A Quiet September

… and, not by design.

The month slipped by quietly, with October beginning today. The girls, immersed in their studies while staying sharp with their riding, are taking aim at the Las Vegas Nationals in mid-November. The always busy Laurie and Andrea, busy. Except for a pair of early starts, no one required their special talents in the middle of the night. For myself, a few work projects. One project is on hold pending the arrival of a new printer. My existing HP OfficeJet printer gave out last week, unable to lift a sheet of paper to be fed into the printhead interface. It gave nine years of flawless service.

Similarly, fall began quietly. No chill winds, no large temperature swings, and most importantly, no surprise snow. While the fall colors have gone past their peak in the high country, they are slowly beginning here in the lower elevations. Autumn gold should take hold around mid-month, mostly from cottonwoods and elms. Reds and oranges will mostly come from scrub oak, poison oak and poison sumac.

the fall colors in the old neighborhood (October 2017)

dulled color: gray skies and low clouds

A dull gray, not the best color to begin a new month. Rain, only a slight possibility, from the remnants of Hurricane Rosa. While the overcast gives the impression of cooler temperatures, it has been in the mid-70s for most of the day. Very pleasant. Better yet, not many flying insects hanging by the barn.

In the forecast: Brighter, warmer days. Cool overnights.

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Coffee Options

The three-year limited warranty expired a few months ago. It would be a matter of time before it would fail. And, it failed this morning.

Cuisinart Programmable Coffee Maker: when it was new (Mar 2015)

Living on a ranch, you need to be resourceful. Simply, there is no 7-11, Starbucks or coffee shop nearby for that morning cup of coffee. Hot cocoa, while appealing, is not a proper substitute. (Sorry Elizabeth.) Neither is tea. (Sorry Elisa.)

Only two options are available. One is instant coffee. The other, cowboy coffee. Instant coffee is easy – follow the instructions on the back of the jar. Cowboy coffee is equally simple – measure out the number of scoops of coffee grounds to the number of cups to be served from the pot. Place the coffee grounds directly in the pot with the water. Bring the pot to boil over an open flame. Serve piping hot. Make sure you don’t drink to the bottom of your cup – you will have coffee grounds.

morning coffee: Amanda’s cowboy coffee pot at work on the range (May 2014)

My mom and dad had a cowboy-style coffee pot when they were young marrieds. It had a basket, however, for the coffee grounds. It was more like a percolator. It became lost somewhere along the way, or is hidden away in an unopened box of household goods.

What we did for morning coffee: instant coffee. It wasn’t so bad.

A new coffee maker was purchased later in the morning.

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.