Rosehips & Roundups

Fall color on the grassy ‘high plains’ is more subtle, but just as lovely as the tree’d up hill country nearby. On the ranch, we’ve been doing a lot of ‘fall-work’. Socially, my farmgirl pals and I have been having a rollicking good time and savoring every autumn moment. Come on in and see for yourself …

This past weekend, my creative farmgirl friends and I had our Fall Farmgirl Show in the front room of my folks old building on the main street in town. We had a nice variety of farmgirl fare for sale: Folkart, canned goods, freshly baked pumpkin bread, jewelry, gourmet paper art goodies, knitted hats for children, crocheted washclothes & scrubbies, birdhouses embellished with ‘junktiques’, fresh cheese, bath soap & salts …etc etc. The show was well attended and as usual, we had fun. Here are some photos …

And what did I go home with from the show? Michele’s cute little googley-eyed crow perched on a pumpkin … sitting on an old bedspring (below), a jar of Anita’s pumpkin butter, a Michele-made ‘junk-art’ birdhouse, and a handful of Lisa’s artsy handmade cards. The weather was nice enough to leave the front door of the shop open which let the breeze blow some leaves in. ‘Tiz the season :o)

I’ve been cherishing every ‘indian summer’ day, for I know it will soon be gone. But, I’m trying not to see it as an ending. This is a season of optimism and hope. Well, at least Nature thinks so. Everything is going to seed and preparing for springtime. I prefer to look at it that way so that I can remain in denial about looking down the barrel of winter. I don’t want to think about that yet. Let me enjoy the warm hues of frostbitten prairie grasses and eating fresh, wild rosehips while on my pasture walks with the dogs & cats. Speaking of rosehips, have you tried MaryJane’s recipe for Rosehip Tea? It is in the Oct/Nov 2010 issue of MaryJanesFarm magazine – page 95. Very comforting and soooo good for you. I think I’ll go out and pick a bunch & let them dry.

This is the land of grass, literally. We live on the eastern edge of the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The variety of grasses that grow here is impressive. The kind of soil and the amount of water (or lack of it) determines what you’ll find underfoot. Ranching is refered to as the “Grass Culture”. Everything we do depends on grass. Ranchers don’t mind the absence of trees because that leaves more space for grass. So, where we live is most definitely ranch country. Here is a view of our little corner of the world this past week …

I don’t hoof it all that far when I go on walk-about in the back pasture, but it feels like it simply because you can see for forever out here. On just a few acres, the abundance of life always amazes me – most obvious in the summer, of course, but even now there is much to see. The other day I found a snapping turtle’s nest a hundred yards from the house. There was a hole in a bank of dirt and the scatterings of leathery eggshells. Oh, how I would love to have watched those ittybitty snappers make their way down to the creek.

My walk-about posse …

My Rat Terriers love to hunt for voles in the pasture. If this country’s politicians posessed the enthusiastic tenacity of a terrier on a vermin hunt, they’d have this country back on track in about 20 minutes :o) Teddy Roosevelt had five Rat Terriers in the White House to keep it rodent free.

One of the needs on a farmgirl’s farmstead is a real & true “verminator”. Not just a pet, but a dog that earns it’s keep. So, here is my top choice … Rat Terriers are an American breed developed in the 1800s as an all-around farm dog and hunting comrade. When the family farm was common in America, so was the Rat Terrier. The 19th century was the breed’s golden age (also true of many other working class breeds). You’ll see Rat Terriers in a variety of vintage litho prints of that time. They were and are the perfect ‘farmstead’ dog. Lovely pets, hard-working varmint hunters (in fact there is no better mouser in the universe). As mousers, cats aren’t even in it when compared to ‘Ratties’!! RTs are easy on other animals and unlike many other terrier breeds, they are very easy to train (and live with). They’re active lords of play, and yet mellow …. and oh so very sweet. At a glance, they’re similar in appearance to Jack Russells, but they are very different in temperament and in appearance once you take a good look at them – most notably in the head. In my humble opinion, RTs are the best choice for the family farm. In fact, they earned that title a long, long time ago and it is still true today.

In the antique print above, toddling Rat Terrier puppies are hot in pursuit of a mouse in the barn. I saw the very same thing with mine and at the same age. I gave them a mouse that one of the cats was playing with and Oh My, my tiny puppies went ballistic, killing it in an instant!! Actually, I bought them to indirectly protect my poultry. RTs (like most terrier breeds) hate varmints with a vengeance. So, although my Rts have no particular affection for my hens, they protect them by patrolling our property, ever on the lookout for any four-legged invader. Ok, end of doggie sales pitch.

When I check the horses out in the pasture (count heads), “Ribbon” can be very difficult to see and it only worsens as her winter coat grows in – being the very same shade as tan grass. At the moment, her winter coat of fur is just now growing in which covers her with hundreds of dapples. She is my first palomino colored horse and when she was a baby, I noticed that late in the fall she becomes virtually invisible.

Below: She was a 4 month old foal 4 years ago. Oh, she was such a pretty little thing. Not braggin’ … just sayin’ :o)

We normally get Fall rain showers which revives the grass. The horses and cattle while grazing of late, have buried their heads down deep in the old grass to feed on the fresh growth. This new grass really puts a nice ‘bloomy’ polish on our calves. It also helps the cows as they’re near the end of their nursing assignment and could use some extra oomph in their diet.

We help many friends and neighbors with their ranch fall-work. Here is what some of the high plains meadows look like this time of year … the meadows are scattered between pine and juniper covered hills & deep ravines.

Last year, Anita and her husband, Jerry, threw a Fall party and it went over so well, they decided to make it an annual event. Last weekend many of our friends headed out to the ranch for the food and festivity. Anita really enjoys educating children in the area of farming and how to make your own everything. She’s done a lot of demos at local history society fund-raisers – including taking her milk cow to teach milking lessons. Sadly, many children today have no idea where ‘things come from’. Below are photos from the party.

Farmgirl Lisa’s mom, Elsie, milked Anita’s new Jersy milk cow, “Daisy”. Lisa told me later that Elsie talked about it alllll the way home :o) She hadn’t milked in over 55 years, but she was sure no stranger to it!! She’s 100% farmgirl … going back to her childhood on a farm in South Dakota. Like many, their family farm was nearly self sustaining. By the time Elsie was in high school, she and her mother were milking 17 cows twice a day; she learned to milk at age six. Lisa remembers her grandfather with great affection … “the kindest man I’ve ever known.” She also learned to drive horses next to him in the buckboard. In the photo below, Elsie is shown milking. Anita told me that she could outmilk both she and husband, Jerry. Farmgirl Michele milked for the first time that evening. Isn’t Daisy the cutest thing? Anita says she’s very sweet, well-mannered and never poos in the barn.

Above: party-goers and the potluck table. Below: apple-bobbers.

Below: One of Shepperson’s Percheron horses had a sore foot and the hay-ride had to be cancelled, but he was happy to get attention from well-wishers:

Below: L to R – Lisa, me, and Elsie.

Now that gardening season is over, us nosey farmgirls wanted to have a look-see at the contents of Anita’s ‘cool room’ pantry in their bermed home. This summer, she put up almost 600 jars of produce and meat! Here is a tiny sample:

My contribution to the potluck supper was “Cowboy Caviar”.

~ Cowboy Caviar ~

1 can black beans, 1 can chile beans, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can corn.

1/2 onion – diced, 1 bell pepper – diced, 1/2 jalopeno pepper (minced).

1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1 C Italian dressing, 1 C fresh cilantro (chopped).

Combine ingredients and chill. Serve cold with corn chips.

Yesterday, I went with my farmgirl pal, Michele, to Rapid City to do some shopping. On the way home, we decided to stop and take in some of the fall color. There was a trailhead just off the road. The trees in that particular area are Pine, Oak and Aspen. A chilly breeze made the Aspen leaves flutter. We stayed only briefly, wanting to get home before nightfall. I hope you’re savoring the flavors of fall too. ~ Shery

  1. Helen says:

    Just want you to know that I look forward to reading your blog each week or so. Love your photos and your thoughts. I am a farmgirl, too. I currently live north of Colville, WA, on 20 acres, with my daughter, rat terrier-type dog, couple of cats, 15+ hens. As a California transplant, I am "living my dream", of being in the country, although I commute to town most days for a desk job, to pay for it all! I envy you your beautiful ranch, horses, etc….not that I don’t like my own place, but love yours, too!
    Thanks for taking the time to share your days with us, Sincerely HW

  2. Maura says:

    Wow…lots of interesting and fun stuff to read about this week! You live in such a beautiful area…I love the rolling pastureland. I wish we had that surrounding us other than farmland. There’s nothing at all wrong with farmland and it is beautiful when the crops are growing but when the fields are left bare and strong winds hit them BOY do we get hit with dust! I found your info on RT’s very interesting…we’ll have to consider that breed. Loved the party pictures…too bad about the horse having a sore hoof. The trees are just starting to turn color here on the farm..this is my favorite time of year. I’m definitely not looking forward to winter and I’m hoping that this year is a lot kinder to us. Enjoy your weather!
    Maura 🙂

  3. Debbie says:

    Really Shery? REALLY???? You get me everytime I read your posts! LOL!!!How do you do it??? I know, you’re a talented gal that’s how!!! Oh, the beauty of your photos and images formed in my head by your words can transport a gal 3000 miles from home and in a nano second, I’m there ( wish I was )!!! It’s all so warm and fally looking… Your info on RTs was very interesting… Being a Corgi lover ( and owner ) I was SURE they were the only dog for a farmgirl! HA!!! You know I’m kidding….WE do love our Max… he’s great with the hens and a wonderful companion dog… We just don’t say the words sheep or cow around him…He’s in the herding group and we don’t want him to get his hopes up! LOVE LOVE LOVE~ ALL OF IT!
    FARMGIRL HUGS and a very happy Farmgirl Fall to you!
    Deb ( your beachy farmgirl pal from the shorelines)
    PS. Pat the ponies for me!!!

  4. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for taking the time to take photos and tell us all the tiny details about your farm girl (ranch) life. It is very interesting and I get a lot of ideas from it. I am in a new area, hubby and I just bought a mini-farm and I would love to belong to a farm girl group but there isn’t one around here. I don’t know if I have the confidence to start one myself. Maybe someday.

  5. Grace~katmom says:

    As always… I love "visiting" with you at your blog…
    I have to share with you… for me, RoseHip tea is a Winter staple… I have been drinking it since I was a little girl. When I lived in germany, my Oma (grandmother) in Germany would serve it to me as a source of vita-C.
    To this day, I still drink it in the Winter…and I have family send it to me from Germany…somethings one just can’t change, and getting my RoseHip ‘Hagebutten’ tea from Germany is a tradition.
    Wish I could have been at your delightful Harvest Fest event… I luv all the goodies I see/saw in your posting.
    Oh sigh! part of me is not yet ready for Winter & yet another part of me want’s to start decorating…
    What’s a gal to do? lol!

  6. Terces says:

    Dear Shery,

    I don’t know how you do it. Most days I feel like I am barely keeping up and you make it all so beautiful, so heartwarming, so fun… I love reading your blog, keeps me inspired and remembering to stop and smell the hay some days!
    Thank you.

    Dearest Terces, Many days I barely keep up. Some days I just don’t. So, move over and we can sit on a big ole pile of laundry & share a glass of wine :o)  Nothing rids us of the tyranny of obligations, so you might as well enjoy peace-of-mind moments and tell ‘life’ it can wait for your soul to catch up with you. Thank you for the kind words…and you’re welcome.  Shery



  7. Love the pictures, looks like you all had a blast at your fall sale. Sounds very similar to the Harvest Festival the Lamoille Women’s club puts on every year. That’s where I first tried homemade apple butter.
    I have yet to try rosehip tea but I did pick a bunch last year and made rosehip jelly. I may have to go pick what’s left in our favorite choke cherry foraging spot to set aside for tea.
    I brought home a Jersey cow too!! I love love love her! The fresh milk, butter, cheeses, cream…how did I ever get along without her?! I’m currently milking her in my newly finished green house, until the milking parlor gets its makeover.
    Sounds like that fall festival was a lot of fun too. Too bad about the horses’ sore foot, but at least he got lots of pats and well wishes.
    Thankx for the visit (pictures)!

  8. Jeanne says:

    Your pictures always take my breath away. The high plain meadows are beautiful. Reading your blog always takes me away from chores for a spell.
    I love Michele’s "art junk" bird houses. Are they just for decoration or can they be hung in a tree to be used? I would love to buy one.
    I am in Southern Colorado and it is getting very cold here in the early mornings and my daughter told me next week it is going to be really chilly. She even got out her bed quilts and comforters. Guess I had better do the same.
    Blessings, Jeanne


    Hi Jeanne,  Some of Michele’s birdhouses are not just decorative. Several of them have a hinged door so that they can be cleaned out. But, she just sells them locally and at shows. I’ll sure tell her that you like them though. :o)

    Thanks you for the kind words.   Shery

  9. meredith says:

    I have to put my vote in for the corgis! We have had them for years, they are the best pets, herding dogs, and as soon as I teach them how to get varmints, well, they will be great at that too! Ha! Loved the info on the RT- might have to look into that breed one day! Thanks for your fabulous post, as always……Meredith

  10. Rene Foust says:

    What a beautiful life! I love your posts they are always so inspiring, beautiful and informative. I always learn something new after reading your posts, thanks so much.

  11. Sondra K says:

    What a wonderful blog. Thank you for taking the time to share it with everyone. So much to feast my eyes on. I especially loved all of the outdoor photos. The part about the rat terriers was very educational. I might consider getting a rat terrier if I get to the point that I need another dog.

    Your horse is beautiful. I’ve never seen that shade of palamino before, but up close, she certainly is. With all of those lovely dapples, I was expecting a grey at first. Beautiful, beautiful.

    I’m very envious of all the grass that you’ve got. It looks like a perfect location for a ranching farmgirl.

  12. Sondra K says:

    What a wonderful blog. Thank you for taking the time to share it with everyone. So much to feast my eyes on. I especially loved all of the outdoor photos. The part about the rat terriers was very educational. I might consider getting a rat terrier if I get to the point that I need another dog.

    Your horse is beautiful. I’ve never seen that shade of palamino before, but up close, she certainly is. With all of those lovely dapples, I was expecting a grey at first. Beautiful, beautiful.

    I’m very envious of all the grass that you’ve got. It looks like a perfect location for a ranching farmgirl.

  13. Amber says:

    What a great blog

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