Monday, December 30, 2013

From the Feed Truck

I'd like to think I'm a tough girl.  I mean, I have had babies.  A mother by definition is tough, right? 

Maybe I should admit that I do have a damsel-in-distress side that does counter my tough-cowgirl side, but as tough as I am, its ok that on the cold morning cattle drive I was invited to stay in the warm feed truck.  We used the feed truck to lure the cows home.  And it worked.  It worked GREAT. 

It took only a matter of minutes for all of the cows to come running up the hill.  Every once in a while they did slow down.  But all The Rancher needed to do to get them moving again was to pretend to drop the hay.

I thought I would get a little creative and take some pictures of the cows in the rear view mirror.  Ya, that only works of the mirror is clean.  I guess that my picture is proof that we are in a REAL ranch truck.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Moving Cows on a Cool, Clear Morning

The cowboys decided that it was time to move the cows to the ranch now that winter is upon us.  All though there isn't a lot of snow, there is enough now that we have to feed every day.  This means that The Rancher would have to take the hay to the cows each day or bring the cows home.  Of course, they chose the latter. 

So on a beautiful, clear morning we trailed the cows home.  I really shouldn't include myself in the "trailing" part of the move because we were at the head of the herd in the feed truck, coaxing them to come along.  For once I have pictures at the front end of these cows!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from The Rancher's Wife

It is Christmas Eve today and all of the holiday celebrations are building to make a special Christmas morning.  The Rancher's Sidekick is really gearing up for Santa to come and The Rancher Princess is totally into the wrapping paper, so regardless of how prepared I am it is here.

We have enjoyed the lights and the glitz and all of the fun that comes with the season, but tonight we are going to change our focus.  Tonight we want to take a few moments to talk about the significance of that day so long ago.  A small baby was born, whose life completely changed the world.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Ranch Winter Scenes

I love winter.  Pretty much everything about.  The colder temperatures are so nice after a hot summer. 

Winter time is calving time and there is something special about new babies.

I even love myself a little blizzard once in a while.  I'm a hopeless romantic- the idea of being snugged up by the warm fire during a blizzard sounds so lovely.  (Don't let The Rancher read this... I might get in trouble by saying this out loud...)

But I especially love looking out over the ranch and seeing it covered in blanket of snow.  Or the trees that are frosted and twinkling in the sunlight.  Mmm...  I love me some winter scenes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Helpers of all Sizes, Especially Little Helpers

Working on the ranch is a family affair.  Partly because we all love to be out there but also because we need all the man (and woman)-power we can get.  That usually means we get kid-power too because wherever I go, the kids go.  So when we vaccinated the calves, The Rancher's Sidekick came too. 

This little boy loves to be on the ranch and already can be a great helper.  He even has his own paddle to poke the calves through the chute.  And he can "hup" with the best of them.  His size is never a factor- he just finds a way to climb up or reach whatever he needs.

But sometime he needs a break.  So we pull out his tractors and cars and plays on his own ranch.  Life is never dull for a little boy living on a ranch...

... even though it can be very cold for little cowboys!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Day we BANGs Vaccinated the Calves

The temperatures have been pretty low lately.  Like one day it was -18 at 10:00 am.  Yuck!  Of course that would be the day that The Rancher had to bring in a few stragglers from Black Pine.  And move the cows to new pasture.  And bring the heifers to the ranch to be vaccinated.  I would say that he came in with cold cheeks but for once that silly beard of his might be worth having (can you tell I'm not a fan?).

And of course the next coldest day was when we BANGs vaccinated the calves.  I'll admit that on those cold days I'm a lot more willing to stay home to do the dishes and laundry, but sometimes I just gotta pull on my big girl boots and get to work.

You might be wondering why we just didn't wait to do it until a warmer day.  Ya that's what I thought too.  The Rancher told me that besides the fact that we would have to wait until spring if we used that logic, we had already scheduled the vet to be out here.

Most vaccines we just do ourselves, but the BANGs vaccination is state  regulated and can only be administered by a vet.  Brucellosis, the disease this vaccinations prevents, causes abortions in cows.  The bacteria remains in the after birth, which can infect other animals or even humans if they come in contact with it.  The bacteria also remains in the reproductive tract and can spread through a herd easily if a bull contracts and the breeds other cows.  Its pretty serious stuff, hence all the regulations.  As part of those regulations all heifers are required to get the vaccine from a vet.


 To mark that these heifers have been BANGs vaccinated, they are given a special ear clip and a tattoo by the vet.  Remember when I was saying it was cold?  It was so cold that the tattoo ink was freezing on the brush.  It took a little spit to keep it spreadable..

Look at the steam coming off the calves!  Its stinking cold!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Fruits of Our Christmas Tree Hunt

Every hunt has its tale, which I have already shared as I began Norma's Story.  But what I didn't share are the photos from our tree hunt.  Pictures of The Rancher's Sidekick and his grandpa cutting down a tree together (same tree, just 3 feet apart, and one using a saw and the other a small branch...) are just too fun not to share!

This year we had an extra treat.  When we began to load up in the trucks, a herd (hazards of being The Rancher's Wife- everything comes in herds...) of turkeys came gobbling through.  The Rancher's Sidekick jumped at the chance to feed them.

Norma's Story: The Prologue

The Holidays are filled with traditions, especially family traditions.  It's those little things that make the season more than a generic celebration, but rather a time to cherish.

Nearly 10 years ago my parents began a tradition that, at the time, didn't seem to be much more than what it appeared to be on the surface. But over time it has become one of those special things we love and cherish.  Without it, our Christmas season isn't quite the same.

Ours is a Black Friday tradition, but not like you might imagine.  We do come home exhausted from our hunt, but not a hunt for gifts... but for Christmas trees!

Ya, it's not wild crazy tradition.  In fact, lots of families do it.  For the most part it would be an ordinary go-get-your-tree adventure.  We gear up in our snow clothes (which get shed halfway up the mountain because we are so stinking hot from the hike) and search for that perfect tree.  In our circumstance, we look for 7 Christmas trees, or  close to that number.  One for us, one for mom and dad, one for this brother and that brother...  one for The Rancher's Sidekick's room even.  In fact these trees end up all over the country, shipped in mineral feed sacks making the trip quite nice.

So you get the idea... we get Christmas trees, one for everybody and their cowdog.

What makes this so special is who we get our trees from.

We find our trees from Norma... Sweet Norma.  At first we started to go to her mountain ranch because she has such beautiful trees, but now we go to be with her.  Sweet Norma is one of those women that just eeks love. 

Our adventure with Sweet Norma is predictable and generally goes something like this.  We get out of the truck ready to be on the receiving end of the tightest, most loving hug, followed a good look up and down to see how we are.  After the hugs go around we load back into the trucks and she directs us to the best spot to find that special tree.  Once there she starts the trek up the mountainside, leading the way but slowly makes her way to the back to ensure that everyone is doing fine and visiting all along the way.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that she is in her mid-eighties?

Can you believe that this woman, that has every right to just point to the mountain and say, "Have at it," walks us around as we indecisively choose our trees, never thinking of herself.  Instead of being frustrated with us taking up her day or wasting her energies to show us around her ranch, she is tickled to spend even the smallest minute with us.

So we choose our trees, snap a picture or two for momma's sake, and we make our way back to the ranch yard.  Now that you are beginning to understand Sweet Norma you might guess that she won't just let us drop her off and leave.  Your right. She won't let us leave without first coming in for a hot cup of hot cocoa.  We'll sip our drinks and visit for a bit until we need to hit the road. Sweet Norma walks us out and giving us all a tight, parting hug and kiss. 

As far as the eye can see we leave with just a load of Christmas trees, but we leave with so much more than that.  Sweet Norma fills our souls with humble, unbiased country love.

There's a lot we can learn from a woman like her.  This is the beginning of Norma's Story.


Friday, December 13, 2013

The Stream of Life

Holbrook is in the deseret... really.  Its dry and every time the wind blow our mountains and hills change.  It is so different from the river plain that I grew up in.  The ranch we had was crossed with little rivers and streams- some to play in and some to fish in and all to make it so beautiful.

There are a few little streams in our valley and they all are their own sort of beautiful.  When The Rancher was building his fence they were right by a little creek that feeds out of the reservoir.  They had to cross it twice so I don't think they were in a mood to admire it, but I sure was!  And now during the winter it really has its own kind of pretty with the dry cattails and crusted wheat, the bits of snow and ice, and the slow moving water.  It just nourishes my soul.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A fellow rancher from the Curlew Valley decided that it was finally time redo the fence that we share.  For some time they have had trouble with his cows sneaking in with ours and I think he got tired of us calling him to take them back to his side.  So on one a cool November day they loaded up their hammers and nails and got to work. 

Fencing isn't my favorite chore- I'm sure it was the hot summers. But The Rancher likes it. Its one of things that you can really do well.  There's not anything much prettier than a new, tight, straight fence.

After building so many fences it is second nature to these cowboys.  Without talking they know how far apart to space out the posts, where to put in a brace and all the parts and pieces to make it work.  They get right to it and go until the work is done ... or dark. 

There was more fence to build than daylight this time, so they went back out to finish the work just last week.  I don't have any pictures of them working that day because it was cold and snowy.  My warm slippers begged me to stay home!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back to Sun Valley

In October I posted about my spontaneous participation in the district Farm Bureau discussion meet.  This last week was the state discussion meet in Sun Valley so The Rancher and I took off a few days to play with other Young Farmer & Ranchers.

The closer we drove to Sun Valley the more exciting this got for me.  I'm passionate about ranching.  I'm passionate about having a family ranch.  I'm really passionate about sharing our family ranching story.  Ya, you know that already... Any way, this discussion meet was right up my ally- an opportunity to talk about issues we face in our agriculture community. 

The meet went really well, in fact I had several of the judges and folks from the audience tell me how well I did or that they liked my style.  After the high I was on last year I am already to do it again!

These are the questions we discussed.  I would love to hear if you have any thoughts on them!

1. How should Farm Bureau engage farmer/rancher members, representing all types and kinds of operations (i.e. conventional, organic, large, small and niche markets), to work together to better promote a more positive image of agriculture? 

2. How do we encourage young farmers and ranchers to continue to be involved in Farm Bureau?  How can young producers lead even if they don't hold elected positions on boards? 

3. What are the best practices for youth working on farms and ranches to ensure their safety and provide them learning opportunities in the area of agriculture production?

4. US agriculture is one of the major industries for the American economy.  What can farmers do to stimulate more economic growth? 

5. How can Young Farmers & Ranchers work with elected and appointed officials to eliminate unnecessary or excessive regulations placed upon agriculture while ensuring that new regulations are justified based on their costs and anticipated benefits?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

My holiday spirit has taken over my rancher's wife spirit because I am praying for snow.  You might wonder what- wanting snow has go do with being a good ranch wife... so I'll tell you.

Actually its rather simple- when it snows it covers the feed.  If the animals can't find feed they get hungry.  Therefore, we have to start feeding hay, something The Rancher really doesn't like to do.

So I'm being a little naughty and hoping for more snow.  Let the winter fun begin!