Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pasture Cutting Season in Florida

It’s August on the ranch and it’s time for mowing pastures. 

We’ve had a week of dry weather and the fields are ready.  I’ll be slathering on my sunscreen and spending most of the next few weeks out of doors.

Many people don’t like August in Florida.  It’s certainly very hot and the humidity is off the scale.  But I’ve always loved August.  

The dazzling blue skies of summer arrive daily clear and empty, only to fill up with the enormously puffy, pristinely white Cumulus clouds of the tropics slowly building towards upwards towards space.

The air, too, grows damper as the day progresses.  I've become used to the overwhelming humidity and I really enjoy the good things damp air does for my skin.  To me, August in Florida is sensory overload at its best.  There's no better place and no better time to be alive.

Then there’s the work of August--that quiet purposefulness of field cutting that ranchers and farmers can no longer put off and now must tackle.  From August through September, the days are spent out in far pastures, and work strenuously measured against the calendar.  

There's an endemic solitude and repetitiveness in the toil of pasture cutting.  But for me, there's also a sense of freedom and independence.  With no outside chatter to distract me, mowing endless acres of grass frees up my mind to think and my soul to see.  Out on one's own in the back lands of pastures, there’s plenty of time to do both.

The flat topography of Florida allows me a 360 degree view of a big sky that goes on forever.  Alone on my tractor, I have the opportunity to watch each day begin and then change around me.  It's weather-watching moment by moment.  

From my field I see the clouds in all directions slowly appear out of ocean waters to the east, the south and the west--yet miles and miles away.  As the day progresses, the clouds billow and build, then finally top-off in a crescendo of water vapor and rising air. 

A few of the clouds I see from my tractor will travel inland bringing turbulence and rain.  Others will simply burst, and dissipate along the more populated areas of Florida coast.  It’s the quiet, never-ending show of weather actively displayed for me on my big screen TV in the sky overhead.  It's a show I love watching.

August days of cutting are long days, tiring days; but when even a small portion of the task is done and I give that field back to Nature, there’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  For a short time, my world is perfect and I am the self-determined sovereign over all I can see.

When today’s field work is finished, I will head home to relish my old rocker and a glass of ice cold water.  Both the chair and the drink will provide needed nourishment my body . 

From my porch I can look across the horizon to see that I’m not the only rancher on this August schedule.  All those who work the land in my area are beginning to make their seasonal journey out to attend their fields.

We’re racing the weather this week, my neighbors and I.  We’re all in this together.  Each of us will be putting in exceptionally long hours over the next 8 weeks, trying to outrun tropical rain storms and the upcoming autumn equinox. 

We’ll be a tired bunch, but we’ll be happy.  Sunshine and hard work tends to make us that way.

- Sanne Collins
   From the Ranch in Florida

Soup for a Summer Evening
Summer Squash Soup with Curry Recipe

This easy to make delicious summer soup can be made ahead of time and refrigerated making it the perfect dish to come home to after a long day at work.  Serve it hot or cold--either way, it’s great tasting!

Ingredients – Soup

3 chopped large summer squash
1 Onion, chopped
3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
4 Cups Chicken Broth 
1 tsp Curry Powder
 Salt / Pepper  to taste 

Ingredients - Topping 
Sour cream
Cilantro leaves
To Prepare Soup:

Warm vegetable oil in large pan. 
Add summer squash and small onion.  Cook until tender.
Add Curry.
Season lightly with Salt and Pepper. 
Add in Chicken Broth and bring to a boil
Simmer for another 30 minutes or so until squash is very tender.
Puree in blender until smooth.
Re-check soup for seasonings. 
Chill, if serving soup cold.  Reheat if necessary when serving soup warm.

To serve, pour soup into a bowl and top with a dab of sour cream, cilantro leaves and pepper. 

What’s Been Keeping Me Busy Lately

Love Those Wide Open Spaces is a blog designed to follow my daily life as a freelance writer and rancher.  It’s a life full of constant change and a wide scope of interests.

Freelance writing, by its definition, requires the ability to write on a variety of subjects, to juggle many assignments during the times of plenty, and to fill the void when checks are slow.   That said, I’m always writing.

Much of my work is done for others such as corporations, websites, or articles penned under another’s name.  I’ve sold the rights to these works, so they can’t be shared. 

However, many of my projects are available under my own name and can be read right here on the web.    

You can click on either the site or the story below to see them.

Check out what’s been keeping me busy lately!

Rural Florida Living 
Florida Honey Bee College and the Art of Beekeeping
Famous Floridian Friday - Stepin Fetchit, the Original Black Movie Star 
NW Florida Office of FWC Seeks Volunteers for their Bear Management Program  
Florida Outdoors - What You Can See in August 
The Ozello Trail - Let's Do Some Driving! 
Florida Outdoors: What You Can See in July 
Mosquitoes in Florida
Florida Outdoors - What You Can See in June
Florida's Honeymoon Island State Park - Unspoiled Gulf Coast Barrier Island Beach

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