Tag Archives: ranchlife

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. :)

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!

My Journey of Faith, part 8 – the end.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26

My Journey of Faith part 8 the end

In my last Journey of Faith post, I told you how I overcame discouragement and loneliness. And how we found out that my husband would lose his job in a few weeks…


It was early January, cold and snowy. We were living in an old, drafty farmhouse that was hard to heat. (we had moved from the trailer house into a farmhouse in the country, in October) We put a blanket over the staircase, moved the kids’ beds downstairs, and heated only the living room and kitchen. Propane was costing us 450.00 every 4-5 weeks to heat our house – it was eating up our small budget too fast. I remember at one point wondering how we were going to survive the winter without begging for money!

But I learned once again that God never fails His children! He is always faithful to supply our needs. We trusted Him, Cliff worked hard, I tried to be as thrifty as I could, and we always had food to eat. One time a man came to church – just a visitor – and after church he took Cliff out to his vehicle and gave us bags and boxes of food. Produce, mostly, and some dried beans. All from his garden! He said he had ‘way too much garden veggies, and wanted to bless someone with it! As far as I know, he never came back to church – I am certain he was an angel. :) We ate squash, potatoes, carrots, beans, and many other good vegetables for weeks. Sometimes there would be an envelope in our mailbox with a little cash in it. I wish I knew who felt prompted by God to give – we never asked for money or talked about our finances. I would like to thank those dear saints for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in their lives!

Well, back to the lay-off… When we heard that we’d be out of a job in a couple weeks, we honestly were stumped. What does a person do who gets laid off in the middle of winter with literally no savings, no college degree, no nothing?!

We prayed.

God answered our prayers in a powerful, amazing way!

My sister and her husband used to work on a ranch near Cheyenne, WY, and we used to visit them there. Through them, we learned to know a young man who ran cattle on a couple ranches in WY. Well, when we were considering what to do for a job, Cliff remembered that young man, and decided to call him up.

When Cliff asked him if he had any job openings, the man answered: “Yes, I just leased a new ranch this month and need a another guy to help run it. You can start next week.”

We were blown away! God had lined up the perfect job for us at the exact time we needed it. I tell you, friends, God does things like this all the time. We aren’t special or anything. But I have trained myself to see God’s hand in everything. You can do that too. Write it down. Or tell someone. Don’t say: “Well that was pretty neat!” and forget about it. Notice when God works a miracle for you. Praise Him! Thank Him!

 “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matt. 6:8S

So on Monday morning, Cliff packed a sleeping bag and a suitcase and drove up to Wyoming to start his new job. I stayed in CO and started packing. I packed up all our belongings as best I could between caring for three little ones. (the kids were 1, 3 and 5) On Saturday, Cliff came home and we loaded most of our belongings into our trusty pink horse-trailer and headed north.

On Monday, I took the kids and drove down with the truck and trailer for the final load. My sister came along to help, since she was visiting for awhile. She helped me clean the house and pack up the remaining things.

Ranch life was good. Cliff enjoyed the work, the salary was better than we had ever enjoyed before, (that’s not saying much, but while you won’t get rich on a ranch, at least you have a house!) and we all loved the wide open spaces of Wyoming!

Three short months after we moved to Wyoming, our faith was tested in a very different and difficult manner. Our youngest child, Andy, was playing near the irrigation canal and drowned. It was by far the most trying circumstance we had to face. But as always, God brought us through that, too. I am thankful for the grace of God that is give in every situation. I did struggle quite a bit with guilt over Andy’s death. Then I had to learn to graciously respond to people’s ignorant but well-meaning comments. Each part of the trial forced me to lean on God more, and dig deeper in His Word and His wisdom.

If you want to read the story of Andy, you can find it here. Andy

That was ten years ago. We have been living in Wyoming and working on ranches and we still like Wyoming! :) It is our favorite state, despite the brutal winters and mosquito-laden summers.  We  lived on that first ranch (the X-Bar) for 4.5 years, then moved to a ranch north of Cheyenne for 5 years, and currently we are on a ranch in the mountains west of Laramie.

Our children are blessed to grow up in this wonderful ranching community, learning to rope and ride and care for animals. Cliff still enjoys ranching, he also owns a small leather business on the side where he makes saddles, chaps, and other gear for working cowboys.

After our son died, I started reading about foster care, and slowly my heart was drawn to the amazing work of being a safe place for kids who are removed from their homes. After 5 years of my reading and dreaming, we were licensed as a foster home, and received our first placement in May, 2015. Foster care was never Cliff’s dream, but he supported my dream. After 7 kids coming through our home, I can say the honeymoon period is over, haha! but I still have an incredible burden for these kids and this work. Even when it is the hardest, I am reminded how precious each child is to our God, how much He cares about them.

Our life looks so much different than I ever thought it would, but God’s plans are always best. So many things He said “No” to, and that was best. Then He said “Yes” to many wonderful things that I could never have dreamed of! I am learning to take each experience from His hand of love, and be thankful.

If this series has blessed or encouraged you in any way, I would love if you leave a comment and tell me why! :) Thank you to all who have replied to my stories and encouraged me to write it.

If you missed a post, you can find them here:
My Journey of Faith part 1

My Journey of Faith part 2

My Journey of Faith part 3

My Journey of Faith part 4

My Journey of Faith part 5

My Journey of Faith part 6

My Journey of Faith part 7