31 Days of Ranch Life: Escapees

Sometimes (or often if your ranch is graced with legitimately antique barbed wire, like ours is), life on a ranch means dealing with escapees–occasionally, the grass really is greener on the other side! Sometimes, though, I think some cows just get the itch to travel.

Orrrrr someone runs a car through the fence and doesn’t tell you, but that’s for another day.

For instance, Smoky here has been visiting the neighbors’ front yard on a regular basis. We’ve fixed the hole where she gets out, but when a calf has a mind to take a tour of the neighborhood, a barbed wire fence won’t stop them, no matter how good it is! Thankfully, most calves are content staying with their mothers.

Smoky knows she doesn’t belong in the neighbors’ yard, though, because all you have to do is get out of your car and holler at her to go home and she runs right back (through the fence) to the pasture with her mother. What a gal!

smoky

Weekend Ranch Life

This weekend, we celebrated my niece’s sixth birthday at her cowgirl-themed birthday party, complete with s’mores (sign made by my sis-in-law, isnt it the cutest?!) and potato-sack races.  Photo credits to the same sister-in-law :)

smores

pt sack

fire

I made some cinnamon banana bread, mostly so I could pretend I was letting the bananas rot on top of the fridge for a reason. And also because who doesn’t love banana bread?!?

bread

Can we talk about this wreath? My momma saw this one from a Friday Favorites post, and of course found this gorgeous wreath for 70% off (because that’s how she rolls) and scooped it up for me because she’s the best. Add a wooden letter “J” from my sis-in-law (who got married last year and so her initials changed), and it’s pretty much awesome. My front door feels so Martha right now.

wreath

My darling husband indulged by crafting tendencies and helped me gather up so many pinecones. I can’t wait for a little holiday crafting!!!

pinecones

We had to pick up some heifers that the ranch let a local arena lease for the weekend, I think they were happy to be home :)

trailer

cows

I have no idea what’s on tap for next week–we don’t wean any more calves until the week after next, so who knows! At home, I’m hoping (of course) to make more headway on our bedroom, and to do a little holiday planning. We host Thanksgiving every year, so I want to make this year even better, and I want to make our last Christmas as parents of canine-only children to be a memorable and relaxed one. Plus, I know that this year is likely my last year for awhile that I’ll be able to craft to my heart’s content, so I want to get a few holiday decorations done early. And, of course, elf-ing, because I love buying Christmas gifts! If I get them early, I’m less likely to overspend and to be overwhelmed by my to-do list come December.

This leaves more time for my honey, snuggling next to the woodstove, baking for friends and family and generally soaking up the last little bit of being just us. But, we’re so excited! Less than four months (!!!!!!!!) to go!

Also, I’m waiting for this little (big!) baby to arrive! I’ve been on the hunt for a big, colorful planner to keep life straight in 2015, with plenty of extra room for my notes, lists and scribbles–I’ve always got something brewing! I blame Pinterest. In the past, I’ve loved Vera Bradley planners, but I haven’t had one for several years and was dismayed to see that they changed the design, and not for the better. This is depressing, because I’m a devoted Vera fan! But, after a search, I think this Lilly Pulitzer agenda fits the bill. Plus, bonus! It starts n August 2014. Helllooooo instant gratification.

agenda

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This weekend, we’ve got a birthday party, a dinner date, and I’m hoping to work on our bedroom. The weather’s gorgeous, and I’m using all the restraint I can muster to not jump full-tilt into holiday prep, because we’re officially halfway through October!

…but I recognize that holiday burn-out is sort of a thing, so I’ll just get excited when November rolls around :)

Favorite Quote/Theme/Etc: Preach, Confucious! Because I’m going for slow and steady on everything these days.

confucious

Favorite Inspire: White Bedroom. Specifically, the lack of foot board. Obviously, I’m in full bedroom-makeover mode. I’ve always had a footboard, but since we got our new mattress, we don’t have one, and for awhile I was convinced that it wasn’t going to work. But, pictures like this one give me hope. With the right bedding, a long bedskirt and a pretty headboard, who needs a foot board anyways? I LOVE the bench idea, too.

bedroom

Favorite Sparkle: Glitter Baseball Tee. I live in baseball tees (when not pregnant–have you SEEN how much they charge for maternity baseball tees?), and glitter makes everything better.

glitter

Favorite Sweet Tooth Fix Before 10am: Cinnamon Rolls. Do I really need to say anything about these??

cinnamon rolls

Favorite Do-I-Have-To-Have-Kids-To-Do-This? No? Good: Jack-O-Lantern Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. We’re (okay, Bert is) having grown-up grilled cheese for dinner tonight, but I’m a grilled cheese purist, so these might make an appearance. Because they’re awesome, and I like playing with my food, and it’ll give me good practice for when I need to break these out for a more age-appropriate crowd. Right? Right!

grilled cheese

Favorite Speaking of Kids: These onesies come in 12-month sizes, don’t worry. It’s all I can do to not buy one for next year so we’re ready! But that’s kind of weird. Isn’t it?

Filthy animal

Favorite Fuzzy: Dog in Overalls. I’m not into dressing up dogs (except bowtie collars! Those things are so cute! But they would last about .351784 minutes at my house), but come. on. This dog even looks a little like Jay…and we’ll probably dress up for Halloween next year…

overalls dog

Favorite Photos: Colorized Historical Photos. This is seriously cool–pictures that were taken in black and white have been made color. It further cements my opinion that Albert Einstein was a pretty cool guy.

in color

Favorite Inspire #2: Door Headboard. See? In full bedroom-renovation mode, here. This is what I’m going to do with our green door. Except I’m not sure about the molding or the pictures–having picture frames falling on my face in the night freaks me out. Or a tree branch in the eye.

headboard

Favorite To-Try: Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta. My darling husband loves pesto, and I usually use it to make a pesto pasta primavera, with chicken and all kinds of vegetables. But, I think I’m going to try this bad boy, because no bell peppers, which are still part of my food aversions when in a dish with chicken. Go figure.

pesto

Favorite Indulge: Cranberry Bliss Bars. I’m not part of the Pumpkin Spice Latte crew as far as Starbucks is concerned, but I do love these. Except my lack of proximity to a Starbucks and my cheapness makes it somewhat prohibitive to buy these. So, make ‘em! This is my favorite recipe.

cranberry bliss bars

Favorite Gift Idea: Speaking of indulge, I love this treat box idea. Spiced nuts, chocolate pretzels, puppy chow–these might take the place of cookie boxes this year! Maybe. If I can manage that level of fanciness.

treat boxes

Favorite Fitness: Lean Legs Challenge. I love this little routine! I’m not exactly doing the challenge, but I’m trying to do  at least the Day 6 level four or five days a week. I throw in some curtsy lunges, too.

egs

Favorite DIY: Faux-Fur Rug. This is the rug I’m making for Junior’s room. It’s washable, folks! #1 criteria at our house.

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Favorite Holiday DIY: Pinecone garland. I’m thinking twine, or ribbon, some glitter, I may substitute something else for the snowflakes, but I’ve already scoped out my pinecone source and asked permission to pillage it from the guy that lives there. I love Christmas la la la sorry I’m not sorry!!!

pinecones

31 Days of Ranch Life: Evening Walk

I’ve had to switch my walks to the evening, because it doesn’t get light early enough to squeeze in a walk before work. This evening, Early and his momma were right  by the pasture gate!

He looks just like her (and his Daddy! He’s in the background) now.

like momma

mollymolly and early

Duckie had to try and catch some ducks. She thinks she can catch anything. She is very fast, but doesn’t quite understand that sometimes she’s not the fastest. 

duckie

Things That Duckie Thinks She Can Catch:
1. Deer
2. Elk
3. Pronghorn
4. Ducks
5. Geese
6. Pelicans
7. Buzzards
8. Coyotes
Things That Duckie Can Catch:
1. Gaucho.

It was pretty out:

trees

sunset

31 Days of Ranch Life: October 15th

Yesterday, we worked cows at a part of the ranch I’ve never been to before! It’s about 40 miles away from our house, but I hope we can go back there soon because I want to explore and take pictures.

We were very busy, so I didn’t have time to stop and take pictures while we were working cows–we were vaccinating and pouring and pulling lots of blood samples and trying to get a good inventory and go as fast as possible, and I can’t multitask when numbers are involved. I tried to get a picture of a calf the guys doctored for pinkeye, but it didn’t turn out. Pinkeye is very contagious and can lead to blindness, and I would assume it itches like the dickens, just like in humans! We give them medicine, and then put a patch over their eye using a special glue so it stays clean and heals faster, and to help contain it so the rest of the herd doesn’t get it. The glue wears off gradually, and then the patch will just come off. The best patch material? Old jeans! Once we had a cow with double pinkeye, and we weren’t sure what to do, but we patched both eyes and she got around just fine!

I did snap this picture on the way out–this is what’s left of a dam that broke in the 1930s and completely flooded Denver! Everything in the foreground and up the canyon for miles used to be underwater. And then the dam broke, and there was no more water. Because it was in Denver. Sorry, Denver!

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31 Days of Ranch Life: Fah Fah Fah Freeezah

Today was another day working with numbers–I’m working on getting weaning in the computer. Buuuuuut that’s not exciting, and I did not take any pictures. Of my computer. Sometimes ranch life isn’t too exciting–I entered weaning, Bert dug post holes.

Womp womp.

But, the ranch isn’t all about work! This week, my home projects are working on our bedroom–I can’t wait to show you!!–and starting my collection of freezer recipes to make this winter in preparation for Junior’s arrival. Here’s what I’ve found so far–do you have any favorites?

Oh and laundry. That’s not technically a home “project,” but it needs to happen.

Freezer meals are tough for me, because a lot of them fall under the casserole/meat bake category, or are smothered in cheese, and that’s never been my favorite kind of food. Also I hate it when you can tell something’s been frozen. I like to think I have a discerning palate, but I suspect that I’m just picky. Just ask my mommy :) But there are plenty of make-ahead and freeze options for food that sounds appetizing, and I know I’ll be glad to have these in our freezer come oh, the middle of February.

This baked tortellini looks perfect for a pop-in-the-oven comfort food, which I already know I’ll be thrilled to have in the freezer!

tortellini

The Pioneer Woman has never steered me wrong, and these lasagna rollups look fabulous. Man-pleasin’, and freezer-ready!

rollups

We have these potstickers at least once a month (usually I do ground pork, though), and they freeze really well! I like that I can freeze them in a huge batch and then put them in a bag, and just pull out as many as I need. We usually eat with the PW’s Simple Sesame Noodles. 

potstickers

Another two of our favorite recipes are this Kung Pao chicken and this orange chicken–we had the orange chicken last night! My plan for these is to pre-make and freeze the sauces, and cube the chicken and freeze it in advance, and package it all together! Once that’s all done, you just have to throw it all in a skillet or wok and let it do its thing. I usually service with white rice, which I can cook automatically in my rice cooker, and some snow peas or broccoli.

kung paao

orange chicken

These are along the same lines as the potstickers–they’re like wonton pizzas! Sign me up. Maybe not for dinner, but perfect for lunch.

Photos for Return To Sunday Supper

We must gravitate towards Asian flavors, but that’s okay, right? Plus, I find the sauces freeze pretty well. This beef and broccoli is definitely on the list!

beef and broc

Another from the Pioneer Woman–this is my go-to when one of us is sick. I add many, many noodles because I’m not the biggest soup fan, so it really is more chicken-and-noodles-y than regular chicken noodle soup.

noodles chick

31 Days of Ranch Life: Weekend Snapshots

cake

monogram

trees

domain

chair

bebe

We had a wonderful low-key weekend (at least I did, Bert had to do a little cow gathering in the mornings, which I’m exempt from since no riding for me), complete with birthday cake (this recipe is wonderful! I use Joy the Baker’s cake flour substitute for extra fluffiness, and obviously double the icing) and going into town for Bert’s birthday dinner.

I did a little crafting–I’m working on our bedroom, and this is just the beginning, just wait!–and a little walking, of course.

Duckie kept watch over her domain and barked at things like hay bales and birds.

I found the Craigslist deal of the century, and started reading Bringing Up Bebe, which I can’t put down. I’m not into parenting books, really, they just freak me out, but this gal gets me, I think. When I’m done I’ll do a review!

I also apparently forgot to post yesterday, but sometimes you just gotta go with it.

31 Days of Ranch Life: Birthdays on the Ranch and Being Married to a Cowboy

In honor of my main man’s birthday today, I’m writing a post today about birthdays on the ranch, and what it’s like being married to a cowboy.

Bert weddingBert and Asa

I’d love to write a whole post about all of his excellent qualities, complete with poems and pictures, but it would embarrass the living daylights out of him (and not in an endearing, oh-gosh-you-shouldn’t-have kind of way, more like a remove-that-post-now-you’re-nutty kind of way) so I won’t.

Not directly, anyways.

He’s a low-key guy, so we usually do low-key birthdays. This year, his big gift was from me and his parents–a new pair of shotgun chaps. But they arrived early, so he’s already been wearing them for a few weeks, womp womp. But, I’m glad because he loves them and we’ve had some chilly days. And three inches of rain yesterday. London, you can take your weather back anytime.

This morning, we had chocolate donuts with sprinkles for breakfast, and I surprised him with a few little presents–a new rope, and some books by Dr. Ben Green–because you just can’t have a birthday without a little surprise! I also made him his favorite cake–German Chocolate–which doesn’t get made much because it’s got three layers and uses something like six or seven bowls, and always makes my kitchen look like a toddler ran amok.

Which, someday, will happen. Saints preserve us.

Amok! Amok amok amok amok! Ten points if you can name the movie.

 What to Expect (and Know) When You Are Married to a Cowboy
(disclaimer: cowboys/ranchers/etc. are people, so they’re all different. But from the last two years of marriage, and almost four of living together on ranches, this is what I have found to be generally true)

1. Don’t expect him to have weekends off. 
The grand, vast majority of the time, we have Sundays off, and I almost always have Saturdays. He usually works on Saturdays, but tries to come home early. It’s his day to catch up on little things that didn’t get done during the week, or get some cows moved around in preparation for next week. However, sometimes working cows has to fall on a Saturday, so you just say okay! Gals, if you’re missing your fella on the weekends, you have two options: a) go with him! Even if you’re not ranch-y, I’m sure he’d love the company. We’ve had tons of fun loading in the truck with a couple of sodas and some chips to put out salt or check on cows. or b) embrace a husband-less house, if you’re like me and like to get things cleaned and organized when no one else is around because cleaning turns you into a tyrant and it’s best for all involved if you’re alone :)

2. You are always on something else’s time. 
I don’t say someone’s, because we’re all really on the animals’ time. This took a lot of getting used to for me, but in the end, it’s sort of the job description. There have been many times when we’re getting ready to go to dinner, or about to eat, or relaxing watching a movie when we get a call or a visitor telling us a) cows are out b) something is sick/hurt c) there’s some other kind of problem. Like they drove through a fence. Sometimes things can wait, but sometimes you have to stop what you’re doing, or turn back around, and go get cows off the road so old Mrs. Peterson doesn’t hit one again, or MacGyver a solution to get barbed wire unwrapped from a steer’s foot with nothing but your pickup and some twine, and your wife is no help because you were on your way to town and she’s wearing tiny flats, for heaven’s sake. This has happened, and it was awesome, and we even made our dinner reservation!

Our rule, though is that cows/horses/dogs take a backseat to human births, deaths and nuptials, an some milestones, except in cases of life-threatening emergency on both ends.

3. There are certain times of the year when you feel like he’s never home. Because he isn’t.
This is not because he doesn’t love you anymore, or because he wants to be gone all day. It’s because it’s a busy season and he has animals and other people relying on him. These times can be true at weaning, when there’s a lot of work to do, but especially at calving, and especially if there’s a storm. Calves are dependent upon him to stay alive, and their mothers are sometimes dependent on him to deliver the calf, so that’s going to be his priority for awhile. Again, go with him! Even if you’ve never done it, he’ll be grateful for the help and you’ll love to see all the baby calves. Bring cookies, and you’ve just won yourself some major points, my friend.

4. Jeans. You will go through them. Rapidly. Also shirts. He will disintegrate them faster than you thought possible. Causes and reasons for these phenomena are unknown.
No matter what brand he wears, you should probably just take out stock in the company because you’re about to contribute a whole lot to their bottom line. I can’t even tell you how it happens. But I can tell you the Wrangler has a couple of mail-in rebate sales each year that we anticipate greatly because you can save a pile and feel like you’re sticking it to the man.

5. Vet supplies–bovine, equine, canine, feline, porcine–you name it. They’ll be everywhere.
This includes (unopened) needles and syringes in the wash, in his pockets, in his sock drawer, in your sock drawer, in every vehicle and coat that either one of you owns, and likely in every room of the house. It also likely includes veterinary penicillin in your refrigerator, oxytetracycline in your laundry room, boluses everywhere, and Resflor on his dresser. It’s okay. And, humans can take oxytet (an antibiotic) in a pinch, just in case you didn’t know. Just drink it! Apparently it’s awful.

6. He will spend ungodly amounts of money on leather and silver goods.
This includes, but is not limited to: boots, chaps, saddles, bridles, bits and spurs. However, he uses these things every day, while he’s working hard, and they last a very long time. And, it makes the price tag on your favorite pair of boots (or purse–purses are like saddlebags, right??) much more justifiable. And who knows, maybe you will also accumulate your own collection of saddles, headstalls, chinks, boots and spurs yourself, if you’re lucky (double luck if you have a father-in-law or other friend/relation who does leather work!).

This also goes for hats. But, he’ll look so handsome when he wears one that you won’t mind at all.

7. Pickups. You’ll have ‘em.
So, learn to drive one. They’re big and fun and can fit all kinds of things in the bed. Like furniture. On a whim.

8. Dirt. It’ll be everywhere.
It’s okay. I don’t judge, and neither does anyone else who understands that you live in your house and that even Swiffer doesn’t make anything spiffy enough to keep up on the dirt all the time.

9. He’s doing what he loves.
So, it helps if you love it, too. You certainly don’t have to love all of it (because I guarantee he doesn’t, either), but finding your favorite things will make life easier and better for the both of you. You’ll find something, it’s hard not to. It’s also hard not to get sucked in when someone is so passionate about something. Also, baby calves. Also, baby horses. Also, baby bunnies.

10. His co-workers are more than that.
These guys have each other’s backs in dangerous and stressful situations. They’re a team. They spend long hours together, doing hard work that they love, and will help each other out. That might mean that his Saturday is spent helping another guy doctor calves, or fix his pens, or work some heifers. I am so grateful that Bert has such excellent coworkers, because it makes things so much more fun, and less stressful, for the both of us.

Get to know them! They’re nice, and pretty fun! Don’t be the bee-yatchy wife who never comes out of the house. Unless they show up randomly, and you are wearing your bathrobe and look like a swamp beast because it’s not even sunrise yet. Then, feel free to stay inside!!! This doesn’t mean you have to show up everywhere with cookies and covered dishes, but if you do, call me, because I would love a cookie right now. Or maybe six. Six cookies.

11. Expect that sometimes, he’ll smell…unique.
When your husband/SO/person is involved with animals, outside, working physically, outside, in close contact with animals, and their poop (and more!), sometimes it’s better if he takes off his clothes off in the mudroom. Or outside. Unless you have neighbors. Then the mudroom is a good option. Straight into the washer. This is not for clandestine encounters, or gettin’ a little somethin-somethin. It’s for ohmyheavenswhatisthatsmell. And unidentified crusts, stains and bloodstains.

A tip: sometimes, the dumpster is the best option. For the clothes. Not the husband.

11b. Expect that sometimes, you will see stains on clothes, blankets, sheets, towels, the floor…
…and you will have no idea whatsoever what it is, but suspect it is mammal-based. Go with it. Simple Green dissolves anything, and when in doubt, grab some bleach. They sell it by the gallon! For cheap!

12. Mustache wax is a thing.
Don’t run it through the dryer.

13. Expect to learn how to cook with beef, if you don’t already.
Because you’re probably going to get at least a half a beef every year as part of his paycheck or for a discounted price. Mosey on over to the Pioneer Woman’s website. She’ll hook you up!

14. Expect that you’ll love him more than anything
Because I bet he’s a pretty cool guy. Even if he smells a little funky sometimes :)

31 Days of Ranch Life: Fall, the Schedule, and More Cowbell

I haven’t had much to post the last couple of days, so I didn’t. I’m working on getting some more cow data entered today, which is just fine with me because the weather is icky, and I’m happy being inside, sipping tea and entering preg check information into the database! Fall is here, finally, I think! The trees have started to change, and the turkeys are out full throttle. Well, the turkeys are always out, but they’re kind of a fall, bird right??

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So, what’s going on right now at the ranch? We gave pre-weaning vaccinations yesterday to our last big group of calves, and we’ll wean them fully in two more weeks. After that, we have one more small group of a hundred cows or so to preg check, and then we’ll wean their calves and fall work will be done! In the meantime, the hay is getting picked up off of the pastures and stacked in in stackyards and barns, so it’s ready to feed this winter.

When we’re done with preg-checking and weaning, the guys will all try and find time to work on their barns and pens and do some fence maintenance while the weather is still relatively good, so that everything will be ready when calving starts. We also have to bangs vaccinate the heifers in December or so (for brucellosis, a contagious reproductive disease that results in late-term abortions), and get the cows sorted into their calving groups by due date. Our heifers are due to calve around January 1st this year (why we calve early), so I bet we’ll have some Christmas babies! Stock Show is also in January, and then I’ll be at home, entering calving information and helping where I can until Junior is born in February.

After that, no plans, because even though I’m a first-calver, I know better than how to predict how life is going to go with a kiddo.

Coming up tomorrow: commercial vs. registered cattle. I’ve never super-duper explained it, and since I spend many of my days working on data for our registered herd, I’d better do some ‘splainin. Also on deck: my favorite pregnancy must-haves, our current horse population, and what being married to a cowboy looks like.

And to leave you, on this misty October Thursday, here are some of the boss’ daughters show cows–the ranch has an intern that has been coming back for years that is now basically part of their family, and he’s Swiss. So, here are some very American cows with Swiss cowbells. I love ‘em! You can hear them when they walk around, and it’s kind of a cool sound to hear in the middle of nowhere.

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