Mow and Trim

With the return of the summer monsoon rains, the thirsty valley has been revived. The prairie grasses are greener. The ponds refreshed. The wildflowers in bloom again. It also means a bit of yard work needs to be done.

morning dew on the prairie (North Ranch, Aug 2018)

Much of our ranch land consists of prairie grasses. It is not much different from when the Johnson and Norris families settled the valley in the 1880s. Closer to the house, we have a mixture of buffalo grass and rye grass, which makes for a nice lawn. Both grass types are drought hardy, preferring dormancy when water is sparse. Similarly, the wildflowers are drought hardy too. The wildflowers are a mix of wild asters (white, pink, and purple), black-eyed Susans, wild bluebell, and more.

prairie yellow wildflower (North Ranch, Aug 2018)

A factory reconditioned Kubota B2320 with a mid-mount mower deck, front loader bucket and a rotary cutter keeps our place trimmed. In the more tighter spots, the lawn mower and weed whacker works the best. It isn’t necessary to mow and trim every square inch; it’s impractical. The paddocks receive the lightest of trims, which keeps the more noxious growth away from the horses. In manicured settings, foxtail, thistle, and a few other invasive weeds are more likely to gain a foothold. They become a significant problem if they enter into the grazing cycle. Also,  greener grasses are more difficult for a horse to digest.

Kubota B2320 (North Ranch, Oct 2017)

After the ranch complex has been nicely mowed and trimmed, the next mow and trim may be 4-6 weeks later. It’ll depend largely how much rain falls during the interval.


Snow Day

A rare day off for the ‘rents.

playing in the snow: while Laurie blows a handful of snow, Andrea stands behind her, ready with a snowball

The snow came in the overnight hours. Not too much, about two inches. Amazingly, Laurie was able to blow the wet snow. Its consistency much better for making snowballs and snowmen and snowwomen.

We’ll grow up one day. May be tomorrow.

North Ranch: Winter Morning

A winter morning.

woods and cottages in winter white

A new day begins at North Ranch, with a fresh snowy mantle and crystal clear skies. The brisk temperature is noted before starting the day’s work.

Occasionally, the wildlife will make an appearance later in the day. They are well accustomed to the snow and cold, and well experienced in foraging.

passing through: deer on a snow-covered trail

The Week

It is back to work this week.

Both Laurie and Andrea returned to work early Tuesday morning, arriving at their usual time. The first day back since moving to the ranch, they timed their commute – about 50 minutes. Staff who live in the far northeast suburbs have commute times of usually an hour or more, depending upon traffic volume and weather. Their new commute route has Laurie and Andrea traveling a highway, exit to a main arterial, then surface streets. The commute home, the time was a little better at 47 minutes. A few nurses and techs asked them both how is living on the ranch. Answer – “there’s nothing better.”

still boxed: the home office waiting to be unpacked

The moving in part is nearly finished. Most of the furniture has been arranged, but is subject to be moved around. The dinnerware, tableware, cookware and utensils have found their way to the assigned drawers. And, the maze of boxes has substantially reduced in size, much to the chagrin of the kitties. But, their most favorite boxes will be saved.

most favored: cat-approved boxes

It is safe to say the days of living out of a box and suitcase are numbered. The closet organizers are fairly straightforward in their assembly. It seems a third of the folded instructions are for safety. The girls, when they return from their equestrian business trip, will be pleased. The cats have found their clothes make for a comfortable bed.

closet organizer: three-level drawer in Deborah’s closet

closet organizer: the level test in Tara’s closet

Plenty of work is on my desk also. Analytic work on data from two projects, and proofreading a report on a third. While it seems demanding in time, it is not. It is keeping all the work, errands and other activities balanced. And, an eye on the clock.

How is it all? Without hesitation, “There’s nothing better.”

Hail & Farewell

The last 2½ hours of the year is quietly slipping away. No worries or thoughts of what should have been, or could have been. It is always about looking ahead. Today was good, tomorrow will be better. With the excitement building for the coming year, new adventures, new hopes, new memories are waiting to be discovered.

After our family celebration, the sharing of kisses, our home will quiet and settle for a winter’s night. The year coming to a close was a good one. We, hopefully, met and passed many of the tests. We were made the better for them. The coming new year brings new promises. We believe we’re ready.

May the new year be a good one, and one for good memories.


Christmas Night

Chocolate wafted throughout the house in the morning.  In the afternoon, the scent of a rib roast.  Boxes moved around, furniture hastily arranged. And, careful not to step on a stray kitty jingle ball.

Our dinner table was a little tight, but we managed. With the open design of our kitchen, Laurie, Andrea and I ate there. Occasionally, the three of us got to laughing too much. Andrea’s parents, my dad, Bella and our daughters got to wondering what us ne’er-do-wells were laughing about. “Nothing …”, followed by more laughing.

With the lights low, our home begins to quiet amidst the crackling fire. Laurie, Andrea and I softly talk of the past few days, how good they have been. And, how good this Christmas has been. “Tom and Judy were right,” Andrea begins. “Only a few days here, I love it so.”

We hope your Christmas was joyful and blest.

Christmas Eve

A maze of boxes and furniture is all about the house. The kitties love the arrangement. It’s a playground. In place, their food and water stations, and litter boxes, of course. And, Andrea’s piano. The barn set-up is almost finished. There are certain priorities after all.

boxes and furniture: the living room maze

Tara’s temporary nightstand: a dual-purpose wooden crate

After a late breakfast, it was a day of moving around of boxes and furniture. Though most of our dinnerware, tableware and cookware remains boxed, enough is out for everyday use. The refrigerator is full, and we can make meals.

breakfast time: French toast

breakfast of champions: French toast drenched with syrup and a slab of butter

After dinner, it will be a crackling fire in the hearth. A few songs around the piano. A few, unexpected presents found under the tree.

later: preparing the Christmas Day checklist

To all our friends, may you have a merry and blessed Christmas!