Celebrate · Fun

Cowgirl Gift Guide

So, Christmas is in four more sleeps, y’all! I know it’s a little late to be posting a gift guide, but I know a number of people who haven’t finished (or maybe even started!) their holiday shopping. With the help of a good friend, I put together this handy-dandy gift guide for cowgirls, ranch wives, and amazing women everywhere!

It takes a lot to wear as many hats as most women do, and gifts that help her stay organized, look and feel good, and make things more convenient are always a win. If the person you’re shopping for is a working cowgirl, check out the ideas for custom gear on my Cowboy Gift Guide.

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Heart of the Farm Planner: This is a farm-specific planner, and it’s beautiful and functional. Some others I love: The Anchored Press Devotional Planner (I got the gold stripe for 2017), the Kate Spade planner (for the gal who loves a little glam and a good sale as it’s hugely discounted right now!), and this planner from Etsy (for the gal who loves to customize and organize everything).

Pretty Note Set: Beautiful paper products are lovely to have around, and this set from Vera Bradley has several different sizes of sticky note pads. Plus, one thing I’ve learned? If it’s pretty, the guys will be less likely to steal it.

Rifle Paper Co Notepad: If you (or your gift-receiver) is anything like me, she forgets things unless she writes them down, and loves to make lists. This handy dandy notepad is perfect for either one of those things, plus it’s really pretty. I like pretty.

Let’s talk barn stuff. Many of the ranch/farm women I know spend their fair share of time in the barn, whether it’s working cattle, taking numbers and notes, lambing, kidding, calving-you name it, they do it. Here are some things to make that barn life a little better.

LL Bean Hunter’s Tote: I wish I had known about this sooner, because I would have put it on my own wishlist! This would be great for hauling anything–bottles, notebooks, laptops, much food–to the barn or anywhere, without having to worry about it getting beat up or ruining another bag. I love the zippered top, and how sturdy it is. They don’t have many colors to choose from, but I’d jazz this up with a monogram in a fun color, like bright pink or maybe lavender or teal. Not puce, though. Basically I want these for every member of my family for when we travel. Dreams.

North Face Tech Gloves: These would be great for taking numbers and notes at the chute or any other time when you need a lot of dexterity. Thin enough to hold a pen, but warm, and you don’t have to take them off to answer your phone, or maybe pull up your online database for info about a cow.

Stormy Kromer Petal Pusher Cap: Stormy Kromers have ended up on all of my gift guides, and we can’t leave out the girls! I’m a sucker for a floral detail, so I love this style, but they have something for everyone (if you’re in a really cold place, this earflap model might suit a little better). If you’re not into full-blown hats or prefer to wear your hair high up, try out one of these messy bun hats!

Carhartt Coat: I love my Carhartt coats, and I love the look of this slightly longer one. It comes in more colors than your standard brown or tan, and you can trust the quality since it’s Carhartt.

Space Heater: This is for the gal who has to stand or sit by the chute in freezing weather. I’ve frozen many a hiney (or rather, my hiney many times) doing just that, and it always makes for a miserable day. It gets cold when you don’t get to move around a lot, and a space heater will keep you (and the crew, by extension) a much happier camper. I chose this tall one so that you get warm air from your toes to your nose, which sounds so great!

Now, every girl likes to have things that are functional, but let’s talk about stuff for when y’all go to town!

Bean Boots: These were on my list this year! I get tired of wearing my muck boots or Sorels to town, but often something waterproof and sturdy is necessary. I think these are a great compromise! A tip I got: get them unlined, so you can wear them both in the fall/spring when it’s warmer without sweating your feet off, and also in the winter with wool socks. Plus, lifetime warranty. Roll on over to Pinterest for how to style them!

Johnny Was Duster: Every girl likes something luxurious and pretty to wear to town, and a duster/cardigan like this one would go beautifully with everything from a dress to jeans.

Boots: Ohhhhh, boots. Everyone loves boots. I love these boots. I want these boots. They are beautiful. That is all. I will lust after them until they go on sale, in which case I will hope and pray that they have my size.

Whipping Post Vintage Tote Bag: Another thing every gal loves? High-quality leather bags. I received this exact bag for my birthday a few years ago and it is one of the prettiest things I own–I get compliments every time I carry it. Now, if the lady you’re shopping for has a baby, or will, get her one of these beauties. I treated myself to the Meggan last year, and it was such an excellent purchase. High-quality, tons of pockets, and four words: converts to backpack carry. Pricey, yes, but it doesn’t look like a diaper bag and the quality is so great  so  I’ll be using it (and my Whipping Post bag) for years. Or forever. Probably that. If it ain’t broke, and only gets better with age…

Now, sometimes things don’t fall into one category or another. Here are a few things that are for all aspects of life!

Seche Vite top coat: Not all gals like having painted nails, but for the ones that do, this is primo. It makes manicures last a week with no effort, even through barn work. Grab some Essie (available at Target and the Walmarts since rural America has yet to understand about Target) and you’re really on top of things.

Pendleton Flannel: Beautiful, warm, high-quality, and can go from the barn to town in a cinch, provided it’s not covered in poop or other bodily fluids.

Wild Rag: A gorgeous, feminine wild rag is one of my favorite things. It adds a little girly to barn attire, and dresses up a coat or vest at the barn or in town. Bonus if it matches that Pendleton 😉 Double bonus if you get a pretty rag slide to go with.

Yeti Rambler: Whether you’re a tea drinker or a coffee drinker, a good go cup is a must. I love the seafoam color, and the fact that you can get monogram decals from about a million shops on Etsy. Again, too pretty for the boys to steal, hopefully!

Now, after all the time put in wearing all those hats, it’s nice for a girl to have some comfy, pretty lounge clothes to change into when she gets home!

LL Bean Mocs: We usually get ourselves a small something with a tiny portion our tax return (because this year the big portion will be spent on Brother, #reallife), and these might be what I treat myself to this year. I seem to be very hard on moccasins and have worn all mine out, and I would really love a new pair to wear when I’m in the hospital in March. Also, again with that LL Bean lifetime warranty!

Handy AF: this shirt cracks me up. I kind of want one but feel funny getting one for myself. Whether you are (or your gal is) handy with a rope, or with a calving book, or with kiddos, or just life in general, this shirt is the perfect amount of brag. This is also a great gift for a friend who is needing a little pick-me-up, because every gal is Handy AF at something, and a reminder is nice!

Lounge pants: These are just pretty and look so comfy. Every gal needs (or would like) a pair or two of lounge pants that are a step above jammies but aren’t leggings. I promise. These specific ones are no longer available, apparently, but you get the idea.

Coffee Then Cows shirt: This was on my list this  year because I just love it. I’m not into graphic tees, really, but I like this one because it’s pretty much true. It’s truer for Bert than me as mine would read “Frappucino or Black Tea, Wrangle Children, Then Cows,” but that’s not quite succinct enough for a good tee.

I’ll be taking a holiday break from blogging for a week or so to enjoy the last bits of 2016 with my boys. But, I’ll be back in 2017 with so much good stuff y’all–Stock Show and the start of calving season both happen next month,and that’s a whole lotta pretty cows and fuzzy calves to share!

 

Celebrate · Family · Fun

Little Cowboy Gift Guide

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Shopping for little cowboys is a lot easier than shopping for big cowboys, but as a mom I know I appreciate reviews and recommendations for toys that kids will actually play with! We don’t go toy-crazy in our house, mostly because Wacey only likes a few toys and because he’d rather play outside or with a bucket or Tupperware.

And also because I hate cleaning up mountains of toys. Full disclosure, here.

Anyways. Here’s a list of tried-and-true (if not by us, then by someone I know) toys, clothes, and other things that would be great for the little cowboy in your life!

John Deere Tractor: I found one of these for Wace on a Facebook swap page (for $8, #momwin!) and it’s one of his most played-with toys. Inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs, he plays with it everywhere!

Toddler Stormy Kromer: This falls into the “something they need” category, especially if you live in a cold area. As Wacey gets older, I appreciate so much tiny versions of adult things, both because they tend to be made better and because he loves wearing things that are just like Daddy’s, which makes it easier to get him dressed. We got one of these for Wacey this year (we got the largest “toddler” size, for reference) and I’m hoping he’ll be enthusiastic about actually wearing it!

Little Blue Truck: We have all the LBT books and they are Wacey’s favorites and have been taped back together so many times. I wish there were more!

Rody Bouncy Horse: This is solidly in the “fun toy” category. We got one for Wacey last Christmas, but he’s only now really gotten into it. They’re pretty much a ranch kid staple, and seem to be made really well. You can even get little bucking chutes so they can practice their bronc riding skills!

Cowboy Small: This is the only book that is more beat up and read more frequently than Little Blue Truck! I love this book because it’s authentic, and a definite classic, with fun illustrations and short, simple words.

Toddler Armchair: Wacey is getting this for Christmas and we are so excited to give it to him, as he’s really into sitting on the sofa or in chairs. It’s a “something they want” and a “something they need.” It seems to be made pretty well, and is a great value compared to other toddler armchairs, plus the “pony” print is adorable. It seems to come in and out of stock on Amazon, but it’s also available elsewhere.

The Original Cowboy Toy: This has been requested by my husband as a gift that he and Wacey would both enjoy, so it will probably end up under the tree sometime in the future. It’s a great, inexpensive toy that apparently is for boys of all ages, though maybe not a destructo-toddler boy 😉

Duck Boots: Wacey has these exact ones (thanks, Mom!) and they are awesome. He wears them with thick wool socks, and they keep his feet warm and dry and aren’t completely hellatious to get on like some other boots.

Kids’ Rope: Every cowboy needs a rope, right?

Livestock Flag: When Bert’s parents asked what Wacey would like for Christmas, my answer was “A flag and a bucket,” because he really does need his own set that aren’t disgusting. He loves carrying his flag at the barn to “help” the guys, and plays with the feed buckets in the barn when he’s helping Bert with chores, or you know, for holding rocks and dirt and other treasures. In my experience, every kid needs a bucket!

Lil Quad Four Wheeler: This is Wacey’s “big” Santa gift this year, he rode on at my in-laws and had so much fun that we couldn’t not get one. He always wants to go on the real four-wheeler with Bert (again, tiny versions of adult things seem to be a major hit). If you’re in the market for one, I scored one on Jet.com for a really excellent deal!

Resistol Cowboy Hat: Every cowboy also needs a hat! Wacey has one very like this one, and it holds its shape and has held up to some pretty rough toddler treatment.

All-Over Ointment: I know kids don’t care about lotion, but even little cowboys get dry skin and need some help every now and again. This is our favorite, favorite lotion for Wacey’s dry, patchy, eczema-prone skin and we have tried them all. If you live in a climate where you need a Stormy Kromer, you also need this lotion. Plus, it’s a mom-run company! 

Little People Farm: Wacey got this as a first birthday present from my mom, and it’s still one of his favorite toys! It’s also great to help kiddos learn animals names and sounds, and it makes not-too-annoying noises.

Cowboy Boots: Rope, hat…and boots! Wacey grew out of his first pair of boots and has been asking to wear them, so it was time for a new pair. I found these incredibly reasonably-priced boots on Zappos, and they seem to be a good buy. They have a real leather upper (necessary, folks, don’t bother with the fake stuff), and side zipper to make getting them on easier, and they don’t look stupid. If he likes them, I’ll probably just go ahead and buy more sizes as he always needs boots that fit, and Little Brother can wear them, too!

Little People Tractor: A perfect addition to the Little People Farm, and again, a very played-with toy.

Carhartt Overalls: We gave these to Wace early when it got frigid and we all went out to chop wood, and they are great! I’d size up–he’s a bigger kid, but still pretty normal, and there’s no way the 2T would have even come close to fitting. The 3T has plenty of room so that he can wear it over clothes, with room to grow. I’ve heard the Oshkosh ones are warmer, but these seem to be more durable, which is what we’re after. Plus, again, they look like Daddy’s!

Pickup and Trailer: Again, just like Daddy’s. They make different models of pickups, too, so if you’re a Dodge family like us, they have one to match 😉

Feed Bucket: See “Livestock Flag” above. Plus, at that price, you can have one for inside and outside, which is ideal. (“That’s what we said, Bob, we looked at this big ski lodge and said “isn’t it ideal?”)

There it is!

 

 

 

Celebrate · Family · Home · Personal

Decking the Halls

If you’re anything like me, you love seeing the inside of other people’s houses. Have you ever been walking or driving at night, and come across a house with curtains thrown open, and lights ablaze? It’s hard not to look in, right??

No? I’m the only incorrigible snoop out there? Ah, well, there are worse things to be. It is hard, though, being a snoop in a rural area, because that’s pretty much trespassing.

Anywho. Here’s what our house looks like this Christmas. One thing about working for a ranch is that housing is typically part of the package, and we don’t get to choose where we live. (We don’t, however, live in one bunkhouse with the entire crew, as my OB had thought, based upon the bunkhouses in old westerns. For this I am very, very thankful. I mean, our crew is great, but is any crew great enough that co-habitating sounds excellent? Likely not) I’ve lived in five different ranch houses, ranging from just-barely-modernized homestead cabin to triple-wide modular to our current house. This one, though? I never want to leave. It has excellent bones, and although it’s in need of some upgrades, it’s such  a great house. It started out as an original homestead cabin, too, but has been added onto three or four times in the hundred-plus years it’s been standing (judging by the dates on the cemetery behind the house), and is perfect for what we need.

And, you guys? It has three bathrooms. Having had just one, three is a dream.

As far as our Christmas decor goes, you’ll find nothing white, nothing matching, and nothing Pinterest-worthy, but gosh is it cozy of an evening with the lights on and the woodstove blazing. I also don’t decorate every room, as much as I’d like to. I have in the past, but with a toddler running around and a belly in the way, I opted to simplify a little this year.

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dsc_0693This is my favorite part of the house this time of year. There’s a sofa and a TV just out of the frame to the right, and we’ve spent so many pleasant evenings up here after Wacey’s in bed, cozy by the fire (and lately, watching the NFR!). I also like to snuggle up here in the morning before the boys are up with my Advent devotional–it’s magical. PS–did you catch that there are four stockings? I got one for littlest bub this year to make sure he’d have a matching one (these are super affordable from World Market–their stock leaves pretty fast, but they have an adorable fair isle one on sale right now!) and I couldn’t resist putting it up. I plan on embroidering everyone’s names on them someday, but figured I can have a pass this year since we’re keeping LB’s name a secret until he’s born!

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dsc_0721…these actually stay like this all year, lights and all, much to my husband’s chagrin. He says twinkle lights are for college, I say they are for every day of every week and are appropriate for literally every occasion. I’m considering bringing several strands to the hospital delivery room. I’m not kidding.

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My grandmother has been gifting us pieces of this nativity for the past several years, and it was finally completed last year. I seriously love it. It’s the first thing to go up when I decorate, and the last thing to come down.

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dsc_0717Wacey has recently learned about noses, and yells “NOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEE” whenever we go past the nutcrackers. Apparently their olfactory appendages are particularly impressive.

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dsc_0703I made actual cranberry garlands this year, and sealed them with acrylic so they’ll last a couple of years. It was a pain to make them, but I’m really happy with how they turned out!

dsc_0691One thing that’s kind of lovely about this house is that the ground-floor bedrooms (it’s kind of a split level) get a little sun in the morning, but stay pretty grey most of the time, which is ideal for toddler naps and resting during the day. However, it doesn’t make for a great picture, but you get the idea!

The top picture is the window in our bedroom, the bottom is one of the windows in Wacey’s.

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Not pictured: the disaster that is my exercise con gift wrapping room that is literally brimming with so much Christmas cheer I have to jump over all of it to get to the treadmill. It’s festive, and just a little bit dangerous.

There’s more Christmas-y things sprinkled here and there–apparently I have a penchant for holiday handtowels–but nothing too crazy. Someday I would love to have real greenery everywhere instead of artifical, and do more in the playroom (we will have a kids tree down there next year, since we have a spare smaller artificial tree we don’t use), but we’re off to a cozy and festive start and I just love it. Of course, it’s all made more magical by the toddler running around exclaiming over the lights and the ornaments like he’s never seen anything like it in his life.

Merry Christmas, indeed! I hope your gift wrapping situation’s middle name isn’t Danger like mine is.

On The Ranch

The Pitfalls of Looking Ahead

Happy Monday! We’re recovering from a fantastic weekend over here–we kicked off our festive weekend early and went to Denver Zoo’s Zoolights on Friday and it was so. great. So far, it’s been an annual tradition, and we’ll definitely keep it up. This year was especially magical because we tried our best to avoid the enormous crowds we encountered last year, and by either accident or design, it worked. I bought tickets in advance, we arrived an hour early so that we could get a parking space close to the entrance and so we could go in right when they opened, and enjoyed almost two hours of walking around an entirely non-busy zoo. We had hot drinks, a baby who couldn’t even talk he was so busy looking at everything, lovely not-too-cold-but-frosty-enough weather, and gosh it was perfect!

The rest of the weekend included wrapping gifts to White Christmas during a gloriously long naptime, a solo store run involving Starbucks, and a family frozen yogurt outing (there’s a frozen yogurt place less than fifteen miles away and I’m SO glad we discovered it!!! It’s one of those a la carte deals where you do our own toppings and all the pregnant ladies put your hands up) and watching the final rounds of the NFR. We haven’t turned off the tree in three days and we even got a little snow yesterday morning before it warmed up to a balmy 40 degrees. *contented sigh*

Bert also helped me work on my office space downstairs (I’ll show y’all what I have going when there’s more going, haha), and I was updating my 2017 calendar with appointments and commitments we already  know about, like the millions of doctor’s appointments in the third trimester. In doing so, I realized the heifers are due to calve in about six weeks. Which means we’ll have calves in a month, maybe less.

….what.

Calving takes me by surprise every year, I’ll admit it. I think because I willfully ignore its approach because, eight calving seasons in, I know what we’re in for. Baby calves are the best, but they are a lot of work. Additionally, because we have so many cows and also AI most of our cattle, we’re very busy until June.

Oh and we’re having a baby human in March. There’s also that. Gosh we’re out of our minds. In a good way.

But one thing that you can’t deny is that baby calves are suuuuper cute. Photographic evidence below (in various states of filtered–excuse past me, some of these pictures are quite old)! I won’t post too many, as I don’t want to burn you out before this year’s crop, but come on. Baby calves. Just “awwwwwwww” with me, k?

Okay.

dsc_0068This is Bill. He was one of our special cases and lived at the barn for quite awhile. See the notch in the tag? It indicates that he’s been treated for sickness.

dsc_0085At birth, each calf will get a tag. On this one, S053 is the sire (dad) number, the 2327A is the dam (mama) number, and 2035C is the calf’s permanent ID number.

stellaThis is Stella. She had a broken leg. Hence the cast.

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dscf0170This is Heart! She had her first calf this year, and now lives on one of the other divisions.

dscf1312rosieThis is Rosie, a dwarf calf that we had in Montana. She was itty-bitty (less than 20 pounds when she was born, the normal is between 60 and 90) and came to live with us in our dog kennel since she was bottle-fed. She’d follow me down to the barn every morning and gosh was it cute.

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herfiesThis cow didn’t like me taking pictures of her. Like at all.

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These two babes were best friends–even when they were out of the pens, they were always together. Or, maybe it was one of those situations where your mom is friends with someone so you have to be friends with their kid. Either way, it’s pretty cute.

I hope your Monday is filled with plenty of holiday cheer, or at least doesn’t suck. Less than two weeks until Christmas, we’re pretty excited round these here parts!

Celebrate · Fun

Friday Five: Gift Wrapping

I love wrapping gifts, just like I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. Basically, paper goods are one of my love languages. I get everything ordered/bought, and once it’s arrived I put it all away in the guest room (or in a sneakier locale if it’s for Bert, as he isn’t as easily fooled as a toddler, bless him). I set aside an evening or two to wrap in the light of a Christmas movie and the tree, or, in this year’s case, in the light of a Christmas movie and, well, regular lights, since the tree is upstairs, Wacey sleeps upstairs, and for whatever reason the sound of paper always wakes him up. In years past, I’ve wrapped everything and then put the non-Santa/Christmas morning/super obvious gifts under the tree, but again, toddler. So I wrapped a bunch of empty boxes and they’ll be placeholders for the next, oh, ten years or so.

Also in years past, I’ve really put a lot of thought into wrapping gifts, and did a sort of theme each year. This year I’m going pretty basic as the boys could care less how their gifts are wrapped, but I do love gorgeous wrapping paper and am happy to lust at beautiful and festive wrapping from afar. I love things that are simple, colorful, and not too fussy, but are a little more than paper and box.Or a bag. I’m kind of against gift bags for stuff that gets left under the tree for a long time, because it makes it waaaaay too easy to peek, and I’m all about the element of surprise.

Not because I ever peeked at my own gifts inside gift bags, of course.

Although, for those oddly-shaped, don’t-fit-in-a-box gifts, give me allll the gift bags.

Letter tags: I think this would be so great for older young kids to help them figure out whose gifts are whose (provided everyone’s name begins with a different initial!) Plus, glitter and baking twine are two of my spirit animals. I might go so far as to try this for some gifts this year. I know, I know, slow your roll, Martha Stewart.

PS–can you imagine what Martha Stewart’s gift-wrapping is like? In my mind, it’s so lovely.

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Buffalo Plaid and Kraft Paper: I kraft paper and buffalo plaid is pretty and festive and rustic, even without the evergreen topper. I also love mixing patterns, so throwing in another pattern would work here too! You could use any plaid with this, too, if buffalo isn’t your style.

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Sharpie Labels: Again with the kraft paper, I know, but it’s vintage-y and simple, comes in giant rolls, and is thicker than regular paper so you never have to worry about sharp corners poking through. It makes a great neutral canvas (yes I just used “neutral canvas” to refer to gift wrapping), and the red ribbon is simple, easy, but also elegant. I like the idea of writing the name of the recipient directly on the paper–it eliminates the whole gift tag step, and is informal and fun. You could also do this with a chalk pen!

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Jingle Bells: Isn’t this the cutest bow alternative?? It adds just a little something extra, to quote Elle Woods, and bonus points it you color-coordinate it to your outfit. You could go gold, silver, or colorful depending on your decor, and vary your sizes if you’re really looking to win at the wrapping game. I think this would be exciting for little kids, too–Wacey LOVES bells, and if nothing else it might buy you a little time on Christmas morning.

Actually, I’ll take my own advice here, as I have several too-large-to-choke-on bells in my Christmas stash. Of course, the ultimate toddler packaging would involve some lights, too, and something that buckles or zip. Basically, a light-up backpack with a bell tied on. Do it.

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Mixed Patterns and Plaids: How fun does this look?? My mother-in-law gifted me with some beautiful wrapping paper for my birthday, and I mentioned that it was almost too pretty to just be ripped apart on Christmas morning. My father-in-law said “Why don’t you use it for the fake presents under the tree so they stay wrapped?” and basically, he’s a genius. Like I said above, I’m not putting actual gifts under the tree until the Johnston household is a toddler-free zone (soooooo in the next decade ha) and I love this idea with the different plaids and patterns, it fits our whimsical (okay, juvenile)-yet-traditional vibe to a T. Plus, it won’t seem so futile to make things pretty if I keep bringing them out year after year! I still haven’t found the perfect plaid paper (okay, I haven’t looked, but when we went to get wrapping paper Wacey spent the entire time using his roll as a stick and getting pretend cows up like he does in the barn, so we weren’t exactly in perusal mode)

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Now, if wrapping gifts isn’t your bag (see what I did there?), or can’t be because you have a house full of tiny destructive tornadoes, I feel you, because sometimes I just want to put everything in trash bags and hand it over. They do make mint-scented trash bags (to repel varmints), so that’s pretty festive, right? I remember asking my mom if I could help wrap presents and her being like “YES! In fact, you can do it all by yourself!” Now I see what you did there, crafty lady.

On The Ranch

Bovines, It’s Cold Outside

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Y’all. It’s real cold. I know, it’s winter so it’s to be expected, but the first cold snap of the year is always the hardest, especially when it’s a true, honest-to-goodness-way-below-zero cold snap. Plus, we’re all tender-skinned from it being 70 in November so this one is especially shocking. This is one of those days that I don’t mind that I don’t work outside with Bert as much as I used to–zero degrees is a little bit cold for the outdoor wear that currently fits over my alarmingly large and fast-growing belly!

The girls, of course, don’t get the luxury of sitting by a woodstove wearing Christmas jammies. They do, however, have the luxury of a thick coat that fits no matter how pregnant they are! All of our cows are bred to handle cold weather, so they grow a hefty and surprisingly furry coat in the winter. If it’s very cold, they’ll all bunch up together and take turns with who has to be on the outside, just like penguins, but you’d be surprised at how cold and snowy it has to be before they do that! After all, cows live where it gets much colder than it does here.

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When it gets really cold, cows eat more to keep warm, so we feed them extra–some to eat, and some to lay on so they don’t have to lay right on the snow. We also try to feed them really nice hay when it’s cold, too. Not all the hay will get put up perfectly, some might get rained on or put up a little wet because we can’t control the weather in the summer. It’s still totally fine for them to eat, and they gobble it right up, but we like to spoil them a just a little bit with some really tasty, green stuff. Here the girls are snarfing a really nice bale of alfalfa/grass mix.

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dsc_1364When it’s cold and snowy and windy and awful outside, remember all the farmers and ranchers who are taking care of their animals in that weather–feeding animals, breaking water, checking on everyone, dealing with frozen pipes and equipment that won’t start, and freezing their hineys off in the bargain.

(…and bemoan the complete lack of  warm, ranch-friendly maternity wear.)

 

 

Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

#waceyworkingcows

One of the top questions I get asked is “What do you do with Wacey while you’re working?” The answer? He comes with! He’s been coming to work with me since he was a month old, and hasn’t stopped since. It’s basically our only option, since there isn’t any daycare in our county, and private nannies/babysitters are way out of our budget, and very hard to find round these here parts.

We’re very lucky that we are in a very family-oriented industry on a particularly family-oriented ranch. I remember when my current boss called me and offered me the job, we hadn’t yet told anyone I was pregnant. I said “Yes, I definitely want the job, but would you offer change if we were, ah, expecting a baby in February?” He didn’t even skip a beat between saying that of course it wouldn’t and being so excited for us, and telling me about how he and his wife had never even considered daycare for their girls so why should we? I remember having to close my office door (I worked in town at the time) because I was so overcome and saying a prayer of thanks that this was an option for us.

How Wace has come to work with me has changed as he’s grown, but he’s been my sidekick from day one.

When I used to go into the office every day when he was a tiny baby, I’d time it so he’d sleep most of the time–he spent many an hour passed out in his bouncer or pack n’ play while I worked on cow records or paperwork. I used to have to go into the kitchen of the bunkhouse and work, though, because turning the pages of the cow book would invariably wake him up!

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I’d usually carry him in my Solly wrap (THE BEST THING EVER) if we were working at the barn or outside. It’s the ranch joke about how he’d sleep through the ungodly din of calves bawling at a branding or working cattle if he were in my wrap–for the first few months, the guys hardly ever saw him awake! He’d stay in his infant carseat if wearing him wasn’t feasible, or if it was cold so that I could wrap him up in blankets.

 

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As he got older and was less thrilled with just sitting in his seat at the barn, I’d bring his carseat with lots of toys and his spare exersaucer and we’d switch back and forth between each of those plus whoever’s lap was available. I’d also stick him in the Ergo if I was going to be on my feet a lot–he started to prefer it over the Solly around 4-5 months.

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At the office, I would keep a special set of toys for him to play with and he was usually good for a few 20-minute stretches or so playing by himself, as long as his tummy was full! When it time for a bottle, we got multi-tasking down to a science.

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Now that he’s a full-blown toddler, I work mostly from home, during naptimes and after bedtime, and snatches in the afternoon in the playroom if I need to. It’s a lot easier to stay where things are toddler-proof, and where the guys/interns aren’t constantly in and out of the bunkhouse, slamming doors while Wace is sleeping and such. I find that I’ve become a lot more productive after becoming  a mother. When I know my time is super limited, I power-work and get done twice as much in less time. As for the barn, rodeos, etc., he’ll usually start in his stroller, and end up “helping” or being toted/followed around by whoever is up to the task. Thankfully, he loves everyone and everyone loves him, so we’re blessed with tons of help when he gets fussy or needs to stretch his legs.

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wacey-cowboy-hat-preg-3As he gets older, I’m sure we’ll have to change it up even more. I have no idea what we’ll do with two babies next year, but we’ll just have to figure it out.