Saturday, July 30, 2011

Boot Hill

We got up early this morning, ON A SATURDAY, and headed to Dodge City. A visit to Boot Hill has been on our summer to do list and, well, our summer is almost over.  Danny has lived here for over 20 years and had never visited and I hadn't been for about that long.   We..Danny and I ...have a fascination with the "old days" so we were really looking forward to this!

The boys thought the jail had a "creepy" feel to it.
Taken from the Boot Hill website:
Boot Hill Museum was built on the original location of the infamous Boot Hill Cemetery. From 1872 to 1878 Dodge City had no established cemetery of its own. It became known as Boot Hill due to the fact that most of the people buried here still had boots on their feet.
Most of the bodies were believed to have been moved during Dodge City’s early expansion. There is a large corner, left undisturbed, where you are able to walk among the markers that tell the stories of the many souls who were buried on top of the hill. The cemetery only existed as a burial ground for about six years; it was a lookout point, used to view the river’s lowlands, a place to observe wild game and buffalo and to detect one’s enemies.
My guys REALLY enjoyed the different guns they had on exhibit

And we had the BEST time in the Longbranch Saloon where we "bellied up to the bar" and drank some ice cold Sarsaparillas.
See that beautiful bar behind Tristen? It was made out of cherry wood in 1881.

This man playing the piano was adorable and could play the piano like no one I've ever seen!

This was taken from the Hardesty House.  I didn't take a lot of pictures in here, but I was memorized by the stairs. They were stunning! You can no longer go up to the second floor. The house was built in 1879 and the information says when it was built it was not built so to handle the 90,000+ visitors the home gets per year and there had been some structural damage to it.  Later when I researched a little about the house, I found many stories on the internet about this house being haunted.  I'm glad I found this out AFTER we had visited.

This exhibit was of old barb wire. You wouldn't think that would be very interesting, but some of these were amazing works of art.
I loved all the old brands. Somewhere in there is a cute little heart one.
There were many other exhibits I was unable to get pictures of due to the lighting. A bank, a medical exhibit, clothing store, blacksmith, printing press, and a mortuary.  Some of the caskets had glass windows in them. And of course, we had to see the train that sits out by the parking lot.

It was a great and fun morning! We really enjoyed our visit. Sometimes I think it would be amazing to go back to live in such a simpler time, but yet realize how lucky I am to live in this day and age!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marvelous Mozzarella

Can you guess what THIS stuff can make??

HOMEMADE Mozzarella cheese!!!

Well, my cheese loving husband made it, really. I just took pictures and annoyed him more than anything.

I learned a lot today through this process. I had never even heard of Rennet before.  I made the mistake of HAVING to know exactly what it was and Googled it. Basically, its an enzyme that comes from the lining of the stomach of a young calf, lamb, or goat. It causes the milk to form (curd), and allows the liquids to separate and run off as whey.  I just wonder HOW they figured this process out.

Getting it to JUST the right temp
If you look close, its just starting to form

Doesn't look very tasty yet, does it? 

Starting to look like cheese!! 
 After much kneading and stirring, it turns into....


Danny is happy with it, but says he will most defiantly be cutting the salt in half in the next batch. And we discovered that cheese is most wonderfully delicious when it's still warm.

Amazing what you can do with a gallon of milk--which is on sale this week, by the way! =)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tristen County Fair 2011

Tristen also had a wonderful fair! The most exciting for him was his foods, rabbits, and his showing his calf.

After all attempts and re-attempts on his Apple Bundt cake for his food entry, I got a call from the school on judging day from Tristen. He had won Champion Level 1 foods.  Therefore, he had to make it again so he could auction it off at the champion foods auction, which is a BIG deal. On the last baking of the cake, he discovered he has the ENTIRE recipe memorized! HA!

Tristen and Black Out got a blue ribbon for the bucket calf project. He learned so much, as did his parents. He learned how to clip and also learned a bit about weight gain when it was announced that Black Out had gained 120lbs since the spring livestock show, putting on 17lbs a week for 7 weeks.(Going from 180lbs to 300lbs) Isn't that amazing? (And no WONDER I can no longer push her along when she's being stubborn!)  He will be bringing her back next year I think as a breeding heifer, and the family that sold her to Tristen said they would AI her for him in the spring when they do their heifers, so if all goes well he can bring her back the year after THAT as a cow/calf pair.

I love these pictures. To me this is WHAT 4-H is REALLY about. Miss S was very patient and took the time to really explain things and help with whatever we didn't understand. She showed T how to do it, and then let HIM do the clipping, while standing over watchfully. I was very grateful to her!

He had a hard time deciding what he wanted to make for his woodworking project until I stumbled across plans on the net for a gumball machine. He thought he REALLY needed one in his room. It was a fun project for him and something you don't see everyday. He ended up getting a blue on it, brought it home and immediately filled it up with gumballs.

He also did Horticulture for the first time this year, and really enjoyed it. He took 2 different kinds of potatoes, and they each got a blue ribbon. Next year, he has plans for his own little spot in the garden. And we will plan better next year too. He grew some of his very own veggies this year, but they were more cooler weather crops, like peas.  Needless to say they were done and burnt up way before the fair.

There was also a friendly competition between Jacob and Tristen on who was going to win the rabbit award.  Jacob has some very nice Jr's right now, but Tristen had also just purchased a nice trio of  Dutch. In the end, it was Tristen who got the champion ribbon with his black jr Dutch, Oreo.

Tristen also did rabbit showmanship for the 1st time EVER at the fair. This has been a 3 year nag session, hoping that he'd give in and do it and just conquer it. He did it, and not only did he do GREAT, he only got beat by Jacob by 10 points. Really hoping he will continue, but I only asked that he just try it once, and that he did!
It was a great fair, and though I love the fair, I am VERY happy we have a year now to recover from this one!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jacob County Fair 2011

Jacob had a great fair.  His favorite projects this year were his rabbits and woodworking.

He took 8 rabbits.  Our fair board bought brand new cages last year for the poultry and rabbits and we didn't want them to just sit empty, so they decided that they would take whatever they wanted comments on or to qualify for state fair.

 He got Reserve Champ, with a black jr doe Havana named AJ. He got 6 blues, 1 red due to a hollow back end on a Californian, and a white ribbon on a little black Havana buck who has both testicles, one just hasn't descended yet.
He went head to head with his brother doing rabbit showmanship. Jacob ended up being the champion with 10 points ahead.  He got a really nice duffel bag at the awards presentation.

In woodworking, he made a gun rack out of cherry. He got Grand Champion on it, and gets to take it to the state fair.

In cooking, he made Snickerdoodles and Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies, and received state fair blues on both.

I was thrilled with his growth in photography this year. I saw him taking pictures of things that you normally wouldn't stop and say "I'd like a picture of that," just to see what the result would be. 

This is one of his favorites, and it got a state fair blue.

Another one of his favorites and it also got a blue.

He shot this one at one of Michelle's basketball games. It got a red.

 "Sandy the Squirrel" got a blue.

Also blue

And this one got a red.

Both the boys also did information display boards. Jacob did 2 and both got reds, but I think the only reason they did was because they had come home to eat lunch, thinking the judging was going to break for lunch..  The judge that was there was really big on talking with the kids. There was nothing but good comments written on the comment cards.

Overall it was a great fair! I think Jacob's going to change things up a bit and join a new project or two next year.  One he was talking about was "wildlife." Shocking, I know. ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lessons Learned From The Fair 2011

The fair is officially over.

Lessons learned:

1. Rabbits will need to leave the fair early when the temps are 108 degrees.

2. Cattle require lots of grooming.

3. Cattle poop. A lot. On each other at times.

4. See number 2.

5. Bundt cakes are evil.

6. Eating hot dogs for lunch, walking tacos for dinner and not nearly enough water drank, will result in a leg and foot that resemble a telephone pole. Yea..just one leg. I'm just cool like that.

7 Not eating dinner due to nerves from the approaching beef show, and then drinking multiple sodas at the community carnival and running around at top speed will end with vomit by/on your dads pickup.   Tristen is pretty sure his coolness factor went up becuase all his friends saw him barf.

8.  The fair is exhausting.

I'm not really sure why but this fair kicked our butts. Hard. I'm sure a lot of it was the heat. And added stress of having an animal in the beef barn for the first time ever. Not really knowing how things work or what to do is draining. 

We also had a lot of extra worry about our bunnies and ended up taking all of our bunnies home the day after they got there. I'm pretty sure we would have a lost a few of them had we not.  The judge that came to judge the poultry and the rabbits said most of the fairs around were on an "emergency order" due to the heat where the animals came to be judged and then went back home. 

And, because I love it when people keep it real, and because I'm feeling very brave today, let me show you what a picture of a 4-H family kitchen  looks like after the fair. I'd like to tell you this is from a week, but honestly, its from Friday thru Sunday.

 My boys had a great fair, and I'll work on posting their results soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


It's FAIR TIME!! Entries are being judged as we speak.  This poem was just posted on Facebook and I though it was too perfect and wanted to share!


Tis the night before judging, and all through the house
the 4-Hers are scrambling– you can hear groans and shouts.
“My pie has run over!!”... “This paint doesn’t match!!”...
“Where did I put all those screws to that latch??!!”
The mothers are frantic–there are very few smiles.
“I’ll quick run to town– it’s just 30 miles!!”
The sink’s full of dishes to be washed in a hurry
for child #2 with a face full of worry.
“Where on earth did I put that chocolate cake mix??
Ah,,, yes, here it is.” (That makes attempt #6!)
Now in the meantime the sewing machine quit;
the heifer’s gone wild and the steer has a limp!
Just when you think that it’s way too much strife,
remember the lessons this might teach them for life.
Maybe they’ll learn to plan farther ahead.
Maybe there’ll work on their projects instead.
Perhaps they’ll believe that “It’s just one opinion”.
They’ll make the best better and they’ll just keep on trying.
Despite all the stresses and yes, dirty looks,
remember – this part is easy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Cursed Bundt Cake

About a month or so ago, Tristen was looking through cookbooks and scouring the internet, on the hunt for the PERFECT something-something to enter in the fair for his foods project. He found an Apple Bundt cake that sounded pretty tasty, so it was put in the "to do" pile.

Our county does something called a food fair, where the kids bring what they are planning on bringing the fair, and a local lady "judges" it for them, giving them tips and suggestions.

The night before the food fair, Tristen makes his cake, turns is over......and the entire "top" is stuck to the bottom of the pan.  We piece it together and he takes it anyway.  The judge had some great suggestions for him, and was very helpful, but it was apparent that this would take a bit of experimenting with before fair time.
And I'm very thankful we made this cake before the fair...sometimes we don't and just wing it. Lesson learned. 

This cake has been make *4* times the past 2 weeks. The very sight of this cake now makes my stomach hurt.
We have tried:
Cooking spray--epic FAIL
Coated with butter--again, fail
Coated with Crisco--much better but still stuck quite a bit

BUT--today--TODAY 99% of the cake came OUT of the pan!! We used a different pan today, coated with butter flavored Crisco and flour.

Yes, I know it may be a bit TOO done,  but forgot to take time "off" for the dark pan, and we let it cook the entire time. BUT IT CAME OUT OF THE PAN!!!  The crust is not "hard" at all, just brown, and the cake is just right. AND IT CAME OUT OF THE PAN!  Next time Tristen is going to keep the apples more close to the center. You can see the various dark spots where the apples come out and cook on the pan, making areas more brown. That's also what happened to the area that stuck the most. BUT IT CAME OUT OF THE PAN!!

So while you are looking over those yummy and delicious cakes, cookies, pies, and breads that will be at the high school later on this week that those cute 4-H kids made, be sure to think about all the parents that cleaned up messes, and taste tested, and googled "how to get a bundt cake out of the pan."  =)

Anyone want a piece of Apple Bundt Cake?? Blah.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our 4th of July Weekend

Well, it wasn't exciting, but it was nice.  Since it's so dry in our county, there was a ban on all fireworks. My boys were B.U.M.M.E.D OUT.   Overall, though, t was just a nice relaxing weekend.   Danny BBQ-ed some pretty tasty brisket, using wood from our Mulberry tree to smoke it with.
Our county fair is next week, and the men used the evening to work/start on several fair projects. It seems to have snuck up on us AGAIN this year.

I'm not sure if there really is more wildlife this year, or if I am just paying more attention, but we've had several exciting sightings here the past week. 
It's kind of hard to ignore things when you have a wild life nut around like Jacob.

This little fawn has been all over our neighborhood. He was even napping in the neighbors yard yesterday evening.  I was a bit worried that he had lost his mom, as several times he has seemed frantic, but as relaxed as he was yesterday I think Mom must be around.  Perhaps... my garden?  This little lady I caught out of my kitchen window yesterday, just as the sun was coming up. She made me stop and quietly watch her, while she soundlessly made her way snooping through things. THIS doe, unlike the ones at the farm, looks like she's getting PLENTY to eat. ;)

And we've had loads of fun watching this little girl.  You can see the sprinkler going right beside her, but she couldn't have cared less.   It's all good when you have a built in umbrella. There are 3 squirrels that stay in our yard. One's a boy, one is a girl...not too sure about the other one, but Jacob can pretty much tell them apart just by looking at them.

My family has gotten really good about coming and getting me when there's a new bird in the yard. I THINK this one is called a Common Flicker. I had never seen one before, whatever it is. I'm getting a little better in identifying things a bit quicker.  The bird action has picked up a LOT this season. I noticed we have a handful of Orioles that are still making an appearance at least once a day.

Pay attention to the world around you! You'll just never know what you might see!

Friday, July 1, 2011


This season has been awful.  Lack of rain with extra hot temperatures with plague like grasshopper populations have meant loss and heart ache all around.

I am thankful we only have our little tiny wanna be cow herd.  Because we only have to try to feed a handful of animals instead hundreds, though I do think we are getting low on grass for them to eat.   We know people who have sold off cattle because there is just no grass left and others have moved them many miles to borrowed pastures with grass. We've already talked about coming up with a plan to feed the cows this winter, trying to locate bales already. I'm worried we won't be able to find them or afford them later on. People haven't been able to grow crops and the ones that HAVE been able to grow anything, have had it destroyed by hoppers.

Another problem is what this has done to our wildlife. I honestly hadn't even thought about it, until I saw a very sad looking starving doe eating an attractant Jacob set out in front of his camera.  They are running out of food too.

Jacob may very well soon be their heroes--he took corn and apples out with him this morning.  Hopefully the ones around will come in and at least get a snack. We've also talked about about filling up a stock tank in another pasture for water.  It has no cattle in it, but close to the trees where I'm sure they, and lots of other wildlife,  would come in to drink. It's heartbreaking to think about anything not having enough food and water.

Pray for rain and relief!