Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An Evening with Maya Angelou

UPDATE: Go to my friend Christy's blog to see her thoughts on the event.
Last night I had the privilege of enjoying a lecture given by Maya Angelou. Her message was inspiring and her stories, songs and poems were entertaining. What made the evening even better was attending it with my good friend and some of her students.

Angelou challenged the audience to "be a rainbow in someone's clouds" and to remember and appreciate those that have been rainbows in our clouds. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have attended what I would call a great cultural event. And, I only had to travel 15 minutes to the campus of West Texas A&M University in Canyon to do it. The Panhandle offers numerous cultural opportunities if we'd just take the time to seek them out. (I'm attending CATS on Sunday--yay!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Playa Lakes, Part 2

The other day, I told you about the playa lakes on our place.

On our adventure the other day, the kids and I saw several ducks and at least a dozen American Avocets. These birds are really cool looking--their beaks are long and skinny. They eat invertebrates in the water. When we came to the water, the ducks immediately flew off, but the Avocets stayed and talked to yelled at us. I'd bet they are probably breeding/nesting, since they wouldn't go far.

It is amazing to me how fast the birds found our water and how quickly the water has life in it that can sustain birds. Playa lakes are really their own little ecosystems.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What a Difference a Week (and 2 inches of rain) Makes

The kids and I went on a grand adventure in the pastures this evening. We saw some really cool things--more on that after I do some research. Remember the pictures from this post and how dry we were?

Here are some pictures of the draw in the east pasture looking west that we took today:

This is in the pasture by the house:

I realize there is still brown grass, but the native grass (Buffalo) has really greened up. The brown grass you see is taller grass that wasn't eaten off by cattle.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Greener Everyday

Between taking chickens to school for Sadie to show first grade and working on earning points for Mother of the Year, I haven't had time to go back out into the pasture to take pictures. I did take these from our house yesterday. The plan is to head to the pasture for tomorrow evening's adventure. But, we are getting greener.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Doughnuts

I decided to treat the kids to homemade doughnuts today. They loved them! I'm thinking it elevated my standing for the coveted Mother of the Year Award. I even got two thumbs up.

I know, I can read your mind. You're thinking, "Doughnuts? Who has time for that?"
You do, if you take a little help from me.
1 can refrigerated biscuits
shortening or oil
powdered sugar
1. Cut biscuits in half (Sadie did this for me with our kitchen scissors--pretend I took a picture.)
2. Heat oil or shortening. Fry biscuits until golden; drain on paper towel

3. Sprinkle with powdered sugar

Cook's Notes:
  • We used to have a doughnut hole cutter, but it disappeared, so we just cut them in half.
  • I find that the mid-priced biscuits (I buy in packs of four) are the best.
  • Make sure the oil is hot enough when you start or they'll absorb it. Also, don't let the oil get too hot or they will brown too quickly and not get done in the middle.
  • Cheating? Maybe, but they sure were fast and easy this afternoon after school. (And, very tasty if I do say so myself.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Playa Lakes

Every morning since our big rain I have been fortunate enough to look out my east window and see the sun coming up over a lake in our pasture. We have several playa lakes around here. To make a long story short, they are lakes (pond might be a better term) that appear after rain and hold water for a short period of time. If we keep getting moisture, we might have them all summer. Or, we may just have them few weeks. Either way, they are fascinating as they create their own ecosystem.
Playa lakes are very important to birds--especially migratory ones. I noticed a pair of ducks on one the other day. Some people think they are important recharge areas for the Ogallala Aquifer--our underground water source (others question how much recharge they contribute because of their clay bottoms that help hold water.)
You can read more about playa lakes here and here.

My picutres are not the best--please note in the first one, the green you see is wheat. We had to disaster it already because of our dryness during the growing season. I'll post pictures of our pasture when it greens up.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Draw

A view of our house from the dam in the pasture.
The draw was running last night--something that doesn't happen very often anymore. The boys and I ventured out on the four-wheeler to get an up-close view of the water that's left today. (because, well, we don't see water in the draw that often)
This is where Happy Draw flows through the pasture south of our house. You can see Happy in the distance (off to the west). The draw is dammed up in our pasture. I'm guessing they did this to water livestock. I've seen water flow around the dam once or twice in my lifetime; we were nowhere near close to that last night.
Happy Draw starts in Randall County (north of here) and flows south until it reaches the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River. It is so-named because a bunch of Cowboys were so "happy" to find water. I looked up a brief explanation of all of that here. It is/was a spring-fed draw. I don't know if the spring still flows. I'm pretty sure it is dried up. Either way, lots of people have dammed the draw in places so it wouldn't run all the time.

In 1891, Hugh Currie established a homestead and post office on a site near the trail that followed the draw. A stage coach exchange was set up here as well. (We have a dugout--or the impression of a dugout--that was a line camp as part of the JA Ranch on our land--it would have set very close to the draw.) The original Happy is about 2 miles Northwest of our house. When the railroad came through, Happy moved two miles west to its present location. You can read more about that here.

These last pictures are of the draw as it meanders through the pasture just East of our house. We spent lots of evenings following the draw with my grandmother and poking sticks in holes. You can see that we have been extremely dry. The native grass in the pasture has been waiting for moisture before it greens up. I imagine that we'll be green sometime next week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bad Hair

These guys give a whole new meaning to the term, "bad hair day":

The chicks are growing--but they are still in that in-between-place where they are losing the fuzz and the feathers aren't in good yet.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My sister tagged me today. Here are the rules:

1. Choose the fourth folder where you store pictures on your computer.
2. Choose the fourth picture.
3. Explain that picture.
4. Tag 4 other people.
The fourth folder on my computer is titled "cows." I took these pictures of the cows/calves in our pens the other day. This is one of the calves.

I tag Janda, Christy (no pressure girl, when you get around to it will be great), Jennifer Bow and Granny Sue.

Let me know if you decide to participate ladies.

Why I keep kids...

Cheap labor, plain and simple:

Today the boys scrubbed cabinets, walls, baseboards and the kitchen floor while I sat on the couch eating bon bons and watching my soaps.

Seriously, I started scrubbing and T.S. wanted to help. Then C.W. came in and wanted to join the fun. T.S. even scrubbed the table legs. This is definitely a good skill for boys to hone.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Morning Fog

We woke up Easter morning to fog. We were blessed this weekend with over an inch of rain. We are so thankful for the moisture.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter!!

The boys and I made cupcakes today. (more pictures here)

Planting Potatoes

The kids raced down the newly made rows.
My great-grandmother always said to plant potatoes on Good Friday, so this year we actually did that. After we planted them we put hay on top of the rows. Hopefully it will hold moisture in (we are having to water right now because it is so dry) and keep weeds down.
Our seed beds look really big because we make them with the same implement you would use in a regular-sized field. When it is time to water, we have a cool pipe with holes drilled to fit the spacing of the rows so we can water four at a time. A bolt fits in the hole to stop it up if one row gets soaked before the rest is out. I'm afraid we are going to have to pre-water this year, so pictures of that eventually.

Our seed potatoes: Red Lasoda and White Kennebec

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Goo

It is windy again today. I decided to make goo for Sadie's class Easter party. I'm going to put it in individual bags and into plastic Easter eggs to use as BINGO prizes. I got this recipe out of a book called "Family Fun's Crafts." This recipe is easy and it entertains the kids for quite a while. I generally have all of the ingredients handy.

8 ounces white glue
food coloring (optional)
1 cup water
20 Mule Team Borax

Combine glue, food coloring and 3/4 cup water in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining water and 1 Tbsp. borax. Add the borax mixture to the glue and stir. It will immediately make a blob.

At this point I add a small amount of water to the container I mixed the borax in (because there will be a little bit of borax still in the cup) and then add that to the goo. You'll want to continue working the "blob" until it is no longer soupy--the best way to do this is with both hands.

When it is all together, you're done. I divided it among the kids and let them get busy.


  • I dump the bottle of glue (I use Elmer's--it isn't quite an 8 oz. bottle anymore) into the bowl, then pour the 3/4 cup water into the bottle and shake it up to get all of the glue out.
  • The recipe says that food coloring is optional--but what's the fun in plain goo?
  • This recipe is really fool-proof as near as I can tell.
  • This keeps quite a while in a sealed container.
  • It will take the shape of whatever container you put it in. If you make it into a ball, it will eventually flatten back out.
  • The more gentle you are, the more things you can get it to do.

I can nearly guarantee hours (at least large blocks of minutes) of fun with this stuff. Adults are even taken with it. Try it and let me know how much fun you had! Go here to see more pictures of the boys playing with it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


On a friend's blog today I read about sandwiches she used to eat as a child. That made me remember that mom used to fix me (or let me fix?) a ketchup sandwich or two. We'd put them in a little orange, plastic picnic basket and I'd walk over to my great-grandmother's (we called her Memaw) to visit. I think Memaw couldn't believe that mom let me eat ketchup sandwiches. They really are good, you know, especially on very fresh, white bread.

I can't believe that Memaw used to let us stick a straw in an orange to suck the juice out, instead of making us eat the orange. She always had lemon drops for us as well and Chicken 'n' Biscuit crackers (I think that's what they were.) All of those things tasted so good at her house.

Memaw always did mom's ironing. She loved to iron. When I was at her house, she would lower the ironing board and let me iron dad's handkerchiefs. I'd work very hard at it and put the finished, neatly pressed and folded kerchiefs in a pile on her TV--remember the big console ones?

I seem to remember that she always had a little "something" in her electric skillet on the counter. She'd warm that up for her supper, I guess. It's amazing that she didn't die from food poisoning. My other great-grandmother would leave all the dishes leftover from Sunday dinner out. She'd just cover them and heat them up later. (and I seem to have survived my childhood unscathed) Now we kill ourselves to get everything in the refrigerator.

It's amazing how mention of one thing can lead you down a road of happy memories. It's also amazing that I grew up knowing two great-grandmothers. Oh to go back to the simple time of childhood and ketchup sandwiches.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy, Texas--The Town Without a Frown

Yes, there really is a place called "Happy." I've been thinking for a while about posting a little about our town. We'll start today with some frequently asked questions and interesting facts.

Is everyone "happy in Happy?" For the most part, yes. If you would have asked that question on Saturday when the wind was blowing around 70 mph there might have been some who were unhappy.

The film Happy, Texas was not filmed here. We have very few trees and certainly have no orange groves. As far as the plot of the movie, to my knowledge nothing remotely like that has ever happened here.

A Blue Bell Ice Cream commercial was filmed here when I was a kid. At that time Blue Bell was only available in the area close to the Blue Bell plant. The commercial said something like, "We'd be happier in Happy if we had Blue Bell Ice Cream."

Parts of the movie Leap of Faith with Steve Martin were filmed in Happy and in the area. Also, a French film did some shooting here.

Happy has a population of around 675. We have one fillin' station, 1 cafe, 4 churches, 1 fantastic school (K-12), 2 grain elevators, and 1 bank (Happy State Bank). What we lack in size we make up for in the type of community we are. More on Happy (how we got our name, some history) this week as time permits.

Friday, April 3, 2009

An Explanation

I found this poem today. It sort of explains why my house is in the condition it is in.

Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue

(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Although I'm not rocking any babies anymore (I tried to rock Tryce today, he informed me he was too big.) I thought this was a neat poem.

Recipe of the Week: Beef Stir Fry

I've had this recipe for quite a while. I believe it came out of Quick Cooking magazine. This is a simple, quick supper. T.S. even likes this.

Flavorful Beef Stir-Fry

2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. white wine, apple juice or water
1 lb. boneless beef round steak, cut into thin strips
3 c. broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 pkg (6 oz) frozen pea pods, thawed
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided.
1 can (8 oz) sliced water shestnuts, undrained

Hot cooked rice

1. Combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce and wine, apple juice or water until smooth.
2. Add beef, toss to coat; set aside.
3. In a large skillet, stir fry broccoli, carrots, pea pods and onion in 1 Tbsp. oil for one minute.
4. Stir in water chestnuts; cover and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
5. In the same skillet, stir-fry beef in remaining oil until meat reaches desired doneness.
6. Return vegetables to pan; toss.
7. Serve over rice.

Cook's Notes:
  • I use apple juice (we always have it on hand); sometimes I add a little more juice to the meat if I think the sauce is too thick.
  • I also add minced garlic and onion to the sauce when the beef is "marinating."
  • I use whatever thin steak or cut of beef is on sale.
  • I generally cook the vegetables a little longer, because that's how our family likes it--this recipe is all about personal preference--I add more carrots, because T.S. likes them.
  • I use fresh snow peas or sugar snap peas--I generally find them in a package in the bagged salads area.