Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shearing & Ranching . . . Not for the faint of heart.

 I love our profession. I truly do. I love ranching, though it was something I never imagined in my childhood what I would  be doing. I did have those days I dreamed I was cowgirl, something  I am still trying to achieve. Like I was saying, I love ranching, however, and I mean a BIG however, I have come to the conclusion: Ranching is not for the faint of heart.

Now this is something I knew, but the weekend after Thanksgiving continued to add confirmation to my belief. 

I am sad to say I didn't even take any pictures of this weekend, but for future generations & those one day this will be funny stories. I feel the need to add this one.

We had just finished up a wonderful holiday visiting my husbands side of the family. Friday morning we went up to the mountains, cut down a fresh Christmas tree & had every intention of driving the 2 hours "home" before coming back on Saturday to work. Its always nice to sleep in your own bed, even if it is just for a night. My husbands parents live close to where the ranch is, so while I packed up our gear he headed over to "check on things." He wanted to make sure we were ready to go for Saturday. Now Saturday was shearing day. Well partial shearing, but I will get to that in a minute. 

A short time later, I receive a text: "It's not happening."  In other words, "There is too much work to do, we aren't headed home." It wasn't a big deal, to be truthful I was kind of expecting it, but it is always nice to be wrong in these sort of situations.  My father-in-law, bless his heart, extended a stay at their house "for however long I need it, and to just plan on coming back here tonight." Now there is no house like your own, but this offer almost brought tears to my eyes I was so grateful & so thrilled not to be a sleeping  with sleeping bag & outhouse in November.

So we headed over to the "Ranch" & worked building a new set of working corrals until dark. We had a new plan & new system that we were hoping would be smoother & easier to work the sheep in.  At dark, we returned as guest to warm beds, delicious hot foods & crawled into bed early; tired & knowing tomorrow was going to be a long day.

My hubby got up & going by 5:30  a.m. The boys & I on the other hand slept a little longer & didn't make our way over to the ranch until sometime after 8. 

We began shearing, each person having their own area to work. The boys helped move the sheep into the different pens, it was my job to keep the sheep running up the chute into the shearing trailer. 

(These are pictures from last year's shearing)

 I held a rod in hand to help prod the ewes along, up into the chute & into the trailer for shearing. This weekend, however was a special shearing: Bellies & Tags. (Translation: Bellies & Bottoms. This is because we won't be doing our regular shearing until after lambing season has started. If we kept the ewes bellies & bottoms unsheared, when it was time for deliver & new lambs to find milk, it would make it that much harder for the lambs. It's a hard enough survival game, without adding additional risks.)

So we are shearing Bellies & tags. 

Here is a glance of what the inside of a shearing trailer looks like. 

(Last year's picture once again)

The morning goes a little slower than we wanted, but it goes. It is always good exercise. It was also so much fun to watch because we had 3 generations working those sheep that day. My husband, his father & my kids. 3 generations side by side. It was awesome. I am still kicking myself for not getting a picture. Besides the usual take care of the baby & few brief spouts of frustration from my hubby, it moves along.

Lunch arrives. It was delicious. A wonderful break to sit down. After lunch, life got a little more interesting. We are working, when I get the "MOM!" with panic. One of my poor boys wasn't feeling well & now needed me to run him back to the house for a fresh set of clothes. My poor boy.

The sad part of ranching  & days like today. It doesn't matter how you feel. The work still has to be done. So we return, I go back to helping & my boy that doesn't feel well becomes the designated baby sitter for the youngest. Pretty soon my husband wants to know where the eldest disappeared to? I go searching & discover that he doesn't feel well either. We make another make-shift bed in the car & I return to helping. 

Soon its a "MOM!" I go running back to the car. Now we have an outhouse on the place that was probably less than a 1/8 mile walk to it. Not far. TOO FAR for a sick belly & a little boy. So we load in the car I drive the short distance to the outhouse just in time. I drop him off, just in time for another boy to climb in & beg for a quick drive to the outhouse. And that was the rest of my working afternoon. I would help for 20 minutes. Hear "MOM" and then go driving like mad  women to the outhouse for a little boy. Except for the brief hour when two of the  boys were sleeping it off & I grabbed the baby to help me herd. 

My baby love sheep &  was doing a great job. He as thrilled with the chance to be in the corrals & herding ship. He was thrilled until he went head on with a ewe with a dog on her tail. The ewe took definite victory & my baby went face first into the yuck. Poor boy. Road rash & everything. Then more "MOM" a run to the bathroom, trying to soothe a baby, running back to work to help with the sheep. Then just push repeat on it, over & over again. Until it becomes dark & the wonderful words of  "I guess we better call it a night." Hallelujah.

I make a plan with my hubby take  the sickest boy & the baby & drive the 20 minutes to town to stock  up on snacks, Gatorade & whatever else I can think of to make it through the next day.  I finally arrive at my in-laws home, to which my wonderful mother in law has made us a fantastic dinner, and once again around 8 o'clock  I send my kids & us to crawl into bed, because no matter what: we have to do it again tomorrow.

Sigh.  That night my hands are throbbing in pain. Eventually morning comes. We fix breakfast, and a while later follow the hubby back over to the ranch. For day 2 of shearing Bellies & Tags. 

I resume my post of helping prod the ewes into the chute. Except today I realize how little arm muscle I have. My hands hurt from grasping my rod for hours on end  the day before. Every time I lift my arms I want to cry. I am officially a wimp. The shearer  I am standing next too, looks at me, smiles & says in broken English  "How it is such a good arm workout." I smile & agree. "Yes, yes it is."

The 2 youngest who aren't feeling their best hang out in the car, & come out every now and then to pet the puppies & check sheep. Around 10 they appear to be doing well, and come out to work. My little dude helps move sheep & rides on the ewes backs when he can. The baby just walks back & forth on the outside of the corrals. Yelling at sheep & petting dogs.

Lunch time comes but not before I get another major workout in for my arms & hands. However, shearing  went a lot better this morning & everyone seems to be doing alright. We only had to make a couple quick emergency runs to the outhouse. We join some visiting family for lunch back at the house & linger a little longer than normal because my husbands tells me they are moving sheep around. I only partially feel bad, on the inside I am secretly rejoicing. My husband may be superman, I am not & was grateful for the extended break.

Once we visit with family & they head down the road, we make out way back out with lunch for my hubby & the herders.  We had friends drop in to see us & the shearing for a bit. It was a great little visit & my boys always enjoy playing with their kids. Once they leave my husbands informs me, that my job has been given to another man & I may just help move sheep & take it a little easier the rest of the afternoon. So move sheep we do & of course a few quick runs with the car to the outhouse. The rest of the afternoon, besides the huge amounts of wind & dust goes along nicely. The beloved words of "Lets call it a night." are said & we can return back to the house to make dinner for everyone.

Then night came. Oh. what a night. In short description, the 2 middle boys & I all got hit with the flu. Not fun, not fun at all. My blessed husband is up most of the night with the boys & I get up only on occasion to  throw up before returning to my bed. About 4 a.m my dearest hubby wakes me up, informs me even though I am sick he has to get at least of couple of hours before he goes again for another long day. I agree & try my best to take over my parental duties. Morning comes, I give him a kiss goodbye & beg for Mercy. "I can't do it honey. Not another day. We need to go home."  He agrees that sick kids need to be home & so does their exhausted mother. " I can finish up today. No problem. Go home."

I silently cheer. "Yea." Then run into the bathroom. We must be loved from up above because for a brief period of a couple hours we were able to pack up our bags, load our car & make the drive home. Incident free. 

Upon returning home. the flu continued to claim us for the rest of the week.  That first night though as I cried out in pain when trying to lift my sore arms above my head, & my exhausted body crawled into my bed. I realized " I love what we do. I love the ranching & working sheep on days that are less than ideal. I  may have married Superman, but I am far, far away from every being wonderwoman. Yes, I am still quite faint of heart."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Filling the Freezer: Homemade Hashbrowns

  I love the look of a freezer full of food. There is something satisfying about knowing you have food to eat in the coming months. Our freezer seems to fluctuate on being full & then needing to fill it up again.  I also love to fill it up with  stretching my budget as much as I can. Here is one quick ways you can help fill up your freezer without killing your budget.


My boys love hashbrowns, but to buy a bag of them at my local store is an average price of $2.50-3.50. That usually only makes it through one meal. Scary I know, I can only imagine how much food I am going to go through when my growing boys are actual teenagers. At the price of $3.00 average for a bag, I can't get very far. On the other hand, I can buy a 50 lbs box at my local Potato plant for $12 a box. That means I can buy 4 bags of hashbrowns or 50 lbs on potatoes. Its not rocket science.

 So what? Now, whenever I bake a potato for dinner I always add an extra 10 or so in the oven too. I might as well fill the oven up. You want them to cook until they are almost done. They will grate easier if they are slightly under done than overdone.  After they cook, I throw them into the fridge so they get cold. Once they cool I get out my handy Food Processor. (If you don't have one, you can either cut up the potatoes in a square (Southern style) or just use your cheese grater). 

                            I set mine to the largest size it can grate, for our family, this is our favorite. 

         Then I grate up all the potatoes & spread them out on a cookie sheet with a little wax or freezer paper.

           Then go down & set your cookie sheet in the freezer. I usually just let them freeze over night. Or if  I put them in first thing in the morning, usually before bedtime & can take them out. 

Take your frozen cookie sheet of hash browns & begin to break them into pieces and chunks. I put them into gallon freezer bags & mark them. This allows me to get into each bag & only take out what I will need.  

Take out the amount you need for your breakfast, as you need them. Fry them up, or use them in casseroles.

Either way they are delicious. I figured a bag of hashbrowns now only cost me .50 cents instead of $3.00 and a little of my time. I make 3 or so bags at a time & fill my freezer for pennies. 

Do you have any other ideas to help fill your freezer for pennies? If so I would love to hear about them. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week in Review

Some weeks drag by & others are over before you know it. This one went pretty fast.    

Here is a quick glance in pictures (off my phone) what happened last week.

    We started the week off with the 3 youngest sick. That meant trying to get them to rest, a lot of cold medicine & Vicks humidifiers. 

      Which also meant  3 days worth of blanket forts.  If you have to stay down, nothing makes it cooler than blanket forts. 

     School took place as usual on the days they were feeling better. 


My hubby found an awesome deal on older bananas. So we spent a week drying them & making banana chips. They are so delicious!!

A trip to the dentist for me. I fear the dentist. Only to find out I have to return again for more work this week.

I decided to join in this fun quilt along from Bee in my Bonnett. If you want to check it out too you can see the website is still at the top of the picture. 

It took me almost all week, but I finally got my quilt along week #1 block done. 

 I opened my eyes yesterday morning & was literally nose to nose to this cute face as he was trying to wake me.

Our week was finished off by working with dad & the sheep yesterday. I missed some adorable pictures because I didn't have a camera, but it was a nice time.

Now hopefully we can enjoy our day of rest & church service before we repeat it all again. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't Stop . . . Keep Going.

 Years ago we lived in a very rural Montana town. It was an experience unlike any other. There were good days & bad. While living there someone sent me a like to talk by one of the leaders in our church.  

It was an inspiring message with the words "Don't Stop" and "Keep Going." 

  I remember sitting in our small, brown office in front of my computer and bawling as I was listening to these words. I listened to it many times in that small Montana town & many times since moving back closer to what I know as "home."

 "Don't Stop. Keep Going!" are words I think every mother needs to hear. We all have those moments, moments where we don't think what we are doing is actually doing any good.

This month has been a long one for me. And though today is a day for celebration, and celebrate we will. I am inwardly rejoicing this month is over. I have been too many days without my hubby home. He is my rock & without him, I always feel slightly lost. 

I have been tired.

I am been confused.

And I have had those days I have no idea what is tomorrows is going to bring. 

But as mom we all have those days. 

The days were kids are sick or hurt. Crying or whining. Where the sound mom no longer brings happiness to our ears but a slight cringe because your not quite sure how much more can do. You don't know how much more you can give.

The days you feel as if you are trying to climb the impossible mountain, with no end in sight. 

Days you feel like you have been pushed down, & your just not feeling that optimistic. 

You know those days. 

Or maybe you don't.

Mostly likely you do, you just don't want anyone else to know.

And it in those moments, those words I heard so long ago, begin to ring in my ear:

 "Don't stop, Keep going."

It's those words I want to share with every mother, if I could. 

"Don't Stop . . . Keep Going"  You are doing so many wonderful things. 

Because in the end, You realize you can pick yourself back & take a break from the world.

Get a push start or two.

And just keep your head above water.

Because in time things will be easier.

 Days will get better. 

And soon you will find your heart swollen with gratitude at the blessings you are able to call your own. 

How lucky  you are that you are blessed to spend your days inspiring & teaching. 

And though the days may be long, you may be tired on the never ending trail.

Just  " Don't Stop. Keep Going."

Because the view at the top of the long trail is absolutely breathtaking.

So Don't Stop. Keep Going.

 You are closer than you realize, and doing more good than you could ever know.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Homemade Granola

We don't eat a lot of cold cereal at the house. I think it overly priced & there is no nutritional value in it. Besides if I do buy it on a rare occasion that is all my kids want to eat. Breakfast, lunch & dinner. So to make me life simpler, I just don't buy it. However, we love homemade granola. I make it occasionally & it is a favorite snack for everybody. It is simple to make. I usually double the recipe if I have enough nuts on hand.

Homemade Granola

6 cups Oatmeal
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1 c.  Coconut
1/4 c. Sunflower seeds
1 c. Chopped Nuts (we usually do almonds, but whatever nut your family enjoys).

Stir this together & place either on a cookie sheet or cake pan and Bake at 350  for 10 Minutes
just to start to warm everything through.

  1/2 c. Oil
   1/2  c. honey (We like it a little sweeter & add 3/4 c.)
  1 tsp. Vanilla.

 Mix all of these together & then once your oats are warm, drizzle over the top of the pan & mix through.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Stirring every 10.

At the last 5 minutes add Craisins, or dried fruit if desired.

Let sit & cool. The longer you let it sit & cool before breaking it up the bigger chunks you will have. If you don't want large chunks, mix sooner.


Friday, October 25, 2013

"The Kreu Quilt"

I had been working on a project for quite some time & today  I am excited to show you the 1st of hopefully many to come. So here it is "The Kreu Quilt." A Country Road original quilt.

"The Kreu Quilt"

 This quilt is a quick crib/toddler size quilt & goes to together fairly quickly with the help of chain piecing. The Monogram, is appliqued on & can be change to fit whatever letter you need.

   The back is a solid piece of brown with continuing arrows from the front  cutting in around a 1/3 of the way through. This makes it cute from not only the front, but also the  back.

       The pattern will be shared soon, so check back for it or e-mail me if interested. Anyways I am so excited about this one. It has been my first quilt that I took from my mind to finished project, and I hope you enjoy it!  Here are a few more pictures:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lessons & Learning About Airplanes

We recently returned from a 3 day field trip to visit my sister & to see some of the local attractions.  This is a trip that by boys look forward to all year long. We usually try to go once a year specifically to visit her. The boys usually make a list before we go of where they want to go. The Air Force Museum is always on the list.

We start by getting our group shot in the beginning  Then as much as I try to stop them; my kids  begin span out. We walk around, with our heads looking up in awe staring at the massive planes. 

They have so many planes, from replicas of the Wright Brothers to modern inventions. There is information about each plane so you can read all you want. While we were there, we were able to see part of a retirement ceremony for one of the Air Force Officers. It was wonderful to see the men & women that sacrifice for this country.

Our favorite Aunt Heather.

They have an education center, that is all hands on activities that help teach you about airplanes & aeronautics. On this particular day it was closed, but it has some fantastic things. 

Once you get through the inside. We tour around the outside. They have a huge area that has old parked planes. The boys think it is awesome to get close to them & then compare the size. 

We are tiny compared to these planes.  It is fascinating. 

Other planes are a little more "their size." I do recall hearing one of my boys say they thought they could fly this one. 

We made it through the whole museum in a couple of hours. You could take all day there studying  the planes & reading all the information. There is detailed information about every plane by it. They also have various movies playing & retired Air Force Veterans that could talk for hours telling you all thing you never knew. However, this time we went through it a little faster due that this was towards the end of the day & my boys were starting to get tired. 

And though we didn't do this before the trip, here are some additional resources that you could use to study more about airplanes & the air force.

The One Paper Airplane Every Child Should Know { The Crafting Chicks }

Cardboard Airplane {This Mumma's Life}

Airplanes Lessons Plans for K-12  {National Museum of United States Air force}

Paper Airplane Experiments { Learn, Play, Imagine }

Lessons on Flight  {Brian Pop}

Practicing Addition & Subtraction with Airplanes & Travelers  {Kids Activities Blog}

Color By Number Airplane Worksheet Activity { Mama's Learning Corner}

And a few Books for Reading As Well:

0789465213   0761459839 0873588312 076110478X 0756619025 1585363588  1426307128

Friday, September 27, 2013

Checking In

It has been a long time since I have posted on here. When I finally checked the date on my blog since the last post I realize that it has been close to a month. I never intended it to be that long, I really didn't, bu September just flew by.

  I am sure later there will be a series of blog posts to show what we have been up to.

  We have celebrated birthdays,

 taken our first group of lambs off summer range,

 We have gotten into school a little heavier.  I hate to say we have had our 1st day of school, because we learn year round. I will say that  we have started adding more subjects into our daily study.

 We have been on field trips & traveled.

 We have been canning, then cleaning, & canning more.

 We are cleaning again.
 There are mountains of laundry we are trying to attack.

  We are sewing quilts & bean bags.
 We are working on patterns & a tutorials.

 We are picking up old hobbies & discovering new ones.

 I am trying to stay off electronics a little more.

 There has been more trying to be present with my children & less distracted.

 More snuggles & book reading.

 We are like so many of you, trying to do our best each day & hope it is good enough.

 So please excuse my absence. Life has just flown by. I will try to be on here more consistent.

 I will be traveling again next week as we will begin to ship our final lambs & sheep off their summer range. It will be a long week or so, & hopefully it we don't freeze to death, but I am sure it will be good memories in the making.

 So keep checking back here, and I will keep trying to check in. But know we are doing the best we can, just like you.