Personal

Twelve Things

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  1. You might have noticed that things have been less cow-y on the blog as of late. First, it was because we were packing and moving and unpacking and unmoving. Lately, it’s been because there hasn’t been much cow-ing going on, and part of that is because they shipped calves early and don’t have many cows here at the moment, but it’s also because…the owners sold the ranch. So, the last few weeks have been a lot of talking, planning and figuring out what our next steps are going to be.
  2. Bert has received several job offers in the area, including from the ex- and future owners of the ranch, which is wonderful because we really, really like this area and all the people here. I’m so proud of him. We have a pretty good idea about which route we’re going to take, and as soon as we’re able to share, you know I will. I’m very thankful we will be able to stay around here, even if we do end up moving houses.
  3. Life on a ranch–especially if you don’t own it, but even if you do–is a very uncertain thing. At any moment, the ranch could be sold, a wildfire could start, the bottom could fall out of the cow market…so many things. So, like everyone else, we’re rolling with the punches, and if that means we’ll end up living in three different houses in a four-month span, okie doke.
  4. Have you heard of these sunglasses? I got Bert a pair for his birthday, and they’re really cool. They’re made out of (sustainably-harvested) wood, so they’re mega light, but they’re also polarized, and the hinge on the side goes both ways so they fit so nicely. I’m putting a pair on my Christmas wish list!
  5. I am having the hardest time figuring out what to get Buster for Christmas. I know it’s early, but we like to be prepared. We’re definitely getting him a little chair to match Wacey’s, but other than that I’m stumped.  He already has plenty of toys, clothes, and shoes. Is it okay to get a “group gift” that Wacey can play with now but that Buster won’t be able to play with for a while yet? I mean, he’ll be nine months old, so he won’t know if he doesn’t get a bunch of stuff, but still.
  6. I’m currently reading the first book of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, and oh, it’s so good. If you like: Downton Abbey, World War I, the Russian Revolution, politics, Votes for Women…read it.
  7. Antelope season happened, and someone cleaned an antelope sort of by the house, and now there’s an antelope hide in my yard. #cool.
  8. Wacey has started talking about Santa and Christmas trees and oh my heart, I am so excited for Christmas this year. One of the things I’ve caught myself doing as we’ve been interviewing (nonstop since July, it feels like) is decide where the Christmas tree would go in all the houses, so I guess he’s my kid. He’s got Bert’s eyes, and general everything, so I’m glad he’s got my love of the holidays. We may have watched The Santa Clause today because he wanted to see Santa.
  9. Roasts are so cozy. So we’re having one! Recipe on my insta-stories later today.
  10. Why are there not more remote jobs, or why are they so hard to find if they exist? #ugh.
  11. As part of my #RuralWellnessChallenge, I have been looking at my diet a little more closely and after reading this post, I have been looking at added sugar, and yiiiiikes. It’s in everything! I’m trying to keep added sugar to 25 grams or less most of the time (except for when, say, we’re checking waters on Sunday and I demolish a bag of Sugar Babies), and gosh, that could be tough. Sugar is in everything it seems, from even “healthy” cereals to Wheat Thins to ketchup and jarred pasta sauce, and I thought I knew but oh man I did not.
  12. I want so desperately to be an ace DIY-er, but you know, I’m just not. That being said, I will DIY the heck outta something if I hate it and can’t replace it, so maybe I’m an Angry DIY-er? Hmm. What does it say about me that my primary motivation for home improvement stems from anger, annoyance, and general discontentment? I’ve decided I don’t care, because I will take any motivation I can get.

Happy Monday! It’s going to be a good week. I can feel it. I’ll be back Wednesday with the oft-promised Antibiotics post (riveting, I know, but I know you have questions!) so check back then!

Personal

#RuralWellnessChallenge Week 2

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Hiiiii! End of Week 2. I feel pretty good about this week. I’m starting to feel stronger, and a little bit sore, which is great. My pants aren’t fitting any better yet, but I think a lot of that has to do with my diet (and only being committed for two weeks, ha), so I need to lock that down. Today I did my big grocery trip, and it felt so good  to fill up our the cart with lots of protein, cheese, whole wheat bread, veggies, and fruit. Our produce situation was pretty bad last week since I was late getting to the store, so now I just want to eat, like, Honeycrisp apples and cucumber.

Best Day: Wednesday, with over 12,000 steps, 55 active minutes, and 39 floors.
Worst Day: Yesterday–we had some #adulting to do so I didn’t get a workout in.
Proud that: I finished the week much stronger than I have in a long time.
Not proud that: I only got 4/5 days on D15 again. Apparently that’s my weak spot, so I think I need to shoot for Sun-Thurs instead of Mon-Fri since by the end of the week I’m over it.
Next week’s goal: 5/5 days for D15 and more fruits and vegetables.

I’m starting to get a little more enthusiastic about my heath and wellness, and I think being accountable has a lot to do with it!

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites: October 13

Hello! It’s Friday. It’s Friday the 13th. Are you superstitious? I’m not, but there’s something delicious about a Friday the 13th in October, isn’t there? We should be doing something fall-y. Hell, maybe we are, and I just don’t know it yet. I’m writing this on a Wednesday, after all.

When I was thinking about this year at the end of 2016 when it was still “next year,” I remember being so sure that it was going to be a difficult one. I wasn’t at all excited to wake up in 2017–I actually dreaded it a little. I had a gut feeling that it was going to be a strange year full of so many transitions, and I was right.

Now, there have been some wonderful things. Most obviously, Buster was born, and I had a really, really good recovery, and shocked myself by having an unmedicated birth. Wacey and I (and Buster, technically) were in a commercial, we paid off our pickup, and I think I finally figured out how to curl my hair!

But it’s also been a year of a lot of uncertainty, and behind-the-scenes turmoil. I don’t mean like marriage turmoil–I’m lucky to have a marriage that’s solid as a rock, and two little boys who are the brightest light you could imagine. But in ranching, so much falls to chance one way or another, and this year it feels like someone else is in charge of our life, but not in a good way. I know who is actually in charge. I know who has our best interests at heart. I know who has a big, good, amazing plan for us. But I also know whose plans aren’t always immediately apparent, and right now, in the thick of big changes and hard things, I’ll fully admit that I’m tired. I’m tired of these seemingly never-ending big changes on the horizon that I have no control over. I’m tired of waiting on phone calls and for other people to make decisions that will ultimately affect us. I’m tired of being a SAHM because having a job is so important to me. I’m trying very hard to not just wish 2017 away because I know that 2018 is not a magic fix, but I have high hopes that it will be more about growing and thriving rather than just surviving.

But, I have so much faith that it’s all going to be okay. I have to, because if you don’t have that, what do you have?

So, this year, I’ve really taken refuge in words. In The Word, via the devotionals I’ve talked so much about here and on my Insta and via sermons on podcast. In words of moms and other people taking about hard things on blogs and in podcasts, and yes, being the millennial that I am, in a good quote meme.

Favorite Reminder: It’s Never Too Late. This is one I think about a lot when I’m just having a bad day, which is so easy when I’m worried and stressed. Nothing makes me feel worse than snapping at my children, especially for something entirely unrelated to them, and so I’m so thankful for a reset button.

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Favorite Truth I Should Remember: Worry is a misuse. I once read in a book a lovely description of a character who didn’t really worry, because he wasn’t very imaginative and thus couldn’t think of the myriad scenarios that could result from a set of circumstances. I remember feeling jealous, because I’m a constant worrier, and wish so often I could turn my brain off and not imagine all the terrible things that might happen. But gosh, what a waste. I’d much rather imagine ways to make my children laugh, or how to make their Halloween costumes. (Fear not, Amazon Prime is delivering my costume supplies tomorrow!)

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Favorite I Know This to be True: When You Cannot Sleep at Night. I think of this often, because (like every other mother on the planet) I sometimes lay awake at night, especially when I am woken up by one of the boys. I read this quote a long time ago, and now try to count my blessings and send up prayers for others when I’m lying awake. It works, and helps move me to a more positive space where I’ve found I have some great ideas at four in the morning. Like the boys’ Halloween costumes!

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Favorite Reminder for A Nervous Nellie: Finish Each Day.  Does anyone else constantly re-hash their days, especially if you said something dumb or did something weird? Ugh, me. This is a good reminder that, as Gus says in Lonesome Dove: “Yesterday’s gone and you can’t get it back.” For better or worse, but usually for the better.

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Favorite Work Motivation: Every Successful Person. I have a trouble with the latter half of this because sometimes the road seems so long and windy and impassable. But, it’s a good reminder and motivator. I think I can I think I can I think I can.

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Favorite Work Inspire: Growth Strategy. This is so true. I often think “Oh, when we have more money/time/etc, we’ll be able to be more generous.” That’s true, but I can be more generous now, because generosity doesn’t have to cost money, and you can always make more time to help others.
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Favorite Admonishment/Manta: What You Do. Isn’t this the truth, though? I keep this in the back of my mind especially when meeting new people, and when out and about in our new town. We all know someone who says all the right things but gives an overall impression of being disingenuous or flat-out creepy. I don’t want to be that gal. I’d rather be the gal who says awkward stuff or is overwhelmingly sunny but gives a positive overall impression.

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Favorite OMG I Feel So Gotten: You Are My Blue Crayon. This doesn’t need any explanation because you know exactly which color that is. I’m lucky to be married to my blue crayon and have two more blue crayons jumping around.

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Favorite I-Should-Tape-This-To-My-Ceiling: Not Think, Not Wonder. This goes hand-in-hand with worrying being a misuse of the imagination. If there’s something you can do, then do it, but once you’ve done all you can, it’s time to rest and have faith. And eat pasta.

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Favorite Word Vomit Justifier:  What He Says About Others. This is a good reminder for a person likes me that tends to talk too much, and sometimes out of turn. It’s a nervous reaction to new situations and people and ugh so much word vomit. I suppose that if you’re going to word vomit it’s sort of okay if it’s all nice word vomit, right?
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Wellllll Happy Friday the 13th! I hope it’s not unlucky for anyone involved, and that your fall weather is treating you right. I didn’t mean for this post to be a downer, so I hope it’s not! But sometimes, you guys, adulting is hard and I want to throw in the towel and rake a huge pile of leaves and jump in it and then take a nap and then wake up and eat pizza and not be in charge of anything. Can someone make this happen? #Imissdeciduoustrees.

Also: Hocus Pocus has been on at our house nonstop and I’m pretty sure Bert is over it but I’m 100% sure Wacey and I are on Cloud 9. #overruled. Also: Wacey calls pumpkins kum-peeks and says “Wooooooooowwwwwww” every time he sees one and I can’t even it’s so cute.

On The Ranch

Fall Colors

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I have a big ole post written about antibiotics that I wanted to publish yesterday, but I wanted to be super thorough so I’m waiting until I speak to a vet about several things. In the meantime, here are pictures of fall to make you glad.

These were all taken in Rand years ago, since cactus doesn’t exactly have fall colors. I miss Fall in Rand, buuuuuuut I don’t miss feeding cows for nine months or dealing with sixty below and several feet of snow on the regular.

Family · On The Ranch

Is a Detour a Detour When It’s Actually a Plan?

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Whenever I’m shopping for clothes, I have several considerations:

  1. Is it machine washable? I have kids.
  2. Is it comfortable? I have kids.
  3. If for work: will it withstand cows, mud, muck, but also my kids?
  4. If for not work: will it withstand detours on the way to town? I have a cowboy.

Before I dated Bert, I had just dated boys from town. Where they would pick you up at your house, you’d get in the car, drive to your destination, get out of the car, and go inside. You’d spend a hopefully pleasant evening, maybe take a little stroll out to ice cream after dinner, and then you’d be delivered back to your door.

Cowboys are a little different. They will pick you up, but you’re never quite sure in what, and you’ll get in, but you’re never quite sure how easy that’s going to be, and you’ll drive, but you’ll probably have a pit stop or twelve on the way, and you’ll end up at home eventually, but it might be a little later than you planned because things can get western in a hurry, and I don’t mean that in a euphemistic, trying-to-be-polite-for-Grandma way, I mean that in a flat-tire, dirt-road, steer-caught-in-a-roll-of-wire, rodeo’s-in-town kind of way.

Thus, I learned early on to wear things that wouldn’t be ruined if we were driving a nasty ranch truck, or ended up at the pens or in the middle of the pasture (I now own almost no flats for this reason), and that could be worn easily getting in and out of a truck or a tractor without flashing the entire state or getting something hung up. Also to make reservations an hour later than you think they ought to be, or forgo those sorts of establishments altogether.

If I had a nickel for every time I’d heard “Oh, I just want to check on/drive past/go look at the horses/cows/water/fence. It won’t take long. Don’t worry, you won’t have to get out.” I would have enough nickels to buy this amazing Johnny Was beauty I saw at a boutique last week, and a coat to wear over it when I have to get out in the rain to open 47 gates on the way to check cows on the way to dinner.

Case in point: over the weekend, we decided to go into town for dinner. We all got in the pickup, and then it was “Oh, I want to check on the horses on the way.” Uh huh. Of course you do.

 

Personal

#RuralWellnessChallenge Week 1

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Heeeey guys hey! It’s the end of Week 1 of my Rural Wellness Challenge. Y’all, it was a great week in lots of ways but also a little rough. I got 4/5 days on walks and D15, but all days on my squats. Definitely room for improvement!

Best Day: Tuesday with nearly 12,000 steps, 27 floors, and 54 active minutes
Worst Day: probably today.
Proud that: I squeezed in some workouts around weird schedules and funky weather.
Not proud that: I only got 4/5 days.
Next week’s goal: 5/5 days for D15 and walks, plus trying to remember to eat more protein!

I’m in a funky place where I’m having trouble staying motivated as the week goes on. I think it’s partially due to lack of planning, and needing to be smarter about which days I choose to take off. The good news is that I can just keep trying for better! My end goal for exercise is to be as active as I was before Buster’s third trimester–consistently exercising 4-5 days a week (with a mix of cardio/HIIT/weights), and averaging 70,000+ steps per week and 45 active minutes per exercise day–so baby steps! Everything counts. One day at a time. Begin again. All those things!

 

 

 

let's visit

Let’s Visit: Animal Welfare

One of the things nearest and dearest to my heart–and the heart of every single rancher and farmer that I know–is animal welfare. I’ve seen countless terrible comments, memes, articles, you name it, about the welfare of America’s cattle.

This fire first started when I was a college student. It was the my last semester of school, and I had been spending a lot of time on the ranch and visiting with ranchers and industry professionals while working on my thesis. My major was in Environmental Studies, though with an emphasis in International Policy & Development, and all Environmental Studies majors at the time were required to take Environmental Ethics. Because philosophy is one of my least favorite subjects (so abstract), I left that class until the last minute. I was pretty surprised, though, with what the curriculum ended up including. Yes, we read Peter Singer and books like Omnivore’s Dilemma and Into the Wild. But, we also watched documentaries (a whole other topic!) like Food, Inc., and Earthlings, and the professor was vehemently vegetarian and anti-meat.

I have no problem at all–AT ALL–with vegetarians, vegans, or others who choose not to eat all or certain kinds of meat. None! Some of my very nearest and dearest friends and extended family members do not eat meat. I do have a problem with people who foist their views of any kind onto impressionable students (at a public university, mind you, albeit one known for it’s “hippie” leanings) using sensational media and horrific personal anecdotes instead of facts.

There was one documentary we watched that showed an older steer with big ole horns caught in a chute, and someone de-horning him with something like a monkey wrench. Our professor said “This is something that happens to cattle in this country every day.” Guys, I lost it. Because it’s not. It really, really isn’t, and it was wildly unfair for the professor to say that it was, just like it would be wildly unfair for me to make such an incorrect and awful claim about an industry that I know nothing about, like medecine or makeup, or underwater basket weaving. Presenting that and similar footage as normal, routine, “the way things are” is so damaging. It’s obviously damaging to our industry since that kind of behavior is unacceptable and not tolerated by the vast majority of us. It’s damaging to you, the consumer, because it makes it hard for you to understand the truth, and probably really freaks you out. It’s damaging to society as a whole because we deserve better reporting and easier access to facts to help us make the very best decisions we can.

That is not “the way things are.”

In any industry, the beef industry included, there are bad people, lazy people, who cut corners, do harm, and behave poorly. But saying we all do is like saying every company is Enron. It’s just not true.

The reality is that every day, we check on our animals. Every. Day. Birthdays, Christmas, weekends, rain or shine, well or sick, every day. Sometimes this means getting in a truck and driving out to the pasture and checking on the girls en route to check waters. Sometimes this means saddling a horse and trotting out at sunrise. Sometimes this means jumping in the tractor with a bale of hay to feed and check cattle at the same time. Sometimes this means checking in the truck “real quick” and then calling your wife to bring the horses up and catch one because you found a sick animal that needs doctored immediately.

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All the ranchers and farmers I know have a similar battery of stories: staying out all night to try and keep calves alive in a blizzard. Bundling children into pickups late at night because a car ran through the fence on the county road and both mom and dad need to be there to put the cows away and fix the fence by the light of the headlights. Grown men, tough as nails, coming home defeated with tears in their eyes because there was a calf they tried so hard to save but couldn’t. These same grown men having favorite cattle that will eat cake cubes out of their hands in the pasture. These same men taking hours to dig a hole and bury an old, beloved horse or dog who died knowing he was so loved. Feeding and doctoring cattle in all weathers. Hauling water for hours every day in a drought. Cutting fences and desperately trying to save cattle in a wildfire. It goes on and on, and this is not exceptional. This is normal. This is our every day. I’m not saying this to make us sound like heroes or exceptional people. This is what is means to be a rancher, a farmer, a steward.

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Our job as the stewards of these lands and these cattle is to make sure everything is as healthy as possible, from the grass the cows eat, to the water they drink, to the dogs we use to help us move them, and to the cattle themselves. When an animal is sick, we treat it. If an animal has been treated and cannot be saved or has had a terrible accident, we humanely euthanize it so that it does not suffer. That is our job.

Want to know what I’ve heard a lot? That this is all well and good for me to say, since I live on a ranch and ranches aren’t the problem, right? It’s the feedlots and the slaughterhouses that are the real issue here.

Nope, nope, nope.

Listen, I feel you. I feel you on so many levels. Seeing cattle in feedlots can be tough. It’s not pretty, it’s a little stinky, and the scale can shock you. Seeing animals slaughtered and rendered in a packing plant is also a little shocking, and can be overwhelming.

But, I’ve visited both of those places, and have friends who live and work in feedlots or who are employees and supervisors in packing plants. And if you have doubts, I urge you to get in touch with a real, live person who can visit with you (I can help!) or, if you drive by a feedlot or have an opportunity to visit a packing plant, look closely.

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Because when you look closely in a feedlot, you’ll see happy cattle, eating and running and playing (yes, playing) with plenty of room. You’ll see pen riders on horseback checking cattle, working with the on-staff vet to treat sick ones, and working with their horses to help them learn, too. You’ll see experts and workers of all kinds making sure the cattle ration is correct for each pen, that all the fences, bunks, and waterers are in good working order, and the cattle have everything they need. If you want to read more about caring for cattle in a feedlot, I highly, highly recommend the Feedyard Foodie blog. Anne is a mother, a boss, sharp as a tack, and does a wonderful job showing that part of the beef industry.

When you look closely in a slaughterhouse, you’ll see a lot of efficiency and movement, yes. But you’ll also see people handling the cattle quietly and killing them with dignity and without pain. You’ll see state-of-the-art facilities designed by world-renowned Dr. Temple Grandin, who has incredible insight into how cattle work and how we can make them the most comfortable and calm. You’ll see each part of each animal used for a purpose so that nothing is wasted. Slaughterhouses have many, many stringent rules and regulations they must follow, and have been practically transformed in the last few decades by the work of Dr. Grandin. I highly recommend reading this if you’re wanting to learn more about the slaughter process–don’t worry, there are no graphic images.

If you have questions or concerns about the welfare of our cattle, speak up! Comment here or email me. I’ve also mentioned certain certifications you can look for if you would like to purchase meat that has been verified by an animal welfare organization.