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My Journey of Faith, part 6.

My Journey of Faith-6

 

We lived in Missouri for 5 years, and had many experiences, good and bad.

  • Three children were born to us, a girl – then two boys.
  • Cliff’s dad passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 45.
  • We built a small house mostly by ourselves. It was on my mother-in-law’s property.
  • Cliff started a small rock-laying business on the side.
  • Then he started a leather tack business in our living room. (still going today!)
Building our tiny house! 2005

Building our tiny house! 2005

It was during this time that I grew a lot in the areas of patience, self-control, and unselfishness. Not that I am perfect by any means, (!!!) but the day-to-day responsibilities of being a mother and a wife taught me a lot.

Making ends meet when we lived on $400-500 per week, struggling to pay dental bills and vehicle breakdowns and appliance failures. Thanks to my naturally thrifty nature, and my mother’s example, I often made 20.00 last for a weeks worth of groceries for the two of us. The babies were always breastfed and the toddlers – well, you know how little they eat! :)

Our little family back in 2005.

Our little family back in 2005.

We ate a lot of beans and potatoes, and Cliff shot a deer or two every fall. Often neighbors would give us extra deer they’d shot. One fall we bought a pig and butchered it. That was a huge treat! I cured the bacon myself, to save on butcher house costs. It was great! The Lord blessed us tremendously during that time. I found a man who had lots of grapevines he didn’t use, so my friend and I would go pick bushels of grapes and can the juice. I bought ‘seconds’ of apples and peaches and canned them. I had a generous neighbor who gave me her extra green beans to can, and corn to freeze.

My sister and her husband; Marcel.

My sister and her husband; Marcel.

One year we went on a vacation to Idaho to visit my sister and her family on a ranch. When we got back, my garden was destroyed by the neighbor’s goat herd! I felt pretty defeated, but we made out ok. It was a lot of work gone, though!

I gave birth to several of our children at home, and midwives are not covered by insurance, even if we would’ve had it. (we didn’t) We paid for years for our babies. ($4,000 was a common rate) With one of our sons, we were blessed to be able to trade work towards the cost of the delivery. Cliff worked on their house in the evenings, in trade. (The midwife was a friend, so we were very thankful.)

I say all this – not for pity – but to share the goodness of God who never leaves us, and always provides for us! Always!! Along with learning to be a mother, I was learning to trust God. It was hard, financially. We were always tight. But I grew up like that, so it wasn’t new to me. In fact, I didn’t know any other way to live.

Such a good daddy!

Such a good daddy!

It was difficult having 3 babies so close together, too. Each time, I got pregnant when my baby was 11 months old. So the three of them were all 21 months apart. At one point I had a 3 year old, a 1 year old,  and a newborn! I get quite sick when I am pregnant, so there were many days where I would lie on the couch, nauseated, while my toddler(s) got into mischief. I had two babies in diapers, twice.
As a kid, I had always been my dad’s right-hand-man, so to speak, and never did get along very well in the house. So the transition to a full-time homemaker was a learning curve. The constant stream of dirty dishes, the constant exhaustion from being pregnant and having toddlers, the ever-needy children, the endless laundry and cooking that needed doing… it all wore on me.

My first two babies.

My first two babies.

Cliff and Andy.

Cliff and Andy.

I loved being a mother, but I had to learn to pull on my big girl boots and just do it. My mother was very practical, and she raised us to have emotional control – which I am ever so thankful for! I knew the only thing to do was get up and do what needed doing.
I can tell you; you don’t need afternoon wine, or chocolate, or me-time, or girls’ nights or anything else our self-inclined society tells you. You need a reverent fear of God and His Word. You need to take control of your thoughts and put to death your selfish desires, and do what needs doing. “I die daily,” the Scripture says. (1 Cor 15)
Death isn’t fun! Death isn’t easy! Death is hard and painful. But the result is sweet acceptance and submission to God’s will. In my case; the raising and nurturing of a family. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with me-time and chocolate. Those things have their (limited) place. But please don’t turn to things to replace what God wants to do in you. He will mature you and grow you in ways you never knew possible, if you are willing to be purified. Seek God, above all! Read His word daily. Die to Self, live for Jesus. God is able to give you ALL you need, I can assure you.

When our 3rd baby was very young, our church went through an upheaval. Due to uncontrollable (by us) circumstances, we were left without a church. It was the first time I felt a bit lost and betrayed. We wanted to serve God, and know Him. Why would He jerk out the church from under us? Why would He leave us hanging, so to speak? I was confused. I wanted to move to Pennsylvania to a church where some of our friends were. I didn’t want to look for another church! I sure didn’t want to sit alone. But sit alone we did – for a while.

Then one day, Cliff was talking to his cowboy friend (my sister’s husband) on the phone. When he hung up, he asked me: “How would you like to move to Colorado and work for Marcel on his cattle operation?”

Of course I wanted to! They talked some more, and I wasn’t sure if it would work out. Maybe August, they said?
It was July, and I had the prettiest garden ever. The tomatoes were just starting to ripen when we got a call. Marcel (my bro-in-law) was taking a trip and needed someone to watch the cattle while they were gone. Could we come out in a week?

Cow country.

Cow country.

Well of course we could! We packed up our belongings and stuffed them into the front of the horsetrailer. We packed the truckbed and minivan full, too. There was just enough room for three carseats. We loaded our horse into the back end of the 4-horse trailer, and headed out one evening. Like any parent of small children – we knew if we travelled at night, they would sleep a good portion of the trip. Since we had a 5 month old baby, we knew it would be best if he was sleeping a lot of the way, since we both had to drive.

I drove the minivan and he drove the truck & trailer. We drove all night, stopping once for a short nap-break for me. I was so tired. I fought sleep so bad! When the sun rose, we were in CO and the scenery had changed. So that was better. I stayed awake pretty good for the rest of the trip. We pulled in to my sister’s place before noon, and I was sleep-drunk. But the babies were awake and hyper by then, so I sat in the cool grass and watched them play. The dry desert air of Pueblo was invigorating!

We lived in Pueblo for 9 months. Cliff rode and did care on yearlings with his brother-in-law. I thoroughly enjoyed living close to my sister, for the first time since I’d been married. We did everything together! We went shopping, canned peaches, did laundry, even went on a double date once, when our men found a sitter for our assorted toddlers!  😀 It was a special time in our lives. I had missed my family, and this living-a-mile-apart was so special.

Cowboys roping and doctoring a yearling.

Cowboys roping and doctoring a yearling.

Round-pen work.

Round-pen work.

It wasn’t easy… as inexperienced ranch hands, and working for a small outfit, we didn’t earn much at all. (1,200/month, plus free housing) The cost of living was higher in CO than it had been in MO. Gas had skyrocketed to over four dollars a gallon, and we were still driving junky vehicles that broke down a lot. Those nine months were the toughest, financially, that we have experienced, to date. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that it was hard. But you know what? God is a good Father. Often, just when money was due, we somehow got the money. We were given food and hand-me-downs, and we never went hungry. Again, I learned that God always provides, that He will always take care of you.

Horsey rides are the best! (Jenni)

Horsey rides are the best! (Jenni)

Your faith can grow in these situations, more than when you are ‘sitting pretty’. But let it be known that being poor is NOT romantic! I have had several people in my life, different times and places, ask me “how it feels?” And, that they think it would be kind of sweet and fun to be poor… “Just working hard together!” “Growing in faith!”

Huh.

Please don’t tell me that lack of money is somehow desirable. All that tells me is you’ve never tried to decide whether to pay your electric bill or buy food. You’ve never gone 6 months with the same razor because you couldn’t afford a new one. That you’ve never looked in your purse and scraped together enough coins to buy a jug of milk. There is nothing – let me repeat – NOTHING romantic about being poor. If you think there is, you probably haven’t been poor enough! 😉 It is definitely a faith-builder, but I would never ask for poverty.

Cowboys

Now I want you to know – we enjoyed life! We weren’t trudging along, depressed and worried constantly. We had our worries and troubles, almost daily, but we were living and working on a ranch, and that was our dream! We worked and played and went to church on Sunday. We didn’t eat out, go to movies, or heat all our bedrooms, but we lived just fine.

Country roads...

Country roads…

Speaking of church… at this time, we were attending my sister’s church most of the time. Not because we were particularly drawn to it, but because it was convenient. We visited several other churches in the area, but nothing really caught our attention. We didn’t know what God had for us.

We prayed about it, and sometimes I felt discouraged, because it seemed like we wouldn’t ever find a church that was right for us. We wanted something with life and vision. We didn’t just want to go to church on Sunday – we wanted to be part of a church family, one that wanted to follow Christ passionately! We kept looking.

Branding at the Esh Ranch.

A few weeks ago, we drove to CO to help a friend brand his calves. We took several friends along to help rope. My husband enjoyed it more because it was a head & heel branding. We are kinda partial to the buckaroo style. :)

I am leaving this as a photo post, hope you enjoy!

Early morning in the horse barn.

Early morning in the horse barn.

Waiting for their turn in the branding pen.

Waiting for their turn in the branding pen.

Branding at the Esh ranchBranding at the Esh ranch

Head and heels...

Head and heels…

There were several young boys who had never been at a branding before. They enjoyed setting ropes and just holding calves.

There were several kids who had never been at a branding before. They enjoyed setting ropes and just holding calves.

Branding smoke.

Branding smoke.

Branding at the Esh ranchBranding at the Esh ranchBranding at the Esh ranchBranding at the Esh ranchBranding at the Esh ranch

Owner and branding boss.

Owner and branding boss.

Cowgirl and city girl. Great friends! :)

Cowgirl and city girl. Great friends! :)

Branding near Wheatland.

We went to help our friends brand calves yesterday. Cliff loaded up the horses and older kids and left by 5:30 am. I woke the little ones and fed & dressed them and followed in the suburban by 6 am. (We can’t all fit in the truck, so I had to drive separate.) It was a gorgeous morning, sun rising through a bit of clouds and into a clear sky.

branding

By the time I reached the ranch, the cowboys were almost done gathering the cattle. The lane runs through the pasture, so I was surrounded by cowhands at one point. It always feels a bit like I’m living in a western movie set, when I see cowboys riding down the hills on either side of me. :) Never gets old.

Looking for strays.

Looking for strays.

The wind wasn’t too bad, thankfully, so the baby didn’t have to gasp for breath. 😉 Babies just don’t appreciate this Wyoming wind much. I strapped him in the stroller, and assigned an older kid to keep track of Reata while I ducked around horses and cowboys to take as many pictures as I could. I knelt in some questionable damp stuff with my new jeans – yuck. And I was awash in branding smoke most of the time, but I did get a couple of nice ones, in between feeding and changing the baby, and getting him to sleep.

My 3 older kids.

My 3 older kids.

branding

Brandings are a favorite time of year for most ranchers. We reconnect with friends and neighbors – some we haven’t seen since last year’s branding! We share jokes and tips and stories of the past year. We gather for a huge feast afterwards, always a highlight! Yesterday they served prime rib, which is a very delicious cut of meat. Most of the time if a fellow ranch wife comes to a branding, she will bring a dish to add to the table… a pie or salad or some rolls. It is not required, but always appreciated.

Cowboygirl.

Cowboygirl.

Dragging to the fire.

Dragging to the fire.

Cliff and Jenni wrestled calves a while.

Cliff and Jenni wrestled calves a while.

And remember, calves hide (skin) is ‘way thicker than yours, so branding them is not nearly as painful as it would be for you. 😉 And besides that, it is required by law.

branding

Jane Grove branding.

Jane Grove branding.

branding

Branding

Chasin’ Cows.

One fine, windy day in October, my husband needed to doctor a couple heifers. It was close to the house, and my mother-in-law was visiting, so I drove her out to watch her son rope stuff. :) I parked in the pasture and snapped the shutter as my husband was chasin’ cows.

Chasin' Cows.

Gettin’ his eye on the sick one.

This heifer had foot-rot, (if I remember correctly) and in typical cow-fashion, the minute you start swingin’ that rope, the ‘sick’ bovine decides it is quite healthy after all! Off she goes, fast as her legs will take her… which isn’t really very fast, if you know anything about cows. (calves, on the other hand – those babies can make time!)Chasin' Cows.Chasin' Cows.

Chasin' Cows.

Heel trap.

Not every catch is picture-perfect. Sometimes he catches only one foot, other times he misses altogether. But that’s real life with pasture-doctoring. We don’t go to many rodeos, but when we do, we often remark: “hmm, would like to see him do a little pasture-doctoring on a windy day!” 😉 You keep practicing and improving, but you have to get the job done, whether it’s a windy day, your horse is feeling cranky, or the snow is blowing. Cattle health waits for no man. (or woman!)Chasin' Cows.

Meanwhile, the rest of the cattle were just taking it easy… munch a little here, taste a mouthful there…Chasin' Cows.

And just plain relaxin’! :)Chasin' Cows.Once the cow is down, my Man gave her a shot and a couple pills. HUGE pills, by the way, called bolus’s. Yuck. Chasin' Cows.Chasin' Cows.

Then he let her get up, and off he went to catch the next sick cow. Chasin' Cows.Chasin' CowsHope your day is lovely, warm, and not windy — especially if you’re chasin’ cows!

Shipping Season on the Ranch, 2015

When it’s shipping season on the ranch, I am up before the sun – preparing the meal for the cowboys, and feeding an early breakfast to my man.
shipping season on the ranchSoon the sun is high and the yard filled with horse trailers and cattle trucks, and the sound of incessant bellowing is heard.shipping season on the ranchMy Lucia doesn’t want to miss one minute of the action!shipping season on the ranchSometimes the drivers get the truck backed up perfectly the first try, sometimes it takes many tries. But it all works out. :)shipping season on the ranchCalves and trucks wait to be loaded.shipping season on the ranchshipping season on the ranchSorting off a specific number of calves to be loaded.shipping9shipping season on the ranchshipping season on the ranchshipping season on the ranchshipping season on the ranchshipping season on the ranchShipping is the sigh relief of a job well done at the end of the ‘cattle year’. Sometimes the calves come in at a good weight, and sometimes under. Sometimes the market is high, and sometimes low. But for those of us who enjoy this life, it is worth the uncertainty and risk. We ship off the babies, then begin preparing for next year – starting the cycle all over.

We don’t ranch because it is a sure way to get rich, but because we enjoy the way of life. The quietness, working with the livestock, the pleasure of working outdoors, the comfort of a neighborly community who has your back – all things that are disappearing from our culture in America at a rapid rate.

We ask for help when we need it, we return the favor gladly, and we have a jolly good time doing so. We find comradeship and sympathy during the rough years, mutual cheer during the good.

Next time you eat beef, think about the hard-working ranch families who raised it. :)

 

Sub-Zero Temperatures on the Ranch

Have you had winter yet? Because I think Wyoming just sucked all the winter from the rest of the world and is all curled up in it – a ball of frozen icicles and swirling winds.

Jan. 2012

Jan. 2012

Ok, perhaps a bit dramatic. I know the North Pole is colder. That’s what they say, anyhow. 😉 But really, it has been so cold this past week! One morning it was down to -16° when we woke up. That was actual temperature. The windchill was -30º.  The house doesn’t like the cold either. It pops and creaks and snaps… I lay awake one night, kept awake by the loud popping in the roof above my head, and whispered to my husband: “How are you supposed to sleep with that going on?!”  He didn’t know.

January, 2012

January, 2012

I should’ve went out and taken pictures of the beautiful white snow for you all. But I didn’t. Because I am a wimp. I did go out and try to rig a light for the pets, so they wouldn’t freeze. I did drive to my mailbox to send some letters on their way… but I did not go outside to take pictures. Cause that just isn’t what I do when it’s 1º. My fingers can’t work the buttons of my camera for more than 10 seconds at -16º.

Calving, Jan. 2012

Calving, Jan. 2012

My husband, now, he is tough. Cowboy Tough. He layers up and walks out that door whether it’s 16º or -16º. (he wears 4-5 layers, not the 110 layers that a friend’s little girl thought he must have to wear! 😉 ) He breaks ice, spreads hay on the ground, and puts out feed. Those mama cows get taken care of, baby. You betcha. I don’t feel sorry for him driving around in a  warm truck. What makes me feel bad is when he has to break ice in sub-zero temps and the wind is blowing. Or when the tractor or truck breaks down and he has to mess about and try to get it going. But, like I said; Cowboy Tough. This what cowboying is – this is what they do. In the winter, in the summer, in every kind of miserable weather. And you know what else? HE rarely complains. I’m the one sitting in a toasty-warm house and whining about Florida. (I really, really want to go. 😉 )

Cliff's boss - feedin hay.

Cliff’s boss – feedin hay.

Bale-buster. A handy tool!

Bale-buster. A handy tool!

Cows - eatin hay.

Cows – eatin hay.

What is the winter like so far where you live? Do you enjoy winter and all it has to offer? Or are you like me, and just want to dip your toes in some warm saltwater? :)

Winter Heifer Processing

cattle

It was a cold, cold morning. The thermometer read 9° when My Cowboy left the house this morning. I was glad I didn’t have to go out. I would rather stay in a warm house and cook food! When I took the food over the main ranch house, I drove on out to the corrals and snapped a few pictures for you. Just cause I love you. I took pictures till my fingers got numb – then fled back to the warm house. I am a wimp with cold, I tell you.

The heifers had to get vaccinated and tagged, so they rounded them up and corralled them.
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The men ran them through a chute to work on them.cattle

My Cowboy poked at the heifers with the rattle, now and then – just to keep them moving into the chute.IMG_2343

Don Berry helping out…
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Tom was tagging…IMG_2363

And they were all bundled up against the bitter cold. IMG_2356
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I made BBQ beef sandwiches, baked beans, scalloped potatoes and pumpkin cake rolls for lunch. Here come the men! Time to set out the food and listen to stories… IMG_2375

Wyoming Cowboys ~Featuring: Matt

 

Matt Turner - working cowboy

Name: Matt Turner

Location: Silver Spur Ranches out of Encampment Wyoming

 

 

 

Matt Turner - working Cowbo

 

When people ask you what you do for work, what do you say?  I say that I train horses and cowboy for the Spur.

Tell me a little about your job.  I am horseback everyday training horses. Starting them on cattle, etc.

Matt Turner - working cowboy

What are some things you enjoy doing in your time off?  Spending time with my wife and three daughters. Working my cow dogs and doing what I do for work.

What is something you enjoy about your job?  I enjoy working with horses.

 Did you grow up on a ranch?  I didn’t grow up on a ranch. I always wanted to be a cowboy for as long as I could remember.

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matt turner

 

 

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