January 12, 2016

Christmas in the Country

I've been involved in several secret gift exchanges, but non like Christmas in the Country. The excitement of shopping for the gift receiver and getting your own package from the post office is like none other. Why you may ask...because these are like-minded, agricultural related people that you have been stalking for weeks!

First, I was to send a gift to Robyn Goddard of South Dakota. I spent a few weeks looking through her blog, The Ranch Wife Chronicles, and learning more about her. What I found was that we are the same age, doing the same job, in very similar lifestyles. We have similar beliefs and could probably throw a great BBQ and have a lot of fun, laughter and serious conversations. Do I want to make a quick trip to South Dakota, absolutely!

Second, I was on the receiving end of a great surprise. I received a box from Mexico, Missouri. At first I couldn't pinpoint why that would even seem familiar, but before I even opened the box I knew it came from someone that GOT me! Boy was I surprised to see Christmas in the Country from Melinda Bastian. Like us the Bastian's raise cattle, and especially show cattle. That is a whole different breed than the people who just run cattle on wide open spaces. This family understands the planning, generations, time and long hours of raising a calf into a cow that produces something that will spend a lot of it's life in a barn. The barn hours are long but so rewarding!

Here is a picture of my Christmas package:

First - notice the family picture. That was something I included with my package because I wanted someone to put a face with names immediately. There is also a cookbooks, something I sent as well. It's amazing how much this group of women have in common. I also received a few Christmas ornaments with show calves and a show mom necklace that I can't wait to wear! There is also a hand stitched western piece that I have on a special side table. The thoughtfulness and excitement is overwhelming. The box also had candy canes...that my daughter stole!

The thing that inspired me the most is that Melinda is a mentor. She's a mother, a wife and involved in the show cattle business. I hope to be able to communicate and ask questions as she's been in situations that I will be in soon.

Thank you to the Christmas in the Country hostesses, Jamie (This Uncharted Rhoade), Laurie (COUNTRY LINKed), Lara (My Other More Exciting Self) and Kirby (15009 Farmhouse).  I am already looking forward to next year!

January 1, 2016

Reflecting and Looking Forward

As I sit here on New Year’s Eve and reflect on 2015, I don’t even know where to start. By all means it was a blessed year. Our kids are growing up and we accomplished many goals set forth a year ago. It hasn’t been an easy year by far. There were a lot of decisions made, some easy, some hard, but all in all, we wouldn’t take back where we are now. Not one second would I look back and wish I had made a different decision. A week ago I may not have said the same thing. But as I am half way through Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love, I have finally, at thirty-one years old, realized that I do have to run my race. I still have no idea what that race is and some day it will all come together. But without the hard work and hard decisions this year, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
A few things I learned in 2015:
-We can weather any storm with a strong marriage.
-Leftovers can be re-invented a million times if you already used your grocery budget for the month.
-You can leave the grocery store with $20 worth of goods if you only take in $20.
-People will hang up on you, not return phone calls and dust you aside…but that will bite them back in 2016. So I’ve learned to return every phone call, at least listen to every side and remember you make enemies and friends in the same amount of time. It is a lot easier to call a friend for help in the future than an enemy you made a year ago.
-Delete facebook friends and add blogs that you follow. This is a work in progress. As much as I enjoy following people around in the daily lives on facebook, that is a complete waste of my time, they don’t contribute one bit to my well-being. I’d much rather find a circle of like-minded bloggers to read about and stay in touch with that not only provide educational material, but also uplifting and genuine posts that make an impact on me and my family.

One of my Christmas presents was an Erin Condren calendar. While I’ve looked at this a million times I would have not spent that much money on a calendar in my lifetime. BUT, I can’t tell you the difference this calendar has already made on my 2016. While I love technology, I can throw a calendar in my purse, in the feed truck and on trips and always know what’s going to happen next. I’ve filled in a book list for the year, my New Year’s Resolutions, financial calendar and daily activities for the next month. I figured I needed one month to learn how to use the calendar and what I may want to add to it for the rest of the year.
Last thought – If you are waiting until January 1st to get your year in order…you are already a day behind.

December 18, 2015

Enjoy the Little Things

We have all heard the old saying that you have to stop and enjoy the little things. But how do you know what those little things are?

With a few changes in our lives, I've been able to spend a lot more time at home, a lot more time with our daughter, and of course the cows. I've been able to stop and enjoy the little things and remind myself daily that now is the time to play catchup and enjoy Tana before she grows up much more. It is also amazing to see calves grow and change daily. Pictures like these are examples of us enjoying the little things in life.

We stopped to enjoy this view on my Grandparents' place.

We stopped to play with Bunk. (Playing catchup here, but this was a very special moment. Tana was bit by a dog this summer and we didn't know how she would interact with our own dogs. Bunk is a special dog and of course their friendship picked up where it left off. It was such a joy to know that Tana still cared for her. While we are all more conscience of the dogs of others Tana truly loves animals and wants to either fix them or find them all homes.)

We stopped our crazy lives...and took a vacation! I couldn't pass up on this elevator in Hutchinson, Kansas. The kids cooperated and let me take all the pictures I wanted. First 'real' vacation and we didn't haul a trailer! Longer post in the future!

We stopped to work cattle, and even though it is 'work' we love every minute of it. Every day, every muddy halter, every calf that doesn't cooperate, every set of chores in the snow and ice....loving every minute to see how it pays off.

We stopped for camp. I can't wait to write an entire post about KICK Camp and how we all enjoyed it! Don't all kids go to camp and sleep in a teepee?
Stop to enjoy the little things. Enjoy the days that are successful, the life learning moments, the hard times and the good times.

October 19, 2015

The Smallest Decisions

I've been waking much earlier than usual, maybe even hours before my alarm even goes off. We have lots of projects going on and have had lots of changes in our daily lives. I find the early morning hours as time to catch up, do an extra load of laundry, register calves, and prepare for the day.
Today I am reminded of this quote:
Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.
Keri Russell

In the future I'll post more about some of the changes that have been happening, but for now another project!
If we could go back from the beginning and count how many holes, loads of concrete, posts, clips, rolls of wire, pairs of gloves, blisters, pliers, hours, and the smallest decisions that have gone into building our ranch, it would be a story to tell. For now, we are counting down the projects to finish. All the while we know there may be new projects in the future!


After the posts were set we neatly lined it with panels, chopped the tall pieces off and are waiting to have gates measured and put up. This pen has a row of feed bunks and we're excited to have an extra place to sort cattle this winter. We tend to micromanage in the winter, but with cows beginning to calve in February...it's cold, the water is frozen, there is hay to put out, and we check the cows often to see who will calve next.

Of course you have to take a break during every project. Ryan was target practicing! 

Here is to an awesome Monday, a great week, the downhill side of October and preparing for a very busy time of year! Don't forget that the small decisions make just as big of an impact as the big ones.

September 13, 2015

Projects Around the Ranch

Each year we set a list of goals for the year, items that we need, and projects to complete. Many of these we plan to do in the summer and then sometimes it's just too hot to get them all accomplished. Right now the weather is beautiful and it is allowing us to finish up some outdoor projects....but we must begin the annual preparation for winter.

First - our house is finally complete. We have finished the concrete work out front, planted more grass, and had more caliche delivered. Now I'm just waiting for mums to come out so that I can fill a few flower pots!

Next - we have been digging holes, setting posts and finishing up a few pens that we've put off for other projects. Each of these pens will be important this winter. We're a little concerned about the El Nino weather pattern and the possible snow/ice that will come along. This makes us prepare well ahead of time. We'll rotate and sort cows depending on how they are bred, when they are due to calve and which ones will require close watch. We'll also need a good space for the show heifers, bred heifers and the growing horse herd that we have this fall. That will be another blog post later!

Another item finished up - yesterday we finished up breeding our fall set. Ten heifers bred and raised by use that we kept as replacement heifers. The commercial heifers were bred to high percentage Maine bulls and the Angus were bred back to Angus. We're very excited to see these calves in June 2016. We bred, calve, wean and rotate year round. It's not the way everyone does it, but it keeps a variety of ages of show heifers born year round.

Last on the list for the weekend - stocking the firewood racks around the place...there are several. We try to do this ahead of time so that when the first snow sneaks around the corner, we are set and ready.

Just one of the many beautiful views from the ranch.

It has been a very eventful summer and there are lots of stories to share and things to talk about. I will be blogging more often and updating you all on our path! Check the new recipe that I made at midnight Friday night!