Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A "Slice" of Christmas

This will be a Christmas that our son won't soon forget, and for all the wrong reasons.

We woke up bright and early, fed the livestock and gathered round the Christmas tree to exchange gifts in our pajamas before the sun came up. We passed out the first gift to our boy... a folding camping shovel and limb saw.  As he was cutting the zip-ties that held the shovel to the cardboard backing with his pocket knife, he sliced the palm of his hand wide open!

Christmas came to a screeching halt!

We cleaned the wound and butterfly bandaged it together, but it was in a really bad spot that would bleed every time he moved his hand. After making a myriad of phone calls, it was established that the emergency room was the only place open within a 3 hour driving radius. We hated to go to the hospital when an urgent care facility could have taken care of it for a fraction of the cost, but we had zero options on Christmas day.

So my husband took him to the E.R. and he got 7 stitches for Christmas.

The funniest thing about it was that an older gentlemen came into the E.R. shortly after our son got there, with the exact same injury. HA!

They gave him some parting gifts...including a strange handmade blue glass ornament that doesn't match our tree at all, but will forever be hung on its branches as a reminder of his trip to the E.R. on Christmas morning.

His sisters were a wreck, as you can imagine. First they cried because they knew their brother was hurt badly, and although they would never admit it, I'm sure they were sorely disappointed that they had to wait 3 hours before they could open any of their gifts. It must have seemed like an eternity to an 8 year old.

We eventually gathered around the tree again, and finished the gift exchange with much excitement from all parties.  

In the aftermath of flying wrapping paper and boxes, we each sat quietly in different spots in the living room, entertained and reading about our new gifts, when all of the sudden:


The Christmas tree fell over.

Ornaments broke, needles flew across the room, and we spent the next 30 minutes righting the tree, vacuuming up needles, and re-hanging the ornaments.

We just laughed. It was the perfect ending to the morning.

We didn't let it ruin our day, though. We got dressed and headed over the mountain for a great Christmas hike and gift exchange with family.  Then, we sat down to a dinner of homegrown beef and all of the fixings.  

We chuckled as we removed the steak knife from our son's place setting.....just in case. ;)

I hope your Christmas was less dramatic!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Birthdays and Curling Iron Wishes

Our daughter just celebrated her 11th birthday with a house full of squealing, giggling young ladies.

There was only one thing on her birthday wish list: A CURLING IRON.

I shudder as I type those words because I remember the year that I got my very first curling iron. It was powder blue with a skinny barrel. From that moment forward, I was in charge of my own hair destiny. No more pig tails from Mom.  What ensued was a three year run of late eighties, early nineties bangs.

The formula for my Junior High bangs:
Two rows of curls going up
one row of curls going down
Tease them together
Hairspray until they moved as one unit.
Hairspray again for good measure.

I put my mother through endless torture. She had to look at those ridiculous bangs, and shake her head as I told her, "Mom, all the girls are wearing them like this!"

If she were alive, she'd be laughing right now, telling me that my chickens are about to come home to roost.


OK, now that I have voiced my worries about this scary gift, I can move on with this post:

Since our daughter's birthday is very near to Christmas, it's always a challenge to transform the house from Christmas decorations to birthday decorations, but I make a valiant attempt.

I made tissue paper flowers, and I forgot how fun and easy they are to make.

Since we had a color theme going on, I decided to buy only turquoise candy and gum for the party favors.

This year, we ate pizza, and decorated Gingerbread houses.

At the last minute, our son decided he wanted to try his hand at ginger bread house making, too.  But he refused to sit at a table full of girls. He had to draw the line somewhere.

It can be pretty overwhelming if you aren't used to the sounds of tweenaged girls, but big brother made it through....

...with only one minor photo bombing incident.

Our kids are growing up so fast! Where does the time go?

Thanking God that big 80's bangs aren't in style at the moment,


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Branding Weekend

Day 1: Gathering 

Day 2: Branding

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Shamelessly Gloating about our Superior Christmas Tree

That's right. We got a good one.

This year my father-in-law and my brother-in-law's family tagged along and went tree hunting with us.  In the 11th hour, just before sunset, we spotted our glorious tree off in the distant meadow.

After shaking off the snow and making a full circle around it, I gave the Blue Spruce my seal of approval and the ceremonial tree cutting commenced.

There's a boy in this picture but I can't see him!

Thankfully, the brothers drug the tree back to the truck because it was one heavy beast!

We then secured our load, and drove back to civilization.  On the way home, we laughed heartily at all of the lame Charlie Brown trees that we saw in the backs of trucks, and sinfully paraded our superior Christmas tree through main street (all two stoplights of it.)  We ended our slow processional by parking in front of our favorite restaurant to flaunt our trophy tree the way hunters show off their elk racks in the back of the truck.

 If you don't live in small town America, you won't get this comparison.

I know it's prideful and wicked to boast of Christmas trees, but when you harvest your tree from the forest, and not from a tree farm or worse...Home Depot, then it is much more difficult to find a full, pretty tree that is the right size.  When you come across one, it's really hard to remain humble about it.

But sometimes the Lord humbles us by allowing an elk to urinate on our tree without our knowledge of it until it is in our house and fully decorated, at which time we have to cut out many, many branches to keep our house from smelling like elk estrous.

But that was years ago.

I digress.

The snow was really gorgeous that day! It was so fluffy that it looked fake, like it came out of a department store display area.

After we got home, we did the best we could to make the tree fit into our rental house which lacked the vaulted ceilings we've grown accustomed to in our old home. A little trimming, and TaDa! We have a Christmas tree.

Not bad for a tree that's never been groomed, fertilized, or pruned.

And a Bonus: Here's a little pic of the kitchen eating area...because it was on my camera. Did I mention that the rental house was built in 1940? That's not my choice of wall color, either. I just try to make the best of it while we're here.

Bragging about my Christmas tree while secretly suffering with miserable allergies because of it,


Monday, December 2, 2013

You can't HANDLE the cuteness!

This is my birthday gift from my husband. I was sooo surprised! That man knows the way to my heart. He picked a good one, that's for sure.

I really heart my pup. Like, a lot. 

Love at first sight, you might say.

His name is Tater, but we also call him Tater Bug, Tater Tot, Taters and Gravy, and just plain ole' Tate.

He's the softest, fluffiest, tiniest little ball of fur I've ever seen.  He has puppy breath, tiny little shark teeth, and a little pink tongue.

Tater is a red tri- merle Australian Shepherd, and he's smart as a lick. In fact, he's sooo smart that if you don't give him a job, he'll get into mischief.  He instinctively herds anything that moves. This includes other dogs, small children, birds, and the cat.  

Our other animals hope that he will go away very soon because he is ruining their retirement. All of their leisure time outside is spent with Tater orbiting around them, licking them, biting their ears, and wanting to play. An old dog's worst nightmare.

It's nice to have some young blood around here.  It keeps everyone on their toes. Tater's potty trained already, but we have a LONG road ahead to make him into a good cowdog. Thankfully, his instincts are strong, and he's eager to learn. Now if I can just keep him from gnawing on my slippers, he'd be the perfect gentleman.

In puppy love,


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

For this, I am THANKFUL...

I'm thankful for an unchanging God who pursues us, loved us before we loved Him, and shows grace and mercy to us, mere sinners.

I'm thankful for the sound of our truck pulling up the gravel drive every evening, and the tired, dirt-covered man who walks through the back door, lunch box in hand, to give me sweet kisses.

I'm thankful for a home filled with rowdy children who wrestle, rope, and wreck my clean house. Their muddy boots, and paper crafts, and rope swings are what make the house a home.  Their bear-hugs and angel kisses make my world go-round.

I'm thankful for the grandparents who help us care for the cattle, spoil our kids, lift us up in prayer, and make sure that our needs are met.

I'm thankful for siblings who have seen the worst side of us, but believe the best about us. They know all of our crazy family jokes, and know exactly how to get us going, but will always be there when things are tough.

I'm thankful for friends who feel like family. They love our quirks and watch over our kids like they were their own.

I'm thankful to see our cows and horses through my kitchen window while I'm doing dishes in the morning.

I'm thankful that we have livestock to tend to, and for the endless opportunity for learning that they bring to the kids.

I'm thankful that we live on a mountain with million dollar views, 4 seasons, and daily wildlife sightings that many people only read about in books.

I'm thankful for loyal old dogs who are always happy to greet me with wags of the tail, and licks to the face; And a cat that keeps my lap warm in the winter.

I'm thankful for an abundance of  homegrown beef and pork in the freezer, and that we always have enough to share with others.

I'm thankful for hay in the barn, food in the pantry, clothes in the closet, and a warm bed to sleep in.

I'm thankful for the challenges that help us grow, and the faith we gain when we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm thankful that God supplies all of our needs.

We are blessed beyond measure.

Monday, November 18, 2013

7 Random Things

1. We are selling calves and open cows on Wednesday, and I won't go to the corrals to load up my babies.


Not gonna watch my little guys be taken away on the truck. I woke up every 3 hours for a solid month to help bring those babies into this world. I won't watch them go. He can't make me.

But I will accept the fat paycheck.

The End.

2. We are hauling two stringer hay up to the house barn for the show calves, who will also be coming home on Wednesday. Those bales are easy for the kids to handle, and only weigh about 60#.  That's perfect since they will have all of the responsibility with their project calves. I still remember when it took two kids to drag a bale and now they can throw them with one hand. *Sniff, sniff.* My babies are growin' up.

Caught with his hand in the cookie jar!

3.  It was windy when I was feeding the weaners last week. (That's weaners... not weiners, as in weaned calves...Gracious!) Back to my story.  I was feeding the weaners a load of grass hay and a teeny, tiny hay splinter got stuck in my eyeball. Try as I may, I could NOT get that thing out of my eye!  By day 2, I was in agony and finally broke down and went to the doctor.  She got it out after putting some dye on my eye to light it up. It tore the skin of my eye but it felt so good to get that thing out of there and it healed itself after a few days.  That's the second time in 3 months that I've had that happen.  I need sunglasses.

4.  I hate sunglasses. Did I mention that? They fog up. I sit on them and break them. I drop them and break them. I need to shop for some cheap ones because I could have bought 20 pairs with the cost of going to the doctor, twice.

5. I took the whole family in for eye exams.  Turns out, our middle child is blind in one eye and has perfect vision in the other. SHOCKER!!! She gets an exam every year at the pediatrician's office and they never said a word. Not one word.  I think she cheated on the test or something because how can you miss that?  The eye doctor said that she's been that way since birth so she's never known any different.  He can't believe she's an all-star softball player because apparently having only one good eye affects your depth perception in a major way!  The good news: she can now wear a contact lens in the bad eye to strengthen it and regain most of her vision.  Then, when she's fully grown, they can do surgery to completely fix it permanently. Thank God for modern medicine!

6. I have been walking/jogging 5 1/2 miles a day for the last 9 weeks. After eating 5 days of greasy fair food and funnel cakes, my friend and I decided to start getting healthy when we got home.  We've been working out together ever since. Bonus: She used to be a personal trainer. SCORE!  I'm slowly seeing changes in my body, and I feel so much better.  I've been trying to watch what I eat, but I refuse to give up dessert. That's just going too far.  So I'll keep trucking down the dirt road in my sneakers as long as I can have my cake and eat it, too.

7. During the perilous month that Miss Kitty was recovering from her gang fight, she lost so much weight that we started to feed her canned food to entice her to eat.  Now that she's fully recovered, she's turned into a total diva.  She will only eat Friskies Tasty Treasures and nothing else will do.  Cat Chow? Not a chance. Meow Mix Seafood Selects? Forget about it.  She has full bowls of both, but continues to meow and circle my legs incessantly for Tasty Treasures...which we've been out of for 3 days.  I refuse to buy more of it until she's eaten the other stuff. She'd rather starve. #catsaredumb  She's wearing me down. My truck almost turned itself into the Wally World parking lot to pick up a box of Tasty Treasures, but I'm not that weak...yet.

^ That confession just made me sound like the Crazy Cat Lady, but I'm not.  Pinky Promise.  

Happy Monday, Friends!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weaning is not fun.

As a mother of three, I have come to dread weaning calves. It's my least favorite chore of the year.  Bawling babies, and mooing mamas all bagged up just makes me groan with remembrance of my own nursing years. I have an obnoxious amount of sympathy for all parties involved. 

But the non-stop bawling for days is what can drive a mama to sheer madness.

Nevertheless, the deed is done, and all parties have settled down.  The calves were locked up in Alcatraz for 5 days on the other side of the mountain from their mamas, and they are now hoarse, and content to eat grass again.  We put our old Mammy cow in with them, and they stick close to her while she shows them the ropes.

We spent the last week burning up the highway to feed and check the calves.  The kids enjoy the change of pace from their regular school routine, but doing schoolwork in the truck makes for some interesting handwriting with all of the bumps in the road.

We've also been sorting off  the grass fed steers that we'll be taking to butcher as custom beef for customers, and some steers to feed grain to for the next 45 days before butchering. We still have to sort off calves to sell, and bring the best two home to start feeding for next year's 4-H projects.  

The money from all of our butcher beef will come in handy with Christmas and 5 birthdays around the corner.  

I know that this is a terrible picture, but we woke up to a dusting of snow early this morning. That means that winter is breathing down our necks, and we have so much left to get done before the big winter storms start to bear down on us. With temps in the low teens every morning, we have to put in the tank heaters, stack hay in the barn for winter, get several loads of cinders to keep the mud down around the pens, and the list goes on and on.  We got a truckload of hay pellets this weekend put up in the barn for the horses, but the list of junk that needs to be done is growing by the minute.

I'm slightly stressed. Can you tell?  I guess I'll head off to have a bite of homemade dessert before bed. 

 After all, everyone knows that stressed spelled backwards= desserts!

Comfort foods are my weakness,