Tuesday, August 27, 2013

7 Random Things


(That would be more accurate.)

1. When we moved into our rental home, I lost an entire wall of kitchen cabinets, and had no room for a microwave on the counter.  I desperately needed more storage and counter space, but didn't have the money to buy a microwave stand/ kitchen island. So I did what any girl would do.... rummaged through the scrap wood pile and had my husband build me a farm-style one with some Pinterest inspiration.  Then I sanded, stained, and sealed it for the low, low price of FREE!

My husband is going to weld me an old, antique looking towel holder to put on it as well.

For now, it will hold the microwave, but if we buy a house with a bigger kitchen, I envision the grain grinder going on top of it in the future.

2. My husband and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary, and I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible because we did absolutely nothing to actually "celebrate" our sacred vows. But I did get him a gift! I bought him a soft-shelled jacket for the fall and spring months and had our brand embroidered on it. My man is a tall fella and normal jackets look like 3/4 sleeves on him, so I always have to special-order his jackets in the "tall" sizes. For once, I was on the ball and ordered him a jacket while they were still in stock, and before the season was half over.

Oh ya...and I bought myself one, too. Happy Anniversary to me!  ;)

3. Our mouse eradicator, also known as "Miss Kitty", has been having a hard time adjusting to the rental property. For 8 years (her whole life) , she hunted in the fields around our old house, and she just doesn't have her bearings at the new house.  Last week, in the middle of the night, she got into a horrible cat fight with a stray cat that has been hanging around the barn.  After that, she disappeared.  That's not like her, at all.  We fretted and worried that something terrible happened to her.  We checked the local pound to see if someone had turned her in, and we checked the ditches along our road.  We were concerned that someone may have trapped her, and either shot her or drowned her...something that happens frequently in our area.

The girls cried every night and we all prayed that God would protect her, and bring her back home to us. After 4 full days, she showed up at the back door, hungry, beat up, and really sore.  We were so excited that God answered our prayers and brought her back to us!  Immediately, I could tell that she wasn't her normal self because she couldn't climb up the ladder to sleep on my daughter's bed, her normal sleeping spot. Then I went to lift her and she cried in pain. I felt a huge lump on her chest and knew right away that I needed to take her to the vet.

The next morning, I took her right in and she was running a fever of 104.5 degrees.  As soon as they shaved the lump, puss started pouring out of it. It was an abscess, just as I had suspected.  They had to shave quite a bit to expose and clean out 5 other bites on her, and I just had them shave her whole body while she was knocked out because she had a lot of matted fur on her back.  She has scratches all over the place. The vet put several stitches in her, and put a drain in the abscess to help it heal.

Poor Kitty.  She looks ridiculously naked right now. She started waking up before the tech could finish the shaving, so her back right hindquarter is still furry. It looks like a real hack job, but at least she doesn't have any more mats. And like all bad haircuts, it will eventually grow out.

I'm hoping she pulls through and will be back to herself, soon. She still sleeps most of the day. Oh wait, she's always been like that. HA!  She's pretty scrappy, and we haven't seen the stray cat since the incident. I wonder how it fared in the fight.

4. I once took a parasitology course in college, and I've never been the same.  Being inundated with parasite information and laboratory study for a full 6 months was enough to gross out anyone. While I was in the vet's office, I had to stare at this poster across the room for a full 20 minutes. It just brought back all of the vivid flashbacks of parasite slides, and life cycles I memorized in college. If you know me in real life, I've probably warned you of traveling in 3rd world countries, and the parasites you might encounter...thanks to that class. Good times, good times.

5. It's been raining hard nearly every day this month, and there's a definite chill in the air in the mornings.  For mountain folks, this is the universal call to start cutting firewood for winter.  It's a tradition that my husband has done since birth. And yet, for the first time ever, we find ourselves in a house with  NO WOODSTOVE!  AHHHHHHH! We're panicking about the thought of not cutting any wood this fall. We are panicking about the thought of the heating bill this winter if we have to heat with propane. And we're panicking that we may not find a house to buy before winter sets in.

That's a lot of panicking, which translates into not trusting God.

Shame on us for worrying.

We've even considered stepping out in faith and cutting the firewood just in case we move this winter. Once the snow flies, woodcutting comes to a grinding halt. If you don't have any wood piled up, it could be a very long winter.

6. Our oldest daughter has worn the heels completely off of her boots, and I discovered that she is one  boot size away from moving out of the girls section and into the ladies section. AHHHHHH!

Translation: $60 kids boots < $200 ladies boots.  I'm dying at the thought of spending that kind of money on boots that she'll outgrow in a year.

Kids are expensive.

7. Our old horse, Jake,  loves to have a daily roll in the mud this time of year, and often looks like some type of indian horse covered in brown paint.  Without constant hosing off, he wears dirt clod dreads in his mane, and I'm tired of giving him a bath every day so we can ride him.  I live in constant fear that some stupid city person is going to drive by, look at the pathetic horse covered in mud out in the pasture, and call the animal control officer saying we neglected him.  That horse loves mud more than a pig in a wallow.

That's enough rambling for one week. 

We're off to the arena with the horses for an evening of riding practice.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Busting Out In Song

This, my friends, is the post that erases all of the whining, complaining posts I write about every November through April.

This is the very reason why mountain folks endure six months of frigid snow, ice, and biting wind. 

You just can't beat a glorious summer in the mountains.

Whenever I write about fences still buried in snow in April, just remind me of what that same pasture looks like during the summer.

I'm not joking when I say that every single time I drive down the highway, I bust out in spontaneous Julie Andrews:

♪♫" The Hills are aliiiiive, with the sound of music....Ah Ah Ah Ahhhh!With Songs they have sung for a thousand years...."♪♫

I don't know what comes over me, except that it's overwhelmingly nice to see green grass after months and months of  dead grass and dirty snow. I want to tell the world that Arizona is NOT all deserts and cactus. But then I want them to stay away because I don't like tourists cluttering up my mountain with their R.V.'s and slow driving.

Do you see the elk?

A little closer:

 By the way, our lakes are nice, too. And at sunset, they make me want to roast marshmallows on a stick...

For those of you that don't have hills alive with the sound of music right now, just remember that you probably don't have 3 feet of snow in April, either.

It's a trade-off.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

7 Random Things

1. Since we've moved, our kids have been riding their horses nearly every day.  After they all finish eating breakfast, the kids hop on their noble steeds and tinker around all morning. Sometimes they saddle them, but usually they just ride them bareback. They've discovered that Jake can be ridden perfectly with only his halter and a lead rope for reins.  All of this "tinkering around" is starting to pay off. We had 3 top three finishes in last weekend's 4-H horse show in the trail and bareback classes.  The kids are working hard to memorize their patterns for the different classes in the county fair show, but it doesn't seem like work for them since there's nothing better for the inside of a kid than the outside of a horse.

2. Despite having to abandon the garden I planted this summer before we moved, we have still been able to reap the harvest of some of it, thanks in part to my father-in-law who transplanted portions of the young seedlings to his own garden plot.  We've also been able to drive over to the abandoned garden and harvest some vegetables that are thriving hidden among the 5 ft. weeds. It's sad to see my old garden looking so pitiful, but I'm thankful for the veggies, anyway.

3. Our boy just turned 12 this week, and to tell you the truth...it's killing me. I can't wrap my brain around the idea of him driving in a few years, and possibly leaving the nest in a few more.  My husband and I are sobered by the amount of teaching that is ahead, and the fact that most of the skills he learns in the next six years will shape his future as an adult. I told my friends on Facebook that just yesterday, our lil' cowpoke rode a thousand miles on his rocking horse, and today he's turned into a young man overnight.

4. Every time I fill up the water tanks and check the yearlings, two of last year's calves come running up to me like 1000 lb. dogs.  They love it when we scratch all over their heads, and they nudge us to keep it up whenever we put our hands down. Interestingly, both of the steers that seek us out in the pasture were pulled at birth from heifers. I have a theory that we unknowingly imprinted them like foals. HA! It's going to rip me up inside when we have to say goodbye to them this fall. They are such sweethearts!

5. I risked life and limb to take this picture of the "end of the rainbow" without wrecking my truck while driving  in town this week.  I'm sad to report that there was no pot of gold in sight.

6. Occasionally, I find random pictures on my camera that my kids took. This is one of them.  Despite the mud....Look at the booty on that hog!!!! 4 Weeks until the county fair.

(I share only the highest quality pictures with my blog friends...HAHAHA!)

7. I just got 8 boxes of books delivered to my front door, today.  This means that homeschooling starts on Monday morning. Mama's crying, "BooooHooooo" and the kids are screaming, "YaaaaaaaaaaaaaY!" Because of all of the moving and packing, I feel like I didn't really get much of a summer, but the kids are excited for the new school year.  

Keepin' it real with muddy pig butts,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Of Canadians and New Quilts

 Last week, some of my Canadian family flew into Phoenix for a visit. To this day, I can't understand why they willingly choose to fly into an inferno every summer, but I'm always excited to see them. My aunt Cindy, cousin Sharon, and her daughter Emma, made the long journey from Quebec, and the kids and I drove down to visit them for a few days.

Aunt Cindy is the closest person to my mom that I have left, and some of her mannerisms and sayings remind me of my mother so much that it's a comfort to just be around her. She came out to my dad's house to go through some of my mom's things, and she shared lots of stories and pictures of their growing-up years.

My family always comes bearing gifts, but this time they really outdid themselves. They brought us treats and gifts from Canada, including maple syrup made right in Quebec.

And then my Aunt Cindy surprised me with the MOST BEAUTIFUL quilt that she had been making me for the last two years.  I was stunned. 

Anyone who knows anything about quilts, knows that it takes a ton of time to design them, cut the fabric, and sew it all together. Plus, the one she made for me is hand quilted, and has a beautiful decorative edging on it. I know it took my aunt countless hours to hand-stitch it for me.

I love the way it looks on our log bed, and it's nice and heavy for those long, cold winters.

Now that I have a new quilt, I want to re-do the whole bedroom with new curtains, maybe a rustic oval rug for the floor, some pictures for the wall....

And while I'm at it, I'd like to buy the matching log dresser and night stands that we could never fit into our tiny old bedroom.  After almost 13 years of marriage, I think it's time to get rid of my husband's childhood dresser and the t.v. tray night stand and buy ourselves some real furniture.

 It looks very sparse, barren, and plain in our new bedroom at the moment.  It's like a blank canvas in need of a painter.

Do you see what a new quilt will do for you?  It's like a chain reaction that leads to wanting a whole new bedroom.

 Now, if I can just convince my husband that we need all of this....


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Some Lessons just STINK!

Our son turns 12 next week, and what I've learned about boys who are on the cusp of the teenage years is that they are hopelessly, unabashedly impulsive.

They are 100% committed to adventure- 0% committed to the consequences.

They are prone to shenanigans.

They shoot from the hip and don't think stuff through.

They learn from trial and error....mostly error.

Phrases like, "Well THAT didn't work." only spur them on to further exploration.

Failure does not detour them from trying something even more stupid.

They will add an element of danger to even the most mundane tasks.


Last week, we discovered a family of skunks living under our equipment shed.  They come out after dark and wander the property, never raising their little striped tails in anger.  Our son, being a young Davy Crockett from the wrong era, simply cannot abide by the code of  "live and let live."  From the moment he discovered their presence, he has been plotting a plan to eradicate them from the face of this earth.

After a bit of research, he spent no less than 45 minutes creating a primitive snare to trap and kill the skunks upon exiting their hole.

Day after day, he modified and tested his snare so it would be bigger and better, and more efficient.

Sometimes we would catch a hint of skunk in the air, and he would sprint out to see if he was successful. Often times, the trap had been set off, but he always came up empty handed.

Not once did he ever wonder what he would do if he actually caught the skunk.

After a week of failure, he was more determined than ever to eradicate those stinky, striped beasts lurking under the equipment shed... even though they hadn't harmed a soul.

He called in the BIG dogs for help.  Enter the wisdom and experience of the older generations of men in the family who gave him a large trap, and  a handful of horrible advice.

"If you trap a skunk, throw a tarp over it and it won't spray you."...they said.

"If the skunk can't raise its tail up completely in the trap, then you won't get sprayed."....they said.

"If you shoot it, it will spray you when it dies."...they said.

Armed with a large trap, a new sense of expertise, and sheer will power, our boy baited the trap with dog food, and set it outside the hole under the shed.

Then he went to bed while he waited... never doubting that he would be 100% successful.

Morning arrived, and this is what my husband found:


So at 6:00 am, the entire house was awakened with the hollering of our boy, and the sheer excitement of his first legitimate trapping... followed by a dramatic pause and the sudden realization that he had NO IDEA what he was going to do next.

Remember: boys don't think things through.

My husband was concerned because the skunk was small and could literally pace back and forth in the trap which meant that he could spray if he wanted.

My son looked at his dad like, "What, now?"

So my husband decided to put a blanket over the trap. Sneakily, sneakily, he crept over to the trap with the blanket.  As soon as he approached the cage, the skunk unleashed.  Within 3 seconds, we were all sprinting to the house from the putrid smell.

I made a mad dash to close the doors and windows before the smell permeated the house, and my husband made a mad dash for the keys because he was going to be late for work if he stayed another minute.

This left me and the kids to suffer with the dreaded stench of skunk that could be sniffed a mile away. I put a tarp over the cage, tied a rope to edge of the metal, and left the whole thing there for my husband to deal with after work.

At this point, my son realized he was in over his head, and decided that this was a job for someone older and wiser than he was, so he agreed to comply.

The "Skunk Bandits" went about their morning barn chores and feeding dressed with bandannas and something up their noses to ward off the offending smell that was only steps away from where they walked.

The truck smelled like skunk, the yard smelled like skunk, and my husband's clothes smelled like skunk.

After a very long day, my husband came home with rubber gloves, and "took care" of the problem.  All the while, my son's grandpa and great-grandpa were having a good laugh over the whole thing with frequent phone calls and updates on how the trapping was going. My dad was even in town to witness the thing first-hand...while laughing, of course, and dolling out "expert advice".  Now his trap reeks like skunk, and I'm my son is going to have to wash it in tomato juice to rid it of the offending odor.

Today is a new day, and our boy will go forth with the new knowledge that trapping skunks is not the best idea in the world.

Of course, he had to learn that the hard way.

His latest hair-brained scheme: put the trap up high with sardines inside to catch raccoons.

Oh, brother.

Like I always say: Boys will be boys...and apparently from the volume of laughter and sheer enjoyment it brought to the older generations, I'd say that old men are nothing but over-grown boys, as well.

Hopefully we can get through today with a little less "adventure".


Thursday, August 1, 2013

"It's Always Something!"

There was sheer pandemonium in one of the pastures the day after we sold our house, which means that it was double pandemonium because we were trying to sort through a sea of boxes, and move all of our worldly possessions at the same time.

When it rains, it pours with chaos around here. Either nothing is happening, or everything happens at once.

The details of the ordeal are sketchy, but the chaos involved someone else's heifer who broke INTO our pasture for its green grass. This may have subsequently led to a neighbor's bulls breaking into our pasture to breed the intruding heifer, which then resulted in our cows escaping through the broken fence. Somehow during the whole ordeal, this cow was injured.

We have no idea how it happened, but it involved a late night trip to the vet with her in the trailer. Our veterinarian has been a herd vet for over 30 years and it left him scratching his head. He wasn't sure what to do with it. It would have been difficult to suture, and in the end he elected not to because it was just skin that ripped open and fat exposed.  No muscle tissue was damaged, or he would have sewed her up.

So we took her and her calf back to the barn and have been spraying a special concoction on the wound that keeps it moist, free from infection, and keeps the flies away.  We've also been spraying Vetricyn on it. With lots of TLC, a clean stall, and good hay, I'd say she is starting to look like she's on the mend.  I don't have an updated picture, but it's looking much better after two weeks of care. It's all scabbed up and healing. I have to tell you that I was a bit flabbergasted when the vet didn't sew her up, but I figure that he must know a lot more than I do about these things.

 Partly due to the above incident, we decided that it is time to replace a stretch of old pole fence that the cows broke out of.  Last weekend, we started the first of many trips to the burn area from the fire 2 years ago to cut a trailer load of 14 foot aspen fence poles.

As you can see, the sky was already ominous by the time we arrived that morning, and lightning was a factor as we worked.  We got the job done just as the first drops of rain were falling.

(Yes, it was cold enough for long sleeves, and sweaters in July. The elevation is nearly 10,000 ft.)

I've got the best work crew around! They helped me measure and mark the logs after the men felled them in the forest. Then, they came back along and cut them at the marks and we loaded them into the trailer.

I'll post another picture when we are all done with the fence. We've got a ways to go yet, and have a busy few weeks ahead.

Pole fences aren't my first choice for cattle containment, but they sure look rustic, and ruggedly beautiful along the road.  I'm estimating the old fence to be at least 30 years old, so it was definitely time to change out the rotting poles.

If it's not one thing, it's another,