Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Still at Prairie Cairn Cottage North

Little Black Brindle and I were supposed to head back to Prairie Cairn Cottage last Friday but as frequently happens in business, schedules got changed which pushed our trip back by a week.  Darn, I'm forced to endure more of my working vacation!  Lucky for me, our chick caretakers agreed to another week of duties. 

In between working, we've been able to play tourist.  We've been shopping (and buying) in downtown Williston, toured the historic fur trading post financed by John Jacob Astor, walked across the Fairview Lift Bridge and the only tunnel in North Dakota, drove through parts of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Little Missouri National Grasslands.  Tomorrow or Thursday I hope to catch a bit of the county fair and see some of the exhibits.

There are a lot of things to see and do in this part of the country.  I hope I'll be able to squeeze a few more sight seeing trips in before we head back to the original Prairie Cairn Cottage. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Checking in from the Temporary Cottage

The company is putting us up in the little town of Fairview, MT.  It is right on the border of Montana and North Dakota and the house we are in actually is in North Dakota.  Nice farm country that is experiencing a huge oil boom.  There are so many workers here there is not enough housing for them all.  Enterprising farmers have converted parts of their fields into make shift RV parks.  RV’s are everywhere; a couple tucked in by a barn, 10 lined up in a row by the silos.  Then there are the man-camps.  These look more like minimum security quarters of a prison.  But they provide beds and meals for tired and hungry oil workers.  The company we work for bought a house with some land and has put up some 3 bedroom duplex trailers and some RV spots.  Most of these will be used for their workers.  Those that won’t will be rented out. 
The energy of all of these workers is palpable.  Cars and trucks rushing to and fro; the traffic is horrendous.  Trucks carrying either oil or supplies or grain and farm supplies are followed by pickup trucks and cars, all on two lane highways.  But somehow everything seems to work.  I think everyone knows the situation and most are grateful to have good paying jobs.
The weather has been hot but not unbearable.  I was surprised the first morning by the humidity.  I have lived all my life in very dry locations with summer vacations in Missouri and Arkansas so the humidity is just adding to my feeling of being on vacation.  It’s not bad humidity; somewhere around 50% so not something that sucks the life out of you. 
I would love to share pictures with you but foolishly didn’t bring anything to download them off of my camera.  I hope you are having a summer of new experiences also.  Little Black Brindle and I will bring more stories from the temporary North Eastern Prairie Cairn Cottage.           

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Working Hard so we can Hardly Work

Here is Little Black Brindle doing his patrols as the head of security at the office.  He is working hard today and making sure everything is secure as we will be gone for a week and a half on a working vacation.  After his rounds today, he thought he'd get in a little practice for what he'll be doing on vacation

We are heading up to the Northern Prairies of Montana and North Dakota.  There will be new sights to see so hopefully in between working we will be able to play tourist.

In the mean time, check out what we discovered at Prairie Cairn Cottage this past weekend.

This handsome creature was spotted as My Ever So Handy Husband was finishing up the fencing project at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  Don't misunderstand this picture.  Mr. or Ms. Toad is no bigger than and inch or two.  He/she would wiggle his/her butt into the dirt until he/she was almost completely submerged.  I think this is a Plains Spadefoot Toad.  We are about 5 miles away from the nearest creek so we don't know how this toad got to our back yard.  The only thing we do know is the prairie is full of unusual creatures.

Mr. or Ms. Toad will have free run at Prairie Cairn Cottage for the next week and a half.  Good luck and don't leave any warts behind.

Come on!  Let's get this vacation started!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tea Time and a Confession

Our short trip was cut even shorter when we got done with our business by early yesterday.  We decided to drive back to Prairie Cairn Cottage that afternoon rather than waiting until morning.  While we were in the Big City we stopped and purchased some of my favorite tea, PG Tips.  So this morning, rather than racing back to the Cottage, I awoke in the Cottage and was able to settle in and wake up with a steaming pot of tea.  Now that is my ideal of a good start to the day!

The red tea pot in the picture is the latest addition to a collection I didn't even realize I had.  A post on my favorite online forum, here, a few years back about a Farmgirl's tea pot collection led me to think I had a couple of tea pots also.  They were stashed here and there and by the time I found them all and counted them up I was astounded at how many I actually had.  Why, I too had a collection!  When we moved from our home of many years into Prairie Cairn Cottage, I utilized those tea pots to help give the cottage a cozy feel.

Some more pots that have recently been used

A pot not with the collection is one I inherited from my Grandmother.  Notice the art deco feel to this beauty?

These are only some of the collection.  I still have some pots that aren't displayed or used.  Every once in awhile I think about it and am astounded how many pots I actually have and yet I'll see another one that speaks to me (like my latest red tea pot above).  I guess that is how collections get started. 

The pot that started it all for me is one I purchased as a young girl from a flea market sponsored by the Girl Scouts in my home town.  It was the first purchase I made from money I had saved.  This little pot caught my eye and I knew I had to have it.  Even though this is not a tea pot but a chocolate pot, it remains my very favorite.

 Won't you join me in a "cuppa" at Prairie Cairn Cottage?  One lump or two?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One of Those Days

You know, the kind where nothing seems to go right?  Leaving Prairie Cairn Cottage later this afternoon for a few days, I was trying to get some loose ends finished.  One of my most pressing issues was a quilt block I had promised a fellow farmgirl.  I told her way back on May 17th that I would help with a quilt she wanted to make.  This was probably a promise I couldn't keep as today I was working on the FOURTH attempt at it..
This little guy was my 2nd attempt, the first attempt was a pair of cowboy boots on a bandana type fabric.  Cute and would have worked had I not messed up the machine blanket stitch.  While ripping out the mistake I somehow managed to put a hole in the fabric.  When I got ready to do the new one I changed direction and thought I'd make a likeness of Little Black Brindle. 

This 2nd attempt didn't work out either.  It was my first try at the Eleanor Burns style of applique using a lightweight fusible interfacing.  I was in too much of a hurry I guess and poked clear through the interfacing in several spots, the tip of his ear, and the chest area of the coat.  I also missed the 1/4" seam at his collar so that didn't look right.  OK so this wasn't all that hard, I'll just make another...       

I was starting to get desperate to finish this and lost my mind thought I should do it the needle turn method.  I figured I'd get a smoother turn if I stitch the 1/4" seam then pressed the seam under.  Well of course THAT didn't work!  So, rip out the stitching or make a new one?  Well a new one of course!

So, 3rd attempt at Little Black Brindle and 4th attempt at any type of block for her project.  I had gotten the pieces sewn together a few days ago and this morning I thought I'd try to get this one finished and be able to mail it out today or tomorrow.  OK, so I should have figured that if the other 3 I'd already tried were nightmares difficult this one would follow suit.  But still I plunged ahead knowing I had a ton of other things I needed to do to be able to leave for a couple of days. 

Sewing was finally going along rather well.  This one looked like it might be the one I could finish!  Foolish, foolish girl!  I got the interfacing stitched down, the right sides turned out and only managed to poke a small hole through the interfacing.  I'll just press it down to the background and do the blanket stitch real quick and I'll be done!  WRONG!
If you can believe this, I ran out of bobbin thread here!  OK, no problem, I'm only about an inch from being done, wind the bobbin quick and lets get this nightmare project finished!  I get the machine rethreaded and the needle in the right spot to pick up where I left off.  First stitch...screech, thunk, clunk!  What the...I pull it out and see I've got a huge rats nest underneath.  I pick that off the fabric carefully, again rethreaded the machine and bobbin, get the needle in the right spot again.  First stitch, screech, thunk, clunk!  Not again?  Yes, I've got an even bigger rats nest underneath!  This time I have to not only pick it out of the block but I've got to dismantle my machine and get the bobbin thread unwound from underneath.  So, rethread again, position again, start to stitch again...screech, thunk, clunk!  That was it!  I yanked my block out from under the presser foot.  Cut off the thread attaching it to the machine see another nest of bobbin thread stuck underneath.  Shut the electricity off to the machine and walked away muttering words the real Little Black Brindle was fearful of.

After I calmed down, I realized I didn't not have to start a brand new block again.  I will just get out a trusty hand sewing needle and (please, Dear God!) finish up the small amount of blanket stitching by hand.  Then maybe I can send this off to a very patient farmgirl.  It's not done yet, I'll have to wait until this evening to finish it but this is what it will look like

Do you think I should warn her that this block might be cursed?             

Friday, July 6, 2012


Prairie Cairn Cottage seems to be the place to raise a family.  I've told you before about the Mama fox and her two kits living in the culvert that separates our property from our neighbor.  They must have decided that this was a prize location because we came home to this one night about a week ago

Mama fox and both babies were sitting on top of it.  As we approached babies scurried underground and Mama took off running.  Since the first sitting of this den we've seen the babies several times sunning themselves on the dirt

We also see these two quite often.  Sadly, Mama antelope's back leg is broken and is completely unusable.  It doesn't seem to affect her though, she runs very well on her three good legs.  We wonder what happened to her though and wish her and her baby well.

Little Black Brindle is becoming very settled in his new home.  He goes and supervises his chicks several times each day and tries his best to keep the ground squirrels in check.  They are getting quite fat on the chicken buffet feed.    He has yet to catch one but he knows where they hide.  It's only a matter of time.

Summer is in full swing at Prairie Cairn Cottage. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fire Season

No, this is not a picture of a cloudy day, nor is it the typical mid-western haze.  This is the result of a forest fire many miles to the north and west of Prairie Cairn Cottage.  Yes, this is smoke brought in by the ever present winds on the prairie.  It smells just like a camp fire when you go outside. 

The fires in the West are heart breaking but not unexpected.  It was a mild winter followed by a bone dry spring.  One of my great fears is a grass fire on the prairie.  It almost happened the weekend before last.  A careless driver is suspected of throwing a lit cigarette out of the window on the interstate.  It burned 60 acres of prairie and came within just a couple of miles from Prairie Cairn Cottage.  Too close for comfort in my book.

One good thing that comes from fires is the beautiful sunsets they create through all the smoke.

I am praying for rain (but no lightening) in all of the fire prone states and for the safety of not only the people who live in the fire paths but the brave men and women who volunteer to fight these fires.  We do live in a country that abounds with quiet, unsung heroes don't you think?