Happy Friday, folks! I have been taking it easy around here the last day and a half, trying to get enough rest and essential oils – so i don’t get sick! i felt a sinus cold coming on yesterday morning, so I started taking my oils, and today I feel almost back to normal. I am so thankful for a home remedy that works for my sinuses. I used to get a horrible infection at least once every winter. Hopefully i will avoid that this year!
My Cowboy is busy taking care of calving heifers, as usual, this time of year. It has been quite snowy around here, too! Which is great, by the way. I don’t mind having to cancel plans – I would rather have good hay this summer.
Pitching straw bales into the calving barn to use as bedding for the mamas and babies.
And now – it’s time for the weekend wind down link party, once again! I have more great features for you to check out! Go on – check them out! When you are done, come back and leave a link to a blog post you wrote. It can be about anything that is family friendly. Just be sure to link back to this party in your post, so we can consider you for our features next week!
Notice I said ‘good homemaker’, not ‘housekeeper’! I am still very much learning how to be organized, neat and tidy. I do not deep clean my house every spring and fall. (gasp!!) I do deep clean, but it tends to be in spurts and random times. Just yesterday I took down all the bedroom curtains and washed them, scrubbed the windows (and the blinds – gag!) and replaced the fresh-smelling curtains.
I was raised by a mother who grew up Amish, and she taught me to be a homemaker. She taught me to cook, bake, raise a garden, can the vegetables from the garden, sew my own clothes, make a quilt from start to finish, raise fluffy baby chicks for a couple months and then butcher them. She taught me to rise early, get dressed, show up on time and to work fast. She taught me to clean fish—no, wait! That was my dad. Mom actually hated cleaning fish, for some reason! Anyways, she taught me to fry the fish and cook a meal for a crowd and how to stretch the food budget. How to diaper a baby and how to get a baby to nurse who was refusing.
I used to see lots of articles on the web telling women how to cook, clean, manage their time, train their kids, etc. I loved them. Because I need them!
But lately it seems I have read a lot of articles where the writer says something to the effect of: “Don’t try to be perfect! Don’t try to have it all together! It’s OK if you don’t know how to cook, teach your kids, clean, etc. Just be YOU! (whoever that is?!) Just enjoy life and don’t try to keep up with these super-women. Proverbs 31 women are just a myth anyways. Why bother trying to learn how to bake your own bread or grow some veggies or sew a blanket? Just buy it and be happy. You are you. Not everyone has the same talents as others. “
And my most hated one of all: “Just be content with who you are.”
Really? I mean, REALLY?!?!
I am certainly not satisfied with who I am! I don’t believe in beating yourself up over someone you’re not – or comparing yourself, no. But I believe that if we are called to be homemakers, we should be continually striving to become better at what we do, and who we are. We should have the goal of becoming the best homemaker we can possibly be!
Of course not everyone has the same talents as everyone else. But skills are not really talents, are they? Skills can be learned. By anyone. My 10-year-old knows how to make bread from scratch, and I know lots of women who say they can’t. (I wonder – is it can’t, or won’t try?)
Don’t get me wrong – if you detest baking – fine. If you can’t stand sitting at a machine and sewing, so be it! If you have zero interest in gardening – that’s OK! But please, oh please, don’t mock and belittle those of us that do know how to do all of those things. Don’t say that knowing how to do ‘everything’ is a myth, and don’t act like it’s unattainable. It’s not. I have many friends who didn’t know how to boil the proverbial water when they married, and now are much better cooks than me. I have a sister who started gardening later in life than me, and doesn’t even enjoy it that much, and she is MUCH better at it than me!
I used to feel bad when friends and acquaintances would marvel at what all I accomplished in a day, they would claim they had no idea how to do it, they didn’t have the energy, etc. I felt like because I could do or make nearly anything, I was weird. I felt like I had to apologize for being able to home school AND bake bread AND raise a garden AND butcher a cow. (all by myself, mind you!) I was constantly reminding people that I was raised differently, had experience, could do it in my sleep, etc. And it’s true. I was trained to many do many things that others weren’t. I am experienced. I can bake bread with my eyes closed, I bet.
But I don’t feel proud about it! I am thankful I know how to do things, and grateful to have the energy and desire to learn new things. But I certainly don’t despise or look down on people who don’t have the skills I have. I love to help people learn, and I have so much to learn from others. (How to keep an organized house, for one thing. 😉 )
One day I decided that I would never again allow someone to make me feel guilty for being a good homemaker. I was trained, yes. But I have learned much, much more by trial and error, just like everyone else. I have worked hard to learn things, I am constantly reading books about mothering, cooking, gardening, schooling, marriage, etc, etc. I never want to stop learning. I want to become the best homemaker I can be! I don’t care where you are on the journey – if you are not as far as me, just ask, I would love to share my experience. If you are further – Praise God! You can teach me!
I don’t want you to feel pressured to be someone you can never be. But I do want to call you higher – always higher and better. Don’t be content with who you are or what you know. Keep learning. Keep trying. Keep seeking to be the very best you can be.
Who doesn’t enjoy a simple shepherd’s pie? I love how easy it is to throw this recipe together! Of course, I simplified as much as I could. Like most of my recipes, this one is easy to modify, depending on your tastes and ingredients in stock.
Brown the burger, add tomato sauce and vegetables, spread it in a skillet or baking dish. (about a 2-qt size)
Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mix.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes or till heated through, and cheese is melted.
Their breath was floating away on the frosty breeze…
We were able to buy a few more bred heifers this month. My Cowboy went and picked them up from CO one day, then asked me to help process them. We needed to put our brand on them, and change eartags, of course. Coming into the chute…
Make way, girls! No pushing, now… be nice!
One advantage of working on an established place, (vs. starting your own place) is the access to good equipment, like a nice hydraulic squeeze chute! :)
I have slacked in my walking Across Wyoming! We had a cold snap one week, and snow/wind the next. I just couldn’t bring myself to go out and fight the cold and wind. But this week is better. This week I have walked! And all that snow? Well, it is melting into lakes and puddles and swollen creeks! It’s a wonderful sight!
iPhone photo of the pretty snow!
Welcome to another Weekend Wind-down link party! It’s always fun to see who will join us, and all the awesomeness out there.
Here are your wonderful hostesses! Please go follow them in some way… Pinterest, blog, Facebook, Twitter, G+, you choose! And thank them for hosting, will ya? They are teaming up with me to showcase your links on 8 – yes, eight! blogs. So if you link back to us, you may get your post featured. Which means we promote them on Pinterest, Facebook, G+, etc. It’s a great opportunity for some extra publicity for your blog.
So you see, since my mother left the Amish when she married, I never grew up in an Amish home. Everything I know about the Amish comes from my close friendship with my Amish aunts, uncles, and cousins. And stories from my mother, of course!
The Amish that make the TV series these days are not what all Amish are like. I have known many Amish who are good citizens, have high morals, love God, and live clean lives. That makes for boring television, however, so they find the worst stories – the worst examples to try and shock people. I know there are many Amish who are like that – I just want people to know that not all Amish are like that. My relatives were of the upright variety. Not that they were perfect, and it certainly doesn’t help you ‘get to Heaven’. But it was nice to go to their houses and never hear a curse word, never have drinking parties, and the young people’s idea of entertainment was board games and ‘singings’.
My uncle is an Amish bishop, so if there was something church-related going on, they were there. Since we visited them a lot, we ended up going along. It gave me more opportunity to get in on some of the Amish community events. I always enjoyed it. For one thing, since we were Mennonite instead of Amish – we had some status among the younger set. We had our own vehicles, and could wear brighter clothing – we could even listen to cassette tapes! 😉
I remember going to visit my cousins and hearing my aunt tell my cousins that they had to ‘stand up’ at 4 am. ‘Stand up’ is the way you say ‘get up’ in Dutch, if you translate exactly. They spoke Pennsylvania Dutch all the time, unless they were around worldly people or someone who couldn’t speak Dutch – like us.
My mother can speak Dutch, obviously, but since my father wasn’t raised Amish, he didn’t want my mother speaking it in the home. Of course he didn’t care if she spoke it to her friends and family, but he wanted to be able to understand what was said in his home. So us kids knew a smattering of Dutch – just enough to be dangerous, I like to say! But I can’t carry on a conversation past the: “What is your name? My name is…” stage.
So of course we would snicker at their English translations, because some things you have to say differently in English – you can’t just translate verbatim! They were so used to talking in Dutch, that I am sure they thought in Dutch. I remember my cousins trying to think how to say something in English…they couldn’t always find a way to translate perfectly.
My cousins would have to get up at 4 a.m. to go milk their dairy cows. (yes, dairy cows and carpentry are the main Amish businesses it seems!) I loved getting up to go with them! When I heard my cousins getting up – I would jump out of bed and hurry down to go with them. I liked to watch them bring the cows in, feed them, and hook up the milkers. I would peek into the milk tank, mesmerized by the swishing, creamy milk. I was fascinated by the milking machines and their weird sucking noises. I was scared to death of being kicked by a cow, (still am!) and for the life of me couldn’t figure out how they could be so fat if they weren’t going to have a baby calf soon! 😉
Then I would crawl up into the hayloft with my cousin and watch him pitch hay down. It was very much like Farmer Boy. Once I climbed up into the silo with him, fascinated by the perfect layer of silage he was able to fork off and throw down the chute. The sweet, slightly sour smell of aging silage will stay with me forever.
I would beg to ride a horse, so they would put a bridle on their oldest, gentlest work horse, and I would bounce around on his wide back till I was covered in horse hair and sweat. Looking back, I am amazed at the patience they had with their horse-crazy little cousin!
Mealtimes were always a delight! My aunt was a great cook – as most Amish women are. The meal would start with a silent bowing of the heads – a prayer to ask God’s blessing on the food, they said. It ended with another silent bowing of the heads – this time to thank God for the food we had consumed. But I never remember a audible prayer spoken at that table. And to my disgrace – I don’t remember praying silently even once. I was just waiting impatiently for the quiet clearing of the throat by my uncle – signaling that the prayer was over and we could dig in.
In between the prayers was a feast. Sometimes simple – but always plenty of food and delicious. Mashed potatoes, gravy, meatloaf or chicken, jello salad, baby peas from their garden, homemade bread- fluffy and wonderful, with strawberry jam. For dessert was chocolate sheet cake with sliced, sweetened strawberries from their strawberry patch – and thick cream! I would watch my cousins tuck away massive amounts of food. I was always amazed at how much – and how fast!- they ate! But to their credit – they worked their tails off between meals, and none of them were even close to fat. I have heard disparaging remarks about the Amish and their carb-laden foods. Well, in my experience – they needed those carbs for some serious energy! Most people I know these days don’t work nearly as hard as those Amish guys did!
My aunt and her daughters were also up before dawn. Usually there was a couple loads of laundry washed and flapping on the line by the time breakfast was ready. They did mounds of laundry – all through a gas-powered wringer washer. I don’t know how the Amish do it these days, but in the 90’s that is what they used.
They also had gas-powered refrigerators and gas lights. I’m not sure how they got away with it – but I’m pretty sure my uncle had an electric freezer in the milk barn. They had to have electric in the dairy – to keep the milk cooled properly. So sometimes they would have telephones, etc, in the milk barn! 😉
Well, this is getting kind of rambly…. Hope you enjoy hearing some of my memories about the Amish in my life! If you have stories and experiences, please share! Just keep the comments family-friendly and kind.
What do you tell people when they ask what you do for work? I tell
them I cowboy.
What is your job description? I work on a cow/calf and yearling
outfit, so I do a little of everything. I doctor yearlings, ride
fence, check waters, do maintenance on windmills, equipment, etc. We
have a lot of water line, (8-10 miles or so) so I pump water a lot. In
the spring we have calving and branding, then in the fall we wean
calves. What is your favorite part of your job? I enjoy roping during
branding and working the cutting pen during weaning… having a good
horse makes it a lot of fun! We do everything horseback like it’s
meant to be done – I enjoy that.
What do you do in your spare time? I train horses on the side. If I have extra time after chores are all done, I like to go out and put a ride on a colt. I also raise and train cowdogs and help my wife with her photography business. I like to workout and go running some.
Did you grow up on a ranch? No, my dad had a dairy farm when I was a
kid. I always wanted to fool with horses though, so I’m livin’ the
Soft tacos are my favorite kind of tacos! My kids like the crunchy ones, but I think they are one of the most awkward foods ever invented! Puh-lease, give me soft tacos, okay? Thank-you forever.
My family loves Mexican food. Well, OK, I doubt that taco seasoning and Tabasco’s rates as true Mexican, but hey. When you live many, many miles from Old Mexico – you do what you can. And I am not against ‘American-Mexican’. Or Tex-Mex, or whatever you want to call it. As long as it tastes good, and has some kick – we’re all gonna love it!
Here is my favorite soft taco recipe. Please make twice as many as you think you will need. Your kids will suddenly have an appetite! My nibbler of a 5-year-old can eat 3 or 4 of these babies!
But we aren’t talking about cake today.
Although that would be awesome.
Because I love cake more than tacos.)
Brown your beef burger. Or antelope, deer, elk, bear – whatever. You can even use ground turkey, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not. Why ruin a good taco? 😉
Add one can of diced tomatoes. Any kind, my friend! Diced, stewed, with chiles, without chiles. Just whatever you have in the cupboard.
Add 1 package taco seasoning and one can of drained beans. I like black beans, but again – any kind will work. Stir it all together and heat through.
Spoon into a tortilla, top with shredded cheddar. Deliciousness! And so simple. If you are going to be out – just make this and stick it in the crockpot to keep warm till suppertime.
You may have heard things about the beef industry that are scary. Things that make you grossed out, freaked out, or just plain mad. Things that most likely are at best exaggerations, at worst – completely false! I have read things online that make me shake my head in disbelief. (Weight-loss groups and ‘healthy-eating’ groups are notorious for spreading ridiculous myths about the beef industry.) Obviously, I can’t speak for all ranchers and all situations – I am but one small person on this big earth. But here are some myths I can dispel for ya:
1. Cows are raised in dungeons. I have lived on several ranches, and not once have I seen cows locked up in smelly rooms with nothing but hormones to eat. They spend their lazy days in the bright sunshine, wandering at will over thousands of acres of green grass and drinking clear water from sparkling creeks. They lay in the grass and chew their cud and look stupidly around. They are well-cared for, since they are the source of income for our families. I wish some of you city folk could see the care these tough ranchers put into their cows. They haul water in the heat of the drought, and chop ice in 40+mph-below-freezing wind.
2. Cows are full ofantibiotics. Sure, if they need it – they get a shot or two of meds. But we don’t just randomly go around and give shots to healthy cattle! Those meds cost money, people! We prefer if they don’t need antibiotics.
3. Cows should be kept inside during the winter, in red barns with white criss-crosses on the door. Cattle (and most other livestock) have hides and hair that is uniquely designed by the Creator to protect them in the coldest weather. There are great articles to prove this – I am not a scientist, so I won’t confuse you by trying to explain it to you. (Google, anyone?) Suffice it to say, that even when you have them in a pasture with barns and windbreaks in – they will not go in the barn or stand behind the windbreak. They will stay out in the blizzard winds. Now, this may be due to their ignorance and general stupidity, I can’t say for sure. But I have a hunch that if they were cold they’d go into the barn.
This is not to say that weather doesn’t affect them – it most certainly can! Just take the blizzard of last fall for example. Killed many cattle. (so sorry to you fellow-ranchers affected!) But normal winter conditions are usually well-tolerated.
So the next time you read some outcry against the beef industry, make sure the writer has some actual experience, will ya? Someone living miles and generations away from the industry rarely knows exactly what is going on in the beef industry. 😉
Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.
What ridiculous accusations have you heard about the beef industry?
Welcome to another Weekend Wind-down link party! It’s always fun to see who will join us, and all the awesomeness out there. We have some great features for you – but first, aren’t these just the cutest little snow pants ever?! I think so! I may be prejudiced…
Here are your awesome hostesses! Please go follow them in some way… Pinterest, blog, Facebook, Twitter, G+, you choose! And thank them for hosting, will ya? They are teaming up with me to showcase your links on 8 – yes, eight! blogs. So if you link back to us? You may get your post featured. Which means we promote them on Pinterest, Facebook, G+, etc. It’s a great opportunity for some extra publicity for your blog.