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.
let's visit · Personal

What I Learned When I Met USFRA in St. Louis

st louisimage source because I always forget to take decent pictures

I’m writing this sitting outside of the Starbucks at gate E18 in the St. Louis airport. It’s 6:15 in the morning, I’ve been up for about two hours, and an espresso frap has never tasted so good!

I’ve spent the last few days in St. Louis with the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance in training to become a Sustainability Officer, and I think I might sleep for a week when I get home (okay, except not because Bert’s been flying solo and that would be a very unkind thing to do to him) because I don’t think I’ve had this level of sustained excitement and human interaction since our wedding!
20180412_084543

I’ll talk more about what I’ll be doing as a Sustainability Officer in a future post, but while it’s still fresh, I wanted to express a few things I’m taking away with me from these past few days.

  1. We are all connected. Farmers, ranchers, food companies, consumers, and on and on. Sometimes we can get stuck in our own little industries, or feel like what we produce is very different from what someone else is doing, but that’s not the case. We’re all connected, and we should behave as such. I naively (stupidly?) thought that there’s no way I could share much with a soy farmer or even a dairy farmer outside of the very basic things, but oh how wrong I was.
  2. Sustainability is really, really complicated. It involves not only the practices on the ground on the farm or ranch, but it’s also being incorporated into marketing and business plans, and is a key part in consumers’ perceptions of our products and businesses, and consumers have high expectations for all of us in this area.
  3. We need to do better sharing our stories, but more importantly, we need to do better sharing our stories effectively, and remembering that the way we share our stories and the kind of information we provide changes depending on our audience. I’m putting together (another) future post about some things that resonate with certain audiences and other things that don’t–I was really surprised about some of these.
  4. We can always do better.
  5. We all have a stake in this. Everyone’s opinion has value. If you are reading this post, you have a voice in this conversation!
  6. This conversation is not going to be over any time soon. I hear a lot of “Sustainability is just a buzzword. Why are we still talking about this?” And maybe it was a buzzword at one time, but now it’s becoming a (hard to define but very real) thing that is taken into consideration all the way from farm to fork (to landfill/compost heap/the toy bin in your kid’s room where they stash weird little trash treasures). If we ignore it, we’ll get left behind and someone else will take our place or be our voice and we know that’s no good.

So. If you’re reading this, I don’t care who you are or how you feel about agriculture. I want to hear what you have to say because it’s important. Comment with how you feel about sustainability, or what you want to add to the conversation. Ask a question, tell me what you’re doing on your farm or ranch, let me know what you think is important for me to know!

 

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

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