Friday, January 31, 2014

A New Cow Dog... in the Making

We were heartbroken about losing our puppy,, Cash.  There were days that the first thing The Rancher's Sidekick would ask is when would we get  new puppy or tell me that he needed new puppy.  It was so hard to explain that just because we wanted him, it didn't mean it would happen.

One fine Wednesday, a small, furry puppy came running through my kitchen door and my kids started giggling and screeching!  The Rancher surprised us with a new puppy for Christmas and we have been loving every minute with him. 

The Ranch Princess especially loves this furball.  She loved playing with him in the mud room on the cold, cold nights (like below zero- anything above that is something ranch dogs have to get used to).  Now that he has to stay outside, she smashes her cute nose against the window to look for him.  Once spotted she pats her tummy, with zeal, as if she is telling him to come.

Lately the puppy is really starting to show interest in chasing cows.  Like today, when The Rancher was chasing a heifer in.  He was all over that chase, but unfortunately he headed her in the wrong direction.  So he's not there yet... there are still a lot lessons to be learned.  And I think the one on the top of the list is to LISTEN to the boss... hmm sounds like parenting.

We may have a long road ahead of us yet with him, but we are so stinking excited!

By the way, are there any guesses for this puppy's name?  Leave your guess in the comments and we'll see who comes up with it!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Celebrating 100 Posts!

I know that this is a few posts late, but we still need to celebrate that The Rancher's Wife has made it so far!

I am really loving doing this- sharing the ranch with you and helping people to see what is behind the BEEF industry.  Please help me by throwing out any ideas for the blog (things you want to see or ways that I can improve the blog) and by sharing it with EVERYONE you know.

With this post I am going to give a calendar to some lucky Rancher's Wife friend.  I will do a drawing in 1 week (so the 6 of February) for the winner!  To enter, please post a comment either about your favorite post so far or ways to improve the blog.  Ready, set, GO!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Once There Was a Snowman!

There is a song that The Rancher's Sidekick loves to sing about a snowman.  A tall, TALL, TALL snowman.  And then the sun came and it melted, SMALL, small, small... 

We built a snowman a few weeks ago- a SUPER TALL snowman.  Maybe it would have been better if we hadn't started at the back of the house... There was a lot of snow to get to the front where we wanted our snowman to be.  And maybe we would have rolled up less dog poop if we didn't cover so much ground...

After a few attempts we decided we needed to recruit a little help.  So we did what we do best and rounded up ourselves a couple of cowboys, The Buckaroo and Cowboy E, to come help us put the snowman together. 

Even with the help the snowball was too heavy to lift.  We needed a plan b... so The Rancher got thinking and found a board to roll the snowball up.  It took a bit of momentum to get it rolling and once they were moving they couldn't stop.  At about half way the board started to give way and the harder they pushed the crazier things went!  Pushing up was only half the battle... the other half was keeping it from rolling off the side.  And then the other half (um... three halves...) was managing to move around the board while pushing he ball and NOT tripping the brother to the side of you.

I tried to help them push, but there ended up not being room for me, which was fine because then I could laugh! Oh... and take pictures.

 I think that Cowboy E has the right approach- shove WHATEVER you can get your hands on, even if it is your brother.

Our snowman turned out awesome but even better we learned a few lessons from our adventure: don't roll snowballs bigger than what you can lift, avoid the dog poop, and sometimes the only thing you can do to help is push the other brother from behind!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Back to Snowy Days?

The weatherman says that snow is supposed to be heading our way.  I'm sure that he is right because we are ready to start calving in the next week and it would be just our luck to go back to snow and cold just as the babies start dropping. 

I have had to remind myself that it is still January with the days that we have been having.  It feels like spring around here!  In fact, The Rancher has been busy doing some spring cleaning around the ranch- trimming trees and fixing up corrals.  If only his spring cleaning spirit wouldn't leave him when he comes in the house...

We will have to wait and see what we get out of the next few days.  Will it be more spring weather or are we going back to the snowy days?!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pavlov's Cow at Feeding Time

Once upon a time there was a great psychologist named Pavlov and he had a dog.  He trained his dear pooch to drool whenever he would ring a bell.  At the beginning of his experiment, Pavlov would ring the bell each time he set out the dog's food. Soon enough the dog learned that when the bell rang he would get food and of course would drool profusely when the food arrived.  Eventually the dog would start drooling just when he heard the bell, even before he would see the food.

We have cows much like this dog.  Ok... no... not really. They don't drool and there is no experiment happening on the ranch.  But over time they have learned that when the feed truck drives through the gate it means feeding time.  Its cool to see our cows come running when ever the feed truck goes through the gate!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lets go sledding!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE living on a ranch?  I love all of the things that the ranch brings and today I am loving having a 4 wheeler and fields of snow to pull my kids on their sleds.  I know that are so many great places to raise kids, but this is the best place for me to raise MY kids!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christmas Lights on the Ranch

Before the Christmas season is too far gone, I have one last photo to share with you.

Cowboys Pete and E were busy putting up lights on the fences, around trees, and along the house.  Their decorating even made it into the corral along the barn.  If only I could get a good picture of the cows standing under the lights like they do at night.  Until then (which is most likely to be next year) we will have to enjoy this view of them!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cooking With The Rancher's Wife: Crème Brûlée

* This post is very exciting and a sort of milestone for me.  I guess for two reasons.  I realized that this is my 100th post!!  I can't believe we have all lasted this long...  And I guess we had better keep going because I have so much more in store!  My other reasons for being excited about this post is because I am writing it on my surface in the truck on the way to the Ag expo and I FINALLY have figured how to connect it to the hot spot on my phone.  Woot Woot!  Hooray for technology!

Ok, now the real post may begin...

I love cooking, of all kinds.  New recipes are such an adventure for me and there is such satisfaction from those tried and true favorites.  I find it the highest compliment when The Rancher tells me that we should do "that one" again.

He puts up with my new adventures, but really he has those few favorites that are all I really need to make.  Like chocolate chip cookies- they are the only kind of cookie I will ever need to make.  And I have learned to only make banana cream pie at Thanksgiving.  Every year I make the same chocolate delight dessert for his birthday.

I'm afraid that my creative cooking skills are being wasted away!

Until my sister comes to visit!  She is even more adventurous and creative and daring with foods than I am.  During her little Christmas visit we decided to make a few restaurant favorites- risotto and crème brûlée.  The risotto was good, but a little too sagey... is that word?  Ya know, too much sage... 

But the crème brûlée was delicious!  We had a bit of trial and error with that last step when the sugar is set a blaze.  Of course the recipe calls for a hand torch to do the job and since I'm not a torch-in-the-kitchen chef we had to get creative.  I did offer the ranch's torch but that might have been overkill, let alone not so sanitary!  After trying a few insufficient efforts I found the winner: the warbex ladle!  If you hold it over the flame long enough it will get hot enough to turn the sugar into a crunchy caramel.  Yum!

Are you familiar with the warbax ladle?  In case your answer is no, a warbex ladle used to come with a de-wormer (warbex) and was used to measure and pour the de-wormer dose on the cows.  Now that warbex is banned (it was dangerous for other critters that would come in contact with it) we need to find a way to put the ladles to good use.  We've found that they are darn good soup ladles and apparently good for crème brûlée!  Don't worry, the ones in my kitchen have NOT been used outside...

I guess you never know what you will get whether it is a torch from the shop or an old de-womer ladle when you cook with The Rancher's Wife.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Norma's Story: In it to Get Rich

I had a great opportunity to talk to our dear friend, Sweet Norma.  I have intended to call her for such a long time and I finally pulled my day together that I got the call in. And I wish it hadn't taken me so long because it was such a great chat.

When I decided to write her story I wanted to start at the beginning and make her talk about her life in the way that I wanted to hear it.  But before I knew it, she was telling her wonderful stories and I realized that hearing her story as she remembered gave meaning to it.  The things that she was sharing were the things that were on her mind, that were close to her at the time.  I guess that it changed my course for Sweet Norma's chapters- they are going to come in the order that she is reliving them rather than as they were lived.

We talked for what seemed like only minutes but before I knew it Sweet Norma was telling me she needed to feed the chickens, haul in the wood for night, and finish all of the evening chores.  I walked away from our visit honestly inspired.  I shouldn't be surprised, because it is this very purpose that I am sharing Sweet Norma with you.  She is inspiring!  This new bit of inspiration is what I want to tell you about.

Along our conversation we talked about why this lifestyle is so important to us, especially as rancher wives.  I commented that we certainly don't choose this lifestyle to get rich because its not likely to happen.  After listening to me comment about all of MY reasons for this life, like how the work and sacrifice will turn us into good people and how through roughing it, we will find what is really important to us (and of course I assume that she is thinking the same stuff...). When I finally came up for air she said, "But we are already rich!"

Here I was talking about how the blessings from living on the ranch would come eventually and she was reminding me that it is waking up to the fresh country air that makes us rich.  There is nothing we have to do to earn this type of gold, we only have to realize that it is there.  Its having the opportunities to work, even if it means that Sweet Norma has to spend hours everyday shoveling the snow (she has more than 2 1/2 feet!).  We enjoy every bit of this life, because even the bad days are good. 

I don't know if it is from living on the ranch or living in the country (or both) but there is something so honest about this life.  Maybe its the work that does it- you only grow a good crop when you plant good seed, in good soil and you give it good care.  You only have healthy animals when you have good care for them.  You can try to take the short cuts, but those half-efforts will show.  And living such a life can't help but make you a good, honest hard working person.  Someone people would proud to call their neighbor. 

Living a cowboy lifestyle isn't for everyone- we need someone that can live the city life to be the businessman or the doctor.  And I'm glad that we have those that love what the city has to offer so that I can live my life on the ranch.  We each have our own place where our dreams come true and living that life makes us rich.

This was the message that Sweet Norma shared with me.  We are in this life to get rich, but rich in love, happiness, devotion and satisfaction.  I'm lucky enough to get rich being a rancher's wife.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Than Just a Bale of Hay

Feeding cattle can seem to be a simple thing.  Just spread some hay out there and the cows will be good, right? 

Nope.  You have to realize what hay is- it is energy and nutrition.  This is how our cows get all of those essential vitamins and minerals and the calories for energy.  There are things that will affect the quality of nutrients in our hay, things like the soil it is grown in, the amount of water it gets while it grows, and lots of other stuff.

After we grow our hay we (or our friend, The Cenex Man) usually take forage samples and have the hay analyzed to determine its quality, especially the quality of the vitamins and minerals.  This is like our baseline for what our cows are getting and then we can know where we need to supplement.

About a year ago we really kicked in the supplementing game and oh boy it has made a difference.  Our cows are in great condition and bred up better than they have in a while. 

The nutrition of our cows is HUGE because it directly influences our calf crop- a healthy momma is more likely to get bred on her first cycle, which means she will calve earlier in the season, giving our calves a longer time to nurse.  Her milk will most likely have more nutrients to pass to her calf to help him be stronger and healthier.

Ya, nutrition is SUPER important!  'Feeding' is a lot more than what it used to be when you consider that it includes putting out mineral, salt, and liquid protein.

And lets not forget that it is a great chance for this momma (that gets cabin fever WAY too often) to get out of the house.  I guess I have my own reasons that I support the extra nutrition we give the cows!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sharing our Ranch

I love to share the ranch with others (as is evident by this being my 90+ blog post) and I especially love to share it with the people I love.

Over the Christmas break our dear friends, the Davis Family, stopped by to see us and to see the ranch.  We were neighbors in small town Parker, Idaho while we went to school.  But with both of our families moving on after college graduations we get to be long distance friends.

While they were visiting we took a quick trip up Quaken Asp to deliver salt, mineral, and protein.  It is fun to experience the ranch with others- their reactions to the cows, the poop, the scenery... the poop.

The Rancher's Sidekick shared a little more than the rest of us.  He shared a taste of the salt we were putting out to the cows!  Every time The Rancher and his tagalong take salt to the cows, The Rancher's Sidekick dips his little finger in the salt for a taste.  And every time it tastes salty- surprise! He invited our friends to taste along with him.  Oh how we love to share the ranch, every bit of it!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Cows Plus Snow

Here are the last few pictures of our cattle drive home.  They may all look the same, but I just love them all.  And I just love having the snow- a little something different than our dreary old brown


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Cowboy Traffic Jam

A cowboy traffic jam is unavoidable when we move cows down the road.  And in some aspects I quite enjoy it because I like to see the different ways non-cattle folk respond.  I must admit that I do find it a little funny (sorry) but its simply because they aren't used to driving with cows.  I mean, cows are probably not a common issue for most peoples' commutes.

We usually try to wave them ahead, signaling to whoever is coming or going should just drive on through them.  Sometimes that works. 

But sometimes it doesn't.  When that doesn't we might have them follow and we sort of break a trail for them. 

But sometimes that doesn't work.  Most often people are afraid of hitting a cow, whether their concern is for their car or the cow, I don't know... but that hesitation keeps them from busting on through. 

What these fellows don't know is that a cow will just move out of the way and until they figure it out, they are stuck in a cowboy traffic jam.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Cows Come Home

There is a movie The Rancher's Sidekick loves to watch that has a chattering woman that says having caffeinated coffee would make her talk until the cows come home.  She continues to chatter about what does that even mean, where have the cows been...  And even though its a silly show and a silly woman she's right- what does that even mean?!

I have posted pictures of the beginning of our cattle trek, of the boys and girls that moved the cows and now I have some photos of our final destination.  These cows are now home at the ranch, close by so we can feed them and enjoy lovely cattle filled views from our own window.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Year

Can you believe that 2014 has begun?! 

I love new beginnings!  Its so wonderful to start with a clean slate.  I make mistakes (no one is surprised there) and although a new start doesn't mean that past mistakes are gone, it does mean that you have the opportunity to rise above them.

Traditionally at the start of the new year we make resolutions.  I'm big on that.  Its like the ultimate year to-do list!  And unlike most of my mom to-do lists, these kind of things can't be undone, well some at least... 

But this year I'm going for something a little different.  I heard a quote recently that we are faced with the challenge to become.  Become what, you may ask.

That is the beauty of it- you get to decide!  So maybe this year I will focus a little more on what I want to become rather than just accomplishing new things.  Life gives new avenues of adventure in the must unlikely places, places we may never have dreamt of.  And while we may have a great list of things we hope to learn or habits to make, it might not accommodate the new road we are travelling.

Now, what is it I want to become?  I'm not really sure...  I guess I'm still trying to discover what that is but I can tell you it has to do with enjoying life on the ranch more and sharing it with more people. 

I do know that I want to share it new ways with new people.

Any ideas? 

Bring it on, 2014! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Crew Part 2

(He, he... the title  rhymes!)

Do you want to know what was so cool about our family cattle drive last week?  Well, yes the winter temperatures did make it a "cool" outing.  What else made it especially cool was that we had all of The Rancher's brothers.

There are five- that's a lot of cowboys for one momma to handle.  Thankfully she is still alive and sane.

We are always privileged to work with Cowboy Pete and Cowboy E while they still live on the ranch, and once again they graced us with their cowboy presence.

With it being Christmas brother #2 and his sweet wife were around to move cows with us.  Wouldn't it be fun to call them Bonnie and Clyde?  Except that they are good kids so the name doesn't fit.  So instead lets call them The Cowpoke and The Montana Girl.  Right now they are absent Eliason cowboys because they are becoming educated cow-folk. 

And completing the cowboy brotherhood was brother #3.  Last week we welcomed home The Buckaroo from his church mission to Kansas.  In true cowboy fashion he was moving cows the day after he got home!

So already this is fun to move cows with all the brothers but something else cool was that there were four generations of cowboys out there from The Ranch Boss to The Rancher's Sidekick.  Its not too often that four generations get to work together!