Friday, June 27, 2014

A Big Ride for a Little Cowboy

 Being only four years old doesn't stop this little boy from believing that he can do ANYTHING he wants to do, or more importantly- what his dad is doing.  He is called The Rancher's Sidekick for a reason- he goes everywhere and does everything with his dad.  The first thing he says in the morning (after his request for hot cocoa!) is "where is dad?"  And no matter what dad is doing, he is distraught that he was left behind.
Until last week.
The cowboys were moving the heifer pairs to new pasture not far from the ranch.  Being the awesome mom that I am (and with The Rancher giving the idea) I loaded up The Rancher's Sidekick's horse and headed out after herd. 
We caught up to the bunch and before I could park the truck, my little cowboy was scrambling out of the truck to get his horse out.  He had one request- I want to ride by myself, and nobody pull me!  Can you say independent? As nervous as I was (because I'm still a mom and the ground is pretty far down...) we handed him the reigns and let him go!
It was somewhat of a moment for me to watch him ride off following his dad.  Here is my firstborn showing his momma that he is growing up.  And as much as I'm not read for that, there is no other way that I would rather him do it than as a cowboy!
I just kept thinking, how many boys have this chance?  Go to work with dad, everyday?  How many little boys get to ride with his dad, grandpa, and great grandpa?  How many little boys get to live their dreams of being a cowboy before they have ever gone to school?
Of course he is a crazy four year old that spent more time picking his nose than watching the cows.  But the great thing was that he was there, in the middle of all of it.  We don't live on the sidelines out here.  We live in the thick of it all!


Friday, June 20, 2014

DIY Pallet Shelf

Pallet crafts.  You see them all over Pinterest.  Everyone is coming up with crazy creative ideas to use the only-good-for-fire-wood pallets for something so beautiful and useful.  At first I though they were crazy and weird.  Sorry, sista... I have seen way too many of these to want to put one in my house, thank you very much.

But then I gave in.

When I saw the PILES of pallets around the ranch I started thinking of ways I could make something awesome out of them too.  The need for one came as The Ranch Princess emptied out my purse for the umpteenth time.  Please can I just have a little shelf that I can hang my purse and camera and mom-bag from that looks cute!

Light. Bulb.

I should make one... from a pallet!  So I went to Pinterest, and really didn't find what I wanted.  But... that didn't stop me.  I went to the pile, found the best pallet of the bunch and headed to the shop where the power tools were (oh, and The Rancher...).  I explained to him what I wanted and he said, "...ok."  Very enthusiastic.  All I really needed from him was to tell me where the saws-all was and to let me have at it.

I cut off the first section of pallet and then the a second board to go across the top for my shelf.  With the pieces cut out (and the rest cleaned up- I do my part to keep the shop clean!) I headed for a sander.  Now I know the fun of a pallet craft is that it is from a pallet and therefore has some character.  But my OCD-ness wouldn't let me NOT sand the darn thing... just a little.

Sanding really was the most time consuming thing, not because it took super long, but because the rest of it went so fast.  I didn't sand it off terribly smooth, just enough that when I would be taking my hand across it I wouldn't get any slivers.  We try to avoid pain like that if we can...

Next step- stain.  With so many options it was almost hard to know how to go with this part of my project.  I ended up taking a cherry brown stain and loved the results.  On the first coat the grain started to come to life and I LOVED it.  In fact, I only put the one coat on because it was exactly what I was looking for.  It had a little dark color to it without being overwhelming or distracting.  Awesome!  I did do a quick sealant coat to help keep it's awesome-ness.

After letting the stain dry I dug through The Rancher's toolbox to find myself a hammer (maybe I should get my own tools!!) and nails.  Since the shelf was from a pallet it wasn't too square, which means I can blame any unlevel/unsquare issues on it, right?  Actually it was a little tough to keep it square while I was putting it together just because it was a little awkward to try and hold together on my own.  But never fear, I got it together! 

And a shelf is born!

The last bits to add were my dollar drawer pulls from Home Depot (LOVE that store!).  For Father's Day I was the awesome wife that got her husband a new drill set and I finally had a chance to use it.  I drilled myself a few little holes, put the screws in and I was done.

The coolest part of this project was when The Rancher saw it in the room.  He was seriously impressed and is even thinking of places to put for his hat and gloves... Yes, earned myself more rancher's wife stripes!  Now, honey, could you please help me hang this up?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Montana Mule Days

Every town has their funny/crazy things that they do.  In the little town where I grew up in they celebrate Mule Days.  Seriously.  Three days of mule games, events, parades... you name it they do it.  I'm not really sure why though.  I can only think of a handful of people in our valley that has mules so I don't know why Drummond is the place for it.  Actually, there was a time when they tried moving it somewhere else, but apparently that didn't go over so well because it is back in Drummond!

We were visiting my parents over Mule Days and took a spin around.  We missed the parade... but we did get to watch a little of the wagon events and some penning.  For the life of my I don't know why people prefer mules to horses (unless your packing... those animals can HAUL) but these folks do.  We found mules in all colors, shapes, and sizes.  And I must admit that some of the teams hooked up were beautiful!

Growing up we always said the best thing about Mule Days is the rain that comes with it.  Not kidding.  It seems that it rains this weekend every year.  Boy we sure do love Mule Days!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Day at the Blackfoot Team Penning & Branding

I already told you how our day ended when we took the heifers to the team penning and branding, and as promised I have pictures of the day.  I have to tell you that I LOVED having my new camera!  Its amazing to be able to stop a rope mid-air or to get the dirt flying.  Mmmm...

When I was telling a friend what we on the summer weekends he couldn't believe that when we have time off to play, all we do is sort and brand heifers.  Yep, we love being cowboys so much that its pretty much all we do!

Now if you're wondering what a team penning and branding is, I'll tell you.  The first event is the team sort.  They throw out 10 heifers (numbered 0-9) and the cowboys are given a number for the first heifer that they sort out first.  Once they find her, they find the rest in the sequence until the time runs out.

The penning is really similar.  Instead of finding the heifers in a sequence they have to find 3 heifers, all with the same number.  Then they push them to the other end where a pen is set up (hence the reason it is called penning...).

And the late (and probably my favorite to watch) is the team branding.  The teams have 4 heifers to head, heel, and brand (with pancake mix, of course).  There are 4 guys to a team, 2 to rope and 2 to do the branding.  They switch in the middle, so that everyone gets a turn to rope...  It wouldn't be fair if they didn't, now would it!

I'll admit that sometimes it can get a little long, but there are some dang good horses that can make an awesome cut.  There are a few little bloopers along the way that always make it exciting.  They did a youth penning team that was so fun to watch.  These kids are on the way too be some stinking' good cowboys (sadly I had my camera put away at this point...).  Then we end the day with some dang good ropers!  That certainly includes my cowboy, The Rancher... he got 2nd place!  Enough winnings to pay for supper, what more could a wife ask for!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What Does Father Mean to You?

If you ever you look up the definition of father, you'll find that most of them refer to having a child.  Some talk about being a parent or having responsibility for their children, but they don't got to far into what a father is.
I found a little quote that said becoming a father is easy, being a father is rough.  I think that might come the closest to telling it how it really is.  Because being a father isn't always fun or easy.  It means late nights and up all nights.  It means taking the time to teach how to do rather than just jump in and do it yourself  It means watching them get a few scrapes as they try so hard to learn to ride a bike. 
There is a price to pay and sacrifices to be made with being a dad.  But the returns on such an investment is totally worth it.  Because believing in someone and helping them know who they are is greatest gift anyone could give.
So what does a father mean to you?  To me it is sacrifice, time, compassion, understanding and believing.  Its forgetting yourself and putting them first.  it shaping someone into being everything their potential will allow them to be.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Midnight Rescue

It was a week ago that I was sitting at the Blackfoot team penning and branding. I had been looking forward to that day for so long because I planned to absolutely nothing.  Just sit.  And take pictures. 

It didn't start so simple since The Rancher and I were doing it solo.  Normally the whole family comes out and we have more than enough help.  But The Buckaroo is madly in love and decided to go branding with his girl instead (but really, who could blame him?  A weekend of branding is always a great time!).  What really took away the help was the fact that Cowboy E was in the hospital in Salt Lake, so he wasn't around and neither was Rancher Sr.  That left the babies and I to be the help that day.

Of course we are the best help he's ever had, but only so much can make up for missing water troughs, a screwy chute set up, and wound up heifers.  It took some time, but we got the heifers ready and out for the sorting.

Once we got things running it was a pretty typical hot, sunny day at the fair grounds.  The Rancher's  Sidekick had to check everything out and The Rancher Princess could barely keep up.  We fit in a few naps and lunch in between switching cattle and cheering for dad.  Everyone had to take a turn sitting on the horse and we roped everything in sight.  And I did have a few minutes to take some fun pictures (forthcoming, I PROMISE).  

The day ended up long, and just when we thought we were to the end of our busy day things got a little crazy.  We left for home about 9:30pm, later than we had anticipated because we had such a great turnout.  Things were going good until just before Rockland, about 45 minutes from home.  All of the sudden there was a weird knocking sound in the motor of the semi.  I figured something must being going really wrong if it was loud enough for me to notice (I could never double as a mechanic...), especially in my tired, worn out state.  I looked at The Rancher to confirm my suspicions that we were in trouble and yep... he had that oh-crap-don't-let-this-be-happening look on his face.  Of course we were part way up the hill and it took all the power the broken down semi had to make it to the top.  I might have been saying, "I think I can, I think I can..." all the way up...

The Rancher jumped out to look under the hood to see what was happening (and borrowed my phone for a flashlight since it was dark at the point) and saw that oil was shooting out one side (if he was telling you the story he would tell you where, but you already know that I can't tell you those details of the story!).  The final diagnosis was that something had broken and that semi wasn't going to make it home. 

Hmmm... what is a rancher, wife and kids supposed to do with a dead semi and a bull wagon full of tired, sore, hungry, thirsty heifers.  I dunno either... Call the calvary, I guess.  So we did.

First we called The Buckaroo (who had managed to make it to the tail end of the branding earlier in the night) to turn around and come get myself and our tired kids.  To make it a little more tricky, his phone was dead so we had to call his girl (she was following him home for the weekend) to get him to stop and turn around.  Then we made a call to some of our dearest friends and neighbors, who farm and have their own semi.  We interrupted their night to beg them to come and save us.

It ended up that they needed a little saving (thank goodness for brothers that live close by!) of their own because their semi was dead and had to jump it to get it started.  Not a very good way to start a midnight rescue.  But the pair of them got it running and headed out.

The Ranch Boss must have had a moment of inspiration because he called us just as we pulled off the road to see how things were going.  When we explained what was going on, he jumped in the ranch truck and had the sense to throw in some blocks in the back, just in case. 

Once everyone arrived the fun began.  They had to unhook and jack up the trailer, still full of heifers.  And that wasn't as simple as it sounds.  These jacks aren't ones that you can adjust.  Its a one time guess to have them up to the right length.  Being on the road they had to add in the blocks The Ranch Boss brought to make sure they didn't break through the asphalt.  You can imagine that 30,000 pounds of pressure on two small jacks could present some real issues.   Once the trailer and jacks were set, they were able to limp our dying semi off the road and out of the way. 

The next step was to hook up the rescue semi.  Again, not as simple as it sounds.  this semi wasn't as tall as ours (apparently we have big tires- once again I can't tell you the details...).  The guys had to rig up a sort of ramp to get the back end high enough that they could hook on to the trailer and get the jacks off.  That only took like 4 tries...

Finally the rescue crew headed home and made it to back up and unload in the dark.  I quick jumped in my mom-mobile to help shine a little light on the unloading chute to hopefully make it a little easier for The Rancher to back up to. And here I have to throw in how awesome of a backer-upper (is that even a word? I just made it up...) The Rancher is.  He backed that semi up in dark and hit it right on the first time.  Amazing! Who knew such a skill existed!  All that was left was to convince the worn down heifers to unload.

What began as a long fun, long, hot day turned into an even longer, exhausting day.  But we made it, thanks to some incredible friends and neighbors.  I'm pretty sure that I owe those boys some brownies!

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Little Artificial Insemination on the Ranch

I might have forgotten to tell you about AI-ing... So sorry!  I've got no excuses to say except that I am WAY too busy!  I either need a blog assistant, a maid or a nanny and since I love my kids and I love blogging I think that I want a maid.  For free, of course.  Ya... that's not about to happen any time soon.


But back to our day AI-ing.  Really it was uneventful.  The heifers were wired, but that's nothing new, right?  We have a breeder come do the work and all we (the cowboys) just have to keep the heifers moving.  I took it upon myself to just take pictures- a real challenge.  (Random side note- when people come to the ranch and see me taking pictures of non-picturesque shots they look at me like I am some weirdo... No I'm not taking pictures of you AI-ing to put in my scrapbook.... I have a blog.)

The process is pretty simple.  The semen is stored frozen in a tank of liquid nitrogen to keep frozen until time to use it.  The breeder will thaw it and then load it into the insemination gun.  When the cow is ready, he sticks one GLOVED hand into her rectum to manipulate the reproductive tract.  With the gun he places the AI into the vulva, to the cervix and then squirts the semen into the uterus.  It can be pretty tricky to do it all by feel and through the guts.  Who knew that such a talent existed!