Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kids and Yearlings.

I just love white clouds against blue skies, don't you?

Last week on one of our walks, I took my camera along. I had intentions of getting a few good pronghorn shots, but none showed. So instead, I took random photos of my kids. Little did I realize they would end up being some of my all-time favorite pics of them! They are hilarious. Well, it was hilarious being with them...not sure if the pics quite capture the humor. I laughed myself silly that day...could barely snap pictures for laughing. :) Yes, I am enamored by my kids. Like any parent, I think they are the bee's knees.
We were walking down the gravel lane, and when we got close to the fence/cattle guard where the next pasture begins, I seen some yearlings standing by the gate.
"We are about to be surrounded by yearlings," I remarked casually. When they were younger, my kids could get a bit frightened when the yearlings came crowding around. I wasn't sure how they felt these days.
"Good! then we can chase them!" Frank said gleefully. I chuckled, but when we crossed the cattle guard, he went flying after them, sending them running. I started to laugh, and told him to do it again so I could snap a pic. He gladly did it again. Yearlings are so silly - they will run pell-mell away if you so much as snort at them, or wave your hand. But a minute later, they stop, turn around, and run right back atcha. Its annoying when you are trying to get something done, but funny if you have a son who loves to chase them. Frank and Jenni chased and re-chased these same steers like 3-4 times, till we finally were across that pasture.

Send em flying, Frank!

Then we walked around the ranch headquarters, and back towards our house. They wanted to walk along the irrigation ditch, so I let them.  The neighbor's dog likes to walk with us, since my kids willingly toss sticks, rocks, and all manner of junk for him to fetch. Sometimes he fetches things before they throw them. He is weird. They especially like to toss rocks into this ditch, just to watch him dive head first into the water and fetch it out. Anyways.

 Then they like to jump the ditch. Its one of those that is almost too wide to jump, so they take a run at it like 4 times and stall out before actually getting the courage to make the jump. Oh, the carefree days of childhood!!

Course, they had to pet Fred as we passed by. He is their personal horse.

Oh, and we can't forget 'Cia! She love when we go on walks.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I can't figure out what is wrong. I have not been able to upload pics from my PC to my blog for 3-4 days, now! So sad. I had some funny kid photos that I wanted to post, but nope. Nada. So until I figure it out, you will have to suffer through a pictureless phase.
Meanwhile, its finally warming up around here. Its been in the 50's and 60's for the last couple weeks. So nice to lay aside the heavy winter coats in exchange for lighter jackets! :) I have my chickies in their new house, which they love...My Cowboy has been struggling with the pivots, and the kids are just finishing up their school. They were gonna be done early - but after the 3-week sickness back in April, we sorta fell behind.
Blessings to all you friends of mine, and keep your eyes on Jesus.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

18th Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show

On Thursday afternoon, I drove down to CO to drop off our kiddos with a babysitter. Then came home and threw some  things together, and My Cowboy and I left for  our annual trip to the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show in Sheridan, WY. 
We started up a small road through the canyon, and over the mountain. It was getting dark, and then we hit fog. Thick fog. Then the normally-decent road turned to dirt. I didn't realize they were doing road construction on it... so we poked along through the potholes and darkness and fog.
I was on a high from the excitement of finally being on our long-awaited trip. But My Cowboy was tired. He had just worked a long, tiring day, and he was just trying to keep his eyes open.
We were only about 2 hours from home when we finally gave up and stopped for the night. I told My Cowboy that we may as well enjoy our trip, instead of fighting sleep!
The next morning we left by 6 am, like the true early-birds that we are. I love driving early in the morning. Nothing quite like it.
It was cloudy.
Dark and mysterious.
Gloomy and foreboding. 
Well, cloudy, anyways.
It was pretty, tho. I love driving through Wyoming. See how empty the FREEWAY is??? This is how driving should be.
 Pretty little lakes...
 And tired old cowboys.
 ...and gigantic Wyoming jackalopes.  (That's a cross between a jack rabbit and an antelope, in case you aren't from WY.)
 Here is another example of my obscure, slightly twisted sense of humor...
In case you don't get it - I get a kick out of the 'green' wind farm directly behind a power plant that is belching smoke!! Ha ha! I love it!!
And here we are at the leather show itself.
 My Cowboy checking out the knives...
 Somehow I managed to snap photos of leather piles, and not many tools. But I do love the leather. It smells so good. The whole place smells like leather.
There is leather-suppliers, tool suppliers, hardware suppliers, saddle-tree suppliers, leather soap/cream suppliers, leather-dye suppliers, etc. It is fun of you build saddles. Or are married to someone who builds saddles.
Then there is a room christened the 'World Leather Debut'.  In it are the best of the best, in leather making. Craftsmen and women enter their best items for judging. It is always a popular room. I love the gorgeous items they make. I can't wait to see a saddle sitting there some year with a little sign that says:
"Cliff Schrock - Maker".
Meanwhile, check out this stuff...
Beautiful woolly chaps. Not that the white wool would be practical, or anything! :)
 Amazing guitar.
 I love the detail on the back of this saddle.
 This gave me a good idea for the fox that is living under my barn, and desiring my chickens. The mannequin that was holding this handbag had the rest of the fox fur draped around her neck! lol!

 Awesome boots!

Check out the tiny miniature saddle! I love mini's. They had several there, but this one was the fanciest.
 And here is a briefcase for all you businessmen who don't need chaps or a saddle! It was amazing. Simply amazing. It won first place in its category. No wonder. It was THE best piece of workmanship in the whole room, I thought. Nice, clean lines, and straight, neat stitches. Plus all that carving.

 This won first place in several categories, I think. Anyways, for floral carving, that's for sure. It was superb.

And that's it, folks!
Sadly, it poured rain the entire time we were there, so I didn't get to go yard-saling...but I am sure you aren't interested in small details like that. We did enjoy ourselves. Here's to saddle makers everywhere!! ...and the cowboys that need em.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crazy Chicken Coop

I like chickens. Alot. Maybe because when I was small, I remember walking out to my mother's chicken house, and gathering eggs...I'm not sure why I like them so much, but every spring I look at the signs that say: "Chicks here!" and want them so badly. We recently got a Murdoch's  Farm & Ranch store in our town. I love Farm & Ranch stores, by the way. Anyways, so when they started advertising 'Chick Days', I stopped in a few times to let the kids look at the chicks. At least that was my excuse! It was actually a good excuse for ME to get my chick fix. I have tried 3 times to keep chickens here, and they always get eaten - either by fox, coon, or skunk. I had told myself firmly that it was a waste of time, money and energy to try again. But on the third trip to Murdoch's, I caved. I got 3 Red Star, 3 Buff's, and 3 Wyandottes. I like variety. I also was trying to get cold-hardy birds, since they will be living in a drafty coop most of the year. If they survive.

I knew the set-up I had been using was not going to work, so I set out to build me a coop. Now, as you know, I am not a carpenter. I do, however, believe anyone can do anything if they want to bad enough. I think more 'skill', and 'talent' is in our hard work, than in natural ability. I think anyone can be a musician, great cook, cowboy, writer, or, yes, even a carpenter, with enough learning, perseverance, and hard work. I know certain people can naturally do certain things alot easier than others. But usually its more experience or desire than actual talent.

Case in point: My Cowboy never wanted to be a carpenter. Never enjoyed it. But he is an excellent carpenter. He can build anything, without a plan. And it lasts, believe me. Why is he so good? Because he started when young, and worked with his dad, who taught him all he needed to know, little by little, hard day of work after hard day of work.

Me? Why, I had a dad who despised carpentry, never built anything he didn't have to, and therefore most of my family is slightly lacking in carpenter skills. (except for a few brothers who actually enjoy it, and learned later. ) So I had no examples, and certainly no help building things. But I have built my first freestanding, semi-solid, totally un-square, sorta-kinda-cute, and totally functional structure! It held my chickies for the first time last night, and despite the multitude of cracks, they (the chicks) are still all there this morning! I hope the critters don't find a way in - cause I have certainly tried to make it critter-proof, if not weather proof.  It does keep out the rain, thankfully, as it rained last night. Here is how to build a coop on the cheap frugal, with minimal zero expertise...

I dug about 24 of these 1x4's out of the ranch dump. They are from a fallen windbreak, I think. They are 8 ft. each. I had to jerk out about 4-6 old nails out of each one.

 Then I got 3 old pallets that were sturdy, and nailed the boards over the cracks. Instant studs! yay!
 I cut out a section of the one pallet for a nest-box entrance, and made a nest box out of scraps I found in the barn.
 I missed taking pics of whole sections of the process, but anyways, here it is - the nest box isn't finished yet, and it need some paint. The roof is longer in the back to help protect the nest box from rain/snow. (that sounds good, anyways...the real reason was because i didn't want to cut metal, and this piece was basically the right size.)
 The front. I did have to frame this, since I just couldn't wrap my brain around how to cut/fasten a door in a pallet. It was pretty easy, tho. Took me two tries to get the angle right on the door cross-support. Just being honest here.
 The inside. here you can see the pallets. I used some corner braces to fasten it to the floor. I couldn't think of any other way. Didn't have long enough screws to screw through the oak stringers.
Check out my skylight! I wasn't sure how to build a window, so I found this piece of clear roofing, and it works great as a skylight. Some days I will have to leave them in the coop all day, and I wanted them to get light.
 Frank painted it last night. Well, some of it. See the nest box out the back? It missed getting painted, but I will finish it soon. I am quite pleased with my little coop. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but functional, and not totally sloppy-looking. And I didn't have any help from the master carpenter, aka: My Cowboy.  The cord is for the heat lamp, in case you wondered. Its still pretty cold here at night. (30*-40*)
 I was so worried last night, I kept waking and wondering if the fox/coons had found a way in to the coop...I went  out this morning and there they all were - hale and hearty.   I got that Tom Hanks/Castaway moment of "I can build! I have made a chicken coop!" Ha ha!
I had several things I wanted in my coop.
1. Easy access to the nest box from the outside. Check.
2. Natural light source, so I wouldn't have to run a light. Check. I have to have a heat lamp, but don't want to have to run a light when they are grown.
3. Door big enough for an adult to get in, if necessary. Check.
4. Somewhat rustic/cute. Check.
5. Critter-proof. Check.
I am satisfied.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Branding, 2011

First, our good friends that have lived and worked on the X-Bar for the last 2 winters. I wish they could stay here always. They are good hands, and I like having a woman around. But they have been working on another ranch during the summer. So i don't see them as often as I would like.
 Lane and Karmen.
 And my favorite photo of the day! Buck-off! No, I don't want them to get bucked off, but it makes good pictures. Plus, what else do they expect when they bring green colts to a branding? I guess he wasn't hurt too blood, and he was pretty active the rest of the day.
 ...right onto the ground.
Cliff's boss (Miller) on the left,  and Miller's partner.

 ...And their wives.
 The guy on the right is Cliff's current co-worker.

 And My Cowboy, of course. He wrestled calves the first part of the day.
Then he took a turn ropin.


 Everyone was having some trouble  catching that day. The ground was sticky, and it seemed to bugger things up a bit. But still, they got the job done.

 Check out the handful of ropes he holds in one hand.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Friends~The Spice of Life.

Last Saturday was alot of fun. ALOT of fun! Mainly because these two crazy friends came and spent the day. I love having my friends come...who doesn't? But I think I value it more because I don't often have the pleasure of entertaining my friends. We live 2 hours from most of my friends. I have had a few more guests than usual the last couple months, and I have loved every minute! I always get that nervous/panicky/I-think-I'm-gonna-hyperventilate feeling in the pit of my stomach about 15 minutes before guests arrive. That never happened to me before we lived here. I just love having people up - its just too exciting, I guess. It does get just the teeniest bit lonely out here...
Anyways - back to the branding. I took 350+ photos, so you will have to indulge me while I share the best ones... Like my friends, here...
I finally have a woman friend who knows what MUCK boots are! :) ...and she isn't afraid to wear them. Go Cowgirls! :)
My Cowboy and his other friend who was helping at the branding. This guy has helped brand before.
And my sweet little 'fat boy'. This kid is delightfully chubby and tubby and all kinds of sweet. I would kidnap him, but his mom knows where I live! :)
Our kids had a blast...well, 'cept Frank seemed a bit bored.
Cutest little cowgirl. What a heart breaker!
Lots of funny stuff goin' on here...

Maybe the loop could be just a 'tiny' bit bigger, sweetie. You know this kid is gonna be a good hand, one day! :)
More calf-wrestling...
Aahhh...the aroma of burning hair!

Uh-oh... someone is upset about something...
No worries. Her pal will figure it out! :) These girls are too cute and funny together!

Grab that baby!! This picture is deceptively calm. I had to laugh as they wrestled this one down. It was kicking like crazy.
But of course they got it!
Kneeling on the neck is a wonderful way to control calves. And it doesn't hurt them as much as it might seem. These babies are tough.

All in all, it was a wonderful day of fun, food, and belly-laughs! I can't remember a branding that was ever quite as fun as this one, when our friends came.
When you have good friends, its a blessing.
when you have friends that are also brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a double blessing!

I still have some photos of My Cowboy I wanna post... stay tuned!