Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

10 Things I am Thankful for.

These are in no particular order. I just couldn't figure out how to move the pics around. :)

1. Kids. Life would be boring without them!

2. Pellets for our stove. I am a southern gal, and LOVE my heat!!! My perfect temp is about 80*.

3. Food. I am more blessed than most of the earths populations.

4. God's Word.

5. Dirty boots. They tell of a responsible, hardworking husband.

6. Water. I like lots of good water. It is what God likens the Holy Spirit to. Cleansing, refreshing. life-giving.

7. Light. I am a child of light. See #4.

8. Tires. They take us 4 hours to and from CO every week, to have wonderful fellowship with the saints.

9. Electric. I love to read about the pioneers, but I would not like losing my conveniences.

10. Satellite internet. When you live so far from your friends, its nice to be able to keep in touch.

Friday, November 5, 2010

One Fine Day

The July sun was hot on my back, and my head felt trapped and unnatural inside the straw hat I was wearing. I wasn't used to wearing cowboy hats, and I wanted to jerk it off and let the breezes blow over my hot head. But there was no place to put my hat, so I left it on. My saddle creaked as I turned to watch Cliff riding through a small bunch of yearlings. He rode slowly through, looking carefully at each one, checking for any signs of illness.

I shifted my gaze to the mountain in front of me, tilting my head back as I looked up to the very top of the mountain. The trees were dark against the greenish-golden grassy slopes. A herd of antelope were grazing at the foot of the mountain, and there was a small cabin nestled close to a stand of trees. I wished life were simpler - I wished we could live there in that cute cabin and forget about The Modern World. I wished I could live up here where you could see for miles, and hear only the wind through the grasses.

I looked back to where Cliff was, and I was surprised to see that he was already coming towards me at a trot. I stopped Honey, and waited while he caught up with me. He grinned at me, and as always, my heart skipped a beat. I grinned back, and asked:
"Was there any foot-rot?"
"Nope. It takes me so long to ride through them yet, because I feel like I miss some, if I go through them too fast, and don't take my time. Hopefully I will get better with time." He looked at the cabin ahead of us, and asked: "You wanna go inside and look around?"
"No, I seen it the other day when you brought us up here, I don't have to see it again."
There wasn't much to see inside. Some home-made bunk bed frames, and a lot of bird droppings.
"We should bring our sleeping bags and sleep up here some night," I said.
"Yeah, I guess we should," Cliff agreed, looking at the cabin as we rode slowly past. "Lets ride south a little," he said, "see if there are any yearlings behind that rise."

We rode around the cabin, and up a steep little knoll to the south of it. I didn't realize we were climbing so much, till Cliff stopped his horse, and we turned around. I could see the whole Laramie valley, spread out beneath us. It gave me a grand, top-of-the-world feeling.
"There's the house, I think," Cliff said, pointing east.
"Yeah, I can see it." I gazed far away, out to the mountains that lay around the eastern edge of the valley. I looked and looked, till Cliff nudged his horse into a walk again. I followed him, and we started down the steep south slope.

"Sometimes they like to hide in here," Cliff explained, as we walked, "but I guess not today."
I was busy watching where I was going, and barely heard him. The slope got steeper and steeper, and I felt like I was gonna slide out of my saddle. I braced my self in the stirrups, and glanced over to Cliff. He was riding easy in the saddle, only the angle of his body suggested that we were riding downhill. I was silently freaking out, but I was not about to show My Cowboy that I was scared. Scared that my horse might just flip end-over-end, and land me in some cactus. I braced my feet some more, and hung onto the saddle-horn for dear life, while trying my best to look cool and nonchalant. Then Honey started trotting a little. I looked over to Cliff, and his horse was trotting, too. So I let her go, and just prayed she wouldn't step into a prairie-dog hole. Soon we were at the bottom. I relaxed my death-grip on the saddle, and sat back, letting my breath out in a relieved sigh.

We rode out toward another bunch of cattle, talking and dreaming, and riding so close that our knees occasionally bumped into each other. Well, that was most likely cause I didn't know how to control my horse, but I didn't care - it was a rare day that I was able to spend with My Cowboy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Smelly Tale...

The sun shone weakly through the clouds, but the sharp west wind blew all the warmth away before it reached the ground where I was standing. I pulled my gloves on, and then turned to the car where my kids were waiting.

"OK, kids," I said, "just play in the car, or, if you need something, I will be right over there in the barn, OK? Just be careful of the calves when you walk through the corral - they might kick if you get to close to their legs."
"OK, Mom," Jenni agreed, picking up the crayons she had brought along.
I made sure the windows were cracked a bit, and then put the keys in my pocket. I wasn't about to have them start the car, or anything crazy like that! I checked everything again - they had water, snacks, toys, blankets... they will be ok, I told myself, I will be able to watch them easily.

But it was still hard. Hard to walk across the yard, and leave them there in the car. There is no water in the canal, I thought, there is no way for them to hurt themselves.Relax, Kay! Loosen up!
I flipped the latch up on the gate, and slid the bar back. The gate squealed as I pushed it open. I shut it and walked gingerly around blobs of cow manure. The wind blew cold on my neck, so I wrapped my scarf tighter, and zipped up my coat as far as I could. I instictively put my hand on my preganant belly, as I looked over to the other side of the pen, where Cliff and Billy were working on the first batch of calves. I was a little late. Oh well. This shouldn't take too long, I thought. I stepped into the lean-to part of the barn, and watched as Cliff quickly injected the bawling calf with a needle full of some kind of medicine. There was a slight sizzle as Billy pressed the red-hot branding iron against the side of the struggling animal. Smoke curled up, and when Billy removed the iron, there was a perfect brand on the hide. Cliff pulled some handles, and the chute clanked open. I moved aside as the calf bolted from the chute - bawling his frustration.

"What should I do?" I asked Cliff.
"You can keep the chute full. Come, I'll show you ."
He led the way back to the holding pen, and showed me how to run 6-8 calves into the small round pen. The small round pen had a gate that could swing completely in , so the calves were forced into the chute. Cliff handed me a cattle prod, and went back to front of the chute to work on the next one.

I waited while the guys worked on two more calves, then I prodded the rest of the calves in the chute up towards the front. There were several swinging doors in the chute, that only opened one way, so when the little animals were through, they couldn't go backwards, they could only go forwards. They heard their buddies bawling, so they tried to dig in their heels, and back up. But the swinging doors kept them from backing up, and an occasional shock from Billy's electric prod would send them into the front of the chute.

I walked back to the rest of the calves, all bunched in the corner of the corral alley. They just bunched together more, till they were almost climbing over top of each other. I gingerly prodded one calf, and sure enough, he kicked. High and fast. I yelled, and then shook my prod at them. Little beads inside the prod made a racket - designed to spook cattle, so the cowboys wouldn't have to use their voices so much. The calves ignored the prod, so I had to resort to poking them and making weird sounds with my mouth. I finally got one to run away from the huddle, then they all tried to follow him. I ran to the gate and nearly got run over when I tried to shut it in front of a barreling calf. I shook my cattle-rattle at it, and it galloped off, back to the corner. I went through the gate, then latched it. Then I opened the gate to the little round pen, and tried to get them to run in there. Yeah. Right. They weren't going anywhere near That Place. I ran around after them, shaking my cattle-rattle, and yelling. Making weird noises. Poking them when I thought I could do it without getting kicked. Finally three calves ran into the pen, and I quickly slammed the gate behind them. I looked at the chute, and they were working on the last calf. Six calves while I rounded up three? This was not good. I will have to get faster than this if I want to keep up with them.

I jammed them as far forward in the chute as possible, and then ran back to the alley. I gritted my teeth, and took a deep breath. I shouted at the calves, and shook my rattle, and whacked them as hard as I could. They bunched up closer. I managed to get a small bunch to break away from the rest, and into the small pen, but despite my best efforts, Cliff had to come back and help me run them into the chute.

I was starting to pant, and my stomach was churning from the smell of burning hair. The wind was blowing the smoke and stench from the branding right through the lean to and back to where I was working. it was a bad smell anytime, but my sensitive pregnant nose was nearly overcome with revulsion. I felt like throwing up. I swallowed a few times, and willed my stomach to settle. I walked back to the end of the alley, trying to get as far away from the smell as I could. The smell was not so strong back there. Or maybe it was just overpowered by the rank odor of fresh cow poop. At least its a better smell, I thought.

"Mom?" Frank was climbing up the fence, straddling it, he said; "I need to go to the bathroom."
"There is a bathroom in the med room. Go to Daddy, and he will show you where it is, OK?" I looked over to the car. Jenni's head was visible in the car, but what caught my attention, was the car itself. The wipers were flopping, the right turn signal was blinking, and the door was hanging open. Help us all, I thought. We are gonna have a dead battery soon. I climbed over the fence, and went to shut off the lights, wipers, and shut the doors. I gave Jenni instructions about what her and Franklin were and were not allowed to play with in the car.

Back to the alley. Running. Shouting. Prodding. Waving my arms. Slamming the gate. Pushing the gate in the round pen as hard as possible, and then realizing that the calves were a lot stronger than I was, even if they were only months old. I got splattered with cow poop when one went right in front of me. I poked one, and the calf kicked so fast and close that I felt the air from its dirty hoof, as it came within millimeters of my hand. All the while, the stench of burning hair was floating out over me. The wind no longer felt cold. I was sweating. My stomach was churning. I was getting madder and madder at the calves. I would've kicked them if I hadn't been so afraid of being kicked a lot harder in return.

When the chute and the pen was full and I had a few minutes to wait, I went up and watched Cliff and Billy. They branded, eartagged, and gave shots in a smooth rythm. Never making one extra move, just doing everything in a effecient, calm way.

Finally we were done. I was bone-weary, my feet nearly had blisters on them. The sun was sinking, and the wind was getting colder, as I walked slowly back to the car. All I could think about was a hot shower. And bed. I sat down in the car and smiled at my kids.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Toddler dress fromn a shirt

I picked up a shirt that was too large, with the idea of repurposing it as a toddler jumper. I will make another some day as a tutorial, but till then - here is my 20 minute creation! so fun!