Monday, August 16, 2010

Another victim bit the dust...

I am afraid we have lost another lightening victim.

We get what they call "severe" lightening storms around here. 

We often get lightening strikes around the ranch and have little fires when it strikes trees that sometimes turn into bigger fires that need tended.

We just had one such storm in fact.  Our electricity went out 5 times.  The lightening didn't seem all that bad really; pretty bad I guess, but bad enough apparently... for now the kids wii will not turn on.  Ohhhh.... the joy.  I will pretend to myself for a while longer that it is just "resting" and will start working again some time in the near future.  But in all reality... I know it won't... I just don't want to admit that yet.  It was the kids' joint Christmas present last year.  It worked very well for a reward system for schooling and getting chores done.  And it was not cheap.

I am just now letting myself come to the reality that our printer is not going to miraculously turn back on.  I try a few times a week.... just in case.  But no luck.  I have been trying for months.  It was also a victim to a lightening storm we had early springtime.

We have all our electronics plugged into those fancy surge protectors.  Not the cheapo ones, but the supposedly good ones.

But over the years many of our electronic devices have fallen victim to lightening. 

One television, one computer, all the outlets in our bedroom and all the outlets along one living room wall, two printers and now the wii.

I guess it isn't all that much really.  But it seems like a ton to me!

I guess we are going to have to leave all things unplugged at all times unless we are using them.  Cowboy was actually on the wii this afternoon.  I didn't think the storm was bad enough to unplug anything but guess I was WRONG big time, huh!

Guess we need to look into one of those little lightening rods to put on the house I read about sometime in the past.  Is that what everybody else has.  Or are we just lucky?!

I guess I won't have to think about Christmas presents this year; it will just be a repeat of last year.  Unfortunate though... I was thinking about getting a microscope for schooling purposes.  HMMM.



WoW... I just discovered there is a spelling checker on this page.  Guess I ought to start checking all my posts... they are probably a mess!

**** well good news to report!
I searched "wii won't turn on after power outage" on the good old internet and found some advice to unplug it and let it rest for a half hour.  So we let it rest for a few hours ... you know ... more is always better, right?  Well I just tried it and it WORKS!  I will have a happy Crew in the morning. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lil Guy, farmers market and yearlings....

All rolled into one pleasant Saturday...

Last weekend we took an impromptu (is that how you spell that?) trip down to Sugar City (about 2 hours away from our house) to our other family ranch.  We had big plans to see Rancher's brother, his wife and their new little guy.  Lil Guy is 7 weeks old now and ... OH, what a little cutie pie!  We are so excited for them and their growing family.  We are excited for Lil Squirt to have a little buddy his age on the ranch and we look forward to watching Lil Guy grow and learn.  We are going to have to get together a lot more so I can get me some little snuggles in with sweet Lil Guy.

Anyhow, our 2nd motive for the visit was to hit the farmer's market and see what they had out and what the prices were like.  We picked up some fresh melons, but what I was really after were onions, and they were priced awfully high I thought.  In the past I have gotten 100 pounds of them in the fall and packed them all carefully in the extra fridge and they lasted really well through the year and were so much fresher (and cheaper) than the grocery store.  I am thinking maybe it is a little early in the year still.... I hope.  So that will give me another excuse to go down and check the prices in a week or two... and see Lil Guy..... and of course his awesome parents.

The 3rd motive of our trip was to check out the yearlings.  We moved them down there from the ranch here several months ago.  Rancher Husband, I and the Crew all took BIL's ranger out to check them out and got a few nice pictures.  Boy the grass is green and they are growing well.

I got quite a few pics. of them.  Here are a few.  I also updated the beef website's pics. if you want to see a few more there.  The link to the beef website is under "Ranch" .

The Crew...
see that Cowgirl has her camera in hand also. LOL.

The yearlings....(a few of them at least)








Don't they look happy?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A love/hate relationship...

......with......

...my

...dishwasher!



I grew up handwashing dishes.  I liked to wash them when I was little.  I remember using pure cold water and not much soap.  I didn't like hot water and I didn't like the slimy feeling of soap (smile).

When I was a teen we had a dishwasher.  Oh, the wonder of the dishwasher.  You could actually put dirty dishes in and then take them out clean!  Except for one thing... Mom insisted that we pretty much 'wash' them before putting them in and there was only certain things that were allowed inside that wonder.  So we still had to handwash a lot of dishes.  But I didn't mind.  I didn't have a lot of better things to do.  I even used warm water and soap.

As a young married adult, we didn't have a dishwasher at our first house.  I spent a lot of time handwashing dishes.  I had a lot of better things to do outside.  I would rather go spend my days helping Rancher husband than washing dishes.  I had a hard time keeping up.  We had V.E.R.Y. hard water and it actually ruined some of our dishes.  You had to hand dry them fast or they would get these horrible water marks.  It was a pain in the patooty.

Then a few years later we moved into our current house.  It had a dishwasher.  Oh... the wonder of the dishwasher.  I loved it.  I put everything in it!  I taking out my sparkly dishes that didn't have any spots.  I could load that dishwasher in a flash.  It was a cheapo version with the manual settings.  Nothing fancy about it.  But .... oh... did it ever clean those dishes. 

I commented to everybody how much I loved my dishwasher.  Nobody should ever be without one.  They are so nice... ect.... ect...
I remember my sister wanting to handwash my dishes and I encouraged her to put them in the dishwasher.  She said she never used hers.  I told her one day when she was married and had kids she would also be very thankful for her dishwasher... just wait.

Fast forward through 3 kids.  When you are loading and unloading dishwashers toddlers feel very invited to climb onto, stand on and bounce on dishwasher doors.  Our very standard, plain jane dishwasher didn't have any sort of locking feature.  If you shut it it would turn on.  The little toddlers learned how to open it and climb on for a little jumping round.  This was a constant battle. 

Little by little the door broke off.  Completely off.  The electronic components got messed up.

So after the 3rd toddler was old enough to leave the dishwasher alone we went out to get a new one.  Boy oh boy how exciting.  There were so many options.  We stuck with the lower priced ones of course.  But this time we got one that had all sorts of buttons and locking features and different cycles.  I was soo excited.  We got it all hooked up and took it for a spin. 

It worked ok.  Not any better than my old standard no frills model.  But I knew we would have to give it time to shine. 

That was two years ago.  It never did shine.  It is a huge dissapointment.  Sometimes it runs and sometimes it doesn't.  But mostly.... doesn't.  About 3/4ths the time it stops halfway through the cycle and beeps and flashes lights at me.  It hardly ever finishes the rinse cycle.  And since it is a fancy pants model with electronic buttons, I can't just turn the dial back for a little rinse.  You have to start all over at the beginning. 

A few times it made it all through the cycle without beeping at me and the kids put the dishes away before I discovered that the soap had never been dispensed.  So we had to dig all the dishes back out of the shelves and wash them again!

Even when it does make it through the cycle and properly dispense the soap, the dishes never seem to turn out sparkly and clean.  I have tried all sorts of soaps and rinse aids.  I have given up hope on "great" results and now just hoping for "good" results. 

A month ago, the dishwasher quit.  It just wouldn't turn on one day.  No blinking, no beeping, nothing.  I flipped all the breakers in the house and still nothing. 

I said a few choice words and bought myself a dish rack dryer thing and started handwashing again.  Boy did those dishes begin to shine.  Clean dishes are very nice. 

Rancher husband said we could fix that dishwasher.  I said I wasn't sure I wanted to bother.  Even when it ran it never did wash dishes very good.

So I wash the dishes several times a day.  Because it takes forever if you let them pile up at all.

Then one day last week I came in the house and saw that dishwasher blinking at me!  I was slightly hopeful.  I loaded it and started it.  It ran and ran and just about made it through a whole entire cycle....

and then it quit....

again.

No power at all.

I said oh well and washed them myself.

I think it is more a joy of clean dishes than a joy of handwashing them.

We'll see how long I can keep it up.

I do have a few choice backups in mind at least.

ha.ha.ha.





Friday, August 6, 2010

rain.... and rattlesnakes....

We are being blessed with a wet summer.  The grass around here is .... out of the mouth of Rancher "about as good as it gets".  He tallied up the rains in his little red book this morning and reported that here at the house we have gotten 6'' since the 8th of July!!  The grass looks great and the cattle are happy campers.

But ... I wasn't done fixing my ditches and water diversion mounds of dirt around my very recently cleaned out goat shed.   And yes, you guessed it.... it rained and it poured and it flooded.  And I mean water standing in the shed half a foot deep.   I had some very unhappy milkers.  So Rancher helped me move them around and into dry sheds in the growing darkness just as the second storm hit and rained some more.  It was a fast and hard rain and we got 1 in and 3/10ths.  But most of the first inch came in about 10-15 minutes and was accompanied by hail.  Not near as bad as the hail storm last summer though.  We didn't loose any windows this time.  Thank goodness.

So... yesterday, Rancher husband helped me clean out a different shed and move dirt around and dig deeper ditches and move goats around and now I think we could get a 3 inch. rain and all would be fine.  But right now all the goats are out

-----------------  small break to verify whether or not there was truth to the "snake....snake!"  coming from the Crew.  There was!  So I proceeded to kill the baby 6 or 7 in. rattler with a single button that was hanging out by the front door.  We have killed way too many of those little bitty things near our house over the years for my comfort.  (by the way... 1 rattler is too many for my comfort level!) 
I DO NOT like snakes, but having to kill a rattler gets my heart to pounding.... even faster than it normally pounds! -------------------

Anyhow... so we have the milkers out of the shed until it dries out and then we should be good to go for the winter.  While we were busy with the skidloader yesterday I commented that we should clean out the buck shed also, but Rancher said I was maxed out on "goat days" for a while.  I can't complain.  We got a lot done and it looks great.  And all the goats are once again happy campers.  Rancher says we have the most spoiled goats around.  I won't bother telling him my goats might be spoiled compared to the range cows, but they certainly are not as spoiled as some other dairy goats I know of.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Visitor in the night....


So I heard the dogs barking a lot early this morning.  Yes, even above the noise of the fan on high I could still hear them.  But I didn't bother to get up and see what the fuss was all about.  You see, two of our 6 pack are guard dogs for the goats.  They actually live with the goats 24/7, so I think that allows me to classify them as livestock, don't you think?  Because it sounds a little better to say that we only have 4 dogs, doesn't it?  The fact that they eat dog food throws my plan off a little bit though.  But on the other hand I have caught them chowing down on the alfalfa pellets and mineral, so maybe it could go either way. 

Anyhow, these two brothers are big pyrenees X anatolian X akbash.  And boy I wouldn't want to be a predator in their path.   But like all guard dogs, they bark a lot at night.  But when the 2 in the back yard and the loose mutt join in on the barking, with a lot of enthusiasm, then something big is usually up. 

So I sprung drug myself out of bed to see what all the fuss was really about.  And quickly saw that there was pretty good reason to be fussing. 

 For standing not 10 feet from our sliding glass door, and actually only a few feet away from the side of the house was this beauty:












I snuck around the front and snapped two pics. and then called the mutt off, and watched him bound away for his life.
See how he is staring?  He is looking at the mutt who is guarding his most likely escape route, for on the other side he is surrounded by the 2 yard dogs and the 2 guard dogs.  His options were poor and he knew it.  You just never know what excitement you are going to have around this place anymore.

You can just make out the bottle calf in the background grazing.  Guess she wasn't very impressed with our little buck friend.

We are surrounded by vast amounts of antelope and everybody thinks of them as pests, but we don't often get deer up this close to the house.  Well, this one would have probably come in if the door had been open, because he had prints just a foot away.  Boy that would have been an all new nightmare.  Good thing I am not one to trust leaving windows open at night, well and also the fact that we no longer have a screen on the screen door for the sliding glass door after the bad hail storm last summer.

Oh, and we got 9/10ths an inch of rain last night!!!

How great is that. 

So we got the shed cleaned out just in time.

Friday, July 30, 2010

How you can tell your husband loves you....

So how can I tell Rancher Husband loves me?

Oh..... let me list some of the ways.....

He is ultra quiet in the morning when he gets up so that I can sleep a bit longer after having been up more times than I care to count with Lil Squirt in the night.  Have I mentioned Squirt doesn't like to sleep?

He doesn't complain about the fan in our room on HIGH that encourages Squirt to sleep through the little night sounds that might otherwise disrupt a good 2 hour stretch of his my precious sleep.

He never, ever fusses about the food that I put on the table .... ok.... counter.... Ok.... stove.
He eats it all and is SO NOT picky.  Gotta love that!

He works so hard for our family.

He takes his shoes off in the boot room every time. 

He tries his best to arrange his plans to accomodate dr. appointments for the kids and I, so that he can go with me.  Over the years, we are talking a lot of days that he has done this!.  Like when I was pregnant last year it was 2-3 each week.  And remember we don't live in town, so the trip is an hour one way.

If he comes home for lunch and Squirt is taking a nap, he whispers.

And the most recent reason that prompted this whole post:

He helps me clean out my goat shed!
On a 95 degree day.
Without a complaint.
And it takes a day and a half total. 
Because we have to undo one fence at a time
and clean out one side at a time
and open one big door at a time
and move goats around here and there in the meantime
He drove the skid loader slow as to not run the goats through the fence
He shoveled and sweat dripped off of his nose.
I shoveled also and sweat dripped off of more places than my nose.
My heartrate was probably at least twice his.
We had some good bonding time together.
The big kids helped entertain Lil Squirt.
He dug water diversion ditches
and asked where I wanted dirt dumped
He disagreed sometimes and raised an eyebrow others
but let me do things the way I wanted
he said I was in charge
since they were my goats.
the shed looks great
the goats are happy campers

And after we got in the house and were showered
I gave him a hug and told him I am glad I didn't have to work that hard every day

All thanks to my husband!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What do you say?

What do you say when somebody asks you how you are doing?
Do you tell them how it really is?
 Do you divulge a little, but sugar coat it?
Or do you just give the all too expected response, "I am doing fine, how about you?"

I am normally guilty of the 3rd response. 

Which is the right response... I just don't know.

Do people really want to know?  REALLY!? 

I think a lot of time it is just a greeting. How many times do you get asked how you are doing, but the person keeps walking before getting the answer. It is a statement, like saying Hello.

For years I have struggled with knowing where to draw the line in regards of divulging information about myself when others ask.

It sounds pretty cut and dry when I write it down.  And maybe it is for some, but it never has been for me.

You see... I want to be that positive person that doesn't dwell on negativity.  I try to be that person... maybe too hard sometimes.  I don't know.

You know if I ask a friend or relative how they are doing, I really want to know.  I am not just asking to make conversation and fill the air.  I care and I want to know the real answer.  Sometimes I have asked that question to somebody I didn't know all that well and have been surprised at how forthcoming they were with the answer.  But I am always happy to listen and hash things out with them.  I always walk away thinking wow, they really opened up to me.  Why can't we all put down our front and open up like that to others?

So......... that would make me think that family and friends would want the same from me.

So when you are sick with a cold or something and somebody asks how you are feeling, it isn't much of a deal to tell them about the crummy week you had and how you were in bed a few days or what not.
But, what if you had been pregnant 4 times and during those 36 or so months of pregnancy every time you were asked how you were feeling your answer was, " feeling terrible, the medicine barely makes a dent in my all day throwing up and nausea, I have contractions every time I move, I have been sleeping on the couch for months because my bed is so uncomfortable, I can't count the times I have to get up through the night, my house looks like a disaster zone and I won't tell you the last time I cooked a good meal". Boy the looks I would get if I gave that response! So I don't. That just seems so negative, doesn't it!.

But what if you don't feel good a lot?  How would it sound if every week you showed up to church and your response every single week to all of the "how are you's" was "still don't feel very good... bla, bla, bla..."  I think over time people would avoid asking you, or even worse avoid you totally. 
 
My husband gets upset at me a bit over this very topic.  Even with family and close friends I have a hard time telling them how it really is.  I can give facts if prompted, but to go into detail about how I am really feeling is pretty rare.  It just seems so negative for me.  Like ....if you say it then it must be true.  It seems like between the pregnancies, the graves disease, the cervical pre-cancer issue, the diabetes thing, and presently the  tachycardia thing it has been more of the not feeling well during our married life then the other way around.  But you know my husband doesn't offer up any of his aches and pains either, and I always remind him of that fact.  He just doesn't see as many drs. as I do, so it doesn't seem so obvious when he doesn't offer information.

  So I feel like over the years I rarely have ever felt "good".  But I have so many blessings that I feel guilty dwelling on the negatives.  "Feeling good" is relative.  I always report that I feel "fine" and I believe that I do.  You know I may not be feeling as good as I could, but then again, who is really?  I could always be feeling worse.  And it doesn't take much of a look around to find so many that are so much worse off and that just seals the deal for me.  How can I complain when I have it so good?

I have always wondered if this is an issue others struggle with as well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The case of the unexpected (and unwanted) visitor.

     A few weeks back Rancher husband, I and the three boys enjoyed a mini vacation.  A visit from my sister happened to coincide with the Superior Livestock video sale in Steamboat Springs,CO.  Husband thought it would be fun to go and watch our calves on the video sale live.  Since we have goats to milk pretty much year- round, we hardly ever go anywhere... well... pretty much never.  It just insn't very easy to find folks eager to milk your goats for you.  Can't blame them really! 

Anyhow... back to topic.  So we went to Steamboat... minus Cowgirl, who by choice stayed with Auntie and helped with chores and had a grand ol' time doing all sorts of things.  (I don't think she wanted us to come back anytime soon).  She has never liked road trips as she gets car sick.

Anyhow, when we did come home we were welcomed by a most unwanted little visitor.




Yes, you guessed right.  Mr. Porky, as the kids and Auntie lovingly named him (or her?) was just hanging out in a tree in our front yard.  The amazing part is that NONE of the dogs had gotten quills.  Yes I will repeat that... NONE of the dogs.  And mind you it wasn't too many months back that we were picking (what seemed like thousands) of quills out of 3 (yes I said 3) dogs when a door got left open and they all went tromping off to find some mischief in the woods.  That was a long night and by the time we got around to the last dog Husband and I were out of patience and I think the dog knew it was a "do or die" moment.

Anyway......
So the fact that none of the dogs had quills gave me an extra huge dose of patience for this unpleasant visitor.

But now we had to figure out just what we were going to do with Mr. Porky.

So Auntie and I discussed the options.  My response was...
shoot him or move him.

You see our house is sort of in the middle of the prairie. 
The closest trees are at least 3/4 a mile away to the NE. 
Well, that is if you don't count the very precious trees that we planted ourselves in our yard.  One of which he was in currently and would wake every few minutes to eat some more leaves and bark.  
So between the fact that there weren't any other close trees and the fact that he was surrounded by 5 dogs (yes, I did say 5... but we won't discuss that right now), Mr. Porky's chance of a successful escape and especially desire to escape before stripping all of our trees was pretty much zilch! 

It was entirely strange that he had even come for a visit.  Only thing we could figure is that he had gotten confused and lost in the recent 2 inch. rain. 

So.......
Auntie was all for moving him. 
Personally it wasn't my first thought and she knew it.
It seemed like too much work.

But you know we didn't have any other special plans for her last day visiting.
So I tried to be peaceful.
Maybe it was from remembering all the good times we had as youngsters....
"saving" all sorts of animals, wild and domestic (some that needed it and some that didn't).

Auntie did a little googling and found that porcupines are quite docile and slow.

Ok, so the supplies were gathered and after putting Lil Squirt to nap, the rest of the Crew prepared for the excitement.  Rancher Husband was even on hand.

We started out with three cameras on hand to get it all on film.  The cameras were all quickly put away though as the scene went down a little more harried then first expected.  It's too bad really, as we could have most likely won ourselves the $10,000.

First I climbed up the tree and poked him out with a piece of PVC pipe.
The idea was for him to hit the ground and then with a little help from some pieces of tin we would escort him into a large dog crate. 

Well, as soon as he hit the ground he went running (yes running) the opposite way and straight towards Rancher Husband.
Rancher Husband hit some good speeds of his own and got himself on the other side of the fence and closed the gate.
Mr. Porky found himself a nice big evergreen bush in the yard to hide behind.
So began the 15 minute game of poke the porcupine out away from the bush and then get the tin close enough to block him off from returning under his new santuary and then hopefully escort him to the waiting open cage. 
It took all of us.... but we finally got him and finally got the door closed on the cage.
We all had a good little laugh and then loaded him up on the flatbed and Auntie and the Crew found him a new home far away from this one.  Rancher Husband got a camer shot of the big release for me.

Good times with Auntie!

Please note the bubble gum wrapper stuck to his rear end.

I think we put him through a big enough ordeal that chances are pretty slim of seeing him return...
don't you think?!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fishing in the mountains....

When it gets hot we love to make a trip up into the mountains.  Living where we do, we have a lot of mountains to choose from.  But our favorite spots are each about an hour / hour and a half from our place, so it is pretty easy to swing up there on a hot afternoon, or even after church like we did on this day. 

It is always so cool and refreshing up in the mountains and of course fishing is just a huge bonus.  When the Crew was younger Rancher Husband and I would just take a nice drive and enjoy the scenery. 

But as much as we enjoy it up there, we always think it would be a harsh place to live in winter and enjoy living out on the "plains" where we do and being able to see out and get full sunshine.


Cowgirl fishing.  On the right side of the pic. you can just make out Pistol and Cowboy.

Having a tough time keeping Lil Squirt from eating all the available rocks.  See the one he has in his hand?  That is why he is grinning.  He loves to eat stuff.  Not just put things in his mouth, but actually EAT things!  He wanted to just walk in the lake also.  No fear!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Feeling blessed.


I am so Blessed!

Why?

with my husband,
with my 4 wonderful kids,
with my family,
being able to stay at home with my kids,
being able to homeschool,
living on the ranch,
having a dependable vehicle that is safe for our family,
having a warm wood stove in the winter
....... the list goes on..... but I won't.

Now that doesn't mean that life is perfect.
I don't mean that we don't have various health problems to deal with.
I don't mean my kids are perfect and always listen and respectfully obey.
I don't mean my husband and I never disagree and even... gasp... argue.
I don't mean that a few times I have thought it would be a little easier on my husband if he could keep "bankers hours"
I don't mean that sometimes I think homeschooling is HARD and ...
gasp... consider public school.... for a second at least.
I don't mean that I never consider how much easier it would be to keep house
if we didn't live on the ranch and track in mud and manure all the time.

But ...... our blessings shine through the dark clouds.
It could always be worse, couldn't it.
No matter what circumstance we have encountered.... it could always be worse for us.

Read Jonah's blog on the sidebar.
I couldn't imagine.
Puts things into perspective a little bit.
But did you notice how positive Patrice is on her blog?
I find her uplifting and inspiring.
Jonah's disease is heartbreaking...
but I enjoy reading her thoughts....
because she is blessed and she knows it.

Outlook makes all the difference, don't you think?
Each and every one of us have "issues" to deal with.
financial, medical, emotional....... 
Granted some folks have a fuller plate.

But how inspiring is it to run into somebody that is literally being drug through the mud
and all they can do is rattle off all the ways they are blessed. 
They choose to focus on the positive. 
They choose to feel blessed.
They are blessed.

Don't get me wrong.
Everybody has bad days now and then.
Maybe bad weeks and even bad months.
I know I have had my share of grumpy, frumpy moods.
My Crew would probably chime in on that one
(but we won't ask them)

I just think that some folks have a more positive outlook in life.

I want to be one of those people.
I try hard to be one of those people.
Choosing to look at the positive side of things.
Choosing to focus on the good in every situation.
Sometimes I succeed and .... sometimes not.
But I try.
I hope I do a good job.



Don't you love the snow-capped mountains.  I think this was the end of April.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Double Rainbow.

We have been getting some good rain around both ranches the past month.  It is great!  The grass is green and growing and the cattle are doing very well.  And after the rain we usually get to enjoy some very pretty rainbows.  This was a double rainbow and one of them was a full one.  You can just make out the second one in this picture. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Catch of the day....

Cowboy's big catch:


Our Cowboy had a birthday this week.  Can you believe it?  He is 9 now!!  It really is hard for me to believe.  He chose to go fishing for his birthday and roast hotdogs.  We tried... we really did... but we got rained out.  The Crew got to fish for about an hour before it started raining and then we made a mad dash to the vehicle.  We got soaked.  The rain put the fire out.  We waited hopefully for the rain to pass so we could resume our fun, but it didn't.  Rancher husband had to make a mad dash back to get our cooler and we all went home.  I hope Cowboy wasn't too dissapointed.  The Crew got a few bites, but didn't catch anything.... except for the little guy in the picture above(little crawdad or crayfish).
Cowboy thought that was a pretty cool deal that he got something on his birthday.

Cowboy is maturing a lot.  He is a huge help around the ranch and around the house also.  There really aren't many jobs that he grumbles about doing.  Of the Crew, he is usually the first to volunteer to help no matter what the job is.  He loves helping cut and stack wood, digging ditches in the rain to divert water (wether or not it is really necessary), going with Dad or Grandpa to put out salt and mineral and check water and he loves anything to do with Big Red (the 4-wheeler).  He likes to help horseback and can keep up pretty well now but he still gets tired on the big long days.  He still loves a good road trip.  He is very sensitive to others around him and is always thinking of everybody else.  He loves riding his bike and is still our go-to-man for hauling the alfalfa pellets and grain in his wagon from the shop to the milkhouse.

We love this boy soooo soooo much!  He is a joy to us all.  We are very blessed to be his parents.


Here is a pic. from a few weeks back before he got his cast off.  And before he got a haircut I see also!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pistol... never a dull moment.

Last month Pistol turned 6!!  How the years have flown by since this boy hit the floor running. 
He wakes up full force and crashes hard the end of the day.  He is ornery as they come and we are constantly on our toes in wait of the next antic. 

But don't get me wrong.  We love this boy to pieces.  Sometimes he is just hard to keep up with.  It takes a special touch to keep Pistol in tow.  He is just far too much in a hurry to go places and do things in a careful and collected way, and if things are in his way when he walks (runs) by.... well.... just hope they aren't made of glass.  Hope that when he gives you a hug you didn't already have any sore or broken ribs... because you might now.  Hope that when he slaps you a five your hand wasn't already sore, because it will be now.  Watching him with little Squirt is often like watching a toddler trying to love on a cat or a dog.... you know instead of petting it and carrying it nicely they are slapping it and choking it with love?  He has a sweet, kind heart, it is just hard to get him to slow down!

Pistol has always tried his best to keep up with his older brother (by 3 years) and older sister (by 4.5 years).  And you know he has always done an amazing job doing just that.  He used to be hot on their heals and now he out in the lead.  There is no way you can tell him he can't do things that they can, so... we never have. 

Cowboy Husband and I break our backs trying to keep things equal and fair between the 3 bigger kids.  It is hard, it is exhausing and sometimes nearly impossible, but we do it and we do our best.  We are constantly "taking turns" and keeping track of who gets to go do what on the ranch today and who's turn it is to do what next.  It works pretty well overall, but sometimes..... it nearly gets the best of us. 

Pistol has his favorites though.  So far going horseback and putting out salt/mineral (in the pickup) seem to be lower in the ranks for him then say.... fixing pipelines (with the backhoe and lots of mud of course) and checking water (in Big Red aka the red 4-wheeler).  So he might trade Cowgirl (maybe we should call her Horsegirl?!) a horseback day with Dad for an upcoming pipeline fixing day.  He is always up for helping with anything mechanical or anything that requires a little brute force from one of his (many) swiped hammers or various tools.  Each kid has their favorite activities which are constantly changing as they grow and change and are better able to keep up and help with certain things.

So 6 years old and enjoying life to it's fullest.  Never a dull moment and never a word unsaid... that is life with our Pistol.  He cracks us up and keeps us young, makes us smile and tests our max.
What a blessing to us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lil Squirt... growing up soo fast!

This little guy is growing up so fast.
This pic. is actually from the end of May and almost two months old now.
But it came out so cute I had to post it.

He is still such a happy little Chap.  Just such a joyful addition to our family.  He is always smiling.

Little Squirt is no longer a little baby. 
He is 13 1/2 months old now.
He has been walking so long now that he is trying to master running.
AND....He has recently developed an intense interest in climbing...
climbing chairs and climbing onto the coffee table and pulling out the drawers and scaling up to the counters.
Maybe we should call him Monkey??!
Thankfully he has also figured out how to turn around and safely let himself down from all of these places
(well..... that is the idea anyhow... sometimes he succeeds and ...sometimes not)

He had gotten to the point of waking only 1-2 times most nights, but he is in the process now of teething 4 molars (yes, I did say 4)and has gone back to waking much more than that.

Pre-Molars he was eating an assortment of finger foods very well.  Honey cheerios are still his favorite.
He loves to carry around a plastic coffee cup with cheerios in it and holds it by the handle and only spills the cereal out every few seconds or so.  So we are on constant cereal pickup duty  ... well maybe I should say the big kids are on constant duty?  He even brings his cup to you for a refill also.  He hasn't had any other bad food reactions since Jan. and March and May, so that is wonderful.

He loves the Wiggles.  Did I say L.O.V.E.S. ??  Because he LOVES to DANCE!  He bends at the knees and gets his little groove on and has a real mean waist move also.  He even adds in a clap every now and then; it is as cute as it sounds. 

So when he climbs onto the table and other various off limit things what is he doing up there? 
Well...
Dancing of course!

I will let another little secret out.... we have been listening to these Wiggles songs so often lately we have all been caught humming and wiggling along to them lately.  
 But some of us probably won't admit to that freely!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

keeping up with.... Life.

Gosh time just jumps on by and before you even know it the day, week, month, year ... is just gone. 

Two months have pretty much flown by without my posting here at all.  Wondering what we have been up to?  Well... let's see... in a nutshell....

*branding season on our ranch and all the neighbors'... always a busy time.

*schooling

*baseball season started the end of May and Pistol and Cowboy are on the same team, so only driving in for practice two times a week... yeah!

*Pistol had his 6th birthday a week ago today!!

*Soccer camp all of this week for all three older kiddos.

*Cowboy broke a bone in his wrist the 4th day of soccer camp;
we are really bummed about his baseball season. 

*Little Squirt had his 1st birthday today!!  Boy did that year fly on by!

Life is great; we are so blessed.

I have tons of pictures to document it all too, but I haven't put them on the computer yet, so I guess that won't be happening tonight. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

10 months young....

April 12th little Squirt hit the 10 month mark and I thought he deserved some updates.

He is a snuggler, lover, cuddler, sleep on my chest 1/2 the night and knead my hair like a cat, happy little fellow.

The biggest news is he is now officially walking everywhere about 98% of the time.  (That percentage was calculated with great accuracy...... ya... right huh).  Anyhow, he hardly ever crawls anymore. 

My goal was to hold off on foods as long as possible.  As of 10 months old his only food besides milk was recently introduced rice cereal and also now oatmeal cereal.  No reaction to either thankfully.  I am also smart enough to be getting the "organic" kind that doesn't also include wheat or soy in it, like the name brand baby cereals do.  Couldn't believe it when I found that out!

Not much going on in the talking department yet.  Will sometimes say Da,Da and when he is tired or hungry says Ma,Ma.  Tries to say Bye and does wave. 

He has been napping a little better this past week and has been taking one nap about midday that lasts normally 1 hour but sometimes it will go to 2 hours!!!  Nights are still not so good.  A good night he will wake maybe 5 times and a bad night maybe every 20 minutes.  I don't know what is going on with that, but several bad nights makes for a cranky mom is the word on the street. 

And I don't know why, but last night was the absolute best night ever in his life.  He woke one time and went back to sleep with a pacifier and then woke another and I fed him and he went back to sleep and then he woke a 3rd time and I fed him and he went to sleep on my chest; that was it!   We tried to figure out what was different and the only thing we could come up with was that husband and I fell asleep on the couch with him with all the lights on in the house until 5 a.m.  Hate to admit it, but we often do that, but normally we wake up by 1 or at the latest 2.  So maybe the lights on was the key.  Think I will try it again tonight.

Crazy what you will do for a little sleep, isn't it!!  But look at the little bugger..... he is SO worth it!!

Doesn't he look like a big boy now.  He also got a hair trimming.
Well, speaking of Squirt he is mad now, so guess that is all I get to say about him.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Streusel Coffee Cake -- Gluten, Soy & Cow dairy free

Tasty Tuesdays......

A gluten free coffee cake that really tastes good!

 It is so good in fact that it deserves a really special name, but ....alas... I cannot come up with anything great.  It is delicious, simple, pretty and sooo moist (remember I have a soft spot for moist desserts).  And it is ohhhh sooo gooood!  Definitely going to become a favorite at our house.  Trust me it does taste as good as it looks.  Very hard to believe this one is gluten-free --- really, it is gluten free!

It is so exciting to see how far we have come with our recipes.  It was really like learning how to cook all over again.  It was so overwhelming in the beginning that just finding safe foods was pretty much all I could handle.  I didn't experiment a whole lot in the recipe department because I didn't really have the 'guts'.  Lots of allergen free recipe books out there, but none that really fit what we are allergic to in our house.  And so many of them called for special ingredients that I didn't have and so many of them were so long and complicated looking.  And I am not a recipe person to begin with... I am the add a little of this and a little of that and see what happens sort of person.  And I just didn't know how that would go over with our new restrictions.  So we stayed in a food rut for a while... until a special friend gave me the encouragement and desire to "broaden my horizons".  And I thank her for that, because now I am back to the "add a little of this and a little of that and lets see what happens"... and... just look at what we have been missing out on.....


doesn't that look yummy!

Ingredients:
=====================
1  Pamela's white cake mix
1 5.9 oz. Jello Instant Pudding mix- vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of prepared vanilla pudding
(make according to directions a little ahead of time so it can set up
we used goat milk. 2nd choice would be almond or coconut milk, or cow if you can have it)
1/2 cup of canola oil
3/4 cups of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

oil/shortening for greasing the pan



 
Recipe:
=========================
preheat oven to 375
mix cake mix and dry pudding mix together
add eggs, prepared pudding and oil and mix together

grease tube pan
pour 3/4 of cake mix into tube pan
sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon into tube pan
with fork gently swirl sugar mixture into the cake mix about 1/2 inch
pour remaining cake mixture into tube pan

bake cake until golden brown
about 45-55 mintues
invert onto plate and drizzle with glaze
and let cool before serving so it firms well


 

glaze:
================
powdered sugar
small amount of oil
milk




But you know what this coffee cake isn't ?

It isn't .........

fat free! 

But I think you can tell that by looking at it!






Monday, April 12, 2010

Wind... wind... and ....more .....wind!

Well, the title pretty much sums things up.  After snow, mud, snow, mud ect... now we are starting the third week up of wind... wind and more wind!  And when I say wind, I really mean wind.  You know the kind that actually can knock you over?  Yes that is the kind we have been getting.  One and a half weeks of it straight day after day. 

Then last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were Beautiful with NO wind (and you better believe we were enjoying every single minute of each of those days).  But now it is Monday and it is howling outside.  So the routine goes, run out and do your chores while squinting so the dirt doesn't blow in your eyes and run back to some sort of shelter.  Well that is the routine for the crew and I... rancher husband, neighbor rancher, Grandpa rancher and uncle rancher just have to grin and bare it.  Maybe I should kindly remind rancher husband what he seems to always remind me when the going gets tough:  "that's just the life of a cowboy"... wonder if he would smile... or throw some small object at me? 

The good news is, for once the kids would rather be in doing their schoolwork then outside playing.

Too bad I can't get a good picture of wind.  Guess I could take one of the dirt blowing down the road, couldn't I.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes!

Gluten/Wheat, Cow dairy, Soy free!  Can you taste them?


Come on and bake some... you know you want to... they will blow you away because they are that good!

I know, I know... another sweets recipe.  Honestly, we do live on more than just cupcakes, cookies and pancakes.  I really can cook.  But cooking (allergen free) seems easier to me then baking.  I find it a lot more challenging to bake good tasting treats.  So I am always looking to improve my recipes and cook/bake something that doesn't actually taste allergen free. 

I cannot believe how far we have come in the cooking and baking department.  I can remember not very many years ago when we first found out about all these food allergies our kids had.  When it came time to make a birthday cake for our little son, I was at a loss.  I was so overwhelmed by it all.  Pick one allergy and it seems fairly simple.  But when you start combining them you hit a lot of dead ends.  A lot of dairy free foods rely on soy and vice versa.  Gluten free is pretty popular, but most gluten free foods are not also soy and dairy free.  And learning all the hidden ingredients.  Well, shall we just say I was so overwhelmed that we did not even have a birthday cake.  We had a watermelon cake (with an actual watermelon with candles stuck in it)... yes, I know... funny right.  Anyhow, I cannot believe how far we have come.  From watermelon to cupcakes that are just as good or maybe better than any I made pre-allergy baking!  Puts a big smile on my face!

Ok, so truthfully I have never been a big chocolate fan, but you know... these are just super delicious!  I am all for moist and with pudding and chocolate chips in them, these couldn't get any more moist!

Ok, so lets get on with it:


Ingredients:
---------------------------------
1 Pamela's Chocolate Cake Mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 1/2 cups of prepared pudding
1 cup of chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life brand)

For these we used Jello instant pudding prepared according to package direction using goat milk. 
We used 1 1/4 cups of Butterscotch and 1 1/4 cups of coconut cream flavor


Recipe:
----------------------------------------------
Mix all ingredients together, fill baking cups 3/4 full and bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minuntes.  Lightly touch the cupcakes in the middle and they should feel very soft but yet firm.  Don't overbake or they will not be moist.



Frosting:
------------------------
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup of hershey's cocoa
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of milk

well, that is what the recipe on the back of the Hershey cocoa says anyhow.
Honestly I mixed the oil and the cocoa together and then I alternated back and forth with adding the powdered sugar and adding about a cup full of coconut pudding (left over from the cupcake batter) and just kept mixing a little of each in until it was good and thick and I had the amount I needed.  Maybe with just straight milk you would only need 1/3 a cup though.  I thought it turned out well with the pudding.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

the old dirt road of life....

This morning Pistol got to witness the long anticipated arrival of his goats' kids. 
The first one out was a little buck kid.  I watched the excitement spread over Pistol's face as he talked about the little white kid.  I gently reminded him that we would be selling the little kid, as we couldn't keep him.  Pistol has such a tough outer shell.  Not everybody gets to see underneath that shell and discover what a gentle little guy he really is.  As my words stung his ears, he turned away from me and I could see the tears streaming down his face.  I kindly reminded him how we had no use for this little buck kid and couldn't afford to keep him.  The quiet tears turned into loud sobs.

 "Maybe she will have a doe kid next", I offered.  Personally I had no intention of keeping doe or buck kids from this doe this year.  But I didn't have the heart to say that outloud.  " Maybe when Cowboy's doe kids --due date yesterday-- she will have two doe kids and you can have one of those to keep" I gently offered.  My offer fell on deaf ears. 

The doe began pushing another kid out.  I prayed for a doe.  The kid fell on the ground and Pistol asked what it was... I was scared to check, but lifted the leg and then looked up to see the hope on Pistol's face.  "A doe" I proudly reported.  A huge grin returned to Pistol's face as he bent down talking to the little wet kid.  He asked if we would be keeping it and without pause I smiled and heard myself saying," yes we will buddy".  Pistol patted his mama goat and ran to the house to share the good news.

  ----------------------------------------------------


I guess my morning got me to thinking about our life a bit....

Ranching is a wonderful way of life.  But it isn't just all sweet and romantic like, as many believe it is.

 I love raising our kids the way we do.  I love for them to learn hands on and experience things and understand things that some people never get to.  I love for them to see their grandpa and dad and uncle work so hard on the ranch and learn from them and grow knowing that personal pride of "sun up to sun down".  I love for them to see the pride in their own work and for them to set and achieve their own goals. 

But I also know how much they learn when they see that things can go wrong and that they will go wrong.  Ranch kids learn tragedy at a very early age.  They see dissapointment and loss and their hearts feel sadness and grief.  There is no place for sheltering.  Things happen and we must move on, that is what we teach our kids.  Bad things happen to everybody.  Sometimes things happen... unfortunate things.... horrible things... and we must deal with those things to the best of our abilities.  This is all part of life and there is no option of avoiding it.

But you know they also learn how to pick up the pieces and move on.  And that right there is a priceless bit of knowledge.  They know in this business there are no guarentees, no maunual to follow.  Our kids are learning the ropes from the wisdom being passed from their Dad, Uncle and Grandpa, who in turn learned the ropes from their fathers/grandfathers.   With heart and determination, we can move on and maybe even end up at a better point. 

We also try to be optimistic and focus on the positives and not the negatives.   And you know ....it is pretty easy to do, as we have so, so many positives, that it is impossible not to be downright overwhelmed by them! 



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