Family · Home · On The Ranch · pregnancy · Wacey

Lately

Last week I had my 36 week ultrasound, after which my doctor informed me that there’s very little chance I’ll make it to my due date, and even though I never though I would, it sort of set off a freak-out in my brain. Combine that with an unplanned day of working cows, and the blog took, like, tenth priority. Totally not fair, but all is sort of fair in love and impending childbirth, right?

So here’s the haps. We’re still calving! It’s still going well, we haven’t had any more twins, and there are about sixty cows left!new-calf

The weather’s been gorgeous, but we did get snow last week and have some more coming this week–it’s actually good since it’s been so dry. Our morning stroller trips to the calving barn are one of the best parts of the day!
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Aaaaand speaking of strollers…we found ours!! YAY! I’m SO excited. Like, unreasonably excited. We even came in under budget! #momlife
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And speaking of #momlife, our pregnant mare (on the left) is fat fat. I mean, all the horses are currently fat fat, but she’s taking pregnancy to a whole new level. Get it, girl.
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Last week, our favorite vet came down with some students in hopes that we’d have some things for them to look at as a practical lesson. Lo and behold, the day before they arrived, we had a calf break a femur! Not good, of course, but the good doctor and his students set the bone and put on a fancy splint in hopes that the calf (now named Forrest Gump, don’t judge) will make a recovery. It’s hard to fix broken limbs in calves, especially when they’re high up like this one, but we’re hopeful!
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Here’s Forrest with his fancy cast–it’s made of rebar and gauze and bandages and Frozen (yes, Frozen) duct tape, and it’s pretty amazing. Also he’s still a little sedated in this picture, hence the cloudy eyes. Bert brought his mom in so he gets plenty to eat and we’re hoping for 4-6 weeks with the cast on. So far, he seems to be doing okay!
broken-legThe vet and the students treated some sick calves, set another (less severe) broken leg, fixed a cow who wouldn’t clean (she calved but not all the afterbirth would come out), and pulled a calf. So, lots of “fun” vet stuff!

Our surprise cow working day on Friday was PAP testing heifers, which is one of my favorite things because I just love the vet that does it (the same vet that fixed up Forrest), and it’s so interesting! This vet PAP-ed our bulls in Montana so we’ve known him for years, and it’s so fun when he comes around. Plus, we do love our barn days! Bert’s in between AI groups on cows, so he took Wacey for the afternoon. It was so weird and yet exciting (and relaxing?) to be able to just work and not get snacks/milk/toys/etc.
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My outfit was on fleek, too. Belly shirts (crop tops?) are in, right? Also, apparently I have the lovely pregnancy skin pigmentation that I didn’t know about until…just now.
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Our local elk herd (on the hill in the middle of the picture) paid us a visit, too.
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There’s a rule that you can’t sit down while you’re working cows, but I violated it pretty flagrantly. Ah, well.
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THIS would be why. OH MY GOSH this is completely ridiculous. Like, what?!? I have SO MUCH ENERGY but I have to sit down because this is what happens if I don’t. By far my least favorite pregnancy symptom to date.

(I posted this picture on Insta and got some concerned texts from friends and family, thank you for worrying about me! My doctor’s seen the monster ankles, and since my blood pressure is low, and I don’t have any other high blood pressure symptoms, she’s not worried. And I have an appointment tomorrow. The good Lord just wants me to wear my new mocs a lot!)
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Also very much on the agenda: baby survival meal prep. Yesterday was breading chicken parm and chicken cutlets, making lots of sauces and marinades and packets of fajita seasoning, and thawing a billion pounds of beef and sausage. Today or tomorrow, some of that seasoning and all of that meat will be made into meatballs and fajitas, and sliced up for beef and snow peas. If Bub stays put (the theme of our lives right now), I’ll write a more detailed post later this week!

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Last week’s ultrasound was so hilarious! We didn’t get a ton of good pictures because he accidentally hit himself in the face and made himself mad, but it was so neat to watch him move and feel it at the same time. Also, totally got the bison swaddle set and I’m in love. I do like the Aden + Anais swaddles, but man alive these ones are delicious. They’re Little Unicorn brand, and are bigger and softer and thicker than the A+As, and the three-packs are a great deal! Girl mamas: their floral swaddles are so beautiful. I
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So there it is. Bert’s calving, I’m trying to get everything done for the baby’s arrival and finish up projects at work, Wacey’s being adorable and also two, and we’re all waiting on Baby Brother. It’s weird to be in the final “any time now” weeks because I want another two months to do everything, and I also want the baby to be born tomorrow. Give me a few more days to finish meal prepping and clean our bathrooms, though, and I’ll be firmly entrenched in the latter camp. Bert thinks March 9 will be the day, I think it will be the following weekend because it’s a full moon, and I had Wace on a full moon weekend. Wace still thinks a “brother” is a belly button, so I don’t think he gets to put in his vote quite yet!

Happy Monday, happy almost March (can you believe it’s almost March?!?) and thanks for bearing with me. I want so badly to be a regular blogger, and I’m truly working on it, but it’s hard to suppress my slightly obsessive have-to-get-everything-done-before-the-baby-comes tendencies that have been surfacing for the past six weeks!

Family · Friday Favorites · Home · pregnancy

Ranch Baby Gear

As we’re preparing for Little Brother’s (increasingly) imminent arrival I’ve been looking at baby gear because I can’t help myself, and because there always seems to be something new and snazzy. I have a lot of tried-and-true things that would be staples no matter where we lived, but that’s not the case for everything. I keep finding that so many of the new “cool” things are not quite for us, either because it’s not our style, or more often because there’s no way it’s going to hold up or be very functional where we live.

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To wear:
Like every other mom ever, I’m all about Sleep N Play footies (especially for the first month or two–that’s all Wace wore–with zippers preferably, snaps are hard while sleep-deprived!), and Carter’s onesies. I like Carter’s stuff for babes because it fits well, and holds up to a thousand washes,and you can find solid colors without something stupid on the front.

Another essential? Muslin swaddles. We have a bunch of Aden + Anais ones, but I would still love some more that fit our style just a little better, like this horse swaddle, or the bison one I can’t stop thinking about! They’re great as a light blanket, a nursing cover, or as a carseat/stroller cover when, say, you’re at a rodeo in the day and the sun is blinding. Again, they also wash well!

Since ranch babies can’t always stay inside even when the weather sucks, it’s so important to me to find things to keep our boys warm if we all need to be at the barn. I love the sack version of the Carhartt coveralls, and this George hat is great–so soft, and fits a little baby head perfectly.

For bigger babies on up, it’s all button-downs and jeans over here, and I love that most brands have matching shirts in both toddler and infant sizes. Jeans are essential even before the kids walk because sweatpants stain and get holes in them much too easily around here! I like button-downs because you can layer them over a t-shirt to deal with changing temperatures (and they’re adorable), although I don’t dress my babies in collared shirts much before they’re a little bigger, because bibs+collared shirts result in weird situations! For jeans, we like Oshkosh the best so far, and we’ve also had good success with Wrangler.

The bull wubbanub is our fave. Wacey’s had two (maybe three?) and we’ve never lost one! They’ve just become casualties of puppies and rough treatment, haha.

For Feeding:
Feeding our kiddos needs to be portable. With Wacey, I didn’t make nearly enough milk and he was all formula-fed by four months. I’ll try nursing again this time (I got a Medela Pump In Style since I hated my Ameda pump), but if it doesn’t work, we’ve got the formula system down! The formula dispenser keeps pre-measured amounts of powdered formula in a no-spill, easy-to-dispense canister, and this water bottle keeps water hot for like, days. We bring a bottle of hot water, and a bottle of cold, and mix it to the right temperature. Toting water is necessary because often our drive is long, or wherever we’re headed (like a rodeo) may not have easily accessible, drinkable, or warm water, so we bring our own!

For the nursery:
We keep the nursery stuff simple, but there’s a couple of things I have come to love. A sound machine is clutch, and comes in handy every day, and when traveling. I love One & Done wipes because they’re literally a miracle–they don’t dissolve when scrubbing hineys or faces, and something in them is like, the best on-the-go stain remover.

Since we’re outside so much, I slather everyone in sunscreen (don’t worry, I wait until the baby is old enough), and I like this one for the littles (the bigs sometimes use it, too!). I like that it doesn’t have a ton of junk in it, and goes on a little white so I can make sure I applied it everywhere. I actually preferred Honest Company’s, but with the debacle a couple of years ago with people discovering that their kids were getting burned while wearing it, I don’t use it anymore. I’m sure they’ve fixed the problem, but it’s lame that it happened and we live at a higher altitude, so I don’t take chances.

I’m sure you’ve heard me wax poetic about Tubby Todd–their All-Over Ointment is the only lotion that works for Wacey, and I just stocked up on shampoo and lotion for Little Brother. This baby fresh spray, though not as used as our other TT stuff, is so great for tiny babies and I still have a bottle from when I used it with Wacey. To me, newborns smell delicious, but their clothes smell like sour milk, I smell like sour milk, the carseat, blankets, etc., smell like sour milk, and after awhile I feel like we all just stink, especially if we’ve had a full day in the sun and are all packed into the truck for a long ride home. Enter this spray, which *doesn’t* smell like sour milk. It smells like heaven, and makes us all seem a little fresher.

For Mama: 
This isn’t exclusive of ranching families, but I find it to be especially true in their (our) situation: you need to carry the baby, but have both of your hands free. Whether this is because you’re at the barn, or a branding, or a bull sale, or because you’re fixing dinner for the crew, or because you have a wild toddler about to fall in a huge pile of cow poop, carrying babies hands-free is necessary. For this, as you know, I am a devotee of the Solly Wrap and the Ergo 360. Both are easy to use, wash up well, and work amazingly. I’ve considered the Ergo Performance with the mesh inserts since the 360 can get hot, but we’ll see how into being worn Bub is.

Again, also not exclusive of ranching families, but definitely something to consider, especially with more than one baby: a huge diaper bag. Whenever we go anywhere, I don’t always have the option of easily running back to the car for a change of clothes/more diapers/snacks, so I bring everything with. This can be a mess, and can be a pain. Enter the Lily Jade Meggan bag. It’s the biggest one, and converts to backpack carry which is so, so necessary. Better yet, it’s beautiful and durable (cloth diaper bags do not hold up well around here–I have a beautiful Vera Bradley but I don’t want to destroy it further so I keep it in the car), and fits and organizes so many things.

Strollers. Why is it so hard to find the right one?! This is where the “cool things that don’t apply to us” happens the most, because I see all these beautiful strollers that convert from a bassinet to a seat, or have the option of adding another seat, or have leather handle grips, etc–and they all have teeny tiny wheels or fussy fabric. So, my solution is that we basically only use a jogging stroller, plus I need one since I walk so much. With Wacey, I use a Jeep single that I love, but as soon as you get into the realm of doubles, everything changes. I have my heart set on a (used) double Bob (Revolution Flex) because: lots of reasons. Big tires. Made for rugged situations like dirt roads, rodeos, barnyards, and maneuvering at the mall at Christmas. Independent canopies that extend extra far, so that each kid can choose how much sun they get, or none at all. Swivel/lock front wheel, because the ones that don’t swivel are a nightmare unless you’re an actual long-distance runner (I am not) and only use your stroller for that. Attachments for everything, including carseat adapters, snack trays, and extra drink holders for up top. In addition, there’s the one-hand maneuvering, an adjustable handlebar, huge underneath storage, and durable material. Plus it fits through doorways.

Basically my stroller unicorn, especially if I find one under my $300 budget. We’re going used because I can’t stomach spending two car payments on a stroller, and there seems to be a decent availability on Craigslist. When and if I find this unicorn I will shout it from the rooftops!

Other things we love: big minky blankets because they’re soft and warm, and thick enough that you can spread them on grass and not get poked. An angel friend of ours made one for Wace, and sent one for Bub and one for me a couple weeks ago and of course I cried when I opened the box. A cute ranchy option here! We use an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper as our bassinet (another great thing to Craigslist), partially because it’s portable, and I’ve already posted the bibs I bought for Bub. We also have a Boon Lawn that we love, and with Wacey we used Dr. Brown’s bottles.

Whether you’re in town or not, though, there are so many options these days to fit both your style and be functional for babies. I am so grateful that we have more options than primary colors and things covered in bunnies for my babes, especially when I can integrate my own style into the things we use most. It honestly makes me feel more like a human when I’m not surrounded by not-too-baby-looking baby things, although we have our fair share of those things, too. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pretty things, especially as a boy mama.

Happy Friday! My littlest bub is kicking the snot out of my side and my biggest bub is hollering at me from his crib, so that’s my cue!

 

 

On The Ranch · Wacey

Baby Calves

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Yesterday after we got back from the office, Wace and I took the stroller down to the barn to soak up all 65 degrees of the gorgeous afternoon and, of course, to go see daddy. We came home and stopped at the pivot behind the house to check out our baby calves! These mamas are a little protective, so I brought my bigger lens (and Gaucho) because they don’t always especially appreciate company, especially company in the form of an oddly-shaped lady and a tiny human.

There are about a hundred pairs (mamas + babies) out here right now, and other than a couple sick ones that Bert has been tending to, they’re all doing really well! I’m glad it’s been warm because although calves do just fine in the cold and snow, it’s nice to see them play in the sun.

One thing that cracks me up about baby calves is how silly they are. They run and play and jump and chase each other, and it’s hilarious, especially when they’re just learning how. During the day, everyone tends to spread out and play and lay in the sun, but as the evening comes on, the calves start to retreat to the tall grass. I also love the “it takes a village” mindset of the cows–often, you’ll see one or a few cows hanging out with a bunch of babies while their mamas graze or go to water. I hope they switch it up, or that the nursery cows like to mind all those crazy little bovines. Every now and then, you’ll see a calf that’s just had enough and needs to find mama now, and he’ll go trotting out into the pivot, bawling like he’s on fire, until his mama takes pity on him and comes to the rescue. The calves still get all their nutrition from milk, but some are starting to pretend graze, and it’s so funny to see them acting like big cows. They’re just like human toddlers– they can’t wait to be big. They’re also very dramatic, very hungry, and very much in love with their mamas, and like to throw fits.

We also spotted the geldings from way out–Bert hasn’t been riding as much, and the horses have been getting a break since their only job right now is to eat, which means we hardly see them. They’re going to be fat fat fat when it’s time to start spring work in the next month or two!

While I was taking pictures (I was using my 120mm lens which I kind of really suck with, so I was concentrating pretty hard), I heard all this giggling, and I look over and see this:

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I mean seriously. And Gaucho didn’t even care! What a silly situation; I about died laughing. If this is how the rest of my life is going to be with being a boy mama, oh my gosh bring it on because it’s so much fun! Although I so hope the boys refrain from sitting on Gaucho as they get older.

Wace has been telling me for the last ten minutes that a) the trash is gross and b) “Boxboxboxboxboxboxboxbox hathathathathathat” which means that there are coffee grounds in the trash can and it’s time for us to go get a hat on (he has to wear a hat outside) and go play in his sandbox.

May your Thursday be lovely, may your coffee be strong, may your Valentine’s treats still be in existence, and may you get a chance to be one of the free-grazing mamas at some point today!

Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

Weekend Update

I never thought of February as a busy month, but apparently it is. Here’s what we (okay, mostly me and Wace) were up to last week (because Bert was at the barn, doing Barn Things. Imagine).

The only way to describe last week’s weather was epic, which is partly to blame for my lack of posting. We’re talking sixties, y’all. In February. In Colorado. So we spend the grand majority of our time outside, going on walks, and I did a lot of sitting/working out on the porch while Wacey played. There is no better seat in the house to work on my computer than out on the porch in the morning sunshine with a happy toddler–so happy, in fact, that he can’t always wait to change his clothes to play, so we just slap a jacket on over his jammies. Priorities, right?

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Tuesday, of course, was Wacey’s birthday, so he spent the day at the barn with daddy, guzzling donuts, hollering excitedly about the balloons, and playing in his sandbox.

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Wednesday, Wace and I both had doctor’s appointments, but they were a few hours apart so we spent time in between getting lunch at Panera, going shopping for a couple of outfits for Little Brother including a coming-home outfit, playing at the park, waving for selfies, and treating ourselves after a long day with some chocolate for Wace (the ratio to ingested vs. smeared on face was pretty low, I think) and a Starbucks for me (God bless the Starbucks drive-through).

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The boys fed cows while I failed to take a single picture of any of the calves born last week (no more twins, though) and we visited the Turkey Farm (just kidding, that’s Headquarters).

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We also got some awesome mail, not to mention the beautiful gifts from friends and family for Wace, which were not photographed because Wacey knows what presents are now and who am I to ask the birthday boy to wait while I take a picture? I love getting mail, even if it’s just boring stuff I ordered!

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I didn’t end up getting to go on the tour of the packing plant that was supposed to happen Friday, but we’ll reschedule–things came up, not the least of which was some major water trouble down at the calving barn. Bert was uncertain about keeping Wacey while I was gone because the aforementioned water trouble required shutting all the water off, and hurrying to try and fix the problem with a backhoe and some pretty serious equipment, none of which is baby-friendly, and it was too late to make other arrangements. But, c’est la vie, and in calving the girls take precedence over everything, so we expect things to get a little glitchy sometimes.

And it’s totally okay, because we got to play outside in seventy degrees. 

And yesterday, I made it to 35 weeks! Things are getting so real, and I’m stuck between prepare all the things and hey, you got this, it’s just a baby. I do need to at least make a list of what to bring to the hospital, though!

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Happy Monday (or pre-Valentines, if that’s more your style). Hopefully I can get my act together a little better this week, even though we’re in for another week of gorgeous weather! I hope to go out and snag some pictures of the pairs so you can see how big our babes are getting–when they’re bitty, Bert can doctor by going out and grabbing them by a hind leg with a hand, but yesterday he had to come home and saddle because they’re officially too big and fast! Most of my plans revolve around administrative Ranch Things and tying up loose ends–I’m just going to be operating for the next several weeks as if I might go into labor, because I’m a control freak and I want to make sure everything is neat and tidy (both literally and figuratively) so I can relax and enjoy Bub when we get home, and so the guys aren’t like, getting tickets for expired license plates.

It’s a glamorous life, and someone’s got to live it.

Celebrate

Grafting Calves

Hey hey! I’m currently sitting out on the porch in 55-degree (albeit overcast but I’m not complaining) weather, watching a very happy birthday boy play with his new sandbox. We always think we know what he’ll love, but we’re often wrong (#toddlers). This time, though, we hit it out of the park!

(PS I think I may have found a jogging stroller, *knock on wood* so, you know, pray for me. Craigslist is ruthless.)

So. We’ve had three sets of twins here, plus a twin from another camp. That’s a lot of extra babies, y’all. I thought I’d visit with you about how we handle all that extra furry goodness since most beef cattle, especially heifers, don’t milk enough to raise two calves. It’s better for a cow to raise the calf–we could bottle-feed it with milk replacer until it’s old enough to eat grass and grain, but those calves never grow as well, and that’s a lot of extra work! Plus I’m a softie and it makes me sad when a calf doesn’t have a mama, and when a mama is missing her calf.

How do we get “extra” cows?

We’ll get right to it: calves die. It’s a fact of life and obviously something we try to avoid, but sometimes there’s just nothing to do. They might be stillborn, or have some kind of defect that makes them unable to live for very long, or they might get stepped on, etc. Sometimes they just get too sick and don’t respond to treatment, and sometimes they are affected by a traumatic birth and we can’t save them. Or, they could get killed by a coyote–we’ve lost one to a coyote this year, and this is why we’re very serious about predator control. So, that leaves us with “extra” cows sometimes, and we make these cows into graft (foster) mamas.

Sometimes the reverse happens, and we come up with an extra calf because it doesn’t have a mama. There are some instances where we have to play child services, and take a calf away from a cow because she is unfit to be a mother. Sometimes, she rejects the calf and tries to hurt it, other times she becomes aggressive after calving and is too dangerous to keep around, or she may not produce enough milk to raise a calf. Occasionally, cows will die and orphan a calf.

(Once, we had a cow die of pneumonia when her calf was a couple months old and I took care of feeding him. His name was Zeke and he was HUGE, and would drink 2-4 bottles a few times a day, plus grass & grain. When we got him a new mama, he was already so big that he had to get on his knees to nurse! I miss Zeke.)

If a calf dies and there is no graft calf available, Bert will milk the cow himself to keep her milking. This also comes in handy if a calf is needing to be bottle-fed for some reason because it helps us use less milk replacer, which saves money, and the real deal is always best. He won’t do it indefinitely, of course, but a couple weeks, maybe.

When it comes time to graft, there are a lot different methods that people use, and sometimes you have to try several things; there’s really no “right” way. Usually Bert’s method is to hobble the back feet of the cow, and put the cow and her graft calf in a small, quiet pen together for a few days with plenty of good feed and water and a healthy application of Orphan-No-More. Hobbles ensure that the cow doesn’t kick the calf while it’s trying to nurse, since the mom’s instinct is to not let any calf nurse but her own. Letting the calf nurse helps it smell like the mama, and helps her understand that the calf nursing will alleviate the discomfort of a too-full milk bag (mamas who’ve nursed, you know all about how good getting engorged feels!). It also gives the calf confidence and try, and keeps it vigorous and healthy. The Orphan Powder, as we call it, helps with the scent issue as well, and helps the mama bond with the calf since she’s inclined to lick it off.

bijou-graft-pair^^ This was shortly after Bert took the hobbles off of this cow, and she and the calf are now in the pasture with the rest of the pairs!

A shot of oxytocin (yes, the same hormone as in humans) can also help, especially if it’s been a little while since the cow had a calf and needs help with her milk letdown.

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Some cows don’t need much in the way of convincing, though–this cow wanted a calf so badly, and these two took to one another right away.

If he has a cow with a calf that’s very recently deceased, Bert skins the dead calf (I know, it’s a little shocking, but hear me out), and ties that skin to the graft calf. It sounds strange and maybe a little gross, but it’s got a very high success rate and that’s what matters. The new calf smells precisely like the old one, and we only need to leave the hide on for a few days.

betsy-the-calf-graft-outfit^^ This is Betsy, a calf from when we lived in Montana. You can just see the edges and the twine of her “graft oufit.”

Other methods involve different substitutions for Orphan Powder, like milk, blood, even molasses, and different methods for feeding the calf–some people catch the cow in a chute several times a day and let the calf nurse that way, or milk the cow and bottle-feed the calf.

Most of the time, we can convince the cow to take on the graft calf, and they’re both better off for it. Sometimes, one or the other will refuse, and then it’s back to square one. With a herd as large as ours, we almost always have a mama available, even if we need to take a calf to another camp or vice-versa.

So far, all our mamas have calves (either adopted or biological), which is great. Bert’s been lucky this year and hasn’t had trouble getting grafts to take, so our pasture of pairs is full of happy and healthy mamas and babies who are happy to be with one another, and he’s not having to bottle-feed any calves, which is a major win.

There you go! Add “Bovine Social Worker and Expert Familial Matchmaker” to the list of hats that ranchers wear. Now we can just hope that the rest of calving season goes just as smoothly as this first month has!

Fun

Saturday Evening Thoughts

  1. Just ordered my L.L. Bean New Baby mocs and I can’t wait! After more debate than I care to admit, I ended up going with the women’s Wicked Good Camp Moccasins instead of the Wicked Good Moccasins, only because the lack of fleece collar makes them less slipper-y and thus more acceptable to wear in public when I don’t feel like actual shoes for a few months 😉
    Women's Wicked Good Camp Moccasins Size 7:
  2. Wacey’s birthday is on Tuesday and I am so excited. Like I’ve said before, we’re not doing a party, per se, but we’re sort of stretching it out into a birthday week since grandparents are coming this weekend and next, and for his actual birthday, we’re starting the day with balloons and chocolate donuts and tractor rides and you guys? It’s supposed to be in the fifties all next week, and this weekend too! Perfect for a brand new sandbox! And a break from the cold and snow that’s kept us cooped up the last couple of days. I can’t wait! Walks every day, not having to bundle up to go outside, actual warm sunshine…ahhhhh. Actually, it’s just  like the weekend he was born, which is very fitting. Lovely weather for the most sunshiney boy.
    Now, I just need to get over the sticker shock of how much play sand costs. Yikes. And the ridiculousness that we have to drive almost 40 miles each way to get the sand since the local farm store only has two cubic feet in stock. Who on earth only needs two cubic feet of play sand? No one, folks.
  3. Blogging is hard when you’re not feeling very creative, especially when that lack of creativity is due to struggle somewhere else. I’m never sure what to write when there’s a lot going on at home, or when there are hard things going on in life that aren’t really share-able. I want to be as transparent as possible, but when the hard things aren’t just your things, or even primarily your things, privacy is the most important. But, that’s the point of learning how to blog and navigate the bear that is the internets, right? We’ll figure it out.
  4. I (finally) ordered a book about light exposure because I’m frustrated at the quality of my pictures, and I want to take more high-quality, blow-up-and-frame pictures of my boys. It comes highly recommended by one of my favorite bloggers who captures the most beautiful moments of her kids, so I have high hopes. Our favorite photographer won’t be out here until June, so I’m hoping to get some decent shots of the four of us (!!) when Bub is still a newborn with my tripod and remote. Also, what on earth is the point of having a DSLR if you don’t know how to use it? There is no point. That is the answer to that question.

  5. Next Friday, I’m taking a tour of a packing plant (read: slaughterhouse), and I’m so excited. I’ve toured the plant before, but it’s been many years, and I’m looking forward to seeing it with fresh eyes and taking piles and piles of notes to share with you. Now, I just have to figure out what on earth to wear because I’m fairly certain sweatpants and Uggs won’t fly, even for a very pregnant lady, especially since it’s technically a work thing.
  6. I’m currently on the hunt for a reasonably-priced double Bob stroller on Craigslist. Pray for me.
  7. If you follow me on Insta, you’ll know that we had a THIRD set of twins this morning. If you don’t follow me on Insta, we had our third set of twins this morning! What on earth?! I mean, no one is complaining, all the calves and mamas (and foster mamas, post next week!) are doing really well. One of the other cowboys has also had a set of twins, too, so we’ve had four so far this year, and we’ve calved out maybe 10% of the cows.
    twinsies
  8.  We’re so excited to have a snuggly little newborn around, but when people tell you that babies just keep getting more fun, they’re so right. Wacey was so good (I mean, impressively, miraculously, held-my-hand-the-whole-time good) while we were walking all over Home Depot getting sandbox sand taken care of that I took him to get a little treat (okay, and one for me too) and it was so fun sit with him and giggle for a little while. He loved choosing his own drink and sitting in his own chair and thought the writing on the cookie was amazing.
    wacey-milk-starbucks
    starbucks-selfie
  9. We just finished the movie The Duel (western-esque with Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth). It was okay–the trailer made it look a little better than it was. I hope that someday someone will revive the art of making the Western movie without all the weird stuff. That being said, it wasn’t bad, truly! Just a little strange with some unnecessary plot points and superfluous snake action.
  10. Can we all agree that Sam Hunt is not actually country? I mean, it seems like most of what’s on the radio these days isn’t really, either, but that guy has yet to have a song that’s even close. I’m not hating on him, I think he’s just really in the wrong genre. Also that song a gal sings about a tuxedo, and something some kid sings about putting a label on it. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Again, not hating, just confused. It makes me feel old. Like, really old. Like the mom who is like “What is this? This is terrible!” while changing the radio station to oldies while her kids groan in the backseat and my kid’s only two. However, Wacey dances equally enthusiastically to Willie’s Roadhouse and Andy Grammar, so maybe he won’t mind if I change the station when he’s older.
  11. To end on a bright note, these shoes.
    We want to live in the latest drop from J.Cew and New Balance.: Aaaaand I just remembered I have quesadillas in my diaper bag that really ought to get into the fridge. On that note, happy Saturday night, see you Monday (or Tuesday, at the rate I seem to be going).
Food · On The Ranch

My Go-To Blueberry Muffins

I have like, twelve posts that are in my drafts folder. Just so you know I’m not actually slacking, I just have horrible time management lately. Slash I have to work, to, you know, make money. For food. And moccasins.

Anyways.

This is my go-to recipe for blueberry muffins, and it’s the guys’ favorite. I sent some with Bert this morning because they have a big meeting, and everything is better when there’s muffins and coffee, right? This is also my favorite sweet breakfast thing to bring on days when we’re working cattle.

muffin.jpg
(Food blogger/photographer I am not. I only kept a couple of “reject” muffins for us to eat at home–this one is small and a little too toasted on the other side, I’ll try to remember to keep a pretty one in the future! It was still delicious though. I just ate it.)

The original recipe is from cookingclassy.com–she never fails, especially on the baked goods. I’ve tried a LOT of her recipes and they always turn out really, really well. I’ve made this particular recipe so many times that I have tweaked it a tiny bit, so I’ll include my changes.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat flour from Wheat Montana-you can’t tell the difference, and it adds some protein and some taste oomph, which is a thing. I fell in love with this flour when we lived down the road from the actual Wheat Montana mill, and I’m so happy you can get it in Colorado now! Target and Sprouts carry it for certain, and sometimes the ole Walmarts. Also, if you’re baking at high altitude like me, add a little extra flour.)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
7 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil* (measure 1/2 cup remove 1 Tbsp)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (I tend to use closer to two cups of blueberries, and have used thawed frozen blueberries with great success aka I pretty much always use frozen)

Crumb Topping
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp chilled butter, diced into small cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp Raw Sugar (I use quite a bit more than this–I like a crunchy topping. Maybe closer to 3 tablespoons? I generally just eyeball it.)

Directions
For the crumb topping:
Add all the crumb topping ingredients except for the raw sugar to a food processor, and pulse several seconds until it’s all crumbly and there aren’t any big chunks of butter left. Don’t pulse for too long, or the butter will make it too dense and wet. Add the raw sugar and set aside.

For the muffins:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Put ‘er aside. In another (bigger) mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, buttermilk, sour cream, and eggs until it’s all nice and blended. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined–the batter will be a little lumpy, and you don’t want to over-mix or the muffins won’t be as fluffy. Fold in the blueberries. Fill paper-lined muffin cups about 3/4 full and top with about a tablespoon of the crumb topping. Bake 18-22 minutes, until tops are lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for several minutes before you take them out to cool on a wire rack, or just leave them while you give your kid a bath and such and throw them directly into a Tupperware because it’s been, like, two hours and they’re cool.

Tips:
1. I always get more than a dozen out of a single recipe (yesterday I got a dozen plus six), but I’m also very picky about my muffins overflowing and having an obnoxiously browned edge because only big muffins and can have that.
2. Also, I don’t always use two separate bowls. I know, I know.
3. I rarely have buttermilk on hand and thus almost always use a substitute. Another tip a good friend just texted me: powdered buttermilk!
4. Sometimes if I’m in a pinch for time (or it’s naptime and I’m afraid to use the food processor) I forgo the crumb topping and just throw some raw sugar on top, although they are much tastier with the crumb topping. I tend to make extra and keep it in the freezer to avoid such topping-free calamities.
5. If you’re having a hard time finding raw sugar, run out, or are very cheap, just grab a handful of Sugar In The Raw packets every time you’re at Starbucks. It works. Don’t tell them though.
6. If I’m feeling wild, sometimes I’ll add a little vanilla or cinnamon. Just a dash, you know. The boys have all said they’re better with vanilla, but isn’t everything?

There you have it! My tried-and-true, never-fails, cowboy-approved blueberry muffin recipe. Seriously, try it. I need to get some of those gigantor, bakery-style muffin tins to make big muffins because you can’t have just one (or three) of these!