Category Archives: Ranch Stories

3 Tips for a stress-free branding meal.

3 tips for a stress free branding meal. Strategies that work for any large crowd.

If you are new to cooking, it may look daunting to get a big meal ready all by yourself! I thought I would share some strategies I use for stress-free cooking for a crowd!

I have been cooking for a ranch crew several times a year (or more) for more than ten years. I have learned some things that help me keep my sanity! 😀 

I like to run out and take pictures while the cowboys are branding or shipping, and I can’t do that if my meal is helter-skelter and I am stressed out! So, I learned to prep the right way. These tips also work for other large-group meals. This is also how I manage church functions with very low stress. 

3 tips for a stress-free branding meal. Works for any large crowd

1. Plan ahead. 

If you take away nothing else – please, please, please plan ahead! This one tip will help you tremendously. If you know what needs done, you won’t get caught off guard. 

  • Menu. Write it all out. Even if it is just boughten cookies or jugs of tea. Next, write down everything besides food that you will need. Paper plates, garbage bags, napkins, plasticware, toothpicks, salt & pepper shakers, cream for the coffee? 
  • Groceries. Now, figure out what ingredients you will need for each dish. Write down everything you will need to buy. Make sure you figure enough! 
  • Time. Check recipes, and figure out how long you will need to cook each dish. If you are making meat and rolls and cake and potatoes and baked beans… do you have two ovens? What order will you bake them? Can you use a crockpot for something? You need to figure this out now, because there is nothing worse than needing to put rolls in the oven, but your meat has the oven busy all morning!

3 tips for a stress-free branding meal, works for any large crowd.

2. Prep the day before.

This is my biggest secret to a restful branding meal! I normally prep as much as possible the previous day. In fact, I try not to plan anything else the day before, so I can just prepare all the food! Trust me, you will not regret spending several hours the previous day! It makes branding day so much easier, and you will be less likely to get in a jam. (remember the oven cramming?)

  • Peel potatoes. If you are making a potato casserole, make it and have it ready for the oven. Or have your baked potatoes scrubbed and wrapped. You can make mashed potatoes and then reheat the following day, also. (Although – sometimes I just want those fresh, fluffy mashed potatoes. :) )
  • Cook your meat. I like to cook roasts slow overnight. It really frees up my oven and – bonus! – makes the roast fork-tender. Almost any meat can be cooked the day before and reheated. The exceptions would be prime rib and burgers. If you are doing pulled meat sandwiches, you can just shred and reheat on branding day. So easy!
  • Make your dessert. Bake your dessert the day before. If you want it warm-from-the-oven, you can still get it ready. For cobbler, I make the crumbs and put them in a ziploc bag, and get the fruit ready. Then you just have to assemble it right before baking. Pie crusts can be made and refrigerated overnight, filling can be made, etc. If nothing else – at least make sure your butter is sitting out overnight so it is soft the next day. If you want to bake your dessert the day of branding, be sure you have time to fit it in with your other oven dishes!
  • Chop salad veggies. Most salads you can prep the day before. Just wait to add dressing till you are ready to serve. Chopping veggies for salad is messy, and this helps keep your kitchen cleaner on branding day!
  • Thaw frozen things. Do you need to thaw vegetables? Fruit for cobbler? At a bare minimum, you need to get your meat out and let it thaw! 
3 tips for a stress-free branding meal, works for any crowd

The branding crew, Chugwater, WY. May 2016

3. Get up early.

I know – who wants to get up early?! (Well me, but I know most people don’t enjoy mornings! :) ) But if you want to have a smooth branding meal, you need to get up at a reasonably early hour. Maybe your man doesn’t want to eat at 5 am, but mine does, so I cook him breakfast. Sometimes I let him eat cereal, but I try to make him breakfast. Then I get started on my day.

  • Start your snack. If you will be taking a snack/coffee break to the crew, you need to make sure that is done first. Are you making cinnamon rolls? Get the dough mixed up to rise. Do you need to bake or make anything? Get it going. 
  • Check your meat. If you had a roast in the oven overnight, you need to check it first thing. Probably as early as 5 or 6 am. If it is done, take it out and let it rest. It can cool for an hour or so, while you start your snack, then you can slice or shred it.
  • Set your table. IF you have the room, get your tables set up for lunch. Set out the plates, cups, etc. Fill the water jugs. Put out butter to soften. Salt and pepper. Toothpicks. Chairs. Get a garbage can ready for all the trash.  Think about the flow… where will the guys come in? Where will they file through to get their food? Make it as easy as possible for them to go from door to sink to food to table. And PLEASE have a big towel by the sink for their hands! I can’t abide little wet rags to ‘dry’ my hands on! 😉 (pet peeve)
  • Get drinks ready. Water is perfectly fine, but whatever you have to drink – have plenty! Especially out West here, we get so dried out! Those hard-working cowboys are going to need lots to drink. 

These tips have served me well for feeding groups of cowboys – as few as 8 to as many as 30. I use the exact same strategy for feeding a church group of 200 or more. Yes, I have made mistakes, and you might, too. Cowboys are generally pretty forgiving of us cooks, as long as we have plenty of food! I appreciate that. 😀
Whether you are cooking for branding, processing, or shipping, you can follow these tips for a relaxing, stress-free meal. 

If you need some inspiration, check out these cookbooks! They are some of my favorite! Beautiful photos and fun stories throughout. 

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31 days to a better marriage – Dealing with church problems.

31 days to a better marriage - church problems

I can’t think of a more polarizing issue than church and religion. While finance may be a personality difference, and in-laws may be a self-control issue, church and religion are deeply moral, personal, and at the very core of your world-view.

I grew up in a home where my parents did not agree 100% on church and religion. I saw firsthand what happens when you have differences. While you may be willing compromise on money or lifestyle, it is hard, hard, hard to compromise on beliefs. And it should be, frankly. If you are easily swayed by your husband’s opinion, then I question the depth of your personal relationship with Jesus.

However, your husband is the head of your home as a Christian, and he does have the responsibility to lead your home in the way he believes God wants him too. This is not to say he must run over your convictions and beliefs. A Godly husband should always consider his wife’s convictions, and pray together concerning big decisions or problems. But what if you both are seeking God, and you come to wildly different conclusions?

Let’s first lay down the basics.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 1 Timothy 2:14

Eve was deceived in the Garden, and has shown us that women tend to be swayed easier than men. Whether by our own reasoning, emotions, or personality – we can be ‘talked into’ convictions or beliefs when we haven’t really studied out what God’s Word says.

Adam was not deceived, but like many men – he wanted to keep his wife happy. So he capitulated. Lesson from Eve: Don’t lead your husband into a bad situation by your emotional reasoning. Let him lead.

What if he wants us to go to a church that I don’t agree with?

But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:24

Go with him. Unless it is a cult – in which rare circumstance you should seek outside counsel – go with him. You don’t have to join, you don’t have to agree with everything. But, if he is taking the family to a Christian church, be thankful.

You can teach the finer points of theology and Christianity to your children at home,  if necessary. (respectfully and not husband or church-bashing) If they are dry and dead, you can still be vibrantly alive. If they are soulish and wild, you can be sincere and spiritual. 

What if our church has a split or other huge issue that we disagree on?

This is the trickiest problem. I can assure you that ‘being right‘ is NOT WORTH YOUR MARRIAGE!! Trust me on this. My parents went to a church where they ended up on opposite sides of a church spilt, and it wasn’t pretty. The aftermath lasted years. (my parents never separated, just to be clear) Growing up and watching this, I saw what happens when you are not united as a couple.

Here is the rub: Do you trust God? He knows that these issues will come up, you know, and He still gives us the command to submit to our husband. Do you trust His way to be perfect?

My advice in this situation is to shut up and drop it. I know, that’s not what you want to hear, in fact, I dare say I lost some of you at this point.  Maybe you can see clearly, maybe you are in the right and your husband/whomever-else-involved is in the wrong. What will happen if you continue to support your husband and your church? What will happen if you don’t?

Think this through carefully. Ask God to give you wisdom. Forgive those who wronged you, so that God’s love can flow through you. As in any situation, sometimes you try your best, and the other party refuses to acknowledge their wrong, refuses to mend fences. That’s ok. That is between them and God. God tells us that “Love covers a multitude of sins” and if there was ever a place where love needs to flow, it is the church!

The exceptions.

I believe there are a few exceptions. Sexual affairs, physical or sexual abuse, or things of that sort. If it is clearly there and you know it, yes – it needs addressing and if your husband is so weak he won’t support you, find help. Somewhere.

But I dare say most of church problems are more common ‘self’  type of things. Cliques, power struggles, pride in their reputation, selfishness, unkindnesses, ‘politics’ in church, church structure, etc.

In the second group there is often (probably always!) sin, but it is the stuff you can live with. Yes, you should definitely discuss these issues with your husband. You should respectfully let him know what you feel is wrong, and ask him how he sees the issue. But if you want to leave church because your best friend did (and how could she possibly be wrong?) and your husband tells you that he wants to stay – then shut up and stay. (this has not happened to me, to be clear!  Just thinking of possible scenarios :) )

I believe with all my heart that if you have a sincere heart, fully respecting and honoring your husband, and fully trusting God – that He will work every thing out for your good.

  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Church issues are sensitive because they are such a deep part of our core beliefs, and this kind of thing can be the hardest thing you have ever faced. But with God’s strength and grace – daily! – you can be an overcomer in this too! You don’t need to fall into discouragement or depression. You can trust Him and His Word, and be filled with His Spirit daily.

 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:19

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Corinthians 10:13

Be encouraged to walk with God in righteousness, and not get sidetracked by Satan’s wily schemes! He wants to distract us and destroy us, and he will use any means necessary. You have the power of Heaven at your back – cry out to God for wisdom! Walk in humility and wisdom. Trust your God and respect your husband and it will go well with you.

Today’s challenge: Do some soul-searching, and some praying for your church. If you love your church and have no problems with it, then ask God to show you how you can best serve the other members. Ask how YOU can be a blessing, instead of always waiting for someone to bless you.

Read the rest of the series HERE.

Don’t help with fall processing if you are pregnant.

A Ranch Mom: Processing yearling calvesThe sun shone weakly through the clouds, but the sharp west wind blew all the warmth away before it reached the ground where I was standing. I pulled my gloves on, and then turned to the car where my kids were waiting.

“OK, kids,” I said, “just play in the car, or, if you need something, I will be over there in the barn, OK? Just be careful of the calves when you walk through the corral – they might kick if you get to close to their legs.”
“OK, Mom,” Jenni agreed, picking up the crayons she had brought along.
I cracked open the windows, and then put the keys in my pocket. I wasn’t about to have them start the car, or anything crazy like that! I checked everything again – they had water, snacks, toys, blankets… they will be ok, I told myself, I can watch them easily.

But it was still hard. Hard to walk across the yard, and leave them there in the car. I was still paranoid from our recent loss. There is no water in the canal, I thought, there is no way for them to hurt themselves. Relax, Kay! Loosen up!

I flipped the latch up on the gate, and slid the bar back. The gate squealed as I pushed it open. I shut it and walked gingerly around blobs of cow manure. The wind blew cold on my neck, so I wrapped my wild rag tighter, and zipped up my coat as far as possible. I instinctively put my hand on my pregnant belly, as I looked over to the other side of the pen, where Cliff and Bill were working on the first batch of calves. I was a little late. Oh well. This shouldn’t take too long, I thought. I was here to help Cliff with the fall processing of yearlings.

A Ranch Mom: Processing yearling calves

I stepped into the lean-to part of the barn, and watched as Cliff quickly injected the bawling calf with a needle full of medicine. There was a slight sizzle as Bill pressed the red-hot branding iron against the side of the struggling animal. Smoke curled up, and when Bill removed the iron, there was a perfect brand on the hide. Cliff pulled some handles, and the chute clanked open. I moved aside as the calf bolted from the chute – bawling his frustration.

“What should I do?” I asked Cliff.
“You can keep the chute full. Come, I’ll show you .”
He led the way back to the holding pen, and showed me how to run 6-8 calves into the small round pen. The small round pen had a gate that could swing completely in, forcing the calves into the chute. Cliff handed me a paddle, and went back to front of the chute to work on the next one.

I waited while the guys worked on two more calves, then I prodded the rest of the calves in the chute up towards the front. There were several swinging doors in the chute, that only opened one way, so when the little animals were through, they couldn’t go backwards, they could only go forwards. They heard their buddies bawling, so they dug in their heels, and bacedk up. But the swinging doors kept them from backing through, and an occasional shock from Bill’s electric prod would send them into the front of the chute.

I walked back to the rest of the calves, all bunched in the corner of the alley. They just bunched together more, till they were almost climbing over top of each other. I gingerly prodded one calf, and sure enough, he kicked. High and fast. I yelled in alarm, and then shook my paddle at them. Little beads inside the paddle made a racket – designed to scare cattle, so the cowboys wouldn’t have to use their voices so much. It’s known as a rattle-paddle. The calves ignored the paddle, so I had to resort to poking and yelling at them.

A Ranch Mom: Processing yearling calves

I finally got one to run away from the huddle, then they all tried to follow him. I ran to the gate and nearly got run over when I tried to shut it in front of a barreling calf. I shook my rattle-paddle at it, and it galloped off, back to the corner. I went through the gate, then latched it.

Then I opened the gate to the little round pen, and tried to get them to run in there. Yeah. Right. They weren’t going anywhere near That Place. I ran around after them, shaking my rattle, and yelling.  Poking them when I thought I could do it without getting kicked. Finally, three calves ran into the pen, and I quickly slammed the gate behind them. I looked at the chute, and they were working on the last calf. Six calves while I rounded up three? This was not good. I will have to get faster than this if I want to keep up with them.
A Ranch Mom: Processing yearling calves
I jammed them as far forward in the chute as possible, and then ran back to the alley. I gritted my teeth, and took a deep breath. I shouted at the calves, and shook my rattle-paddle, and whacked them as hard as I could. They bunched up closer. I managed to get a small bunch to break away from the rest, and into the small pen, but despite my best efforts, Cliff had to come back and help me run them into the chute.

I was starting to pant, and my stomach was churning from the smell of burning hair. The wind was blowing the smoke and stench from the branding right through the lean-to and back to where I was working. It was a bad smell anytime, but my sensitive pregnant nose was nearly overcome. I felt like throwing up. I swallowed a few times, and willed my stomach to settle. I walked back to the end of the alley, trying to get as far away from the smell as I could. The smell was not so strong back there. Or maybe it was just overpowered by the rank odor of fresh cow poop. At least its a better smell, I thought.

“Mom?” Frank was climbing up the fence, straddling it he said; “I need to go to the bathroom.”
“There is a bathroom in the vet room. Go to Daddy, and he will show you where it is, OK?” I looked over to the car. Jenni’s head was visible in the car, but what caught my attention was the car itself. The wipers were flopping, the right turn signal was blinking, and the door was hanging open. Help us all, I thought. We are gonna have a dead battery soon. I clambered over the fence, and went to shut off the lights. I gave Jenni instructions about what her and Franklin were, and were not allowed to play with in the car.
A Ranch Mom: Processing yearllings

Back to the alley. Running. Shouting. Prodding. Waving my arms. Slamming the gate. Pushing the gate in the round pen as hard as possible, and then realizing that the calves were a lot stronger than I was, even if they were only a few months old. I got splattered with cow poop when one went right in front of me. I poked one, and the calf kicked so fast and close that I felt the air from its dirty hoof, as it came within millimeters of my hand. All the while, the stench of burning hair was floating out over me. The wind no longer felt cold. I was sweating. My stomach was churning. I was getting madder and madder at the calves. I would’ve kicked them if I hadn’t been so afraid of being kicked a lot harder in return. (kicking is not recommended – it was my first experience working calves, and I never knew how frustrating they can be! )

Finally, I managed to fill both the chute and the holding pen. So I went up and watched Cliff and Bill. They branded, ear tagged, and gave shots in a smooth rhythm. Never making one extra move, just doing everything in a efficient, calm way.
A Ranch Mom: Processing yearlings story. #fallworks
The afternoon had slipped away into evening before we finished.  I was bone-weary, my feet almost had blisters on them. The sun was sinking, and the wind was getting colder, as I walked slowly back to the car. All I could think about was a hot shower.

And bed.

I sat down in the car and smiled at my kids.

Written in 2010. 

31 Days to a better marriage – Happiness is a choice.

31 days to a better marriage - happiness

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes, I see women who are so sour and long-faced that I wonder how anyone can live with them! Do they blame their husbands, I wonder? Do they blame their marriage for holding them back, or placing demands on them? I don’t know the answer, but I do know this: happiness is a choice.

I hear wives grumble about husbands not doing enough with the kids, not remembering something their wife wanted, not taking off work enough… you name it. I understand. I have been there, sadly. I have had days where I blamed my man for my unhappiness. If he would just do so-and-so, I would be happy! But it isn’t true. We can have the best husband, and still find fault and complain. I know, because I have a pretty amazing husband, and I have complained.

I remember very clearly the day I was driving home with our two small kids, and I was mentally ‘telling him off’. My husband was working on the new house we were building… I can’t remember what I was ticked off about — but I do remember being very upset with him. And you know how it goes; one thing makes us upset, pretty soon it leads to: “He doesn’t really care about me at all! If he really cared, he’d change!

Well, as I drove down that dusty back road in Missouri, God spoke to me. I don’t say that lightly, either. There have been several times in my life when God has put His finger right on the root of the problem, and told me to change. And boy-howdy, when God tells you to change — you change! He told me that this is how it starts – the bad marriages – by getting upset about little things (and most stuff is little), and allowing myself to brood, argue, or nag. To keep account of every wrong he does. I felt the rebuke in my spirit: “Stop it now, nip it in the bud before you end up like so many other ruined couples. You have only been married 5 years – it will be a long lifetime of misery if you continue down this path. It doesn’t matter if you are wrong or he is wrong – love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

  1. This is why I advocate for soaking in Scripture daily. If you put it in your heart, it will bubble to the surface when you need it.
  2. 12 years later and I cannot remember what the issue was. But at the time, I know it seemed huge. When things seem huge, ask yourself “will this matter in 100 years?” (we think our memory will last our lifetime, even though it clearly doesn’t! But in 100 years you will be dead. So will it matter then?)

I know that in many cases, there are real, difficult problems. But, I believe that by the power of Christ, you can be happy in the middle of your trials. Acting and looking like a martyr is not attractive, by the way. If you are in a hard situation, you must begin with prayer and reading God’s word. Ask for wisdom and He will give it! If you feel stuck, find a trusted mentor – NOT a family member if you can help it! Find a Godly married woman who is trustworthy, and ask her advice.

-If your husband is terrible with money, you can choose to be happy that God who cares about every sparrow that falls, will also care for you. 
-If your man speaks unkindly to you,  you can choose to be happy that Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
-When he pays no attention to the kids, or refuses to be a dad, you can choose to be happy that God is a father to the fatherless. 
-When he makes poor life decisions, you can choose to be happy that God makes all things work together for your good.

Yes, many of these things need to be worked out with each other, or maybe you need outside help. But in every situation you can choose to be happy in the Lord, because we have every need supplied through Christ Jesus. Even our emotional needs!

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
Martha Washington

Speaking of emotions, can I put a little note in here for hormones? They are not an excuse for anything. I get so weary of women whining about pms. Yes it is real, it is hard, and it can be debilitating. Do you truly believe the Scripture that says:

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:19

This Scripture is glibly quoted — but most women act like it has a clause in there for ‘women’s delicate emotions’. News flash: it doesn’t. Do you need grace for those days every month? He will give it! Believe His Word! I know men don’t have this problem, I know that many of them brush it off without trying to understand, but Jesus doesn’t. He understands, He cares, and He will help you. (He created you, remember? I guess he understands the thing He created!) And can I please, please stop hearing about your pms every month?? If I, as a woman, get sick and tired of hearing about it, I can understand that men get tired of it too! 😀

 

“Happiness does not depend on outward circumstances, but on the state of the heart.” J.C. Ryle

 

31 Days to a Better Marriage – What is Love?

31 days to a better marriage

Committing to our marriage may seem scary – if we do not feel in love, anymore! You see a lifetime of drudgery stretching out in front of us, and you can’t bear it.

But the thing is, you may not ‘feel’ in love, but that doesn’t mean you will never feel that again. Feelings are so fickle! My feelings can change with the weather, what I ate, whether I had enough sleep, or what day of the month it is. How can I go by my feelings?? How can I trust something so slippery as that?

I can’t.

Problem is, once I get something in my head, then it wants to start spiraling out of control. You know how it goes.. ‘He didn’t install that new light fixture, he knew I wanted it fixed! It has been a week and I am still stumbling around in the dark because he didn’t fix it! …he must not really care about me. If he really cared, he would remember and fix it!

Isn’t that about how it goes? We go from annoyance at his forgetfulness to thinking he doesn’t ‘actually‘ care about us, in about 2 minutes flat! Then we start remembering alllll the other times in our marriage when he forgot something that was important to us, or that time he didn’t help, or the little habit he has that bugs us. We build up his bad habits or his weaknesses in our mind, until we can’t see his good points. Soon, we feel like we don’t even love each other and the whole thing was a mistake.

Is it really that bad?

I have heard that you should ‘remember why you married him’, but my problem with that, is that he was – in many ways – a different person back then. Yes, he is still the same kind, loving, Godly man, but we have both changed and grown over the years. My own method is to stop and ask myself if I am blowing this issue up.

“Does he really love me?”
Is he really trying to hurt me, or did he just forget?”
“Am I judging him by his actions, but myself by my intentions?”-Stephen Covey
“Is he being manipulative, or just an unobservant male?” (no offense, guys!)

By far, most of the time I am blowing the whole issue up. If I assume the best of his intentions, it takes away 90% of the problem. Often we still need a good discussion, to  get everything cleared up, but once I get my head on straight, the problem diminishes greatly.

So, love is not a feeling. Feelings come and go. What is it then?

What is the answer?

I think you know!

Love is action. Love is a choice. Love is even different from ‘like’. I can choose to love and care for someone who has hurt me, even if I do not like them. If your husband is treating you badly, being unkind or irresponsible – you may not particularly like him. But you can still love him. You can treat him kindly, gently, respectfully.

Setting aside the truly abusive husbands for a minute, lets talk about unChristlike men. They are many. I know that. I have watched and listened to them many times. Jokes about their wives, lazy, sloppy, undisciplined, self-serving, unspiritual. What do you do?

Humble yourself.

Let me suggest that you be the example of Christ to your family. Not in a patronizing, proud manner, but in humility and kindness. Choose to love him – choose to act in love, even when you don’t feel like it. Don’t feel condemned because you don’t ‘feel’ love. Continue acting in love, day after day being Jesus to your husband. He may change – he may not. But God will reward you for your acts of love to your family.

“Love is always bestowed as a gift—freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.” -Leo Buscaglia

Maybe your husband is a good husband, but you just don’t feel the love anymore. No spark. No warm fuzzy feelings. No little heart-leap when he walks through the door. 

We have been married for nearly 17 years, and I still get the warm fuzzies! 😀 Yes, I do. Seeing him walk in the door is the best part of my day! (unless He is home for an early lunch and I haven’t started anything yet! LOL! Then I just feel foolish) Point is, if you are feeling like roommates instead of lovers, you need to change something. Maybe, just maybe, you can revive the romance. (more about that on days 18-19!)

What love is: 

Selfless. John 15:13
Focus on what he needs, instead of what you need. It is a circle, but someone has to start. Why not you?

It edifies. 1 Corinthians 8:1
Don’t tear him down with “You always forget!“, etc. Build him up. “Thank you for never yelling at me.”

Undeserved. Romans 5:8
No, he doesn’t deserve your love,  but then, you don’t deserve his. We are so quick to say that we deserve hell for our sins, but then we demand so much from our husband. You deserve nothing. Stop requiring it.

Shows preference. Romans 12:10
Do you show preference to your husband? Or do you want him to give you preference??

The mark of a true disciple of Jesus. John 13:35
If you are a true disciple of Jesus, you will show love to your husband. 

Treating someone as you treat yourself. Mark 12:31
Self-explanatory.

A debt we owe to each other. Romans 13:8
Did you know that you OWE love to your husband?

Serves the other person. Galatians 5:13
Ouch.

Considerate of others’ weaknesses. Romans 14:15
Oh, how we want our husbands to be considerate to us at that time of month! Or when we are tired. Or have a headache. Or getting up at night with a newborn. Blah blah blah. Let’s turn it around!

 

Tolerates each other’s personalities. Ephesians 4:2
Wow. I so often want to turn my husband into a touchy-feely girlfriend! Ugh! No way. Let him have a polar opposite personality! 😀

I’ll give you an example: I am a social media nut. I love it! I comment, share, and like stuff alll the time. And my husband? Well, he is the same online as he is offline… no comment. Seriously, no comment! No likes, no shares, no updating his profile, nuthin. It used to bug me. “Sweetheart, don’t you like my amazing stuff?” ( I mean, I didn’t actually use those words, but still…) Finally I saw that it wasn’t personal, it was just him. So now I just ask him if he saw such-and-such, and whether he likes it. Easy. He can tell me if he liked it or if I was being a jerk, and I can blush and say thank you. Because of course HIS opinion of me means more than everyone else’s put together. 😉

Ministers to the saints. Hebrews 6:10
Is your husband a saved, born-again believer? Then he is a saint, and you need to minister to him. He is a weak, failing saint, you say? So? Still a saint – still needs you to minister to him.

The perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14
Oh, this! This is the goal. To be bound together in perfect unity! I want to cry it from the housetops: “Humble yourself, get on your knees, get help – what ever it takes to be unified as a Christian couple!!” There is truly nothing as satisfying and holy, as two sinners who fall on the grace of God to redeem their stories and bring them together in Christ. Two people with different personalities, different ideas, different baggage – both giving up themselves and serving each other, loving each other.
This may take time. In fact, I can almost guarantee it will take time! But it is worth it! Godly marriage is worth every effort, every sacrifice, every dying to self.

Love is…
Patient,

Kind
Not jealous
Not arrogant
Does not brag
Does not act unbecomingly
Rejoices in truth
Does not take into account a wrong suffered
Bears all things
Believes all things
Hopes all things
Endures all things
Never fails.   1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Today’s challenge is two-part:
1.Tell your husband something you love about him, and
2. Start a list of things you like about him.
It can be private or public, but write them down. I think I will put my list on the fridge, so everyone can see how many wonderful qualities he has!

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Cowboy Poetry – The Ranch Wife.

ranch wife

First published in Working Ranch Magazine.

The Ranch Wife
by Kay Schrock

The cowboy is a dashing figure
With wide-brimmed hat and jangling spur.
He’s the hero of the big screen
Riding and roping in his blue jeans.

But there is someone behind the scenes
Who tends the babies, and cooks, and cleans.
She’s not well-known to the public eye
Her life is obscure under western skies.

Up at dawn to fry the bacon
Wash the clothes, and feed the children.
When her cowboy needs help, she is called
If errands need run, or calves need hauled.

When the neighbors come – she cooks the food,
For branding and shipping and pregging, too.
She knows how to drench a leppy,
And what to do, if it’s not too peppy.

She takes a turn at the night-calving –
Dreaming of sleep she could be having!
But when the calves sell for a good price,
When her man cleans up so nice,

When she watches a stunning sunrise,
Crimson and gold – cov’ring the skies.
When she tucks her babies in bed,
Still chuckling inside from things they said,

When she rides the prairies wide,
She feels a thrill of joy inside.
She thanks God again for this wonderful life,
Wanting nothing else but to be a ranch wife!

Cooking with mamaMom and babyranch coupleIMG_0839

You’re worth the effort.

Moving a bull through aspens.

Moving a bull through aspens.

A few days ago, my Cliff and I saddled our horses and drove to the back pasture. The plan was to ride through the cattle, checking for sickness, etc. Maybe that would take an hour or so, then move some mineral tubs and go home by noon.

As you ranch wives know – things rarely go as expected! As we were driving there – we passed a bunch of pairs that were happily grazing in the neighbors’ pasture! Oh boy. That means a gate open or fence down, somewhere.

We drove up to the property line and parked. Backed our horses out of the trailer and mounted up. Sure enough, there was a big section of really trashy fence. The cows had just walked over it, and they’d scattered across the neighbors’ pasture.moving pairs

We gathered a few pair that were near the gate, pushed them through, and then called our daughter to come help. She brought extra fencing supplies with the ATV, so Cliff could fix the fence. While he was working on the holes, Jenni used his horse to help me start gathering the strays. They had drifted down the hill, so of course we had to push them uphill to get them back to where they were supposed to be.

We spent all morning gathering strays, and then went home for a quick lunch. Afterwards, we went back with another horse, and all three of us worked at bringing them all back. We went up and down that hill three times, then worked on cleaning out the aspen groves, and then we tried pushing them further back into the home pasture, so they wouldn’t mash the fence down till we had a chance to fix it better.

cattle drive in wyomingThis all sounds very straightforward, but as you ranch women know – it was anything but straightforward! The easiest way to move cattle is to drive them along a fence. But, if you push calves too hard, they pop right under or through the fence! Cows will go through too, but calves are really problematic.
If you are moving cow/calf pairs, they tend to get separated. The mamas are calling for their calves, or trying to turn around and go back. Calves are poky – they get tired sooner, and they just stop moving. Soon you have a bunch of calves at the back that you have to really work to keep moving. And, there is always that one high-headed cow that tries to run everywhere except where she is supposed to! We take it easy and quiet, but sometimes they just don’t move well.

You're worth the effortAs I was riding along behind those cows, I had to think about how many times I have strayed from God. I think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, so I push through the fence to get to it. And when God tries to herd me back, I resist. I try to turn back, I bawl, I poke along, and even try to jump back through the fence!

But God doesn’t give up.

We spent 7 hours on horseback, gathering all those strays. I would have spent longer if necessary. Those cows are our bread and butter, and we do what it takes to keep them healthy and safe. (we also try to be good neighbors!) So yes, we spend whatever time it takes. That wreck* happened on a Saturday… on Monday we were back out, gathering and moving a few more pairs. We would have went out as many times as needed till they were all in the correct pasture.

So it is with God. He will not stop. He doesn’t give up on us. He will continue putting a little pressure on us, till we come home. If we go through the fence again – He will come after us again. More pressure from the flanks, more guidance. He makes the way home the easiest thing. That gate is the only place where the pressure eases.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

We have a tendency to wander off, out of His will, off the path of Life.
We allow some small grievances to grow in our heart,
we want ‘just a little bit of my own way’,
we begin to love money or
we get a bit proud of who we are,
what we have accomplished, and so on.

Each wandering begins small. A small hole in the fence, so to speak. But that hole gets bigger – and sometimes we even take our friends along. So, God send His cowboys to gather us back home. His Spirit works through pastors, friends, spouses, the Bible — God wants to bring us home.  He will not tire of the job. And those who love God and His family will not tire of it, either.

Have you been straying from God? Do you feel His pressure to come back home? He won’t stop. He never tires and never sleeps. He will arrange your life to keep you headed back to the gate. You can try to run off, like a high-headed cow, but He is faster than you! Of course He won’t force you, He gives us free choice. But He will make the gate the best place to be.

You are worth His time, and you are worth my time. You are worth a place at the table.

Come on home, my friend.

Kite branding

If you need a listening ear, please feel free to message me.

*when things go wrong on a ranch, we call it a wreck. Whether it means a bunch of cows got out, a horse that bucked someone off, an accident, or whatever.

Summer on the Ranch.

View from Kennaday Peak, overlooking  Coad Mountain and Elk Mountain.

View from Kennaday Peak, overlooking Coad Mountain and Elk Mountain.

Summer is nearly over – a summer full to the brim with work, fun, activities, and lots of time outdoors! We crammed as much into the last 3 months as possible. Soaked up every drop of Wyoming sunshines and sage-scented breeze. We swatted mosquitoes in June, drove to branding after branding in July, and made hay between rainstorms in August.

My parents spent the month of July here at our place. They parked their camper in the backyard and enjoyed the beautiful weather. (they did not enjoy the skeeters, but they put up with them!)

Mom sewing a dress for Reata.

Mom sewing a dress for Reata.

Dad and Reata.

Dad and Reata.

Dad's camper and car - as they leave the ranch.

Dad’s camper and car – as they leave the ranch.

In August, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came for a few days. We really enjoyed showing them our part of the country. We drove to the back of the ranch, went fishing, had a picnic at Turpin res, and took them to the top of Kennaday Peak (first pic).

Cliff and his brother Josh, canoeing on Turpin Res.

Cliff and his brother Josh, canoeing on Turpin Res.

turpin reservoir

Jenni and Lucia get a ride with Uncle Josh and Grandma.

Jenni and Lucia get a ride with Uncle Josh and Grandma.

Our boss blessed us with 35 dozen ears of corn one fine Saturday, so the kids and Grandma and I, pitched in and put it up for winter. Husked, blanched, cut, and bagged – it made 23 quarts of corn (if I remember correctly). Such a good feeling to get corn in the freezer!

Summer suppertime...

Summer suppertime…

We stopped and watched the eclipse, too. Although we were only 98%, and from what I have seen, the 100% totality range was far better. But we still enjoyed the eerie duskiness, and the kids will surely remember the day it got dark and cold at noon.

Sun-watching!

Sun-watching!

Taking a break from raking hay, to eat a bite and watch the eclipse.

Taking a break from raking hay, to eat a bite and watch the eclipse.

Our son learned to rake hay this summer. Our oldest daughter learned, too. They have been raking a few days each week, and I am so happy to see it! Nothing like hard work to mature a kid. Yes they get hot and tired. Yes they get hungry between meals – it doesn’t hurt them – it prepares them for life. Real life.
I am concerned for our current culture where folks think they can eat and live with minimum effort. I mean, there is nothing shameful about hard work and a little discomfort.
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be sissies. Let them taste hard work, and the resulting contentment. Let them get tired and sore and wind-blown. It will put steel in their backbone and strength in their arms. It will make them more understanding, and they will have less time for foolishness. It will teach them LIFE.

I see kids at age 8 and 9 who have never pulled a weed or picked up sticks. The poor kids have no idea how to work! It really is a disservice to your child to not allow him the privilege of honest work.
You live in the city?  Your yard needs raked and cleaned up, no? Teach your child.
You eat and live in your home, right? Teach them to cook, clean, and repair.
If you can’t think of a single job for your child – volunteer. Take them to a soup kitchen or hospital or park board, or enroll them in 4H. There are plenty of businesses that need small jobs done. Get creative of you must, but please teach your child how to work. They may dislike it now, but will thank you later.

Frank raking hay.

Frank raking hay.

My sweet mother-in-law picked these flowers for me.

My sweet mother-in-law picked these flowers for me.

Until next time…

 

TA Branding 2017

Morning on the ranchThe TA is a ranch west of us, that hosts a large branding every year. They actually have several ranches – quite a good-sized outfit. We were able to make it over for one of their brandings this year.
Cliff and I loaded up at 4:30 and drove around the mountain to meet at the ranch at about 6 am. We were there early, and joined the long line of trucks and trailers lining up to park.

The sun wasn’t up yet, when we mounted up and rode down to get instructions. They divided us into 4 groups, and off we went. We trotted a couple miles to the back of the pasture, got behind the cattle and started moving them back towards the corrals. In this part of the country we don’t round up and drive. 
We gather and push.
As in: “We’re gonna gather this pasture, and push them to the green gate.”

We were close to the back of the pasture when we came to this deep wash. (or gully, if you’re from the east)
The far side was steeper than it looks in the photo. One guy broke a rein-chain, and we all stopped at the top to get situated, readjust saddles, etc. This is why we use breast collars – because if you don’t, your saddle may end up over the horse’s rump.
We rode a bit further and there they were – the cattle were already starting to move, thanks to another group of riders that had reached the back of the pasture first.
Morning on the ranchAs we got closer to the corrals, the sound of lowing cows and bawling calves grew louder. The circle of cowboys tightened gradually, until we were riding side by side and bunching up to go through the gate.
It was a lovely, overcast morning. Cold at first but warming without getting too hot.The scenery was amazing, and the remote location meant no sounds of traffic or other civilization. Just cowboys, cattle, and horses.Morning cattle drive roundup wyoming

Quite the long line of trucks…
Question: Do you say pickup or truck? I was having this conversation with a friend recently, and I hadn’t thought about it much, but now I pay attention…. and yes, we say truck! 😀 Or at least I do. I guess I need to listen to what other around here call them. I have lived so many places in my life that I never know if I am speaking local slang or just carryover from my childhood. :)
PS – extra points if you recognize our rig. 😉Cattle trailers trucks at the branding

Once we had all the cows and calves into the corral, we waited for them to pair up a bit while we got instructions. Well, they got instructions. I offered my help but since there were so many people, the boss told me to just go take pictures. (Thank you Mr. Haskell!)Waiting at the TA branding

Firm handshakes 'round here.

Firm handshakes ’round here.

Oklahoma buckaroo Cody  holds a calf while it gets a brand.

Oklahoma buckaroo Cody holds a calf while it gets a brand.

 

Janet Jordan from Walden, CO throws a nice loop out there.

Janet Jordan from Walden, CO throws a nice loop out there.

Roping calves at the TA Cowgirl roping at the TA Funny cow photo heading and heeling at the TA Branding cowboy at the TA Branding calf in sagebrush cowgirl roping John Love roping at the TA Jed Roark and John Love roping at the TA Cliff Schrock roping at the TA Cody Roy roping at the TAThere were 800+ calves that day. They gathered, roped, and branded them by 11:00 am. There were two branding pots set up, and lots of ropers! Still, that’s pretty impressive. I had so much fun photographing them. Hope you enjoyed this little piece of western life. :)

Ranch Dates.

ranch dates

I was married young – 19 years young, in fact. And then boom! A year later we had a baby. And we had another… and another. So we didn’t have much time with ‘just us’. We soon learned that if we wanted to go on dates, we would have to work harder than most couples, to make it happen.

We lived by my in-laws the first 4 years of our married life. That was great – we could leave the babies with them. But then we moved to the ranch. Yeah, not so easy to go on a date when there is no family, no one willing to babysit. But we didn’t stop dating – we became creative! 

I call them ‘Ranch Dates’. We live on a ranch – we don’t live where there is a cafe on every corner. We often can’t get off work to drive the hour to town, and even if we did, where’s the money for that on a cowboy’s wage, amiright?

One of my favorite ways to squeeze in some couple time, is riding together. If he’s feeding cake; I jump in the truck. Yes, I have to open gates for him, but I also get to talk to him for several hours! Ha! Sometimes us girls just need to talk – to get all those words out of our system, you know.

Or, if he is feeding hay in the winter – I jump in, whether it is the truck or the tractor. Often, I bring along the youngest kiddo. Babies fall sleep pretty fast when they are rocked to sleep by a tractor. Again, may have to open a few gates, but c’mon, girls! Who’s fussing over a couple gates, hmm?!

ranch datesWhen he is riding cattle for health – ride along. Now, this is going to vary widely depending on your parenting philosophy. After losing our Andy, we realized that accidents can – and do – happen to our kids. We are extra cautious with our kids, with what risks we allow. You may be comfortable with tossing your one-year-old up one a broke horse. You may feel comfortable to leave your kids at the house at a younger age than we do. But once they are old enough to stay home, ride out sometime with your man and no kids. The kids will be ok, and you will feel like a honeymooner again!

When your husband needs parts from town – go along!! Please, please, please. Whatever you may think of my other ideas, at least try this one! The house can wait. Take the baby if that’s easier. But for Pete’s sake GO! I’ll tell you the secret reason: there is ice cream in town, and if you don’t have the whole passel of kids along – he might just swing through and get ya some! :) (yes, I am sneaky!)  Ok, but seriously. You may sit in the truck waiting for an hour at the parts store, or the feed store, or Murdoch’s, but you get the whole drive in and back to talk, and again – ice cream. ‘Nuf said.

Couch dates. Put the kids to bed and snuggle up on the couch with fun snacks and drinks, and turn on a movie. If you live in Wyoming, you should have plenty of long, cold evenings to try this idea! 😀

These are some of the ways we work in dates together. Sometimes it is not convenient to drop my work and go on a town run, or ride in the tractor. But when he sticks his head in the door and asks: “I have to go check a well in the back pasture – want to ride along?” I try to make it work. :)

ranch datesHow do you make your marriage a priority? Do you make time for just the two of you? I’d love to hear!