Family · On The Ranch

It Might As Well Be Spring

DSC_0016DSC_0021DSC_0027DSC_0032DSC_0063DSC_0078DSC_0082DSC_0051DSC_0002DSC_0006If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that it’s branding season in New Mexico! This is, hands down, one of my favorite times of the year. It means spring is here, and gosh, it’s so much fun. It’s a chance for everyone to get together and have a good time while also getting work done.

If you’re new to the blog, or not involved in ag, let me give you the 30-second skinny on branding. If you know what’s up as far as branding goes, feel free to skip to the next paragraph! We brand our cattle to show ownership, and it’s one of the oldest traditions of ranching in the American West. It’s also a law in many states, and comes in handy to identify cattle if they get mixed with a neighbor’s. A brand is much easier to read than an ear tag, and unlike ear tags or buttons, a brand will never fall out or come off. There are two types of brands: hot iron brands and freeze brands. Hot brands are the traditional method, and use a branding iron heated either over a fire or an electric iron to burn a brand into the top layer of flesh to make a scar. It’s good to keep in mind that the flesh of a cow is much, much thicker than a human’s, so branding cattle is not the same as putting a branding iron on your own skin, and the vast majority of calves suffer no ill effects–not just eventually, but right away. Being away from their mothers for the short while it takes to brand seems to affect them more! Freeze brands are typically used for horses, or for individual identification on cattle in addition to a hot brand, and are done with an iron cooled to very low temperatures with liquid nitrogen. A freeze brand is different from a hot brand in that it affects the hair follicle, and causes the hair to grow back white. If you have more questions about branding, I’d be so happy to answer them!

This first branding was a blast. It was my horse client’s branding, so Bert came to ride a few of his horses that I’m selling so that I could get pictures and video for the website, and it’s always fun to have a mid-week day date with all of my boys. Wacey is old enough now to help a little, and had so much fun wrestling calves (while eating cookies simultaneously, of course, check out his right hand in the first picture) and being part of the crew. He kept saying “I a cowboy, mama! Like daddy!” and it was adorable. Buster enjoyed being cooed over by everyone there and trying his first cookie, and in true ranch kid fashion conked out about halfway through for a really good nap right there in the barn.

We have a lot more brandings on the docket, so we’re all excited to neighbor and get together with folks that we don’t see very often, or wish we saw more of! It’s fun to get up early, get everyone dressed and horses saddled, and drive out while the sun is rising with Yetis full of something hot, and the boys dozing in the backseat. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

You won’t see any pictures of the gather–we got there, and the boss asked if I could drive the cake truck to help guide the cows in because the way to the pens at his place can get tricky, and the cows sometimes miss the gate. I had no idea where I was going, and haven’t driven a stick in years but we got it done, and Bert assured me that when I was stopped trying to figure out where to go next (I didn’t see the open gate that was right there until the cows were pretty much on top of us) it just seemed like I was waiting for everyone to catch up.

Of course I was. I know what’s up. No confusion or mini-freakouts here. Not this gal.

My stellar cake wagoning aside, it’s Easter Week! We’re over here rejoicing about so many things, including warmer weather and rain in the forecast, dates with friends on the calendar, Easter festivities, and, of course, the wonderful sermons and messages that abound this week. This is a season of good news and hope and renewal for so many reasons, and kicking it off with a branding last Friday felt perfect.

PS: in the spirit of Easter, did you see the post about the boys’ Easter baskets? I can’t wait! Holidays are so magical and fun with little kids when they know what’s up. The anticipation and the excitement is contagious, and I’m so thankful for it.

Celebrate

The Boys’ Easter Baskets

love Easter, and I am so excited to put together the boys’ baskets this year! Last year was the first year that Wacey sort of “got it” with the egg-hunting and such, so this year I know we’re going to have a ball. Plus, Buster’s *just* old enough to understand being excited about things, so I can’t wait.

Now, as much as I wish our Easters were full of pastels and gingham, I have two little boys and we live on a ranch, so ours are a little more…trucky? Is that an adjective? Because that’s what they are. I’ve tried adorable bunny things and Wacey’s just not into it. Buster will have to suffer through one more year because he’s a baby, though. If I had a Christmas Story bunny suit to dress him up in, you’d better bet I’d do it.

Anyways. Here’s what I’m thinking for the boys’ baskets this year! I tend to not go too crazy, since both of them have birthdays close(ish) to Easter and really don’t need any more stuff, plus I don’t want to establish Easter as a major gift-giving holiday because that’s just not how we roll. I’m sticking to books, jammies, and a few little fun things, plus bunny crackers and grahams. I’m not putting candy in their baskets because they’ll get plenty of that egg-hunting!

easter graphic

Little Blue Truck Sticker Book: This will go in Wacey’s basket. We love Little Blue Truck, and Wace is all of a sudden into stickers, so this will be perfect for him to have and for me to regret buying as I pick stickers off of everything we own.

Little Blue Truck Beep Along Book: I’m putting this in Buster’s basket because it’s a board book that makes noise, but Wacey will likely be obsessed with it too. As mentioned above, LBT is one of our favorites. We have all the others (we’ve had several copies of the two main ones–we’ve read them so much I can recite them from memory, a skill of which I am not unproud).

Feed Bucket: Baskets don’t last five minutes with the wrecking balls that are my children, and we’ve somehow become short on “toy” feed buckets (my spidey senses tell me they’ve been promoted to non-toy feed buckets and have a new home in the barn, ahem) so two birds, meet one stone. And look at these colors! I didn’t even know they had pink or purple (white was all they had so that’s what I got), how cute would those be for Easter basket buckets? And I’m not going to say just for girls, because Wacey loves pink and purple is my dad’s favorite color, so…

Tractor Mac: This is our nod to a little more sophistication in the truck/tractor book world. Mac, like Little Blue, has books for all occasions, and they’re not annoying to read plus the illustrations are beautiful. Wacey really liked the one we got him for Christmas, so I’m starting a collection for the boys.

PJs: Of course, matching PJs! I know, they’re not bunny-themed, but Wacey is going to die when we sees that he and Buster have matching construction pajamas. Hey, springtime is construction season, right? Right. These are less an Easter thing and more of a y’all-have-grown-out-of-all-your-jammies thing, but we’ll just pretend it’s because I’m so festive because I don’t want to be that mom who’s like “Well, you were gonna get it anyway…”

Bunny Teether: Here’s Buster’s contender for the “something fun to do” category since all he does is chew on things (I mean, I can’t blame the guy, he’s got 4-6 teeth coming in at once)! This teether is gorgeous, and perfect since Buster seems to love chewing on anything that’s made out of wood. Like table legs, wooden spoons, sticks, wooden trains….

Sunglasses: Wace has been asking for a pair of blue sunglasses, and I’m allll about sun safety. These are polarized and less than ten bucks, so again, he was gonna get ’em anyway.

Wind-Up Chicks: They had some of these as part of a display at the feed store (not for sale though, darn it) and Wacey went nuts for them. So, silly, but so festive and cute and fun!

I’m also planning a trip to the Target dollar section for bubbles, fun little activities, and I’ve heard something about flower growing kits via the intrawebs. Will report back about whether flower-growing has made it to the rural Southwest.

 

Celebrate · On The Ranch

#NationalAgDay

wacey watching

Happy National Ag Day! We “celebrated” this morning by going out to watch Bert and the crew sort bulls. It’s still weird to just watch, but this is a horseback chore and not something that’s good for littles to help with–bulls can be a little sassy! Wace is getting to the age where he really sees what’s going on and asks a lot of questions, and Buster’s at the age where he really likes to eat dirt, so it’s a win-win for everyone, right?

Anyways, it’s National Ag Day, but I’m not going to tell you to #thankafarmer or #thankarancher because well, we don’t need to be thanked, in my opinion. It takes all kinds of kinds–farmers, ranchers, doctors, janitors, lawyers, zoo docents, linemen, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, waiters, hair stylists, mechanics, salespeople, veterinarians, politicians, bankers, chefs, thinkers, dreamers, and on and on–and everyone contributes something vital and valuable to create the fabric of our society.

I get the sentiment, though. I think what a lot of folks mean when they say “Thank your farmers today and every day!” is “See us.” Because we’re here, but sometimes we feel lost in the shuffle of social media and health crazes and bogus marketing. We typically live in rural areas, so we’re physically removed from most of you as well. Thus, the difference between farmers and ranchers and a lot of the folks in the occupations listed above is that we don’t actually come into contact with most of the people we serve.

So, I have this dream. I hope that someday, National Ag Day will be like Small Business Saturday (which is an amazing concept, ps), but instead of everyone flocking to local businesses (although farms and ranches really are local businesses…), farms and ranches can host visitors for the day, restaurants can do special farm-to-table menus with their suppliers in attendance, and schools can do a special day with guests to teach kids about agriculture. Of course, this doesn’t have to be just one day in March, but I think it’s a great starting point.

I hope that someday, National Ag Day can be not about thanking us, but engaging with us, meeting us, knowing us, because we really, really want to meet and know you, our customers. Because without people to buy our products, we couldn’t do what we do.

So, happy National Ag Day!

 

Buster · Celebrate · Family · Personal

Happy Birthday Buster!

As I’m writing this, it’s been almost one year to the minute exactly since Buster was born! I remember that day a year ago so well–it was fast but not too, and easy as far as births go, and the recovery was so darn quick that I still can’t believe it. And that’s sort of how things have gone since then! Fast but not too, and easy.

Our biggest little cowboy is the happiest, silliest chunk I’ve ever had the privilege to know, although I do know I’m biased. His checkup is next week, but at his sick visit a month ago he weighed in at 28 1/2 pounds, so I’m putting my best on a prime 29 for his current weight. He wears mostly 24 month clothes, but finding pants to fit around his thighs is an adventure. He loves food (except whole fruit and juice, oddly?) and eating is the best part of his day. He’s not walking or even standing unsupported yet, but we’re not fussed because this kid is just not ergonomically designed for vertical movement currently, but it will happen. But, he can speed crawl and pull himself up a cruise a little bit, and his fine motor skills are top-notch. Also hilariously, he doesn’t speak. He just smiles. He has words he can say, he just doesn’t, and that’s how he rolls. He also has the most expressive little face–he scrunches and puffs and crinkles and grins and oh, I can’t even.

He, like his brother, is a pretty great sleeper, but also like his brother gets multiple teeth at a time (he’s currently working on all four top teeth) so sleep is rougher when he’s teething and I don’t blame him. We never actually really sleep-trained him; the big kicker for us was to get him OverNites diapers and once he stopped peeing though his pajamas at night, he stopped waking up (imagine)! He goes to bed around 6:45-7, and wakes up between 6:45 and 7:45 usually. He likes to sit and squawk and play in his crib for a bit in the morning, and is the happiest darn baby when he wakes up. He still takes a morning nap from about 9:30-11:30, and an afternoon nap from 1:00-3 or 4, depending on the day.

He and Wace are best friends so far, unless Wace is taking his stuff or dragging Buster around by the feet of his pajamas. They sit and make each other howl with laughter in the car and it’s even more hilarious because they laugh exactly the same, and from the front seat it’s impossible to tell who is actually laughing! He loves to play with everything, but especially blocks, doors, bigger trucks, books, and bead mazes. His favorite foods are spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches, smoothies and fruit pouches (but no solid fruit?), quesedillas, chicken noodle soup, turkey, cheese–anything that’s  not sweet (besides ice cream and cake), mainly, he doesn’t discriminate! Oh and no carrots. Hates those things. Again–cooked carrots. Don’t blame him.

He’s such a joy. His bad moods are always hunger- or sleep-induced, and he’s so easy going. He’s still a major snuggler, and loves to be carried around. He will let any human every carry him, and is such a good sport when Wacey wrestles him.

Buster Jacob, I can’t imagine our family without you, and I can’t wait to see what sort of adventures we get up to this year!!1 Buster in cowboy hat2 swaddled buster3 buster in stroller4 mirror selfie5 buster carseat6 dino onesie7 buster branding wrap8 flapping9 bandana91 both boys branding92 cactus blanket95 rolls911 bronc riding bub922 brother kisses94 cowboy hat9111 stroller kisses93333 with daddy933 asleep at the wheel966 happy kid9666 toy car944 brother friends9222 fat rolls selfie96 rolls97 daddy smush98 bathtub fat rolls93 hugs977 lashes9777 blue eyeesz1halloweenz2feeding bubbaz3bathtunz4shoez5thanksgivingz6 mirror slefie oso9333 bed snuggles20180112_181650(0)20180214_124621(0)IMG_20180122_161943_541IMG_20180127_140310_628IMG_20180214_220025_736JohnstonFamily2018-17JohnstonFamily2018-35JohnstonFamily2018-32

Celebrate · Day in the Life · Family

Photo Every Hour: The Johnstons Go To Town

Y’all, it’s been a hot minute. I’ve acquired some new projects (more soon) and my consistency in scheduling in all areas of my life has really gone to the dogs and if those dogs are anything like my yelping, jumping, cow-chasing pack of pups, it’s not pretty. But, I think we’re getting into a groove a little bit which is exciting, and once I get everything figured out and get the go-ahead to share, I’ll let y’all know what’s going on!

Yesterday, we took the boys to town to kick off Buster’s first birthday week! It’s been a long time since all four of us were in town together–I usually go alone with the boys to run errands during the week–and it was such a great day. And not just because I got fancy coffee and didn’t have to cook a lick unless you count cutting peanut butter sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters as cooking. In which case, hold my beer and call me Emeril. But really my water, because if I drink beer I fall asleep because #babies.

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Awake. And, I mean, everyone come see how good I look. Let me tell you what–springing forward isn’t my fave; it’s supposed to be light in the morning, after all! But awake, hair still wet from the night before, lookin’ goooood. (Side note: I just learned the trick of letting your hair sit with conditioner on under a shower cap for a bit in the shower, and then twisting it up into a tight Trunchbull knot overnight to dry it in the morning and guys, it has made my life 100 times easier on days that I need to fix my hair which are going to be more frequent soon. All that conditioner soaking in overnight and airdrying a bit cuts down on dryness and frizz and dry time so much. It’s a miracle if your hair, like mine, resembles something closer to Mufasa, the Beast, or a Brillo pad than an actual head of human hair.)

7am
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We’re all in the car, fixed up and heading into town! It’s 90 miles sooooo basically tiny road trip.8 am
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Selfie in the Starbucks mirror because it was really busy and I didn’t want to get caught taking selfies and I was too busy inhaling my coffee the moment I got it. Bert got a caramel latte, ps, which makes me giggle to no end since other than his few cl’s a year, he drinks his coffee blacker than tar. Also, the guy who turned him on to caramel lattes is the roughest, toughest, whiskey drinking-est cowboy I know, which makes my heart so darn glad. 9am
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We went to this cute little park/zoo in Roswell, and the boys loved it. It was almost empty since it was a little chilly by southeastern New Mexico standards, and it was so fun to stroll around with coffee watching Wacey go nuts over the animals and Buster go nuts over Wacey going nuts. It’s not a big zoo, and mostly has native animals like bobcats and owls and pronghorn, but he loved seeing animals up close that he usually only sees running (or flying) away while we’re caking cows or something.
10 am11am1
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Another thing at the zoo? My dream pet. Seriously, sign me up for alllll the mini horses. 11am

|twelve|
Time for foooooood. Also known as Buster’s very favorite part of every day. We’ve learned we have to pace him or else he overeats and throws up spectacularly, so we make sure to give him pre-lunch so he doesn’t double-fist real lunch.
1pm
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Food was inhaled and was delicious, although we really miss our favorite Mexican restaurant in Colorado–the irony is rich that we haven’t found anything quite as good 200 miles from actual Mexico.1 pm

|two|
I finally broke down and got a Sam’s membership–I’m sort of a diehard Costco devotee, but there isn’t one near us, and there are certain things that are so much more affordable when they’re bought in massive quantities (hi, 400 pounds of berries) and also make it a little easier to get staples once a month. We tried the online order and pick up, which worked out pretty well, and I’ll definitely use that option again. It was nice to not have to load the boys in the cart and spend an hour or more strolling around (and going way over budget because I buy all.the.things). I ordered mostly fresh stuff this time–chicken tenderloins, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, frozen fruit for smoothies, yogurt, pesto because my basil plant died, lunch meat, and six loaves of bread because my children are obsessed with peanut butter sandwiches.

We also made a stop to one of my very favorite places (Tractor Supply) because when ranchers go to the Big City they can’t stop at just one place. We grabbed dog food for our canine gang, buckets for the boys’ Easter baskets because I haven’t met a basket that isn’t destroyed or at least maimed in under ten minutes by my tiny frat bros, and a visit to the very best clearance aisle I’ve ever seen. I snagged matching jammies, a little birthday present for Buster, and got started on Christmas because when in Rome, buy Christmas gifts when they’re on massive sale  (if you know the Tractor Mac books, I found a big, all-metal model red Mac-y Farmall tractor on sale for $15 haaaaay and had to stop myself from buying all three that they had plus a giant combine but we’re not farmers soooo…)
2pm|three|
I have no picture of three because we were just driving home, again, so just picture the first car selfie but with two sleeping babes in the back and two worn out parents in the front. If we won the Powerball you’d better bet we’d hire a driver. Or a helicopter. Both. We’d get both.

|four|
Home again home again. The boys did their thing while I cleaned out the fridge (ew) and put up groceries and Bert fed horses and dogs. I’ll tell you what, we’re in a sweet spot where both boys can play together or separately for short spaces of time, and it’s a gamechanger. For awhile, it felt like I couldn’t do anything around the house when both boys were awake. It’s so fun to see what they like to do–Wacey bounces around, but Buster’s favorite place is the mudroom where all of the bigger trucks are.4pm 24pm

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More Sunday evening shenanigans! And if you’re wondering why Wace is sitting on our dining room table playing with his train, it’s not because we’ve now reached that level of Country where we’re into feet on the table, but because Buster is a very efficient destroyer of train tracks and so we have to prevent him King Kong-ing his big brother’s trains for obvious reasons.5pm5pm 11
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Informal dinner. We usually all sit down at the dining room table and have dinner at the same time, but that obvs didn’t happen (#keepinitreal). The boys were a little cranky from the weird schedule (check out the bags under Buster’s eyes), and Bert and I were both still full of deee-licious Mexican, so we turned on Lonesome Dove and let the boys eat whenever.6pm 16pm 2.
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Buster went to bed at 6:45 or so, and Wace and I went to read books not long after. Once the boys were both in bed and settled, I made a smoothie, Bert made a sandwich, and we sat down for some good old Netflix.
7pm 17pm 2
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Netflixing and working on some horse registrations for a client. We know how to party.8pm

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A book and bed. Town days always wipe us out!9pm