To protect and to serve

Commando guarding
One of the Anatolian crosses doing what livestock guardian dogs love to do! He watches everything.

Back in September, I brought home a new colt. Just a few nights ago, I was listening to the howling of coyotes just off of our homestead. However, even though little Captain is being kept at night in a pen so I can feed him extra since he is growing so fast, and his pen would be accessible to coyotes, I am not terribly worried. Why? Because of  our livestock guardian dogs.

This is my new baby that I just brought home. This was taken of him during the summer when he wasn’t weaned yet.




These guys are livestock guardian dogs. They are Anatolian Shepherds and very good at keeping predators away from all of the live stock, Captain included. Llana in particular has decided that Captain is her baby. He’s her special charger and no coyote is touching her baby! Llana is our baby specialist, although all the dogs love baby anythings! Last year, our goats kidded when we were at work, and when I came home, the dogs had to escort me out to the barn to show me their new charges. They were so excited about their new kids!



When we first looked into getting livestock guardian dogs, we went with a great pyrenese who we loved dearly. Unfortunately, Guardian had two big flaws. First, he was a great disapearanese. He had a wandering habit. He was often spotted up to five miles from the homestead. The other issue we had with him that ultimately cost him his life was his penchant for chasing cars and ability for jumping fences.

After the sad loss of Guardian, we started investigating other breeds and decided to try Anatolians. We now have two Anatolians and our dear adopted Llana the pyr cross that a neighbor asked us to dog sit, and then unexpectedly the neighbor passed away. We ended up being given Llana by his relatives. I think, since she has Kommondor, and is a female, she is not inclined to wander. A fact, for which we are ever grateful.

Do you have livestock guardian dogs? What made you chose your breed?


Arabian Jasmine


As the fall has started setting in and the temperatures have been dropping on the farm, I have started thinking about teas that I like again. During the winter, I try to keep a collection of varieties around to help warm me up when I come in from working with the animals.

One of my favorite teas is Jasmine. I first started paying attention to that one when my sister found the idea for the dog waterer for her boxer, Penny who is Baran’s sister. When Keli got the things she needed together to do a dog waterer, she chose Jasmine as the plant to plant around the water dish.

A few months after she had shown me what she had done, I flew to the state of Washington to visit my brother and sister in law. I had always been more of a fruit tea person than a dark tea or herb tea person. But, when I was in Washington, I was introduced to Jasmine tea and loved it.

When I returned to the homestead, I started doing some research on the herb because I wanted to grow it. It can be used as an indoor plant like my sister is doing, but it needs to have it’s roots lightly covered. It’s supposed to also be good for moisturising skin. I found several really good articles on the plant as I was investigating, and I probably will grow it eventually once I have more shelving in my home. I’ve recently moved and my house isn’t quite ready to put the whole quantity of herbs that I want to grow in there. I’m still researching and dreaming. Here are a few of the articles I found on Arabian Jasmine:

A cover crop

otcp_wheelbarrow10_30_2014 The weather is starting to cool off around here, and I’m starting to crave atole which is a Mexican pumpkin drink. Speaking of pumpkins, my family grows one that has a lot of history behind it. My dad, George McLaughlin asked if I would share an article that he wrote October 7th, 2016,  with you all.


“Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin

I received seed for this squash from Rodger Winn of Little Mountain, South Carolina, in 2008 or 2009. I met Rodger on Gardenweb (now part of Houz). I believe he is active in a couple of southern seed conservancies, including the Southern Exposure Seed Conservancy. This is the traditional squash grown in his area. Rodger shared with me that the Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin was popular before mechanization. At that time farmers would plow their fields with animals, plant their corn and a little after the corn got going they would plant this squash on the edges of the field. The corn would mature as the squash got sprawling and, when the corn stalks started drying and dying down, Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin would then go bananas, growing over top of any weeds which wanted to take advantage of the additional sunlight afforded by the dying corn. In the fall, they would harvest squash and pumpkins as they cleared the field. The pumpkin was an important part of their weed suppression strategy, and, its fruit fed both man and beast.

While modern farming methods are not well suited to this kind of combination growing scheme. It still has great potential for people who wish to grow more of their own food in more of a gardening style approach. Here in our part of Oklahoma, for instance, we battle with Bermuda and Johnson grass. These grasses can take a garden over during the weeks that it is too hot and dry to cultivate. But Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin is not only insect resistant. If started early enough, it’s pretty drought tolerant, and it smothers invasive weeds!

The fruit are tan colored, ribbed and recognizably of a Jack O’Lantern shape. They can weigh between 3 and 30 lb. Most seem to weigh about 10 lb. The flesh is deep orange in color and has some texture when cooked. Yet, in the mouth, it seems stringless. Its flavor is good. It tastes about like a butternut squash. The skin is not real hard. This pumpkin would work for carving, though I have never had the heart to waste one by cutting a face into it. Seeds are average in size. They do roast well as snacks.

This squash grows rampantly! One plant could fill up an area about 10X15.’ Sometimes the vines run much farther. One year I grew it under our fruit trees. Five or six plants overran our grape arbor and almost completely covered two peach trees and two or three semi dwarf apple trees. We picked a couple hundred pounds of squash, some of which were still usable at 10 months in storage.

Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin presents the gardener with 2 main challenges: 1) To plant it where it won’t gobble up another crop, 2) To learn to use cooked pumpkin for more than just pumpkin pie! It is what I call a “feel good crop,” in that it’s a good one to grow if you want to get a child hooked on gardening, or if your own gardening ego needs a bit of a boost. It succeeds and does so spectacularly in our Oklahoma conditions!”

These pumpkins are one of my favourite fall crops. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I love to make a pumpkin drink out of them. They aren’t only for making pies.

Here is the recipe for Atole which I referred to at the begining of this post. It’s a great way to make a homemade pumpkin drink:Americanized Pumpkin Atole
*To a blender add:
1 egg
a few glugs of molasses
some sugar (brown or white)
2 cups of cooked squash(pumpkin)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
optional – 2 or 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
*Milk (at least a pint)
*Blend this all up and taste to see if it needs more sweetening.
*Pour the mix into a pot and heat until just boiling. I normally pour this mix into a two quart pot and add some additional milk before heating it.
*Serve and enjoy!