On The Ranch

Weekend Recap: Classy HP and Males at Stock Show

(this is another post that might get a little heavy on the ranchy words, so if you need clarification, please head over to the Terms and Resources page!)

Happy Monday!

We had such an unusually busy weekend and despite the fact that I am ready to sleep for a thousand years, it was so great. Saturday my mom and I went into downtown Denver to see the Colorado Symphony play the score of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone while the movie was playing and it was everything I hoped it’d be. I bought the tickets the minute they became available this summer, and I’m so glad I did. It combined my absolute love of Harry Potter and movie scores and symphonies with my nostalgia for my band days (yes, those happened–I started playing the clarinet when I was eight and played the bass clarinet in my high school’s Wind Ensemble). We had a long, leisurely dinner beforehand and oh my gosh, so relaxing. My mama and I don’t get to spend much one-on-one time together, but we need to step up our game because this was such a great time.

harry-potter-concert

And yes, I only got one picture. That’s how great it was!

I got home late (after stopping for a Slurpee on my way home because slushy drinks are probably one of my larger love languages, particularly when With Child and holy cow how late are 7-Elevens open?!? I mean I’m not complaining but gosh), and we all woke up early Sunday morning to head to the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The ranch had two entries in the Red Angus pen show yesterday (two pens of three bulls each), and they did a really great job. The bulls looked so good! Two of the bulls that were shown were two that Bert calved last year, which is a big deal because he calves the heifers, and it shows that our breeding program is becoming more successful because our first-time moms are raising some really nice calves.

These shows are important because they show the industry what the ranch is doing in terms of our genetics program, and the quality of cattle that we are raising here. We are not a traditional seedstock operation, so we don’t have a formal sale, but we do offer a limited number of bulls and replacement heifers for sale each year, and taking animals to stock shows is one of the ways we market them. We also sell straws of semen of certain animals for other operations to use in their AI programs, so there’s more to ranching than just selling weaned calves for beef!

I have almost no knowledge of showing cattle, but I can tell you that the time and work and dedication it takes to get an animal ready for show day is astronomical. Months and months of preparation and effort go into making these cattle look their best and represent the best of our program!

fitting

goliath

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After being prepped for the show (with help from our littlest cowboy) the bulls are led to the show ring, where they are shown individually, but as part of their pen of three. At the very end, the judges asked for all the entries to come back into the pen all together for further scrutiny. It reminds me of a dance competition: months and months of preparation and hours of hair and makeup for two minutes in front of a judge to prove your point! The bulls looked so nice, and behaved pretty well–there was one rogue character who was not impressed by the pomp and circumstance of the day, but we’ll forget about him because he got his act together at the very last minute. At least he behaved better than a Hereford up the way who was leading his handler up the ice and slush like he was on skis–guess he was just really excited to strut his stuff in the show ring!

Today’s takeaway: if you have a stock show or state fair in your area, go! There’s more to them than rodeos and vendors, although those are a really fun part, although we don’t always go the trade show because we’d spend every penny we make in a very fast hurry. I’d encourage you to walk through the stockyards to see the livestock up close. Some fairs and shows will even do tours of the yards or meet-and-greets with the animals. Some facilities even have a catwalk over the yards so you can see everything from above (and keep your boots clean if it’s messy weather!)

If nothing else, you know what most (I can’t say all because I haven’t been to all of them) stock shows and fairs have? Funnel cakes, cotton candy, and meat on a stick. If you don’t care about at least one of those things…well, have you tried all of them? I mean, obviously not because you can’t bat 0 for 3 with fair food. You just can’t. So go for the food, stay for the events, and mosey over and see the animals. I promise it’ll be so great.

Thanks for reading!!

 

Family · Personal · pregnancy

Pregnancy Loves and a Bumpdate

Hey and happy Friday! We’re on day three of some pretty cold weather, but that’s okay because we don’t have any calves born yet and also I don’t have to go outside much–perk of being very pregnant and having tons of office stuff to do, I suppose!

I’m firmly in the Third Trimester (aka the S**t’s About to Get Real Trimester) and I’m happy and nervous and excited and scared all at once. I’m really starting to feel pregnant and pretty darn uncomfortable which is no fun, but I know it’s temporary. That being said, I’m in survival mode over here, and thought I’d share a few things that are getting me through.

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Zantac: Oh hey, heartburn. Didn’t see you there. So glad you’re here. Really. This boy must be as hairy as his brother!
PiYo: Oh hey, hips hurting all the time. Didn’t see you there. So glad you’re here. Really. My go-to workout is long walks with Wacey in the jogger, but lately the hills have proved a little much for my preggo self. So, for now, it’s walks on a flat treadmill with these workouts a few times a week. They’re easily modified for basketball bellies, and I always feel like I worked hard without having to jump around. I got my full set on eBay for less than $30 brand new, PS.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter: I love this for an itchy belly. Bert put it in my stocking and I am ever so grateful he did–it lasts much longer than lotion but isn’t as expensive is lots of other butters and balms. I find that lots of things labeled as being for “baby” or “mama” are more expensive because they’re labeled that way, but you can get the exact same thing for a lot less if you’re okay with forgoing all that cute packaging.
Bobbi Brown Concealer: It’s hard for me to feel pretty when I’m pregnant, and I so appreciate makeup that helps. I wear this every day, pregnant or not, but I appreciate it even more right now!
Joggers: These pants. These pants! I love them. So. Much. They’re even more comfortable than leggings, and I’m thinking about ordering more. So soft, so comfortable under the belly, and I haven’t taken them off in three days except to wash them.
Dry Volume Blast: Big bump, big hair. My aunt and uncle gifted me with hair and makeup supplies for Christmas, and I love it. Big hair makes me feel less like a bowling pin when I’m pregnant, and for that, you need this!
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: This goes along with the Zantac, because the only thing that calms my heartburn before the Zantac kicks in is milk and ice cream. I like to have some good ole Vanilla Bean with strawberries in the evening after dinner and it’s lovely.
BumpStart long-sleeve tees: I love these. My mom got me a black one and a white one, and I wear them constantly–like right now! They’re thick enough that you don’t need a cami underneath, and fit really, really well. Bonus, they’re super affordable so you can buy several.
Sports Bra: Another mom gift, and I LOVE this one. Again, will likely buy more. It’s so much more comfortable than a regular bra (TMI? Probably not, since it’s pretty simple physics that an underwire has no where to go but digging into your ribs, and that’s uncomfortable).
Flannel Sheets: Ohhhhh, these sheets. We were gifted this exact set (by my mom, who obviously knows precisely what I need) and they are so wonderful. It makes crawling into bed an absolute dream. They are thick, wash really well, and just keep getting softer.
Essie Chinchilly: Bert slipped this into my stocking this year as I was having a hard time finding it at our local Walmarts (but of course he walks in and finds it immediately) and I love it. Essie wears so well, and adds just a little more pretty to my large self. This dries more grey than taupe, just FYI.
Starbucks cup: I know I’ve talked about this cup specifically and my Starbucks cup addiction in general, but it really does help me to remember to drink my water to have a pretty straw cup to drink out of!

Bumpdate:

bump-selfie-with-waceBoth my boys! We like bedhead, no-makeup, jammies-and-sweats selfies around here.

Bub is growing, growing! We have one more ultrasound in about a month and I’m excited to see him again–my last OB didn’t offer another ultrasound after the anatomy scan, so this is a change for us.

How far along: almost 30 weeks
Gender: Boy
Weight gain: 15+ pounds (I’m not actually sure–this is pretty terrible, but I don’t remember what my starting weight was!)
Maternity clothes: I have been wearing a lot more regular clothes this pregnancy than with Wacey, it’s kind of weird, but I think it’s because Bub is sitting transverse and super low so nothing is comfortable. Out of necessity I’m wearing more and more maternity tees, but I’ve been living in joggers and leggings. If I do have to wear jeans, I have a couple pairs from when I was pregnant with Wacey that are good for a couple of hours, or a pair or regular jeans a little bigger than my normal size hairtied waaaaay below the belly haha.
Sleep: It’s on and off–putting a pillow between my knees and changing the sleep number on my side of the bed has helped a lot. Mostly, I have to make sure that I don’t drink too much before bed because if Bub kicks me in a full bladder at 2am it hurts and I have a hard time getting back to sleep.
Best moment this month: We’ll go with month as “the last four weeks” since it’s the first week of January. Christmas, obviously, was amazing, and getting out for our first movie date in years was so wonderful. I also mucked out some major stress-inducing areas of our house and things are starting to feel so fresh and so clean clean. Or as fresh and clean as they can get when you live on a ranch, haha.
Worst moment this month: The recurrence of the dreaded pregnancy hip pain. It’s a bear, and I’m figuring out ways to manage it, but man oh man, 9-10 more weeks of this business is going to be no fun. Ah, well. And, I had my glucose test last week, and my results were just a little on the high side, so I have to go back for the three-hour test next week, ick.
Miss anything: Being able to bend over or do anything without being out of breath. But mostly, my normal jeans. This was about the point with Wacey when I really missed regular jeans and just being able to throw on clothes without the production of having to rest in between haha.
Movement: OH YES. Right in the bladder. I think he might be migrating upwards, though!!!! Just keep swimming, Little Brother!
Cravings:  Fresh food like fruit and salad, and oddly? Chicken and waffles. And a burger from this great place in Boulder that has a pretzel bun and the best cheese buuuuuuuut it’s a little excessive to drive almost 200 miles round-trip for a burger.
Queasy or sick: Feeling good, minus being so full after 5pm I can hardly eat and some wicked heartburn starting at about ten in the morning every day. But, nope, none of that junk from the first trimester! You take whatever you can get at this point.
Looking forward to: Short term, this month has so many exciting things–a concert and the Stock Show this weekend, a visit from one of my favorite people (my aunt) later this month, and elf-ing for Wacey’s birthday in a month. Longer term, meeting little brother! I’ve been pretty nervous about being a mom of two, I kind of just want to get started with it already. Also my old jeans. I miss them so!
Hope your Friday is spectacular and your weekend is sunny, both literally and figuratively!
On The Ranch

Feeding the Girls

Bert sorted his heifers last week into groups by calving date. The girls who are calving first came to the pasture right next to the pens because they’ll start having calves soon and Bert will have to keep a close eye on them. The others are out in another close by pasture since before long, it will be their turn to come on down to the maternity ward, aka the pens!

Today, we helped Bert feed the girls in the pens. I love feeding cows. It’s a good opportunity to see everyone, and it just makes them so darn happy. He feeds them in the feeders in the pens so they get used to coming in from the pasture for feed. This way, he can close the gate on them at night once they start having babies to make it easier to check on them in the dark. They’re fed in the evening, since there is some evidence that feeding calving cattle in the evening helps them to calve in the morning, rather than in the middle of the night, the philosophy being that they are more likely to calve about twelve hours after their meal. Whether it’s super true or not, it does seem to help, and since it doesn’t hurt, why not?

We have a good routine down: Bert buckles Wacey into the buddy seat of the tractor so they can ride together, and I open gates and cut twine for them.

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First, he gets hay from the haystack. This hay that he’s feeding is an alfalfa/grass mix, and is some of the best we put up last summer–nice and green.

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The girls wait (sort of) patiently. They’ve learned to come in once they hear the tractor start up. This is why it’s nice to have someone open gates–you can’t just leave them open  to start with because the girls will follow the tractor, and it’s a pain to get in and out to open and close the gate every time.

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I spy a little boy who is thrilled with his life right now!

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He’ll set one bale down…

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…and lift the other up over the feeder. I’ll climb (ever-so-gracefully, I’m the most graceful 150-pound lady you’ve ever seen, naturally) into the feeder, and cut the twine off the bale so it will fall apart into easy-to-munch flakes. It’s important to get the heck outta the way, though, because that hay’s heavy (those bales weight about 900 pounds) and you don’t want to be smooshed! Don’t worry, in addition to being the most graceful, I’m also the most spry 😉

pulling-twine-with-tractor
Sometimes, the bale falls on the cut twine just right and it’s hard to pull it out from underneath the hay. So, tying it to the tractor loader and having Bert pull it out from under the bale is an excellent solution. It’s not good to leave the twine in the feeder since it’s not a great thing for cows to eat or get wrapped up in, plus it leaves a mess.

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Once the twine is cut, Bert goes back for the other bale and we rinse and repeat!

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The next step is to rudely interrupt the girls mid-munch so that you can get a picture of their hay-y faces. This teaches them patience in advance of motherhood, and prepares them for all of the other times in their lives when I will rudely interrupt them with a camera.

heifers-eating-at-bunk-2Sometimes, though, they just choose to ignore me. It’s okay, I guess.

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That’s about as definitive a bovine stink-eye as I’ve ever gotten, but can you blame her? She’s heavily pregnant and I’m disturbing chow time!

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These girls had the right idea–there are two feeders, one in each of the calving pens, and they figured out we had filled both of them and escaped the mob in the other pens to treat themselves to first dibs on this delicious stuff. Smart ladies, these ones.

sweats-and-nikesAnd, because we’re all about #reallife here, lest you believe I actually am graceful and spry and jumping around in some super cute ranchy outfit and a great hat, here’s a picture of my sweats and running shoes aka the most appropriate ranch wear ever. To be fair, these pants are ah-mazing. I got them with a gift card from my MIL and may just buy more in more sizes/colors so I can wear them to the very end of this bladder-kicking extravaganza pregnancy. And then there is Wacey, who is not in this picture except for a tiny little shoe photobomb, but he was wearing grey sweatpants with a brown and yellow striped thermal and a fleece.

Basically, everyone come see how good we look!

Happy Wednesday! Hope you’re as happy as a cow munching some fresh green hay.

Celebrate · Home · Personal

New Year’s Non-Resolutions

2017-planning

Spoiler Alert: I’m not making any.

I do love to see how other people structure their goal setting/wish wishing for the year, and so I’m sharing what’s in my goal/hope/wish headspace heading into this new year. Plus, maybe it will keep me accountable!

I have hopes, and some goals, but I am not making any out-and-out resolutions because I’m setting low expectations. Not “low expectations” like “I don’t expect much from this year,” but “low expectations” like “I’m having another baby, giving me two very young children, and I have no idea what to expect.” This doesn’t mean that I’m going to let 2017 laze by, but that if I need to rest and just be a little more than usual, that’s okay. I’m also trying to be okay with uncertainty, because there is so much that I just can’t know about this year. We’re having a baby and other changes and events are going on that are completely out of my control, and I need to be okay with that.

I am choosing a word for the year, though, and it’s grace.  Grace to trust in the Lord that everything will be okay, grace to rest, grace to give to others and to myself, grace to ask for help when I need it, and grace to extend in situations where, in the past, my reaction might have been less than graceful. Ahem.

Hopes and Goals and Some Things That Must Happen Come Hell or High Water:

1. I would like to de-clutter and organize our entire house, because I know come, oh the middle of March, I will appreciate simplicity and having everything in its place. So far, I’ve tackled the master bath, the downstairs, and most of the kitchen, and it feels so good. Bert and I also organized the root cellar where we store decorations and things we don’t often use, and that was great since we can actually see what’s down there now!

2. Within my word for the year, I would like to keep exercising and eating healthfully. I know I won’t have a six-pack by June (or ever, probably), and that’s okay. That’s starting with being healthier and moving as much as I can throughout my third trimester, which is no mean feat, but I did a fitness challenge last month that helped me understand how much better my body functions when I’m fueling it properly, and not with, you know, cookies and Christmas candy. This means lots of fruit and veggies, and plenty of water and protein. I also have realized that I have to work out in the morning, or it won’t happen!

3. I would really, really like to keep up with and grow this blog. This means sticking to a pretty regular posting schedule, and planning posts in advance so I’m not scrambling to come up with content.

4. I would also really like to learn more about my camera in general and exposure, specifically. I have an aunt who is a photographer who has agreed to help me with this, bless her, because it all feels so beyond me!

5. I would like to be more efficient with spending and my saving, as I am the primary banker in our family. Put this solidly in the “Things That Must Happen” category. Baby-birthing years are always expensive years, and we are probably going to be working with a tighter budget this year, but I would like to try to keep saving at the level we have been. This goal includes continuing our “Christmas Present/Birthday Fund” at a slightly higher rate, and paying off our pickup. Finances are one of my greatest sources of stress, so if I can alleviate any of that, I will. For me, this means no impulse spending, and spending a little less on groceries, which means less rushed trips to the store and more solo runs with a list and coupons. Also known as sticking to the gosh darn budget. Also known as not my gosh darn forte.

6. Along with #4, I want more pictures of my boys, and more with me in them. If this means setting up my camera on the tripod, so be it. I’m also planning on hiring a photographer (please Thea tell me you can come out this spring!!) to do our first pictures as a family of four. I really am sad I didn’t hire her to come out this fall to do pictures!

7.  This is the most important: I would like to spend more time with the Lord. I think I’ve set myself up for success in this area by gifting myself the Anchored Press Devotional Planner–planner and the word all in one. Even if it’s just ten minutes a day, it helps so much. I like the idea of looking at my plans and calendar for the week with scripture built right in. It helps to keep me grounded instead of overwhelmed!

8. Ask for help, and trust people to help us with our kids. One date night a month is my goal to start–it would be so fun to be able to do this weekly, but it’s not feasible in this season. We’ve gotten into a routine on the weekends where we rent a movie or a put one on hold at the library, and we stay up and watch it and have dessert together. It’s an at-home date night that’s really great.

9. Be more intentional with my time–there’s no way I’m going to be the mama and wife and girl boss that I want to be if I waste time watching TV and mindlessly scrolling through social media on my phone. We’re getting rid of satellite TV this year, so that will help, but gosh I waste so many hours doing absolutely nothing for absolutely no reason! This also means that I’m going to try hard to minimize working on the weekends. Some times of the year this is almost impossible, but I want to be present with my boys when we’re together instead of being distracted by work or my phone. It’s not good for any of us!

10. Self care. When I feel good about myself, and am getting the rest and alone time I need, man oh man I am an exponentially better wife and mother. For me, this looks like finally admitting I need to invest in quality beauty skin, and hair care products, and getting ready (to varying degrees) each day, as well as making sure I’m getting exercise and spending a little time alone each day. And, sticking to my Mama’s Day Out for my birthday (and maybe Mother’s Day?). I look forward to that day all year!

Things that would be nice but aren’t “goal” status include finding a dresser to replace the upstairs TV stand–refinishing is a bonus; finding the perfect blazer and making tooled leather accents for it; finding a new long down coat to replace my falling-apart one; fixing my too-short curtains upstairs, and changing out the knobs on the boys’ dressers.

After finishing this list, it’s clear that I want to make lifestyle changes this year more than accomplish tasks–simplify, take care of myself and my people, keep a handle on our finances, and spend good quality time with my tribe. And, of course, share our life with y’all!

Happy 2017! May your planners be merry and your calendars be bright, and your coffee be strong! PS–if someone wants to bring me Starbucks, that would be great. Love, I’m Having Withdrawals Because We’ve Been In Town So Much Lately.

 

Family · Fun · Personal

Christmas and 2016

best-nine

Hey y’all, I’m baaack! I know you probably weren’t really waiting on tenterhooks or anything but if you were…here I am. Kidding.

Anyways. We’ve had a really great two weeks. Between Bert being able to take it slow at work and spend a lot more time at home before he gets really busy, and Christmas, of course, we are set up pretty contented and well-rested for the New Year. Thanks to my amazing mom, we even got to go out to a movie–our first in years! We saw Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and it was SO GOOD, and so worth it to see it in theaters. We even got popcorn and drinks and oh man was it great. Also, please can I have all the clothes from that movie? Tailored coat game was *thumbs up emoji*

(Sidenote: going to the movies is expensive.) 

 

Christmas this year was pretty low-key, which was perfect because both Wacey and I were feeling the excess of excitement (yes, I am a child) and the lack of sleep pretty hard. I managed to surprise Bert which is always a major win, and we got to see both of our families. We were all thoroughly spoiled with both the food we had (beef tenderloin Christmas Eve, Prime Rib Christmas Day because Beef It’s What’s For Dinner) and with the gifts we received.

I also have a confession: I’ve already put away all of our Christmas decor. I know. It’s not even New Year’s! But who am I, at almost 30 weeks pregnant, to say no to an urge to clean and organize?? Also, for me the weeks leading up to Christmas are the best part, and seeing all the decorations up after it’s over can get depressing. I did leave up the outside lights so Wace wouldn’t have to go through total “la-la” withdrawal.

So. 2016. Everyone says it was the Worst Year Ever, but I think that’s ridiculous because there are a whole lotta years in not-so-distant history that were a lot worse. Lots of big, important, sometimes not-so-great things happened in the world, but that’s how every year is! There’s good things, there’s bad things, and in the end,

Our year was actually pretty amazing! We got to watch Wacey grow from a baby into the best, most wonderful, hilarious tiny human on the planet.Being his mama makes me an infinitely better person. We found out that he’s going to be a big brother and that’s a big, happy deal. We spent tons of time together as a family, and while we didn’t take a family vacation this year, we went to some bull sales, and a lot of fun rodeos to watch Bert and the guys kick butt. Wacey and I also got to go to Indiana for a wedding and to see my extended family, and that was so, so great.  I wish we all lived closer! I went to three beef industry conferences–a symposium about beef and sustainability at Colorado State University, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and the MBA Top of the Class training at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver–and learned so much. I also got the courage to finally start this blog, and I’ve already requested Girl Boss at the library so I can Girl Boss the heck outta 2017.

Yes, in 2017 I will continue to put things on hold at the library.

I also feel like I grew a lot personally. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll keep on keepin’ on, and that’s the best any of us can do, right?

I’ll write a post about my 2017 goals, but today I’m squeezing my boys, and being thankful for a year that was pretty darn good. We don’t have big New Year’s Eve plans but we’re continuing our tradition of Chinese takeout and a movie (Finding Dory), we got ice cream and pregnant lady champagne (aka sparkling cider), and donuts for tomorrow morning. We won’t be staying up until midnight, but I can’t imagine a better way to ring in the new year than snuggled in bed, fast asleep. #pregnantmamadreams

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful evening, whether you’re out on the town or home with your people. 2017 is going to be great!