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! 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Family That Brands Together, Stays Together

I've been feeling somewhat emotional about family this week.  It could be leftover mushy feelings from Mother's Day extra stirred up from all those post-partum hormones flowing through my veins and totally exaggerated from looking at all these photos of my favorite people.. but I dunno.  Regardless of the why, I have a mega-sized dose of love for family and all I keep thinking is, "I love my life!"

Seriously, how often do families get days like these?  How many times do you have a chance to take your kids to work?  It happens pretty much daily around here.  How often do you see three generations of men working together?  Yep, every day.  We are pretty lucky that even the brothers come around the ranch often.  And when I say often I mean, like, weekly!  I know guys that would give anything to be able to work with their dad and brothers like these boys get to.  Of course, the fun doesn't stop there- we have sisters-in-law that love this life too and that, my friends, is no easy feat.  Honestly, its hard enough for brothers to marry wives that like each other, but then to find wives that love ranching and cowboying too?!  Good work boys... Good work!

We all have varying jobs at what we do to help or entertain, but no one is sitting around. Some come packing the camera and some bring the cinnamon rolls (thanks to The Cattlewoman, for sure!).  The kids are always elbow deep in the work (sometimes making more work for the rest of us, but at least they are out there wanting and willing to work!)  Some live the dream life on the back of the horse and some do the dirty grunt work.  Even if you think that you are just going to spectate, crazy things happen to get you moving.

Check this out.  Quick story time-  The Buckarette...  This girl was 39 weeks pregnant on this fine day of branding (which is why there isn't a SINGLE picture of her... hmmm...)  She came out planning to just sit on the back of the truck and, ya know, just take it easy.  Then she starts holding the calves back and helping sort out the already branded calves.   Then she starts helping with shots (which is admirable in itself because that meant bending over and if you know pregnant ladies, that gets a little difficult when you are growing a human being in your middle!).  And then she suddenly swings her way up on the horse to get out and rope!  We teased her that she had better be careful where she dallied because her belly was a little close to the horn.  She got up there, turned her horse to the calves and before you knew it, she was back dragging one in.  She gets extra kuddos in my book because it had been a good long while since she had roped and she was as smooth as ever.  Honestly, we should have had her out roping lots earlier because she caught every calf she swung at!  She told us that she as only going to rope one, but once she got started, we couldn't stop her.  Ok, not really... but she did have her good handful of them.

Anyone can tell you, working as families can be rough.  One person wants something done one way and someone another, and some crazy fight ensues.  One person feels like they are doing all the work while the others get the benefits.  One suddenly thinks they are the boss and the others stop working dead in their tracks.  It can really happen...  But I don't think feelings like these have ever come up around here (I'm crossing my fingers that even though I am saying it out loud, nothing changes...).  Sure we have our moments of frustration or disagreement but I have never seen an operation run so smoothly.  Family comes first and with that, everyone works together towards a common goal that brings us together.  At the end of the day, we are all apart of making Eliason Livestock successful and sustainable.  More importantly we are apart of a family legacy, building from our heritage something for the future that we can all be proud of.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Letter to a Sandwich

When you have three kids and your husband is gone a lot and returns home tired to the bone and just falls asleep, you tend to not get much adult interaction.  And when that happens, you tend to start having conversations with yourself.  And when that time is prolonged for a few weeks, the conversations with yourself in your head turn  sideways.  All of the sudden you think, "Man if I have to make one more sandwich...!  Boy, I'd tell that sandwich...!  I'd tell it....!"

Suddenly you have a letter written to a sandwich, that doesn't exist, and if it did, it did nothing to you to deserve such retribution.  And that letter would go something like this:

Dear Sandwich,

We are back to our annual hot-and-heavy-relationship again.  I must say that as the days drag on, I find you less and less desirable.  Getting together every once in a while is manageable, but lately you have been coming around WAY too much.  Lets face it, you have nothing new to offer.  When you whittle it down, you are just two slices of bread with a piece or two of meat and cheese in the middle with a little mayo slathered on to provide a little lubrication for the trip down.

Sure, you could be a bit more.  A little fluff can really go a long way.  In fact, I enjoy a little tomato and lettuce on my sandwich.  Heck, I'll even take some pepper or cucumber to make things a little interesting.  But that's only when its fancy-sandwich-day at home.  Sorry to tell you, but a fancy sandwich doesn't fly out on the range.  A juicy tomato turns a sandwich sitting in lunch box in the back of the truck soggy REAL fast.  And limp lettuce is even less appealing!  Knowing that adding the extras in an attempt to change things up is all just wasted effort and  just makes you even less alluring.

I know that if we get creative things could be a little exotic with some tuna.  But The Rancher is a land creature and can only take so much tuna.  And we could get the creative juices flowing and pull out some spicy mustard and add a little zip or zing to it.  Heck, The Rancher even gets creative out on the range when he tries to pep you up with a few chips to give you a little crunch.  But even with all the creativity, you are still just two slices of bread with a piece or two of meat and cheese in the middle with a little mayo slathered on to provide a little lubrication for the trip down.

What I am trying to say is that I am done with you.  I am tired of all your fixin's taking up so much space in my fridge.  I'm tired of looking for ways to mix it up.  I'm tired of making you and then seeing you come home when you just weren't worth eating.  Lets go back to the days of only getting together once in while.  A man needs a man lunch that will stick to his sides for these long days.  Sorry, but a sandwich day after day isn't going to cut it.  I'm severing ties and turning to cold pizza for now.  Go find some other lunch box to fill...

Sincerely (tired of fixing and eating you!),

The Rancher's Wife