A Day in the Life

Our days and nights have been filled with haying.  I did take off one afternoon and head to our friend’s wedding, and then stayed overnight for an impromptu family reunion as eight of my nine siblings also attended.  It was awesome.  Pine got to the house at 11:30 a.m. after baling since 8 p.m. the evening before.  He headed to bed for a nap while we headed to the wedding.  He needed some sleep.  My raking duties have been taken over by Cass, our 17-yo.  I’m loving the other stuff I’m getting done— laundry, cleaning, practicing with the Wild Child.  Oh– sleep.  Yeah.  Loving that, too.

Checking Hay

The sweet clover is out of control this year.  Many people like sweet clover, and while I agree the smell is glorious, we are not so fond of it.  More about that in a later post.  We measured the Wild Child so you could get a true mental picture of how tall it really is.  She is 3 feet 9 inches.  There are patches much taller than this.IMG_4408

Bales on an alfalfa field. IMG_4412

I trimmed some branches in the yard and found these babies.  They are actually right at eye level and right outside the Wild Child’s window.  We loved watching them grow.  They “flew the nest” on Monday. IMG_4419

For the love of grass…  what an amazing year.

For The Love of Grass

Until next time… JARW

 

Random Tractor Thoughts

MultiThinkingAnyone who has spent a lot of time in a car, in a tractor, on the back of a horse, or just a lot of time alone can appreciate the fact that there are lots of random thoughts that can run through your brain.  Some of them leave you wondering “What the heck?!  Where did that come from?!”  At least for me it does.  I tried to make some mental notes and real notes over the last few nights of the craziness that goes on in my head.  Perhaps the locoweed bouquet on my table is more spot-on than I originally believed!

A little unsolicited JARW advice, if using talk-to-text on your phone to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the windrow, turn the dang radio off.  It took quite a bit of deciphering to figure out what the heck my notes meant, and I am the one who ‘wrote’ them.  There are song lyrics in the midst of a phrase, there are mumble-jumble / make no sense stuff in there too.  I assume this is the squeal of the rake wheels, or the tractor talking.  The messages are really quite laughable, and some unprintable.  Good for a morning chuckle when you are tired and everything is funny.

Just to highlight how random my brain works, here are a few of the thoughts that I left myself when I found myself ‘thinking’ something crazy.  ‘THINKING’ is a huge stretch for what I must have been doing.

  • For goodness sakes, does this guitar solo have to go on forever?!  Shut off the dang radio for a while.

  • I need to call Karen tomorrow to see if Fred happened to leave his coat at our house during branding (two months ago).

  • — side note:  I didn’t call, Karen.  Maybe she reads my posts.  If so, did he??

  • Wonder where that jet is headed?  Someplace exotic?  If I blink my lights repeatedly I wonder if anyone can see me and wonder what I’m doing.

  • Whoops— Yep!  Pine can see me.  And wonders what the heck I’m doing.  Try explaining that one to your grumpy husband in the baler.

  • You have got to be kidding me.  Turn the radio back on!  IT is NOT Christmas season.  Or at least come up with something else and quit humming “What Child is This”

  • I wonder how my “Girl of Summer” is doing?  Wonder if she would rather be in the tractor than home sleeping.  Yeah right!

  • Girl of Summer
  • Wonder how long it will take me to walk back to the other corner of the field and get the pickup?

  • I haven’t seen one snake all day.  I’m sure they are waiting for me to hike across the field in the middle of the night before they surprise me.  Damn snakes.

  • Why would you want to eat a rattlesnake?

  • Sure hope I took some meat out so I have something to put in the crockpot in the morning.

  • “Morning has broken…”  Turn the radio on, Tami!!! You need some rockin’ music.

  • So close to the end of the field!  Happy dance time?  Perhaps!

My train of thought definitely follows an uncharted track.

Until next time… JARW

What I Didn’t Know

IMG_4387When I was a senior in high school I couldn’t wait to get out of this county.  I was moving on, going to someplace bigger and better, would only see our town in my rear view mirror and on an occasional holiday.  I had big plans.  I had big aspirations.  NEVER ONCE did I ever picture myself as a ranch wife.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like ranch life.  I had grown up in ag country.  I had spent many, many hours doing ranch work.  I just didn’t think it was what my heart wanted.  Silly kid.  What the heck did that 18-year-old kid know.  Nothing I tell ya…. nothing at all.

IMG_4228Fast forward more than a few years.  The things I don’t know now are numerous.  I do know, though, that my heart LOVES being a ranch wife.  My heart LOVES how I spend the majority of my days.  I’m blessed.  However, the list of things I realized that I didn’t know as a punk kid grows on a daily basis.

Windrows

A small list of the things the young me didn’t know:

  • Who the heck would have guessed that one day I would have bags of frozen cow shit in my freezer waiting to be sent to a lab for analysis.  Not that 18-year old kid.  Heck, not the 40+-year-old mom.

  • The 18-yo would never have guessed that the older me would not even flinch at giving a newborn calf mouth-to-mouth. The young me would throw up if I heard someone throwing up, smelled it, or heaven-forbid actually see it.  I had a weak gag reflex.  The younger me threw up extensively the first time I pulled a dead calf (probably 10 years old).  Now, though… I got this.

  • I never knew that I would need an extra fridge badly, and NOT just for extra beer.  That one would be a real shocker to the 18-year-old me.  Back then I probably would have used two fridges entirely for beer!

  • I would have never believed that one day I would actually LOVE mornings and and love watching the sun rising as I was already up for the day, and not just returning home from the night before.

  • The younger me wouldn’t have imagined that the 4th of July would be spent anywhere but at the lake with a cold beer in hand, s’mores from the camp fire, and a vast circle of family and friends celebrating with me.  The more responsible me realizes I actually don’t mind haying on the 4th.  It means we were blessed beyond measure to have hay to put up!

  • The 18-year-old me wouldn’t have ever guessed that my real favorite smells are blooming Russian Olive trees, blooming alfalfa, fresh cut grass, RAIN.  The one thing we would have agreed on, though, is that a baby right out of the bathtub is one of the best smells on earth.

  • The older me is starting to notice a pattern.  Maybe the younger me spent a little too much time having fun!

  • Is there such a thing as having too much fun?!?

Happy Independence Day, JARW friends!  In closing, I have to tell you my conversation with the Wild Child this morning.IMG_4217

ME:  Good morning, Sweets!  My goodness!  You are growing like a weed!

HER:  I’m not growing like a weed, mom, but do you know who is?  Dad!  He is growing like a weed!  And I’m wondering, why did you marry a weed!

Until next time… JARW

“Weather” We Will

IMG_4213One thing about being in agriculture, you better like being the “beck and call girl” for Mother Nature.  SHE makes the rules.  SHE decides if you are going to get any sleep in the spring during calving, or “weather” she is in the mood to dump LOADS of snow on you and make every single thing exponentially more difficult.  SHE decides if you are going to brand on the day you have your crew lined up, or “weather” she needs to blow off some steam and try to blow your crew away or give them a good soaking.  SHE decides if you are going to get your fields planted, or “weather” your tractor is going to be stuck up to the axle when you tried too soon.  SHE decides if you are going to get your hay cut and baled, or “weather” she wants to blow it around or wet it down some.  Her weather makes us slaves to the weather reports, the radars, the 5-day outlooks, the 10-day outlooks, the 30-day outlooks, the “90-days from a fog” markings on your calendar, the “morning doves are sitting on the road” wife’s tails; like it or not, we are addicted to the weather reports.

IMG_4226Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE the moisture and are in no way complaining about the rain.  Let me reiterate for those that will misinterpret.  Again, we LOVE the moisture we have been blessed with and are NOT complaining about the moisture one bit.  I’m just telling ya— our schedules and plans are always up in the air depending on what Mother Nature throws at us.

WindrowsHay is now on the ground.  The swathing officially kicked off this week.  It got shut down yesterday afternoon after studying the weather.  There is a pretty good chance the rain is going to give the hay that is down a pretty good soaking.  It really hasn’t dried at all since being cut.  Three of four days ago it looked like we would be probably swathing more fields today while I was raking hay that was already down, and Pine would be getting ready to get some bales rolled up.

“Not so fast!”  countered Mother Nature.  Instead I am power washing decks to try to get them re-stained.  Cass is fertilizing lawns so the potential rain can soak it in.  Pine is going through the baler one last time.

And the Wild Child— oh, Mother Nature doesn’t bother her.  She is going about her business as usual while biding her time until the rodeo tonight.  Yep— blessed.  Kate roping

Until next time… JARW

Blessings and Hardships

FlowersThe talk over the last few days has been the crazy weather, the tornadoes, and the devastating storms in several parts of the country.  My heartfelt prayers to all those who have lost so much.  Here in our part of the world we had tornadoes and torrential rainfall.  Parts of our county received close to six inches of rain in a matter of hours.  Vehicles were washed off of the road on Highway 85 north of Belle Fourche, and one woman is still missing.  Elsewhere in the state, tornadoes did untold damage.  Lots of heartbreak.  Please keep all those involved in your thoughts and prayers.

IMG_8103Here at home, we have been blessed with amazing moisture.  We are busy trying to get haying equipment ready to go.  All the cows are out on summer grass.  IMG_8198The bulls are out trying to get their jobs done.   bullWe already have a young bull that has injured himself so had to haul an extra one out to help with the workload.  So it goes.

Then there is the mowing.  We have lots of mowing, both here at our home place, as well as the house in town and the lots in town.  My in-laws and Cass spent several of the last few days in town getting mowing done, trees trimmed, branches cleaned up, etc.  I spent those days here at home keeping our yard, my mother-in-laws yard, and all the places in between mowed and trimmed.

I have loved the cooler weather and how green everything looks.  The garden is planted and growing.  The cattle pot, after Pine spending the better part of two days cleaning on it, is shined up and ready for its next round of hauling.  The horses are slicked off and shiny.  The wild flowers are blooming like crazy and often beautifying my table.  I sure am surrounded by beauty.

The rodeo season also continues for the Wild Child.  Her second rodeo went pretty well.  She won fourth in all three of her events that day— the stick horse barrels, the goat tail untying, and the dummy roping.  ropingIMG_4062She made a haul.  Speed is loving (I’m sure) sporting a new pink halter and new bell boots.  IMG_4208She also had a blast riding Gloria, her friend’s pony.  They were two flaxen-maned beauties!  IMG_4188Today we will run to town for t-ball practice and swimming lessons.  Those two things will come to a screaming halt when we get started cutting hay.  We will enjoy them until then.

Until next time… JARW

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day weekend!  Wishing all the fathers, father-in-laws, uncles, surrogates, the “didn’t have to be” dads, the single parents who are both the mom and the dad, and all the rest of the dads out there a glorious day that is all about you!  Our lives are filled with tons of good dads.  We are blessed.  Sharing a few pictures.

Happiest Father’s Day blessings to my dad in heaven.  What a legacy you have left!  You are missed every day.

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The Wild Child and her dad getting ready for her first official barrel race on her trusty mount, Speed.  She rode hard, but it didn’t go quite as planned.  When asked what went wrong she said “Well, I was headed towards the second barrel and started looking for my mom in the stands.”  Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.  She missed second, ran on the wrong side of the barrel, but instead of turning back around and coming around the right side she just headed to third.  I would like to think she won’t make this same mistake in the future, but I am not quite that naive.  Hopefully she won’t be checking out the stands looking for her momma at her next rodeo.

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When her sister asked her how the rest of her rodeo went she stated “Awesome!”

“Awesome?” asked Cass.  “What happened?”

“Well– I only caught the dummy on my practice throw, not when it counted, and I walked in the goat tail untying because I forgot that I was supposed to run.”

She can only go up from there, right?

I love this picture of my brother-in-law (one of the men that the WC has branded with her “favorite uncle” title) telling the boys “good job” after they got done wrestling a calf this spring.

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Pine with two of his beautiful girls.

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Standing guard while the Wild Child wrestles a calf. IMG_7269

The WC visiting with another of her favorite men–  her uncle Ron. IMG_7912

Catching up on some ZZZZZ’s during calving this spring.IMG_8317

Listening to some last minute advice before her run in the goat tail untying. IMG_8478

Riding with her Papa, another of the amazing fathers that have blessed our lives. Nothing better.

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Kate & PapaA blessed HFD to another of my girls’ favorite uncles.  He even comes and serenades the WC in the pasture with his guitar.  When she was younger, he ALWAYS played “Mustang Salad” for her.  One of the many reasons they love him.Mustang SaladHFD, as well, to my brother-in-law.  A wonderful husband, a wonderful “didn’t have to be”, and an amazing grandpa.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA 994970_10151996402083902_823700560_nKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERATo the rest of my brothers and brother-in-laws— HFD to you.  We sure love you all and are blessed you are in our lives. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_2794 DenverIMG_2992 IMG_3008Mr. Dustin– I didn’t forget you.  Thanks for being such an amazing uncle to my older kids and a wonderful friend to me. IMG_5905

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMay GOD Bless all of you fathers today and always.

Until next time… JARW

Summer Pasture

Smells of moonlight and green grass filled our bedroom and soothed our slumber.  Then, shockingly, our noses were filled with the stench of skunk.  This is what woke me up at 2 a.m. last Monday morning.  I ran around the house closing windows, and one look out my front door revealed the likely cause of the skunk’s distress.  Huck– the WC’s dog.  He was on the front step looking guilty as heck, and not as angelic as he does below. IMG_9633

That was pretty much the end of my night’s sleep.  We had to be at the barn by 6 a.m. to saddle up for the day .  Even though I tried to get some more sleep, the peaceful slumber eluded me.  We had already hauled all the 2-year-old heifers and their calves to summer pasture the week before.  Now it was time to get all the cow/calf pairs hauled to summer pasture.  Our ranch is split into several places around the county, and we actually don’t summer any cows at our home place.  It takes two days to haul all the pairs from our home place to summer grass.

IMG_3671We were in the pasture and starting to gather pairs by 7 a.m.  It was going to be a long day as we had to first sort off all the steer calf pairs, trail those to the corrals, sort the pairs into truck loads, and finally load the trucks so Pine and his brother could haul them to summer pasture.  Our kids are troopers.  It was a LONG day.  Although we were back to the corral with all the steer pairs by a little after 11 a.m., our day was really just getting started at that point.

Kate Moving CowsWe got the first two loads sorted and up to the front corral to load on to the trucks.  The Wild Child, by this point, had a growling stomach.  Off her horse she crawled, ran to the house, and came back with a couple of pieces of string cheese to tie her over.  After loading the trucks and getting them on the road, we jumped back on our horses to head to the arena to sort the next two loads for the trucks.  We had the Wild Child, our 8th grade niece, our 12th grade daughter, myself, and Fred and Karen– the couple who work and live at our south ranch.  It was a pretty dang good crew.

It was about 6:15 p.m. by the time we loaded the last of the pairs on the trucks, cleaned a vaccine gun after doctoring a cow, and got to the house for a meal.  Our kids were pretty much on a horse for about 11 hours straight–  including the Wild Child.  The next day, while a little shorter as we didn’t have to sex the pairs first, was still long and meant a lot of hours on the back of a horse.  I give our kids and niece and nephew lots of accolades.  They are tough nuts and great help.  We loved every minute of it.  Life is grand.

Until next time… JARW

Gone Swimming

Cow in WaterIt was a simple task— run out west, find the four cows that had bull calves, and bring them through the home place and into the southeast pasture so they could get shipped out the next day to summer pasture.  There were only about 270 pairs out there so finding the four should be easy peasy.

I found the first pair about 30 minutes into my day, trailed them back to a sorting lot between the pasture I was in and the next pasture over, shut the gate behind me, and headed out to find pair #2.  During my quest I discovered a neighbor’s yearling in our next pasture to the south, and one of our pairs in the neighbor’s pasture.  Ugh!!  I put everything back where it was supposed to be, looked for fence damage (just one wire a little stretched–YAY!!), and headed in search of pair #2.  Bingo– picked her up and trailed her lickety split to the sorting lot.  At this point, I decided to call Cass and the Wild Child.  I told them to saddle up and head out to help.  It was obvious that the other two pairs were at the complete opposite end of the pasture.  They could trail one pair back while I found the other one and save me some time.

Pair #3 and pair #4 were amazingly found only about 50 yards apart.  Divine intervention, I’m sure.  I gathered them up, pushed them up to the fence, and started heading for the opposite end of the pasture.  By this time, as I topped a hill I saw that Cass and the WC were heading my way so I just kept the pairs headed down the fence.  They met me and we continued our trek.

Kate Moving CowsWe rounded the fence corner and headed towards the other side of the pasture and the sorting lot.  We were just about there when all heck broke loose.  Cow #830 decided to make a run for things, and then her calf took off on a dead run going the other way.  I was racing out around to try to circle the cow back when the WC came blowing up beside me.  “PULL UP!!!” I yelled. “PULL UP!”  Disgusted she did just that.

“Sweets.  You were going so fast that you scared me!”

“MOM,” she said disgustedly.  “I have gone that fast lots of times.”

I just shook my head and told her to go see if Cass needed help.  I found the pair that hadn’t cut and run, and took them to the sorting lot.  Then I went back after #830 and her calf.  Cass and the WC had her stopped and were waiting for me.  I had already pushed her calf towards the sorting lot with some other pairs headed that way so all we would have to do is take #830 up there as well.  It worked perfect.  In fact, the girls were even able to hold them while I raced and got the gate open.  We shoved them in the lot and shazam… “just like that” (that might be an understatement) we had all four pairs.

The other side of the sorting lot has an alley that runs east/west and leads into the pasture just west of our house.  We were just going to head the pairs down the alley, and then diagonally across the hay-field to our house, across the house pasture, and then to the southeast pasture where they needed to go.  I went and opened the gates at both ends of the alley when I heard a commotion behind me.  Cow #830 had hit the road again heading for the other side of the sorting lot.  The WC was right behind her trying to stop her, only with her 5-year-old experience, she was in fact chasing her.  I took off to try to get out and around them when #830 went blasting through the gate.  Aargh!!!  I got around her and headed her back to the lot when she decided to take a jump into North Dakota.  She kind of hung up on the now hanging fence, and fortunately thought better of her decision and jumped backwards into the right pasture.  Tragedy averted.  We got her back with the rest of the pairs and started across the hay-field.

This didn’t last long as she spotted the yearling bulls over the fence and headed that direction.  Cass couldn’t shake her away from the fence so she just kept her moving down the fence line while I got the rest of the pairs headed towards a water tank and wind break telling the Wild Child to “just hold them here while I go help Cass.”  By this point, Cass was headed towards us with no cow.  Looking behind her I saw that dang ole #830 had waded out into the dam and had no intention of leaving it.

I think the sight of me with a rope, yelling, and heading down towards the shore fully intending to bail in after her scared her enough to head towards the opposite shore.  I went around to get her going and back into the water she went.  Two more times to the shore and back into the water and FINALLY she headed towards the other pairs and her calf.  The rest of the trip to the southeast pasture was pretty uneventful.  Thank heavens!  Just another day in the life…

Oh– and a little friendly ranch wife advice (and I apologize in advance for my incredible bout of over-sharing), when nature calls and you cop a squat in the great outdoors– beware!!!  The ticks are out!!

Until next time— JARW

Babies

Spring is definitely here, and with it lots of twitterpated birds (gotta love Bambi don’t you?), and new babies.  We were just leaving our place last week heading to watch our daughter’s regional track meet when we met a momma badger and her baby.  Badgers are tough, mean, and cute as heck as babies.

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Even this baby thinks he is tough.  Listen to him growling at me.

Also ran across some geese, but didn’t get a picture of the goslings.

IMG_3883However, I did capture a picture of some twin antelope fawns while sorting a few bull calves and their mommas into a different pasture.  Antelope Babies

And just in case you missed this picture last spring, baby skunks are cute as the dickens, too.

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Until next time… JARW

Still Wrestling

Eye on SparrowI am much slower getting down, I’m much slower getting up, and I felt a little bad for my wrestling partner, but I wrestled the tail end of our calves on Sunday and am absolutely no worse for the wear.  Granted– these were the babies, the last calves to be born over the last few weeks, but still…  it counts as a victory nonetheless.  I can still do it… only slower.  We also got the CIDRs put in the heifers, the CIDRs pulled, shots given, and all the yearling heifers bred yesterday for 2015 spring calving.  All those heifers will be hauled to summer pasture tomorrow.  The circle continues.

IMG_3793Tomorrow is the last day of school.  Our college student finished up about two weeks ago.  The Wild Child’s dance recital is later this week, along with the regional track meet for our high schooler.  Nothing says late spring more than constant running.  We were home for the last several months pretty much solid while calving, and now it seems we can’t buy a day at home between chasing kids, brandings, and getting the heifers AI’d (artificially inseminated).

Last summer the Wild Child made a pop-bottle bird feeder at Bible school.   Ibird 1t has set on the deck pretty much being ignored until this week.  Now the birds are going crazy over it.  (Thanks Mrs. G!)  We are loving watching them all visit.  bird 2This morning it was up close and personal as the Wild Child opened the sliding door to feed the dogs and two birds flew in the house.  bird 3IMG_3811Hope your day is just as exciting.

Until next time… JARW