Tag Archives: ranchlife

Why the world needs more stay at home moms.

I thought I would share some January photos from around the ranch. It has been a lot milder winter than last year – so far! We haven’t had as many big blizzards, or the snowfall that we had last year. Hopefully we will get more snow. (wait, hold the phone!!  did I just say that?! I must be turning into a real-deal ranchwife! More worried about grass than warmth. 😉 )

Anyways. Nothing too exciting going on around here. My husband feeds hay to the cows every day, and works on other projects around the ranch. Some days he goes to one of the other places to help work cows. (three ranches under the same corp) He has been working on some leather projects on the side. Gun leather, chaps, etc.

cows on a ranch under cloudy skies


I stay quite busy with all my projects. Helping the kids with school, cooking, housework, blogging, etc. Again, nothing too spectacular…

Or that’s what society would have us believe. But what I must remember, is underneath the sometimes boring exterior, there is a bigger purpose.

Our kids, our men, our communities need moms who work at home.

Moms who fry the eggs, scour the pans, teach kids how to clean up when they miss the toilet. We need moms who care more about their kids’ souls than their kids’ bank accounts. Who care more about serving their husband, than serving the idol of Self.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:27-30)

The world needs moms who stay home -- gray horse on winter prairie

Our communities need moms who stay home.

Our communities need moms who raise kids to be decent human beings. Kids who help the weak and elderly. Kids who shut up and listen when wisdom and age speaks. Kids who are strong when they are standing up against wrong, but humble enough to take correction.

Our communities need moms who do that.

Our COUNTRY needs moms to stay home. To stay home and soothe a foster child, because that’s what communities do. We  jump in when there’s a need. Our country needs moms who raise leaders who have integrity. Leaders who watched their mom and dad lead the family with grace and humility.

(Can I get an amen on needing leaders with humility?!?!?)

“To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority in the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one.”  ~ John MacArthur

Our country needs moms who stay home -- icy river water

Our churches need moms to stay home.

We need moms who are there when we are sick. There to stir up a pot of chicken noodle soup and run to the store for Nyquil. We need moms who have weathered the storms of parenting and can teach the younger women how to do it too. (Without losing our ever-loving minds.)

We need moms who stay home and create a loving, peaceful home, so the younger wives can look on and learn. Our churches need moms to stay home and be ready with a casserole when someone dies. To have time to prepare a Sunday School lesson that speaks straight to the child’s heart. To have time to listen to a struggling sister. To invite the strangers into our homes.

Our country needs moms who stay home -- barn down snowy lane

Children need moms who stay home.

Moms who are there when they wake kinda grumpy from their nap, and need a snuggle on the rocking chair. Children need moms who teach them to cook, tuck them in at night, and laugh at their silly jokes.

Children need moms who are there every morning when they get up. Moms who sacrifice a few years to love and train their kids. Moms who play Memory with them and set up impromptu picnics in the backyard. Moms to teach them how to make a bed, wash their clothes, clean up after themselves, and eat proper meals. Moms who are not exhausted and stressed from their day jobs, but who can be relaxed and gentle.

Moms who stay home --haybale in field by mountain

Children need moms who are far more concerned with God’s opinion of them, than society’ opinion.

When will we stop marching to the tune of Hollywood and Women’s Day, and start opening our Bibles?

Let’s read what Scripture says, first of all. Let’s look at the Godly examples of women of the faith whose children ‘turned out’ to be passionate about Christ.

Moms who stay home -- mountain top covered in snow

 

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5

 

“When Eve was brought unto Adam, he became filled with the Holy Spirit, and gave her the most sanctified, the most glorious of appellations. He called her Eva, that is to say, the Mother of All. He did not style her wife, but simply mother, mother of all living creatures. In this consists the glory and the most precious ornament of woman.”  – Martin Luther

 

Moms at home -- mountain barn

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.”  – Billy Graham

Are there exceptions? Of course. There are times and reasons that make it necessary for a mom of littles to go to work. In those cases, God gives the grace to cover the children.

Scripture doesn’t forbid mothers from working, so it is not sinful. But can you argue the idea, that it’s as beneficial for kids to be raised by daycare workers, or even loving Grandmas, than by their own mother?

I personally have seen what happened when my mother had to work. The home life took a hit! I remember wishing SO BADLY that my mom could just be at home. (at age 12)
I have also seen young men who grew up without a mother in the home. They had certainly missed that loving training of responsibility and diligence that a mom teaches her sons.

I think we can agree that moms are just ideal for caring for their own offspring!  Why then, the need to work?

Financial necessity at times. Personal goals. Perhaps boredom with repetitious household duties.

I can understand these reasonings. But I stand my ground that kids – especially young kids – need their mamas.

I don’t know your reasons for leaving your kids. I am not trying to guilt trip anyone! But I am saying: “Consider the good, consider the immense good that comes from a few long, hard years as a stay at home mom!” 

This is what I remind myself of, when I have boring or hard days at home. It’s like exercising: small daily acts add up to a huge reward.

But you have to do the daily, monotonous tasks to get there. You cannot take a pill to get fit, you cannot buy a program good enough to replace a mother’s presence.

Moms who stay home -- mountain and clouds

Stay warm and walk with Jesus.

Love,
Kay

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking.

I have been snapping shutters for many years, but only in the past 2 years have my photos begun to really show the mood and personality that I want in an image. The reason I am beginning to capture great photos, is largely due to two secrets I’ve learned. I am shooting with the same entry-level DSLR camera that I was using 5 years ago – but the quality of my images has greatly improved.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Last week they preg-checked about 800 cows. It was an ambitious undertaking, even in good weather! With shorter days, just getting it all done in daylight would be a challenge. As if things weren’t interesting enough – a snowstorm rolled in during the night, and preg-checking  would happen in an all-day snowstorm!


But ranchers are tougher than most, and they bundled up, saddled up, and were out at the first gray light – pushing cows through the alley to the chute. The vet was there, apron on and wand in hand. The snow swirled as they worked – a couple guys in the back, pushing cows, a couple in the alley, moving the cows into the chute, a few guys at the head – checking numbers, running the chute, writing down info.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #wyoming #cowboy

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranchTwo secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

One man sat in the truck, out of the snow, so he could write down each cow’s information. That seemed like the best spot to be, on this stormy day! (Although he’s the kind of guy who’d rather just be out there working with the others, I think. ) Anyways, each man had his job to do, and they did it well. I didn’t help, but I did go out and take pictures. As Dave Stoecklein said:

“The worst weather makes the best pictures.”

He is so right! My photography made a huge leap when I read that and started implementing it. I wanted great photos, but my natural instincts and personality make me stay indoors (or at least in the truck) when it is bad weather. Especially cold! But I read that by Stoecklein, and decided to put it into practice. It worked! I started getting images far more interesting than those I captured from the comfort of my truck or house or behind the fence.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranchTwo secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

I started getting up early to catch sunrises. I bundled up to get snow images. I just got wet capturing spring rainstorms. (maybe I should get a slicker? 😀 My fingers went numb from standing on a cold hillside on a chilly fall day. But my pictures began showing mood and interesting elements that they’d been missing.

I still dislike cold. I would much prefer to live somewhere tropical – somewhere that palm trees grow and the worst weather is storms over the ocean! But for now, I am here in Wyoming where weather is usually bad and always cold. And I will continue capturing the ranch life through snow and below-zero temps. 😉

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranchTwo secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Another secret to great photos is one I learned from Chris Dickinson. I stumbled across his images on Instagram several years ago, and was immediately struck by the amazing action moments he captured! In your face brandings, over-your-head horses, and hooves just inches away. (that’s how it looks, anyways!)

“Don’t be afraid to get in close to the action!” Chris Dickinson

Chris is not afraid to get in close! He will let calves nearly run him over – and his photos show that intensity. It is mesmerizing – I study each picture at length, feeling the whoosh of air as hooves rush past, smelling the cow-trampled dirt, hearing the swoosh-and-thwack of the rope as it settles around the neck.

You don’t get that kind of action from the other side of the fence! You have to be in there, smelling, hearing, feeling. I have no desire to become the next CD Photog, (even if I could)  but I did learn to get in a lot closer, feel the action, not insulate myself from the experience. Again, my photos improved. I began catching the cowboys’ expressions, the cattle’s motion, the mood of the moment.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

You can read all day about photography, but the best way to improve is to get out there and start experimenting. If you make some terrible shots, ruin some perfect moments – that will teach you faster than anything else, what not to do. It will force you to learn how to fix it and get better! :)

Another great way is to invest in a photography course or workshop. This will give you hands on help for your specific issues. It will teach you how to get great photos faster than just google or experimentation.

Leave me a comment and tell me what is your biggest challenge in making great photos?

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Two Secrets to Great Photosand preg-checking on the ranch

 

31 Days to a better marriage – Date Nights

31 days to a better marriage - date nights

Do  you find it hard to have an actual ‘date night’?

Me too.


Especially when you have babies and toddlers in the house, it is just hard. If you have family nearby, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. But if you live far from family, you will know exactly what I am talking about!

We have lived far from family for years. We have friends, but here in Wyoming, even our friends are pretty scattered! While we had babies and younger children, we just didn’t have many date nights. We did get a babysitter once a year and take a night away for our anniversary. That was so important to our sanity and closeness as a couple. We also tried to have 1-2 nights where we’d get a sitter and go out to eat. But even that was hard.

But why bother?

I do feel it is extremely important that a couple gets a bit of time alone, now and again. Even if it is only 1 time per year. Yes, you can be a close, loving couple without ever doing it, but frankly, I know very few couples who are deeply in love with each other, who don’t take time out for themselves. (I can’t think of any, in fact)

“We do everything as a family.” That sounds wonderful and so committed – but remember that you were a couple before you were parents. If you never go out, never take a night away, then you will need to be extra vigilant to get some time together at home. You just can’t properly nurture a deep, caring, friendship-love when there are kids climbing over you and listening to you talk.

I know, I know. You disagree with me.  Well, maybe I am wrong. But if you think so, let me ask you: Do you have a deep, loving, friendship with your husband, or is marriage a bit of a disappointment to you? I challenge you to answer honestly. (To yourself, of course.)

The people whose marriages I respect and look up to – they say to get away from the kids once in a while. They say that the kids will be fine. And they are right.

When I was a young wife, I hated leaving my toddlers for a night. I thought they would be scarred for life, haha! But my husband encouraged me to invest in our marriage – and I am so glad he did. I do not regret even one night away from my ‘babies’. We never lost the sense of ‘us’, and I credit time alone as the reason.

But how?

This is the tricky part! It is hard to have the time, money, or sitter. If you have one you probably don’t have the other.

How to find a babysitter: Family is ideal. Friends are second best. If you have neither – then you need to find friends!! Seriously. I recommend that you start by going to church. Even if it isn’t perfect, find a church that believes as closely to Scripture as possible. (just pick the best one in your town.) Then go to that church and make friends, serve them, get plugged in to their lives. You will soon (hopefully) find one or two families who will be willing to trade babysitting. You can also use drop-in daycare. I haven’t, but I think it would be a decent alternative.

I will say that when I had a nursing baby, or one under 2, I often took them along. Especially when we moved away from family.

How to find time: For a night away, I suggest that you put it on the calendar. We used to take a night away on our anniversary, but since we moved to WY (and ranch life) it is a bad time of year for us, so we take our night away a different weekend. But we plan ahead, every year. At least a tentative plan. If we were visiting family over the holidays, we’d plan an extra day, and arrange to leave the kids with grandma for a night.

For date nights we do it differently. If you have a set schedule, then a regular date night may work. It hasn’t for us. We ‘take a notion’ to go on a date, and go! When our kids were little, we grabbed every opportunity we could find. If we had an out-of-state sibling visiting, we left the kids and went on a date.

Now, we have teenage kids!! What a blessing to have built-in babysitters. I remember feeling that this day would never come! But here it is. And we LOVE it! 😀

How to find money: Oh boy. What a tough one, right? Really, we haven’t done much fancy stuff, because we are not rich folk. We would absolutely love to travel overseas or even just to Yellowstone for a weekend getaway. But realistically, we just can’t. The one exception was our 10th anniversary. We saved then splurged, and went to Washington D.C. for several days. That was a huge treat, and a trip that gave us many good memories.

For dates, we sometimes go out to eat, sometimes just ice cream! Right now we live far enough from town, that when we can make it work we will go to town together. We walk around the store, picking up what we need,(not groceries)  then get a burger or ice cream on the way home.

Our dates get simpler and more meaningful as we age. Driving 2 hours to and from town is a wonderful date. Checking water or putting out mineral is another way to get time together while not spending money.

When the kids were small, we’d stick them to bed early then pull out some special treats and drinks and have a date on the couch.

Usually for anniversaries, we spend one night at a hotel in a nearby city. We eat out and maybe catch a movie or a local, inexpensive attraction.

On leaner years, we’d get a babysitter for the kids, then pick up a pizza and some pop, and rent a movie and go home. In some ways, that was as relaxing as anything! Very inexpensive, very private, and no hassle of packing/unpacking.

I highly recommend you try this! Especially of you have sitters that you can easily get for a night!

I hope I have sparked an interest in you to make time for your marriage! Maybe you can’t take a weekend away. Maybe you need to put the babies to bed and light some candles and dress up. Maybe you just need to say YES next time he asks you to go check water. Better yet – YOU ask to go along, then be interesting and helpful and stay off your phone. 😉

Read the rest of the  series HERE.

Ranch and Agriculture Blogs.

I don’t follow a lot of blogs, but there are a few ranch and agriculture blogs that I like. I thought I would share some of them with you. These are blogs that I have followed for years, and enjoy their photos and/or writing. 

The South Dakota Cowgirl 

I put Jenn first, because I have actually met her in real life! Haha! I love Jenn. She is down-to-earth, real, genuine. She laughs a lot and makes everyone else laugh! She is caring, generous, and right handy with a camera. Plus a lot more skills that I can’t even remember. Barrel-racing, colt-starting, hosting interns, you name it. I had the privilege of attending a photo workshop with her this summer (2017), and liked her from the first big smile. 

Ranch and agriculture blogs to follow.

Jenn Zeller, The South Dakota Cowgirl (photo by Abby Prather)


Faith, Family, and Beef

I have not met Terryn – yet! – but I did meet her husband at a branding. :) (I did not know it was her husband until later, though, so that was crazy.) But I am pretty sure we will meet in real life one day! She is a ranch wife from Nebraska, and shares recipes, stories and more on her blog. You will like it! (Also, we are both Stormy Kromer ambassadors, yay! :D) 

Ranch and agriculture blogs - terryn Dreiling

Terryn Drieling, Faith, Family, and Beef.

Corner of the Circle L

Naomi is another Nebraska ranch wife, raising kids and cows on the wide-open range. She loves God and her family. She has been featured in Western Horseman and other publications. Naomi tells the story of her life through her blog and other social media. I hope and expect to eventually meet her, too! :)

Ranch and Agriculture blogs to follow - Naomi Loomis

Naomi Loomis, The Circle L Ranch

 

The Prairie Homestead

For 5 years we were practically neighbors. We lived maybe 30 miles apart (definitely neighbors in Wyoming!), but during those years we both had several sick pregnancies and other things that kept us from meeting in person!  Jill shares homesteading info, recipes, essential oils, and more. (She is technically not a ranch wife, but she is a Wyomingite, and was my neighbor, and I love her blog! :D) I am looking forward to meeting Jill one day.

Ranch and Agriculture Blogs - Jill Winger

Jill Winger, The Prairie Homestead

Agriculture Proud (bonus: one guy’s blog that I had to include! :) )

Ryan Goodman is well-known in the ag scene for his agriculture advocacy. He writes about cattle ranching, ag advocacy, using beef in your healthy diet, and trail running (fueled by beef). I enjoy following his Instagram – lots of trail running updates, which are inspiring! I am NOT a runner, but the sport has fascinated me for years. :)

Agriculture and ranching blogs.

Ryan Goodman

Now, go make a big pot of black coffee to sip as you get started on this list! I know you will find at least one you enjoy. :)

Tell me one or two of YOUR favorite logs! I love discovering new and fascinating blogs. :) Share in the comments.

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. 

5 meal ideas for the ranch crew.

Gathering cows

meal ideas

Do you need some meal ideas for the ranch crew? It’s easy to run out of ideas for meals, when you have to cook for a dozen or more hungry cowboys. Especially if you need to cook several days in a row!


I’ll be the first – and maybe only – one to say; I love cooking for the ranch crew! But even I run out of ideas. I get into a rut and then I hate my own cooking, haha! Thankfully, cowboys seem to be fine with the same foods over and over again.

I have been on ranches where they expect a feast: 1-2 kinds of meat, potatoes, several vegetables, several salads, several desserts, plus rolls and drinks.
Some ranches take a more relaxed route, and tend to have more normal fare; meat, a couple sides and a dessert.
My husband has told tales of ranches he’s helped on, where they served only a small sandwich or burrito and nothing else. Yikes!

But aside from the obvious; Have Plenty Of Food rule, I thought I’d share some of my favorite meals to make for the crew.
Cowboy throwing a loop

table full of food

Meal idea #1
BBQ Sandwiches
Chips
Watermelon
Baked Beans
Jello Cake

Meal idea #2
Roast Beef
Mashed potatoes
Corn casserole
Spinach salad
Pie with ice cream

Meal idea #3
Brisket
Cheesy potatoes
Green Beans
Layered salad
Cherry Cheesecake

plate of food prime rib

Prime rib!

Meal idea #4
Beefy Enchiladas
Spanish Rice
Refried Beans
Homemade Salsa + chips
Texas Sheet Cake

Meal idea #5
Stew (for cool fall days!)
Cornbread
Blueberry cobbler

prime rib branding food

NOTES & TIPS

~The brisket in Meal #3 can be done at home, or – if that intimidates you – you can buy it pre-cooked at Sam’s Club. They sell it already smoked and cured. It is really delicious!! All you have to do it put in the electric roaster (or oven) and warm it up. Super easy!

~I was nervous the first time I served stew, thinking it wasn’t fancy enough. But it was a cold day and the guys loved it! It was warm and filling. I am considering making it over the fire with my dutch ovens, this fall. 😀 Wouldn’t that be fun?

~Enchiladas are a bit different for this area. We are too far north for it to be a big thing. But my husband loves Spanish-style food, so I sneak it in there occasionally. :) The guys don’t seem to mind, as long as I have really good homemade salsa! 😉 I don’t make it more than maybe once per year, because they do like their potatoes.

I am thinking about putting together a book with all my ranch meals; menus, meats, sides, desserts, recipes, servings. Is that something that would be helpful to you? Let me know in the comments!

branding meal for the ranch crew

One of my favorite sights: the cowboys filling their plates after a hard day of work. Branding lunch with the Double 8 crew, 2017.

Branding potbranding iron

ranch crew eating lunch

The crew eating lunch at the Nimmo Ranch, 2016.

I hope this list has sparked some ideas in you for meals! Now, I have a favor to ask of you: Would you please comment with some of your favorite meals for the crew? Or any large-crowd recipe that you use and love? I’d appreciate it!

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. :)