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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spring! Ah, what a lovely season! I won’t say it is my favorite, anymore, because on the high prairies of Wyoming – spring is still quite chilly most days. But I surely do love the idea of spring! All the new babies in the meadows – skipping and dashing around their mamas, the fresh, thin mist of green springing up in the hay meadows, the flocks of blackbirds filling the air with their chattering… oh yes, spring is indeed a wonderful time of year!
After 2 months of night shift, my man has finally returned to a normal day schedule. I am so happy about that! Night shift was actually less work for him, so in that way it was good, but I really didn’t enjoy being on an opposite schedule from him. Especially since I homeschool 3 kids and have 2 little ones here too. It definitely took some creativeness to keep everyone reasonably quiet, but it was good experience for me. I can now sympathize much more with others in that situation.
We had a real warm spell a few weeks ago, and I took advantage of it by getting in some walks. My foster baby is 4 months old, and HATES the wind in his face, so I was tickled to find a secondhand stroller with a wind-guard! Helps a ton to keep him happy and warm.
He is such a good baby. Of course he has his moments, like the carseat! He isn’t a big fan of that. And he decided to disown his pacifier, which does NOT make me happy! I love when I can stick a paci in their mouth on a car ride, or at church, or to go to sleep. But nope. No amount of coaxing will make hm take it anymore.
Last week the snow and colder temps returned, along with another round of cold virus in the house. But God is still good and on the throne, so I have no complaints!
I have been trying to get back into a better rhythm of Bible study again, now that I’m settling into life with a baby. I find that keeping a Bible laying beside my chair is the best way for me. I used to think: “Oh, I have the Bible app on my phone, I’ll just use that.”
But the fact is – the Bible app is the slowest app to load. I mean, who wants to wait 2 minutes for the app to load, when Instagram loads in .5 seconds?! Seriously, folks, this is what happens. But I won’t accept that. I must get in my reading daily, or I don’t grow. I don’t thrive. I start going backwards immediately. The Word of God is powerful. We say that – but do we believe it? It really is powerful!!! It gives me direction, instruction, courage, and strength for daily life.
So, that recliner where I sit all the time to feed the baby – that is ‘my’ chair. I have an older Bible laying within arms’ reach. I chose an older Bible, because I don’t want to worry if it gets coffee spilled on it, or if my toddler decides to scribble in it. I keep my precious Christmas-gift-from-my-husband Bible elsewhere. I pick it up and read a verse or two or a couple chapters when I have a few minutes. It’s amazing how much you can get read in a day if you make it a priority! I bet you have ‘your’ chair somewhere too. Maybe you can find a Bible that you can lay within arms’ reach and start feeding on God’s Word daily. It will change your life, if you let it. If you are afraid of kids or pets messing up your nice Bibles, then you can go to the Dollar Tree and get one for $1.00. I bet you can manage that. 😉 and then no worries. Just read it. Use it. Mark in it. But read it.
February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day, candy, hearts, and roses. But on the ranch, February is much different. It means long nights of checking heifers, pulling calves, wading through thawing snow, and bottle-feeding bum calves.
It is also the middle of the long Wyoming winter – blizzards and high winds and ice. We have been having crazy high winds the past few days, 75+ mph. It blows over semi-trucks, and blows shingles off houses and blows over anything not weighed down. If the windmill blades aren’t locked down, they will blow right off!
We have been dealing with some sickness, (not too bad) and it got the baby. One day he was feeling so poorly, that I took him for a drive – just to lull him to sleep. I don’t remember ever doing that before – taking a baby for a drive to make it sleep. But by baby #7, you tend to relax on some things. 😉 Plus, with Cliff sleeping during the day, I couldn’t have him screaming in the house. Anyways, he did go to sleep, and I moseyed around the ranch, stopping to snap a few pictures from the window.
The snow has mostly melted, for the first time since Thanksgiving. We had giant snow piles along the lane for months. But I don’t relax too much, because March – May are normally our snowiest months! I expect several more big storms before we see real spring.
I am busy with our foster baby – he is a good baby, but still… babies require a lot of time. I almost forget how often they like to eat! 😀 He’s getting chubsy and smiley and oh! so fun. We are all falling in love with him.
Note: I can’t say much about him, due to confidentiality laws. But I’ll address the most asked questions —
No, I can’t tell you why he is in foster care,
No, we are not planning to adopt (we always work to reunify kids with their families), and
No, we have no idea how long we will have him.
So that is why my blogging suffers, right now. I’m busy making bottles, changing diapers, and rocking a cute little boy.
Today it is really warm outside, and the first calm day for a long time. So the kids ran outside as soon as they finished morning chores – determined to not waste this lovely day! I was happy to see them go. The older ones promised to watch their littlest sister carefully – which made me glad. Teens are the coolest! (lots of tractors/trucks/horses/bulls make the ranch yard not terribly safe for a tiny human)
Yesterday we had a recertification meeting with the foster care co-ordinator. I was nervous, (which was unnecessary,) but as always, she was calm and helpful. I hear so many horror stories of caseworkers and foster care workers, but I guess we are just really blessed. Ours are the best! I mean sure, some are more strict than others, and some are naturally more cheerful, or whatever, but I haven’t had a bad experience with any, so far. Really kind and helpful.
Ok, I’m starting to ramble. I better go throw a load of laundry in the washer.
I hope your day is pleasant and you find a bit of nature to relax in.
Calving season is upon us again. And my husband is on night duty – 7 day a week. I am so thankful we have a large house, so he can get some sleep during the day! I mean, we have 5 kids, and they are not quiet!
Meanwhile, I am trying my best to stay on top of schooling 3 kids, caring for a baby, and keep a 3 year out of trouble! Whew! I’ll just tell ya right here; I am not doing it. I am not ‘staying on top’! I am sliding into a hole. I can’t keep up with everything. But that’s ok. I am doing my best, and what work doesn’t get done today will still be there tomorrow. 😉 I am very much sticking to the basics. School is obviously a top priority, and meals and laundry. Cleaning gets done in fits and starts. My kids help a ton, and ya know – when you have a 2 month old baby, it’s ok to just do the basics, right?!
The sunrises gleaming golden and peach on the snow makes for beautiful mornings! I never get tired of the view from my window…
I walked down to the calving barn this week, to see the new babies. They were mostly sleeping, but I got a few shots. This lil guy had a rough start and was staying in the barn to get warm and healthy. This cutie was just soaking up the sunshine! I need to go down more… those babies are so cute. How’s your calving season going? Do you sleep alone during calving, too?
I will be hosting some guest writers on my blog, to give you a peek at other ranch wives’ daily lives. I do not necessarily endorse every view expressed. Welcome to our first guest contributor: Richelle, from https://blueskiesandredcows.wordpress.com/.
Moving heifers always requires at least one more person than you plan for, strong fences, and a keen sense of reading into the future. One day you might ride out into the herd, and the calves don’t even raise their heads or pay you any attention; the next, it is like you have a magnet stuck the side of your horse, and those same critters literally run over top of you to check you out. Point them in the direction you want, and watch them scatter like dust in a windstorm. Take it nice and easy, let them have their space, and watch them run away at Mach-3 like you zapped them with a hot shot. Pretty much no matter how hard you try to keep in charge of the situation, these young ‘uns tend to end up being the ones calling the shots. A sign that God is blessing you with a teachable moment…
In my experience, raising children (especially girls, about the ages of 3 and 5), is a lot like working heifers every day of your life. Just when you think you have this momma gig all figured out, one of your kids crawls right through the proverbial fences you thought were tight and strong; leaving you standing a few lengths behind wondering what in the world just happened. Moms and dads are the ones that are supposed to be in control, to give their kids room to grow, to be able to anticipate their children’s every move; but sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try to keep them safe and teach them to be a respectable member of society, they are the ones teaching you a lesson. These are tests the Lord gives you to see how you perform as a parent, like it or not.
In my house, “free time” is generally spent snuggling a child through a nap, folding laundry, or doing dishes. Between a full time job in town, running the books for our trucking business, blogging, photography, and being a wife and mom, the time I actually get to spend riding my horse and working on my family’s ranch is few and far between. Because of this, I find myself struggling to find my faith day in and day out. When you don’t get to do the things that give you an outlet away from the hustle and bustle and demands of “city life” (we live on my mom and dad’s ranch, but my kids go to daycare in town, and I spend 8 hours a day in a cubicle; therefore, I am stuck in a city-fied life), taking time to have a grateful heart and really speak with the Lord seems almost unattainable most days. I pray best when in the saddle, but I would guess that God has forgiven my poor lack of prayer practice as of late. I used to struggle with prayer, because it always seemed like such a one-sided conversation. I would tell God “thanks” for everything, ask him to help me with some issue I was facing, and that was it. I never gave it a lot of thought or put much effort into it.
I have been a “part-time single” mom since our oldest daughter was born five short years ago. I can’t claim to be a single mom, because I have no right to claim that when my husband is home at least three out of seven days of the week. Even so, much of our daughter’s lives have been spent being bossed around by mom, and mom alone. I have never been very good at setting aside time for myself, or to talk to God; and when my babies were in bed and the only company I had were sleeping dogs and Facebook, our little farm house felt awful lonely.
I realize, now, though, that God has been here all along.
He has been with me on those long nights, when the tears wouldn’t stop and the toddler wouldn’t go to bed. He was there when I was hurting, because of people that were hateful and unkind. He was there when the kids were sick, and I was sick, and daddy was on the road. I might not have been able to see him, or hear him; but like that extra rider when the heifers got a little crazy, I know that he was always there, riding herd. Tending to this house. Tending to me; not because I said the perfect prayers, or always had a gracious heart; but because that is what He does.
Being a parent is hard work. No matter if you are in a great partnership with your spouse, going it alone, or doing the part-time single parent gig, it isn’t for the faint of heart. But I truly believe, that if you open your heart to God, he will help you get through the tough times. He will fill your heart with so much joy that sometimes, you think it is going to explode. And just when you think you can’t keep up, he gives you a fresh horse to ride; a new day, a new chance, to start fresh. No one is perfect; especially not our kids. We are all a work in progress, so swing your leg up over the saddle, sit tall, and enjoy the ride.
I sit here on a dark, chilly winter evening and consider the past few days… I have been dealing with a flu, the cold weather has settled in for real, and the radio blasts Christmas music nearly non-stop. It is that time of year again. Music, candles, sickness and lots of sweaters!
I have learned to find my rhythm in this season. I struggled real hard the first few years we lived here in the
Arctic – I mean, Wyoming! 😉 I grew up a southern girl, and I haven’t learned to love winter yet, but hopefully one day I, too, can say that I prefer winter over summer! Haha! Maybe…. Anyways, I am thankful for the beauty of the snow and winter season. I am very thankful for snow and ice! Snow = grass for the cows, and that’s every rancher’s main concern.
But in more practical terms, I have learned to stock my pantry with staples, because no one enjoys being out of food when the nearest store is 25 miles away over icy roads.
I’ve learned to not over-plan and over-commit, because invariably sickness or bad weather will mess with the best-laid plans. Just today, I had to cancel a girls’ get-together that I’d been planning for weeks, because of the sick bug that has invaded our house. Its a bummer!
I have learned that too many days of school and stuffy house will make the sweetest child grumpy, so we have some random ‘no-school’ days – just to keep everybody fresh and sweet. 😉
That is the main thing, really. Just keeping life a little more simple, a little more laid-back, a bit more white space in my days. Buffer for those things that DO happen, ya know? I tend towards wanting to do everything, all the time. But I am learning that more accomplished is not always the best. Hey – you have no idea how many ideas and dreams and schemes are swirling around in my brain on any given day! 😀 but I am purposing to live quieter, still-er, and slower – especially in the winter months. There is times I must be going, going, going, but – when I can sit and read books to my toddler, when I can listen to the unending stories of my 7 year old – hey, I’m gonna do it!!
Here’s to finding your rhythm, and not scheduling the life right out of your life!