Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why I love this season


1. The cold weather seems to turn me into a cooking fool! I can’t think of a thing that makes me want to make some cookies, pies, cakes, soups and freshly baked bread more than snowflakes flying.

2. Cold weather = shorter days for the cowboy unless something goes wrong (which invariably does) with the cows, horses, calves or equipment. Okay, scratch that thought after all.

3. Playing in the snow with the kids. Need I say more? We haven’t gotten enough snow to really speak of this year but I’m crossing my fingers that (after the 14th when we sell calves) we get a decent snowstorm to go take the kids sledding. I just hope the wind stays away!

4. The Holidays! I love Thanksgiving which was Little Man’s 4th Birthday this year, Little Sister’s birthday shortly after that, and there’s nothing as magical as Christmastime! New Year’s isn’t so popular in my book, I’m usually sick! :)




5. The NFR is on the t.v. I’m talking every night in our house involves huddling around the t.v and watching each round in anticipation. We’ve got two neighbors competing this year and so far they’re doing great! Good luck you guys!

6. Family time usually increases during this time of year for us. What are your favorite aspects of Winter?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where did the summer go???

As I sit here listening to the raindrops (the first i've heard in about a month by the way) I think of the fun things we've done this summer as a family and the wonderful steps i've made to become a photographer. I feel horrible for not keeping up with this blog because it serves as a great outlet and a great way to "journal" our family life on the ranch. I hope to be able to look back on all the entries one day with fond memories of our daily lives.

Today is one of those days I hope to remember. It didn't start out wonderful with a trip to the doctor with not so great news, but it ended fabulously with fun times spent together. It hit 104 degrees here today, and Little Man was beggin to go outside. Shawn was inside this afternoon to get out of the heat so he decided to build a homemade slip'n'slide. Little Man had a great time and I enjoyed standing back (out of the freezing well water) and watching! Here are some pics from today's adventures. (Little Sister didn't enjoy the festivities quite as much as everyone else by the way).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fun in the Sun

Good morning everyone! I'm currently consuming my daily limit of caffeine trying to get motivated for the day. Shawn is already out fixing fence so he could get it done before the heat of the day. I worked the past three days at the hospital and I'm a little worn out but I *think* I'll make it through the day and hopefully get a lot accomplished. Is it just me or does everyone else's house seem to look as though it's never seen a mop or a dust rag after just 3 days away from house work? Well, my house is a disaster zone so I'm hoping to get caught up on the housework so I can get going on some other projects on my list. I thought I'd share a few of the new things going on around the ranch lately.

1. A new pony for Little Man and Lil Sister (I'm sure a post on "Oreo" is in my near future)!
2. A new indoor/outdoor cat that is actually tame and won't scratch out the kiddos eyeballs if they try to pick him up. So far, so good!
3. There is actually sunshine in SD now! The high is 88 today, and I'm sure Little Man will have me talked into letting him run through the sprinkler's today! Something about running through the sprinkler's brings out the kid in everyone. We might have to get Dad in on the action too!
4. We picked up a trampoline for little man at a yard sale a week or so ago. It has been a ton of fun for everyone and so far has only caused one doctor's appointment. Oh the joys of having a rambunctious boy around the ranch! I hope everyone has a great day!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Good Morning! We once again had a busy week on the ranch. Imagine that! We branded on Thursday of last week and again yesterday. We lucked out and had good weather both days and had great help to get the job done. Big thanks to all our wonderful friends and neighbors! I was able to get a few pictures in each day when I wasn't busy running cookies out and making salads. I had a good friend come out from work yesterday for her first branding and it was a lot of fun showing her the ropes. Yesterday was a pretty small crew and she didn't stay long because of previous plans but I think she got the idea! The kiddos each had a great time, too. Lil Sister was extremely intrigued by all the bawling babies and mamas. Little Man was not so keen on the whole situation. He would rather run around and play and didn't really want to help this year. Hopefully next year he'll be ready to jump into the mix! Here are a few pics of my favorite time of year! Some are of the actual branding and some are of the great family times had after the work is done. I love summer time!

Hope you all have a great week! The weather is looking to be a bit better up here finally (but I'm NOT complaining about the moisture)! Now that branding is done we're now busy getting the bulls checked out and getting them turned out with the heifers. The cycle begins again!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting the Ball Rolling

Good morning everyone! I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post but I have a detailed, lengthy excuse. Enjoy .... :)

It's been a busy few weeks around here. The flu bug not only flew through our home a few weeks ago, he apparantly decided to camp out and continue to wreak havoc on my plans... Grrrr! I am still recouperating a bit today but I am feeling a lot better than I was just yesterday. I haven't been able to sleep because I have been feeling so pukey so I decided to write a blog post about the past few weeks!

A few weeks ago I drove to the big city (somewhere around 4,000 people, haha) and I registered a business name! My future photography business will be known as Western Lifestyles Photography. I am looking forward to building client list and expanding my portfolio. I am lucky enough to get to photograph a newborn in the area sometime in the next few days! She's just darling and I can't wait to capture some sweet moments.

Anyways, I have also recently purchased some new professional equipment to "get the ball rolling" on this business. I have good equipment now, but I REALLY wanted a professional quality lens with a large aperture for portraits and action shots (i.e. rodeos, sports, and wild 3 year olds).  I also was able to purchase a diffuser/reflector kit, a Heliopan filter, a tripod, dedicated flash, background support, a couple backgrounds and of course some newborn photo props! :) Yeah! Thank you Ebay for wonderful deals as well as B and H photography! Here is a couple images of my new photo props. I know they need some work but I have a couple ideas to make them not only safe, but super cute for newborn photos. Okay, enough about all the new equipment. I just can't wait for it all to arrive so I can get to work!

Getting this business going hasn't been the only thing on our agenda lately though. In between rainstorms there have been many brandings to go to in the area. Just last week we branded our first calf heifer's calves. It was just a small bunch and I figured it was no big deal so I just prepared a couple salads, a couple desserts and some hamburgers. Thankfully the neighbors were bringing some salads as well. Shawn told me to expect around 14 people so I spent the day mowing the lawn and doing yardwork. When branding time arrived, however, there were around 30 people to feed! Talk about a mad rush to defrost hamburger and fix some more desserts! Thank goodness for wonderful friends and neighbors who were patient with me during my first experience going solo on branding dinner! Unfortunately this is the closest I got to the branding corrals that day...  

We are having our "Big" Branding on Thursday. Hopefully the weather holds out. It's been raining here for the past week and it looks like it's going to continue. Not complaining about the moisture though, just the mud! :) Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Life on the Ranch!

Good morning everyone! It's a beautiful, sunny day here in our area of South Dakota today, and I hope it's beautiful wherever you are as well! A little flu bug has been flying around our house the last couple of days and it finally caught up with me so i'm a little under the weather today. Subsequently, I decided to stay inside with the kiddos instead of loading them up and riding along with Shawn this morning. Shawn knew exactly how to cheer me up this morning, though. Our mare foaled sometime in the past couple days and Shawn brought her and the stud colt home today! We now have a cute little colt in the front corrals in front of our house (for a few more hours anyways). I felt good enough to go outside and get a few pictures of the new little guy. Enjoy!

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Here comes Peter Cottontail, Hoppin' down the bunny trail

I would like to take this opportunity to formally introduce you to the newest member of the family. Drumroll please......................

This is "Peter". Very original, I know. 

Peter joined our family yesterday afternoon.

Did we ask for Peter?      No.
Did we look for Peter?     No.
Did we ever mention that our kiddos needed a soft, furry, unbelievably cute rabbit to cuddle?     No.
Did our kiddos Great-Uncle bring "Peter" over to our house none-the-less? Yes.
Thanks Uncle B!

Anyways, to the story. I was gone all day in town at a class for my "real" job. I arrived home and was told that "Uncle B" had dropped off a baby cottontail rabbit he had found earlier in the day. Little man was playing with an empty cage at that point in the middle of the living room. Oh great...  "Peter" escaped from his cage an hour earlier and was hiding behind the extremely heavy entertainment center. This is starting to remind me of the time Shawn brought a wild duck into the house and turned him loose in the kitchen.... Don't ask. Long story. Anyways, Peter proceded to live behind the entertainment center for another couple of hours until Shawn came inside for the night.

Needless to say, we have decided to keep Peter. We have even gone as far as stopping at the vet to buy Milk Replacer for the little guy and special rabbit pellets.

Little Man is very excited about the newest member of the family but is a little too rambunctious for Peter at the moment. Keep your fingers crossed for us that little Peter survives and begins to drink the milk and eat the pellets. The lady who sold us the pellets assured us that she has seen many wild cottontail babies survive. We will see!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's not just feeding and fixing fences...

A couple days ago Shawn and I set out to do some cleaning up on the hay meadows while the kiddos were napping at grandma's house. I drove the Ranger and Shawn drove the tractor. I had a wonderful traveling partner whose breath smelled of lilacs and hair smelled like vanilla. Okay, maybe not, but she sure is cute!

Have I mentioned to you guys how much I love Border Collies? Well, I do. Alot. I will never own another dog other than a Border Collie. Okay, maybe a basset hound but only because The Pioneer Woman makes Charlie seem so appealing.  This is "Callie Dog". It's Callie to me, but little man always calls her "Callie dog". Don't ask me why, but I think it's pretty darn cute. He can pretty much turn anything gramatically incorrect into something cute. It's a toddler thing.

Anyways, back to the story. We went to clean up the hay meadow so that the equipment wouldn't be harmed by the wood during haying season. We didn't get the meadow cleaned up last spring and it cost us a lot of wasted hay that we had to drive around. We're in a bit of a time crunch right now because we need to get it cleaned up before the meadow gets too flooded to drive across.

Shawn and his dad had already gathered the wood good enough for firewood and the rest we ran through the wood chipper.

Watch out Tom! He actually got whacked in the face by a piece of wood not long after this photo! Don't tell him I told you or you might not here from me again!

I stayed in the cab of the tractor until Tom gave me the look. It was a look that spoke to me. It said something like, "get down here and help or go back to the house". Or was it, "Why is she up there in the comfy cab and i'm down here pickin up sticks?" Either way, it didn't take me long to climb out of the cab and help gather wood.

Shawn ran the chain saw. I love my each of my extremities way to much to risk losing them just to prove i'm rough and tough. Besides that, it would take more than operating a chain saw to prove a thing like that about me. Shawn is pretty darn handy with a chain saw and he really likes them for some reason. I think he secretly wishes he was a logger for one of the companies on Ax Men. Just one problem, he loves ranching way too much and it's been in the family way too long to ever consider leaving to try something new. This brings me to another point about why ranching is so wonderful for someone like Shawn. He gets to use his many skills to make the ranch operate efficiently. He can be a carpenter, a cowboy, a businessman, a welder, and the list goes on and on. I like the cowboy part the best. He looks pretty darn good in his hat and chaps!

The job didn't get finished that day and I ended up going back to the house because the kiddos cousin was around for a visit to the ranch. The guys are back out in the field this morning picking up the last of the wood before (fingers crossed) we get a good rain to get the grass growing.  I hope everyone else is having a great day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

We're back at the Ranch....

Good morning everyone! It has been so long since I've shared a story on the blog I think I may of forgotten how to blog! No, I'm just kidding about that, but I am sorry for the delay between adventures. I know I shared with you a few weeks ago about how ranchers don't get vacations. Well... we took one! Don't get me wrong, Shawn and I have gotten away for vacations before but his parents always stayed back on the ranch and vice-versa when they would head out of town. This week, however, we all left and it was even during calving season!

Shawn's brother got married this past weekend in Vegas, so we all took off for the city that never sleeps (and we didn't sleep much)! Thanks to our great friends and neighbors around the ranch we managed to get it arranged where we could all go see Jeff & Megan get married. It was a great getaway and a wonderful wedding. So blessed to welcome in a great sister-in-law to the family!

We got back home at 2 in the morning on Saturday night and went to Church yesterday with the kiddos. Shawn got up and checked the cows before we went to church but my tired, aching body stayed behind so I could catch up on some zzzz's (if only lil sister would have let me)!  We were all so worn out from our Vegas experience that we got home from church and napped. That's right, no Easter dinner! After our power naps, we went to check the other cows that are quite a jaunt from the home place. We hadn't seen the cows in five days and we wanted to count how many new babies arrived while we were gone. After we got done checking we came inside and proceded to lay around and rest some more! We actually had frozen pizza for dinner! I feel like a horrible wife and mommy today but i'm going to make up for it! New adventures will be coming soon. After our day of rest yesterday and the vacation this past weekend, we have a lot to catch up on around here!

Vegas was a fun time, but I'm so glad to be home with the kiddos. The enormous hotels, vast amounts of concrete, and never ending crowds of people is not really our style. We prefer the quiet countryside with horses, cows, gumbo mud and friendly neighbors. Have a great day everyone!

By the way, this picture is not from this year but it's getting closer and closer to flowers and gardening time up here! Can't wait to get started on the garden and flower beds this spring. Come on warmer weather!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Educational Weekend

This past weekend I loaded up the kids, and we headed south for a photography workshop. The workshop happened to be in the area that I am originally from so I was able to catch up with a few family members, too! The only downside is I never have enough time to see everyone! I did run into an old friend unexpectedly at the photography workshop, though. It was great to catch up with someone I hadn't seen in so long. It was also great to go out to lunch and visit with a friend without the kiddos around. She has a successful business right now and I hope I can someday be as successful with my photography as her! Visit to view her website!

I learned so much at the photography workshop. Mostly, I learned that I know hardly anything about my camera and it's capabilities, but the wonderful teachers did a great job of explaining everything in detail.  I took classes on lighting, composition, people photography and basic photography I and II. I enjoyed all of the classes and can't wait to find the time to take my camera out for a day and really work on some of the ideas I got at the workshop. I need to look through my notes a few more times and I might actually have an idea of what i'm doing. Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed, Fill Flash, Metering, white balance and Bracketing are all starting to make sense to me. Now I just need to make sure I know how to operate my camera well enough to adjust those elements.

After the workshop, I felt like taking a million pictures but had hardly any time to do so. I was, however, able to photograph a beautiful little girl. It was my first time using the Manual setting on my camera and the little beauty only gave me about 1 minute to work it. I think I did "ok", but can't wait to really improve my pictures!

I was also able to swing by and see my grandparents before I left for home this morning. I can't put into words the amount of respect I have for these two individuals. I grew up less than 100 yards from them and they helped shape me into the person I am today. My grandma is one of the hardest working women I know, and I can only hope to someday be half the woman she is. She has been through hardships in her life I hope to never face and she continues to be a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman.

Oh, did I mention she makes the best homemade bread of ALL time! I learned about environmental portriature this weekend and I can't think of a more fitting place for my grandma to be in this photo. When I think about my grandma I almost always envision her baking bread or preparing a wonderful meal from scratch.

My grandpa is such a strong man. Though he can't do the things he used to, he still tries everyday to contribute to the chores on the ranch. I sometimes just tear up when I think or talk about my grandpa. I'd like to think that he and I are kindred spirits, and though he looks serious in this photo he has a great sense of humor.

Here's the classic image of grandpa. He reads the Fence Post magazine religiously everyweek. I think he could tell you the page number of any ad you'd like to know.

*** I just got home and I miss my grandpa and grandma already***

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! If anyone would like photos taken let me know because I would love the opportunity!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Family Birthday Cake

I promised you all a recipe or two in the description of my blog... I haven't cooked anything extraordinary lately (not that I do often) but this cake is extra-extraordinary! The recipe is from an old local community cookbook. I first had this cake when my mother-in-law made this for Shawn's birthday when we first started dating. I had never tasted a cake so wonderful, and I'm pretty sure Shawn only got one slice for his birthday because I devoured the rest of the pan. This cake is a family tradition for Shawn and his brother's birthdays. Wanna know why??? Because it's THAT good! Try it today.... I promise you won't be let down!

2 1/4 C. Flour                                          1/3 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. Sugar                                          1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1/3 C. Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix the above and add:
1/2 C. Oil (really full)                       1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice                       2 eggs, added to water to make 1 1/2 Cups

Mix the ingredients well and bake in a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Let cool and frost with the heavenly frosting listed below.

1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding                          1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1 C. Milk                                                                6 oz. Cool Whip

Mix the first three ingredients together and let set 10 minutes. Fold in the cool whip. Spread on the cooled cake and ENJOY!

*Note: This cake is wonderful after it's been refrigerated about an hour. It's still great when it's room temperature too, but when it's cold it's best!

The coffee in the cake adds something extra to the chocolate and if you aren't a coffee fan don't worry! I never drink coffee but I love this cake.  Now if you all will excuse me I am very very busy doing anything but eating this piece of cake. Dishes. Laundry. Exercising. Checking heifers. Okay, who am I kidding? I'm going to be stuffing my face with this piece of cake and possibly one more. Have a great day everyone!

Friday, April 1, 2011


One thing I've learned since moving to the ranch with my wonderful husband is plans are made to be broken. I can't tell you how many times I have made wonderful, thoughtful and grand plans only to have them pushed aside to help out a calving heifer, gather bulls that were in with the heifers or fix a broken fence line. It's all part of life on the ranch.

It was only a few nights ago that I was visiting with a co-worker and filling her in on what it's like to live on a ranch. I never had sat down and really explained it to anyone before. Nearly all of my friends and acquaintences are familiar with the type of lifestyle my family takes part in so I'd never been asked. It was kind of nice to reflect on what I love, and sometimes dislike, about ranch life. Sure, it's a little annoying to have to drive 30 miles one way to get groceries or a prescription filled, but it's so wonderful to know that my kiddos are being raised on the same ground as their great-great grandpa.

During my conversation with my co-worker one main thing stood out to me. She was stunned by the amount of responsibility it takes to run a ranch. Night checks for the heifers, morning chores and checks on the water tanks don't seem that odd to me. I will admit I don't do my fair share of the chores or checks, but Shawn will ask for my help when he needs it. It's kind of tough with two little kiddos and the nearest daycare 30 miles away. Back to the story, I had never pondered the responsibility involved in ranching before because I was raised on a farm/ranch and know the effort it takes to work in agriculture. I grew up watching my dad work day in and day out from sunrise to sunset on the ranch, and I aways admired his perseverance and diligence in caring for his livestock and crops.


It was the first time my co-worker realized the responsibilities of ranchers. I filled her in on the fact that ranchers don't get vacations without a lot of prep work and finger crossing to get to where we're going. We don't get weekends off, it's definately not a 9-5 job. Our vacations usually involve a trip to town to get salt and mineral or a ride to a distant pasture. We get little glimpses of vacations everyday. We get sightseeing tours of beautiful country everyday on our way to feed cows. We can watch the sunrise while out checking the heifers for the third time that night. We get quiet time to relax while gathering heavies off the lot. We can't leave the ranch without taking care of the cows first because they are our livelihood, and we will always treat them well. I hope that one day the animal activists in our country will realize that ranchers put our animals health above our own at times, and we work hard day in and day out to provide this country with a much needed resource, USDA Beef.

The pictures on today's post are old ranch pictures that my father in law found of some of the previous generations on our ranch. I love looking at these old photos because it reminds me of the hard work put in before my time. I'm sure the women of those days could tell stories that make mine look like a walk in the park. If only they had kept a journal....

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Busy Morning

Whew!!! Good afternoon everyone! Sorry it's been so long since my last post but it has been a busy week! In between my work schedule and calving season, I made time to load up the kiddos last weekend and head a few hours away for a bridal shower. I ended up bringing a friend and her son along so the kids could go swimming in the pool at the hotel. Okay, maybe I brought her along because I thought it'd be nice to have some adult conversation, too. The bridal shower went great, and I can't wait to welcome in a new member of the family in a couple weeks.  Won't be long and I'll have my first sister in law, and we can gang up on all the men in the family! Watch out boys!

I figured I'd share with you this morning's adventures. After Shawn (my husband) took care of a prolapsed cow and the heifer in the lot calved without any problems, we headed to the "Heiser" place to gather an abandoned calf. The calf was one of a set of twins born yesterday, and the momma couldn't take care of both of them. Shawn figured the calf would be pretty easy to catch to bring home but boy was he wrong! The little guy was all curled up beside a creek, and I got out of the pickup to gather him up but it wasn't long before the calf was high tailing it through the pasture and I was left in the dust! My Muck boots weren't quite agile enough (or maybe it's just me) so Shawn jumped out of the pickup after him.

We usually have a rope with us or we are horseback, but today we were in the chore pickup with the kids so it was all up to Shawn. He eventually got him wrangled and loaded while the little man and I were laughing from the truck. Shawn tied up the calf to take him back to the herd. We wanted to make sure there weren't any mommas to claim him before we took him back to the homestead. There weren't any interested mommas for the poor little guy so the little man has another bottle calf in the barn. I wish I had pictures to share of this particular "adventure" with all of you but maybe next time I will capture Shawn's akward moment on film!  Of course he wouldn't let me post them even if I did...

After the first laughable adventure, we went to the "Shoemaker" place to cake and hay some cows. Shawn and the little man fed hay, while lil sister and I went to cake. The little man even got to drive the tractor today (with a little help from Dad, of course)! 

Everything went smoothly over there and all the little babies look happy and healthy!  Since I promised you guys some pics of the new calves a while back I took a few pics this morning. Enjoy!

I had to throw this final picture in because this is how I felt exactly 4 months ago when I was only a few days away from going into labor with lil sister!
I think it's a year for twins on our ranch and I making a wager that this momma is gonna have a set!