let's visit · On The Ranch · Personal

Questions From Suburban Middle-Schoolers

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It’s National Ag Week! A lot of this week is sharing more about what we do, and answering questions (even more than usual) and really spotlighting agriculture in the US. I’ve been majorly under the weather for a couple of weeks, but I’m glad to say that I’m starting to feel a bit better and so I wanted to share something really fun I got to be a part of!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to Skype in with two classes of middle school students who are taught by my 7th grade science teacher. One class was even in the same classroom where I learned about science in 7th grade! They are learning about the environment and photosynthesis and genes, and my teacher asked if I would talk a little bit about cows and the environment, and it was SO fun.

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up smack in the middle of suburban Denver. I could see a mall from my bedroom window (specifically Sears at Park Meadows Mall, if you’re familiar with Colorado.) I didn’t really see many cows until I was 21–other than weekends on a family friend’s ranch when I was young–and have no family members involved in agriculture. Whenever I get a chance to share about ag with anyone, and especially kids in town, especially kids from my own hometown, I get really, really excited. It’s so fun, and such a great experience. I thought I’d share some of the questions I got, because they were fantastic.

What would happen if we got rid of all the cows?
It would be bad. Rangelands evolved alongside grazing animals, and so without (well-managed) grazing, they would become unhealthy. Well-managed rangelands are more productive, healthier, and sequester more carbon. We’d likely have something similar to a dust bowl if we were to get rid of cattle. Not to mention, we would have a hard time meeting micronutrient requirements and protecting our current rangeland/open space from development.

Would it be a good idea for everyone to get a couple of cows?
Honestly? Probably not. Cows take up a lot of room, require a lot to eat and drink, and most people don’t have enough room to support a cow or two. Plus, they are really big, so can get to be expensive to feed and take care of. And, like all animals, cattle can require specialized care. But, that’s not to say that if you want to get some cows that you can’t have any! If you have the room, and learn how to take care of them, then go get you some cows. The average herd size in the US is 40, after all, so there are lots of people with a few cows. If you don’t have room for cows, though, maybe backyard chickens? Chickens can help with food waste, are kind of silly, and can be a fun way to learn more about raising animals!

Do cows make forest fires worse?
Nope! Cattle can actually help mitigate wildfire risk by grazing in forests and helping get rid of some of the dry matter and litter on the ground that can be a major fire hazard. Much of the increase in forest fires, in my opinion, is due to mismanagement of forests. There are too many trees too close together, lots of deadfall, too much dry matter, too much to burn. Cattle can help get rid of some of that stuff that can burn, and at least help fires be less intense!

How do cows stay warm when it’s really cold?
First of all, most cows suited to cold climates grow big fuzzy coats in the winter, so that definitely helps! It’s like a winter coat. Otherwise, we feed them extra in the cold since cows keep warm by eating more, and if it’s snowy or wet, we lay down hay, straw, or other bedding to help provide a barrier between them and the cold, wet ground. If it’s calving season, if it’s possible sometimes we’ll try to bring cows in to the barn or pens before they calve to help keep them warmer and drier, and if a calf gets too cold we’ll warm it up by putting it in the pickup, or in the barn, or in the laundry room, or wherever until it’s warm enough to go back to its mom.

How long can cows live in the cold?
A long, long time. All winter! We used to live in a place where it was so snowy we had to feed hay from October-April, and it regularly got to sixty below in the winter. We never once lost a cow to cold, but we did feed a lot of hay, and checked cows constantly in calving season, because baby calves are at the highest risk to freeze.

Is methane like pollution?
Methane isn’t like pollution in the sense of smog or exhaust. But it is a form of pollution, for sure! Cows aren’t the only (or the biggest) source of methane, though. Oil & gas production, landfills, and wetlands are also sources of methane.

My family lives near a place with cows. Their pasture is very boggy, and the water doesn’t look very clean. Is this bad for the cows?
Probably not, as long as they aren’t constantly hanging out in standing water. If cows’ feet stay too wet too long, they can get infections (foot rot). And, most pasture water is not going to look very clean, because it’s probably muddy and kind of icky, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad for the cows. Just because something doesn’t look clean doesn’t mean it’s dirty, you know?

My neighbors have some cows and some goats, but the cows ate all the grass so now the goats don’t have any to eat. What can they do?
(I’ll admit this question took me a bit by surprise, and I tried really, really hard to be tactful!) Well, the honest answer is to either a) get rid of some or all of the animals, or b) get more land. This is a pretty standard overgrazing situation: too many animals, not enough grass. So either you get rid of some animals or get more grass. You could lock them all in a pen and feed them hay, but that’s a short-term, expensive band-aid. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to regenerate overgrazed pastures, and why it’s not a good idea to just put a bunch of animals on some grass without knowing how many animals it can support and in what conditions. We saw a lot of this on the 40-acre ranchettes around where we lived in Colorado, especially with horses, and it frustrates me quite a bit.

How did you know you wanted to be a rancher instead of a lawyer? [I originally wanted to go to law school following undergrad–I even started studying for the LSAT!] 
I felt it in my heart. I just knew. It made me happier than studying law or my law internship (although that was so fun), and I am more suited to this lifestyle in most ways.

Can you take the GMOs out of milk?
Well, there aren’t GMO cows, and there is no GMO milk, so no, because there aren’t GMOs in the milk. If a dairy cow eats, say, some GMO alfalfa, those genes aren’t going to come out in the milk. She is going to metabolize that alfalfa just like she would any other foodstuff, and that energy is going to help her make milk. That being said, organic milk is milk from cows who were not fed any GMO feed, if that is something that concerns you. However (you knew this was coming), GMOs have been proven safe time and time again!

Are cows and horses similar?
Well, they both have four legs and eat grass, but that’s about it! Cows and horses are incredibly different, but play complementary roles on the ranch: horses help us work and move and care for our cattle more effectively, and the cow work helps keep the horses in shape and their minds sharp. Plus, it makes everything more fun!

let's visit · On The Ranch · Personal

Kindness in Beef Advocacy

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Do you ever have something you want to talk about, that stays on your heart and your brain for days, for weeks, maybe longer, but you never pull the trigger on hitting that “publish” button because you know that some people may not like what you have to say?

Today, I’m hitting publish (well, obviously, because you’re reading this). And, I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous!

Most of my advocacy happens in real life, or via interviews, or written articles, or on phone calls. I’m working on stepping up my game on social media because social media is just not where I shine, nor is it where I’m comfortable, but I know it’s a great way to help lots of people learn more about ag. Given recent happenings (and the current political climate, etc), I know that social media needs more kindness, and I want to be part of that.

I know that the majority of beef advocates truly want to help, want to answer questions honestly, truthfully, and kindly. Truly want to share, and invite in, and befriend, and just be stand-up people sharing their love and knowledge of what they do.

But there are others that enter this arena with a chip on their shoulder, with an idea that people are beholden to farmers and ranchers for feeding them, with a point to prove and not a kind word in their arsenal. That’s not advocacy. That’s being a bully. Yelling at people, calling them names, telling them they are ignorant for the questions they ask and the concerns they have about agriculture is not okay.

Listen, I know that people can be mean. I have been on the receiving end of some real doozies both in person and online, and once in front of a room full of hundreds of people. I get it. It chaps your butt, it gets your dander up, it makes you want to run for the hills or just get real mad. I’m not immune to wanting to hit someone on the head with a skillet. But, guess what: when people are being really, truly nasty, or you’re in a dead-end conversation, it’s okay to say “agree to disagree, thank you for commenting, have a nice day!” and stroll right on out of that conversation that is going nowhere. I’ve done that, too.

Most people aren’t that way. Most people are genuinely wanting to learn, wanting answers to their questions, and want to talk to someone who won’t treat them like they are dumb because they aren’t experts in the matters of cow digestion or GMOs. I grew up in town. I didn’t get involved with cattle until I was 21 years old. I’ve been the person who has no clue. I’m here on the ranch living this life and being a beef advocate because people helped, and spoke, and listened, and took the time to show me things and answer all my questions…and while I really believe there is no such thing as a dumb question, some of my questions got reeeeallllllll close. I’m here because people met me where I was, and never made me feel stupid. I guarantee it would have been a lot harder to keep going if folks had been unkind. Maybe I wouldn’t have. I don’t know.

Please be kind. Be a good experience. Be a helper, a connector, a light. Our message is heard so much better when it’s delivered kindly.

I also feel compelled to say this: be kind for yourself. I have seen some folks who do have a heart for ag, who have a platform, who are proud of what they do and are frustrated that writers, bloggers, politicians, and activists so often get our story (and the actual facts) wrong, but whose passion and knowledge is moot because of the way in which they deliver their message. It becomes overshadowed by the vitriol, and more’s the pity, because we need all the good help we can get.

Kindness doesn’t mean you’re selling your soul or being a doormat. It doesn’t mean you can’t stand your ground, or stand up for what’s right. It just means keeping your manners and integrity about you, and being tactful.

If you want to see how this works in real life, check out Terryn’s most recent post on FFB HERE and Brandi’s letter to Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez HERE.

On The Ranch

The Pokey Little Puppy

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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!

 

 

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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.
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  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.
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  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.