Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites: Podcast Edition


This Friday Favorites is brought to you by a rough week. We started off so strong…great birthday party for Wace, I’ve got a new client, and Valentine’s Day was almost great…and then.

It’s been rough nationally because of what’s in the news, and it’s been a little rough personally because Buster is sick, and that’s meant a lot of frustration and driving many miles trying to get him what he needs to get well, and trying to prevent Wacey from getting as sick, too.

(He’s perfectly fine, he just has bronchiolitis, and his oxygen levels were a little low yesterday, but he’s already improved enormous amounts with the medicine he’s been given, and we’re hopeful that he’ll be healthy soon and that Wacey won’t get any worse. On a brighter note, all of these 200-mile-round-trip drives mean more Starbucks for me, right?)

I’m not going to comment much on the state of the world. I had a post written about it, but I’m not sure that’s what I want this space to be, because there are others who speak about it much more eloquently than I do (like Brene Brown. Go look her up). I’ll only say that in terms of the horrible events in Florida, I believe that we’re not doing enough in any realm and focusing on just one area isn’t going to get us where we need to go, and we need change somehow, for our country and for our children. On my personal front, I’ll only say that in terms of healthcare, our system is really not very good, and my family is lucky to have what passes for pretty good coverage in this country, and it still feels so hard. I can’t imagine what it’s like to try and navigate this system with less resources than I have. We can do better, and we really must.

So, in light of the negativity and the hard things I’m sharing my favorite positive podcasts. I don’t think we should turn away from the hard things, but sometimes my brain needs a break, and so I like to have a good mix ready on my phone. I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks since we drive so much and go on so many walks, and since having something to listen to makes mundane tasks like folding laundry and cleaning the house more enjoyable! I’ve also been listening to some of my favorite childhood books on audiobook and it’s such a nice little brain perk.

Coffee + Crumbs: This is my favorite mothering podcast. They also have a blog, and it’s such a sweet, uplifting space for motherhood.

How I Built This: I love hearing how companies were built and it’s so inspiring to listen to their stories!

The Katie Couric podcast: Good interviewing is an art and a skill, and Katie’s got it. I love listening to interviews where a question pops into my mind, and then the interviewer asks it! It makes me feel so gotten. She talks to celebrities and influencers about their careers, yes, but also about life in general. I love hearing how successful people tackle hard things, and the ways they keep going even when they have failed or made a mistake.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: This is the podcast form of the popular show, and while some episodes are a little hippie-dippie to me, others make me want to listen over and over (Maya Angelou and Brene Brown, in particular). It’s about spirituality, and what matters, and how to navigate life in a more soulful, spiritual way.

Sawbones: This has long been one of my favorite podcasts. It’s about medical history, and it’s so funny and informative! No matter your podcast bent, you’ll love this one.

Smartest Person in the Room: This is a great podcast that tackles a subject (Religion, Hollywood, Mind-Body) from a bunch of different angles and the perspective of experts in various parts of that subject, and it’s really fascinating!

The Girl Next Door Podcast: I love this podcast and truly hope that one day they will make it weekly. It’s two neighbors who get together and just visit. They talk about everything and nothing, and it’s always so relatable and funny, and makes me feel like I have more friends ha.

The Longest Shortest Time: This is another great parenting podcast, and the host is another great interviewer. She interviews people about pretty much everything before, after, and during parenthood. I enjoy it because it talks about the stuff lots of people don’t talk about (hi, postpartum everything), and exposes me to different perspectives that I would likely not otherwise encounter in our dusty little corner of the world, and the stories are so moving, and I feel like I know more about diverse groups of people, which is always a good thing. There is a new host going forward, and I really hope it stays the same!

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey: I love this one. It’s mostly women, and it talks about parenting and life and entrepreneurship and art and books and food and all sorts of things from a God-centered perspective. Her guests are always interesting, and I finish each episode feeling inspired and motivated.

I listen to a lot of other podcasts too: politics, news, etc., but when I’m wanting something light or funny or uplifting or encouraging, these are the ones I pick. There are so many because most of these are weekly or bi-weekly, and I devour them.

Celebrate · Family

Wacey is THREE!

Today is our biggest little cowboy’s third birthday, and all of the cliches are true. I can’t believe how fast time has gone, I can’t imagine life without him, he’s the funniest little boy I’ve ever met, and he will always, always have my heart as the boy who made me a mama.

Three years ago at the time this post is published, I was tired after having been up since the very wee hours with what I suspected were actual labor pains (I was right). I was fussing about my hospital bag, and whether or not it was actually time to head to the hospital (it was). We didn’t know that it was going to be a long day, and that I should have eaten more for breakfast and maybe stopped at Starbucks on the way into town, or that just after eleven that night we’d be a family of three, all of a sudden. We did know, though, that it was a big day, maybe the day, and we were so right.

Our Wacey James is a chocolate-loving, giggling, ranchy goofball. He spends his days playing with anything with wheels, making up stories about his toys, reading books, visiting the horses, getting up to hijinks outside, eating snacks, palling around with me and Buster in the stroller or with daddy is the pickup, and watching movies since that’s the only way we can get this busy boy to slow down. He’s constantly looking after Buster (to make sure he’s safe and also not playing with any of his favorite toys), making him laugh, and letting us know when he’s up to no good with a very loud “Oh no Buster!”

He’s got his colors down, and we’re almost there on numbers (seven and nine are elusive), and he’s so excited about letters–he’s got W (“double Wacey”) and B (“B Buster”) down, and since he’s now memorizing his books and telling them back to us I bet the other 24 letters aren’t far behind. He’s not potty trained but I’m not fussed in the slightest–this boy learns and does everything in his own time, and when he’s got something down, that’s the end of it, so I know it’ll happen sooner or later and I won’t push him because it’s never once helped. He never crawled, and has run since he figured out to walk and has been talking a mile a minute since he learned how to speak.

Wacey has always been an easygoing sweetheart. He’s three, which means we have our fair share of fits and tantrums, and his palate is…limited, but even when he’s in a sour mood, his fallback is exuberant and it rubs off on all of us. I love how he walks into our room in the morning and says “Awake.” with this silly little smile, and his next words are to ask for breakfast. Or how he gets this specific look on his face when he’s asking for something he knows is a long shot, or how he reminds me regularly that Gaucho is not a toy, he’s an animal, after we had a conversation about how he can’t just assume Gaucho is going tolerate being treated as a practice bronc. He says the funniest things, like most toddlers, but of course I’m convinced he’s the funniest. He just ran into my room and yelled “TEXAS!” because that, for some reason, is what he calls “Bob Wills is Still the King,” and he wants to dance, and of course I’m off to go do that immediately.

I could go on and on about this sweet boy forever. But, I’ll leave it here, and say happy birthday to my first born, my blue-eyed boy who looks just like his daddy. I’m so excited to celebrate you, sweet boy, today and at your party this weekend, and every day in between and after that.

JohnstonFamily2018-28DSC_0256DSC_0163sollystandingDSC_0490DSC_0979stroller babyDSC_1254crawlingwatchingDSC_0743wacey helping nwssmoose hatDSC_07599am (2)notesbdayWace buxwaceboys20171212_075752(0)DSC_2134


Family · Personal

Family Pictures

Last (last) weekend, a momentous event occurred.

Picture it: all four of us. Clean, wearing real pants (or a skirt in my case), hair fixed, real shoes on…the whole nine yards. Up drives a flatbed pickup. To our front door. And out steps…Oprah Winfrey.

Just kidding. She’d never drive around in a truck. Well, maybe she would out here because these roads are hazardous to car tires as the two flat tires on my Subaru can attest.

But, I digress.

Oprah didn’t show up. What really happened was that we got our family pictures taken, which might make me even more excited? We worked with an amazing local photographer, Dunlap Photography, and I’m so tickled that we found such a dynamite photographer in our dusty little corner of the world. Especially one that comes all the way out to our house! The UPS guy doesn’t even come all the way to our house.

The Schwann’s guy does, though. Just in case you’re wondering.

Anyways. Jaymie came out and shot a pile of amazing pictures and I’m so thrilled. It’s been a long time coming–we should have gotten them done months and months ago! It was hard to narrow down my favorites, but I put in the work just for you because I know how invested y’all are in our family pictures.

(Okay, not, but hey, at least these prove that I do have actual hair.)

Disclaimer: if you follow me on Insta, I’ll be sharing these nonstop for, well, ever. Or at least until our next sesh. Sorry, but not sorry.


I can’t get enough of the ones of the boys, especially. Oh, how I love this little ranchy frat house family of mine. I’m already excited for our next sesh!

Bert’s and Wacey’s shirts: plain old white pearl snap Wrangler
Buster’s shirt and jeans (that barely buttoned): Oshkosh
Wacey’s boots: Old West
My skirt: Francis + Benedict (CHECK. THEM. OUT.)
My shirt: Ralph Lauren


Food · let's visit · On The Ranch · Personal


let's talk about food

This is something that has been on my heart for a long time. And this is a long ole post, y’all, I know. In the future, though, I’ll be sharing short and sweet posts on my Instagram and I’ll try and keep the novels to a minimum.

All around us, in this age of the Internet, we are surrounded by information about everything. Which, you know, is really stinkin’ cool in a lot of ways. We’re so connected, and that’s something that I love because it helps me feel less isolated out here. But, there are a lot of things I, like a lot of people, don’t love about the Internet, and the at the top of my list is the misinformation spread by people who pretend that they know what they’re talking about.

Spoiler: they don’t always know. Not so much. I mean, come on, people are eating Tide Pods. It’s a crazy world out there, folks.

Unlike eating Tide Pods, eating food is important. It’s *literally* what keeps us alive. So, I understand the heated debates and the emotions that surround food and how it’s grown and made. But, it breaks my heart to see people being scared about the safety and quality of their food or how it was raised based upon information they found online, put there by someone who either a) has no idea what they’re talking about, b) might know what they’re talking about but has an agenda or is sponsored by a specific product or company, or c) is also just freaked out and is acting accordingly and sharing anecdotal evidence like it’s verifiable, evidence-based science.

And listen, I know there are lots of people online who are totally, 100% qualified to talk to you about your food, and I’m so glad. But to me, it feels like for every one of those, there are ten more who are the modern-day equivalent of medicine show guys with their bottles full of sugar and heroine. It seems like the very, very passionate voices on either end are drowning out the reasonable, voices in the middle, and that’s no good.


Please, I implore you, if you have a question about beef production, ask a (real) cattle rancher or farmer. If you have a question about fruits, vegetables, or other foods that grow out of the ground, ask a (real) farmer. If you have a question about the nutritional content of anything, ask a (licensed, non-biased, professional) nutritionist. If you are concerned that your diet is incomplete or that you are unhealthy, ask a (board-certified) doctor or consult a (registered, accredited) dietician. Use your best judgment to choose players for your team who are going to give you the best, most inclusive information. Do not turn to people sitting behind screens who harp upon the dangers or benefits of things they don’t know about, or who are peddling products or a lifestyle that doesn’t suit you. When you read articles, look for the science. Look for the proof. Look for the citations, and where they’re from. Learn about who’s doing the writing, and why. And if they are evangelizing their food choices to others to scare them, belittle them, or make them feel poorly about their own choices, I would choose to be wary of the information they are offering up.

However, wariness aside, I am absolutely not here to attack others. I am not here to tell you that you should eat beef, or what kind of beef you should eat. I’m here to show you that the people who raise your food are just like you. We are wives and husbands and parents and business owners and sports fans and Netflix enthusiasts and environmentalists and democrats and republications. We love our communities, and our people, and want to meet you and know you and welcome you into what we do, because you have a share in this, too. We love our jobs, and our ranches, and our farms, and our animals. And we want you to trust us, because this is our life’s work, and where our hearts live. It’s not a hobby, it’s not something we are merely passionate about. Growing food for you is what consumes our days, in one way or another.

I know we’re not usually the loudest voices on the internet. Part of this might be due to the work-intensive nature of agriculture, or our lack of reliable cell signal or internet.  Part of this might be due to the huge amounts of dollars some of the louder voices have behind them. And it’s scary to put ourselves out there because the internet can be a mean place, where people forget that we are all people deserving of dignity and respect. And sometimes it feels like we have a whole lot more to lose because this isn’t just a job, it’s our whole life. We don’t sit behind laptops in an office to further our agendas and then go home to our house that isn’t connected to our business. We live where we work, and the agriculture industry is already risky enough; it’s scary to open up and add more risk. I’ve had people that I know tell me, unequivocally, that I’m personally killing the planet and should be ashamed (I’m not and you cannot make me feel shame for my life, ps). I’ve had strangers tell me that I’m a bad mother for raising my children where and how I do. I’ve heard offensive and unspeakable things said to people that I respect and heard comparisons about what we do to what we do to the Holocaust (I’m not kidding, people are that classless and crass.) So it’s scary. But, you know, telling the truth is necessary, so we keep sharing, in the hopes that someone will listen to us instead of someone on Facebook sharing photoshopped pictures of animal abuse.

That’s why this blog is here. And guess what? This isn’t the only blog like this. There are piles of blog and Instagram accounts and YouTubers who share the real story of ag, and most of them don’t have an agenda. They just want to share, and to invite you into their lives and communities, and know that the more good, reasonable, smart, forward-thinking, kind voices we have in this community, the better.

You’ll find that most of these folks are like me: raising a family, raising beef, and proud to help feed the world. Here are just a few of the highly qualified folks that you can turn to about your beef, and food in general.

Buzzard’s Beat: Brandi is a wife, mama, rodeo-er, and all-around #girlboss who also happens to have a Master’s in Animal Science. She’s one of my favorite sources for no-nonsense insights into beef, even the hard stuff.

Girl Carnivore: Do you like meat? Do you want to know how to fix it and make it so delicious? Then head over to Kita’s site and get your fill of meaty goodness and gorgeous photography. This girl can grill. 

Cowgirl Boots and Running Shoes: Michaela is an ultrasound technologist-turned-fitness coach (among about ten other things) and she and her husband are raising their three children on her husband’s family farm and ranch in Nebraska. She’s my go-to for beef from a perspective of nutrition and fitness, and is so motivating!

Agriculture At Its Best: Mike has decades in so many aspects of the beef industry from livestock production and sales to 4H and the Extension Service. And, surprise, another Master’s!

Faith Family & Beef: Terryn and her family live in the Sandhills of Nebraska where they raise cattle and have an amazing pack of ranch dogs. She has a background in feeding cattle and shares what everyday life is like on a ranch in the Sandhills with three kids, and also has a ton of great recipes.

Meet Your Beef: Brooke is a fourth-generation rancher, and is also an animal health company territory manager and runs an amazing boutique (do you see the #girlboss theme here?).

Johnny Prime Steaks: Steakhouse reviews, killer photography, irreverent humor, and now a butcher shop. If you like steak–or food–at all, he’s your guy.

Arizona Beef Blog: This is the blog of the Arizona Beef Council. It showcases families and ranches from around the state to show how Arizona does beef. It’s run by Tiffany, who found a love a cattle through her love of horses.

The Circle L Ranch Blog: Naomi and her family raise cattle and horses, and also runs several businesses including a feed store and a rodeo production company. Another #girlboss who talks about everything from cooking to rodeo to parenting to ranch life, and features other dynamite women in agriculture.

Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom: Nicole and her family run a farm where they raise crops like wheat and soybeans as well as cattle. She shares recipes, stories, and what it’s like to run a diversified farm operation while being a mama.

Kellie For Ag: Kellie is another diversified farmer who raises crops and beef cattle in Iowa. She grew up in a farming family and has always wanted to be a farmer, and her passion and knowledge of the industry is plain!

Blessed by Beef: Tierra has an amazing story, and raises Angus cattle and bulls on her family’s ranch in Oregon. She’s also a photographer, and has a background in livestock marking.

Blue Eyes and Cow Pies: Kiah is a seventh-generation California cattle rancher (yes, seventh) who now lives and works in Kentucky. She knows her stuff, y’all.

Wag’n Tales: Val is a mama of four boys who farms crops and cows in North Dakota. She writes about everything under the sun, including what it’s like to be a farm mama to a little one with a serious medical condition.

Scott Stebner Agricultural Photography: Do you want to see some absolutely gorgeous photos? You do. You really, really do. His portraits move me to my soul. Head over to his site, you won’t be sorry.

Ag on the Forefront: Kelsey, her husband, and her son raise Red Angus cattle in Eastern Colorado. She’s another sharp-as-a-tack gal with a Master’s and has some amazing posts. I especially love her posts on animal welfare, and antibiotics.

The Truth About Ag: Michelle talks about some really hard things, and tackles head-on some of the most controversial aspects of ag. Her posts are well-researched and are a resource I often turn to, myself!

Dairy Carrie: Carrie and her family are dairy farmers in Wisconsin and I love her blog because she unflinchingly and very directly tackles some of the misinformation out there. I don’t know a ton about dairy (we raise beef cattle), but what I do know I’ve learned from reading her blog. It’s made me smarter!

Mom at the Meat Counter: Janeal (or Dr. Janeal as I refer to her in my head) is a bonafide meat scientist at the University of Arkansas. If you want to learn more about meat, she’s your gal, and a really excellent teacher and resource.

The Cow Docs: Jake and Carolyn are (mostly large animal) vets who also raise cattle. They blog about cow things, industry things, life things, food things…lots of things! But seriously. Two vets. With a blog. Check em out!

So, when in doubt, #AskARancher. #AskAFarmer.

Home · Personal

Ode to My Dishwasher



Dishwasher, we haven’t known each other long
But my love for you runs deep and strong
For awhile, you weren’t here, and I was blue.
But now, every night, it’s just me and you.

You wash, you soak, you scrub, you dry.
I don’t lift a finger or bat an eye.
No more nasty hands for this gal, sis,
You take care of every dish.

My glasses sparkle, my plates shine;
I no longer deny that the bowls are mine.
No more gritty forks or knives,
No more soggy food that gives me hives.

I’m not the toughest, but I’m tougher than some
But darn it if I don’t hate washing every one
Of those dishes that stack up in my sink
It’s enough to push me to the brink.

So dishwasher, though you’ve been here but a day
I hope you’ll never, ever go away
You’re saving me from a dreaded chore
And making my evening not a bore

I now have time to relax and unwind
While you do your thing, I hope you don’t mind.
I assume you don’t, since you don’t haw or hem.
Sweet dishwasher, you really are such a gem.

My dishwasher arrived a few days ago and I am deliriously, inappropriately, over-the-moon happy about it. I don’t mind telling you that washing dishes takes years off my life and makes me want to die and turns my already-gross hands into an even grosser swamp creature and also makes me kind of mean because you should see the dishes we seem to generate and also tiny toddler and baby things suck to wash.

Everyone’s got their favorite appliances. I love me some goooood dishwashing…that I don’t have to do. I told Bert last night that there are not many kitchen appliances I would sub in for my dishwasher, save the oven, refrigerator, and running water. I would gladly mix things by hand, toast things over an open flame, make rice in a pot, slow-cook things in an oven, and use a griddle pan for everything else than not have a dishwasher forever.

And if you are one of those people that “enjoys washing dishes,” mazel tov, truly! It takes all kinds of kind, although your kind of kind is bizarre to me but I think we can still be friends provided you don’t also enjoy de-clogging shower drains and scrubbing kitchen cabinets because then I might be worried you’re actually a Westworld droid. Actually, if you love those things a lot, or are a (non-homicidal) Westworld droid, come on over and do mine?

(Yes, I recognize I was without a dishwasher for like, 2.5 months. That was 2.4 months too long #noshame.)

(Also, did you know it’s hard to take a pretty picture of a dishwasher in a not-so-pretty corner of the kitchen? It is.)

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites: Things I Actually Own and Love Edition

Happy Friday! We’ve had a busy week round these parts but I’m glad to say we don’t have much planned for the weekend aside from looking at baby calves and working on the house and our side projects. We’re getting closer and closer to having things “done” enough that I’ll quit fussing about them for awhile and shift my “house” focus on things I really ought to be doing like scrubbing every single kitchen cabinet. #priorities.

This Friday Favorites is inspired by things that I have that I love and actually own! I love reviews: reading them, writing them, comparing them, so here is my offering to the reviews universe.

Favorite “Farm” Decor: Plaid Pillow Cover. I bought two of these for our living room and I love them. Nice and thick, and they seem decently made, especially for the price. I’m trying to figure out how to style our living room and so I didn’t want to invest a whole lot, but I’m really pleased with these! They seem to be smaller than they say, I have them on 22×22 pillows, just fyi.buffalo check pillow
Favorite Repeat Recipe: Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Noodles. I make this for dinner once or twice a month with homemade stock made after I roast a chicken (I use Ina Garten’s recipe, and then just omit PW’s stock-making steps in this recipe) and it’s one of our favorite meals. I think the turmeric is what does it!

chicken and noodles
Favorite Recent Read: The Glass Castle. Generally, I’m not a memoir person, because I find that many of the ones I’ve read (or tried to read) are a bit dry (I think I am reading the wrong ones), or have subject matter that make me not want to read them (I’ve gotten sort of sensitive, I guess, which is why we only watch the first disc of Lonesome Dove or at least fast-forward through the part where Deets dies in the second one) but this one was so, so good.  SO GOOD. Just go read it.

the glass castle

Favorite hair product: Unite Argan Oil. I have really thick hair that tends to err on the side of dry and frizzy, but this stuff really does the trick for me, which I knew it would since my hair expert (Cameron at Blondie’s in Denver–if you’re in the area, go see them. If you’re not, like me, make appointments months out and go see them anyway). It’s expensive, but it lasts a really long time, and works so much better than any other Argan oil that I’ve tried since it’s more concentrated.

Unite Argan Oil
Favorite Cookies: A Bountiful Kitchen Tried and True Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’ve posted about these before, but they’ve been on repeat at our house this winter since all the boys love them and Wacey really enjoys helping me make them! My changes: I use half regular milk chocolate chips and half mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. I use a smaller cookie scoop and bake for nine to nine and a half minutes. They are theeee best chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. Multiple non-paid, non-related-to-me, non-threatened people have said so.
Favorite shirt: Heifer Please. I have been getting more into graphic tees lately because they’re so fun to throw on with jeans and a sweater, and this one cracks me up, plus it’s very soft, the color is great, and fits well. I get asked where it’s from wherever I go! I like to support small shops too. And wear shirts that say things like “Heifer Please” that slightly embarrass my husband.
heifer please
Favorite I Know This is a Kid Thing But Can I Get One Too?: Star Lamp. Wacey’s almost-three-year-old sound machine with a ceiling projector finally died and since it had been dying a long, slow death for two years, I didn’t replace it. Instead, we got a more low-profile sound machine (he’s a “rain” setting kid, in case you’re wondering) without lights or a projector, but we noticed that he seemed to have trouble going back to sleep if he woke up in the night. He sleeps with a star projector at my in-laws, so I knew he was suuuuper hip to that jive. I bought this from Amazon (in blue) after seeing it on another blog, and we’re hooked. It’s magical. I love to lay in bed with Wace after we read books and sing songs and just look at the stars. Magical, I tell you. If Bert could stand it, I’d have one in our room. I’m not kidding. And, spoiler: no more night-time wakeups for Wace, which is wonderful both for him and for us.
night light
Favorite Floor Thing: Gray Rug. You guys. You guys! This rug is amazing. Amazing! So amazing it makes me speak in duplicate see? Duplicate! I bought it on Amazon with part of some Christmas giftcards earmarked for home stuff, and I’m so glad. It’s in Buster’s room, where we really needed a rug to tie things together (and hide some stubborn stains on the current carpet #ranchhouses) and this is perfect. Now, it’s $45 rug, so it’s not Turkish and it’s not super thick and squishy. But I didn’t want mega thick and squishy since it’s on top of carpet, and it doesn’t feel cheap at all. It’s big and soft, the pattern is subtle, and it seems well-made. I’m considering buying another I like it so well!

Favorite Pretty: Johnny Was Yasi Tunic. This was my annual Johnny Was birthday purchase (now sold out but I bought it from my favorite boutique, the Rollin’ J. Look ’em up!) and gosh it’s so pretty. I mean, obviously, because it’s JW. It’s soft, and the colors are beautiful. I wear it with skinnys and a cardigan and tall boots or ankle boots and feel lovely the entire time with minimal effort. Oh and it’s machine washable, darling, that’s a new feature.
johnny was yasi

On The Ranch

Oh, Mother.

Flour the baby calfroosterjust born calfDSC_0085DSC_0581momma and baby calfDSC_0732DSC_0585DSC_0068

I wrote this post years ago, and honestly, it’s so much funnier now that I’m a mom. Is it okay to call yourself funny in retrospect? I hope so, because I’m doing it. No shame in my game.

The heifers have started calving, and it makes me miss our days of being knee-deep in calves for months when we worked for registered ranches (commercial ranches typically aren’t as hands-on, for a variety of reasons), but then I remember how much work that was and how exhausted we were and how much of our diets consisted of snacks and sweet tea and I think I’ll stick with my fond reminiscences. As Bert says, it’s easier to get up in the night to feed a human baby than to go check calves because at least you get to stay inside and don’t have to get out of your pajamas.

Which is where I laugh at him, because he’d always get fully dressed to go check and I’d just throw my coveralls over my jammies and call it good. Including one time when I was wearing footy pajamas which almost resulted in an embarrassing bathroom situation but don’t worry, it got, ah, taken care of.

Being around so many bovine mothers has made me realize they’re similar to human mothers in that while each one is, of course, unique, every mother can be loosely grouped into a category based on her parenting style.

The Helicopter Mother is the sort that won’t leave. Ever. You’ve seen her–that mom at the soccer game/swim meet/dance class that the ref/coach/teacher has to keep chasing off the field/pool deck/floor. She wears fanny packs and has a tote bag full of band-aids, kleenex and medical supplies a triage nurse would envy. Also a change of clothes, in case things get wild. She does Junior’s homework, plans all his extra-curriculars, and stays home whenever she hires a babysitter to supervise the babysitter supervising her child. In bovine form, this mother will hardly get out of Junior’s face long enough to let him nurse, much less let him walk somewhere. She’s mastered the art of bellering hysterically and never taking her eyes off of you or her calf while walking backwards. It’s hard to tag her calf because she won’t leave enough space between Junior’s head and her own for you to get a tag in edgewise. She’s annoying, but you deal with her because she’s a good mother, mostly–besides her child never being able to socialize properly due to her overbearing hovering.

The “You’re On Your Own” Mother is the sort who–by laziness or by design–lets her child learn for itself and just watches when it does something stupid. Every now and then, she’ll say (or moo) some instructions or advice, like “A little to the left, Ashley,” or “Watch out for that hole, Rutherford,” or “Don’t fall of the edge of the bridge, Harriet, I won’t come in to get you,” but she usually just stays involved in whatever activity she was involved in when Junior went for his adventure, which is usually eating. This mom’s alright–she’ll usually intervene before little Cletus does something really dumb.
The Satellite Mother is a mother we all know. She’s seems rather uninvolved and distant, perhaps even neglectful at times. However, her children are impeccably groomed and always have the best lunches. She attends all of their recitals, concerts and games, but in a mysterious, back-of-the-room sort of way, and lets the other mothers be front and center. Until, of course, little Timothy is unfairly tackled or little Prunella is pushed during the ballet recital, and then her presence becomes immediately obvious and the offender wonders where in the world she was but vows never to mess with her kid again. In cow form, this mother will never be near her calf, as far as you can tell, but you know they must have some sort of interaction because the calf is fat and healthy. But, she somehow knows where it is at.all.times, and will come racing at a dead run if you get anywhere near the little pipsqueak, bellering and carrying on, making you jump back with your hands up (“I swear I was just checking on him!”) and get the heck out of there.

The Overbearing Mother is similar to a Helicopter Mother, but not quite as protective and well-meaning as, well, overbearing. A Helicopter type will usually let Junior walk in the direction he chooses (as long as he can navigate around her ever-present hovering) and lets him pick his own place to nap in the straw (as long as it IS on the straw–no freezing down for this calf!), this mother does not. She chooses when Junior walks, where he walks, how fast it takes him to get there, when he sleeps, where he sleeps, which side he stands on to nurse and what sort of bull he’ll be when he grows up–and will continually make her demands known by hollering at him until her complies. She’s not opposed to moderate head-nudging to get her point across. In human form, this is the sort of mother that people give the nickname “The General” or “The Tank” or “Sir.” She makes the decisions, and by God you’d better just do it or get out of her way.

We also have our share of the Abusive and Neglectful. In these cases, we act live Bovine Social Services and place the calf up for adoption. This is where grafting comes in. Unfortunately, in some (most on a commercial ranch where the calf crop is more important than genetic potential) cases, jail or rehab is not available for such gals, especially if they are repeat offenders. Their sentence is often Arby’s via the sale barn. It may seem cruel, but if a cow is a calf-killer, or fails to successfully raise a baby at all, she is not productive and becomes a money pit, when is not a viable option for any sort of business.

The Mother Hen momma is one of my favorites. You know this mother–she’s had multiple children of her own, and nothing fazes her. She’s generally a little older, and more experienced in the trials and tribulations of raising children, but loves each and every one of them all the same. She’s seen it all! The You’re-On-Your-Owns and Satellites and neglectful mothers often leave their calves under her careful supervision, while they take some “me” time and chew their cud gazing a mountain view, or have girlchat over a meal of particularly delicious hay with their girlfriends.

The “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing But We’re Going To Make This Work Darnit” mother is often a young or first-time mother who said pish-posh to all those parenting handbooks and advice from experienced mothers–and now regrets it. Not that she’ll ever tell! She’s generally bewildered by the whole idea of motherhood and the living being bursting forth from her loins. This sort of mother usually has the best intentions, but needs a little extra coaching to help her learn the ropes.

The “Oh Another One” Mother has had so many children that she can’t keep track of them, nor does she care. Like the Mother Hen, she’s experienced and has seen it all. She, however, is not as interested in the fuzzy little bundles of joy she always seems to be carting around. She loves them, sure, but is not as affectionate as she might be. She raises ’em, weans ’em and says hello to a couple of child-free months before it all starts again. She’s often like a Satellite who’s fallen out of orbit–she always knows where her calf is, and will never truly leave him, but Junior usually has the responsibility to go find her when he’s hungry–she won’t come a-wassailin’.