that I keep on the table in the greenhouse will only work on him if I catch him in the act!


Anyhow - off to set the table for dinner and see if Anthony needs any help, unskilled though that help may be.

Happy Tuesday!