Monthly Archives: February 2016

February in Wyoming.

Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.

Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.

February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day, candy, hearts, and roses. But on the ranch, February is much different. It means long nights of checking heifers, pulling calves, wading through thawing snow, and bottle-feeding bum calves.

It is also the middle of the long Wyoming winter – blizzards and high winds and ice. We have been having crazy high winds the past few days, 75+ mph. It blows over semi-trucks, and blows shingles off houses and blows over anything not weighed down. If the windmill blades aren’t locked down, they will blow right off!

We have been dealing with some sickness,  (not too bad) and it got the baby. One day he was feeling so poorly, that I took him for a drive – just to lull him to sleep. I don’t remember ever doing that before – taking a baby for a drive to make it sleep. But by baby #7, you tend to relax on some things. 😉 Plus, with Cliff sleeping during the day, I couldn’t have him screaming in the house. Anyways, he did go to sleep, and I moseyed around the ranch, stopping to snap a few pictures from the window.


calving cows

The snow has mostly melted, for the first time since Thanksgiving. We had giant snow piles along the lane for months. But I don’t relax too much, because March – May are normally our snowiest months! :) I expect several more big storms before we see real spring.

I am busy with our foster baby – he is a good baby, but still… babies require a lot of time. I almost forget how often they like to eat! 😀 He’s getting chubsy and smiley and oh! so fun. We are all falling in love with him.

Note: I can’t say much about him, due to confidentiality laws. But I’ll address the most asked questions —
No, I can’t tell you why he is in foster care,
No, we are not planning to adopt (we always work to reunify kids with their families), and
No, we have no idea how long we will have him. :) 

So that is why my blogging suffers, right now. I’m busy making bottles, changing diapers, and rocking a cute little boy. :)

February in Wyominghorses on a ranch in wyoming

Today it is really warm outside, and the first calm day for a long time. So the kids ran outside as soon as they finished morning chores – determined to not waste this lovely day! I was happy to see them go. The older ones promised to watch their littlest sister carefully – which made me glad. Teens are the coolest! (lots of tractors/trucks/horses/bulls make the ranch yard not terribly safe for a tiny human)

Yesterday we had a recertification meeting with the foster care co-ordinator. I was nervous, (which was unnecessary,) but as always, she was calm and helpful. I hear so many horror stories of caseworkers and foster care workers, but I guess we are just really blessed. Ours are the best! I mean sure, some are more strict than others, and some are naturally more cheerful, or whatever, but I haven’t had a bad experience with any, so far. Really kind and helpful.

Ok, I’m starting to ramble. I better go throw a load of laundry in the washer.
I hope your day is pleasant and you find a bit of nature to relax in. :)

Wide open places are my therapy.

Wide open places are my therapy.

 

Calving Season, 2016

Calving season is upon us again. And my husband is on night duty – 7 day a week.  I am so thankful we have a large house, so he can get some sleep during the day! I mean, we have 5 kids, and they are not quiet! :)

Meanwhile, I am trying my best to stay on top of schooling 3 kids, caring for a baby, and keep a 3 year out of trouble! Whew! I’ll just tell ya right here; I am not doing it. I am not ‘staying on top’! I am sliding into a hole. I can’t keep up with everything. But that’s ok. I am doing my best, and what work doesn’t get done today will still be there tomorrow. 😉  I am very much sticking to the basics. School is obviously a top priority, and meals and laundry. Cleaning gets done in fits and starts. My kids help a ton, and ya know – when you have a 2 month old baby, it’s ok to just do the basics, right?! :)

The sunrises gleaming golden and peach on the snow makes for beautiful mornings! I never get tired of the view from my window…12640345_10205955384945463_7447383232765907524_o


I walked down to the calving barn this week, to see the new babies. They were mostly sleeping, but I got a few shots. This lil guy had a rough start and was staying in the barn to get warm and healthy.calf This cutie was just soaking up the sunshine! I need to go down more… those babies are so cute. IMG_6662How’s your calving season going? Do you sleep alone during calving, too?

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms

Welcome to another guest contributor: Mrs. Kauffman. This is my sister, and she runs a gluten-free cooking blog. Her husband is sensitive to gluten, so she cooks gluten-free daily in her home. I am anxious to try this recipe, myself! You can find her blog with more delicious GF recipes right here: Gluten Free Cook Shack

This is possibly the easiest gluten free cookie recipe ever. It only takes four ordinary ingredients. And I’ve had people say they taste better than regular peanut butter cookies. But that is for you to decide and then let me know what you think. 😊

Gather the ingredients.

Gather the ingredients.

You will need:


1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.

Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.

Gluten-free Peanut blossoms.
Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.

Stir together.

Stir together.

Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms.
Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Now the most important part – leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

Enjoy fresh or frozen, dunked in milk or however you like to eat them!

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.
  2. Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.
  3. Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.
  4. Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.
  5. Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.
  6. Now the most important part - leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

 

Day Worker Frei – The story of how a Russian became an American cowgirl.

I will be hosting some guest writers on my blog, to give you a peek at other ranch wives’ daily lives. I do not necessarily endorse every view expressed. Welcome to another guest contributor: Alina Frei. You can find her on Instagram at @cowgirlfrei61488 Cowgirl Frei
I have always been a country girl. I was born in Kaliningrad, Russia right after the Soviet Union broke up. Kaliningrad is a very small village with different types of farm life such as chickens, lambs, pigs, deer, and other types of animals. I have been exposed to that since I was born which is why I have the greatest passion to work with cattle on horseback.

Cowgirl Frei

I came to the U.S. at age 5 and decided that I wanted to be an American. In my eyes, an American was a cowgirl. My family and I got involved with horses quickly after we went to a guest ranch called Paradise Guest Ranch near Sheridan, Wyoming. We immediately fell in love with the horses we rode. There is one particular horse that got us even more involved with horseback riding. Living in a suburb area, we had this horse in our court and we were wondering what the heck will we do with it?


Things started to fall into place quickly as we got help from our friend who was the cow boss at the guest ranch we went to. Kirk Parry got us where we are today with our horses and working with cattle. He taught us how to control our horses using body language and different sets of commands. This helped me greatly understand how a horse thinks and how to connect. The horse I currently ride is the same horse I started 9 years ago. I have always used a hackamore with him and love using the vaquero traditions.

As my dad and I got more involved with our horses, we immediately took an interest in cow work, especially roping. We would practice on and off horse back for hours trying the basic ranch roping loops (head, heals, and hip). Once we had mastered those, so we thought, we finally were able to practice our roping skills on live cows. My dad picked up on the technique quickly since he practiced more than I had. He got very efficient and was able to coach me to get better along with our friend Kirk. My worry was what do I do once I catch the critter? This soon became the least of my worries as I got more comfortable controlling, swinging, catching, and dallying. We started to go to brandings out at Kirk’s place and other friends he knew in Wyoming. Somehow, we were becoming wanted hands at the brandings.Cowgirl Frei

Since these first encounters, we have grown to helping a family that runs a big outfit near Midas, Nevada. They are the ones who have really taught us what it is like to be a rancher and the calm ways of branding. This ranching family has been around for many generations in Oregon. Their family invested in the MC Ranch which is mentioned in a very well known song by Ian Tyson called MC Horses. We got to hear wonderful stories about their relationship with Chuck and Nanny. Once we worked for them for a year, we got to really understand all aspects of running a ranch. We have now known this family for about 7 years and consider ourselves helpful to them.Cowgirl Frei

It is exciting to work with ranchers when you know where the cattle are and where they need to go. I have experienced quite a bit, but I am eager to witness and help with calving. That is one thing I have not seen in person. I am blessed to be able to have been able to experience what I have and know that I will continue to learn each time I’m out day working. Tia and I

Teaching rancho lessons to my 4th graders. I brought in all my riding gear to display.

Teaching rancho lessons to my 4th graders. I brought in all my riding gear to display.

Balsamic Chicken Recipe

I don’t know about you, but chicken is one of my top comfort foods! Maybe because I ate a lot of it as a kid – and boy! was my mom ever a good cook! Growing up Amish will do that…

But this Balsamic Chicken Recipe is different than the chicken my mom made. This includes the rich flavors of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to bring a tastiness to simple baked chicken legs.

 


Easy balsamic chicken recipeI bought a family-sized package of chicken drumsticks on sale, and wanted to make them tasty and yet easy. Right now, I am homeschooling three kids,I have a 3 year old, and an infant!  So,I don’t have much time to peruse cookbooks or experiment. I wanted a new fun flavor, though, so I came up with this simple marinade, and it was an instant hit!

Easy Balsamic Chicken recipeI didn’t take time to let it marinade – it was close to lunch, so I just popped it in the oven right way. But marinating it a few hours would only improve the flavor, I’m thinkin’.

I baked them for most of the time in a normal oven, but the last 30 min or so, I turned on the convection roast feature in my oven, to get the skin crispy and brown. If you don’t have that feature – just turn on broiler for a few minutes – watching closely so it doesn’t burn.

We loved this balsamic chicken recipe – so easy and yummy. Let me know if you liked it!

Balsamic Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • One family pack of drumsticks. Or a full 9X13 pan of preferred chicken pieces.
  • 3 TBL soy sauce
  • 3 TBL Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place chicken in a baking pan. I used a 9X13 cake pan. Chicken shrinks when baked, so squish it in there tight!
  3. Mix sauces and spices together and pour over chicken.
  4. Bake, covered, at 325 for 2 hours.
  5. Optional: broil the last 10 minutes to brown the skin.

 

God’s Faithfulness.

God's faithfulnessIn the early years of my walk with God, I didn’t realize the great blessing I had in God’s faithfulness. I knew of my sinfulness, and of His forgiveness. But it was several years before I understood what a blessing His faithfulness was in my life.

You see, I hate half-baked goals. I am the queen of half-baked goals! I start things and don’t finish – all the time! It is the second most irritating personality trait I find in myself.* So when I  decided to follow Jesus, I set my compass on Heaven, my feet on the Word of God, and anchored my soul in the love of Christ. I said:  “I will do this right or not at all. I am not going to be a ‘church on Sunday, cuss on Monday’ kind of Christian. I am all in!”

Now, obviously, I have fallen short of the grace of God too often. I have sinned and repented more than I would like to remember. It grieves my heart that I have helped hammer those nails into the hands of my Savior. But Praise God! There is forgiveness for my sin and a new beginning in Christ!


God my Father shows His faithfulness to me by showing me my sinful habits and other unChristlike actions and attitudes. Conviction from the Holy Spirit is such a great blessing. It allows me to see where I need to repent and change. Then I can become more like Christ. It seems unpleasant to my flesh – my ‘self’, but it makes my spirit rejoice, because I know that God cares about me.

Last week one of my kids brought me one of those silica packets that are found in packages to keep things dry and fresh. (It had fallen out of my daughter’s new boot box) She held it out to me, and asked what it was. I told her to take it straight to the trash – it s poisonous and could make her or her little sister very sick! I didn’t let her play with it just because she thought it was a cool item. I wasn’t afraid of hurting her feelings, I was afraid of ruining her health! Any loving parent would protect their child from harm, by pointing out something harmful the child wants to do.

In the same way, we can be thankful that our Father shows us things we are doing that are harmful for us, spiritually. He is completely faithful to show us areas where we are sinning, things we need to change. If He didn’t love us, He would say: “fine, you want to be selfish and unkind, you don’t care about your words, ok, go ahead and do what you want.” But He doesn’t let us harm ourselves – He shows us when we are doing something that will kill us spiritually. If we are born again and walking with Him, we are part of the family of God.  He is our Father. He wants the best for us – His children. He wants us to gain victory over sin and live in joyful peace. So He shows us over and over when we need to change. That is His kindness.

Let’s thank Him for His faithfulness to us each day. Let’s walk in the light and be sensitive to His voice guiding us. If He shows us an area where we are wrong, let’s repent and confess immediately, and turn to Him. If we follow one step at a time, we can gain victory over sin, and His Spirit will not leave us.

*My number one most frustrating personality trait is the fact that I naturally talk before I think. While this is not wrong in itself, I have sinned often with my tongue because of it. Personality is no excuse for sin, and it is an area the Lord has been teaching me control over.