Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Time I'm Sure

This time I'm sure we'll be getting at least a few lambs. The ewes are noticeably rounder and they are just showing the beginnings of their udders. From my calculations we'll be welcoming our first lambs of 2008 anywhere from May 16 to May 25.

Take a look at these pictures of Ewenice. The first is from last year in August, when her lambs had been weaned for a few months already.

Notice how "streamlined" her sides are.
And these two show how much rounder she's become. Also you can see the beginning of her bag (udder).
Also note the sagging bottom line. I'm guessing she's carrying twins again.
Now pardon the following shots but they illustrate perfectly what I'm talking about.

Here is 3of4. This will be her first lamb(s). Her nipples are enlarged and you can see her udder is just barely starting to fill. Usually she's flat as a board. Also you'll notice the puffiness of the pink parts (the correct term would be vulva for the less squeamish). In another two weeks it will be twice that puffy.

And the same goes for Baby. Her nipples are close to the same size but a little larger. I can definitely notice the beginnings of a bag on her too. She's probably going to lamb later than 3of4.

We are going out of town this weekend for my mother in law's birthday. Can you believe she is going to be 80? Other than that there isn't a whole lot of anything going on. I'm hoping I'll be busy posting pictures of new lambs towards the middle of next month.

I know everyone loves to see pictures of the new lambs. That is the main reason I decided to continue with the sheep rather than just be done with them and sell them. It gives us so much pleasure to watch them cavorting about. And the side benefit we've discovered is that I can milk the sheep and my sister makes yogurt.

I am really looking forward to a bountiful summer!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stuffed Crust Pizza

Yes, I admit it. This is not really a true recipe. But being a little short on blog fodder lately I have this tidbit to offer you today.

In our family when someone accomplishes something of a milestone or it happens to be a birthday or other such special day we celebrate with food. (Is it any wonder I'm overweight? Wait a minute, how come nobody else in this family is fat? It's just not fair! Anyhow...) When Wil passed his driving test he got to choose what he wanted for dinner, even though he didn't actually get his license just yet.

His first choice, as I knew it would be, was pounded pork cutlets. But since we just had something very similar two days prior we had to go with his second choice, which was stuffed crust pizza.

I didn't want to order it and I had to go the grocery store anyway. When I was there I checked the multitude of frozen pizzas but alas, none of them were "stuffed crust" varieties. Then I got a brilliant idea.

Next door to the grocery store is a Papa Murphy's Take and Bake Pizza store. I didn't think they had stuffed crust but it wouldn't hurt to stop in and check. And just as I thought, they did not make a stuffed crust pizza (ala Pizza Hut). Then the second part of my brilliant idea popped into my head.

I would buy a ready-to-bake pizza and stuff the crust myself. I knew we had a big block of Monterey Jack cheese at home and I was pretty sure it would work.

So I set about to see if I could make a stuffed crust pizza for my favorite son.

I bought a large pepperoni pizza. When I got home I pushed the toppings about an inch to 1 1/2 inches from the edge toward the middle. I got out my giant block of Monterey Jack and cut it into about 2 X 1/4 inch lengths (yes, mozzarella sticks would probably have been a better choice but I wasn't going back to the store). I placed the rectangles carefully around the cleared edge of the pizza.

Then I pulled the edge of the pizza up and around the cheese, pressing to the other side to seal the cheese into the edge. I did this all around the pizza.

The pizza was then baked according to the directions and VOILA! Stuffed Crust Pizza!

Oh, I know you probably didn't need this tutorial to figure out how to make your own stuffed crust pizza. But it was fun and it made me feel oh-so-clever!

Have a good weekend and HAPPY ARBOR DAY!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Special Day




Good News, Bad News

Early in January we finally got my son signed up in a driving class. Most kids around here start when they are 15 1/2. My son is 17. We kept putting it off as an incentive to do better in school and also because I was afraid of what would happen with our car insurance rate.
He was doing much better at his new school and we just couldn't put it off any longer. He got his learners permit on the first try at the DMV and started class.

He did well in the classroom portion and then it was time for the behind-the-wheel portion. The three sessions were supposed to be scheduled a few weeks apart. The first two BTW's went as planned.

We have a trip planned to visit my MIL in AZ for her 80th birthday next week. I thought maybe we could hurry Wil's lessons along so he could get his license and be able to drive himself to school while we are away. With a learner's permit he is allowed to drive only if a licensed adult is in the vehicle with him. Consequently I scheduled his third BTW lesson about two weeks after the second. Of course he did well.

Now it was time to schedule the BTW test at the DMV. I made the arrangements and yesterday after school was the big day.

Here he is at the start of the test waiting for the examiner.

And away they go! (Fingers crossed!)

Parked at the end of the exam. When the examiner got out she told me "he's a good driver." That sounded pretty good to me!

Here he is in line to get his interim license. With that he would be able to drive by himself. He would have to wait six months before he could have any unlicensed or other juveniles in the car with him. After the six months he would get his permanent license and be able to drive like any regularly licensed driver, regardless of age.

Unfortunately the clerk discovered a little mistake. He was supposed to have the permit for six months before he would be eligible to take the BTW test. So the bad news is he did not get his license. He has to wait until June 3rd. The good news is he will not have to take the driving test again.

I told him to give me his disappointed look. Yikes! He needs a hair cut!

Now we have to figure out how he's going to get to school and back (he goes to a different school than the district school now). Oh well, we'll figure something out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! (Image from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=4231 )

Yesterday I forgot to mention one other thing that happened on Sunday. I got an email inquiring about the bull calf. I have him listed for sale on one of the Dexter websites. I was suspicious right away, but I answered the email, just in case it was from a legitimate buyer.

You see, several years ago I had put a pony up for sale on the internet and got a response from someone, allegedly in Germany, asking about the pony. They said it sounded like what they were looking for, wanted to send money and something about a third party, yada yada. I knew it was a scam because #1: The third party/sending extra money thing was a scam; #2: For what they would have paid in shipping costs they could have gotten a superb pony in Germany, home of the "German Riding Pony" and all other breeds of magnificent horses of excellent quality; and #3: I'm not stupid. After the one e-mail I discontinued contact and put the sender on my "blocked" list.

Sunday the email correspondence went like this (punctuation and grammar as they wrote it):

THEM: Good Day B----,
I want to know if you still have the bulls available for sale,let me know the health condition and also the price.

Thank you very much.


ME: One five month old bull, excellent health, $400.

THEM: Thank you for the update,i will like to know if you can get three of it.


ME: Three of what? I have one (1) bull calf. Where are you located, Nigeria?

And I haven't heard from them since. Hmmm. I'm guessing they know I'm on to them!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I Did This Weekend

Honestly, I didn't do much. I managed to catch a cold somehow. I felt it coming on by way of a scratchy throat on Friday evening. By Saturday morning my throat was really raw and my head was starting to get stuffy. I filled up on decongestants and Tylenol and whatever else I had in the cupboard that looked like it might make me feel better.

I ended up staying in bed until 1pm. I felt a little better then and came out of my cave to sit on the sofa and watch old western movies on tv and drink a few toddys. Here is my toddy recipe: either decaf Earl Gray or Constant Comment, 1 fake sugar packet, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 lemon, and a glug or two (or maybe 4 or 5) of a good dark rum. One or two of those and you'll be feeling better in no time!

By Sunday my throat was better but my head was still stuffy. But I did feel better so I made some new tomato cages. We had used some of the old cages for the patio. I used the same technique I did before but this time I made the cages 5 feet around instead of 4 1/2.

I had been working on a new mosaic piece and finished it earlier. All I had left to do was seal the grout and polish it up. I think I mentioned before how much I love doing hearts. This one will probably go to my MIL on Mother's Day if she has a place to hang it.

And finally the reason I was late posting today was the baby came over around 7:30 am. She only slept for about an hour, towards the afternoon, and since I'm still not 100% I tried to take a little nap too. And she doesn't like to sit on my lap while I play on the computer. I think she gets bored.

I did have to water the garden so I put her in the Baby Bjorn and plopped her sun hat on and out we went. She did like that. The hat is just a tad big and kept slipping so I had to make sure to keep pulling it back.

And that is all I've done.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Parallel Universe

Or something! I'm beginning to wonder.

Yesterday evening, around 6, I was catching up on blogs. I went to Roberta's blog (Life At A Boarding Stable) and read that the bees that had stopped in a tree at her place had now moved on. When I went outside to join my husband on the back patio he mentioned that our bee swarm had moved on also.

These pictures are what's left of the bees this morning. A few stragglers remain who will most likely die, according to info gleaned from the internet.

If you look carefully you can see the beginnings of a honeycomb. It's that white waxy stuff on the branches and a bigger blob sticking out off the branch where the remaining bees are congregated. That was a surprise to me. I didn't think they would make a comb unless they were in their permanent spot.

At least now I can let the cows out of their pen for some exercise. I had been reluctant to do so with the bees in the tree because they like to rub quite vigorously on the trunks. I was afraid it would disturb the bees and they would come charging down to attack the bovines.

And, MT, one of these days I may keep a box of bees for our own use. But for now that will have to wait until we move to a bigger property. So look at it this way: It will give me time to read up about how to properly take care of them and what all is required to extract the honey.

One of these days.

PS-click on the first picture and you should be able to get a good blown up version.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Still Here

The bees are still here! It's not a bad thing...yet. From what information I've been able to find swarms like this don't generally sting unless the core (where you can find the queen) is threatened. These are separations from established hives. A new queen was born and she and her devoted followers left to establish their own colony.

While in this "holding pattern" scout bees are searching the area for likely hive sites. That's when it could become a bad thing. When they find a suitably enclosed area they will begin making honeycombs, new bees, and honey. They can become more aggressive in attempt to protect the hive against perceived threats.

If they find a way to get in a wall of a building (I hope they don't find the holes in the wall of our separate garage!) it can get really messy. You may be able to destroy the colony by pumping poison in there. If the poison reaches the center and manages to kill all the bees then bee moths can eventually damage the honeycombs. The honey drips out and does severe damage to the walls.

On our last escapade I thought briefly about keeping a hive of bees. Just briefly. I don't relish the idea of getting stung or buying a bunch of new equipment. For now I'm happy to buy my honey at the store. Although I do recall the taste of the little bit of honey that we managed to save from our last wild bees. It was delicious.

We've all heard about the strange virus that's affecting the commercial hives. Maybe these three swarms I've personally seen or heard about here in Bakersfield in the last week (the one in my tree, the one I drove under as they were flying, and the one in Roberta's yard) is a sign that the bee population is making a comeback.

I still don't quite understand why a bee keeper wouldn't want to take a bunch of bees for free. Roberta said in her April 14th post one bee keeper they contacted said it was simply not cost effective to try to capture them--it was easier to buy them. I suppose if you were a lazy bee keeper that would be true. After all it took Jeff, the guy that took our last wild bees away, several days to gather up the bees.

Apparently Jeff is not a lazy apiarist. (This is just my humble, uneducated opinion.)

Now, can you find the bees in the tree in the first picture? They are the dark mass at the top center of the photo.

Here's hoping they find a new locale (not in my garage walls) soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The tomatoes are coming! I checked the plants a little closer while watering and I found a few tiny green tomatoes. Before long, I hope to be overrun with beautiful ripe red and tasty tomatoes for salads, sandwiches, and salsa!

The beginning of a Goliath.
Here is a Big Beef.
This one is a first for me. It's a Cupid Grape Tomato. We'll see how it is.
And this is a Heatwave. It did really well last year.

So far so good. I also have a Brandywine, Roma, and another that I seem to have lost the tag to. They are just a little behind the others as far as production goes, but I'm sure they'll be catching up soon.

I'm just sitting here waiting...

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Bees Are Back

Last week as I was driving with Gus to our Therapy Dog appointment I noticed a large swarm of what I at first thought were gnats. I remember thinking it was the biggest bunch I had seen and it seemed early in the year for that. But I'm not a biologist, so what do I know?

As I got closer and eventually drove underneath the swarm I realized it was not a gnat swarm, rather it was a swarm of bees. I was glad they were flying higher than my car so I didn't drive through them.

I didn't think much more about the bee swarm until this weekend. It seems another swarm has taken residence in one of the pine trees by the sheep pen.

I was reminded of two other incidences when we had bee swarms. The most recent was last year in June. You can click here for the beginning of that story. The first time we had an encounter with a bee swarm was a few years ago. A swarm had decided to overnight in the olive tree by our driveway and garage. At that time we tried to find someone to take the bees, but no bee farmers were interested and the pest control wanted too much money. We were advised that the bees were probably resting for a day or two and they would most likely be gone on their own. And that is what happened.
I'm hoping these will follow suit. The bees from last year had found a spot to make their hive in. It was an enclosed area, and not open like the tree branches.
Imagine my surprise as I was reading another blog yesterday that showed a picture of a swarm of bees that had taken to a branch in one of their trees. It was Roberta's blog. (It's on her April 13, 2008 entry. You may have to keep hitting the "refresh" button. Yahoo seems to have a problem with that...)
It must be that time of year.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Baby Pictures

Here are some of the latest pictures of my grandbaby. Just because I can, and also because I have nothing else for today. And of course, I know her great aunts and great grandmother want to see her latest photos. Right? Right?????

So if you're not into baby photos, feel free to log out. It won't hurt my feelings. Really! (I was once like you, so I understand.)

Here she is in her Easter outfit she got from Great Gramma GaGa.
This is her new Bumbo chair. She likes sitting in it...
...especially when Gus waves his tail over her head.

Well, most of the time she's happy. Honestly, though, I think she was working on something here.
Now she's attempting to put both of her hands in her mouth. I think she's working on a party trick for when she's older.
Now she's just chillin'.
Here she is in an "official" Easter photo taken at the Sears Portrait Studio. I just love it when she's smiling.
The next two are from the same photo session. There's just something about a naked baby. They are Oh So Cute!
And last, but not least, here she is with her handsome Grampa.
Did I say "last"? Oh, don't you worry! It's the last for today but you can rest assured there will be more in the future!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I like playing with my camera, and when I have a little extra time I like to do close-ups. When I view the pictures on the computer I often see things I never would have otherwise noticed. Sometimes it makes me think about The Incredible Shrinking Man and how his viewpoint literally changed from day to day.

Here is a beautiful violet-blue bearded iris. Up close you can see the subtle shade differences and the little hairs of the beard.

This is a flower cluster from a Lantana. What's interesting about this plant are the wide range of colors on one cluster, let alone the entire plant. This one is more yellow to orange, whereas some of the others are pink to red, or even in the violet shades.

This is our first ripe strawberry of the year. Isn't it beautiful?

Can you figure out what this is? This is a picture I took last year of a sunflower. I like how you can see a subtle pattern. In a college speech class I did a talk on patterns in nature. My visual aid was a pinecone. If you look at a pinecone from the top down you can see how it swirls around. There were only about 20 students but I don't do well talking in front of a bunch of people. I got a "C" in that class.

This is the inside of a white California type poppy.

And this is the inner sanctum of a rose.

And this means I need to get the aphid control going!