Friday, July 31, 2009

Return of the Pluots

The Bag Lady went to town yesterday and ran some errands. Banking, bill paying, all the fun necessities of life. Then she did some shopping - milk, dog food, toilet paper.... you know the drill.

She hit her stride at Costco, though. Followed her usual routine - hit the bookshelves first, then headed for the bakery (whole wheat bread), the meat dept. (chicken and ribs) cruised through the deli section and slowed long enough to check out one of the freebies - a smoothie-type thing made with ruby red grapefruit juice, blackberries and yogurt. YUM! She only needed a few things (in fact, her list consisted of bread and coffee!) but when she reached the fruit aisle, she almost jumped for joy!

The Pluots are back, the Pluots are back!

Some of you may recall that she bought a flat of Pluots last year and was worried that she and the Rancher weren't eating them fast enough, so decided to make jam. The. Absolute. Best. Damned. Jam. EVER! The Rancher liked it so well, the Bag Lady had to hide a couple of jars in the back of the pantry so it would last the winter!

She was so happy to see them, she almost bought two flats. Until she looked at the price. Sanity returned, and she only bought one flat (15 pluots). She also bought a few veggies, then made her escape from town. She had almost reached the city limits when she saw the fruit truck sign.... screeched to a halt and pulled in to buy some fresh B.C. cherries. He also had pluots at his fruit stand (in fact, the cherries were the only fruit he had that was actually grown in Canada - everything else was from California) and his pluots were even more expensive than the ones at Costco!
His cherries weren't all that cheap, either, but he threw in a nectarine out of the goodness of his heart.

So the Bag Lady will be making jam, as soon as the pluots have ripened a bit more. And she will be freezing homegrown peas pretty soon, too, because they are producing like crazy (apparently the Bounce dryer sheets are working, because she hasn't seen any sign of deer in her garden, knock on wood.) The Rancher discovered the cherries, and the Bag Lady had some, too, so there aren't enough left to do anything with, except eat them!

She has carrots to deal with (pickled carrots with dill - yummy!) and should probably make some beet pickles, too. Let the games pickling and preserving begin!

This is a long weekend in Canada, and she and the Rancher may do something wild and crazy. Canning? Pickling? Camping? Drinking? It's all up in the air!! And the temperature is supposed to be up, too... forecast high for today is 29C (85F) and tomorrow will be hotter.

It's summertime, eh?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Babble Post

The Bag Lady is off to town today to do some shopping and bill paying.

There is rain in the forecast for today, which is fine with her. Her garden could use a drink.
The Rancher, with the help of his brother, finished baling the little bit of hay that there was (perhaps an eighth of last year's yield), so let it rain! The pasture could use a drink, too.

This has been a strange summer. Cold and dry to start, then about 5 inches of rain in roughly a two-week stretch, then hot and dry. It has really affected the growing season. The hayfields suffered greatly, as did the pasture and garden. The rain that came was almost too late, but did save the garden and the pasture. Unfortunately, the hayfield has already blossomed, so the rain didn't help. Between the lack of moisture and the huge numbers of grasshoppers, well, if the Rancher and the Bag Lady hadn't down-sized their herd, they would be in serious trouble! As it is, they aren't sure they will have enough feed to get them through the winter. And they are not alone in this. There are ranchers in the central and southern portions of the province who have had to resort to buying hay to feed their animals because their pastures have dried up and died.

Buying (expensive!) hay to feed in the summer is disastrous. There are a lot of ranchers who have suffered too many losses over the past few years to keep going. When the last of the independent ranchers go out of business, the entire country will suffer. Once the packing plants own all the feedlots and cattle, they will be able to control the market (even more so than they do already!) and charge whatever they want.

The Bag Lady watched a program on TV the other night about yet another threat to the world's food supply. Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate. This poses a threat to our entire food chain. Honeybees don't just produce honey - they pollinate an enormous number of plants such as fruit trees, forage crops, etc. and without them, a lot of the fruits and vegetables we see in our grocery stores will disappear, along with dairy and meat products!

The Bag Lady doesn't want to sound like an alarmist, but she does worry about this in those moments between worrying about paying the bills and worrying about whether her hair is falling out or the sun is going to come out tomorrow!

What kinds of things do you worry about?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Here are some pictures from the Bag Lady's flower garden (please ignore the weeds....)

Lilies with some Mallows visible behind them:

Blue and Pink Delphiniums:

The Bag Lady's flower garden is not up to standard this year. It was too dry and cold early in the season, and the Bag Lady has been terribly lazy about weeding....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The Bag Lady's area has been sweltering under a bit of a heat wave for the last while (she is not complaining, don't ever think she would, because she knows that in 6 months or so it could be -40! She just hopes that this doesn't mean the cold weather will conversely last as long as the heat wave has...)

The Bag Lady decided yesterday that she simply had to mow her lawn. She uses a ride-on mower, and was sensible enough to wear a hat. But she had to wait until the dew burned off the grass, and what with one thing and another, it was the hottest part of the day before she got started. It takes her a solid 3 hours to mow her lawn (sometimes more), and by the time she finished, she was definitely warm. She stopped once to rescue a toad, and once more to fill her machine with gas. She took advantage of that stop to get a drink of water.

She is very glad that she decided to wear the hat (except for when the grasshopper that somehow managed to get under it was trying to jump out - that is definitely a unique feeling!) because even with the hat, she thinks she may have gotten a touch of heat stroke. She ended up with a skull-crushing headache last night that prevented her from even thinking, let alone trying to come up with a blog post!

Between her headache and the heat, she had a terrible time sleeping last night and so, apparently, did the Princess, because she woke the Bag Lady at 5 am, demanding to be let out. Sigh.

The Bag Lady apologizes for this rather lame post and hopes she'll have something better for you tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Here is the newest addition to the ranch. He was a little camera-shy, unfortunately, and far more interested in getting a drink of milk than he was in posing for a picture!

His mama is a sweet-natured cow, but she wasn't interested in the photo-shoot either, so the Bag Lady left them alone.

Here is a sight the Bag Lady sees quite frequently; one that has a tendency to startle her guests and make them laugh:

When the cat wants in, he suddenly pops up, standing on the table outside the kitchen window and peering in the window, yowling!
Clever cat.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Meanwhile, Back on the (R-rated) Ranch

(Warning.... this post may contain images that are not suitable for all viewers... or any viewers!)

It was a lovely, hot day on the ranch yesterday. The Rancher decided he would cut some hay. The air conditioner in the tractor does not work (remember that, because it will be relevant later in this post!)

He went to the hayfield and the Bag Lady did some book work, then some housework (washed her floors in the boiling heat....whew!) The Rancher finished up in the hayfield and arrived home just before supper time. (and they had a beer) The Bag Lady had thawed out some pork chops for supper, and the Rancher decided that it was his turn to cook, so he fired up the barbeque. (and had a beer.)

The Bag Lady set the table and settled back to enjoy this unexpected night off from kitchen duty: (and they had a beer)

The Rancher and the Bag Lady enjoyed a little liquid refreshment while their supper was cooking. The evening was balmy, the beer was cold, and everything was good in their world.

Eventually they sat down to a lovely meal:

The Rancher was hot (no air-conditioning in the tractor, remember?) and this:

looked very inviting.

Before the Bag Lady could say "what the heck...?", the Rancher had shed his clothes and...

And then....

And then....

And the Bag Lady will keep the rest of the pictures to herself because..... what happens on the ranch, stays on the ranch!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Goat Has It

The Bag Lady was so lazy and slothful busy yesterday that she didn't have time to prepare a blog post! (Can you imagine anything taking precedence over blogging, for cryin' out loud!?)

Her cousin, Leah, who blogs over at the Goat's Lunch Pail, also claims she was scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel, but her post is far more amusing and informative than anything the Bag Lady could come up with today.

If you need an update on the latest accessory for those of us who are worried about the government reading our minds (and isn't that everyone?) and would like something a little more interesting than what the Bag Lady has to offer today, slip on over to check out what the Goat's having for lunch today!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baby Clothes

The Bag Lady doesn't have a whole lot for you today. She spent most of yesterday hiding from the heat sewing and finally finished the gift she was working on for the Rancher's (now 2 month old!) grandchild.
She had a really hard time taking a decent picture of it. It looks weird in the photo. She hopes it won't look weird on the grandchild.....

She had a terrible time making up her mind about how to embellish the dress and finally asked the Rancher's opinion. The very first thing he said when he saw it was "Wow, that's cute!", which quite suprised her - he seldom pays attention to that kind of thing. The next surprise came when he picked the buttons and rickrack for the dress - his customary response is usually a shrug.

So here is the finished product:

She has a few other sewing projects underway right now, too (which is part of the reason this one took her so long....) and will probably spend more of the upcoming week huddled over her sewing machine in the cool bedroom to escape the forecasted hot weather!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden Tour

The Bag Lady thought she would share some pictures of her garden with you today.

She is very happy that the rain came when it did - her garden was very sad and pathetic-looking a mere couple of weeks ago. It is a lot happier now! (Please click on any of the pictures if you want a better view of how bad the weed situation is!)

She went out yesterday to have a look (and pull a few weeds), and was dismayed to find that, although they look okay from a distance, her peas have had a visitor!

Here is a closer view of what her resident mama deer has been having for a midnight snack:

Apparently, the deer isn't all that fond of potato tops, and could only finish half the row of peas.

She hasn't touched the grapevine, either.... (must be a teetotaler!)

Here is the assistant gardener, inspecting the onions.

The Bag Lady tied some strips of Bounce dryer sheets onto the chicken wire supporting her peas. She used that trick last year and it seemed to help. If it doesn't work this year, she will be forced to come up with a better solution.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch

The Bag Lady had a wild and crazy weekend.

Well, okay, maybe not. She and the Rancher did have some company on Saturday and a good time was had by all. About the only wild and crazy part, though, was the weather. There were some pretty intense thunderstorms that blew through, but nothing like what they had in Edmonton, where trees were knocked down all over the place and there was quite a lot of property damage.

Here is a picture she took of one of the storm fronts as it moved in.

Both Friday and Saturday were quite hot, and the Bag Lady felt a little sorry for the newest addition to the ranch. This calf was born on Friday and spent a lot of time just lying about in the hot sun!

His mother finally stood up and provided him with a little shade. He seemed none the worse for wear on Sunday, though, and was bouncing and running with the rest of the calves. There are still a few more calves to be born (this has been the longest calving season yet on the ranch!), but they probably won't arrive for a couple more weeks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kitchen Experiments

The Bag Lady has been hard at work in her test kitchen.

She was doing some experimenting and made her own home-grown, all-natural, organic garlic powder yesterday! It turned out very well. Well enough, in fact, that she is thinking of doing more. It was fun. She might try making onion powder, too.

She loves experimenting with things like that, and is working on perfecting some dried spice mixes for dips and sauces. Garlic and hot pepper? Chive and dill? Onion, spinach and garlic? It's fun to think up combinations.

She and the Rancher had their first feed of beets from the garden, did she tell you? They were really good. And the Rancher has been pestering her for some time now to cook beet greens for him. She had never eaten beet greens, so was hesitant. (She was afraid they would taste like cooked spinach, which she really does not care for!) She finally broke down and cooked some and was pleasantly surprised that they tasted quite good. But she was also a wee bit dismayed at how those huge leaves shriveled up to such a teensy tiny little amount. It's a good thing she cooked both the beets and the greens!

She has to go to town today, but perhaps later on this afternoon she will get around to making a batch of dilled carrots. They are so-o good! And the carrots are perfect right now - just the right size to fit in the jars.

Here's a picture for you that has absolutely nothing to do with this post! She just thinks it's pretty.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Mixed Bag

The Rancher and the Bag Lady went for a little walk in the woods the other evening, and saw all kinds of interesting things. As the Bag Lady stumbled along, she spied these in the bushes:
(click on any of the pictures to enlarge)

They are dewberries, and they are delicious! Similar to raspberries in appearance, but sweeter. These were ripe enough to eat, but when they are really ripe, they are more of a purple colour.

A little further down the trail, the Bag Lady's eye was caught by these pretty little flowers. She fumbled around, trying not to drop any of her dewberries, and managed to take this picture:

She has no idea what either of the flowers in this picture are (and is hoping her cousin's husband will be able to identify them!) The pink ones are what caught her eye - the white one just happened to be close enough to be included in the picture.

Later, on their drive home, she finally managed to get a picture of the geese at this dugout along the road. She has not had an opportunity to capture them before now, but she has been watching the babies grow!

And, speaking of babies, she was a little surprised when she went out to check cows yesterday morning and discovered this little guy!

His mother was a little secretive about when she planned to introduce him to the world, but he was worth waiting for.

And lastly, here is a picture for Mizfit's Tornado, since she likes the pictures of the cows. Some of you may remember the calf from last year who liked to undo the gates. Turns out he also has a penchant for chewing on the Bag Lady's flannel shirt (that she wears in the evening to keep the mosquitoes from eating her alive when she's out in the pasture.)

And that's what's been happening on the ranch lately!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Here is the swan that the Bag Lady carved out of a watermelon. It looks a little worse for wear because it's been a few days.....

Here's the newest addition to the ranch:

And the first bunch of new carrots from the garden:

The Bag Lady's garden is doing quite well now that it has received some rain. The peas are starting to produce pods, and the beets are probably big enough to eat. The corn probably won't amount to anything, and the beans are slow, but will probably start flowering soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ranch Pictures

The Bag Lady hasn't got much to share with you today. It was cold and rainy at her house yesterday and she spent most of the day hunkered down.

She did go out and check cows first thing in the morning (like she always does) and took these pictures of part of the herd.

See those trees in the distant background? Her house is behind those trees. They don't look as far away as they actually are because of the slope of the (much greener!) land in between.

And here are a couple of pictures of one of the calves bravely checking out the Bag Lady's finger.

Right after she snapped this picture, he actually made contact with her finger and spooked and ran away!

Silly calf.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thunderous Birthday

It was another busy weekend on the ranch. The Bag Lady's mother-in-law held a surprise birthday party for the Rancher's sister, and the Bag Lady and her sisters-in-law all helped out. The weather was very co-operative - the huge thunderstorm held off until after the party!

It was a lovely hot day, and it seemed as though everyone had a good time.

The Bag Lady made spinach salad, and spinach dip, and carrot cake. She carved a watermelon into a swan, but forgot to take a picture of it!

Here's the cake, though:

The Bag Lady had a lot of trouble decorating the cake - it's been quite a long time since she actually wrote on a cake!

There was a ton of good food and they roasted hot dogs over an open fire.

The Bag Lady tried to take some pictures of the storm, but she had left her video camera in her truck and wasn't about to run through the torrential downpour to get it! It rained over a half an inch in less than a half an hour, and the thunder and lightning were incredible!

The Bag Lady took this picture before the storm broke:

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's a Mystery!

The Bag Lady doesn't have a lot to share with you today.

She and the Rancher had to go to town yesterday for appointments and a few groceries. The river was quite swollen, so the Bag Lady asked the Rancher to take a picture (she was driving). Here is what was on her camera when she downloaded the pictures last night:

She has no clue what that is - perhaps the inside of the console in her truck??

Actually, here is the picture of the river that the Rancher took.

And this is a picture she took of the rain gushing into her already full rain barrel during a rather violent thunderstorm that tore through the other day. (And apparently, tear it did - tore part of the roof right off the Rancher's uncle's house!) The Bag Lady took this photo through the window screen in her sun porch. It was pouring rain, but the sun was still shining (must be why she calls it a sun porch....)

The Bag Lady and the Rancher have a few things planned for the weekend, so perhaps she'll have something interesting to share with you next week! In the meantime, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Groundhog Day

Another inch of rain fell throughout yesterday and last night, so the ground is quite soggy now! The rainfall warning has been lifted, and the rain is supposed to subside into showers for the rest of the week.

The Bag Lady and the Rancher watched the news on television last night at 6 pm and were surprised to hear that their area was under a tornado watch. Apparently, a funnel cloud had been spotted in the area. A thunderstorm blew through, but they didn't see any funnel clouds.

The Bag Lady has been trying in vain to take a photograph of the deer who is living in the bush across the driveway from her house. This doe has twin fawns who spend most of their time hiding in the underbrush, but who do come out and play periodically. Unfortunately, they usually come out when the Bag Lady is too far away to get a good picture (or she doesn't have her camera at all!).

She and the Rancher went to the dump... oops, they don't call them that anymore landfill the other day, then decided to take a little drive around the community. As they were taking the long way back to the highway, the Bag Lady spotted something slowly making it's way across the road in front of them. She asked the Rancher what it was, and he replied that it was a groundhog! The Bag Lady had never seen a real live groundhog, so she groped for her camera, only to discover that she had forgotten it! (Gasp!)
She was quite disappointed because the groundhog was on her side of the road when they went past, and she could have quite easily gotten a good picture.

Once they reached the highway, not long after they got up to speed, the Bag Lady spotted something moving on the verge on her side of the road. The Rancher slowed down and, sure enough, there was another groundhog. The Bag Lady watched as they went by, and the poor little guy backed up rapidly, like something in a movie. In her warped memory, he stood up on his hind legs, waving his hands in front of him as if to say "No! Don't hit me!" then covered his eyes as they swished by! (He was far enough off the road that he was in no danger of being hit.)
The Bag Lady hopes he made it safely across the road, or changed his mind and went back the way he came. And how typical that the very first time she sees a groundhog, she missed two good opportunities to take pictures.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch

It has been a very dry year around here, so far. The Bag Lady was out in the pasture the other day, and tried to take some pictures of just how bad the conditions are. She discovered it isn't easy to photograph dryness accurately! This patch of grass gives an indication - at this time of year, it should be lush and green. This looks more like a picture taken in August after a hot, dry spell: (please note the concern on the face of your tour guide, the exalted Princess.)

Here the Princess points out that this area should be lush and green, not dry and brown:

Here is an area where the cows walk daily:

See the dust they are kicking up as they go through the gate?

The clouds threaten, but don't produce much. The cows have resorted to kicking dirt onto their backs to help get rid of the flies!

Average rainfall for June around here is something in the neighbourhood of 60 mm - this year we had 6 mm.

It finally took to raining yesterday. When the Bag Lady got up this morning, there was an inch in the rain gauge. (Please click on the picture to enlarge it if you would like to actually be able to see the rain in the gauge...)

That's more rain than what fell in both May and June! And, apparently, the rain is going to continue through today and tomorrow.

The Bag Lady's rain barrel is full!

And her garden seems to have sprung up several inches overnight (she knows that isn't true, but it looks much happier than it did a few days ago!)

Now, as long as the rain knows when to quit.....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekend Recap

Another weekend gone!

The Bag Lady spent a mostly quiet weekend, hanging around the house. She did some housework, and did some yard work, and painted a chair. She also made a dessert last night that turned out very well. In fact, she was so pleased with it, that she will share the extremely fattening recipe with you.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust:

Mix together:
1 Cup graham crackers, crushed
1/3 C melted butter
press into pie plate, chill 15 minutes.


12 oz softened cream cheese
2/3 C creamy peanut butter
14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk (low-fat)
1/3 C lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 oz Cool Whip

Mix first 5 filling ingredients, beating well. Fold in Cool Whip.
Pour into crust.
Chill for 3 hours.
Before serving, drizzle with chocolate sauce.
(The Bag Lady also added some extra Cool Whip, and garnished with Reese's Peanut Butter Bites)

Here's how it looked:

She and the Rancher also spent a good portion of the weekend watching the chuckwagon races on television. The Calgary Stampede is on, and the Rancher and the Bag Lady are acquainted with several of the chuckwagon drivers, so they always watch the races and root for the hometown boys!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Travels with Baggie

The Bag Lady and the Rancher went on a day trip with some very good friends of theirs the other day. Their friends are working to clean up some property to ready it for sale, so they were moving old equipment and salvaging mementos. Here is a picture of one of the pieces of equipment they moved. The Rancher was pleasantly surprised to see it, because it reminded him of the very first piece of equipment he learned to operate when he was a very young man. He was almost sure it was the same model he skidded trees with when he first went to work. (And no, he isn't all that old - the machine was old when he operated it!)

When the work was done, the four of them went on a tour to see more of the land that was in their friends' family. During the drive to the river bank, they woke this guy from his afternoon nap:

(click on any of the pictures to enlarge them)He had a huge rack of velvet-covered horns - so large, in fact, that when he was still lying down they at first thought he was an elk! Once he stood up, they realized he was a mule deer.

After a very short walk through the bush, they came out on this hogsback and were treated to this marvelous view:

It's a little difficult to tell from this next picture, but the hogsback narrows to a point where the Rancher and his friend are standing. The Bag Lady has an unfortunate phobia of heights, and she simply could not force herself to walk all the way down to where they are standing. They kept trying to coax her down there in order to take a picture looking up the river, but she was afeared.

This was the best she could do as far as a picture in the other direction went:

And, on the walk back to the vehicle, she saw this lovely wild tiger lily, growing sensibly far away from the scary steep riverbanks!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Fourth of July long weekend to our neighbours to the south!