Where the Tumbleweeds Tumble…

This is Russian Thistle growing about two miles away from us.

This is Russian Thistle growing about two miles away from us.


Here on the Colorado prairie is certainly where the tumbleweeds tumble.

So what is a tumbleweed?  you may ask. A tumbleweed is usually Russian thistle, an invasive plant that has overtaken areas of the American west.  It dries out in the fall, becoming almost woody.  Then when the wind blows, the tumbleweed breaks off and tumbles everywhere, spreading its seed and reeking havoc.  They will get stuck in fences, against house, etc. They are also a fire hazard.

These are typical tumbleweeds stuck in a fence.   That's Pikes Peak in the background, 2011.

These are typical tumbleweeds stuck in a fence.
That’s Pikes Peak in the background, 2011.

During the 2013 summer season, conditions were very favorable for the Russian thistle.  Russian thistle grew taller, fatter and more plentiful than usual.  This winter and spring, we have a huge tumbleweed problem.  This means that there are tumbleweeds tumbling everywhere and being even more than a nuisance than normal.


Help! We’re stuck!
This was Christmas Day 2013!
We were just about stuck in!

This spring (2014) is proving to be more work than usual.  Before one begins anything, one must first dig out…


I’ve linked this to the Prairie Homestead’s Barn Hop 153.



Posted in A Day In the Life, Weeds by with 4 comments.

Using the Floor Furnace

Laura’s little house on the prairie has two sources of heat.

Our primary source of heat is our woodburning stove.  Kevin and his father installed it for our first winter here.  We aim to use the woodburning stove most of the time.  It is mostly free heat.  Since our land is full of trees in various stages of dying, our wood is free.  My husband cuts the wood with his chainsaw.  We also sometimes borrow my father-in-law’s log splitter.  I (try to) stack all the wood when my husband cuts it.  Due to my uncoordination, I am not capable of operating the chainsaw, so I stack. The costs associated with the woodburning stove amount to around $100 per year at the most, including chainsaw fuel, matches, an annual new chainsaw chain, starter log, etc.  I’ll write more about that one of these days.

2010… We annually hang the stockings by the piano with care since we’reworried that if they’re by the chimney with care they’ll burn the house down.  My baby is four now.

Our backup heat source (which was the primary one for a long time in this house’s history) is our floor furnace.  Since some may be unfamiliar with those, I’ll try to explain.  The furnace itself is actually located in our basement.  It has a stamp on it that says it was made in 1940-something.  The furnace is suspended under our livingroom floor.  Our livingroom has a big grate in the floor.  The heat comes out of there.  It is adjustable, however there is no thermostat.  (It’s interesting to note that some insurance companies have refused to insure our house because of that furnace.)  The furnace burns heating oil and does not need electricity to run.  Although it keeps the house toasty, like all heating oil furnaces, it is expensive to run. We try to avoid running it and cover it with an area rug when not in use.

2012… Here is Baby3 putting a soft tape measure on the tree.We think he thought it was garland.

The floor furnace is under that rug that’s under the tree.



2008, here is the grate on the floor…It’s actually an awesome furnace because it doesn’t even require electric to work.

A view of the floor furnace in our creepy basement…

Tuesday 4/9/13 was the day of the blizzard that never was.  What we did get was wind and wind and lots more wind.  It was also really really cold.  I hate wind.  I know, living on the prairie is not the right place to live when I hate wind.  It got so bitterly cold, too.  Plus I had to dig the wood out for the stove.  I kept having to gather the wood.  We were going through the wood so fast, making sure the stove was giving out a lot of heat.  We gave up and Kevin rearranged our livingroom and lit our actual furnace.  Lighting the floor furnace is actually a process, a process which I’m actually unable to complete myself.  But, I have old pictures from 2008…

2008, the lighting process…
2008, the lighting process…
2008, the lighting process…
2008, lit..


2008, with the grate up.I know this is an old picture, but the furnace looks the

same now as it did then, as it also did in the 1940’s. Well,  we have a new carpet.

This year… We could be in one of those home magazines with

our oh-so-stylish safety gate surrounding the floor furnace,

a necessity in a house full of toddlers and preschoolers.

The first time that we used the floor furnace last season was when our glass door on the woodburning stove exploded.  My wonderful heroic neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful Neighbor, picked me up the new glass when they went to Colorado Springs. Good neighbors are such a blessing.



When the glass broke,I had to put that fire out with water to prevent the house from getting smoky.
Just starting a fire behind the new glass… hooray for no soot yet! 


You can watch a video of a new floor furnace here.  I was actually pretty surprised to learn that they still make them.

Posted in Heating the House by with no comments yet.

Cow Vocabulary Lesson

For those of you who have been ranching since you’re two like my husband, you’ll probably roll your eyes at this post.  I feel the need to write it for any of you who may be like the me of a few years ago and need a cow vocabulary lesson.

I have discovered that cows and bovines have a whole vocabulary all their own. Not only is a would-be rancher like me expected to know this language, but your average Lincoln County Joe, too. (After all, we have more bovines than people here and an entire ghost town named Bovina.)  So I’m going to attempt to explain things on here to the best of my ability.  Ranchers don’t laugh.  Non-cow people, we can keep it a secret that you got this information here and you can just sound smart.

A bovine is a fancy name for the entire species regardless of their age, fertility or gender.

A bull is an intact male bovine.

A calf is a baby bovine.  You can use the term “heifer calf” or “bull calf” to differentiate girls and boys.  The term calf can be used to describe the bovine up until the age of two.

Cattle is a collective noun for the entire species, regardless of their age, fertility or gender.  Cattle always refers to more than one bovine.

The term “cow” actually refers to a female bovine who has previously bore a calf.
“Cows” is also a collective noun meaning just cows or a cow or cows and another type of bovine.
Informally, “cow” could mean any member of the species, but not to those around here.

Head refers to the amount of adult bovines one owns.  Head never has an “s” added even if someone owns more than one bovine and head does not include nursing calves or even bulls.  For example, “George has 250 head.” means that George has 250 bovines.  He may have nursing calves and full-grown bulls that are not in that number.

Hereford is the name of a breed of red beef cattle.  I figured I’d throw in the term because I used to get heifers and Herefords mixed up.  Don’t even get me started on Hereford heifers.

A heifer is a female bovine who has never had a calf.  Sometimes people still call a first-time bovine mama a heifer while the calf is still young.  I think at that point, you would be correct in both terms, heifer or cow.

An ox is a technically steer that is used for work.  The plural of ox is oxen.  Even if the working bovine is not really a steer, you can still call the bovine an “ox”.  Oxen are not used in this area anymore, but I’d love to learn to use oxen again.  It seems like a lost art, no?

A pair refers to mama cow and her baby calf.  An “s” is never added to pair to imply the plural.  For example, you would be correct to say “Johnny has fifty pair.”
“Johnny has fifty pairs.”
“Johnny has fifty mama cows and fifty calves.”
“Johnny has fifty pairs of cows.”
Those crossed out ones are all incorrect and saying them will mean you’re the laughing stock of the town.

A ranch is a land area and business entity which is devoted to raising bovines for meat.
Ranch can also be used as a verb to describe the activity of raising bovines.  For example, you can say, “He ranches west of Bovina.”

A steer is a castrated male bovine.  He is typically raised for meat.

Stock is a general term for large domesticated herbivores.

A yearling is a bovine that is weaned, but not yet two years old.  He or she may not be one yet.


This is my oldest in Mayish of 2012 with a bull calf.

Let me give you some examples…
Right now, we have two castrated male bovines in our pasture.
“Honey, I’m going to give the cows water.” is incorrect.
“Honey, I’m going to give the steers water.” is correct.

“This morning Kevin fed the cows,” is a perfectly acceptable way to tell someone that Kevin fed the cows, heifers, steers and bulls, or even just actual cows only.  If one really wanted to know what type of bovines he fed, then we’d have to ask for clarification. However, if there were only one type of bovine there and that type was not cows, then that would be the proper time to differentiate to start with.  For example, “Kevin fed the steers in our pasture,” would imply that there were only steers there.


Posted in Raising Bovines by with no comments yet.

My Inaugural Post

Welcome to my new website!

Let me introduce myself!

My name is really Laura and I really do live in a little house on the prairie.  I write about homesteading, homeschooling, being cheap, renovating my old house, learning to cook real food and my culture shocks as a Jersey girl living in the middle of nowhere,  Pull up a chair and let’s get to know each other…

Posted in Uncategorized by with no comments yet.