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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Organic Matcha Green Tea = Yummy!!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I recently received a package of  Organic Match Green Tea Powder to try out and review.

You can find the product on Amazon here:

They also emailed a file to me with lots of yummy looking and sounding recipes to use the Matcha tea in. I just used it to make Green Tea Latte, which is my absolute favorite way to use Matcha green tea! I love the green tea lattes at Starbucks but on a rancher's "pay" cannot afford to buy them very often. This tea, prepared with steamed milk and stevia (or honey) tastes very much like what I get at Starbucks, so I was very excited to be able to make my favorite drink at home!

The tea tasted delicious and it was easy to make. I can't wait to try it out in some of the other recipes they gave me. I like drinking smoothies, especially in the summer, so I'm going to try some in a smoothie next.

Here are some facts about Matcha green tea:

  • ALL DAY ENERGY & FOCUS: Lift your vitality and concentration with the slow release natural energy from Organic Matcha
  • CALORIE BURNING BOOSTER: Support your weight loss goals with an all-natural way to increase your body's metabolism
  • LATTES | SMOOTHIES | BAKING: Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder arrives in an easy-to-use airtight health grade packaging allowing for as much or as little use as you need for any occasion. Enjoy a relaxing latte in the morning, bake a dozen cupcakes or simply add a small boost to your morning smoothie
  • 137x ANTIOXIDANTS OF BREWED GREEN TEA: Matcha Green Tea can only be used in a powdered form because, unlike brewed green tea, it contains the entire tea leaf which dramatically increases the nutritional content.
  • IMPROVED HAIR & SKIN HEALTH: Scientists have discovered Matcha Green Tea helps protect from harmful UVA/UVB rays as well as free radicals damage

Tastes good and good for you! You can't beat that! 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We say goodbye to a Legend at Split Rock Ranch

This Tuesday we said a very tearful goodbye to a Legend here at Split Rock Ranch. Ivory Pond's Black Jack was our daughter's performance llama. We bought Black Jack from Stage Stop Llamas in the spring of 1998 when Black Jack was almost 7 years old. Black Jack had been trained by the kids in the youth group that Stage Stop worked with. Their first show together didn't go as smoothly as our daughter had hoped but they hadn't had much time to work together prior to that show - it was the Estes Park Wool Market in June of 1998 and there were so many entries back then, you had to qualify to even compete over the weekend. Qualification took place on Friday and we had gotten stuck in stop and go traffic for hours in Denver en route to Estes Park and by the time we got there and got settled, it was already dark out and it was starting to snow. Our daughter was so disappointed that she moped the entire weekend. We were none too happy ourselves since we had driven all the way to Estes Park, spent money on the hotel, etc. and then she couldn't compete. Needless to say, we stopped going to that show, although they did change that rule a year or two later because entries were down. But I digress...

J and Black Jack's next competition was at the LOCC Fall Classic llama show in September of that year. We were newbies to the llama show world and didn't enter them in all three performance classes - we only entered them in Public Relations and Obstacle but not in Pack class because we didn't own a pack. They kicked butt in those two classes and had the entered the Pack class, they probably would have been Reserve Grand Champion.

We bought a little day pack for them to use in the performance pack classes and their next show was the Western Slope and Banana Belt Llama shows in Paonia, Colorado. That show was run a bit differently from other shows - it was held Saturday and Sunday with two judges and two rings - one for performance classes and one for halter classes. One judge would judge performance one day and halter the next while the other judge judged halter the first day and then performance the next. J was very small (she was severely asthmatic and the drugs stunted her growth) and she was very timid and shy. She would stand behind me and I would be her interpreter when she wanted to talk to someone. Because we were also showing several llamas in the halter classes that weekend, I didn't have time to be there to help J with the performance classes. During one of the classes, she accidentally added an obstacle that was on the course but wasn't marked as NOT being part of the course so she lost points but she still earned Reserve Grand Champion that day. She was upset because she didn't hear the judge go over the course description during the walk-through because she was at the back of the pack and didn't see and hear all the instructions. I told her that she needed to say "excuse me" and elbow her way to the front of the pack so she could see and hear the instructions during the walk-through and then ask questions if she needed to. When an adult exhibitor asked her how she did that day, she told them she "only got Reserve Grand" but that "tomorrow I'm going to be Grand Champion!!". He laughed and told her he loved a kid with a goal. The next day, she went to the front of the pack, asked questions to clarify the course and then proceeded to earn Grand Champion.

That was the start of many Grands for the J & BJ team. Between 1999 and 2002, they earned 17 Grand Champion awards and 3 Reserve Grand Awards. In six of those shows, they were 1st place in all three classes. They also placed top 10 at Nationals two years in a row.

J and Black Jack were such an amazing team, they were a joy to watch in action at the shows. They trusted each other so much, Black Jack would do or at least attempt to do whatever J asked him to.

After the 2002 Grand Nationals show, J made the decision to retire Black Jack. He was 11-1/2 years old and didn't seem to be enjoying the shows as much as he did when they first started showing. J had earned all of her Superior Youth Awards, including top points earner awards, from ALSA by that time anyway.

J's relationship/partnership with her llama, Black Jack, helped her to blossom into the confident young woman she is today. Because she couldn't compete in school sports and lots of other activities that other kids got to engage in, she needed something to help her feel competitive without requiring a lot of physical effort. Showing her llama was exactly what she needed.

Black Jack held a very special place in all of our hearts. He may not have been a legend anywhere else, but he was the stuff that legends are made of around here.

This photo was taken of Black Jack on 6/16/12

Black Jack had been slowing down for several months, eating less and less and moving slower and slower. This past Monday he was obviously in a lot of pain so we gave him something for pain and then took him to the vet on Tuesday morning. We thought it was colic or an obstruction but the vet detected a severe heart murmur. The vet tubed him with a laxative and we were hopeful that he would pull through. Unfortunately, after checking him frequently after we got back home, I discovered him shortly after noon laying on his side in the shade of the tree...he was gone. We're so thankful that he went quickly and peacefully without days of suffering.

I hadn't sheared Black Jack for a few years because he got too cold in our severe winters. He had the most beautiful silver, silky soft fiber, and I couldn't bury him with that gorgeous fleece still on him so I sat beside his body with a pair of scissors and carefully sheared him. I'm going to wash, card and spin his fiber into yarn and then make J an afghan so that she has something special to remember Black Jack by. He will keep her and her husband warm on those cold winter nights.

Rest in peace Black Jack - you're forever in our hearts

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Goats and Chicks are Growing!

Rosemary and Sage, my newest fiber critters, are doing great. Darrel is being a bit of a butthead to them though. He rushes them and head butts them. They run when they see him coming. I'm not sure how to make him stop but perhaps time will take care of that issue. Once Rosemary and Sage are bigger and have their horns grown in, they could be doing a little payback. Watch out Darrel!


Doesn't Sage look studly?! He has gotten so much more confident in himself. What a handsome boy!

I have decided not to clip them this summer. I'm going to let their fiber grow all winter and then do a first clip next Spring. They should have a nice, long staple length and they'll stay warm and cozy all winter long in their long coats. I just don't think the fiber is long enough to clip yet and I'm afraid they'll get too cold if I clip them this late in the summer. We could easily have snow in 6 to 8 weeks.

The chicks are growing, too. Momma hen really wants out of the coop/run area but I can't let her out to free range for fear something will kill her or hurt her and the babies are still small enough that even one of the large ravens here could carry them off.

Here is Lovalea (momma hen) with the two chicks. Supposedly the one on the left is a male cuckoo black or gray Orpington and the one on the right should be a black Orpington but I don't know yet whether it is male or female. It is considerably larger than the other one so it may also be a male.

Cuckoo Orpington chick is in back (top/center) Black Orpington chick is up next to momma hen (center of photo) and momma hen is taking a dust bath

Another photo of the two chicks with Lovalea

Closeup of the Cuckoo Orpington rooster - see the bars of color? That is what makes him a "Cuckoo"

I made a video a couple of days ago. You can see what a brat Darrel is to Rosemary and Sage. And the little chicks were so cute running around and peeping like crazy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Fiber Animals Here at Split Rock Ranch!

I love working with mohair in my fiber art. Mohair is the name for the fiber that you get from fiber goats, usually Angora goats. It is silky soft, yet strong, with incredible luster (shine) and slurps up dye like nobody's business. Mohair has gorgeous crimp and curl to it. Below is how mohair looks after being washed, rinsed and dried.

And to show you how beautifully it takes up dye, here are some dyed mohair locks - see that amazing shine?!

I wasn't sure if I could handle goats or not, so two years ago I got two young Nigerian Dwarf wethers (that means they've been "neutered"). Nigerian Dwarf goats are dairy goats, not fiber animals, but I didn't want to deal with the fiber aspects of goats just yet. Well, Darrel and Gladiator have proven themselves to be easy-to-care-for and a lot of fun. So, I recently added two young fiber goats to my little herd.

On the left are Gladiator (front) and Darrel (back) and on the right are Rosemary (front) and Sage (back).

Rosemary is a Pygora goat. Her mother is a Pygora goat (Pygmy/Angora cross) and her father is an angora goat. Rosemary is a gorgeous light variegated silver color.

Sage is a full Angora wether. Both his mother and father are Angora goats. He is a much darker color. His color pattern is called "reverse badger" - he has a dark body with lighter points. He was black and tan when he was first born and has gradually lightened up to the color he is now.

I can't wait to shear these little goats so I can use their fiber in something special. I'm not sure if I'll shear them this year or not. I don't have a barn to keep them in during the winter. They have a shelter but not a barn that I can keep them in if it gets really cold and snowy. So, I will probably wait until next spring and then do their first clip. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Baby Chicks!

Several weeks ago, I sold three llamas to a young man who raises chickens. He brought 18 hatching eggs for me to slip under my Buff Orpington hen who had gone broody. Since I don't have a rooster, the eggs my hens lay aren't fertile so I felt badly that she was sitting on eggs for nothing. I would take the egg out from under her daily but she kept sitting, so I asked if I could please get some fertile eggs for her to hatch out. I am down to two hens now. The dadgum fox killed all my other hens! The incubation time from when a hen starts setting on eggs until they hatch is 21 days. I slipped 4 or 5 eggs under her on Saturday night, June 8th, just to be sure she didn't reject them, and the remainder of the eggs I slipped under her 4 and 5 at a time throughout the day on Sunday, June 9th.

The first egg hatched out some time on Saturday, June 29th, but the chick was dead. There was still quite a bit of yolk, etc in the egg so I think perhaps the hen pecked that chick out too soon. The second egg hatched out that Saturday but died a few hours later. I think momma hen accidentally smothered the poor wee thing.

Here is a photo of the first chick shortly after it hatched. Momma hen turned into Ninja Chicken whenever I tried to pick up the chick so I had to get a photo of it tucked underneath her wing.

The next morning, there was one chick already hatched out and a second one almost hatched out. Those two chicks survived and are doing well. Here are photos of the two surviving chicks, taken when they were one day old.

The young man who gave the eggs to me said the first chick (the darker one with the yellow spot on its head) is a male Cuckoo Orpington and should mature to be gray with black stripes. The second one is most likely a Black Orpington and I won't be able to tell what sex it is until it feathers out and is more mature. I'm hoping that the second one is a hen and not another rooster! I will keep them both, regardless. I guess I'll have to order more live chicks through our feed store if I want more hens this year. But, next year, with at least one rooster in the flock, we should have more eggs to hatch out and expand the flock!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Its been a very busy summer!

I haven't posted anything on here for weeks. Far too long... and I'm sorry. I seem to be pulled in twenty different directions all at once and cannot seem to get into a routine that works for me and still get everything done that needs doing around here.

In my last post, I showed you the greenhouse we installed. I got lots of herbs and vegetables planted in the greenhouse, as well as in a protected area outside the greenhouse to the east and north where the deer can't get to the plants. I swear the deer eat everything around here, including "deer resistant" plantings! Inside the greenhouse I have midget carrots, oregano, marjoram, cilantro, basil, leaf lettuce and mesclun started from seed. I also planted fennel, dill, celery and kale in with the leaf lettuce seeds. I used fiberglass wedge shaped planter boxes from an old round dome greenhouse that an old neighbor gifted to us years ago but we never got it put up because we were afraid the winds and snow here would collapse the structure. But the planters are perfect for the greenhouse we just built. We filled them with composted llama manure and everything is growing like crazy! Here is what two of the planters looked like right after planting the established plants and sowing the seeds.

And here is what these same planters look like a few weeks later. The red watering can is in the same location and you can see how huge the plants have gotten and how much the seeds have grown!

Also take note of the jars in the background - I have been using the greenhouse to solar dye fibers. I filled the jars with washed Border Leicester fleece, added citric acid (sets the acid dyes I use) and then filled the jar with warm water and sprinkled dye powder on top. I stirred the dye into the fiber with a bamboo chopstick, put the lid on it and set them in the greenhouse for the day.

Here is what those fibers looked like after I rinsed and dried them. Aren't they amazing? I love solar dyeing!

Here are more photos of the plants inside the greenhouse. I have Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Grapefruit Mint, Chocolate Mint, Cilantro, green pepper, tomatoes, several types of basil, stevia, ginger and a couple of miniature rosebushes, as well as a Martha Washington geranium.


The plants have grown even larger since I took these photos so I'll need to get new photos taken.

More about the new angora and pygora fiber goat babies and newly hatched chicks in my next post!

Wishing everyone a safe, fun and relaxing long holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Our new greenhouse is up!!

We've been busy around here lately. We recently purchased a greenhouse from and it was delivered on Tuesday, May 7th. We had to tarp it and let it set for a few days while it rained. I'm not complaining about the rain because we need it so badly. I don't want another wildfire summer like last summer! Hubby had Friday May 10th off from work because he worked 16 hours on Monday of that week, so we started putting the greenhouse together. Holy crackers! 56 pages of instructions (that's on copy paper sized paper!!!) and a gazillion pieces and parts. O...M...G... We managed to get one end of it built that day before it started raining again. 

The next day we had a llama club meeting to attend and were gone all day. We went to a friend's ranch and looked at their angora and pygora goats (goat babies!!!) - but more on that in another post (I picked out a doeling and a buckling and hope to get them next month!)

Sunday was Mother's Day and our son-in-law offered to come up early and help with the greenhouse. Our daughter wanted to take some of her Breyer and Peter Stone model horses out of the closet of what used to be her bedroom but is now hubby's home office, and take them to their house. Woo hoo! Closet space! So, while we worked on packing up her things and hauling them out to the truck, the guys worked on the greenhouse. The plan was to work for a few hours and then head down the mountain to Colorado Springs to my parent's house to wish my Mom a happy Mother's Day and take a plant to her (Asiatic Lily in a gorgeous shade of persimmon, by the way). But, they got to a point in building the greenhouse where they felt they were committed to finishing it so that the wind couldn't destroy it before we had a chance to finish it. Our daughter and I went out and helped remove the protective plastic off the panels so the guys could install them into the walls and roof. We managed to get it finished! At least to the point where I could move a few plants out of my studio here in the house and into the greenhouse. 

Here is how it looked when it was almost finished.

The greenhouse has shelves the full length on both sides.

This gives me double the growing space in the greenhouse! I can put smaller potted plants on the shelves and larger pots on the ground below. Years ago an old neighbor in Colorado Springs gave us a fiberglass dome greenhouse which we never had a chance to put up and after years in the high altitude sun, we figured it was too frail to withstand the winds and heavy winter snows so we decided not to even attempt to put it back together. However, there are 12 fabulous fiberglass wedge shaped planting boxes that fit perfectly underneath the shelves. I'll get pics taken of those soon. We put those in today and I planted the remainder of the herb and veggie plants we purchased and most of the seeds. 

On Monday afternoon, we went to the hardware store and bought anchors so that we could secure the greenhouse frame to the railroad ties that we used to make a foundation for it. Once that was done, we removed the boards that we had placed on the ground and I started moving plants, pots, stepping stones, garden tools, etc. from a variety of places around the house and ranch. 

We planted lots of herbs: basil, feverfew, lemon balm, valerian, lemongrass, dill, cilantro and fennel - and veggies: kale and celery. Then today I planted garlic, shallot and red onion bulbs. And lots of seeds: lettuce, short carrots, mesclun mix, basil, chives, cilantro, sweet peppers, oregano and marjoram.

There is a 4'x4' area in front of the greenhouse that is filled with composted llama manure (the best soil and fertilizer ever!). We're going to put up lattice-work panels and will plant beans, cucumbers and peas and train them up the lattice. This will protect them from the deer, who tend to eat everything in sight around here! 

We had one tomato plant last summer that I grew in a large pot on the deck. By Fall, it still had green and almost ripe tomatoes on it so we brought it into the house and put it in my studio, which is actually what the house plans call "the breakfast room" off the kitchen. It has lots of windows and is in the northeast corner of the house so the lighting is pretty good. Apparently tomatoes love early morning sun. I assumed that we would pick the tomatoes once they were ripe and the plant would die off. I picked the tomatoes as they ripened and kept watering the plant. It kept growing. Then I noticed that it had blooms on it. And, a few weeks ago I noticed little green tomatoes. When I took a closer look, here is what I found.

In the last photo, take a close look and you'll see a bunch of green tomatoes! We were going to attempt to move the plant into the greenhouse but after looking at it closer, I realize that there is no way to move it without breaking off branches, which would be a shame since it is doing so well where it is at right now. I have some cherry tomato seeds which I'll just plant in a container in the greenhouse and see if we have any luck with them out there. 

And here are a few shots I just took of the plants in the greenhouse. We're going to be eating really well this summer! I can't eat anything but certified organic lettuce and leafy green veggies due to the pesticides that are used. I am so excited about being able to eat a salad again!

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the greenhouse tour!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Oh look, Dad, Mom's watching us.
I know, let's do something crazy!
Okay, I'm a ferocious wild animal! See my gnarly teeth?!
Good one, Dad. High five!