Friday Favorites: May 15th

It’s Friday! Normally, I don’t care what day of the week it is–my job is laid back and enjoyable enough that I don’t dread the work week. This week, though, Saturday cannot come soon enough, because this momma needs a nap.

I’m vacillating  between attempting to be productive this weekend (ie air out all the rugs, vaccuum all the nooks and crannies, soak the driveway in grasskiller) and doing nothing at all (ie naps). Talk to me after I’ve had a Starbucks this afternoon (I have to run to town anyways, you’d better bet I’m loading up on the caff while I’m there!

This week’s Friday Favorites has no rhyme or reason. It just Is.

Favorite Sentiment: Empathy Cards. I hate cards. In fact, I almost never buy them. I try to make them homemade with pop-ups and whatnot, or I just eschew them altogether because a) I’m just not a card person b) The good ones are so PRICEY c) I hate the guilt of throwing them away because I feel like I should save every card, but don’t really want to and d) they never say exactly what I mean to say. Hence the making them myself. These cards, though, while for a sad reason (cancer) are genius.


Favorite Fabric: Slub Velvet Curtains. I’ve had it uptohere with our bedroom curtains, and have been toying with several ideas. I really like these, but am I really a velvet girl? Maybe not. Maybe I like the idea of these, but not really these. You know? Oh, you do? Please explain it to me, because I don’t.


Favorite Indulge: Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Graham Crackers. Now, these are something I’m positive that I like the idea of, as well as liking them for themselves. Also, I’m pretty sure these bad boys just got added to my to-do list for this weekend.


Favorite Grown-Up Drinks: Mojitos. This is one of my favorite drinks because it’s got water in it, so I don’t feel like a dried-out starfish when I drink a couple. Plus, mint. Mmmmmhmmmm! On another note: maybe one thing I should really do is like, plant something. Like mint.


Favorite Inspire: Big Photographs. Home decor has fallen completely by the wayside since, you know, giving birth. But, I’m itching to finish our bedroom, and I need a black-and-white picture for the living room, too. Enter this idea. I could maybe dig this.


Favorite On My To-Read List: Pig Tales. I like to read semi-hippie books every now and then, and farrowing crates make me sad. Plus, it says “omnivore” on the front, which is what I am, so I know I’ll at least connect with something in the book. It’s brand-new, so as soon as my lib gets it, I’m going to give it a whirl.

pig book

Favorite Fashion: Bell-Sleeved Blouse. I really like this. I can’t really explain it, and the jury’s out about whether I could actually pull it off. But, I just like it.

pink shirt

Favorite Bling: Three-Stone Ring. I also really like this, but unlike the blouse above, I can totally explain it. It’s sparkly, vintage-y and a little different, plus I want to add another band to my engagement ring/wedding band ensemble. Plus, sparkly.


Favorite Favorite: 23 Perfect Words. Read this! It will make you feel more connected to the world knowing that someone has finally put words to the way that you feel. My favorites are sonder, jouska, adroitis and liberosis.


Favorite Food: Steak Tips with Caramelized Onions. I just got a notice that our half of beef is ready to be picked up at the meat locker, and so I’m all about that beef, bout that beef, no chicken. Actually yes chicken because I love it. Except plain old grilled chicken breast because dry dry dry. Anyways. I’m also on the hunt for more grilling recipes, because summer is coming (I think) and that means oven is too hot. I picked up all the ingredients for this bad boy at the grocery, I’ll let you know how it goes!

steak tips

Favorite Mama+Mini: Graphic Tees. I can’t explain why I love this so much, but it’s so true. Except the sippy cup part, we’re not quite there yet. This is how I felt this morning, buuuuut I don’t like to wear yoga pants or leggings to the office.


Favorite Truth: Vocab. Never, ever underestimate good vocabulary. Not just for seductive purposes, but for life! I’ve found that people take me much more seriously if I’m eloquent. I’ve picked up some poor habits in the way of vocabulary over the last couple of years, but I’m trying to clean my act up since Wacey’s going to be talking sooner than later and I’d like to set a good example for him.


Favorite All-Ages Beverage: Watermelon Lemonade. Watermelon + lemonade, what’s not to love?? Also it’s pink.


Favorite “Happening!!!!”: Basketweave Curtains. After seeing these, I have decided I am very much not a velvet girl, at least where this project is concerned. I plan on putting these over the white chiffon curtains that are already in there. I’m thinking dove grey jersey. It’s going to be sweet. I can feel it. Whenever it happens, like in five years. *sigh*


Bubba is asleep on the couch, so I think I’m going to attempt to bully myself into doing some T25. I vehemently HATE DVD workouts alone, but I also vehemently hate my muffin top.

Ah, life. On another note, no husband around to judge my tv choices+windy weather (so have to stay inside with ze bebe)=lots of couch snuggle time for momma and baby=binge-watching True Blood (I have to watch these grown-up shows before he knows words, ha).

My algorithm skills are truly impressive. I know it.


I feel like we’ve been going a million miles an hour lately, probably due to the fact that the ranch is busy busy and Wacey’s decided to switch his schedule up on us. Last week was definitely a Wonder Week–awkward eating, no naps, waking up more at night, and even though we’re back sleeping all night and having good naps, he’s decided that six in the morning is his new wake-up time, and that’s just a little rough on me because I haven’t quite adjusted (read: I’m addicted to Steig Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy so I’ve been going to bed much too late). But, it’s waaaay better than last week!

And let me tell you, little bubba is a growing boy! We’re running out of clothes in a hurry and his little cheekies are getting so fat!

Me and the bubs are snuggled up together on the couch, about to put on a movie because man, I can’t do reality TV and I’m pretty sure that’s all that’s on. I tried to watch a bunch of the shows I see commercials for, but no cigar. I’m not feeling the hype about Kylie (right?) Jenner’s lips, or a bunch of drunk southerners, or families with 10+ kids, etc. Walker, Texas Ranger is more my speed :)

Bert’s gone at the Bell Ranch in New Mexico, so I’m flying solo for a couple of nights. So far, so good. I might even have some ice cream with sprinkles in a minute!

When we get busy, I find myself with a huge backlog of pictures on my various devices. So, here’s what life has been like these last couple of weeks, according to my cell.

wrapThis is how we roll when we have to go down to the barn to help breed cows. Notice that we’ve switched from the newborn carry–he’s too big for that now!

ugh roadsThe rain last week was unbelievable. Our roads were a hot mess. Or, rather, a cold, wet mess.

danAnd a dam broke. It was lovely. 

roadIt washed out the ranch road…

fish...and some poor fishies. Sorry, guys :(

fishingBut, this guy found the humor in the situation and decided to “fish” in the “lake.”

sleepAgain, this is how we roll. At bedtime. Currently, he’s sleeping in a pose that suggests that he’s been watching salsa dancing on the down low.

phoneI met the guys in town for lunch one day, and Bert was sitting with Wacey and had to answer the phone, and this is the result. HA.

gasThis week’s triumphant accountant moment–diesel for $2 a gallon! Safeway has the best rewards right now, and so I got a bunch off at the pump after grocery shopping. Filling up the pickup for less than $100? Okie doke.

fitbitBert asked what I wanted for my first Mother’s Day; I wanted to sleep in, have Pizza Hut for dinner (I LOVE pizza but we never get it because we live in the middle of nowhere so it’s a treat!) and a Fitbit to help me get back in shape, and he delivered on all three, what a guy :) I slept until 10:30, had pizza and breadsticks for dinner and have this bad boy to help keep me on track.

Wacey James: 3 Months


Age: 3 months
Representative Song of the Month:  “Happy,” or “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie, because he’s seriously the happiest guy. He’s always smiling and laughing, it’s just the cutest.

Stats: He didn’t have a doctor’s appointment this month, but he’s weighing at least 12 pounds, is in all 0-3 month clothes, and we moved him up to a Level 2 nipple for his bottles and he loves them. He’s also working on rolling over–he can do it, but it takes a little bit. The first time he rolled over during tummy time, I was so excited that Bert thought something was wrong and came running down the hallway, haha.
Favorite Foods:  Milk.


Words/Sounds:  He’s “talking” so much now!! I keep trying to get a really good video of it, but he always knows when I have a camera out and just smiles instead. He also has very distinct cries now–the ones we hear mostly are “I’m hungry!” and “Pick me up and play with me and I will be happy forever.”There’s also this hilarious squawky, high-pitched wail he makes sometimes when he’s ravenous and you stop feeding him to burp him.

Favorite Activities: He just wants to be where we are! He loves his bouncy seat with the lights and sounds, and he loves his activity mat. Mostly, though, his favorite thing is being played with! He loves to sit up or stand up and just visit. Oh and stuffing his entire hand into his mouth when his pacifier just isn’t enough.
Favorite Things: Still loves his Wubbanub–I think the bull is his favorite–and really likes his toys that makes noise.


Least Favorite Activities: Being hungry, and feeling like he’s ignored, I suppose. That’s pretty much it.
Signature Moves: He smiles whenever you talk to him, wiggles like a crazy person, cracks up all the time, and throws up spectacularly and then smiles like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Ten Things Tuesday/Thursday: Ranch Rodeo

Edited to add: Of course this was supposed to be posted Tuesday, but I couldn’t get the pictures to load. So, Ten Things Thursday?

Happy Tuesday! We spent last weekend in Kim, Colorado for the first ranch rodeo of the season! We drove out with Thea, one of the guys’ wives, and their little boy, and it was a blast! It’s so nice to have someone my age to go to rodeos with. We stayed at the headquarters of another ranch in the company, the historic T.O. ranch near Raton, New Mexico. It was so cool! I’ve included some pictures of the bunkhouse, barn and scenery.










1. The whole premise of ranch rodeo events is to use skills cowboys use every day like roping, sorting, doctoring, branding, and cutting cattle, and riding bucking horses.


2. The only event that ranch rodeo shares with “regular” rodeo is bronc riding, but rather than a PRCA bronc saddle, ranch rodeo bronc riders use regular stock saddles like the ones they work in. Most don’t use their actual work saddle because if their bronc gets in a wreck, they don’t want their good work saddle to get ruined.

3. In addition to using their usual ranch saddles and horses for the events, the cowboys use their regular boots, spurs, chaps, etc. The only change is that they usually wear a matching team shirt, or a clean shirt at any rate!

4. The judges are horseback, and use flags to show when the time should stop, or if there’s a rule violation.



5. The rodeos we go to are sanctioned by the Working Ranch Cowboys Association, of which all the boys are members, and if you win a sanctioned rodeo, you get to go to the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo in the fall. I hope someday we’ll get to go!

6. Some rodeos are pretty simple events with just the rodeo, or a rodeo and a ranch horse show, and maybe a local band for a dance following the rodeo, but lots have a trade show and other competitions, too (I’m looking at you, Chuckwagon Cookoff), so they can be quite the event! They’re open to the public too, so you should go :) Some are one-day, others are two-day.

7. One reason ranch rodeos are so fun is that people who don’t often get together get to see each other and visit. It’s neat because there aren’t many events that get everyone off their ranches at one time, and everyone usually brings their families, so it makes for a good time.


8. In addition to awards/buckles/checks/etc for the winning team(s), there’s also awards for Top Horse and Top Hand for the best horse and the best cowboy.

9. All of the events are four-man team events except the bronc riding.

10. My favorite events are the wild cow milking and the sorting. The wild cow milking is just pretty hilarious to watch, and the sorting really showcases the horses. I know I should say that bronc riding is one of my favorites since my husband is the team’s bronc rider, but it makes me so nervous!!!




Friday Favorites: April 17th

 Edited to add: this was written last week and ready to be posted, but the snow seems to have knocked out our lovely satellite internet. So, after multiple calls to India and a nice visit with a man from Texas, someone will be out Friday to fix it. In the meantime, I’ll be writing offline and setting things to automatically post when I get to the office and have internet. Ah, the joys of rural living! 

Welcome to April in Colorado, where sometimes its 80 degrees and sometimes we get blizzards. Like actual, can’t-see-ten-feet, snow-blowing-sideways blizzards. Like right now. So, naturally, I’m thinking of summer and projects and, you know, repainting my living room.

This week has been pretty low-key so far. I’ve gotten caught up on my calf records at the office, Wacey’s been starting to get going on an actual routine, and Bert took us out for a surprise dinner date to our favorite restaurant last night, where Wacey was wonderful and charmed all the ladies.

…and he’s currently asleep. I’ll take it.

Without further ado, here’s this week of my internet-fueled hopes and dreams.

Favorite “Floral”: Potted Blueberries. This is something I can’t wait to try this summer! I’m going to put them on our back deck. Bert loves blueberries, and since these grow so nicely in pots, they’re perfect for this summer because a) I’m afraid of berry commitment/uprooting, and b) they’ll be highly convenient to water.


Favorite Decor-That’s-Not-Decor: Blanket Ladder. Would love one of these in our room, and one for the guest room. Colorado weather is so unpredictable that it’s nice to have a few extra blankets around. Plus, this will take up some wall space in our big bedrooms, and give me an excuse to buy pretty blankets :)

blanket ladder


Favorite Kid Thing: Kiddo’s Camp Chair. I like this one even better than the high chair I posted last week, because this works from sitting age all the way to 75 pounds! It’s a little pricey, but neat. I wonder if we’d use something like this when we’re at rodeos or not. We’ll see!



Favorite Breakfast Variation: Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread. I love this take on cinnamon rolls!

cinnamon bread


Favorite Food: Focaccia with Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Rosemary. Light, easy and probably make-on-the-grill-able. I’d love to make this and enjoy it on the back porch, maybe with a little sangria?



Favorite Organizational/Cleaning DIY: Drip Tray. I’m planning on making one of these for inside and outside the front door! The mudroom is sort of a lost cause, and floor space (aka doggy sleeping space) is at a premium.

mud boot station


Favorite Decor DIY: Arrows. I’m going to make these for the guest bath, probably, and maybe something similar for our room!




Favorite Footwear: Striped Wedges. This is literally my favorite style of heel. I have a pair of these that are white instead of striped, but they’ve seen better days. How cute would these look with a sundress or skinnies?!? Someone please get married or throw a fancy party so I have an excuse to buy these shoes.



Favorite  Baby Thing That I Don’t Need To Buy But Might: Itty Bitty Baby Sperrys. We can all agree that shoes for things that don’t walk are ridiculous. We can also all agree that these tiny Sperry Topsiders are the cutest thing ever.



Favorite Sugar Delight: Sprinkle Sandwich Cookies. Sprinkles? Check. Crumbly chocolate cookies? Check. Buttercream? Check. Can be put on a stick and therefore made better? Check.

sprinkle cookies

There you have it! I hope you have a wonderful weekend doing wonderful things! This weekend,  since the weather is going to be gross, I hope to plan and budget my garden, make a weekly spring cleaning goals plan (our bathroom cupboards are desperate for help) and maybe test some paint–I have two cans of Revere Pewter left over from my gross overestimation of the paint required to paint Wacey’s nursery, and I’m wondering if I can use it in the living room to cover up the yellow that I wasn’t meant to be so yellow.

That was a heckuva run-on sentence. Apologies.


Ten Things Tuesday: AI

It’s springtime, which means it’s breeding time on the ranch. I’ve talked about artificial insemination before, but here are ten more things about the process that takes up so much of our time in the spring!

1. Why AI cows? Artificial insemination allows cattle producers to improve their cowherds by using specific bulls for specific purposes. Because it’s frozen semen and not a live bull, you can use semen provided by the best bulls in the breed for the traits that you want (for instance, when we breed heifers we use semen from proven “heifer bulls” who sire smaller calves. Smaller calves for smaller cows means less pulling of calves, and a better experience for that first-time heifer and her calf both), and apply specific traits to specific cows. It also means less live bulls on the ranch–since many of the cows will be pregnant by the time it’s time to turn out bulls (AI isn’t 100% effective), there will be less cows in heat so you can use less live bulls. This is awesome because bulls are a pain. It also enables us to have a shorter calving season, since the majority of the cows will become pregnant with AI and will calve around the same time. This also means we have a more uniform calf crop because they’re more similar in age.

2. It’s very scientific–there are different protocols to use (read about them here if you would like), and whichever one you choose must be followed very closely.The one we use involves a combination of two different kinds of shots and a progesterone implant to sync the cycles of as many cattle as possible.

3. The semen is stored in special semen tanks full of liquid nitrogen to keep it frozen. Here is what they look like inside and out.




4. Just like the protocols for breeding, there is a special way to pull semen straws out of the tank and thaw them correctly. That’s my job! I was going to write a whole post on that, but we were too busy to stop and take pictures of each step. Basically, the canister the semen is stored in is attached to each of those little hooks in the semen tank, and you pull it up and pull out the straw (about the size of those little coffee straw thingies, you can see them above) and put it in the warm water in that blue box (called a “thaw box,” can be seen in the picture below) for about 45 seconds, snip off the end, and load it into a special “gun” with a plunger that that breeder uses to insert the semen into the cow. The canister shouldn’t be in the open air for more than ten seconds, and you should never touch the straw with your hands–you want the semen to unfreeze all at once and remain intact, rather than thawing gradually.

thaw box

5. To become a certified breeder guy (or gal!), there are three-day “AI schools” you can go to, or some state universities offer it as part of a bovine reproduction course. That’s where Bert got certified to AI.

6. It gets tedious, so bring snacks. The cows have been through the chute multiple times before the actual AI day, so they’re pretty tired of the whole process and like to let us know it.

7. For the guy breeding cows, it’s a messy job (obviously). They tend to wear outfits that are completely waterproof, or at least pants that are, and muck boots. Baseball caps are also handy, so you don’t get poop in your hair.

8. You can buy lube by the gallon with a pump handle on top. It’s the truth.

9. AI is much more widely used in the dairy industry, because they select for one very specific trait (milk production), and don’t have the space to turn all their cows out with bulls. Plus, Holstein bulls are meaner than snot.

10.   Apparently, it’s on many lists about “10 Facts The Dairy Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know/Will Shock You/Etc.” That, folks, is a bunch of hooey. Just FYI. I’ve been present for literally thousands of cattle being AI-ed, and haven’t seen one have an infection as a result, and have never seen anyone get injured while breeding (including my husband, who himself has bred thousands of cows), and has nothing to do with sexual assault. Come on.

And now, for your viewing pleasure: THIS GUY.


2 Months!


Age: 2 months
Representative Song of the Month:  The movin’-and-groovin’ part of the chorus of “Shake It Off,” and he thinks it’s pretty funny when I sing the “Good Morning” song from Singin’ in the Rain. You know—“Gooooood mornin’, good MORnin’, we talked the whole night through, good mornin’, good mornin’, to you!”
Stats:  We’re out of newborn clothes and diapers now! At his checkup today he was a whopping 10 lbs 1 oz, 22 inches long.
Favorite Foods: Still Team Milk, and we’ve also added some formula into the mix to help him gain enough weight. Also if gripe water were a food, it would be on this list.
Words/Sounds: He has a whole vocabulary now! He coos and makes noises all day, and has a special repertoire of night time noises which sound something like a geriatric goat and a terrible hacking noise. It’s really lovely. We’re convinced he’s actually part gremlin.
Favorite Activities: He’s so much happier when he’s awake! He loves to be sat/stood up, and has started to really look at things. He still loves being in my wrap, though (which is truly a godsend—he even sleeps through brandings), and loves to be snuggled. And eating, obvs. He is his parents’ child.
Favorite Things: Loves his Wubbanub, and increasingly, brightly-colored toys.
Least Favorite Activities: He’s much better about being naked now, but he hates hates hates when he’s super hungry and you make him stop to burp. Also really dislikes me putting sunscreen on his face, and being changed at two in the morning when he pees out his diaper.
Signature Moves: Ahhhh he’s gotten such a personality this month! He’s now a smiling machine, and an even bigger wiggler than before. He also stretches when I unwrap him from his swaddle in the morning, or when I pull him out of my wrap and it’s truly adorable. Unfortunately, another one of his signature moves is waking up between 2 and 3ish every morning, making terrible noises until I nurse him, and falling asleep five minutes in because he’s not actually hungry and then waking right back up when I put him down again, and starting back up with the noises until he gets snuggled. Month #3’s goal is to change that signature move to “sleeps all night.” He’s done it before, so I know he can do it! It’s just how did that happen so I can replicate it every night.

He’s also the biggest ham and made friends with all of Starbucks this morning by sitting on my lap and smiling at all the ladies.

He was a champ at his appointment, but now I’ve got a cranky little fella on my hands, so time to end this post. On a high note!

Aaaaaaaaaand now…picture overload!!






that lip






couch smiles


Friday Favorites: April 9th




I’m doing Friday Favorites a day early this week, since tomorrow will be Wacey’s 2-month post! He turned two months on Tuesday, but his checkup is tomorrow, so I’m waiting until then so I can post his stats!

We start breeding our cows this week, and I’m doing my best to stay caught up on my calves. This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, so hopefully we’ll get outside. Wacey still hates being in direct sunlight, but maybe we can rig up some shade on the porch while he naps :) Here’s a short roundup of my favorite things I’ve found this week!

Favorite Baby-cessory: Bandana Bibs. I’ve posted about my love for bandana bibs in the past, and since I couldn’t find any in a store, I bit the bullet and ordered some from etsy. I got a five-pack of these (I think we went with the plain white, yellow gingham, blue stripe, green stripe and solid red), and am greatly anticipating their arrival–the three that we have in our rotation aren’t enough!! I’ll post a review once we’ve used them a little, but all her reviews on etsy are great so I imagine we’ll love them.


Favorite Footwear: These Ariat boots. I know I talked about picking up the Cassidy model, but I saw these at the store and fell in love, and they were so much more comfortable than any other pair I tried on–no break-in needed! I don’t like the look as much–these are a little plainer, but not enough for me to care–but they had gone on sale the same day I arrived, and one of the few pairs they had left happened to be in my size! I I took it (and my 30% off coupon I has been saving) as a sign, and scooped up these bad boys for $150 less than their original price. Aka boots for a hundred bucks. Can’t beat it! See? Love.




Favorite Fashion: Peasant Sundress. I used to live in sundresses, and since we won’t constantly be at rodeos (right??) I think I’d love to find one or two that are pretty and figure-forgiving for this summer, like this one. If my sister is reading this: Q, prepare to be shocked. This dress is by Free People.




Favorite Funny: Matt and Brother Orange. Okay, this is awesome. A guy gets his iPhone stolen, and tracks it down to a guy in China and goes to meet him. You MUST read this in its entirety.



Favorite Kid Craft: Bath Crayons. I can’t wait until Wacey really enjoys taking baths and playing in the tub! These super simple homemade bath crayons will be happening.

glycerin soap crayons


Favorite Kid Necessity: Portable highchair. I don’t think I need to go into how awesome this is.



Favorite DIY: Rustic Mirrors. I’ve been trying to figure out something to go on the awkward walls in (where else?) our bedroom, and these look pretty awesome. Plus, very inexpensive, so perfect!



Favorite Sip: Raspberry Moscato Sangria and Red Wine Sangria. Now that I can imbibe a little, my thoughts are turning to sangria because it’s pretty tame and delicious, and perfect for summer, which means it’s right up my alley. This first one looks ahhh-mazing (although I may nix the vodka). I usually tend towards white wine/rose/moscato sangria, but we were just gifted a bottle of red and that’s where the second recipe comes in! I think the arugula would be interesting.

raspberry sangria



Favorite Sweats-But-Not: Eyelet shorts. Usually elastic waistbands scream sweatpants or pajamas, but I think in this case they scream comfortable yet fashionable. I generally tend towards tailored J. Crew shortss with a longer inseam (my sister calls these “mom shorts,” so I guess the label fits now), so these are a fun departure from my norm.



Favorite Tried It: Thai Sweet Chili Chicken. We had this last week and it was AWESOME. Bert raved about it! It’s fried, so definitely not a menu staple,  but this is officially my go-to recipe for when we’re both craving Chinese takeout but don’t want to drive the 30 miles to the nearest Chinese restaurant. My only change to the recipe was doubling the sweet chili sauce and adding more lime, because we’re sauce people and it was a little too dry as written.

thai chicken

Ten Things Tuesday: Branding

There have been too few posts around here, so to give myself a little direction, I’m starting some new “theme” posts. Tuesdays will be known hereafter as “Ten Things Tuesday” and I will do my best to relate each week’s post to what’s happening on the ranch. Some will be entirely fact, some will be silly, others will be anecdotal. Since we had our third branding today, this week’s post is dedicated to branding!

Ten Things Tuesday: Branding

branding 1
branding 2
branding 3
branding 4
branding 5
branding 7
branding 8

  1. Why brand calves? This is a traditional method of livestock identification that has been used for thousands of years. This way, if your animals lose an ear tag, get mixed with the neighbors’, get stolen, jump a fence, etc., there’s always a permanent way to identify them. Some states—like Colorado—are brand states, and require brand papers for all sales and transport of animals.
  2. There are different kinds of branding irons. There are irons that are heated by putting them in a fire (those are the type we use here, and the type the old cowboys used), and there are electric irons that you plug in (we used those on both of our past two ranch jobs). There are also freeze branding irons that involve liquid nitrogen or dry ice, but those are usually used for horses. Irons heated by fire get hotter but cool off quickly. Electric irons are always hot, but not as, and require electricity and an extension cord. Hot irons burn a scar into the animal, whereas a freeze brand damages the pigment-producing hair cells so the hair grows white there. Freeze branding is more often used on horses as opposed to cows because horses have thinner hides, so hot branding can be dangerous, and freeze brands aren’t practical for thousands of cattle since it’s slower, harder to get a clear brand, and require the animal to be completely immobile.
  3. There are also different ways to brand calves. Some places use a calf table, which is basically a little bitty chute at the end of the alley in the processing barn. After the calf walks in, the chute turns and lays flat on its side so the calf is lying on its side, like on a table, which makes it easy for the guy running the iron to brand the calves. There is also “rope-and-drag,” which is the traditional method of branding calves. There are different ways to do this, also. Some places head and heel each calf (a guy on horseback ropes the calf around its neck, and then another guy comes and ropes it by the heels, thus stretching the calf out between them so the brand can be put on). Some places heel the calf and drag it to the ground crew, where teams of two wrestle the calf by “flanking” it—flopping it on its side—and holding it tight like in the pictures above. This is the method we’ve used the most. Some places use north forks, like I described last year. It all depends on how much help you have, how many good ropers you have, how many calves you have, etc.
  4. Branding is also a good time to give vaccinations and get an inventory on your calves. Like many ranches, we give shots, check and replace ear tags, doctor any sickness, etc. We don’t castrate at branding like many places because we keep some of our bulls for breeding.
  5. Brandings are usually really fun because since so much help is needed, it’s a time for neighbors, family and friends to get together and share the work. And visit and make fun of each other between roping or wrestling calves :)
  6. When an animal is not branded, it is referred to as “slick.” Our grey horse, Asa, is “slick,” because we don’t own a brand (yet), and he was not branded by his previous owners. It is more common for horses to be slick than for cows to be slick. There are less horses, they’re more distinctive, and are easier to identify than, for instance, one red cow amongst thousands. We have lots of pictures of all of our horses, just in case.
  7. In general, brands can be located on different parts of the animal—most are on the left or right hip, left or right shoulder or left or right ribs. Each brand, however, has a location associated with it and that is the only place where the brand may be used. For instance, the brand we use is always on the left rib.
  8. Each county (in brand states) has one or more brand inspectors. Their primary function, as I understand it, is to make sure no one is stealing livestock. This means they inspect and write brand papers for livestock leaving and entering the state, traveling over a certain number of miles (in Colorado it’s 75) or going to slaughter. They also verify ownership transfers, keep track of all the brands registered in the state, inspect all animals before they’re sold at a sale or auction, and help hunt down and investigate the theft of livestock.
  9. Brands are often passed down from generation to generation and many stay with the ranch or the family where they originate and may be included in the sale of a ranch. However, brands can also be bought and sold. The older and simpler the brand is, the more money it costs. They are state-specific, so one brand can belong to different ranches in different states. One of the oldest brands still in use today is the cross-and-crescent brand used by the Tejon Ranch in California.
  10. One thing that’s pretty universal: you can’t brand a damp or wet animal. Well, you can, but you shouldn’t. It’ll scald, which means it will blotch and will be hard to read at best, or you can cause a nasty sore. Plus, it’s no fun to brand in the rain or the snow!

This is a good page if you want to learn more:

Friday Favorites: March 20th

Edited to add: I got totally carried away with this post. Excess of baby pictures, excess of commentary. Sorry about that, brave readers. Oh wait. You can never have an excess of baby pictures or commentary. Apology rescinded.

Happy Friday! Happy first day of Spring! We’ve had typical Colorado weather this week–all over the place! Warm and sunny, to which we say:

morning smiles 6
…and cold, wet, snowy and muddy, to the tune of not being able to go anywhere yesterday because the roads were so bad and deep with mud. Even my little Jeep couldn’t make it! To this, we say:

morning smiles 9

But, today is warm and sunny, the roads are dry, and we’re planning for a walk this afternoon. To this, we say:

morning smiles 8

The forecast for this weekend is warm and sunny, so I’m hoping that little ham above and I can get outside and work in the yard a little in between going with daddy to cake cows and a visit from my inlaws tomorrow. I’d love to get my garden prepped to plant, and in preparation for having branding lunch at our house next week, I would like to get all the dead leaves swept off the deck around the picnic table. We’ll do our best :)

Little Wacey is six weeks old tomorrow, and isn’t so little anymore–yesterday he weighed 8 1/2 pounds! We think he’s hit a growth spurt (or is finally catching up on his weight for the reals, we’ve added in a little formula because he wasn’t getting enough with just my milk) because he is ravenous 24/7, and won’t sleep worth a hoot. His last one only lasted a few days, though, so hopefully that’s the case with this one. In the meantime, Bert and I are taking turns getting up with him at night, and starting off the morning with a little caffeine, and tiptoeing around when he is sleeping :)

This week’s Friday Favorites are all about that SPRINGTIME and being fun and fancy free! As a lifelong resident of Colorado, I’m not naive enough to put away the winter boots and coats just yet, but I know we’re getting warmer, and drier, and I love it. This means my thoughts are turning to summer clothes, rodeos, gardens and lighter things.

Favorite Easter Treat: Bunny Butt Pancakes. Call us humbugs (actually don’t, because that’s a lie), but Bert and I never been big Easter celebrators (in terms of bunnies and egg hunts, etc) because we both agree that Easter and Halloween are both more kid-oriented holidays. GOOD THING WE NOW HAVE A KID! Wace isn’t old enough this year to care about Easter, but next year you’d better bet the Easter Bunny is showing up and we’re hunting allllll the eggs and having allll the festive breakfasts. Or just this one! Plus bacon, duh.


Favorite Funny: Things Parents Do To Embarrass Their Kids. Speaking of kids, I can’t wait to embarrass the heck out of them, either. I laughed and laughed at this one. I may have already posted this one to FF at some point, but it’s just a testament to how excited I am to be the goofiest parent ever. Also, just in case you were wondering, we’re totally starting off early because Wacey got a hilarious Christmas sweater vest as a hand-me-down, so that’s pretty much a sign that we MUST host an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party this year. Cue the embarrassing photos! Would it be excessive to rig his with lights and a battery pack?


Favorite Non-Embarrassing or Edible Kid Thing: Baby Shadow Box. One thing I would like to pretend I’m into but totally am not, and it probably says a lot about me that I’m into pancakes shaped like bunny butts and embarrassment but not this? Scrapbooks. I think they’re absolutely the coolest thing ever, but have zero patience for all the work that goes into them. I knew a girl in college who was the scrapbooking QUEEN and I was in awe of her. Her name was Jamie and she has been bestowed with a gift by our heavenly father. I’m completely serious. I have not been bestowed with this gift. One thing I can do? A shadowbox. Since Wace has already grown out of his going-home outfit and is almost out of his first booties (I DIE), I’m hoping to put his together soon!

shadow box

Favorite Fashion: Embroidered Maxi Dress. I’ve never been able to hop on the maxi dress bandwagon, but this one caught my eye and I might have to order it, or see if I can find one like it. I wouldn’t wear it to a rodeo because sandals at rodeos gross me out (that dirt is so not just dirt, folks. And try to climb pens and unsaddle horses in a dress, I dare you), but I’d wear it out to dinner, or to town when I want to look like something other than a swamp creature. Also, I’m not yet fitting into my old jeans, and that dress looks so comfy!


Favorite Comfort Zone: Long-Sleeved Pocket Tee. Something I would wear to a rodeo? This shirt, with jeans, boots and a fun necklace.Pretty much my uniform on a day when all chambray is in the wash? Yes. Boring? You bet. Do I care? Not even a little.


Favorite Boot: Speaking of boots, I’m in need of a new “town” pair. My husband just ordered a new pair of custom boots for himself (for riding), so of course I need a new pair, too :) Since I don’t need a custom pair at the moment, I hopped on the interwebs to see what Ariat’s got going these days, since they’re my favorite brand. I wanted something brown and square-toed, but with a pretty detail. Guess what? A sign. From above. With the Hallelujah Chorus and everything. Know why? This pair is an Ariat pair, brown, square-toed and with a pretty detail, and guess what they’re called. The Cassidy Boot. Guess what my name  is? Cassidy. Guess who will be buying these on her next town trip with the handy 30% off coupon she just got in the mail? CASSIDY.

cassidy boot

Favorite While-We’re-Talking-About-Clothes: Floral Swimsuit. For this first time since we’ve been together, the Johnstons (that’s us) are going on a VACAY. Yes, a VACATION. We’re really getting wild and driving five hours away for a week in June to Pagosa Springs, and the resort where we’re staying has an Olympic-sized swimming pool. A POOL. Aka the #1 Thing I Miss About Living In Town Even More Than Starbucks. But, I hate bikinis. Always have, always will, and am now a grown-ass adult who is comfortable enough in my own skin to tell the world that I HATE BIKINIS. Too much adjusting, too much possibility that they will come off while cannonballing, and I can never get sunscreen all over my back so too much sunburn. So, this pretty suit is at the top of my try-on list, because I’m not going to embarrass my newborn child and lovely husband by wearing one of my Speedo swim team suits. I’m saving those for when Wace is old enough to care :)


Favorite Sparkle: Mint Halo Earrings. While we’re (okay, I’m) confessing things, I may as well get to it. I will never like wearing my hair down. I like it pulled back, out of my face, and out of my thoughts. I pretend I’ll wear it down, but I never do. There’s too much of it, it’s too thick and hot and requires constant touching up. Plus, it covers up gorgeous earrings, like these. Which I covet. I know, thou shalt not. But I do. Sorry, Lord.

halo earrings

Favorite Future: Bulletin Board wall. I know I painted a room in our house to be a home office, but I’m hesitant to do too much with it in case it becomes a kid room in the future and I have it set up all gorgeous and have to take it down. But, when I do finally decide to take the plunge and do more than paint a space for an office, I love the idea of a big bulletin board.


Favorite Garden Inspire: Planters. Since I’m doing a flower garden this year, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about my herb garden–put it in small pots? Put it in the big galvanized water tank that I scavenged from the junk pile? I still don’t know, but this site has some great ideas for different kinds of planters. I’d love to do some pots around the front porch, too–there are so many possibilities!


Favorite Repeat: This Italian sausage recipe. I posted this a few FF’s back, and I just wanted to tell you that you’d better make it immediately, get spicy I.S., don’t leave out the fennel, and for a real treat, sub bucatini for the angel hair. You’re welcome.


Happy Friday, may your days be merry and bright, and may all your evenings be light.