Friday, March 29, 2013

My Favorite Miracle

Every time I see a calf born, I'm reminded of God's marvelous hand in creation. Within 10 minutes of birth, this calf was standing. Within 10 minutes of standing, he found his way to Mama's udder and nursed for the very first time as she stands perfectly still and licks him softly. Having never seen an udder, nor having any instruction, the calf instinctively knew what to do to nourish himself with life-sustaining colostrum. A miracle.

Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Random Things

1. We had our first calf of the season this morning, with many more to come. It's always an exciting but busy time of year for us. I love it when the little guys arrive!

2. I grabbed my camera just in time to see a herd of elk cross the road this morning on my way to check on the cows. 

3. News Flash! Spike the Succulent is in full bloom for the first time in 13 years. I can't believe it. I moved him from the top of the refrigerator into the living room, and he is flourishing in his new environment.  If you've never read about how I got Spike, and his ridiculously sentimental value, then you should read this story:

4. I have finally found a combination of mop/cleaner that works on my wood floors. I hate streaks and water marks, and I have tried just about everything, including every homemade Pinterest recipe I could find. Since we have to have a spotlessly mopped floor several times a week for house showings, with little advanced notice (as in, no time to get rid of strong floor cleaner smells), I was desperate to find a better mopping system.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this O Cedar Microfiber flip mop that I got at Walmart. It's got a removable microfiber cloth that I can just throw into the washing machine, it's two sided, has a wide mopping surface, and maneuvers around angles like a dream.

Last month I was in the cleaning aisle of Safeway, and stumbled upon this Method Squirt and Mop. It smells like almond extract, which I LOVE! I just sweep the floor with a broom, and then go over the whole thing one area at a time by squirting the cleaner on the floor and mopping it up with the dry microfiber mop.  It dries in minutes, and I'm left with a spotless, shiny floor that smells fabulous!  It's perfect for days when I have to mop and go! I'm told that they carry it at Target as well, but the nearest one is 3 hours away so I can't verify that.

Method Squirt + Mop Wood Floor Cleaner 25-fl oz.

5. I'm embarking on a very thorough expository study of the book of Daniel in my Bible. I've downloaded a study guide, commentary, and sermons that pertain to the verses I'm reading each week, and have been studying the history of the time period as well. It's uncanny how many things mirror our nation right now. The prominent themes of God's sovereign control over the affairs of rulers and nations is something that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. The book of Daniel also shows how hard times not only reveal a person's character, but also help to build it.  I can't wait to learn more in the coming weeks. Even though I've read Daniel a number of times, I always learn something new.

6. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh....[thinking].........I've got nothin'.

7. Our little town is getting a C-A-L Ranch Supply Store, and we're so excited to check it out when it opens in a few weeks. When we drive by and look in the window, it looks like it carries everything a person could ever want for raising livestock.  I just hope it doesn't shut our little feed stores down. That tends to happen when the big guys come in and sell stuff cheaper. We shall see.

Happy Friday, Friends!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Ranch Remuda Sale, and Picking Piggies

We had a long, full weekend overflowing with activity.  Thursday afternoon, we made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Chino Valley so we could attend Cattleman's Weekend on Friday.  The Prescott Livestock Auction puts the whole thing on and it includes a ranch horse remuda sale, heifer sale, and bull sale.

We were mainly there for the horse sale, and we were impressed by the quality that we saw, and the way the  sale was handled.

Every horse in the catalog was checked by the vet for soundness, age was verified, and the horses were numbered on the hip.  All horses were guaranteed sound.  The first order of the day was a conformation judging with all of the horses in the arena.  Afterward, each horse entered the arena alone and was expected to do the same series of tasks:

First, they trotted into the arena, loped figure eights with lead changes, backed, circled each direction and made two sliding stops.  Then they released a steer from the chute and they showed their cutting skills, and the horse's cowiness.

Next, they allowed the steer to run past, and had to get ahead of them and cut the steer off several times.  

Finally, they had to rope the steer and drag it. Many times another contestant would heel the steer and the header would get off his horse as if doctoring a cow.

That evening they sold the horses.  We were looking for a new horse for our two older kids, and mainly one that our son could rope off of. There were 4 horses that we were really interested in, although I believe that nearly half of them would have fit the bill.  We stayed away from the three year olds because although they looked good, we still need a horse that is smarter than our 11 year old around a rope. Unfortunately, horses 3 and 4 on our short list came up before the 2 horses we wanted the most. We erred by holding out because our top two choices went higher than we were willing to go, and we had held out and passed up on our bottom two choices which were affordable.  Lesson learned for next year. 

Since we didn't walk away with a horse, we would have used the money to buy a pen of heifers, but the heifer sale was right before the horse sale, so we were holding our money for the horses.

Nothing seemed to be in the right order for us that day. I guess it just wasn't in the cards for us to fill our trailer. LOL!  We still had an incredible time, and ate fabulous smoked tri-tip sandwiches, pulled pork, charro beans and potato salad.  The weather was gorgeous with temps around 75 degrees F, and as people were clearing out of the yard for the evening, I couldn't help but notice the big, blue sky surrounding the valley that we were in.

We got home around midnight, and woke up early on Saturday morning. I was in charge of an equine shot clinic for our 4-H club, and had the vet come out and give spring vaccines for all of the horses before the big riding season is upon us.  Afterward, the whole club rode in the arena for a few hours.  Since we've been covered in snow for 5 months, some of those horses hadn't been ridden in a while, and things got a little western in the arena. Our baby rode Old Jake, and he was a perfect always.

Saturday afternoon, we drove out to a small pig farm to pick out our 4-H pigs.  They are only a week old, so we can't take them home for another 6 weeks, but they sure were adorable! How can a person look critically at muscling and confirmation when there is so much cuteness to distract you? I could barely concentrate. I wanted to take them all home.

Baby piggies are precious, I don't care who you are, you can't deny it.

We finished the evening with a trip to the pasture to check on the "heavies" and fix some fence that a yearling went through.  My in-laws treated us to Booga Red's Restaurant for some Chili Rellenos, and it was the perfect ending to a long day.

Now I'm back to reality and Monday morning laundry,


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

My husband has had the same brown Carhartt chore coat for the last 16 years.

He's not one to throw comfortable clothing away just because it has a few holes in it, and he's definitely not one to give up on something just because it's showing a little age. Believe me, this is one characteristic that is comforting for a wife to know about... especially when said wife has discovered a few gray hairs sprouting forth from her head. But I digress...

Recently, I've noticed that my husband's jacket has deteriorated significantly. With tattered sleeves, welding burns, and grease stains, it is no longer "presentable" for anyone other than the cows.  I can live with the "worn in" look, but the smell is much worse. A mixture of grease, dirt, and hay permeate the nose when I reach over to give him a hug. It's a smell only a wife can love, and an odor that Tide can't remove. We have snow for half of the year, and subsequently, heavy jacket usage during these months. In the "off" season, his jacket lives in the toolbox in the back of the truck for our unpredictable mountain weather.  

This winter, my husband gave his nice coat to a homeless man in need, and all he had left was his chore jacket. 

I had a brilliant idea! For Valentine's Day I decided to buy him a brand new coat... just like the old, ratty favorite. I went directly to the western store and made the big purchase. It was the last one in his size.  I couldn't wait for him to open his gift on the morning of Valentine's day.

He opened the box, and tried on the jacket. Imagine my surprise and horror upon realizing that the jacket didn't fit. Not even a little! I bought the exact same size as his old one. It barely zipped, was tight in the shoulders, and exposed his wrists.

I spent the next 5 minutes calming down my husband who thought that he must have gotten fat over the years, despite my insistence that he looked exactly the same as the day I married him. He talked about dieting, and I told him that he just had bigger muscles now. 

 This Valentine's Day was spiraling down in a hurry and there was nothing I could do to make him feel better.

Finally, I told him to please take the jacket off, and assured him that I could exchange it for a bigger size.  After struggling to get the sleeves off, he set the jacket on the table. Perplexed, I gave the jacket one last look, and it was then that I saw one tiny little word that changed everything....

The tag read, "Carhartt for Women".

It was a woman's jacket that was mistakenly hung in the men's section of the store. 

I felt like such a dork.

My husband had a renewed outlook on life, and left for work. I drove back to the western store, and told the cashier what happened. After a good chuckle, we made a special order for a new jacket in his size.

Today, nearly a month later, the coat finally arrived! Better late than never, I suppose. It fit my husband perfectly, and despite the fact that it is unmarred by 16 years of hard work, I think he'll grow to like it. It just needs a little "seasoning".

Now if only I could get him to throw the old coat away. He says it still has a lot of life in it.

I guess breaking up is hard to do,


Monday, March 11, 2013


I've got the Feva'!!!

Spring Fever, that is.

I get it every March and it makes me Mrs. Grouchy-pants.

Do you know why I haven't been blogging much? Because there are only things going on in my world...

1. Feed the cows.

 "Hey, is that my breakfast you've got back there?"

2. Clean the house for a million showings.
I die every. single. time. the Realtor calls. I'm going to change his ring-tone to Darth Vader music. Seriously.

3. Watch it snow for the billionth time.

It will. not. quit.

I took these pictures today on the way back over the mountain from feeding the cows.

There is a 4 strand barbed wire fence buried under that snow.

Snow flocked trees are lovely and beautiful in December.  They are wretched and annoying in March.

They are especially annoying a week before spring break when all of the stores have their shorts, flip-flops, and swimsuits out and I am still wearing my Carhartts, snow boots, and wool hat.


Repeat steps 1,2,3 over and over again.

That is my life right now.  We were displaced from our home for 4 hours today for realtor showings, so my family spent the afternoon looking at our cow's rear-end regions and udder sacks, and placed bets as to which cow was going to calve first. That's how we roll in this family.

Just keepin' it real,


Monday, March 4, 2013

The Making of a Man

This boy of ours, this young man in training, is on the cusp of big changes. We've been on our knees frequently asking God for wisdom in how to raise him in these formidable years to come. Our son is showing us signs that he's ready for more in this life.  He's physically stronger, and mentally stronger and begging for challenges to test his growing abilities.  We want him to be well prepared for life as a man and some day perhaps a husband and father.

It seems like people don't expect much from young folks anymore. Some of the most important training years in a young man's life are now spent goofing off, playing video games, and hanging out with friends with no real responsibilities. While unstructured play and adventures are important, it is also vital to really stretch those growing muscles in both the brain and brawn department. We want to tune into our son's strengths and feed his interests with plenty of opportunity for growth.  We also want to challenge him in his weak areas by gently nudging him out of his comfort zone. Lately he's been giving 4-H presentations to rooms full of people young and old, and although it makes him terribly nervous, he has risen to overcome his nerves. He builds more confidence every time he chooses courage over fear.

As a mother, I had most of the teaching duties for my son's younger years, but now I find my role changing as Dad takes over the majority of the character training in his life. The two spend as much time as possible together, and I've taken a step back as they've developed that unspoken bond that fathers and sons have.

That doesn't mean that all mothering has come to a halt. I'll never stop kissing his freckled cheeks, and feeding him his favorite cookies. I'll still push him in his academics and be his biggest fan at his baseball games. I'll still call on him to lift heavy things and kill the vermin while doting on his bravery and strength. He's over the hundred pound mark and nearly as tall as his Mama, but I can still whip him in a wrestling match... at least for a few more months. ;) He squishes my guts when he gives me a bear hug at bedtime, and that may never change.  But I know that it's time for him to look to his dad, his grandfathers, and the other men in his life to pour their wisdom into him.

We want to somehow raise the bar with the hope that he will rise to meet it. This is where all of the prayer comes in. It's a delicate balance to stretch a boy and allow him to make lots of failed attempts while trying new things, without crushing his entrepreneurial spirit.We don't want him to be paralyzed by the need for perfection.We want him to try new and difficult things, and be there to encourage him to try again, and again, and again if he didn't get the results he hoped for. 

We are trying to inspire him to read stories of ordinary boys who grew to do extraordinary things for God and their country. We point to examples of young men who have started little businesses that have grown into full time jobs. We try to show him Biblical examples of manhood and modern day Godly men to model his life after. We have spent his life up to this point laying the foundations for our son, but in a few years, our son will begin to frame the walls with the tools we've given him, and with the help of God.  

This parenting stuff just seems to get more challenging as the kids get older. We thought that teaching them to walk, talk, use the potty, read, and ride a bike were tough tasks, but that's nothing compared to what is demanded of parents in this phase. Keeping up with toddlers is physically demanding, but the older the kids get, the more mentally exhausting the job becomes. My prayer time seems to be ever increasing these days, and I may wear out the carpet and a set of knees before it's all said and done from approaching the throne of Grace to ask for protection and wisdom in these coming years.

It's hard to imagine that anyone could love this boy more than his parents, but God does. We have to trust Him that He will pick up where we have failed, and that He will fill in the gaps where we have fallen short. We're depending on Him to guide us through this parenting journey, and through these uncharted waters.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart,