Fire in the Foothills

A huge fire is raging through local mountains and towns, causing thousands to be evacuated. A lot of the evacuated have animals and livestock that also need evacuation and a place to stay.

My heart swells as I watch in amazement as strangers become friends; offerings of places to sleep and board animals, park trailers, and more are being poured out on Facebook.

New groups are popping up on Facebook where hundreds of locals and our friends and families across the country are communicating and building each other up.

Clothing is being offered by a local second hand store owner to people in need.

It brings tears to my eyes to see such wonderful humanity displayed in the face of tragedy. Don’t let anyone tell you the human condition is horrible or that no one is looking out for anyone but themselves. When the going gets tough, heroes rise up and help. It’s how it’s always been in communities all across this great country of ours.

No looting.

No riots.

No stupidity.

God bless everyone in the path of the fire tonight and those helping them escape.

Our home is open because Nana’s Ranch can never have too many animal and human friends.

Nana

Teaching the Grandchildren how to Recognize a Rattlesnake

We have a lot of snakes on and around Nana’s Ranch. A couple of snakes have gotten up close and personal with one (a harmless garter snake) crawling into the dryer vent and one (a poisonous rattlesnake) trying repeatedly to come through our sliding glass door and into our house. The grandchildren have seen a video of a garter snake in the yard and have handled and released a California king snake I rescued off the road after feeding the equines one evening. 

Snakes are good. Deadly snakes are dangerous.

I picked this beauty up off the road where it was in danger of being run over.
I picked this beauty up off the road where it was in danger of being run over.
Before releasing it under some alfalfa bales, I showed it to my grandchildren so they could see it's not a bad snake.
Before releasing it under some alfalfa bales, I showed it to my grandchildren so they could see it’s not a bad snake.
Neither of them was 100% sure of the snake.
Neither of them was 100% sure of the snake.
This beauty hangs out on the patio where I suppose it finds mice, lizards, and grasshoppers. It crawled up and into the dryer vent one day. That's how snakes get into the house!
This beauty hangs out on the patio where I suppose it finds mice, lizards, and grasshoppers. It crawled up and into the dryer vent one day. That’s how snakes get into the house!

Teaching them to appreciated snakes is important but teaching them to recognize and avoid rattlesnakes is essential. I happen to have a few frozen rattlers (minus the heads) in my freezer waiting to be skinned and have their hides preserved. I showed them what they look like from tiny baby with one rattle to large adult with almost a dozen. They have handled the frozen snakes and I have told them how dangerous they are when they are alive. They have also seen the video of the snake trying to get in through the sliding glass door so they know to look and be aware of their surroundings when ever they step outside.

This snake made several passes, trying to get through the glass. This is how CLOSE they are to us.
This snake made several passes, trying to get through the glass. This is how CLOSE they are to us.

When they are a little older and are outside alone, we’ll send them out with air horns. They are PERFECT! “One toot for accident or injury & two toots for rattlesnake” is how our youngest daughter learned. Her first trip out with the air horn was interesting. After only a couple of seconds, we heard two blasts. Both my husband and I thought, “We told her not to play with it!” then we heard her little voice, “I think I found a rattlesnake!” Sure enough, there, next to the path from the bunkhouse to the travel trailer, was a tiny snake who’d been caught out the night before and gotten too cold to move. Thankfully it was still cool because the snake was in the shade.

She did everything perfectly:

  • When her instinct told her there was something wrong (she’d seen the snake out of the corner of her eye but didn’t realize it), she froze and looked around.
  • Once she spotted the snake, she noticed it was looking away from her and she thought it was probably cold and could not move.
  • She took one big step AWAY from the snake and blew her air horn twice.
  • Keeping her eye on the snake in case it warmed up and crawled away, she waited for my husband to arrive with a shovel.

You can never be too cautious when it comes to rattlesnakes.

Guinea fowl are supposed to kill and eat snakes. We have five that free range in the yard; sleeping high up in an oak tree at night where most predators can't reach them.
Guinea fowl are supposed to kill and eat snakes. We have five that free range in the yard; sleeping high up in an oak tree at night where most predators can’t reach them.

I know some people are horrified almost to tears because we kill rattlers on sight but I have no issues and no guilt about it. The lives of our animals and family trump the lives of deadly, poisonous snakes.

Our Catahoula / Weimaraner mix, Bentley, got bit on the nose. He gets a rattlesnake booster shot every spring so his reaction was fairly minor.
Our Catahoula / Weimaraner mix, Bentley, got bit on the nose. He gets a rattlesnake booster shot every spring so his reaction was fairly minor.

We could trap and relocate, sure, but no one wants our snakes because everyone around here has plenty. Plus, rattlesnakes can be really dangerous to handle and I’m no professional.

This, in various sizes and shapes, is what a rattlesnake tail looks like. If it's smooth to the tip with not even a nub, it's probably a gopher snake. Don't kill gopher snakes!
This, in various sizes and shapes, is what a rattlesnake tail looks like. If it’s smooth to the tip with not even a nub, it’s probably a gopher snake. Don’t kill gopher snakes!

I rarely waste dead rattlesnakes because I enjoy rattlesnake chili & tacos and the skins are valuable.

This large snake ended up being dinner for a couple of nights and the skin has been preserved.
This large snake ended up being dinner for a couple of nights and the skin has been preserved.
What a skinned, gutted rattlesnake looks like. We always cut off and bury the heads immediately.
What a skinned, gutted rattlesnake looks like. We always cut off and bury the heads immediately.
I cook the snake until the meat falls off easily. Once it's boned, I chop it into small pieces because snake can be a little chewy.
I cook the snake until the meat falls off easily. Once it’s boned, I chop it into small pieces because snake can be a little chewy.
Taco seasoning, garlic, tomato sauce, fresh cherry tomatoes added to rattlesnake meat and cooked to perfection.
Taco seasoning, garlic, tomato sauce, fresh cherry tomatoes added to rattlesnake meat and cooked to perfection.
Rattlesnake chili over white beans is really good. I also make tacos.
Rattlesnake chili over white beans is really good. I also make tacos.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Nana’s Ranch. God bless you.

Nana

Ants!

The ants are hitting us pretty hard right now. I usually make a bait out of equal parts sugar & boric acid with just enough water added to make it pour. The problem with the mixture is that it gets a crust on the surface pretty quickly and the ants have a hard time getting to the deliciously deadly syrup.

Recently, when I was desperately trying to find some milk for my coffee, I happened upon a can of sweetened, condensed milk. It wasn’t perfect for my coffee but it was perfect for the ant bait! So my new recipe is;

1 Tablespoon boric acid (Rite Aid)

1 Tablespoon sweetened, condensed milk

1 Tablespoon water

Stir, stir, stir. Crush all of the little boric acid lumps. Serve in a container that the ants can easily enter and exit but no yard birds, cats, dogs, or other loved critters can. Although boric acid is only poisonous in large amounts, I don’t recommend risking it. Plus, it’s pretty expensive!

If the ants get bored with the mix, you can always go back to sugar.

Have a blessed weekend!

Nana

Feather Hunt

Grandchildren are visiting while their mother works out of town for the week. It gets a little difficult to entertain three very active youngsters when it’s terribly hot outside. Today was no exception. Once the toddler went down for his morning nap, I gathered our egg collecting baskets and the two older ones headed out with me on a feather hunt!

It was hot but they had fun looking for Guinea, pea, and chicken feathers stuck in the grass and stickers.

hiking

Here they are on a hike into the pasture where the peafowl and Guinea fowl spend a lot of time. There were plenty of feather scattered around. Each of them had a dozen or so feathers in their basket at one time…

sad liam

Then a breeze came and whisked all of the feathers out of my grandson’s basket. He was so sad!

His sister also lost her feathers but quickly gathered more into her basket. She walked over to the coop to have a chat with the chickens about giving her more feathers.

Saying hello to her chick and her brother's chick while she asks them for more feathers.
Saying hello to her chick and her brother’s chick while she asks them for more feathers.

Once we got back to the house, both children were hot and ready for something cold to drink. They each had a few feathers in their baskets again, which we put into plastic bags for safe keeping.

By evening they were both ready for another feather hunt! The second hunt was more successful because they took their plastic bags to put the feathers into instead of the baskets.

Thank you for visiting Nana’s Ranch today. Have a blessed night.

Nana

Country photography gone international

One of the things I do a lot of on the ranch is take pictures and shoot video. I recently started submitting to the stock photo site, ShutterStock, where I’m selling images almost daily.

The neat thing about stock sites is; although I’m selling the ability to use my images, I still own them and can use them in just about any way I want to. My only limitation is; I can’t offer them for sale on any other stock photo site. This doesn’t mean I can’t be a contributor on other sites; just that I can’t offer the SAME images for sale on duplicate sites. It was my choice to contribute under this limitation because of bigger commissions offered.

My short term goal is to have 200 images and videos of mostly outdoor shots for sale on ShutterStock before starting to take studio shots. My studio is still in the box but I’m excited to start experimenting with different shots once I have it set up.

Snoopy looks for his mom, Nonnie.
Snoopy looks for his mom, Nonnie.

This image of Snoopy has not been downloaded yet (sold) but it’s one of my accepted goat images. I have more goat images than anything else. 

While images from the ranch are my most popular downloads, due to the number I’ve posted, this shot I got at a family wedding is my most popular single image so far:

Ring bearer and flower girl.
Ring bearer and flower girl.

ShutterStock offers photographers from around the world the opportunity to become contributors. Read their terms of service and quality standards. If you think you’ve got what they want, give submission a try. It took me a few tries to get my first 10 images uploaded and for sale in late July, 2014. Maybe you can do it the first time!

My portfolio:

http://www.shutterstock.com/g/Asillem?rid=2304116

To become a contributor:

http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=2304116

Good luck!

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Nana’s Ranch.

God bless you.

Nana

Keeping Ranch Clothes Clean

I’ve always had animals, even when I lived in town. But the amount of dirt and other ‘stuff’ on our clothes now that we’re at the ranch full time is amazing. We do a lot of laundry because most of what we wear can only be worn once between washings due to various types of animal hair, poo, and other grimy goo.

I was about to buy another bottle of expensive liquid laundry detergent at a big box store when I decided it was going to be the last time I bought commercial detergent. Our clothes were in horrible shape from all the additives and fillers, my skin was a disaster from allergic reactions, and the price!

So I went home and researched liquid laundry detergent recipes on-line. I found one I love. There is no added fragrance so my skin is HAPPY, the price is like nothing, no fillers so I use 1/8 cup per load, and it’s easy to make.

I’ve been making the liquid soap for a few years and I’ve never been happier. I recently started bottling it for sale. Wilma’s BadAss Washhouse Laundry Soap was born last year and sold at a local boutique.

Image

I also have PureSimple Liquid Laundry Soap, which is the same recipe and product but packaging that’s very plain and simple.

I sell both liquid laundry soaps at a local boutique and on-line. An 8 OZ. bottle is good for 8 loads in a front loader, 4 loads in a top loader. Most people aren’t convinced it’s enough soap for an entire load of dirty clothes but we’ve probably got the dirtiest clothes imaginable and have never had an issue with our clothes not being clean enough.

And that’s no crap!

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