On The Ranch

The Pokey Little Puppy

Poke 1Poke 2bert and pokepoke3Buster and Pokepoke and horsecurled up poke

We’ve got a new buddy!

This is Poke, like Cowpoke, and he’s so freakin’ cute!

He was mostly a surprise that Bert showed up with yesterday evening, but not completely a surprise because I knew he was hoping to find a decent pup in the next while since one of his working dogs died last week, and his remaining working dog doesn’t love to work alone. A family friend who lives down the road had a litter recently, and gave Bert a pup to replace the dog he buried last week.

(He actually tried to give Bert two, but we currently have a One Puppy at a Time rule.)

Pokey is half Black Mouth Cur, half Kelpie/McNab/Collie, and oh my gosh you guys he’s so sweet. He loves Buster so much and trooped around with us while we took care of horses and picked up hay this morning. He’s still a little wary of us–and I absolutely don’t blame him, we’re kind of a rowdy bunch–but he’s settling in and is currently passed out on the porch so I’d say things are fine.

He will be a working dog eventually, and does sleep in the barn, but for now he’s a squishy, floppy-eared little puppy that gets to play with us and ride around with Bert. I can’t get over his rolls and puppy-dog eyes and I’m 100% happy to hold him while we’re in the truck since he gets carsick still and holding him helps and also I don’t have to open gates.

Happy Monday! Happy pre-Fourth! We’re rolling off of a great weekend full of an amazing first birthday party for the sweetest little girl, the most peaceful, idyllic ride home with a Starbucks and a podcast (it’s the little things, y’all) and of course a new pup and a lazy day at home. We’re ready for this week of BBQ and rodeo and (hopefully, fire ban and weather permitting) some fireworks!

Also: I’m writing this on Sunday and scheduling this post. I feel like a boss because two weeks ago writing one blog post felt impossible, not to mention actually getting one done and scheduling it. Again, we’re focusing on the little things around here!

God bless America, and I hope you don’t get BBQ on your white t-shirt.

Family · On The Ranch

A Family Affair

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Do you remember going with your parents on “Take Your Kid to Work Day,” or when you had a day off from school? I grew up in the city–Denver–and remember those days so well! I remember camping out under the conference room table at my mom’s office, eating snacks, or playing dolls and listening to CCR with my dad in his office while he worked.

When we bring our kids to work, they may not get fun snacks in a conference room table fort, or get to have their own desk to “work” on, but they have a ball and we’re lucky that on a ranch, there’s a whole lot of “Take Your Kid to Work Days!”

A couple of weekends ago, we preg-checked our fall-calving cows (to see who was pregnant and who was not) and it was so  fun. I didn’t really help, to be sure–the boys and I showed up late (but can you blame us, the vet was there at 6:15!) and mostly just went because we just love working cattle. The boss’ whole family was there, too, with some of the neighbors and the owners, so we had 70+ years between the oldest (the owner) and the youngest (Buster).

The kids were pushing the cows from the tub to the chute, the neighbors were pushing the cows up the alley to the tub, the vet was doing his thing, Bert was running the chute, the owner and his wife were vaccinating and taking care of the records, the boss was checking teeth*, and his wife was making sure the kids were actually helping, and taking over when they needed a hand. I was taking pictures, offering encouragement and bad jokes, and we were all holding Buster, haha.

The kids only hit each other in the face with the flags a couple of times, one of the girls got peed on by a cow but only a little bit, the owner’s wife made the most delicious snickerdoodles, and Buster didn’t eat too much dirt or dirt-like substances, so we’ll count it as a major success.

Afterwards, everyone got wet (or downright soaked) putting horses in trailers and packing up supplies, but we were so grateful for the rain that not a soul complained, and it made lunch together a little festive. I love that we get to spend time together, and that it’s always a family affair when it comes to this ranching gig.

Except when it’s reaaaaalllll hot outside. Then I’m busy. With something inside. I won’t always have the excuse of “it’s too hot for the baby!” but you’d better bet I’m going to use it while I can.

*as cattle get older, their teeth can get worn down or fall out altogether, and that can make it hard for them to eat, so we check teeth to make sure they are living their best life. Plus, our country is so rocky that their teeth can wear down faster!

 

 

Home · On The Ranch · Personal

Lists Are My Jam. Like Space Jam, But Hipper.

Happy Monday! And happy late Cinco de Mayo! And Derby Day! We spent our weekend caking cows, eating pico de gallo, and getting ready for another crazy week–someday we’ll have fun social things to share here, but this weekend was more about getting ahead for this week, which in real life is sometimes necessary! I’m going to do another list, because that’s the easiest way to keep organized these days.

Wacey at branding 2moving cows back

  1. Bert’s finished branding calves here! I love branding season, y’all know that, but it’s been weeks of really early mornings and frantic days, so it feels satisfying to close the books on this season. We have a good friend who is branding across the way this coming week, and then we’ll be pretty close to being done! I’m fixing lunch for the crews next week (lasagna + breadsticks and enchiladas), and I’m excited about making (okay, mostly eating) dessert #priorities.
  2. The press release for the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Council of Sustainability Officers was released, and like I’ve said all over everywhere, I’m so excited, so grateful, and geeking out every five minutes because gosh, sustainability and telling the story of ag is my jam. I promise I’ll stop mentioning it every day eventually.
  3. I ordered these shoes on Saturday and I’m so excited. I need a pair of sneaks to just wear around that aren’t straight-up running shoes but allow for running, you know what I mean? Just file under #momoftoddlers. I’ve had my eye on a pair of New Balances (my old ones mysteriously disappeared a couple of moves ago apparently?) and these are less than $40. Come on. I want all of them. Also pink. Also I may have ordered gray ones too.
    dusty rose new balance
  4. Sneaks-related: I started week 3 of my first round of BBG this morning and omg jump squats and burpees have arrived and I’ve never felt so earthbound in my life. How do kids jump around all the time? Did I do that? Why did I stop? Kids: never stop jumping. One day, you’ll be trying to exercise when you’re 29 and you will thank me. Actually, you won’t be trying to exercise, you will be exercising, because your body never forgot how to jump. What can I say except you’re welcome?
  5. I’m hooked on Louise Penny Inspector Gamache books. The best part? The library has almost all of them on Kindle so that I don’t even have to drive 25 miles to get the newest one! I’m picturing sitting on the porch this summer with something delicious and the aforementioned pico, reading away. I love a good whodunit a la Dame Christie and ole Sherlock, and these books being set in French-speaking Canada make me feel like I’m using the French I studied so hard to become fluent in and use precisely once a year when we lose the English directions to something.
  6. Speaking of porches: we’re getting a new one! Actually, we’re getting a whole new house! That’s right, folks: the Johnstons are moving again. Yep. I could write a whole post about it, and maybe I will, but suffice it to say that three times in less than a year is basically three too many, and I hope this is the last time for a long, long while. We’re staying in the area, but going to a different ranch. I won’t lie though: I’m way excited about the new house. It’s got a lot more windows and a lot more living space, two things I love in a house that we don’t have in our current one.
  7. Speaking of speaking of porches, I stumbled across this recipe via Grace’s blog, and tell me it doesn’t look amazing! Perfect porch-sitting-with-friends drink. Now I just need chairs for the porch.
    marg
  8. Mother’s Day is on Sunday. I have nothing planned, because we’ll be in a car on our way to Denver. I’m thinking we’ll make a stop to scoop up some fresh flowers on the way for our mamas, at the very least! This year is the year of late gifts, apparently.
  9. Can I complain for a minute? K thanks. We’re going full stream of consciousness here. Why are boys’ shorts so long? I mean, I don’t want my children to wear booty shorts, but I would like their shorts to be not Spanky pants. (Spanky from the movie version, ps.)
  10. Over the weekend, we watched The Shape of Water. I can’t explain why, but I actually liked it. I mean, it was weird. But I loved how well done it was! Bert fell asleep about halfway through but I was riveted. It’s definitely not family-friendly, though, what with some nudity and an unsuccessful finger reattachment surgery and some pretty intense violence and the fact that the protagonist falls in love with a humanoid amphibian. Juuuuust so you know.
Family · On The Ranch · Personal

Lately, Otherwise Entitled “Life is Crazy, It’s Beef Month, and I’m Slightly Obsessed with my Children.”

So, apparently I took an unintentional break from blogging. For awhile, I think things are going to be a little sporadic than I’d like round these here parts, but you never know, I might find some as-yet-undiscovered reserve of energy and time management and just get allll the things done! I’m trying to balance everything, and this is truly one of my favorite spaces, but when time gets short it’s one of the first things to go because time is usually short due to things that can’t go. I have faith that I’ll be back on a good schedule in a month or so! Until then, some things!

  1. First of all, Happy May! It’s Beef Month, so I hope I can get all my ducks (cows?) in a row and actually plan content for this month because I love May and I love beef and I love you so I want to combine all those things. But see #10 for why I might slack major.beef brockle cow
  2. So much cooking! We’re branding calves, which means feeding hungry cowboys, which means in the last week I’ve cooked three lunches for 15+. It may  not sound like a big deal, but having a full-blown lunch done (plus house picked up and tables clean and floors cleanish because #toddlers) by 10:30-11 is tough. But, we’re done branding Bert’s calves, so I don’t think I need to cook until next week when I’m fixing lunch for a neighbor’s branding. I enjoy it, but it takes up a lot of time.
  3. Sustainability! I have SO much amazing stuff to share with y’all, I’m honestly just having a hard time organizing it all. We’ll get there, though. I’d like to do a series about it, maybe starting at the end of May when things die down a little. Here is the link to the page about my position as a Sustainability Officer with the U.S. Farmer’s and Rancher’s Alliance!
  4. We have a pacifier-free toddler! Wacey has been in love with his Wubbanubs since the moment he was born, and we were stalling on getting him weaned from them because we were pretty sure it would be tough since transitions–formula to milk, bottle to cup, crib to bed, etc–have been hard for him, but nope. We started kind of gradually, first by implementing the “No wubs at any time except sleep time” rule, then mysteriously losing one (he had two, and we legit lost one. I thought we just sneakily left it in the truck but nope, that monkey’s gone), and talking about how it’s going to be time to get rid of them soon, but we were still stalling for sure.

    On Monday evening, we were playing and while Wacey had his head thrown back in laughter from a tickle attack, Bert said (quietly to me) “Yikes, his teeth are pretty bad.” And yes, y’all, they are. You can definitely tell that he’s a pacifier kid, and that’s okay, and I know his teeth will move back, but it’s pretty dramatic and I don’t want to set him up for any dental problems in the future, so we decided right then that it was time. We cut the pacifier off his last remaining Wubbanub, talked a little bit more about it, and that was that. He had a hard time falling asleep the first night, and wanted to keep the animal part of the wub with him, but since then it’s been smooth sailing. He’s talked about it a little bit, mainly in the context of Buster’s being okay to have a wub since he’s still a baby, but it seems like a nonissue and I’m so gosh darn proud of that kid.

    Next up: potty training because he really, really wants to go to preschool in the fall (I suspect because he thinks all school buses are “magical” and he’s obsessed with other kids) and he’s required to be potty trained for that (which is annoying, but I do get it). Wow. Apparently I had a lot to say about that.

  5. I started BBG last week, and guys? I kind of love it. I don’t love the half hour that I’m doing it, but I love how hard it is and how much it’s making me work in just a short period of time. Three workouts in and I’m so sore I can barely move, and it’s amazing. I’m not doing it to lose weight, really, but more to get some muscle tone back. Babies have made me soft and I want to feel strong again and feel good in my body. I’ve tried other workout programs in the past, but I think this is going to be the one that sticks because it’s so hard. Three days a week is about all I can manage for formalized workouts (I walk most of the other days, but I need weights with my “cardio” #notarunner). I’ve got the app and it’s great! It’s 12 weeks, so my goal is to stick with it for 12 weeks and then take progress photos and re-assess. I can’t wait to see how it goes!
  6. I’m obsessed with–I guess they’re called snapbacks now? Lord help me I’m getting unhip in a hurry. Anyways, they fit my big ole noggin better than a regular ballcap, and I want 500 of them to wear when I can’t be bothered (or it’s too windy) to fix my hair which–let’s face it–is nine out of ten days. So I ordered this baby, and I love it. Next on the wishlist: this cheetah numbermmb hat
  7. Every now and then there’s a day that works out way better than I planned, and we had that day on Friday. We had to drive to Ruidoso to the MVD and I wanted to get there at 8am when they opened because last time we had to wait for nearly four hours and it’s the only place to get a VIN inspection and woof. Anyways, we got it done and were left with way more time to kill than I thought. So, I stuck Bub in the stroller, and Wacey and I pushed him around midtown Ruidoso which is pretty adorable. We ate delicious multicolored ice cream, did a little shopping, and let every lady ever hold Buster and shake Wacey’s hand because how can you not? We didn’t step foot in a grocery store (only because Bert and I had a date night planned for the very next night so I knew I’d run into the store then ha) and just toodled around and it was lovely.
    ice cream
  8. I needed a few new items of more professional clothing for my upcoming USFRA trip to Vancouver, and I ordered this beautiful top to wear with skinny slacks (or nice jeans if it’s a little more casual) and heels and it’s perfect.peach embroidered top
  9. Buster still isn’t walking, but let me tell you what: tiny fat boyfriend is an indestructible climber and general wrecking ball. He is so much more wild and fearless than Wacey is–I think he’s just waiting on walking because he knows he’s going to give us a major run for our money once he’s vertically mobile. I know I already shared this picture on social media but can you blame me for posting it again??Buster the beautiful Ralph Lauren model
  10. I have some big stinkin’ news to share later this week (NO I am not pregnant), so stay tuned for that little piece of oh-so-exciting information. We need to inform all interested parties before I spill the beans on social media, ya feel?
  11. Another thing I’m excited for? This.
On The Ranch · Personal

Scrunch Faces and Springtime

Buster scrunch editeswacey editedboys playingbrandingWace at parkbubDSC_0497helpingHi, world’s worst blogger here.

Well, not the worst, but certainly not the best documenter. I didn’t get a single picture of the boys on Easter! Not a single one. I got great video of the first egg hunt, but I didn’t get any pictures of us all spiffed up or the boys in their matching outfits so chalk that one up to a major fail and we’ll just have to do a dramatic re-enactment.

Anyways. Easter was great. We kicked it off by having no power the night before, which actually turned out to be fun, after I robbed all of the remotes of their batteries because we didn’t have any in the flashlights. Which is something I need to remedy ASAP because power outages are fairly routine out in the sticks. It was almost business as usual, just without all the electronic noise (has our fridge always been that loud?) and, well, electricity. We have a gas range, so I could cook, and our water is gravity-fed from a storage tank up on a hill so we had plenty of water, just not a ton of water pressure. It’s actually pretty handy! It was so dark, and so, so quiet and very peaceful.

It also means we showed up to an Easter party with chips and salsa from the store because I didn’t have an oven to bake anything in like I’d planned (our stove is electric start but you can light the range burners with a lighter, not so with the oven!) but you know, it worked out juuust fine.

Sunday morning we gave the boys their baskets, Wacey egg-hunted to his heart’s content, and we had a wonderful morning together before getting all fixed up and heading to a friend’s house (70 miles away, haha. #Rurallife). There were twelve kids total (although three of them are older so they’re more like really fun, energetic adults with beautiful skin), tons of food, lots of our favorite people that we’ve met here so far, and it felt so nice to be included and watch our boys be loved on by so many people. Cue the waterworks! It was really, really great. We went to bed super late, the boys slept in till 8 Monday morning, and the angels sung on high.

I am really starting to enjoy Easter and the message of hope and renewal it brings! I listen to Easter sermons allll year long and I’m finally getting it.

Other highlights from the Week Without Social Media:
I’m finally winning the war on the mice in my kitchen. Mice are just a fact of life on a ranch, but these guys were like mutants. They got into Wacey’s juice bags, all of the drawers, and one even ate itself free from a glue trap. Needless to say, we broke out the old school traps and caught four in less than 48 hours.

Wacey is talking up a storm and I. LOVE. IT. I was watching videos from Easter last year, and he didn’t have many words–mostly “Mo mo!” for “more” and it’s the biggest night-and-day difference. He talked a little later–around 2 1/2–and we love hearing what he has to say. I also love that when other mamas say “Oh my gosh, he speaks so well, when did that happen? My (son or daughter) still doesn’t talk!” I can reassure them that everything happens in its own time, and that even if a kid is “later” by whatever stupid standard someone came up with, he’ll probably be just fine!

I made this and it was delicious, although I think you could probably omit some of the heavy cream and butter and still have a heavenly dinner. Bert even asked if I could put it on the meal plan again this month, which is huge considering he really doesn’t like “fruit and meat together.”

Buster still isn’t walking (and no one is surprised or fussed by this, ps) but he has really perfected the major scrunch face and big ole cheesy grin, and has started to say “Mama” so I’ll take it and be so happy. I’m also convinced he tried to say “Hi everybody!” yesterday, buuuut I suppose it might be more of a gleba situation.

It’s branding season for the reals, which you know if you follow me on Insta, of course! Bert is gathering cattle as we speak! I love spring. Our neighbor (and the mother of the children with whom Wacey is currently obsessed) wrote a great blog post about this season that we all love, check it out!

Exciting stuff coming next week–I’ve been waiting for weeks to let y’all in on something I’m super excited for, but the folks in charge keep delaying the public announcement, but they won’t be able to after next week! So. Stay tuned! You may not be as thrilled as I am, but maybe some of my over-the-top excitement will rub off on you and you won’t have to drink so much caffeine. Or something.

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 · 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!