The great horned owls have returned from their early summer walkabout, and brought their now grown-up progeny, one of whom was on the front page of this paper earlier in the year. The mother bobcat has brought her two new kittens to visit, and there are some amazing bucks, all still in their velvet. In short, the wildlife here on the ranch is in all its summer glory.
The garden is producing the usual — squash, beans, tomatoes and chard — all our favorites. Some produce is already in the freezer to enjoy next winter. In the fields, second cut is done and gone, just third to go, and it will be smaller.
We have created here what one travel writer called “the most purely idyllic place to spend the night.” It’s taken something more than 30 years of long days and lots of effort to create all of this. The house and B and B, David’s big “shop” building, the pottery studio. Gardens, fruit trees, and 60 acres of hay to irrigate, fertilize, cut, bale, and sell. And there are off-site projects and commitments as well. It’s a special place, and we are loath to leave it, which of course we must, someday.
There are so many choices to make. We’d like to “age-in-place,” as they say. We don’t want to just walk away, leaving the ranch to be developed lot-block style. It seems a better path would be to keep the fields green, maintaining deer and wildlife habitat and hay crops, with the addition of some carefully placed home sites at the edge of the eastern hills. Sadly, we’re getting too old to tackle that on our own. It will take someone younger, stronger and willing to work harder than most are wont to do. We’d even like to find someone to work here now — there’s heavy work to do — clearing brush, repairing equipment, pulling algae and cattails from the pond. So, what to do? The ranch could, of course, revert to sagebrush. We don’t have answers yet. I wish we did.
So, for the time being, we’ll enjoy the life here, and the produce from the garden. We’re loaded with summer squash since it’s “high summer,” so I will pass on a recipe from a little booklet from Lyon County extension that I’ve had for at least 20 years. This recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread was originally contributed by Louise Marshall, and though I’ve made a few changes, it’s basically pretty close to the original.
LEMON ZUCCHINI BREAD
This bread can be made using any combination of summer squash colors and shapes. Squash from your garden that get huge are really better off in the compost or for the chickens. You want the skin to be tender, and if they’re larger than your average grocery store squash, split them lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds.
This recipe makes two average size or five small loaves.
3 large eggs
1 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 cups grated, squeezed zucchini or summer squash
1 grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal or 3/4 cup chopped nuts of your choice
Grease and flour the pans and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add oil, brown sugar, white sugar, zucchini or summer squash, lemon rind, and lemon extract.
In a sifter or smaller bowl, combine unbleached white flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Combine the two mixtures and then add either 3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal or 3/4 cup chopped nuts.
Divide batter into loaf pans, and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Check with a slim knife or skewer.
While the loaves are baking, make the topping.
Juice from one lemon
1/3 cup sugar
Mix the lemon juice and sugar well, and drizzle over the tops of the loaves as soon as they are out of the oven. This bread freezes well.
David and Muffy Vhay own Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.