Friday, December 30, 2016

My 2016 Christmas

Merry Christmas!  What a fun, crazy, fantastic whirlwind of a few weeks we have had!  I have been trying to send my greetings to you for over a week but I've been dealing with some technical difficulties... Well lets just say that the computer may have won then, but I'm winning today!

So yes... Merry Christmas!  Doesn't it always seem to sneak up on us and then all the sudden it is gone again?  Every year I am determined to get going on it sooner or to be more organized to hopefully make the season seem easier.  I think in order for that wish to come true, I'm gonna have to hope for next year!  A small piece of advice- don't wait to go shopping until 10 days before Christmas...  Its not that we procrastinated our Christmas to do list, but it just seemed that the Universe was against us.

My bad luck started early, like December 1, when we went to get a Christmas tree... I had a massive cold that wasn't backing down.  Now, we could have gone for a tree another night, except there really was no other night to do it.  I guess I did have a teensy bit of luck on my side because I don't think the tree hunting has ever been so easy.  We spotted the tree from the road, hiked up a bit, chopped it down and we were done (well, we had to get a few little trees along the way, but they didn't take any extra time...).  Once we got the tree in the house it was all I could do to get the lights on the thing... There may still be a lot of ornaments and fluff still in the boxes because spending any more of my non-existant energy just wasn't happening.

We have been terribly blessed with several snow storms coming through the valley the last few weeks that added to the craziness.  I say blessed because we are always thankful for moisture, but it was always terrible timing.  Like the first day we tried doing some shopping... I had a babysitter and everything lined out so it was bound to be a great night. Or not! It was wet and slushy and we couldn't see to drive.  I just wanted to cry...  And then there was that one other time we had lots of snow that made us SUPER late for the school Christmas program starring The Rancher's Sidekick (when there is only 8 kids in the school, every was is a start!).  Thankfully everyone else had the same terrible roads so we weren't the last ones to arrive.

I had hoped that even if I wasn't going to be terribly organized this year, at least I could totally immerse myself with all of the fluff and fancies of Christmas to make it feel super cheery.  But I felt thwarted at every turn.  We did get our tree up and decorations, but I didn't get to watch all the classic Christmas movies or spend my nights wrapping fancy gifts.  I didn't even manage to make any Christmas cookies or candies!  Gah! What is Christmas without Christmas cookies?!

Does it sound like I'm complaining?  I promise I'm not...  just musing.  And this sort of musing and pondering brought to me some great insight.

Even though I wasn't able totally immerse myself with Christmas fluff, I immersed myself in my family.  I spent time reading and doing homework, snuggling sick babies and rescuing my stranded husband.  And enjoying (or enduring...) them was immersing myself in the greatest gifts I've ever been given.  Yes they are crazy, demanding, frustrating and some days I might refer to all of them as the most terrifying terrorists, but they are mine.  All mine to hug and love and squish and squeeze and occasionally spank.

So when I thought my Christmas wasn't very Christmasy I was wrong.  Because what is more Christmasy than being with and serving the people you love most? That's what the first Christmas was all about- family, love and service.  And so my friends, I've learned a valuable Christmas lesson, maybe somewhat like the Grinch (don't worry I love Christmas, I was just slightly off target)... Christmas isn't about the fluff and fancies.  You may try so hard to make Christmas, Christmasy that you get frustrated with the people and things that seem to get your way.  But if you focus on those things and people, Christmas will find its way to you.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2016

2017 Cowboy Calendar

I don't know what kind of terrific mood I was in this fall, but I was DETERMINED to get my calendar up and going way earlier this year.  And I did!  It was a good thing that I did since it took a while to get the proofing and shipping and what-not done.


No more waiting!  The calendars are here at my house waiting to send them to you!!  If you are interested you can either email me directly at or you can find it on my etsy shop online HERE.

Here is a little taste of the photos featured in this year's calendar!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not Lost, But Certainly Not Sure Where we Are

Hey, friends.  Do you feel abandoned.... again?  Summer just gets so darn busy (I think I've told you that the last 3 years!) that some things just have to go and since I can't stand to go without clean underwear or cleaning my house it is, unfortunately, my blog that gets neglected.  But lucky for you I still take lots of pictures and remember the good stories so I can still keep you caught up.
Like this one day that we were almost lost.
I say almost because I don't want to ever admit I was lost, but if there ever was a day, it was this one.
Let me set the stage.  It was a beautiful and lovely fall day when the guys were gathering the cattle from Cow Hollow (the summer range pasture) to take into Black Pine to wean the following week.  It takes about three days to get everything gathered and moved to the corrals (not to mention the week that it takes for the lost stragglers to make it down!) where they can work them and we were on the last day.  The herd goes right past another set of corrals that conveniently works great to stop and sort off any extra pairs that don't belong or castrate any bulls or that sort of thing. 
Normally the cowboys are on their own for an exciting sack lunch, but on this lucky day, one good ranch wife suggested we meet up at the corrals with the cowboys to grill some burgers.   We jumped on that idea, because the cowboys were tired of eating sandwiches, we were tired of making sandwiches and we were really tired of seeing some of those sandwiches come back home.  Ya know, we ranch wives end up in a terrible conundrum- we have to make sure that we make send enough food and enough sandwiches to keep the cowboys full and happy.  But at the same time, too many sandwiches are a bad thing.  They come home all warm and soggy and no one wants a leftover sticky, soggy sandwich so they end up in the garbage.  So you can see why we jumped on the burger idea.   
We, The Montana Girl, The Cattlewoman, and I, loaded up in the truck with 4 babies, a load of buns, patties, and sheet cake and headed out to find the boys.  I had never been to the corrals we were headed to but The Rancher had given me some sketchy directions where we headed.  I knew the general area we were looking for hope that the landmarks I did know were enough to help us get.  Luckily, Rancher Sr. gave his sweet heart even better directions than I had, so I just opted to leave the navigating to her. 
Our instructions were pretty simple- after the road goes straight, take the only road headed to the right shortly before the road goes under the freeway.  Pretty simple, right?  We thought so.  We got to the straight part of the road and started looking for a road that headed off to the right.  And we found one, but it looked more like a goat trail, so we figured it didn't count.  We kept going and saw ourselves another road and this was a real road.  It had to be a real road because it actually had a road sign.  And we were sure we should take it because the sign said "Cow Hollow" and that's where the cows were coming from.  So we took it.
We knew that once we got on the road, all we had to do was drive a half mile and then take the fork to the right and we would see the corrals.  Well, we didn't see the corrals.... buuuut we could see some cows so we kept going.  We got to the cows and they weren't ours and our cowboys were NOWHERE to be found.  So what's a girl to do in such a situation?
Just keep driving, of course.  I have to tell you at this point we just kept laughing (laughing seemed a better option than crying) because we knew that something was up.  Either we didn't follow what seemed to be simple directions or our directions were bad.  And to make our situation seem worse, we were out of cell phone service so we couldn't even call anyone to let us know where to go or what to do!  Typical, right?
So we kept driving.  And driving.  We figured they had to be this way because they were bringing cows from Cow Hollow...  and the road we were on was Cow Hollow so logically we were headed in the right direction, right? So we kept driving.  Through one gate... and then another.  The farther up the road we got, the more we laughed and slowly conceded that we didn't really know where we were going.  But despite our dire circumstances there was a bright spot in it all- we had the cake and chocolate cake makes anything better! 
We were steadfastly watching our phones and Tada- finally we got service!  The Rancher picked up and just laughed when I explained our exciting predicament.  We were way, WAY off!  So we found the least scary place to turn around at (because there aren't too many places for a U-turn out in the hills) and headed back to the road.  It turns out that it was really simple to get there, we just hadn't gone far enough down the road to take the right right! All we needed was for someone to have said, turn JUST BEFORE the highway, or AT the turn.  Nevertheless, we made it.  
Now if there is a lesson in all this, its this: a man should know to give detailed directions to his wife.  Sure the directions we were given were accurate and simple, but without the details we had to fill in the blanks ourselves and that didn't turn out good!  But we know that DETAILS just aren't a part of a man's brain so the reality is that detailed directions will never happen.  Which means the real lesson in all this is that every ranch wife needs to know EVERY inch of land, EVERY road, EVERY corral...  EVERY blasted sage brush so that when they say "meet me here," you actually know where to go and don't take an hour long scenic route.
Despite the craziness and somewhat stressfulness, it was a lot of fun.  Not any fun I want to repeat anytime soon, but we certainly made some memories.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Come Gusting Wind and Ghastly Dust and Aching Strep, We Get the Job Done

Have you ever been at a loss for words?  Me either.  I always have something to say.  Ask The Rancher... I can talk his ear off.  Like, he has learned to not even turn the radio on in the car because I will chatter enough to keep him busy.  And I bounce around all over asking him about this and that and then I remember this one thing that I wanted to tell him and then... Well, you get the point.

Thus far, I haven't really done that to you.  I've been able to stay pretty well on point.

But I think the day has come that I have so many things to say that they are all going to just get all wrapped together in this post.  There is just so many things that need mentioning.  I promise they are relate because they all happened on this same day of branding.  And I'll do my best to tie them together but just be warned...  It was just really full of ups and downs and sideways-ness...

Here we go-

Every year this day of branding is a big deal.  All the other weekends of branding, we are branding with the association which means that not every calf coming in is ours.  And there is ooodles of help.  But the day that we brand on our private ground and all 300+ calves are ours.  Friends... that is a lot.  A LOT.  At least for this girl.

So we call everyone and their dog, scratch that... everyone and their horse to come and help us.  Normally we have big group, like 30 or more.  And we had all those fine helpers lined up to come this year, until the rains came.  And came and came and finally rained us out of our originally planned day (but we didn't complain!).  We postponed to the next week and ended up losing a lot of the help.   But don't worry, we managed...  It was all a little slower than normal, but we made it.

There were parts to the day that were, well... miserable.  Don't get me wrong, I loved it all but it was still miserable.  I mean, there is nothing nice about working on a hot, EXTREMELY windy and equally TERRIBLE dusty day when you have strep.  The night before I started getting a sore and swollen throat and I knew it was strep.  This was my third bout of strep in almost as many weeks so I knew how it went down.  Seriously...  It wasn't enough that I was still recovering from giving birth and waking up multiple times in the night for said baby, I had to develop strep that would equally keep me from sleeping (it just isn't as cute as my baby)...

Part of me contemplated heading to the doctor before heading south to brand, but I knew that just wouldn't work.  It would take too long to get in, checked out, a prescription filled and out to the range.  With so few cowboys coming to help, they actually really needed me! So I pulled up my cowgirl pants and just dealt with it (and thank you tylenol and ibuprofen for making that possible!).

I did occasionally get a break when baby requested me or rather was saying it was time to eat.  It was great for an excuse to rest my tired aching body, but I felt bad to leave the guys because that meant someone else had double duty giving shots too.  And not meaning to toot my own horn, but I have gotten a pretty good system down to keep the shots flowing fast.  So I just kept bouncing back and forth between the corral and the baby, going where ever I was needed most... although what I really wanted to do was go to sleep.  On the bright side, I'm pretty sure I earned myself some substantial Rancher's Wife Stripes!

Normally, this day of branding is one that I can quick jump on a horse and help gather.  But being the momma bear that I am, I hate leaving my baby.  Not wanting to be left behind, I convinced The Rancher to bring the gator down with us so I could load up all the babies, the dogs, my camera, my pal, The Montana girl, and the kitchen sink and still come help (I don't know if I really convinced him to bring it or if they were already planning on it, but I'd like to think it as me...).  And I was so grateful and had a fun, bright spot in the day getting out there.  There fresh air was just as good for this girl as any medicine!

We gather the herd in and then sort all the mommas out, making its lots easier and faster to rope the calves.  Its certainly noisier, but who needs their hearing?  This few minutes of sorting is a highlight for the cowboys.  Ya see, whoever is running the gate has the responsibility to risk life and limb to make sure that not a SINGLE calf gets through.  If they do, they owe the whole group.  What do they owe- I dunno... Some say beer, some say steak, some say a candy bar... I don't think anyone has ever actually paid up, but the potential is always there for a good time.  They can get away without paying up because a calf out means that those cowboys get a good chase and roping that is better than any beer, steak or candy bar!  Unfortunately there weren't any missed on the first round of sorting.  But someone must have paid off the gate-man because there was a good handful for the roping come round two!

Oh, hey... Lets talk about that wind.  So the day started off beautiful.  Sunny, warm but not hot with a teensy breeze to keep the smoke from hanging around.  But the rude weatherman forecasted gusting winds in the afternoon, about the only weather prediction they can ever get right (says The Rancher).  As we were gathering in the second herd, true to the forecast those winds picked up and it was near impossible to see.  Aside from not being able to see, like, anything, it made it super hard to keep your hat on.  You might not think that's a big deal, but all the sudden we find ourselves with a bunch of awkward, naked topped cowboys finding it hard to rope.  It was really probably do to the wind, but I'm sure the thought of losing and being hatless just threw them off their groove.

Despite the extra juggling because of less help, having a sweet, hungry baby, terrible winds and dust, strep throat and everything else crazy going on, the work got done.  We may have had a pound of dirt in our eyes and ears and I lost my voice for the nest 4 days, but as cowboys do we faced the work and got it done!


Click Read More below for dozens more photos!