Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chance Encounter with an Elk Stampede

Riley and I were taking our afternoon walk a little earlier than usual.  I had just put a pecan pie in the oven (per my son's request.. as if we didn't have enough of pie already, ha!) and had homemade bread rising, and since I had about an hour's window of time, we took our walk earlier than usual.

It was a brisk nippy day, and I walked along enjoying the cool air that nipped my cheeks.  Suddenly I realized Riley had stopped in the road in front of me, and was staring very intently at something. I always pay attention to the dogs as I walk as I know they are the best alert system I have.  I was slightly below her as we were climbing a hill, and I couldn't see her perspective.  I continued walking, as she stood very still,  and then I saw what she saw, ears... lots of ears! Oh, just deer, I thought, as they often graze in that field.  However as I got closer, I realized these weren't deer, but were a herd of about 19-20 elk.  I stopped then, and watched quietly with Riley. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and turned my camera on.  Suddenly something must have spooked the herd and the stampede began.  My heart was in my throat as my ears filled with the noise of the thundering hooves, stampeding in my direction!  It all happened so fast that I barely had time to press the camera button to try to capture the action.  I did wildly think in a short millisecond, what should I do if they come my direction, but it all happened so fast that I stood rooted in my spot.

As the girls thundered past me, no more than 20 yards away, I was close enough to feel the earth shake as they ran by me.  Riley remained rooted in spot, as did I, in the middle of the road. Suddenly I saw what the stampede was all about...  it was a bull elk chasing the gals.  As he thundered up behind the girls, suddenly he became aware of me, and turned, stopped... and stared me down.  I can tell you in that moment, as he and I locked gazes, that I knew I was putty in his hands.  I couldn't move.  I just quietly returned his gaze and moved the phone away from direct contact with his gaze to hopefully put him at ease, because I know that anything pointed in their direction feels like a threat, even a phone. Once I did that, he relaxed, turned, and went back to chasing the gals across the road.

At that point, Riley came back to me.  It all lasted about 36 seconds, but it seemed much, much longer than that!  Riley sat at my feet and we just watched them until they crossed the road, went down into a draw and back up into the mountains.  When the world was quiet again, the only noise that I could hear was the pounding of my own heart!

One never knows when an unexpected encounter with wildlife will happen.  We have been very prepared before to see wildlife, and have seen nary a thing.  And then, in a few moments of time, I witnessed an event that my husband and son are really wishing they had gotten to see!  We have seen elk many, many times.  But never have I seen them stampede like this.  So thankful that it all ended well, and that I had presence of mind to capture most of the event.  Riley and I continued on our walk and I could see the path that the elk had taken before us, as Riley followed their tracks as we walked.

Here is the video below, and the quality is not great, as I was unprepared for this kind of action! The camera gets a little wobbly and then I move it away from the bull's direction as he stares me down.

How thankful I am that I got to see these magnificent creatures in action!  As that bull stared at me, I realized how you can be frozen in an instant. I felt completely unable to move as we watched each other for what seemed longer than it was, and that image of him and I staring at each other will remain in my heart forever!  I went back through the video, and realized that for a full 2 seconds we stared at each other.  Long enough to make an impression, one that I will never forget!

The pictures that follow are taken from my video, and are not of the greatest quality, but you get a sense of my stare-down moment with this bull elk.

You can see the tracks on the road that the elk left as they thundered across. 

Riley smelling the tracks of the elk where they crossed into the draw and headed up into the mountains. 
As I returned home to pull the pecan pie from the oven just as the timer started to go off, I thanked the Lord once again for the magnificence of His creation, and there was amazement in my heart at having had this kind of an unexpected encounter with His creation.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thankfulness... It is Enough

Thanksgiving 2017 has come and gone, now with its loving memories tucked inside our hearts.  We enjoyed a relaxing celebration this year.  It was just our family this year, which was really nice, because there was no stress of a certain time to have the food done!  We just ate when it all got ready. We made our family's simple favorites, and nothing fancy, well, except the pies!  My husband loves coconut cream pie, the kids love pumpkin, and I had a hankering for lemon meringue, so that is what I made.

These pies were made for Thanksgiving, but we broke the rules!
Friends stopped by for a visit, Thanksgiving 'eve and our family all agreed
it was not too early to indulge in a piece of pie together with our friends :) 

Lemon meringue pie was high on my list this year, oh was it ever good! 
While we were getting ready for Thanksgiving, I looked out my kitchen window to this scene. Oh the guilty parties!  Annie-girl wanted me to know she was innocent and absolved of all guilt, even as she appeared to oversee the whole incident, lol!

Thanksgiving morning, this gorgeous sunrise greeted us.  How thankful we were to see it,
after days and days of rain and gray cloud cover. 

The turkey was cooked to perfection, and we leisurely ate when all the fixin's were ready. 

We kept the meal quite simple since it was just the four of us.  Plus... all that pie was waiting! 

After the turkey was completely deboned, I put the carcass in the roasting pan, covered with water,
and simmered for about 12 hours to get a deliciously golden turkey bone broth.

When the last dish was dried and put away after the Thanksgiving meal, I noticed the world outside had turned crimson,
so Riley and I headed for a post-Thanksgiving walk.  Oh the colors were grand! 

It was as if there was a bowl of liquid gold in the skies! 

It felt so good to walk off the Thanksgiving meal and enjoy such beauty. 

And I supposed once I got back home,
that surely I deserved two pieces of pie after the brisk walk? Ha! 
After the turkey bones simmered for over 12 hours, I strained the broth, and poured it into freezable Mason jars,
leaving 1" headspace. I then separated leftover turkey into quart baggies to freeze with the broth.
This will make 3 pots of turkey bone broth soup.  No part of my turkey will be wasted.
I will feed the remnants of the softened turkey bones to the dogs for a special post-Thanksgiving treat for them. 
For Sunday dinner, I made my turkey bone broth soup with vegetables left over from our turkey dinner (carrots, corn and green beans), adding in a package of egg noodles. I also made homemade scones to accompany the soup.  So delicious! 

What was left of the pumpkins that I grew in my garden this summer was carried out for the chickens to enjoy. I planted Amish pie pumpkins and was very impressed with the beautiful thick puree they made and will definitely be planting them again next year.

We woke up to this beautiful sunrise this morning.  It was hard to get everyone back moving on a Monday morning after the
long relaxing holiday, but the sunshine and amazing skies were a lift to the spirit!

Riley and I walked this afternoon just as the sun's last warming rays of the day lit up the skies in pinks and purples. 

I never shall tire of the art gallery displayed in these skies, particularly in view of the sparse offering of color in a November world!
With November being the month that we stop to rest, think, ponder, and be thankful, I am glad that the season of Thanksgiving was truly just that, a time to be grateful, to ponder the blessings of the Lord in our lives and to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are blessed beyond measure.  

No life is without its pain, sorrow, disappointments and struggles - indeed so many at this time of Thanksgiving have more than their share of deep struggles, sadness, difficulty and health issues that overshadow their lives.  We don't live in a picture-perfect world.  

But one thing I have found, is that being grateful in all things really does bring a greater blessing into our lives than to spend our time wishing and desiring for more.  It seems that finding contentment in what we have will bring a greater blessing than even receiving all we desire.  

And so... I hope this season of thanksgiving doesn't end, but rather has simply just begun, and will continue on and overlap into the next season upon us... thankfulness... gratefulness for what we have.  It is enough.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 pumpkin pies, 1 lemon meringue and 1 coconut cream pie

From our home to yours, wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! Our hearts are full of thanksgiving for the Lord's many blessings! It will be a beautiful day of wonderful food, giving of thanks, and sharing together in the blessings of the Lord.

This amazing sunrise greeted us this morning!   It was a beautiful gift from the Lord to see the sun in such a beautiful fashion!

We have had a barrage of rain storms for about a week here, and no glimpse of the sun at all.  It was so beautiful to see the sun peeking through these clouds this morning.

My heart is full of gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving, 
and I pray that your heart, home and family 
is filled with a beautiful spirit of love and thankfulness 
on this day in which we give thanks 
for all the many blessings in our lives. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winter's Eagerness to Please

I must confess, I always look forward to the changing of the seasons, each one brings something I love, and that does include winter.  However, it does seem like 'ole Man Winter is a bully, pushing fall out of the way, and lingering long past spring's due welcome.

This year was no exception.  We were enjoying the most glorious Fall season with each day a delight to go out and explore the beauties Fall was offering up.  Then... Winter crashed the party, shoved Fall out the door, and settled in.

And to be honest, I wasn't happy about it.  In fact, the biggest problem was that we were not ready for this much snow.  Usually we get little bits of snow that don't stick for the first few weeks after Winter 's arrival.  But this snow.... it was a lot! And it settled in to stay!

Perhaps Winter sensed my discontent, I really don't know.  But I had to settle my differences with him when the sun came out, and Winter put a party on for the eyes and soul, so how could anyone stay upset with him for this show?  If you are skeptical and don't believe me... well then, just pour yourself a cup of hot tea or coffee... and see if the beauty of the following scenes change your mind ...

We woke early in the morning to this scene, before the sun's grand appearance.

These three were like children in a candy store, having fun playing in the snow.

The fir tree branches were weighted down with the load of the thick white blanket.

Pine needles topped with frothy white fluff. 

Snow covered roadways, frosted tree tops and misty fog...

Fall's splendor adorned in winter's best.

Fall's splendor littering the ground as the leaves skittered around gracefully on winter's blanket.
We visited the mountain lake just down the road from us as snow was gently falling. Serenity personified here!

Ripe red rosehips adorned with snow's early surprise. 

The pale beauty of the poisonous snowberry brightens with a touch of delicate snowflakes. 

The expectant stillness of the frosty morning
was broken by the noisy shrill of the train's whistle
as it crossed the tracks just as I reached the river. 

The old railroad bridge resplendent in the frosty morning sunlight. 

Two geese swam in the icy stillness of the river.

Remember the wild apple tree we found along the train tracks?

The apples we could not reach, and which have not yet fallen, hung covered in frosty snowflakes.

Train tracks yet untouched after the snowy blanket descended, except for the skitter of deer hooves. 

The train returned, this time coming the opposite direction after unhooking from the cars it was pulling. 

The bright reds of the train brought contrast to the whitened landscape.

Making its way down the train track, leaving the tracks untouched no more.
Cumbered with its light burden of snow, the old railroad bridge was thankful it remains needed. 

The maple tree, still decadent in its fall splendor, now covered with its wintry white surprise. 
The stately coniferous forest welcomed this traveler.

Could this reflection ever be more resplendent than on an icy morning?
Abandoned for many years, yet covered in sparkling snow and abundant light,
this old cabin sits perched on the banks of the lake,
a mournful shadow of better days,
yet beautiful in the sunshine moment of today. 

Sitting on this lake, the old abandoned cabin has its own perky view. 

Fall and winter each added their finest to this scene.
I did not see a momma and feared for this little one left to roam the woods alone. 
As the frosty day drew to a close, these horses grazed contentedly
while the purple hills behind them basked in the waning sunlight.

As the fog rose behind them, one bothered to look at me with unanswered questions in his gaze. 

The fog rose from the warmed ground, enveloping the horses in its grasp.

The weathered boards of this barn are gently highlighted
in the soft glows of the waning afternoon skies.
As evening shadows whispered gently, the serene riverbank scene was reflected in the still waters. 

I am not sure what the buildings are, but I think maybe an older church with a newer one beside it? 

And as the day drew to a close, the last light of the skies was reflected in the waters below. 

... and one just can't stay upset at Winter's early arrival 

after a day like today.  

Would you agree?