Monday, March 31, 2008

Wildflowers, Part 1

This is a great time of year to view the local wildflowers. There are several good locations and we chose to drive one of our favorite routes; Rancherio Road up Greenhorn Mountain and back down by way of Poso Road.

We started off from home at an elevation of around 370 feet above sea level and 67 degrees in the valley. The higher up the road we got, the colder it became. By the time we reached our half way point at Poso Road we had reached an elevation of almost 4000 feet above sea level and the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees.

We stopped there and had our lunch of PB & J sandwiches and Diet Rite. Not quite as fancy as the Chianti, triple cream blue cheese with peppered salami and fresh baguette we had on our picnic to the Wind Wolves Preserve but it still hit the spot.

I took too many pictures to put all on today's post so I'm dividing them up and I'll post the other half tomorrow. As usual the photos don't do justice to the actual scene but you get an idea of how pretty it is. On some of them you have to look to the background to see the splashes of color the wildflowers make on the hills.

It's too bad it can't look like this all the time, but that's the way it goes of course. It's a little sad to think in another month or so everything will be dried out and brown. But then we can always look forward to next year.

This picture reminds me of the opening shot of the "Little House on the Prairie" tv show.

Blue LupineFiddleneck flower, one of the more common wildflowers.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Clyde's Hunt Practice

We took a few of our new quail to a field to practice with Clyde. We don't want him to forget his expensive lessons.

Dad was supposed to work the electric collar while son handled the shotgun and I tagged along with the camera.

Clyde didn't forget what he was supposed to do.

After all, for hundreds of years, this is what this breed was bred for.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Our summer garden is planted. We took all the old stuff out, rototilled, raked and smoothed, and planted our "instant" garden plants and a few seeds. The only thing we left from the old garden were the beets. They are still doing well and even if they get too woody for us we can feed them to the cows. And of course I haven't pulled my two little grape vines out.

The garden (looking west).
This year we planted more "instant" garden plants than seeds. Instant garden plants are the single packs, four packs, six packs, and we even had some nine packs this year. We got red and green cabbage because they always do well (we just have to be a little careful as the weather starts getting really warmer to watch for bolt); romaine lettuce (I love Caesar salad and I promise I'll share my favorite Caesar recipe one day); cucumber; cantaloupe; crookneck squash; zucchini. We also got two kinds of hot peppers and seven different tomato plants. (The Siberian tomato I planted at the end of last summer produced a tomato but it never got color on it.) The herbs we planted are thyme and of course sweet basil (mmm-pesto!).

The west end of the garden.
The only seeds we planted were pole green beans and we are going to try edamame soy beans, which I love and are very good for you. Here and there we planted marigolds. I've heard they help keep bad bugs away and they add pretty color too.

The pole beans are coming up.The sweet basil.

This year we also decided to try growing a patch of sweet corn. Neighbor Dean graciously allowed us to use a raised bed in his unused garden patch. And now that we are using that small corner of his patch we apparently inspired him to do a garden again himself, something he's passed on for the last year or two.

The corn patch in Dean's yard (notice the tower in the background).

Now we wait, water, and tend, and hope for a bountiful harvest. We always start off with a bang and as the season progresses we tend to slow down. Ah, good intentions!

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Easter Story

This morning I just ran out of time between quickly reading the paper, and feeding the animals, and doing a little treadmill workout, so I couldn't do any typing before the baby got here. You know how it is; those babies are so demanding!

Okay, enough with the excuses.

Back in the mid 60's when I was a little girl my dad was stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. We lived in Lawton. Every Easter in the rolling hills some way out of town there was a Passion Play. It's held in a mock town made up to look like homes and buildings of the biblical times. Spectators sat on blankets or lawn chairs and watched as the events unfolded before them.

I remember going to the park and wandering through the "old" buildings on the rare occasions when we would just visit the park during the rest of the year. If I remember correctly there was a place called Eagle Park nearby that was kind of like an amusement park with a skating rink, bumper cars, etc, but most importantly a horse rental stable. I may be wrong about the proximity of Eagle Park to the Holy City town, so don't quote me on that. My sister and I loved going to the park and we would beg and plead with our parents to let us rent a horse for an hour. Then we would pretend the horses were our own and off we went. Back then you didn't have to go in a group with a guide, plodding along, one after the other, choking on the dust of the horse in front.

I'm getting off subject, so back to the Passion Play. The characters were volunteers from various churches. The citizens wore realistic robes and the Roman soldiers had helmets and swords and shields.

One year instead of observing we participated. Remember, I was only about 5 or 6 at that time. We were issued our robes and as darkness fell last minute preparations were made. Actors were scurrying back and forth to get into position. That's when I saw something that scared me half to death.

It was a man. He was dressed in the typical robes with a rope belt at his waist. He was tall and thin. Though he never looked at me or came near me I was frightened beyond reason. My mom came rushing over and tried to soothe me.

"What's wrong? What's the matter?" she asked.

"That man!" I pointed towards the unknowing subject about 30 feet away.

"What man?" Mom pressed.

"That man!" I forced my face into my moms' body. By this time I was sobbing hysterically.

"What about him?"

I barely managed to contain my heaving sobs at this point but I was able to blurt out the reason the man had frightened me so. "He has long hair... and... a beard!"

You see, I'd never seen any man with long hair before. And I don't believe I'd ever seen a real live man with a beard before either.

I think my mom was trying to stifle her laughter after that. "Honey, that's the man playing the part of Jesus!"


The explanation did make me feel a bit better but to this day I'm not thrilled about bearded men. Except for the real Jesus, of course!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! The above photo is from 1989. It's Carli (in the stroller) and her cousin Kari Ann (holding the bunny).

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I usually take the weekend off from blogging, unless something comes up that just has to be said.

Today is the anniversary of my first blog. It's hard to believe that I've actually stuck with it for a whole year. This will be my 226th post. So far it's been fun and I feel like I've made a few new friends in the "blogosphere".

Let's see if I can stick it out for another year.

Since I'm here I'll share this funny picture of Chester. We had all been outside and when I came in I found him on the sofa with a paper towel that he had snatched from the garbage can. It must have had something irresistible on it.

Caught red handed, or make that red pawed!

Friday, March 21, 2008


Today I decided to do my "eggsperiment". I took one of our home grown brown chicken eggs and one of our new quail eggs and fried them up for breakfast. The quail egg is very well camouflaged (it's just to the right of the chicken egg).
The difference in size is quite obvious. Can you imagine telling your doctor, "But, Doctor, I only had five eggs for breakfast!" Except for the size they look exactly alike.
Here's my breakfast of an English muffin with two perfectly fried sunny side up eggs.
I tentatively ate the quail egg first, so as not to "taint" my taste. It was a perfect mouthful and I'm not sure why I was surprised but it tasted exactly like ... an egg!

So there you have it. Quail eggs taste just like chicken eggs. Is that what they'd serve at a weight loss spa?

Have a great Good Friday and Easter Weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day Of Spring

Today is the official First Day Of Spring 2008. While it may not seem to be very spring-like in some parts of the country just yet, over here in good ol' sunny So-Cal spring has definitely sprung. And I do feel for those whose spring weather hasn't shown up yet, believe me. I'm a warm weather person.

In honor of the day I'm posting pictures of our Bradford Ornamental Pear tree as it changed from Halloween through today.

October 31, 2007
December 2, 2007
March 3, 2008
March 7, 2008
Today, March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Clean Up

Yesterday I didn't have to babysit, so it was a good chance for me to get some cleaning up done around the house and yard.

First I started with the house. A general straightening up, some laundry, and I vacuumed. Then it was time to go outside.

The pens are in need of cleaning so I started with the largest sheep pen. Perry has been separated now from the ewes and is in his own pen. The large sheep pen is divided in two: the yard part and the barn part. I started with the yard part.

Here you can see where I started to rake up some piles. In the background and on the left of the picture you can see how it's kind of dirty. First I rake up the piles, then I use a snow shovel to scoop them into a garbage can which is then dumped into our baby dumpster. (When we visited my brother in Illinois he pointed to a snow shovel and said "I bet you don't know what that is." I replied, "Sure, I do: it's a pooper scooper. That's what we use it for." It doesn't usually snow around our parts.)
And now you can see all the little sheep droppings and sticks and tufts of wool have been nicely cleared away. I still have to do the barn side and Perry's pen.
And since I was in the cleaning mode I went ahead and washed out the sheep's water tank. I have to do that from time to time because it gets all full of algae. If I were a sheep I'd rather drink out of a clean tub, wouldn't you? Here you can see where I've cleaned one side, and have yet to do the other.
And with all that I still even managed to get in a good 45 minutes on my treadmill! I love it when I have a productive day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Headed For Scripps Spelling Bee

Something that usually bothers me is seeing misspellings in books, newspapers, or on the television. I'm not sure why it irritates me so much. Perhaps because my mother was a teacher? Am I something of a perfectionist? (I don't usually think so...) I don't know, but for some reason when I see those misspellings in what are supposed to be professionally edited works it just bugs me.

On the other hand, my husband, and dare I say his siblings, are notoriously bad spellers. And for some reason that doesn't bother me so much. In fact it usually amuses me when they do it.

My husband does the majority of cooking in our house and so quite often writes a grocery list. My job is to do the shopping.

Check out the list below. You'll notice the only thing I could not find at the grocery store were "beagles".

I did find "bagels".

PS-Please inform me at once if I ever have a misspelling so I can correct it. I'm kind of freaky that way. Thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Happy St. Patty's Day to all, whether you are Irish or not. I don't think you have to be Irish to enjoy the day. We aren't and we still make sure to enjoy our corned beef and cabbage. YUM! And yes, I realize that isn't a four leaf clover, but there are no leprechauns lurking and that was the best I could come up with.


Clyde And Coturnix Quail

Over the weekend we got 8 coturnix quail. We got them with the idea that we could use them to keep Clyde tuned up with his pointing skills, since we got him back from the trainer too late for hunting season.

We haven't taken him out to the field yet, but we put the quail behind the fence to see what would happen.

I'd say that's a pretty good point. When we got home from the store where we bought the quail we found a little surprise. (Look how they match our counter top!) From my brief research on the internet it looks like the quail are easy to keep and breed. The quail are obviously edible as are their eggs. If you ever watch Iron Chef America then you know fried sunny side up quail eggs are a popular item the chefs use in their cooking.

As yet we haven't tried consuming either. Tonight, of course, we are having corned beef and cabbage. I'll let you know if and when we try out the quail eggs!

Friday, March 14, 2008

TV Time

View of the morning news anchors from our waiting area. All these photos were taken without a flash, so they may not be as sharp as they could be.

This morning I got up early. Real early. I got up at 4:15 am to get ready for a 5 am interview with our local NBC affiliate, KGET. The purpose of the interview was to talk about the Hoffman Hounds volunteer program. We were trying to get the message out about what we do and perhaps recruit some more volunteers and their dogs.

Another view of the studio from our waiting area. The news anchors are on the far left.
Morning news anchor Kiyoshi Tomono.

I met Kim, the volunteer coordinator, and Marylee, the marketing director and my long time friend, at the television station. We had a short wait before being taken to the corner of the studio where one of the morning news anchors, Katie Harlan, was to interview us.

Getting miked up in the interview corner.
Fortunately for me, Kim did most of the talking. Unfortunately for me, Katie did ask me a question. Have you ever had your mouth go suddenly dry and your brain go suddenly numb? That's what happened to me. Finally I was able to spit out the words I had been searching for: temperament test. I put it off to the hour being so early. Marylee said we both did great, so that made me feel a little better.

During the interview with the other morning anchor, Katie Harlan.

The tv people were all very nice. I wonder how they can look so fresh and wide awake that early in the morning. I also had to wonder how many people actually watch the news at that ungodly hour! The segment was brief, only about three minutes long. Afterwards we breathed a sigh of relief and went for a cup of coffee at Starbuck's. I had a much needed white mocha.

I just brought my son to school and I'm sure you'll understand if, after I feed the animals, I take a little nap!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wind Wolves Preserve

In the March 2008 Sunset Magazine is an article entitled "7 (Hidden) Wonders of the West", Environmental Awards 2008. On page 30 is a box within the article on the "Most Unexpected Wilderness". They are talking about the Wind Wolves Preserve at the foothills just to the south of us here in Bakersfield.

Were it not for that article we would have never heard of it. They are open to the public on weekends, so last Saturday my husband and I packed a little picnic lunch and took the short drive to see what it was all about.

The name "Wind Wolves" is a referral to the long prairie grasses as they wave in the wind. It is a 97,000 acre nonprofit preserve managed by the Wildlands Conservancy. There is a beautiful new Visitor Center with helpful employees. Informational pamphlets are available to visitors to advise on the abundant wildlife, plant species, and hiking trails. There are a couple of new campgrounds and picnic areas. If it hadn't been for the valley smog the views would have been spectacular.

Although the preserve has been in existence for about 10 years, some of the camping areas are new this year. Below is a photo of a restroom. The picnic tables are as yet unmarred by graffiti and I hope it stays that way. Maybe this place will be too "out of the way" for those vandals and it will remain a place that nature lovers can enjoy.

My husband and I stopped at one of the picnic areas near the trail heads. We enjoyed our Chianti, peppered salami, and triple cream blue cheese next to a little pond. There was one other family at another area just 50 yards away. We saw another family come in and take off on one of the hiking trails.

It was peaceful and quiet. And clean.

Camping is allowed and we hope to be able to take advantage of that one day soon. You sure can't beat the price of entry: FREE! It's nice to have something so nice so close and available to us. This definitely won't be our last visit to the Wind Wolves Preserve.