Tag Archives: summer

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. :)

Blackberry Pie Recipe

blackberry pie recipeBig drops of sweat ran down my face as I gently pulled the briars away from my skirt. I gingerly stomped at the base of the brambles ahead of me, trying to mash them down away from me, so they wouldn’t grab my clothes and skin. I steadied the plastic ice-cream bucket with my other hand, careful not to allow any berries to spill.

I picked all the ripe blackberries within reach, then carefully reached through the briars to pick a few more. I reached as far as I could without spilling my bucket of berries, or falling face-first into the briars. No matter how careful I was, I would get my arm caught on a thorn, then I’d grit my teeth as I unhooked my skin. Sweat ran down my face and down my back and down my legs.

The bees buzzed lazily around the sweet blossoms, and crawled over the ripe, juicy berries. Ants scurried over the berries, too, getting their fill of the sweetness. Every so often, I’d have to pick a tick off my arms or my dress. But they were less annoying than the chiggers that I would certainly find the following day. We’d rub Avon ‘Skin-So-Soft’ oil all over our arms and legs before we began, but it didn’t work that great. We still came home loaded with ticks and chiggers.


After several hours of picking wild blackberries in the soggy, stifling heat, Mom would finally sigh and say: “Well, I guess that’s as much as we can get today. We better go home.”

Sweeter words were never spoken.

We’d untie the scarves from our waists, carefully pouring our buckets of berries into the huge, stainless steel bowls. We’d climb wearily into the van, picking off the last few briars and sticks and other debris from hours trampling around in brambles higher than our heads.

If mom had a bit of extra money, she’d stop at the Little Red Barn on the way home, and buy us an ice cream cone. It didn’t make up for picking blackberries, but it sure was delicious! I would lick the ice cream as fast as I could, trying to get every drop of cool sweetness before it dripped and was wasted. The hot summer sun burned down and the wind from the open windows felt hot, not cooling at all. But with no AC, moving air seemed better than still air, somehow.

When we arrived at home, mom carefully washed the berries, and spread them on a clean towel to dry. Then she would put them in bags and into the freezer. They would make many delicious pies all year long.

But she didn’t freeze all of them – she made pie, too. And jam. But the pie was my favorite! We’d have blackberry pie for dessert, Saturday evening, then we would have a slice for breakfast Sunday morning. It was the most delicious thing I ever ate! It tasted like hot sun and sweet summertime and mom’s love.blackberry pie-3

Here is my personal recipe for blackberry pie. Mom never measured, and I don’t either. We add and taste! But just for you, I measured. I measured several times, over several weeks, trying to perfect the taste. I think I have it!

Now, I don’t live in the blackberry mecca of the Midwest, anymore. There aren’t any blackberry bushes out here, that I have found. So, I start with frozen blackberries from the grocery store.

Put them in a kettle, add some water, and let them simmer. You don’t want too much water or you will end up with a lot of sauce and not much fruit. The berries really cook down! Also, I buy Clear Jell from Amazon. You can substitute corn starch, but I do not know the ratio. Here is the kind I buy: (click on photo)

When the berries come to a simmer, add sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Stir occasionally till it boils.

Add the clear jell mixture, and stir quickly because it begins to thicken almost immediately. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. You can fill your crust immediately, or let the filling cool. Either way works.

Tips:
–Cornstarch thickens more as it cools. Clear Jell reaches its full thickening when it boils.

–This recipe is crafted for tame, store-bought blackberries. if you use wild berries, they will definitely need more sugar! They make better pies, in my opinion, but they are much more tart. :) Fresh berries work great, too. 

–This goes well with my Pie Crust Recipe. 😉

Blackberry Pie Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen blackberries (or 3 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 TBLS butter
  • juice from ½ lemon (about 2 TBLS)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 TBLS clear jell
  • 2 9-inch pie crust
Instructions
  1. Put berries in large saucepan, add water. Bring to a simmer, add sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Simmer till sugar is dissolved, and butter is melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Mix Clear Jell and ¼ cup water in a cup. Stir with spoon till dissolved.
  3. Taste the blackberry mix to see if it tastes ok. Add more sugar or lemon juice, if needed.
  4. Stir in the clear jell and bring to a boil. Caution! At this point it will bubble and splash, and the filling is quite hot!
  5. Once it is at a boil and the filling is no longer cloudy, remove from heat and let cool. Fill one pie crust and top with second crust. Pinch edges closed, and bake at 350* for 1 hour.

 

Sweet Summertime

ranch horsesIt’s the time of year I like best… tall prairie grasses, bending in the breeze, meadowlarks trilling from the fenceposts, fresh peas from the garden, long walks beneath summer clouds. Ice cold garden tea and front-porch settin’. Oh boy, I could get used to this weather fast! :)

I told my husband a few days ago that I think this is what Heaven feels like; this perfect temperature – not hot and not cold. Just perfect. It makes up for the brutal winters. It really does.
I think that’s the first time I said that without also adding ‘almost’. because I truly believe it now. (don’t ask me in January tho. I may have forgotten! 😉 )country roads

We recently were on vacation to Maryland, and while it is a beautiful state, the humidity really got to me. And the hemmed in feeling. I was so happy to see our wide-open prairies again! :) I am spoiled. I feel so blessed to live in this wide open space. I know it’s not everyone’s choice, but wow! God sure knew what He was doin’ when He parked us here. clouds in wyoming