Tag Archives: winter

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

7 Christmas Gifts Every Ranch Mom Wants This Year.

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on them. 

Christmas is such a sweet, fun time with family, food, and gifts. Maybe you are the kind who shops for Christmas gifts in July, or maybe you wait till Dec 23. I am more of a procrastinator – but my dread of joining the shopping-crowds forces me to get it done before Christmas week! 😀

7 Christmas gifts every ranch mom wants this year! Christmas gifts for women. #giftguide


Living on a ranch has its own challenges at gift-buying time. You may only get to town 1-2 times in December, and if you forget a gift… well, let’s just say Amazon is your new best friend! Especially for folks who hate shopping! My husband has bought gifts for me and used the Amazon gift wrap option, so the gift comes already wrapped and I just stick it under the tree.

I think men are hard to buy gifts for – but they claim we are difficult, too. 😉 So for all the men who don’t know what to buy their ladies; here is a list of gifts your wife will be happy to receive!

1. Instant-Pot. This is truly a one-pot wonder, and judging by the number of times it is mentioned online and word-of-mouth, it is hugely popular right now. Ranch wife or not – just about any woman would enjoy this gift. I was reading recently how great pressure cookers are for those of us living at high altitudes. I know many ranches are high altitude. I think one day I would like to try an Insta-Pot. Click here to check it out.

2. Automatic chicken door opener. You guys, I’m not even kidding! I would totally love this gift. 😀 Maybe my kids would love it more than I would, since they are the ones who have the chore of shutting the door. I mean, all it takes is one night when you forget to shut that coop door, and bam! A varmint gets all your precious egg-layers! So yes. Your ranch wife will love you for this gift. Click here to get a door opener.

3. Muck Boots. The best invention for farm and ranch chores! Any ranch wife who lives where the winter gets cold – needs these boots. They are warm, easy to wear, comfy, and stylish to boot! (see what I did there?! 😉 ) I wear mine every single day from October to April, and sometimes more! If your ranch mom friend has a pair already – no worries! She will always use another pair. 😉  Click here to see all the pretty colors!

4. Leatherman Micra. This sweet little multi-tool is so practical! I guess by now you can see that I like practical gfts, right?! Haha! Well, I do! My husband gave me a little tool similar to this, and I packed it everywhere. I kept it in my purse, and used it all the time. With 4 kids, we were always opening a plastic package, cutting food in half, snipping things… we used it so often. Sadly, I forgot it was in my carry-on at an airport once, and had it confiscated. :( Some of the great tools included are: scissors, knife, flat/Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, nail cleaner, tweezers, nail file, and more. What great Christmas gifts these would make! The Leatherman brand is quality stuff, too. Check it out here!

5. Stormy Kromer hat. You should hear all the compliments I receive on my Stormy Kromer® Hat! Just about every time I go out, someone says: “I like your hat!” or “What a  cute hat!” Well, I think it’s cute too, but more than that – it’s warm! Made right here in the USA; every hat you buy is helping American economy. They also have other great products, like jackets, coats, scarves, and handbags. I have their mittens and LOVE them! (so does the rest of my family – sometimes I have to fight for them!) I have a coupon code for Stormy Kromer – you can get 20% off your first order! So go ahead and stock up because this code is only good once. 😉 Go here to see my favorite hat, and use code RBA72Z42887Y17 

7 Christmas gifts for every ranch mom!

6. Quality Knives. I wrote a blog post featuring these knives, recently. I have been loving them! I knew I needed some good quality knives, but I kept putting it off. I mean, I am the queen of thrift! But my  husband has been good at helping me see how quality pays for itself over time. It’s true – when I buy a good quality product, I rarely regret it. And these knives have been a great example of that. I use them all the time, and love them! Go to Southern Kitchen and search for Cangshan TC Series knife set. They have many other cool products to choose from, as well.


7 Christmas gifts for every ranch mom!

7. Memory Foam Slippers. My sister recently gifted me some slippers very similar to these, and I wear them all the time. They are so cozy and warm! Like many ranch moms, I live in a place that gets cold. We have chilly mornings and cold drafts. I love tucking my toes into these soft slippers first thing in the morning. They also have a hard outer sole, so I can dash outside to start my vehicle or grab some firewood without changing to shoes. 😉 Yes, I am sort of lazy like that! They have soft, luxurious memory foam inner soles that are very comfy. You can check them out on Amazon.

Bonus Gift Idea: Call a local housecleaner and gift your ranch wife/friend a couple weeks of house cleaning service! Talk about a gift to remember! 😀

7 Christmas gifts every ranch mom wants this year. Click To Tweet

What Christmas gifts would YOU love to get, this year? Comment and let us know! Personally, I would love an order of two dozen baby chicks. 😉

The Gift of Beauty.

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

The sun was setting in a cold February sky, sinking behind massive cloud banks to the southwest. The clouds were shades of blue and purple, surrounded with pink and gold and crimson. I turned and gazed at them as I rode along, my hands freezing cold inside the thin jersey gloves, my face icy in the wind.

It was my 14th birthday, and I was spending it in a dreary Midwestern winter, where the damp cold seeped into your very bones. I went to school in the morning, and there was singing and good wishes. But, as soon as I got home, I had to change into work clothes, saddle up my horse, and ride 3 miles to my dad’s sawmill to help him cut lumber.


I hated that sawmill, and never more than in cold weather. I was glad I had a horse to ride, (my begging had finally paid off) but the cold was just going clean through me, till I reached the sawmill.

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

The sawmill.

Several hours later, we had finished that load of pallet lumber and I climbed back on my horse and headed for home. As the sun set, those blue clouds looked for all the world like a mountain range off in the distance. I gazed at them, soaking in their beauty, thanking God for such a wonderful gift on my birthday! Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

We were poor, and my birthday always fell in the winter when finances were especially tight. This year, mom either forgot about my birthday, or couldn’t squeeze any extra gift money out of her budget.

Anyway, she had a small pair of new sewing scissors that she’d bought for herself, but she wrapped them and gave them to me. I hated sewing, it gave me hot prickles on my neck! But I knew she wanted to give me something, and I appreciated the effort. I knew we couldn’t afford nice gifts. I used those scissors for over a decade, and thought of mom every time I snipped thread. :)

So, after a somewhat dreary birthday – this stunningly gorgeous sunset was a feast to my eyes. God knew I loved mountains! He understood my heart! He knew I wanted to live out West, and He ‘gave me’ some mountains on my birthday! I felt His love and kindness and understanding for me. I felt it deep in my soul. He cared about me! I rode the final mile in near-darkness, but the memory of that sunset has stuck with me for over 20 years.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

As a child, I felt misunderstood. I got angry because I felt like I couldn’t be heard. As I grew older, I tried explaining myself,  but that didn’t help. I didn’t know how to communicate what I was feeling, without getting into trouble. It was very frustrating, and I lashed out in anger because of it. But there were times when I caught a glimpse of how God understood me. He understood my longings, my fears, my deepest desires. He understood how much I wanted to please Him, how much I wanted to be ‘good’, how I hated myself for my failures. No one else understood me – but God did.

Many times this glimpse of the Father’s heart came through beauty. Beautiful scenes, beautiful pictures, beautiful words, beautiful music. It was like He gave these lovely treasures – memories – that I could carry in my heart forever. I still can get teary about a beautiful piece of music, picture, or story. Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

This world is so broken, so ugly and messed up from sin. But God – our Father – He still loves beauty. He gives us these gorgeous gifts freely to enjoy. I encourage you to start noticing beauty. To begin accepting it as a gift from a loving Father.

God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world. Click To Tweet

God knows what kind of beauty your heart craves. Is it the sight of a perfectly conditioned cow? The gentle ripples in a pond? The mesmerizing flicker of a campfire, or the iridescent sheen on a trout? Does a soaring hawk give your soul wings? Does the sound of a harmonizing chorus make your heart want to burst?

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

Is it the dance of a cutting horse or the flashing of grouse on the wing? Maybe the lush green of a hay field ready to cut that makes you smile, or the sight of dewdrops on grass. Does the crash of ocean breakers make your heart thunder? Does the unexpected sight of a bright desert flower, or the grandeur of a black starry sky make your eye light up?Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

Whatever makes you stop and smile – thank God for that gift. He is a good, good Father who loves to shower us with beauty and love. Let’s stop rushing through life and see the roses, at least. Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

The funny thing is, I now live by the mountains. Practically in them! I often stop and wonder how this is real?! This gorgeous place we call home. It may not be long-term (cowboys rarely stay one place for real long), but while we live here, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I am overwhelmed with the beauty around here. I ride my horse through these mountain meadows and just get lost in the wild beauty. God has generously fulfilled my childhood desire to live ‘Out West’ and by the mountains. I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve any of the good things in my life. But God understands. He gives good gifts. Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

Lest you think: “how perfect your life is”, let me assure you that there are trials in every type of life. My floors get crunchy and my laundry piles up. Sometimes we have relationship issues we have to work through, and we aren’t gonna retire in Beverly Hills. (horrors!) But, we serve a good God, and if you open your eyes to His beauty all around you, you might start seeing how much He loves you!

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

My real life mountain! We live here. Pinch me!

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

 

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. 

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

February Thaw

wyoming

My favorite spot: a bluff overlooking the Medicine Bow river and Elk Mountain in the distance.

This month we had our mid-winter thaw. The weather warmed to an incredible 35-40 degrees! Tons of snow melted, the run-off swelling the river and making a muddy mess around the house. The river had been nearly covered in snow and ice since December. Only a few small open spots. But the warm weather melted most of the ice and the water was rushing merrily along.

I went for a walk one warm day, and while walking along my favorite spot above the Medicine Bow river, I had a strong sensation of deja vu. medicine bow river

I realized it was because I have read and re-read books about the far north; White Fang, Tish, Mrs. Mike, and Silence of the North. In them, you read of a ‘warm spell’ when the hardy pioneers would go out and relish the warm weather, having picnics on the bare patches of ground where the snow had melted.


“Less than a week after that the weather broke. The sun came out warm and bright, the snow started to melt, and the lakes opened up along the shores…”  ~The Silence of the North

When I read those stories, I never understood how it could be ‘warm’ at 30 or 40 degrees?! I mean, c’mon! There was still ice on the river and snowdrifts in the shade, for crying out loud! (remember, I spent childhood winters in Florida!)

But now I know.

When you have been through several months straight where the temps never climb out of the teens, there is literally 4 ft drifts, and the snow falls fresh almost daily — well, you can see how melting snow and 40 degrees feels warm! :)

I did actually consider a picnic, but the wind was blowing pretty hard, so I decided against it. Instead, I went for a walk, first along the top of the bluff, then down the winding lane to the river bottom. The late afternoon sunshine was so lovely, falling warm and clear across the water. medicine bow river

medicine bow river

wyomingdeserted cabinold ranch barn

But, the February thaw ended, as all good things do, and we are back to full blown winter. :) It is good, because when you live on what the land produces, you need snow. You may not enjoy working in it, but it is good for the soil. The land. The cattle. The grass. The water supply for next summer. So I will take it with thankfulness, and hope I don’t have to drive on the snowy roads too much! 😉

snowing

snowy cows

Both of the snowy pics were taken from my kitchen windows. Those cows are on some kind of internal clock that is pretty precise. Every morning when I get up, they are lying on the hillside. But right at 6:45 to 7:00, they all get up and file to the water. It’s funny, kind of, how they are so reliable. You could set an alarm by ’em!

sourdough cinnamon rolls in cast iron pan

I received a new cookbook for Christmas; ‘A Taste of Cowboy’, by Kent Rollins. I have been experimenting with some of his sourdough recipes, and they are pretty tasty! I made these sourdough rolls one day, and they didn’t last long, I can tell you! It was the first time I baked them in a cast iron pan, and I decided I need to pul them out of the oven a couple minutes sooner, because that cast iron holds heat for a long time, so they continue baking after they are out of the oven.

What are ya’ll doing today, I wonder? Anyone else staying close to the fire? 😉

 

January Ramblings – and a story about a cow.

snow drift by barn

The deer that live in town!

The deer that live in town!

January is nearly over – can you believe it?

I can. And I’ll tell you why: we haven’t seen the ground by our house since November! 😀 We live in a place that takes winter very seriously. We have drifts upon drifts, and if the temperature reaches 25* it is a warm day! horses in snow

My view on my way to workout!

My view on my way to workout!


I got stuck twice, so far – in ONE DAY! Yuck. I hate getting stuck, but even more so when someone other than my husband has to pull me out. (both times!) But there is no way you are digging out in these rock hard drifts. When you get stuck, you get stuck!dodge stuck in snow

The view from my kitchen window!

The view from my kitchen window!

I have been driving the 4 miles to my neighbor’s place to exercise each day. Well, Monday – Saturday as long as I am at home and the roads are 4WD-passable! I have missed some days in January. My oldest daughter started going with me, so that is nice.

 

...when you walk 'down' to the porch that is 3 steps off the ground!

…when you walk ‘down’ to the porch that is 3 steps off the ground!

We are blessed to have a small woodstove in our living room. I try to keep it blazing at all times. But in the afternoon, I go in my bedroom to write and forget all about the fire. Somehow the kids don’t think of putting wood on, either! Sometimes I sit right beside the stove to write, because it is so toasty and warm, and I still let it go out! This is what happens when I write. :)

woodstove

Last week my husband went to Billings, Montana. He was attending the Ranching For Profit school. It is a full week, and covers topics such as grazing techniques, employee relationships, profit margins, etc. This outfit we’re on sent him there, as they do for all new hires. People who implement those principles seem to really like the results.
While he was gone, I took the kids and drove to Colorado to visit some friends. I visited my Romanian friend, and she served me some of her homemade tomato preserves. I think she said  it has tomatoes, peppers, and… squash? I forget the third ingredient. Anyways. It is not sweet, just a mild-flavored vegetable spread. She served it on toast. She also served a sweet homemade bread that was yummy. The swirl was ground up walnuts, cardamom, and rum. I asked her 3 times what it was called, but I already forget. (I’m so bad at forgetting foreign words!) romanian vegetable spreadRomanian sweet bread

I have been buzzing my son’s hair since he was 2 years old. But recently he asked me to cut it more… well, stylish. And I tried. But it was sad. And I appreciate a good haircut, so I started taking him to the hair salon. They call it a ‘gentleman’s cut’, and it looks amazing. Totally worth the money!

I could be prejudiced, won't deny that.

I could be prejudiced, won’t deny that.

Meanwhile, my baby is growing up (insists she’ll be 35 soon, “just like you, mom!”) 😀 but she still loves cuddles and hugs.my baby girl

 

I went to a friend’s store while I was in CO, and loaded up on fruits & veggies. I LOVE veggies! stirfry and avocadofruit

Then i undo the good of the veggies with my mug cakes! They flopped.

Then I undo the good of the veggies with my mug cakes! They flopped, by the way. But I plopped some cool whip on top and hey! still yummy!

So let me tell you a story about living on a ranch…
Our lane is pretty narrow, and the cows like to stand on it, for some unfathomable reason. Well, one night I was driving home from town, and it was dark. I honked the horn at the cows, and drove slowly through them. Some went off the lane into the field. But there is a ditch between lane & field, and they do not like to cross it. Understandably, because hey – I wouldn’t enjoy wallowing in snow up to my belly either! But still. Get off the road you crazy cows! Anyways, so they all moved to the side of the lane, and I drove slowly past. As I passed the last cow, she decided too late to switch directions. She swung her hindquarters around and her hip bone caught the back corner of my Suburban and left a big ole dent! I looked in the rearview, and she went scampering off, the bugger.  I mean, it’s not like my rig is that precious; it has major hail damage, 230,000 miles, and the 4WD no longer works. But still. Get off the road, you ornery cow!

Hard to get a pic with a cell phone after dark.

Hard to get a pic with a cell phone after dark.

 

Well, that’s about it for my January ramblings. Hope you’re staying warm and cozy! :)

 

My Favorite Winter Clothing.

Elk Mountain in winterAfter 10 years of Wyoming winters, I have finally figured out some clothing that makes life much easier for this southern gal! 😀 I realized that one major reason I hated winter was because I didn’t own the right clothing. My family spent some winters in the Midwest, even spent half of a winter in northern Idaho – but we never really owned quality clothing for the season. Most winters we spent in the sunny south, and it didn’t seem worth it, I guess. But when we moved here, my husband insisted that we invest in good winter clothing. So we did. Here are my favorites!

My Favorite Winter Clothing

Coat. The piercing winds in this great state will fly right through anything woven! I finally found my dream coat: Woolrich’s down parka. I found mine on sale one year during Black Friday, and it was the best winter clothing purchase I have ever made. I couldn’t find the exact same coat, but this one is similar.

Gloves. I won a giveaway from my friend over at ‘From the Corner of the Circle L’ for a pair of Stormy Kromer mittens. They may not be great if you need dexterity, but for just being outdoors, they’re wonderful! I wear mine nearly every day. Once they wear out (which doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon!), I will buy another pair. (these say ‘mens’, but you can buy other colors if you like) Would you like a code for 20% off SK gear?!! Message me! aranchmom at gmail dot com

Boots. I found my first pair of Muck boots at a thrift store for $10.00! They lasted for 6 years. 😉 When those wore out, my husband bought me a tall pair for Christmas. These are seriously amazing boots! They come up close to to my knee, and the top is snug-fitting, so they keep snow out! I walk through waist deep snow (yes, literally!) and no snow falls inside. Yay! 😀 We bought Muck or Bogs boots for every member of the family. Except the littlest. She has a knock-off version since she is growing so fast! All the other kids have the real deal. Totally worth it. I like that my kids can go outside to do chores and play, without worrying if their feet are too cold.

Ear-warmer. I won a cute little fleece ear-warmer from a friend online, and it gets worn a lot. Several times a week, usually. I can’t find that online seller anymore, but Amazon has some similar styles.

Wild rag. A traditional piece of cowboy gear, the wild rag is essential for keeping those icy drafts off my neck! I love winding a soft silk rag around my neck and tying it snug. It’s amazing how much warmer you are when you wear a wild rag! And, they are soft and never chafe. Just be sure to get a silk one. Polyester is ok, but for the softest, most wonderful feeling – stick with silk.


So there you have it! What is your favorite winter clothing?

If you are a maker or seller, please feel free to leave your website or store info in the comments!

winter clothing

winter clothing

Our house gets pounded with blizzard winds.

Aspens in snow

January Snowstorm

snow covered log barn

“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations,

but look what they can do when they stick together!”


The snow started last night and kept right on falling all through today. It is still snowing, even though night has fallen and all the children are tucked in bed. I think we have over a foot of snow, not counting the drifts. Of course, there were drifts and several inches already here – but now the lowest spots are still over a foot deep! drifted snow

Today I spent 6 hours decluttering, sorting, and organizing my house. When I was finished, I bundled up and went outside with my camera. It was my reward for a hard job well-done. I walked down past the barns and corrals, down to the horse pasture. I walked through the ditch, and the snow was up to my waist! I snapped some photos of the horses for my online gallery. It was fun to get some fresh air and some good pictures. I really enjoy  taking time to indulge my creative side! :) paint horse in snow

horse muzzle

I opened my online gallery this week, and to celebrate, I am offering 15% off when you use the code WELCOME. The sale only goes till January 7, though, so hurry over and check it out!

You can buy prints or ready-to-hang wall art, like canvases. Or you can buy digital downloads that you may print yourself.
Check it out here—>  ~Kay Schrock Photography~

red barn door in snow

While these storms rage – for there have been several – my husband feeds the cows and works in the shop. But me and the children, we stay warm and cozy beside the fire inside our little house. When the children are finished with their schoolwork, they get out books to read and games to play. Sometimes they play Chess or Candyland. Sometimes they draw pictures or write stories. Sometimes they watch Netflix shows like “CHOPPED” or “Dick Van Dyke”. We drink hot tea and eat thick slices of homemade bread, slathered in butter and crabapple jelly. It is all quite cozy and satisfactory.

Hot coals in a wood stove

A good bed of coals in our stove.

Horse herd in snow

I hope wherever you live, wherever you call home, is as cozy and sweet as it can be. May your winter be warmer than ours, but if not, may your stove be warm and your hearts full of love.

horses in snow

“So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!”
― John Greenleaf Whittier