Monthly Archives: July 2014

Wyoming Garden Tour ~ July, 2014

Hi friends!

I have been wanting to get a garden tour up much earlier, but just haven’t had time. Been spending too much time in my garden, haha! :) Anyways, I am a pretty big gardening addict, although I am not a great gardener – really. Most of my gardens have been duds, or at best – sad sights. But I struggle on! 😀 In 13 years of gardening (on my own) I have had exactly ONE garden I was completely, 100% satisfied with. And that was in MO. Back there where you throw seeds on the ground and a few weeks later pick veggies.

Anyways. Wyoming gardening has been a struggle for many reasons, let me tell you. But I am learning! And this year my garden is at least passable. I want to show you around my garden today…

From the outside it looks trashy, I know! It is an eyesore. But – the bird tape was given by my mom to keep deer out, so I put it up. It doesn’t even keep the birds out! Worthless. Gonna rip it down eventually. The ‘regular’ fence was there when we moved here. I added the tall poles (cheap conduit pipe) and stretched nylon netting around it the first two years. That actually did keep the deer out for awhile, but once the coons ripped it down to get at the corn, the deer went in too, and happily ate off my ENTIRE garden in a single night. This happened two years in a row, and after that I said enough! This year I added an electric fence outside the existing fence, (3 strands!) with the hope that between the shock and the 3 ft gap – they would’nt try jumping over or going through the fence. So far it’s working! Yay! But this year, for the first time – we have rabbits. Wretched varmints.

wyoming garden 2014

Standing at the gate… the wooden fence is pallets sawed in half (my son’s work!) and it was covered with netting to keep the birds out of the strawberries. I didn’t think of rabbits… they went right through the slats and chewed off all the strawberry leaves! No berries, just the leaves. :(

wyoming garden 2014

Rhubarb plants I transplanted from a different spot where they barely grew. (under trees) Here they seem to be doing well.


wyoming garden 2014wyoming garden tour

My garden looking south. Before I decided to get electric fencing, I built this wire enclosure for my peas. (determined to get some peas!!) I found instructions HERE.

I have three veggie beds – separated with mowed grass.

wyoming garden 2014

 

I crammed a LOT of stuff in the wire hoop-house! :) Probably too much. I have been picking a ice-cream pail of peas every other day, lately. On a side note: now I know why my mom said peas take too much room. As many beautiful peas that I have – yet I am not getting enough to freeze much. I would need a lot more plants to get a substantial amounts to freeze. Anyways.

garden tour 2014

So proud of my first ever cauliflower! Who knew they are so easy to grow?!

So proud of my first ever cauliflower! Who knew they are so easy to grow?!

For some reason, rabbits only eat the green beans and strawberries. :/

 

garden 6

Garden plot #1

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Garden plot #2
Onions and potatoes

wyoming garden 2014

garden plot #3
Just corn

wyoming garden 2014

My little helper

wyoming garden 2014wyoming garden 2014

Some of the challenges I have encountered in my Wyoming gardens are:

1. Short growing season. Literally 2 months. Or 3 if I’m lucky. And even when it isn’t ‘freezing’, the nights get cool, so warm weather things just don’t ripen before frost. Tomatoes and peppers just sit there. So this year I put them in my green house.

Yes! I have a greenhouse!! I will share a post on it soon…

2. Deer. These are seasoned veterans of eating gardens. They are practically tame. Seriously the most annoying thing ever.

3. Rabbits. First year for these critters, but quickly rising to the level of annoyance that the deer are at.

4. Cows. Thankfully on this ranch my garden is not too clse to any fences/pastures. Last ranch I have had entire gardens trampled into the ground by these ferocious, obnoxious beasts.

5. Hail. (3 inches across one time. Shreds plants!)

6. Late Snows. (a foot on Mothers day this year.) Or early snows. (Sept one year)

So there ya go. Are you tough enough to garden in WY? Good for you! tell me your tricks! :) It is not for the faint of heart, I’m tellin’ ya! But with a lot of work and a little luck – you might just get some garden fresh veggies that make it all worthwhile. :)

 

My Favorite Thing about Ranching

My Favorite Thing about Ranching

~ Jennifer Schrock

I love everything about ranching. It is something you just can’t get enough of. It does take some getting used to, but all in all it is fun and rewarding.

I love horses and roping, so my favorite thing about ranching happens to be branding season. Branding season is usually in spring and early summer. You have brandings to put your brand on your calves so that people know who raised those calves.

To get a branding working, everyone who was invited to help get up early, saddle their horses, and ride out to gather the cows and calves. They bring the cattle to the branding trap and then try to separate most of the cows from the calves, to make their job easier.
After that, everyone must help get the branding ready. They get the shots ready, heat up the branding pot, and set up everything so that it is in a helpful spot for everyone.

My Favorite Thing About Ranching | A Ranch mom

The ropers are chosen, and everyone else finds themselves a job, such as giving shots, marking the calves, tagging, wrestling, or branding. Then the branding can officially start.
The system of brandings is pretty simple. The ropers rope calves and drag them to the wrestlers, who must keep the calves from running off while they are branded, marked, cut, and many other things.My Favorite Thing About Ranching | A Ranch mom

When I participate in a branding, I usually help bring the cattle in, then I stand back as they separate the calves. Everything in the branding trap is moving fast. So fast that I can’t keep track of everything. As soon as everything is set up, I go into the trap to ask the boss what I can do to help.

I usually am assigned to help with shots. So I go around giving the calves shots in their necks and then marking them afterwards. Sometimes I lose track of which ones I did and didn’t do. To see if I did one or not, I look for the mark. If a calf has a mark, I move on to the next calf. It is pretty simple.

My Favorite Thing About Ranching | A Ranch mom
Some people say its hard to do anything in a branding, because there is so much going on. And yes, there is a lot going on. You have to keep track of where the horses are, so you stay out of their way, and you have to make sure you don’t get in the way of anyone else. All while giving calves shots.My Favorite Thing About Ranching | A Ranch mom

Usually, there is break during the branding. Break is when one of the cooks brings food and drink out to everyone for a break. It usually happens in the middle of a branding, or after one bunch of cattle and before the next bunch. Anyways, break is just something to keep everyone going. And it is a good time for everyone just to hang out and talk.My Favorite Thing About Ranching | A Ranch mom

After a branding is over, everyone heads down to headquarters to eat lunch. They all gather at one of the houses and hang out and eat the cooks good food. Afterwards, everyone heads home after a day of our kind of sports.

I hope you have enjoyed my version of my favorite part of brandings. You still may not see why it is my favorite part of living on a ranch, but if you were me, you’d understand. Brandings are to me what sports are to a jock. It is fun, and rewarding.

What I’ve been doing… July ’14

Like to see what I have been up to?

Nothing too spectacular, really. Just living. Working. Cooking.  Made this simple, comforting beef pie that reminds me of James Herriot and Yorkshire. :)

Savory Beef Pie
IMG_7096Spent a while in my husband’s leather shop, working on some rustic, leather-bound journals…

leather journalFinished this pretty blue and brown cinch for an Arizona customer…cinch

So I got a bunch of stuff crossed off my list, and yet my list grows instead of diminishing! :) I am also picking, shelling, and freezing peas from my garden. Watering and otherwise tending to my precious tomatoes. I plan to do a garden update one of these days. My greenhouse is crazy and out of control! 😉

What have you been up to lately?

 

Motherhood – worthy of our best efforts.

 

motherhoodLately, I have been gripped with the knowledge that my role as a mother is a serious one. That I only have one  go ’round.  I don’t get second chances. If I wait till I have my life perfect – it will be far too late. They are here now. They are watching now. They need guidance, instruction, and love now. Motherhood is not an easy side job. It is a calling. One we cannot afford to waste or take lightly. We are called to teach our kids about Jesus. We must train them to be good citizens and responsible individuals. Some things I think are very important are:

1. A secure, loving home.

2. Good books and training of their intellect.

3. Healthy interaction with friends.

4. Plenty of time to play and explore, according to their interests.

5. Learning the habit of prayer and becoming familiar with Scripture.

It is tempting to fall into the trap of measuring ourselves as mothers according to the worlds’ standards. Are my kids enrolled in sports? Music? Lessons? Playdates? Do they have at least some kind of electronic device to play on, (because all their friends have them!)

No. I am not interested in raising another cookie-cutter kid. I want Jesus-lovers. I want kids who know how to graciously refuse things they can’t afford, and not be afraid of being different. I want them to explore their interests, grow in their relationships, and read lots of books.
I am not interested in any certain ‘lifestyle’. They can be city-dwellers or country people. They can be missionaries or un-noticed ‘nobodies’, just going to work every day. They can have no kids or lots of kids. Work with their hands or be nerds. I couldn’t care less. motherhood

I want one thing alone – that they love God and have a passionate, burning desire to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. That they know they are loved by a Father.

We must not be swayed by the begging of our kids nor the questioning by our peers. We must look to God alone and trust Him for wisdom to teach and train our kids in His ways. We have to make our mothering a priority. Not just getting through it – but using every day in a worthy manner.

We need to get before God and plead for grace and wisdom. I don’t often have time alone to pray or read. Most of my praying is done ‘on the fly’, with unspoken words going straight to the ears of an attentive, loving, Heavenly Father. Don’t discount the work God can do in your life through the hardships of motherhood. Don’t look for the easy way out. Know that these hard things you are being asked to do are really God’s training of you. Just like we make our kids clean up their rooms, pull weeds, or fold laundry, even when they whine and complain. We know it is for the training of their character. That one day they will call home and say: “Mom, thanks for teaching me to clean and do laundry.”  :) (by the way – have you thanked your mom yet? You need to.)

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Our kids are so very important. They are shaping their views of God and life and relationships, by what we teach them and how we relate to others.  We cannot afford to just ‘get by’ until they are gone. We can’t waste these fleeting years with whining and being so self-absorbed  that we don’t make much of an impact on their souls.

I am not saying to plan your days out to the last minute. In fact – mostly the opposite. don’t cram your days so full of activities that you never have time to sit down with the family for a meal, or to read some books together. Don’t be so involved in ‘ministry’ that you never have time for your primary ministry – your family.

Home-making is repetitive. Set your mind to not get discouraged with the routine of doing the same tasks over and over. Train your kids to work alongside you, not work for you. Don’t wait for your house to be perfect to take time to sit down and color a picture with your child. Do it now. Then back to work. It is all important. Teaching your child and cleaning off the highchair – all of it is important.

Do the best work you can. Set the table for dinner. Light a candle. Fold the laundry and put it away. Iron. Do it again tomorrow. Make food from scratch. Write love notes. Read good books aloud. Take walks. Teach, train, love, encourage. Devote your life to this calling. See it as a calling, instead of a hindrance to the ‘ministry’ you would rather be doing. Because if you are a mother – it IS your calling.

Sharing this post over at: Nancherrow.

CK Custom Leather ~ custom headstalls

Summer.

Hot. Green grass. Garden weeds. Fresh veggies. Grillin’ steaks. Watermelon. Bike rides. Bare feet. Water fights. Back porch sittin’. Barbecues. The Fourth. Windows down. Wadin’ in the creek.

Don’t ya just love sweet summer time?! :) I do. I am in love. I just love this hot middle-of-summer time. The meadow grasses are tall and turning to golden. Sprinkled through the grasses are yellow coneflowers, white yarrow, black-eyed Susans, and among them all, the calls of bird and buzzing of insects.

I have been picking peas from my garden, pulling a few carrots, and snipping off mint tea leaves to make ice-cold, sweet ‘garden tea’. Nothing better on a hot summer afternoon! I won’t let my kids pull weeds in my garden, although really, I can’t keep up! because that is my quiet spot. I love to kneel down in the rows and carefully pull up the weeds, feeling the stems of my plants, letting the dirt run through my fingers, and just talk to God. You know – my Father? The One who makes the seeds grow and sends rain from the sky. A garden is a great place to get alone time with God. No one gets close to the garden when there are weeds to be pulled! 😉

Meanwhile, my husband has been busy haying, pulling bulls, etc. He also has been busy filling orders in the leather shop. He finished these headstalls last week. Custom order for a WY customer. I need a good place/method to take product photos. Leather work is cumbersome to photograph! Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

ck custom leather headstalls IMG_7129

Raw Date Bars

I am not usually a fan of ‘healthy, raw’ recipes. Because, lets face it – most don’t taste that good. (Unless you are one of those extreme dieters who live on organic kale chips and kombucha. 😉 ) But – I am finding a few recipes that are super healthy and taste delicious! How fun! :)

Here is my most recent addition to my file. It is raw, healthy, and yet tastes sweet and delicious. I dare you to try it. No really. See what you think! :)

Raw Date Bars | A Ranch Mom

 

They are so easy that you really can’t mess them up! Just throw everything in the food processor (or blender) for a few minutes, till ground up fine and well blended. Pat the mixture in a 9X9 pan, lined with parchment paper. Chill several hours and cut into small squares. Eat as necessary. 😉 They are fine without being chilled to, but will be softer and crumble more.

Raw Date Bars|A Ranch Mom

Raw Date Bars | A Ranch MomRaw Date bars | A Ranch Mom

Raw Date Bars
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: snack
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup prunes
Instructions
  1. Place all fruit and nuts into food processor.
  2. Grind till well-blended and past-ey.
  3. Press into a 9X9 pan, between two sheets of parchment paper.
  4. Chill for several hours.
  5. Serve.

 

Schrock Branding ~ 2014

Somewhere along about April or May, branding season started. And that was the beginning of crazy. It has been busy ever since. No time to sit down and blog, or sew those projects, or make those 101 pallet ideas from Pinterest! 😀

First was brandings, then gardening happened, and as you know – when your frost-free season is less than 3 months, you’d better not tarry. The ‘coon ate the chickens, so that was one less thing to do. But then there has been overnight guests and church camping trip, and more gardening, and yards to mow and did I mention brandings?!

Whew.

But here I am – trying to catch up with some of the goings-on of the past 3 months. One of the highlights for us was our branding. This year was bigger. Still small – but bigger than last year. We bought some bred heifers back in January, and they had a nice bunch of calves. It is exciting to watch our herd grow!

We invited some friends to the branding, and while most cancelled, we did manage to get plenty of help. I was busy with the meal, but I did snap a few pics with my trusty iPhone. I tell ya – that thing is so handy! I have it with me always, so I never miss those moments anymore. Always ready to snap a pic in a few seconds. Granted – the quality is less than ideal, but I still like having them.

Wyoming Ranch BrandingWyoming Ranch Brandingranch brandingWyoming Ranch BrandingWyoming Ranch BrandingWyoming Ranch BrandingWyoming Ranch BrandingWyoming Ranch BrandingWyoming Ranch Branding

Of course, with My Cowboy in charge, it was a head and heel branding. :) We enjoy learning traditional ways of doing things, and like Cliff says:

“If you have to work anyways, why not make it fun?”

:)

 

Home-made Apple Pie Filling

apple pie filling

What says comfort and down-home cookin’ like a warm apple pie?!  Like many people, I think my mom makes the best pies! :) So of course I learned from her, and make them ‘like mom does’.

When I was 12, my parents bought a bakery from our Preacher’s wife. I worked in that bakery every summer from age 12 till I married. (at age 19!) I hated it, quite frankly. But it definitely gave me experience in baking. :) I soon realized that I enjoyed making pies more than most other things, so I was the pie-maker for the last 3-4 summers that I worked there. We made anywhere from 20-40 pies a week, depending on the market.

I have had several requests for my apple pie filling recipe, so today I thought I would share mine with you all.

First you peel the apples. Core them, slice or dice, as you desire. Put them in a big kettle – with enough room to do some serious stirring. This filling can splatter! Add sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and water. Simmer for 5-10 min, depending on how soft you like your apples.

apple pie fillingMeanwhile, mix water and Clear-Jell in a small bowl. It will seem thick at first, just keep stirring, and it will dissolve nicely. Clear-jell does not get lumpy! So nice…

clear jell/water mixture

clear jell/water mixture

When the apples are softened, pour the Clear-jell mixture into the apples in a thin stream, stirring the apples quickly. The Clear-jell starts to set very quickly, so keep stirring and stirring as you slowly pour the Clear-jell in. As the filling starts to thicken, it will start to bubble up and splatter. These splatters are hot! I recommend using an oven mitt on the hand you are stirring with. You can turn the heat to low, too.

apple pie fillingKeep stirring constantly till the Clear-jell is all mixed in, and the filling is thick. It will set up and thicken a bit more as it cools, but not much.

apple pie filling

When the Clear-jell is all mixed in, and the filling has returned to a boil, (bubbling) remove from heat and cool.

Pour into prepared pie crust and bake.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Having trouble finding Clear-Jell? I buy mine from Amazon:
Hoosier Hill Farm Clear Jel, 1.5 Lbs.  It lasts a long time.

Here is a post on how I make the pie crust: Easy, Flaky Pie Crust
I am sharing this recipe over at one of my favorite blogs:Nancherrow.

 

Home-made Apple Pie Filling
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2 pies
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs apples, peel, core, slice
  • Water to nearly cover apples in pan
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 TBL butter
  • Juice of one lemon, or 3 TBL ReaLemon(can omit if apples are very tart.)
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 TBL Clear-Jell
  • ½ cup cold water
Instructions
  1. Peel, core and slice apples.
  2. Place apples in a large pan and add water till apples are nearly covered.
  3. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.
  4. Cook 5-10 minutes, or till apples are softened. (not mushy!)
  5. Mix ½ cup cold water and Clear-JEll.
  6. Pour Clear-Jell slowly into the apples, while stirring apples quickly.
  7. Bring apple filling mix to a boil, (bubbling slowly) and remove from heat.
  8. Cool. Pour into prepared pie crusts and bake at 350* for one hour.

 

Riata Ranch Rodeo

A couple weeks ago, the Riata Ranch hosted a ranch rodeo. The ranch here was represented by my husband, the Boss, and the other ranch hand who lives here. They had a friend who filled out the team. Me and the kids watched the action…ranch rodeo

 

ranch rodeo

Calf branding.

ranch rodeoranch rodeoranch rodeo

Another team doing some trailering...

Another team doing some trailering…

 

Beer racing! A can of beer on top each post, and one more rider than beers. Whoever gets a beer at the end wins 100$. :)

Beer racing! A can of beer on top each post, and one more rider than beers. Whoever gets a beer at the end wins 100$. :)

 

Mr McRady was doing good til the last round! :)

Mr McRady was doing good til the last round! :)

Wild-cow milking is always a crowd-pleaser! Depending on the rodeo, the rules can be a bit different. This time, they had two chances to rope the cow, then they had to milk her into a bottle. All 4 feet had to be on the ground when they were milking, so they couldn’t just rope her and lay ‘er down. Somehow they ended up taking turns hauling on her tail – being drug around that way – but they finally did get some milk! :) It was really gettin’ a bit western for a minute there. My kids said: “Mom, they might have not won the rodeo, but they won first place for an interesting show!” 😀 😀

Not sure that was what they were going for, but hey…

 

Wild-cow milking... always a crowd favorite! :D

Wild-cow milking… always a crowd favorite! :D

 

Hang on!

Hang on!

 

The Branding Pot

Imagine this: You are sitting in your truck, watching a branding with a friend, and this little kid – oh, maybe six years old – runs up to the window and says: “We need the pot! Where’s the pot? Do you have the pot?”

What would you think? :) So, this particular friend had never been to a branding on a working ranch before. She is not used to branding terms, and therefore (coming from a state where selling pot is legal) thinks this kid is extremely rude and a little weird. 😀

I don’t blame her. I was living on a ranch a couple years before I heard the term! It could confuse a person! 😉

For the record, if you hear a cowboy talking about ‘the pot’, this is probably what he is referring to:branding pot

It is a propane-powered heater, used to heat the branding irons. Kind of like a propane grill – minus the grates and food. Well, there was that time my son and his friend were roasting calf nuts on top of the pot, and eating them…