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!? 😊

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. 😊

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!

Goat Beach!

We’ve wanted to do this for years … Jacinto and Nico made it reality – they created and placed the “Goat Beach” sign for me!

Goats being goats, they already broke part of the well-crafted sign, but you get the picture!

Jacinto and Nico have also nearly mastered lawn mowing! (The only thing left to master is the first mow strip along buildings, irrigation pipes and pool).

Jacinto mowing
Nico mowing

Today, we also clipped a bazillion woolly mullein seeds (incredibly invasive in our burn scar).

They also finished moving a bunch of sucker rods (30′ long, steel, well-drilling rods that weigh about 40 lbs each). I wish there was a video of that, but they’d grab a rod in both hands and take off running full-speed ahead, dragging the rods behind them. Ah, youth!

Heather in the Garden

Heather has been helping these last few days in the garden (weeding, picking, pulling, cleaning drip filters, drip line maintenance and processing LOTS of garlic), around the house (food prep and tidying), and in the meat locker (processing turkeys and making turkey sausage).

Here she is peeking around the cucumber vines where she is trying to coax them back onto their trellis.

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