November 30, 2008

We are Modern Cowboys!

We moved the last bunch of cattle in from summer pasture. As the time for winter storms approachs, the cows must be closer to the haystacks and water we can keep 'open' (unfrozen). This year's mild weather let them stay on the pasture a week or so longer than normal, but it was time to 'trail' them in to the fields closer to home.
You can see we are Modern Cowboys! This was the first year everyone rode 'wheelers' (ATVs). No horses!

Above, John on the right, seems to be having an interesting conversation with our neighbor. We make these days of 'work' into days of 'fun' when our friends and neighbors come help.

Banana Chocolate Cake


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Cream until fluffy:

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar

Add, one at a time, beating after each:

  • 2 eggs


  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

Stir in:

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Add dry ingredients alternately with:

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3)


  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Beat well after each addition.
Turn into greased 9-inch layers or large cake pan.
Bake at 350 F. for 30-35 minutes.
This is from an old cookbook, and it did not mention frosting. We found we like it equally as well frosted or unfrosted.

November 8, 2008

November... and still warm!

It is November... and I am still working in my yard!

However, I have put the roses 'to bed'.

I have three plants of the rose Mary Rose (David Austin) and am experimenting with several different ways to give them a bit of protection over Montana's winters. Most sources list this variety as hardy to zone 5. Montana is listed as 4 to 3. In my past experiences with this rose, I know it 'may' live over without protection, if surrounded by the dead tops of other plants grown around it, and with some leaves and other protective mulch. However, this new yard isn't as 'grown together' and included many annuals, AND is in an exposed site, so I am trying two different methods of winter cover for this rose.

We use the Styrofoam cones, mainly because we have problems with mice when using mounds of organic mulch such as leaves or hay. So, the two shortest Mary Rose plants received a little mound of dirt over their crowns, and a Styrofoam rose cone. The third Mary Rose plant had a HUGE mound of dirt piled over it's crown and canes, and I am filling the top of the tall wire surround with leaves and hay, along with a sprinkling of mouse poison baits.

The yard doesn't look as nice now! (photo taken on 11/7)