Thursday, April 7, 2016

Break Time

Y'all, I'm taking a break.

I really feel like the world needs a good western lifestyle blog, and I feel like I can be the person to help bring it to the world, but I also feel like I haven't been giving it my best shot.

My posts were starting to feel forced and much too contrived for my taste, and I'm still lacking a clear direction for what I want this space to be. I want it to be apparent from the get-go what we're all about over here, and I want to represent our industry as best (and as prettily, informatively, and funnily) as I can.

So, I'm taking a break. I have some learning to do, more than some listening to do, a lot of praying to do, and some exciting things on my plate for this summer. If I can gather myself up and get a clear vision about what this space will be, I'll be back. I really hope that's the case!

Thanks for reading, thanks for understanding, and I hope to be back in a few months with some major bangarang!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Night Highlights 3.27.16

Weekend Adventures:
  • Bert and I spent eleven hours in the pickup on Friday while my mom hung out with Wacey. We took our good mare down to New Mexico to one of the other divisions to turn out with some of the ranch's brood mares and a stud in the hopes that she'll have a baby next spring. I'm obsessed with baby horses, so this is pretty exciting!!!!
  • In light of being gone all day yesterday and the fact that it snowed again, we spent Saturday hanging out, and Bert's parents came down to give Wacey his Easter basket.
  • Last night we hunkered down on the couch to watch the last Hunger Games. It wasn't exactly a grand cinematic masterpiece, but it didn't disappoint! I always feel like things are lost in translation when they make movies into books though--Coin was way more subversive and creepy in the books!
  • My mom surprised us with hidden Easter baskets this morning! She'd hidden them while we were gone on Friday and texted me this morning that we had baskets in the house! We've both overdosed on sugar, but it was a pretty sweet surprise!
    ...See what I did there?
  • This afternoon, Wacey went on a cranky tear (not enough nap the past couple of days), so I took him on a car ride that turned into a car nap for him while I listened to the Easter sermon from the Antioch church in Waco via their podcast. It was perfect. 
  • Lamb is the "Easter meat" for several historical reasons. The first relates to the book of Genesis in the Bible and Abraham's sacrifice of his son. Another is related to the concept of "passover," where during the tenth plague of Egypt, God told the Jews to sacrifice a lamb and paint its blood on the lintels of their doors so that they will be spared a visit from the Angel of Death, who would pass them over. More generally, it was believed that because the lamb is holy, it was the only animal that the Devil couldn't inhabit, and several hundred years ago, the Pope requested whole roasted lam for his dinner, and it's remained the traditional meat of the Vatican Easter dinner ever since. 
  • Lamb is also the traditional meat of Easter in Greece, where it's roasted whole on a spit.
  • In more modern times, it's become acceptable to substitute a figure of a lamb made out of something else, like butter or sugar, for the actual meat on the Easter table, in lieu of ham or another meat (or no meat at all, of course). This year, it was French Dip sandwiches chez moi ;)
On the Ranch:
  • We were going to have a branding on Tuesday, but it's too wet! We got big, wet Spring snows twice last week which is great for moisture, not so much for not moisture, which means not so good for a necessarily dry activity like branding. We're also due to get rain on Wednesday, le sigh.
  • We have a meeting tomorrow to discuss our Spring breeding/branding schedule. I'm sort of dreading seeing how full everything is going to be, but that's just how we roll. Still, I kind of miss the good old days when "breeding season" was just turning bulls out.
  • There are still about 600 calves left to be born on the ranch--April is going to be a calvy month!
On the Home Front:
  • We have a walker! Wace still hasn't figured out that it's an actual mode of transportation, or that he can do it somewhere besides between his dad and me, but we're working on it! The next big boy hurdle: the dreaded sippy cup.
  • I can't believe it's almost April! I have some home projects I'm really excited about next month--I'm waiting on fabric from Joann's and some gallery wall materials :)
  • Need an easy, wonderful, crowd-pleasing weeknight recipe? Look no further.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pre- or Pre-Pre Easter Sale Picks

I know. Two collages in one week. I wasn't intending upon doing one today--we spent the whole day in the pickup yesterday so I wasn't planning on a post--but then, on a whim, I checked in at because I wanted to check on their Easter sale and y'all it's a good one! Easter stuff is 70% off plus another 20% off online coupon on top of that, so I had to share.

We're not doing much for Easter this year in terms of egg hunts and Easter baskets--we plan on starting traditions next year, when Wacey knows what's up, and can like, you know, walk to hunt up Easter eggs. I got a few decorations and a couple of things to get a head start on baskets next year, and for the first time ever I've thought about Easter decorations! In addition to feeding my cookie cutter fire (sugar cookies are appropriate for literally every life event), I think I'll have some eggs around, a bunny or two, and some scripture prints in prime real estate areas, and have done with it.

 I don't plan on completely decking the house out for Easter--I think it's another overdone holiday where the real point is lost--but a few things here and there make the house feel like spring, and I have a wreath problem and I don't care who knows it.

I got the kissing bunnies one, in case you're wondering. I really like the look of the egg wreath, but flatter wreaths work out better for our screen door situation.

So here are some cute options if you're buying for next year, or buying last-minute for this year. The printable scripture prints are especially conducive to last-minuting.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bull Sale-ing

If you drive around anywhere where there are cattle in the late spring and summer, you'll see idyllic scenes: cows and calves muching grass in green pastures, maybe catching a little sun, maybe going for a stroll. 

You also might see a bull jumping on top of a cow and ruining the picture for you entirely.

That's nature, folks. The birds and the bees, the bulls and the cows--it's allll nature. 

Now, those bulls have to come from somewhere. Some ranches raise their own bulls, or a portion thereof. Many, however, leave the breeding of big, testosterone-packed male bovines to seedstock producers, and buy them at bull sales.

Every year, typically in the spring and fall/early winter, people all over the country flock to bull sales to buy their herd's XY chromosome providers. It's an excuse for the ranching community to get together, have some food, listen to a (hopefully good) auctioneer do his thing, and maybe buy some bulls. Bull sales are always a pretty good time because it's a rare time for a rather spread-out community to get together and visit. Sometimes it's the only time of year when you get to see your ranching friends in the flesh, especially if one or both of you traveled a good ways to attend the sale.

Also, free food. Usually a good prime rib or brisket of some kind. If you're lucky, there's also cake. Maybe even snacks and free stuff. I don't hate it. 

We went to Torrington, Wyoming last week to visit my brother- and sister-in-law at their ranch's bull sale and it was a pretty fun time, and they served the most amazing all-beef hot dogs (among other things, although I am a secret hot dog aficionado so this was a major excitement for me, don't judge) and it was glorious.

I really miss those hot dogs. 

Here's how it works. The bulls are all brought up close to the sale barn. Customers walk through the bulls in the days and hours preceding the sale with their sale catalogs with all the bulls' info so they can decide which bulls they would like to bid on. 

Once the anthem is sung and the owners/managers make a speech, the sale begins. The bulls are brought in small groups (by lot number) from the pens to the alley behind the sale ring. There, they are sorted into lot order so that the customers know which bull is up next.

Then, each bull is run through the ring and bid on. Most producers run bulls through the ring individually, although some do sell animals in larger lots. Once a buyer is determined, then the bull leaves the ring, and the next one comes in.

Some buyers take their bulls home that day, others opt to have theirs delivered later on so they don't have to deal with another (or more) bull at home--bulls tend to tear things up and fight, and introducing a new bull into a group usually causes a ruckus. 

Sales are fun, but having been on the producer side of the sale, they're also very stressful! Ranchers don't earn a constant paycheck, and for seedstock producers this might be the only payday of the year! It's also a big undertaking to coordinate. In addition to getting all the bulls' pictures and data to print in the catalog months in advance, you have to tag each one, keep them healthy, and get them all to the sale barn sorted into some order. You have to be ready to talk to customers, advertise the sale, and feed and water all those people. Sometimes it's a couple hundred if it's a big producer with a lot of bulls to sell. You have to coordinate the auctioneers and ringmen, the auction film crew (most sales are also on TV or online for remote buyers), the insurance men who are there to offer livestock insurance, the bankers, etc. You also have to coordinate help for the whole affair, because you need a lot of people to get those bulls from the pens to the sale ring in a timely and efficient manner.

 My sister-in-law compared it to putting on a wedding twice a year (their ranch does a sale in the fall, too), and she's totally right. You have to plan meals (usually at least two, because in addition to sale day lunch, many ranches put on a sit-down dinner the night before the sale, and there's also usually at least coffee and donuts for sale day breakfast, too) for lots of people, make sure there's plenty of cold beverages and lots of hot coffee, a plethora of extra sale catalogs and pens, and someone at the ready to answer questions and provide hospitality services all day. If it's a good sale, there's usually some celebrating at the end, too!

Also like a wedding, it's way more fun to just be a guest than to host the whole affair. You get a chance to eat, and don't have to talk to everyone and their mother. You can just sit back, relax, and maybe help serve a hot dog or two, if you're really nice. If you're not really nice, or have no relation to the folks putting on the sale, then you can just sit back, relax, eat a hot dog or two, and hide some muffins in your coat pocket to eat on the ride home.

Or peanut M&Ms. 

And maybe some Chex Mix.

But I've never hid any food on my person--not once--so we're totally speaking in hypotheticals here. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wacey's Summer Clothes Picks

If you don't live in a hole I'm sure you've heard that it's currently blizzarding in my neck of the woods. 

I hate to break it to y'all, but this is something that happens in the spring in Colorado. March is actually the snowiest month, and every year people seem to be taken aback by the hot-cold-summer-winter weather cycle that is Springtime in the Rockies. This is why we don't plant gardens pre-Memorial Day. 

I agree that it's not the funnest. I agree that having days where you can be outside and have the sun warm you through your cold, winterized bones is heaven on earth. I agree that cabin fever is a thing, and that Vitamin D is so so so welcome after a long winter. But, you know the best part about spring storms? They're in and out and then the weather is back to being glorious again! 

Plus, my agricultural-in-a-semi-arid-state two cents: y'all, we always need the moisture. 

So, today, while the screens of the windows are plastered with snow and apparently the sun will never shine again, I'm thinking ahead to the days when the sun will, in fact, shine again and we'll be outside in the sun, wearing shorts and wishing for a personal cloud of snow like Eeyore's raincloud with which to make snowcones because the ice cream truck don't travel round these here parts.

Wacey has almost no summer clothes since we didn't know what size he would be (he's pretty solidly in 18-month bottoms, and 18-24 month tops, although some 2T stuff does fit), so I can't wait to get him some duds! For him, Bert and I both prefer simple, soft, washable things that can be mixed and matched and don't have obnoxious sayings all over the front. 

I also tend to gravitate towards blue because, well, Wacey's eyes.


We have two needs for summer clothes: rodeo and play. My taste in clothes for both myself and Wacey lies on a spectrum with Wrangler on one end, and J.Crew (or Oshkosh for him) on the other. I'm not sure what to call it. Preppy Cowboy? Western Nautical? Chambray Overload? Elle Woods Married The Marlboro Man and had Babies? Drinking Bellinis at a Rodeo? 

Anways, monikers aside, that's how we roll. 

For rodeos, because of the dust and dirt and being in the sun--but also often going into the evening--we usually dress Wacey in long sleeves and pants, and stay in the shade as much as we can. I like Cherokee, Circo, and Oshkosh jeans for him because they're soft and fit him really well--big in the waist and not too long! For shirts, I tried to find some that match Bert's rodeo shirts (royal blue and tan), but they don't make them in little sizes so I'll probably order coordinating plaid ones to get embroidered with the ranch's brand. We already have several button-downs, but I'd like to add a couple to our collection. They're also perfect to throw on over short sleeves during cooler days or in the evening.

For play clothes, I like light, airy, washable, cotton like every other mom on the planet. I love henleys, obviously, and stick with neutrals in the bottoms department so we don't have designated "outfits". I also try to make sure we have a long-sleeve with us all the time in case it gets chilly.

For shoes, I have no idea what we'll do. Go barefoot as much as possible, I guess! He has a pair of those moccasins already, and they're the only shoes I can fit on his tiny fat feet (seriously--he wears, like a 2 1/2). I'm hoping that by summertime his feet will have grown a bit so we can get him in some tennis shoes! I have very low expectations in this department, though, and I guarantee he won't be in cowboy boots for a loooooooong time.

I hope that we'll be able to spend more time at the pool this summer, and nothing says summer like a pair of 'Merica trunks, amiright? Add some Wayfarer-style sunglasses, and I think we're good to go! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday Night Highlights 3.20.16

Weekend Adventures:
  • Literally nothing, haha. We're boring, what can I say? Actually, since this is the first weekend Bert hasn't had to look after calving cows, we've been catching up on relaxation and having a quiet weekend doing not much at all. 
  • It's Spring! Finally. I love fall and actually don't mind winter, but this one has been loooooooong. We celebrated with some Sonic slushies today, it was lovely.
  • We did watch The 33 last night, and it was good! Next up on our list: The Big Short, the final Hunger Games, and the new Star Wars!
  • PAP testing is a way to help determine bovine survivability at high altitudes. PAP stands for pulmonary artery pressure, and is determined by running a catheter through the pulmonary artery. 
  • Spring is in the air! Which means lots of ranches are getting geared up for branding. Some states require brands, others don't, but it's one of the best permanent way of marking your cattle in case of theft, escape, or bad fences!
  • Another thing about spring? Lots of bull sales. Lots of producers sell yearling bulls in the spring that are ready to turn out on cows. Later this week I'll have a post about my brother- and sister-in-law's sale that we went to last week! 
On the Ranch:
  • Bert's done calving heifers! Woo! In total, we have about 500 calves on the ground, so we're almost halfway through! Having the heifers out of the way is great, though, because they require so much more care than the cows. Plus, Wace and I are happy to have Bert home a little more!
  • Next week, we'll be PAP testing heifers, aka my favorite thing. There WILL be a post on that because my mom's coming down to babysit so I'll be front and center with my camera.
  • Y'all, we start branding week after next. Hellooooooo Spring!
On the Home Front:
  • Last weekend's Spring Forward has really thrown us for a loop! I love making dinner while it's still light out, but Wacey's schedule is all out of whack. We've been enjoying a little more sleep time in the morning, but we've really got to get back on track...tomorrow. 
  • I'm getting the spring cleaning itch! I want all of our extra stuff gone, like, yesterday. The only problem is that I don't want it all gone for free, haha. I'm giving everything one last round on the internets before I try consignment and then, donation. This stuff that has been sitting in boxes since we moved has seriously got to go!!!
  • Wacey has started walking! Not like, full-on walking, but he'll take a step here and there and it's both amazing and sort of sad. Where did my tiny baby go? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Golden Evening

I know it's hard to see, but this is one of my favorite views on the ranch. I took this the other evening on my way back from the other side of our camp. The sun was all glowy and it was just so pretty I had to stop and take a picture.

Sometimes, living in the country is sort of a pain. Everything is far away, and it's always a production to go anywhere. Our cars are always dusty, and there's no such thing as running into town to get a gallon of milk or a little sugar.

But, the other 75% (or maybe like 99%)  of the time, it's definitely not.

Golden evenings like this one make my heart happy. There's a magic at this time of day, and it's always been my favorite.

When Bert and I were dating, we'd pack up some bottled root beer and potato chips and go for a drive in the evenings during the summer. We'd drive around dusty roads, talk, be silly, and make up dumb songs. We still do this sometimes, actually, just with a baby in the backseat. If we're feeling really wild, we grab Dr. Pepper instead.

We're two crazy kids, I know. And this is one gorgeous view. 

I'd throw in a #blessed, but I'm not sure I'm that hip. 

Hashtags are actually pound signs, anyways.