Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon from 30,000 feet in the air?
Or felt the hugeness of the universe in your soul?
Have you ever felt small beside the gigantic stretch of water we call an ocean?
Ever thought just how tiny a passenger plane is compared to a cloud?
Or how small a city of 8 million looks from the sky?
That the Rockies look like mere hills?
Have you ever stopped to realize how very minute… how utterly tiny, life on earth must look from heaven? The everyday things we stress over are completely trivial when compared with eternity’s vastness.
The first time I tried these potatoes, I also conducted my first attempt at grilling chicken. Let’s just say that I did not have beginners luck of any sort. But Ross manfully choked down the dry, tough chicken and seems none the worst for it. But the potatoes…we will definitely focus on this part of the meal! They turned out cheesy, juicy, and flavorful in the best kind of way.
These tasty potatoes are a delightful change to the normal routine of baked, mashed, buttered, or cream potatoes often found in my kitchen. I am a dump-and-pour cook so adjust measurements to your liking.
3 russet potatoes
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese powder
1/2 cup freshly grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/3 cup bacon bits
3/4 teaspoon Lawrys seasoning salt (or to taste
heaping 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup butter, cubed
Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Layer in a baking dish and sprinkle with minced onion. Mix together cheeses and spread evenly over potatoes. Top with bacon bits and seasonings with cubes of butter distributed over all. Cover and bake at 400* until potatoes are tender and cheese is browned and crispy-crunchy. I forgot to time them but I’d guess it took about 40-45 minutes..?
The past week has been filled with haying. All my time being spent in the swather and driving semi trucks around the fields picking up bales…along with gophering and irrigating, my house and yard are in a sad state of affairs. There are no clean shorts to be found and the lawn resembles our back pasture. I am hoping against hope that there are no overdue bills and that my plants will survive the drought.
I see with horror that my last blog post was nearly a month ago! I find that somewhat hard to believe and double-checked my calendar just to make sure. I don’t understand how the days disappear into weeks and the months gobble up the weeks.
Life has not lacked in activity…both of the fun and the work-related side. June seemed to be the month for family to come and visit. We had visitors from North Carolina, Kansas, and Idaho. Always pleasant to reconnect and learn to know my husband’s side of the family better.
FIRST CUTTING BLUES
Our first cutting of hay came off amid fierce windstorms and rain.
We had been anxiously waiting for the rain to quit and the ground to dry out enough to swath the hay and grass. Yet at the same time, one felt guilty wishing for rain to stop after having such an incredibly dry winter and spring.
Finally the mud subsided and we ran the swather. Ross did most the fields, but left me in charge of the biggest one (the reason being that there were no risers to try and dodge in this particular field. See how much he trusts my driving skills?? lol) I don’t believe I have run a swather for nearly 10 years but its amazing how it all comes back to a person.
While waiting for the windrows to dry down, Ross hauled a few loads on the truck, while I caught up with irrigating the new seeding of alfalfa, along with yard and housework. The new alfalfa is coming along nicely. As are the 4,790,061 weeds.
Then finally the night Ross deemed the hay dry enough to bale, we readied our equipment, pulled out into the field to start baling the grass hay, and the wind hit. And I don’t mean just a small breeze. I mean the kind of wind where large branches break out of the trees, chairs blow over on the patio, and the neatly-raked hayfield turns into chaos. Thankfully our alfalfa hay was swathed in the same direction as the wind happened to be blowing so it stayed mostly in place. The grass hay didn’t fare well. But we raked just ahead of the baler and managed to save a goodly portion of it.
A heavy rainstorm was predicted for the following day so we stayed up all night and worked steady until the afternoon of the following day, picking up the bales off the field and stacking them in the hay lot. We also hauled a few semi loads away. Amazing how much you can accomplish during normal sleeping hours.
The next week or so, I spent catching up with everything possible. Spraying weeds, irrigating each field, trapping gophers, and delving into bookwork on the rainy days. One day I helped our neighbor and his hired man with a very large tree that had fallen over his driveway during one of the previous windstorms. Chainsaws and elbow grease turned it into firewood.
One day I opened up the nest boxes in the chicken house, expecting to find an egg or two. Instead to my surprise, there was 5 baby kittens and a proud purring mama cat. Better than having them in my garage, I guess!
A DELIGHTFUL ANNIVERSARY VACATION
We had planned this trip back in January, optimistically hoping that everything would work out so we could get away for a weekend. Then in February the farm came up for rent and we jumped into alfalfa farming. By May, I was wondering dubiously if a night out or a supper was even possible much less a 4-day weekend. But full of faith, we left our reservations and kept working toward our goal. I should add that I nearly canceled 14 times but Ross convinced me not to. Then it started raining. Talk about timely. We turned down the water, let the neighbor man feed the animals, and packed up.
If you ever get to Oregon and are in need of some beautiful scenery, take the time to drive to Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls. They are part of the beautiful Mackenzie River, just south of Santiam Pass. The pictures below don’t begin to do justice to the crystal clear blue-green water crashing over the rocks.
The afternoon passed quickly, hiking trails, climbing rocks, and just soaking up the beauty. Then we spent night at a charming little mountain resort tucked back in the hills. The landscaping was delightfully woodsy, and I discovered a little winding trail along the river in the cool morning hours.
The next day we headed west, to the tiny coastal gem of a town, Yachats, Oregon. The white foaming waves of the ocean crashing over the black mounds of rocky coast were mesmerizing. We spent all afternoon exploring, climbing, and hiking.
At one point, a sneaker wave crept up on us unawares, crashing over our heads and leaving us completely drenched. The 72* weather didn’t feel so warm after that!
We took several trails along the coast, then ended on one that wound through the fern and ivy-carpeted forest. We were calmly walking along when out of the blue, I felt a sharp pain on my leg. Ross fully believed my jumping around and yelling wildly to be a hoax but when he saw the bee, he changed his tune. It didn’t hurt too badly so we continued for another mile or so. Then supper began calling our names so we turned around at a grassy meadow and headed back. About a mile back, I was engrossed in the beautiful view of the ocean from a small window in the pine trees when all of a sudden, I felt another stab in the same leg. Believe it or not, it was another bee sting. And we realized that we were at the exact same spot in the trail as last time. I couldn’t believe Mr. Bee has lain in wait for me and got me again!
The rest of the weekend passed entirely too quickly. With regret, we packed up our belongings out of our cozy cottage nestled among the trees, took a last deep breath of the misty ocean air, and headed back to reality. In my heart tho, I can still hear the pounding of the surf, visualize the red-and-white lighthouse perched on the hill, and taste the fresh seafood, caught the same day and cooked to perfection.
I know I’ll be back someday.
Back home, we are in the midst of trucking, irrigating hay, and the normal shop work, yard maintenance, and just the everyday means of staying alive. I took my mom on a little outing for her birthday. We enjoyed a evening of popcorn, sparkling peach juice, and Scrabble; then drove up to McCall for a bite of lunch and to show her Charlie’s Gardens. If you ever sightsee in McCall, Idaho, this bit of beauty tucked back in the woods is worth your time. Beautiful landscaping, flowers of all kinds, and a mountain stream.
Life has been considerably normal down Highway 20. Almost too normal in fact, because if nothing of great interest happens, what is there to write about? I’m the type of person that loves life. So much in fact, that one life is entirely too short to do all the things that are calling me to do them.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing the matter with doing the laundry, making meals, scrubbing floors, weeding the flowerbeds, and working in the shop. I enjoy the everyday tasks. But do you realize, how big the world is? How many thousands of fascinating cities are waiting for me to explore? And how many charming restaurants and brand-new foods are waiting to be tried out? How many beautiful tree-swept mountains are waiting to be climbed? How many winding trails are waiting to be discovered? Dozens of waterfalls, canyons, and rivers.. A world full of beauty and adventure.
Life passes too quickly to eat the same foods each day and to see the same scenery over and over again. But, of course, adventures don’t have to be exotic, far-away, and expensive. How many tiny towns, homey cafes with down-to-earth people, beautiful scenery, amazing sights, and new foods at the grocery store lay within a 300-mile radius of me and could be happened upon and enjoyed?
Can you tell that I’m feeling a bit cooped up? Last Sunday Ross must have caught my fever; we abruptly hopped in the pickup and drove around, exploring little back roads, discovering farms, ranches, an old truck graveyard. Must have seen 15 or more “359” Peterbilts in various stages of rust.
Back home as the weather would have it, last week we were planning to lay down our alfalfa, happened to be the rainiest week ever. Joys of farming, I believe.
After a few days of showers and semi-continuous drizzling, everything seems to be perking up and growing with leaps. (Including the weeds.)
We have been spending time in the shop, filling our hours with bondo-work, much sanding, cleaning, painting, and such.
My office is also a fine place to listen to the rain spatter on the panes. Keeping up with the bookwork is a much-dreamed of situation but seldom reality.
It’s one of of those things where the thought of tackling the project is much worse than the actual tackling. Strange how powerful our minds can be if we let them. Mine can talk me right out of filing my knee-high stack of paperwork real quickly.
But among the day-to-day living, I’ve been trying to find bits of adventure and random fun.
To live is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all. -Oscar Wilde
I am a great believer of spontaneous behavior. If all of life is planned out and followed in routinely fashion, how entirely boring it would be. Life is short, do all the fun things you can think of!
For example, why mow your lawn in perfectly straight rows each time? How about, just once, imagine you are following Highway 191 through Glen Canyon, Arizona and drive your Craftman mower accordingly.
Or how about, in a random burst of dieting inspiration, whip up a perfectly green smoothie at midnight while chatting on the phone with your best friend.
Try buttered popcorn and watermelon in bed, a candlelit room, and a special someone to share the impromptu date with.
How about, just for today, you comb your hair in a way you have never tried before and put on brightly colored mismatched socks, just because.
Invite spur-of-the-moment company, or eat breakfast for lunch, or add a new ingredient to an old faithful recipe.
The next time you go to town on errands, sneak your roller blades along and spend half an hour breezing down the sidewalks among lush green grass.
The man I am married to has moments of spontaneity as well. One day we drove to the nearby city to get painting supplies for a truck project and came home with a pickup. I never know what a day will bring.
But no matter where your life takes you, no matter what your duties consist of, enjoy your own particular life to the fullest. You only get one. So why not make the very most of every minute?
Some days bright spots are as simple as catching 2 gophers out of one gopher mound.
Tiny springs of alfalfa pushing through on spindly stems, coating the field with green.
Washing the flatbeds and not having to scrub them entirely by hand…
Other days it’s getting out of my 30-mile radius and hauling a load of cows with the hubby. Something about the rumble of the truck and the gentle road motion puts me to sleep easily. A much-needed nap makes all of life look so much brighter.
One day, greenhouse shopping infused joy in my soul as did planting the perennials in my flowerbeds.
Some days it’s an hour-long phone call with family or one of my best friends.
Sometimes it’s a sunrise, spilling pastel shades across the valley. Or a sunset bathing the sky in brilliant hues of gold, mauve, and burnt orange.
Another bright spot is found in my puppy listening to commands and obeying immediately.
A niece writing about me for a character assignment in homeschool, saying she wants to be just like her aunt when she grows up ❤️
A lounge in the sunshine with a fascinating book, soaking up rays.
Early mornings when I take time to sit on the couch with my Bible for a bit of quietness.
Little moments like these that make life so wonderful.
I imagine that for all farmers and their wives across America, it’s an extremely busy season. The time of year that you need to freshen up your superwoman powers and turn out 15-minute meals. So here’s a list of quick and easy meals I’ve been turning to!
These have been a few of our lunches and suppers lately 😊
Creamy Chicken Pasta
Crunchy Loco Tacos
Ritz Cracker Chicken
Mesquite Chicken Tacos
Southern Poutine (This is only a fast meal if you have leftover ingredients.)
Southern Poutine is our latest favorite food. Ross actually came up with this meal idea and it is truly delicious. (Why do I sound so shocked lol)
One day we were eating Fried Sausage Links with Cream Gravy and Baked Macaroni. (I believe I was out of potatoes for mashing.) The gravy happened to meet up with the macaroni and a new recipe was born. The next week we tried Baked Macaroni smothered in Roast Beef Gravy with Roast Beef on the side. That was an equally scrumptious combination. I am partial to the way Ross’s mom makes Baked Macaroni and Roast Beef so in all reality, if you use a different recipe, the results could be completely unfavorable.
So try at your own risk! But if Ross likes it, that’s saying quite a bit!
If you are needing a recipe for any of these meal ideas, I’ll be glad to give you mine. Just comment below 😊
I’d love to hear from you all! I’m always in need of new meal inspiration 🙃
We’ve been busy…the type of busy where you work from dawn till dark, then work some more. Scarf down some quick meals in between and fall into bed aching and exhausted.
But it’s a good feeling of tiredness. Knowing that the gated pipe and wheel-lines are put together right, the alfalfa is planted, the weeds are sprayed, and the farm is ready for the water rushing down the canal.
The pasture fence is tight and the cows are happily grazing in their new pasture.
After growing up in Arizona (me) and Texas (Ross)…farming in Oregon is comparable to falling into a time capsule and being shot back through time three-score years.
We were both used to wide-open spaces, irrigating 120+acre fields with pivots, and large equipment doing most the work. Now we spend hours in our tiny 10-20 acre fields, doing vast amounts of shoveling, walking up and down rows to check water, and moving hand-lines and wheel-lines.
There are fortunate others around us who turn on their pivots from the ease of their John Deeres set on auto-steer. Perhaps we too someday shall join the lucky crowd. But for now, I’ll enjoy all the extra exercise, outdoor romps with Buster, and the feel of cool water on my bare feet.
In a future post someday I’ll explain the irrigation process from start to finish. For now here’s a few pictures from Down Highway 20.