Dogs, Goats, Ranch on a Fall Morning

Last week we had some wonderful rain, and Fall arrived this week. Morning walks with the goats and dogs are full of moist, fragrant, cool air and the animals seem more energetic. Really beautiful right now. Here are some photos from this morning and one dog video.

  • a garden, windmill and barn with blue sky in trees in background
  • A small pond with trees and sky reflected in it.
  • Two Anatolian Shepherd dogs by a gate
Dogs at play

Heather and the 40lb Watermelon

Heather hefts the 40lb Congo

This variety, Congo, gets big. I have one more this size not quite ripe yet. Of course, I can’t lift it (due to the rotator cuff surgery), so Heather did it for me.

Aren’t organic melons $3.99 / lb. Hmm, think I can sell it for $160? šŸ¤£šŸ¤£

You can see some of David’s tomato bounty there, too.

Heather has been here a few days to help us again. We had an absolutely beautiful day yesterday. David and Heather declared it a “GSDD” (get shit done day). Heather also canned her first batch of pickles, among a long list of other accomplishments, like 20 batches of pesto, weeding, tilling, picking, etc.

Here’s what the day looked like. Almost seemed normal — cool, clear wonderful air.

JalapeƱo Poppers

Now that the heat wave is over, we fired up a little JalapeƱo heat and heat from the grill. Appropriate cool provided by my signature pomegranate margaritas.

Here’s what you need:

For the poppers:

  1. A special rack for the grill
  2. A pepper coring tool (to remove insides and leave only the pepper shell)
  3. Cream cheese, chopped mushrooms and other optional ingredients (we used dried tomato powder)
  4. A frosting bag (like used for icing a cake — to dispense the cream cheese into the poppers)
  5. Medium-sized JalapeƱos

For the margaritas (this makes nine, 8 oz servings on the rocks — adjust proportions as needed):

  1. 12 oz tequila (AƱejo preferred)
  2. 6 oz triple sec (60-proof if available)
  3. 3 oz Grand Marnier
  4. 6 oz limeade concentrate (frozen)
  5. 24 oz fresh pomegranate juice
  6. salt and lime for rim of glasses if desired

Slideshow demonstration:

  • a serrated, spiral knife
  • serrated coring tool inserted into jalepeno pepper
  • a cored jalepeno with a few seeds showing
  • a bowl with a mixture of cream cheese and chopped mushrooms
  • 19 cored jalepeno peppers in a rack with cream cheese filling being put into them
  • a top-down look at cored peppers filled with cream cheese
  • JalapeƱos on a rack with filling and bacon over the top
  • A filled jalapeƱo rack ready to grill
  • Rack of stuffed jalapeƱos on the grill
  • Roasted jalapeƱo poppers ready to eat on the grill
  • A dish of enchiladas, roasted jalepeno peppers and pomegranate margaritas

Okay, We’ll Talk About the Weather

It’s HOT!

Note: cooler inside because we ran the house fan from 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and it was 64 outside

We laughed to ourselves this evening because even if we did have an AC, CA wouldn’t want us to run it right now!

We have the pool.

The animals are having the worst of it, especially the rabbits and turkeys. Goats roll with it. Cattle seem fine. Dogs find water or shade, but the old guy is NOT happy.

I was going to post a picture of Junior! and some of David’s canned tomatoes, but I guess you’ve seen canned tomatoes and a five-month old calf before, right?

More Friends from Texas

This week, one of David’s childhood neighbors and friend and her husband came to visit from Texas. Lisa and Kelvin were filming and broadcasting some competition water skiing events in Elk Grove … after that, they drove up for a quick visit.

Lisa and David have known each other since first grade. Lisa’s mom and David’s mom are still neighbors. Lisa and David were dancing partners back in the day … C&W, polka and waltzes.

This was a kind of staycation for us since the visit was brief and we were all ready for some R&R. Lisa taught us a couple of new games, Five Crowns and Spicey Farkle … so our repertoire of 42, Pinochle and Bridge has expanded!

Lisa and Kelvin even got to experience herding turkeys! It was this year’s flock’s first time to pasture, so it was a little chaotic. Lisa and Kelvin also got up early in the morning to learn the secret to making David’s scones.

It was a great visit and here are some of Lisa’s pictures from the last couple of days:

Kelvin, Lisa, David and Neil

Neil and David learning 5 Crowns. I think Neil won, right?

Neil attacking David’s sourdough loaf with the 1970’s electric knife and his good (left) arm

David milking Lucy … milking number 734 and counting

Peak Melon, 2022

Have I mentioned that I like melons!? šŸ˜Š

In this photo, five varieties of cantaloupe/honeydew and three varieties of watermelon

Starting on the left:

  • the football-shaped melons are Afghan honeydew, crisp sweet and vibrant green on the inside
  • the smooth, cream-colored melons are Tamdew (a type of honeydew developed by Texas A&M). VERY sweet
  • The striped watermelon is a Crimson Sweet … extremely productive this year and reliably tasty
  • The two, dark green melons are Asian melons … creamy white and sweet
  • The dark green melon (with a slight sunburn) is a Congo … they are pale pink inside but very crisp and sweet, with white seeds. That is the smallest … two more out there growing to monsters.
  • The yellow/orange melons are Collective Farm Woman (sometimes called Ukrainian Farm Woman), a kind of cantaloupe that is light orange-to-white inside and again, very sweet.
  • The pale-colored watermelon is Alibaba. A very productive variety last year, but just one this year. Another great-tasting watermelon
  • The football-shaped cantaloupe on the right are Hearts of Gold, a typical cantaloup in that it is bright orange on the inside, less crisp than the honeydews, but fragrant and sweet.

After years of experimenting with many varieties, these are my favorites here in our location. It takes about 3 months from seed to melon, and they are typically finished producing in a month or less.

We eat a lot, give away a lot, and can hold some in cold storage for about a month.

Picking these melons can be tricky — each variety of honeydew/cantaloupe has its own “I’m Ripe!” signal. Some detach from the vine at the stem, some get subtle changes in color or texture. Some just start getting incredibly fragrant. The watermelons are easy … there’s a little curlicue tendril on the stem where it attaches to the vine … when that turns brown and dries up, the melon is ripe, no matter what it thumps like.

A Year Ago

… sweet little Belle came to our ranch on Aug. 25, 2021. What a special day that was!

Lucy is expecting again in January. She’s very large already. Not sure what’s going on in there, but if it’s just one, that might not be good (too big=difficult labor). If it’s two and one is male, that is also not good (means the female would be sterile). If it’s two females and all goes well, wonderful.

Belle’s current owner sent this picture of Belle a few months ago … a true mini!

With a Little Help from Our Friends, 2020 Bottled and 2021 Canned.

Kristin and Steve with David and Neil at Two Bucks Ranch

Kristin brought her husband this year to help at the ranch and to enjoy some time away from Austin. Of course, we put them to work. šŸ˜Š

Last year, Kristin helped process olives when she was here. This year, Steve got to help, too. The four of us managed to pit and can 16 quarts of Greek-style olives in a morning. These were olives we’d been curing since 2021 when they were picked.

Steve also helped bottle the barrel of 2020 Zinfandel — about 25 cases. This wine was from grapes donated by friends (Mary Ellen and Matt) who’d lost their wine-making facilities and home in the Camp Fire in 2018. 2020 was also a smoke-filled summer in Northern CA. COVID came, and we had our own fire later in 2020. Mary Ellen suggested that the 2020 vintage might be cursed. It was drinkable when we bottled it yesterday, but we’ll have to see how it ages.

Kristin and Steve also helped pick garden produce and can 6 quarts of dill pickles.

Kristin helped make pesto last night and David made his best-ever pizza using that pesto and a bunch of other things from the garden.

An insufficient number of Scrabble games were played, and David won all but one of them.

Homemade Ice Cream

Just one of the many good things about having a Jersey milk cow … ice cream! Here’s the recipe:

2 eggs well beaten
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
mix together all ingredients and put in ice cream freezer

(We typically double this recipe for a standard home ice cream maker)

Especially nice with fresh fruit on top!

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