Happy Birthday



Just want to give a shout out to my main man today.  Happy birthday, Pine!  I’m sorry that it is snowing again.  Spring will be here one day.

Thanks for being all that you are, doing all that you doing, blessing us with this amazing life we live, and loving life and us.  We are surely blessed. IMG_3910 IMG_0406


IMG_7164 FamilyAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA IMG_0085 IMG_0758 IMG_0781 IMG_0776Happy birthday!

Until next time… JARW


Soap Box

Eternal Vigilance

If you saw my pigsty, I mean my house, you would wonder if there was even a soap box around.  However, today I am digging one out to stand on it and shout!  MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  

The USDA comment period for allowing importation of beef from areas of Brazil ends on April 22nd.  As of today, 04/11/2014, there are ONLY 673 comments.  What the heck?  We have over 673 cattle producers in South Dakota alone.  Why are people not responding? Why are we granting the USDA the opportunity to potentially devastate our way of life, our income, our passion for agriculture, and our LIVES without even commenting and trying to put a stop to it?

If you are unaware of what is going on, the USDA is proposing to import beef products from areas of Brazil.  Why does it matter, you ask?  Well, let me enlighten you.  Foot-and-Mouth Disease!!  Here are some articles that I have written in the past few months.

Foot-And-Mouth Disease Would Destroy U.S. Industry

Preparing for the Worst

I have also written a past blog post about this issue, FMD.

This is a very, very serious issue.  The USDA is playing roulette with the future of agriculture in the United States.  Please, please, PLEASE… don’t allow it.  Here is the USDA LINK to the docket.  Take a minute and comment on the proposal.  Please let the USDA know that you DON’T WANT BEEF IMPORTS FROM BRAZIL.  In addition, please contact your legislators and let them know your thoughts.  Here is a website to help you out with contacting your legislators.

We have become a nation of complacency.  Please make a difference and comment.  Please.

“There is a significant Latin proverb, to wit, Who will guard the guards?”—–Henry Wheeler Shaw

Until next time… JARW

Spring has Sprung

Calving Barn HumorWe have officially been calving for 127 days.  Well, it seems like it sometimes.  We have actually only been calving for 55 days, but who’s  counting right?!  Especially with all the fun we have had!  The last heifer calved two days ago so we are DONE with heifers!  YAY!  The weather over the past few days has been absolutely glorious.  I am LOVING the sunshine, meadowlarks singing, sprouts of green grass, baby calves running, playing, and bucking, and the amount of time we are getting to spend on the back of a horse.

We spent two afternoons putting out more pairs and then sorting cow/calf pairs into one pasture and heifer/calf pairs in to another pasture.  It was much-needed therapy for not only me, but I believe for Pine, Kate, and Papa.  There is something soothing about sorting a pair out of a bunch and sending it towards the gate.  I love every aspect of it from finding the right pair, the sounds of the horses, the cows and calves bawling, the smell of the leather and horse lather, the calmness of the whole process, and especially watching three generations (my husband, father-in-law, and the Wild Child) all working together towards a common goal.

Spring is here.  The horses have all pretty much shed their winter coats… we help by brushing it off in clumps every morning.  The cows are scratching and scratching…


using the fence as their scratching post while jerking out staples and stretching wire.  Everything is seeking out green grass.  I’m loving it.

We are fixing fence, pounding staples, watching calves and kids grow with the sunshine and fresh air, and loving the sounds and sights of spring.

Until next time… JARW

Winter Storm

IMG_2917 Dump-E-card-grey-hairsIMG_2916It has been a long couple of days.  A winter storm blew through dropping 8-10 inches of wet snow accompanied by blowing wind.  The drifts are everywhere, and they are deep.  It is tiring trudging through drifts up to your knees, some over your knees, and then there is squishy mud down underneath the snow so you are sinking and slipping in it all.  It makes for tired muscles.

IMG_2917IMG_2917The cows must have realized there was a winter storm going on.  The first night they cooperated pretty well and we didn’t have one calf UNTIL about 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning.  After getting all the sheds cleaned the cows started calving in full force.  By yesterday afternoon the sheds were filling up pretty quickly.  Pine and Gary were trying to get some snow moved yesterday afternoon so we could get around better.  The girls were watching the drop bunch and putting in anything that was calving.  I was walking through all the pairs in the lots to make sure nothing was mixed up and every baby was eating and doing well.  As luck would have it, at dark last night I found a calf that had been bummed by his crazy momma.  I stopped Pine in the tractor to find out where he wanted me to put him to get some milk in his belly.  We ended up packing him out of the lot in the tractor bucket as the drifts were too deep to get to where he was at with anything else.  We put him in the horse barn and the girls fed him a bottle.

By this morning we didn’t have one open spot in any shed.  We were so glad for sunshine and warmer temps so we could get all the pairs put out and the sheds cleaned and re-bedded.  It was quite a process.  The WC filled the tagger, as is her usual job, Pine tagged and kicked them out, and I got them put in the next corral.  It isn’t as easy a process as it sounds.  Some of the cows are awesome and just take their calf and head to the gate.  Those cows get a BIG atta-girl!  Others are not quite so cooperative.  They take off while you are trying to get the calf going in the right direction.  Then when it seems like the calf is going well the cow comes blowing back and bellering looking for her calf.  This scares the poor little bugger and he usually turns and runs the other way.  Honestly, I usually end up cussing like a sailor before it is all over.

Old Flops calved last night.  When Trent came to give me the low-down on what all had happened during the night as he was headed to bed (at 4:00 a.m.), he said “You’ll be glad to know that Flops calved.”  Then he laughed.  I told him to laugh away as he would dislike her as much as me after a few months.  Flops drives me nuts.  She isn’t mean, isn’t wild, isn’t ornery, isn’t much of anything actually other than a complete pain in the tush.  She will be the first one through the gate when you are moving pairs and head to the first batch of green grass.  There she will sit there munching away until you are trying to push the last bunch of calves through the gate.  She will pick this moment to suddenly remember that she doesn’t have her calf.  She then turns and runs towards the gate, bellering all the way, scattering calves everywhere, scattering cows everywhere, and making us all cuss.  She does it over and over.

We walk through the pairs every single day.  Nothing pays much attention to us, except Flops.  We will walk through the pairs and she won’t notice us for most of the time we are there.  Then she will spot us, start her bellering, start running around trying to remember where she left her baby, and by the time it is all over she will have EVERYTHING stirred up.  I cuss her every single time I see her.  Pine laughs and says “Oh she isn’t that bad.”  Then when she has everything running willy nilly he is cussing her too.  Damn ole Flops.

After everything was bedded down for the night, after we made sure all the bellies were full, and after we had moved as much snow as we could get moved yesterday, we all headed for the house.  We were tired, wet, and some of us grumpier than others.


Pine said he was showering and heading to bed if I would check until Trent got back.  I wanted to watch some basketball anyway so the deal was made.  He was standing in the kitchen finding a snack when the WC wondered aloud where she should sleep for the night.  Pine said “I know where you WON’T be sleeping!”  She had crashed our bed the night before when we had an overflow of kids in the house, and believe me, she is the ONLY one that got any sleep.  She stood there, calculator in hand, punching in some numbers and concentrating on the screen.  Then she looked up at him and said “The way I figure it, Dad, you are one million percent grumpier than I am.”  Out of the mouths of babes…

Until next time… JARW

Down She Goes

Not botheringWe have had a couple of beautiful days.  Yesterday, matter of fact, I actually had to slough my jacket and gloves riding home from sorting heavies.  The sun was shining, meadowlarks singing, and I was riding with my husband, my Wild Child, and my father-in-law.  It was fabulous, and one of those times when you just want to soak it in and keep it in your memory bank.

IMG_3048There have been some adventures over the past few days.  The first was tagging calves in the lot.  It was Pine, the WC, and I trying to  power tag some calves right before dark and then get them moved to a different holding pen for a day or two of bonding before trailing them to pasture.  We were in the Mule.  Pine was tagging, the WC was filling the tagger, and I was filling the needle.  We had gotten several tagged uneventfully and headed towards the other end of the lot.  Pine jumped out to grab a calf.  All was going well until the cow decided to take a run at him.  He made it around the Mule, and the cow and calf took that opportunity to head out.  We scooted back up beside the calf again, Pine grabbed it, and we drove ahead a ways to try to get it tagged before the cow realized what happened.  No such luck.

I jumped out, grabbed a shovel for a weapon, and ran around to try to protect Pine while he finished up with the calf.  The cow decided to take a run at me.  The trusty shovel held her off and weakened her pursuit a bit.  Fortunately, that was the end of our excitement tagging.  I walked behind a few of the pairs taking them up to their pen, and Pine and the WC brought the rest from the other direction.  The rest of it went like clock work.

Our other bit of excitement concerned the Wild Child.  She has been so lucky to have Speed, her trusty, faithful horse.  He takes such good care of her.  However, he has realized that she really doesn’t run the show like she thinks she does and so he often likes to stand by the gate to the barn and not cooperate much.  We fixed that.  The Wild Child now has an over-and-under rope on her saddle.  Look out world.  For those unfamiliar, it is a long rope that she can use to coerce him to move with a swat on the tush.  She isn’t very handy with it and often ends up swatting herself on the tush, but Speed is well aware of the fact that it is there and he has decided she gets to be the boss again.

I was packing buckets from the granary to the feed box in the horse barn.  The WC was just doing her thing, riding around, bossing the dogs, bossing me.  She came loping by me and turned for the gate.  The ground is slick around here with the frost leaving and the increasing temps.  Poor Speed’s legs just went sliding out from under him and down they went, both of them.  Speed went down flat on his side and the WC landed out beside him.

She was mad.  She thought Speed was just being ornery.  I picked her up and sat her on a feed bucket to make sure she was okay, and to explain that Speed had slipped and fell.  You could tell he felt so bad.  He came over to her and nuzzled her hair, both apologizing and making sure she was okay I think.  That alleviated her anger a tish, until he then realized she was sitting on a bucket of pellets and tried to use his nose to push her off the bucket to get to the feed.  It made us both laugh.  Both she and Speed came away completely unharmed.  Thank heavens.  She got back on and thought she better go check the drop bunch.  Good girl.

Until next time… JARW


I saddle Speed, the Wild Child’s trusty mount, in the mornings while doing barn chores.  She likes to ride around while everyone else is working.  Don’t blame her.  While the barn chores are being done the Wild Child usually goes out and checks the drop bunch (the heifers and cows getting close to calving).  A couple of mornings ago I stood on the top of the hill while she rode down through the bunch to see what was going on.

IMG_3014She rode through the bunch and came loping back up the hill.  “Mom.  Number 9-7-3 is going to have a calf and I mean today.”  I asked how she knew for sure and she told me that her “waterbag had burst and there was a baby hoof sticking out.”  Yep — pretty good signs all right.  So I yelled in at Pine, who was in the corral, that the WC was going to need some help bringing up a cow.  He was already heading to saddle his horse.

The WC and I walked (her on Speed and me on foot) down to find Miss 973 again to get her headed to the corral.  Of course she was in the far corner.  We found her, got her headed towards the barn, and were making our way through the big bunch of cows and heifers on the feed ground.  The picture above was when there were only heifers in the drop bunch.  Now there are about 150 head in the lot that you have to negotiate through.  While navigating through a big bunch the Wild Child says “Look out girls!  We have an emergency!”  She was serious as could be and was a little put out that I couldn’t stop laughing.  IMG_2920

We got the cow to the barn, calf was born, and all was well in our world.

We continue to hope for sunshine and blue skies in our world.  Until next time… JARW

Pull Your Slack

Pull Your SlackThere have been several things that have made me chuckle over the past couple of weeks.  Finally, after a lot of REALLY cold nights and trying to save calves ears with ear savers, we got a break in the weather.  The sun came out.  The sky went from the daily gray and overcast to blue and sunshiny.  It was glorious.  BUT– all those calves that we didn’t tag when it was so cold, had to now be paired up and tagged.  For all those not in agriculture, we didn’t tag them when it was so cold because that would be too much trauma on those cold ears.  Without the ear savers many of the ears would have frozen and caused the calves to potentially lose part of their ears.  The cold itself is hard enough on those young calf ears, much less than sticking a tag through them.

Tagging1.jpgIMG_3033The temps rose, the sun was shining, the water was running, the mud was deep… all the makings for an entertaining morning and afternoon watching Pine and Trent tag calves.  The guys warmed up their swinging arms and we headed out.  I was the tag runner so just had to pull the tag that matched the calf they had, and then slop through the mud to take that tag to them to put in the calf’s ear.

IMG_3036Roping a calf on foot is challenging as you aren’t up above them like you are when you are roping off of a horse.  You are usually trying to rope a calf out of a bunch, like above.  You are at a completely different angle so the easiest way is to get the calf to run by you and rope him then, rather than trying to rope him running straight away from you.  The “best” thing about trying to ground rope calves is that they like to dash and dart, run behind their mommas, switch back, etc.  It is definitely more fun to be the laugh-er than the laugh-ee.  In fact, Trent said “Mom!  I hate that you are standing there with your camera and laughing.  I just know you will put something on your website like, ‘There is Trent missing his 47th calf’ or something like that.”  


Now Trent.  Just because I got a good chuckle out of things, I would never sell you out and put how many calves you missed…especially if you paid me a small fee.  (wicked laugh)  And, I only yelled “Jerk your slack” one time.  Little did I know, he had thrown all his rope just to reach out there far enough to catch the little bugger.  There was no slack left to jerk.  He did catch him though, so it was easier to run him down and grab the rope.IMG_3043

All in all, it was a great afternoon.  IMG_3029All the tagging got caught up.  There were lots of laughs, just a little cussing, lots of mud, and we soaked up lots of heaven-sent sunshine.

Tagging1.jpgUntil next time… JARW


The Wild Child’s heifer was hand-picked by her dad.  He liked this little Juneau bred heifer and thought she would be a perfect fit for the Wild Child.  She was tagged KJ2 and branded.  I thought KJ2 was a great name, but what do moms know.  We ended up having a naming contest on our facebook page and the heifer had a new name— Frozen. IMG_2181Then the wait began.

“How many days until Frozen has her baby, Dad?”

“I thought Frozen was going to have her baby in two weeks!  Hasn’t it been two weeks yet?”

“I wish Frozen would hurry and have her baby.  She is having a boy.  I’m sure he will love me!”

“Mom!  Did you see if Frozen had her baby when you were checking last night?”

“Trent!  Make sure you check Frozen and get her in the barn tonight if she decides to have her baby.”

IMG_3056And on.  And on.  And on.  Needless to say, we were all happy when Frozen calved and there was a spunky, healthy little bull calf that the Wild Child could OOHHH and AAHHH over.  Oohh and aahh she did, too.  Then it was a steady stream of “Can we go to the barn and check Baby Blossom?”  Yes… Baby Blossom.  Her dad told her she was going to scar him for life, but Granny had thought she should name her heifer Blossom so she did the second best thing and gave that name to her calf.  Poor little boy have to grow up being called Baby Blossom.

Baby Blossom now has two mommas.  The WC’s Uncle Matt had a heifer that calved right after Frozen.  The other heifer lost her calf so we stuck her in with Frozen to let them both mother BB.  She is a great little heifer, too, so we want to make sure she stays in the herd.  Letting both heifers mother this calf keeps them both milking and teaches them both to be mommas.  

Baby Blossom is now out running around enjoying life and the warmer weather.  Will try to snap a picture of him.

Until next time… JARW


Value of a Moment (3)Sometimes I think people, as a whole, tend to forget how blessed they really are.  I know I do.  I have days where I think my world might be imploding around me, especially while looking at the mud and barn grime that is tracked into my house, the toys in the living room that didn’t get picked up the night before, the drainer full of dishes needing put away, the meat thawing on the counter waiting for me to cook a meal, the clothes in the basket waiting to be folded because whomever used the dryer most recently just threw everything in the closest basket instead of folding it.  It all can be quite overwhelming if I let it.  However, most of the time (NOT all the time… MOST of the time), I choose to be happy and count my blessings.

As most of you know, we are a mixed family.  We have mine, his, and ours.  The song “Bless The Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts truly fits us.  While our failed first relationships were heartbreaking, we truly are blessed that those failures led us to where we are today.  Now with the “ours”– the Wild Child, I find I am able to take more time to really appreciate the blessings.  When “mine” were little I was overwhelmed with trying to survive, raise my kids, support my family, etc.  I missed so much.  It saddens me every time I think about it.  I vowed not to miss that stuff with the Wild Child.

Slowing down to not miss out on the Wild Child’s growing has allowed me to be more aware of how many blessings I truly have.  My faith, my husband, my children, my health, my family, my way of life… the list goes on and on.  I also try harder to capture those blessings with my camera.  It helps me to be aware, and it helps those I capture “remember”.  I live in a place that shows me glimpses of heaven every single day.  I see the most glorious sunrises and sunsets.  I see new babies being born.  I see heifers becoming new mommas for the first time and see the wonder in their eyes with the miracle that just happened.  I get to see the wonder in the Wild Child’s eyes with these same sights.  I see the miraculous forgiving earth that one day is cracked and brittle with drought, and the next day trying to shoot up new grass spears with even the slightest bit of moisture.  I see wild flowers that grow out of rocks.  I got to witness not only my kids’ first steps and first words, but also first time barefoot in the grass, first time on the back of a horse, first time riding alone, first time swinging a rope, first time dribbling a basketball, first time shooting a takedown, first time losing a match and first time winning, the first time taking care of an animal, first time pulling a calf, first time holding a pitchfork, first time cleaning a stall.  The list goes on and on.  And yes, —  even the work is a blessing.

So on this glorious spring day (it is 51 degrees here and the sun is shining!!), I challenge you to remember your blessings, notice your blessings, and be thankful for your blessings.  GOD is GREAT.

Until next time… JARW



BaitWe all have them– cows that are good mothers, but can be extremely nasty when they first have their calf.  Take hell bitch #545.  She needed to be gone, LONG gone, for a couple of years.  I can laugh about her now, but didn’t laugh quite so much for two years, and then sent several emails and made a couple of calls to Karen at the south ranch to make sure they were looking out for her when she calved.

Hell Bitch #545 first earned her name in the middle of the night four years ago.  I went down to check cows in the middle of the night, and as is my usual pattern, stopped at the top of the hill while opening the gate and did a quick flashlight shine around the corral to see what was waiting for me.  I saw a cow standing way down in the corner that looked suspicious, but had a lot to check between the top of the hill and her.  While working my way through the herd, I was sure my flashlight glassed over some little eyes down below.  There stood #545 (she hadn’t earned her nickname yet) down in the corner of the corral with a new calf lying half way under the gate to the arena.  It was very fresh, covered with membranes and hadn’t been up, so I walked into the barn to get some baling twine.  A piece of baling twine hooked over a calf leg makes simple work of dragging a wet calf into the barn, plus gives you a little breathing room between you and the snot-blowing, bellering cow trailing behind.

I stepped out of the barn and headed for the corner and she was on a mission to meet me at least half-way.  I went back to the barn and grabbed my weapon of choice– an old cane that the bottom has broken off of, but has had the splinters duct taped back together to make it strong again.  This has just enough reach to tap those mommas on the nose if you need a little breathing room.  I headed back out with my cane and here she came again, anxious to meet me in the middle of the corral.  It was then that I made the executive decision to call for backup.  Smart move.

I went to my in-laws house (it is closest to the barn) and called Pine to let him know he needed to come to the corral.  Then, as it was a fairly nice night and I was way too overdressed to be in the house and way to lazy to take off some layers, I settled on the front step to wait for Pine.  My goodness men can be slow sometimes, especially when you are sitting on the front step on a nice, but still nippy, spring night waiting for some backup against a potentially mean cow.  It seemed like forever, but in reality was only about 10 minutes, before he came walking across the yard.  “Is she on the fight?” he asked.

“Well, not really” I explained.  “I just don’t think she is bluffing.”  I could see the subtle eye roll portraying the ‘seriously! You got me out of bed for this’ look.  It was then that I started sending up just the tiniest, minute, half-hearted prayer for #545 to show her stuff and send my eye-rolling husband up the fence JUST ONCE to prove to him that I wasn’t just being a wimp.  I knew GOD was always listening, but who knew how well he was listening in the middle of the night, out in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of a calving lot!

Mr. Cocky said “I’ll go get the calf if you set up the panels to wing the cow into the barn.”  No problem.  With confidence and a touch of swagger (honestly– you had to see it– he seriously thought I was just being a chicken), he made a beeline for the calf in the corner of the corral.  Don’t know what #545 was watching– me I guess– as she didn’t notice him until he was just getting to her calf.  Then the fun started.  She ran him up the arena gate, and I guess she didn’t take to well to me laughing hysterically as she blew out of the corner, around the panel I had just set up, and ran me up the panel.  Things weren’t quite so funny anymore.  The panel I was on was hooked (with the top hook only) to a panel that we swing out of the barn.  The panel in the barn is not really “hooked” to anything– just tied on the corner.  These panels aren’t meant to be a safe haven, they only provide a wing off of the barn to help get the cows and heifers in.

“Keep her there and I’ll get the calf” he yelled!  Keep her here?  Seriously?  She was trying to kill me!  I was on top of a panel balancing on one corner and trying to protect myself with my cane.  The cane that always seemed just long enough, but all of a sudden wasn’t quite long enough as it was allowing her to knock into me and my panels in between swings.  Pine had the calf and was running for the barn.  I was yelling, screaming, and swinging at the cow.  She finally turned and ran away from me, then she headed back down to the corner bellering in search for her calf.

“Here she comes” I called in warning, and into the barn she blew with me slamming the shed door shut behind her.  Cussing, more cussing, panels ringing, more cussing.  I didn’t dare open the door.  We didn’t dare take the chance of her getting out.  Then Pine yelled at me from close to the door and told me to open the walk-through door; he was going to make a run for it.  Out he came, cow close behind slamming into the door and he jerked it shut.  We made it.  On the walk back to the house he confessed that she ran him up the panels three times before he just climbed from jockey pen to jockey pen until he got close to a door.  My humor was light and I started laughing, then had to confess I had sent up just the smallest of small prayers asking for that just so he didn’t think I was being a wimp.

The next year the weather was beautiful and some of the cows were calving out in the pasture.  Pine and I would go out every morning while Papa was feeding and tag and vaccinate calves.  One morning I reminded him that if I wasn’t along and he came up on Hell Bitch #545 to remember— SHE ISN’T BLUFFING.  He hadn’t remembered.  Silly man.  She was first cow we came upon that morning with a new calf.  We stopped well back from her and loaded syringes and tagging pliers.  “You don’t stop” I said.  “Grab that calf and keep driving.”  (We were in our Mule, which is the best thing ever for fencing, putting out mineral, and even occasionally tagging calves.)  We pulled up beside the calf and Pine jerked it in the seat and took off.  Hell Bitch #545 followed hitting the mule.  We got the calf tagged and vaccinated, and dumped him out the side.  Ugh.

She was always fine after a few days and raised nice calves.  You just had to watch her right after she calved.  Last year she was at the south place.  As above, I warned Fred and Karen to be on the lookout.  She finally bought herself a one-way ticket out of paradise by stomping her calf in the jug while trying to get to Fred in the other part of the barn.  Hell Bitch #545 is no more.  Thank heavens.

Until next time— JARW