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....