Monthly Archives: September 2013

Public Speaking? Yikes!

SD Sunrise JARW

I had a new experience last week.  I was asked to speak at the annual South Dakota Cattlewomen’s Convention.  Some of you, I’m sure, are thinking “what’s the big deal?”  Well, the big deal is that I am NOT a public speaker.  Not that I have trouble speaking.  Often times I am sure my husband and kids wish I would zip it, but talking their ear off and getting up in front of a room full of women to tell my story about Just A Ranch Wife are two completely different things.

It all began back in June.  Sylvia from the South Dakota Stockgrowers emailed me to invite me to speak on an agriculture advocacy panel (Ag-Vocacy!).  I was honored, but more shocked.  What did they think that I could possibly contribute?  I told Sylvia I would have to think about it as it was going to push me way beyond my comfort zone.  She wanted me to talk about what I wanted to accomplish with my website and my role in agriculture.  After mulling it over for a bit I decided to accept the invitation.  An educated speaker would have probably started thinking about what they were going to talk about at this point.  I’m not an educated speaker.

Life got busy.  I had my tonsils out.  We started working calves and fall preconditioning.  School started and with it high school sports necessitating our traveling to our daughter’s volleyball games.  All of a sudden it was the day before I was scheduled to speak.  We were on our way to yet another volleyball game when the Big Guy said “Are you planning on writing some notes or something for your speaking tomorrow?”  He had a look of concern on his face.  I really didn’t want to make him worry even more, but I did anyway.  “Not planning on it!” I responded.  You could see the doubt in his eyes.  He was worried.

The volleyball game went great and we headed back to Rapid City where we were staying in order to attend the convention the next day.  The next morning I got the same worried look and the “are you sure you don’t want to write something down?” question that he had given me the night before.  I shook my head.  “I’m fine” I answered.  He finally admitted that he was just a bit nervous for me– especially since I didn’t seem to be at all.  I love that man.  So I appeased his worry and told him that I wouldn’t tell them my name until my part was over.  If I blew it I would tell them my maiden name and if it went okay I would tell them my married last name.  He didn’t think I was funny.

I had a grand time with the panel, which included myself, Dawn Scheier discussing her work with educating others about agriculture through her work in Find Our Common Ground (or you can find it on Facebook at Common Ground), and Dee Sleep who owns Chicken Creek Communications.  I don’t know how much I educated the rest of the women about what my purpose is with Just A Ranch Wife, but I dang sure learned TONS from the conversations that happened at that meeting.  I loved it.

My future as a ranch wife is pretty secure as I do not have a future in public speaking.  But I did thoroughly enjoy myself.  Thanks SD Cattlewomen for inviting me.

Until next time— JARW

Our Life in Pics 9.25/26.13

Starting our morning and getting to watch the beautiful colors.

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Our view riding yesterday morning.

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It was a little nippy to start, but turned into a perfect day.

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Some of the calves out of the 2-year-old heifers.

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Got a picture of one of the bull calves (out of a 2-year-old heifer).

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Speed doing his duty hauling the bosses around.

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Some of the heifer calves that were weighed and vaccinated yesterday.

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My job was pushing the calves up the chute so this was my view of things. 20130925_101554

Gathering the next bunch. 20130925_083540

My little helper peeking through to see if the calves were in the chute so she could come in and help me bring some more back into the holding pen.

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Two pictures of some of the steer calves.

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Who needs a knight in shining armor?  This girl can take care of herself.

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Until next time– JARW

Overrun and Run Over

IMG_0317Loving seeing some of the jars of jam and syrup that I made.  I was blessed this week as a friend of mine sent down some choke cherries and plums.  I now have several jars of choke cherry jam, choke cherry syrup, and plum jelly.  I also went through only about a third of a row of tomatoes and came to the house with a 5-gallon bucket.  Only a couple more rows to go through.  At that rate I should end up picking about 25 gallons of red tomatoes with tons of green tomatoes waiting to ripen.  I believe I am over-run with tomatoes.  However, I sure love seeing the results lined up on my counter.

Processing now is a big batch (10 quarts) of salsa… mild.  I’m a wimp.  Truly a wimp.  I cannot handle hot stuff.  I do have some jalapenos in the fridge to make a few batches with a little more bite to give away.  I used some of the jalapeno in the plum jelly, too.  The taste is wonderful– cuts the sweet some, but yes– without the heat.  The Big Guy asked what kind of jelly I was making and he couldn’t believe I was ruining a batch of plum jelly with jalapenos.  I explained that he wouldn’t have even been able to tell had I not told him.  “Why did you put them in then?” was the response I received.  I’m sure it will still get eaten.

Do you ever look at your counter full of filled jars, rub your aching back, look at your kitchen that is now demolished and needing deep cleaned, and wipe the sweat from your brow after standing over a stove for a couple of days and think “Where the heck am I going to hide this stuff!”  You feel like you have just been run over by a truck and you know that it can all be gone in a matter of days.  Seriously!!  The race is on to find a safe place to hide the jars.

On this round of canning I spent two solid days washing and cleaning fruit, cutting it up, sterilizing jars, making jelly, cleaning up the mess to start over with a new batch, repeat.  Then picking tomatoes, cleaning and cutting everything up, sterilizing more jars, etc., etc.,etc.   Lots of work and not near enough to show for it when you are all done.  Then the locusts attack.  The locusts in the form of your husband and kids.  You just slaved away over a hot stove for a couple of days and they can eat in a matter of minutes.  Sometimes don’t you just want to tuck it away somewhere safe and admire it?  Just for a while?  Enjoy your accomplishments and hoard it away from prying fingers, and mouths?

I fully intend to give as Christmas gifts some of these wonderful jars filled with love.  I have plans for some homemade Kahlua and perhaps some hot chocolate mix, etc.  I love getting stuff like that.  I hope that those I gift with these kind of items love them as much as me.  That is if I can beat the locusts off and get the jars hidden away.  Wish me luck.

Until next time– JARW

Day in Pictures 9.20.13

We worked more calves at some leased summer land just across the state line into Montana.  Like the rest of our area of the world, it looks so beautiful this year.  Here are a few of my favorite shots from that day of working calves.

Gathered in the first pasture, trailing across this pasture, and then into the pasture where the corrals are located.

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Riding down to open some gates.

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Trailing down the lane to the corrals.

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This made me laugh– all the riders and then the Wild Child bringing up the rear.

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Sorting cows out the gate.

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Papa waiting to bring more cows.

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The big guy following some cows in to be sorted out the other gate.

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STUMP THE CHUMP TIME:  Any guesses on what this piece of equipment is?

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The Wild Child playing in the loading chute while the rest of us are working calves.

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Part of the crew enjoying a little lunch, iced tea, and visiting after all the calves were worked.

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The arena where our friend, a former NFR Steer Wrestling Average Champion, honed his skills!  Check out the view!

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A better view of the view!  Absolutely beautiful!

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The view while standing in the left-side of the roping box.

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Until next time– JARW

Day in Pictures 9.18.13

Some of my favorite pics from yesterday.

My friend Karen trying to get the burs out of her husband’s horse’s tail.  I wish I would have had my camera handy earlier when her horse had so many burs in his forelock that he looked like a unicorn.  I miss all the good stuff.  It was good for a laugh, though.

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The Wild Child keeping “books.”  She wrote down the numbers of the calves coming through the chute.  She had her own set of books for her dad.

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These two pictures were taken while working cows at the corrals where we lease some summer grass. Here are the babies bawling at one gate,

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and their mommas bawling at another. IMG_0102

My friend, Karen, the Wild Child, and Dot all hanging out in the shade waiting for some action.

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The Wild Child and her aunt’s dog, Dot.  They are fast friends. IMG_0100

The Wild Child and her Papa riding back to the trailer.

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Three generations.  This makes my heart smile SO big!

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The Big Guy weighing a calf.

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She is a kid of many talents.  She kept the ID tags filled, too.

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One of the steer calves.  They were looking good.

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Some of the working crew.  From left to right– Papa’s horse Oscar, my horse Dollar, and the big guy’s horse Stripe.  The Wild Child named Stripe and Oscar.  Don’t know where her horse was at this point.

IMG_0074More pictures coming tomorrow of my “today.”  Until next time– JARW

The Princess and Her Trusty Steed

We took yesterday off… Kind of.  The Big Guy and I headed to the Southwest Select Broke Horse Sale  to try to find some quality geldings to bring home.  There were some great horses there… unfortunately none of which came home with us.  However, we thoroughly enjoyed our morning watching all the horses perform under saddle, and the early afternoon walking through all the good horses and discussing the attributes of our favorites.

The highlight of the day was watching our friend’s little girl get so excited when the cutest little white pony came trotting in the ring.  We had watched “Fuzzy” and his little girls during the morning performance.  They sure loved him.  We watched Fuzzy’s littlest owner come tearing over to him and crawl all over him.  He didn’t flinch.  He didn’t even tense up.  The little white steed was bomb-proof and looked like the perfect babysitter.

Fuzzy was quite a ways down the sale bill.  This little princess had watched horse after horse perform through the ring; she just sat quietly like a little lady, occasionally drinking from her bottle.  However, when Fuzzy came in things changed.  She sat to attention, started waving her hands and “bidding”, smiling, gabbing at everyone.  It was hilarious to watch.  Fortunately for her, she just happened to be sitting on her Grandpa’s lap.  That’s all she wrote.

Grandpa bought his princess her white steed—  Fuzzy.  I think she is going to be a very, very happy little girl; Fuzzy is going to be, as well.

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Thanks Bowman Auction for another GREAT horse sale!  Kudos to all who put this together.

The rest of our afternoon wasn’t quite as smile-inducing.  We hauled panels down to the location where we will start preconditioning this week.  I can’t wait to share some pictures of our week with you!  The calves are looking great, the rain has greened things up again, and the days have been staying pretty cool and starting to feel like fall.  Should be a glorious week.

Until next time– JARW

Project One

IMG_0041This is our walk-out basement– on MUD.  This is our next cement pouring project.  Every time it rains or snows this place collects it and has a perpetual mud issue.  The retaining wall on the right will also be extended out about another eight feet and will have a couple more feet added in height to allow for some dirt to be added to the “yard” on the other side of the wall.  I use the term “yard” quite loosely as it is basically only a weed patch at this point, but times– they are a changing!

We also replaced the sidewalks around my in-law’s house that were in much need of repair.  They are awesome.  If I wasn’t so lazy I would walk over there and take a picture of them right now to prove my point, but it is drizzly and I am being a slug so you will just have to take my word for it.  Plus, I want to wait until the back step is rebuilt so I can take a true “completed” picture!  Good plan huh!?!

To keep the little mud-wreckers at bay (the Wild Child, Huck, and Pard–tIMG_6643he corgi cross), we had to separate and divide.  We knew that these three would like nothing more than to have their mark left in the cement for future generations.  The dogs got to hang out down by the horse barn.  They didn’t enjoy it.  The Wild Child, however, got to spend the morning riding her trusty steed– Speed.  She enjoyed it quite a bit more than the dogs.  She did find out what happens when you trot bareback under a low branch though.

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I missed the fun as I had my ride and the Big Guy’s ride over getting a

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 little TLC from the farrier.  They are now all ready to start working calves next week.

Until next time– JARW

Fall

IMG_0413Fall brings to mind a myriad of thoughts and images–  colorful falling leaves, corn husks, pumpkins, canning fruits and vegetables, fall flowers (the mums are gorgeous!), fall festivals, school starting, high school sports, finishing up summer projects, raking leaves, cool nights… and for us, hauling hay, sorting pairs, preconditioning calves, weaning, shipping, pregnancy checking cows, moving cows off of summer pastures, and preparing for winter.  The next six weeks will find us spending lots of time with the cows and calves, as well as combing through livestock records.

We have three separate places and we calve at each place.  Thus each location has their own set of records that are kept all spring regarding birth dates, calf sex, maternal temperament, calving difficulties, etc.  All these records are entered in to a database for each location.  These databases are then combined in to one complete database housing all records for all livestock combined.  From this database we garner lots of information.  We know what every single cow on the place has done for her entire life.  We know if she raises big calves, if she consistently breeds back in the first cycle, if she usually has replacement heifers or if her bulls are usually kept as breeding stock.  We know if we need to be extra vigilant because she can be fighty when she first has calved.  We also know if she needs to go down the road to the sale barn.

When we precondition our calves every calf comes through the chute to be weighed, ranked, and vaccinated. The database is used to have reports ready for each location where we precondition.  We know what pairs are at which location.  We know if any calf is missing and what calf it is.  We can print sort sheets when it is time to sort out the light calves at shipping time.  We print pregnancy checking sheets to keep track of data during those testing days.  The database is also used extensively when deciding which replacement heifer calves we are going to keep not only based on their individual data, but also their score they received during preconditioning and also their mother’s data.   

These aren’t days that everyone recognizes as “fall days” in their mind’s eye, but they are definitely some of my first mental images when I think of fall, and glorious days they are being surrounded by family and livestock, and all enjoying what we are doing from gathering, to sorting, to discussing, to planning for the future — Many of the things that make me proud to be Just A Ranch Wife!

Until next time– JARW

Calendars

IMG_0028Most days I’m not really sure exactly what day of the week it really is– at least during summer.  It is easier to keep track during the school year.  However, not knowing what day of the week it is doesn’t mean we aren’t in need of our calendar.  We actually have three calendars going 24/7/365.  The desk calendar, a smaller carry along calendar that often is in my purse, and the calendar on my phone / computer.  They are all used daily and they are all necessary to keep our craziness in check.

Having one of our high school girls now in college has alleviated some of our calendar space, but not much.  Now I find I just try to keep track of her college events on my calendar, as well, so as to kind of believe that I still know what is going on in her life.  Also, being part of a huge family finds me trying to keep track of their events, too, so that I can squeeze in trying to watch all of our nieces and nephews.  I usually fail miserably, but still try my best.

This week we were trying to schedule shipping dates for our calves.  Since we have calves in many summer locations, we haul all the calves to town and weigh and load trucks there.  We also ship our steers and heifers on different dates.  We first get rid of all the dates that will NOT work with our crew, and then go forward from there.  We have to find dates that work with the guy who weighs our calves at the HC Stockgrower’s Pavilion, the guy who brand inspects, and guy who takes ownership for the buyer, as well as friends who help us haul our calves to town.  It took most of the morning to get everyone on the same page.  We had success, though.  Our dates are scheduled.

The days between now and then—  about six weeks— are looking pretty stacked.  They are all filling in quite rapidly with preconditioning, volleyball games, football games, a speaking engagement for JARW, hunters, and an ag conference.  The time will fly.  This is my favorite time of the year!  Of course I will be happy when the calves are gone and the cows are all pregnancy checked and where they are supposed to be for the winter, but until then I will enjoy every single work-filled fall day!

Until next time– JARW

Congratulations

JARW

We helped celebrate a milestone at our neighbors’ ranch yesterday.  Their ranch was 100 years old; it was a glorious centennial celebration.  In the past 100 years, the number of family farms in the United States has dropped significantly.  Our neighbors, however, have bucked the odds.  They have stuck it out.  They live on a ranch that has not only survived, but has been passed down through several generations.  We were honored to help celebrate their hard work and endurance!

USDA statistics show that in 1910 there were 6.4 million family farms,(http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FarmLandIn/FarmLandIn-02-19-2013.pdf while in 2012 that number had dwindled to 2.2 million family farms.  In the same time period, the number of farm workers dropped from close to 14 million all the way down to 2.9 million.  These decreases are happening to farms/ranches and farm workers while substantial increases in population growth are taking place.  The demand for food has grown exponentially while the number supplying it continues to decrease. In South Dakota alone we lost 300 farms just in one year, from 2011 to 2012.   I find these statistics quite scary.  How are we going to keep our youth in agriculture?!

In the last couple of years there have been  several ranches in our community reach the centennial milestone.  I love that there are still family-owned ranches and farms that are turning their noses up at the statistics and not only continuing to farm and ranch, but also to grow and to join forces with the next generation to ensure continued sustainability of the family ranch.  I love seeing young families moving back home to raise their children and work in agriculture.  I love that while we aren’t a centennial ranch, we have two generations working side-by-side building and growing, and perhaps will have a third generation joining forces within the next decade or so.

We raise our cup in a toast and wish our neighbors a hearty congratulation on their centennial milestone.  While I’m sure the road over the last 100 years was filled with more than enough boulders and pot holes, it is now a road paved with blood, sweat, tears, laughter, accomplishments, pride, and most of all love.  What an incredible journey.  We can’t wait to watch your next generation and our next generation continue to neighbor and delight in each other’s achievements.  May GOD continue to bless you with love, laughter, happiness, and success.

Until next time— JARW