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!