Friday, February 29, 2008

Blessed by Friendship

So yesterday I DID get to play hooky! L came to pick me up so that we could meet M in town for dinner (that's lunch around here). L had a gift card and she was gracious enough to invite us for dinner. So , after I made a cherry pie and slapped together a Chicken & Dumpling Casserole, and did a few loads of laundry, and got the kids started on school, and sent one child off for his college course, and served the 2 feed salesmen a couple pots of coffee we were off!

The 2 feed salesmen arrived at 7:30 and we were uncertain as to whether they would still be here at noon, but DH told me not to change my plans and DD tended to them while I was away. Thank you for letting Momma run off and play with her friends sweetheart! You're a big help and I appreciated coming home to a clean kitchen.

Let me just take a minute to explain about these two gals that I had lunch with yesterday. I just love them to pieces! When we moved here 3 years ago, I was crushed, but the Lord has overwhelmingly blessed us and these two gals are 2 of those amazing blessings! They are such a hoot! They are beautiful and smart and funny and so strong in their faith.

We try to get together, just the three of us, once in a while and when we do...well let's just say that if laughter is good for the soul, we've got the healthiest souls around. Oh my! Yesterday I left my mascara on the napkin at the resaurant and came close to wetting my pants and it wasn't the first time. I'm sure people were wondering what we had been drinking. We don't drink, but they'll think that anyway. Once we went to Lubbock and we had three people stop us throughout the day and tell us that we were having too much fun. Is that even possible?

We spent one afternoon picking corn and then spent one of the most amazing hours in conversation and prayer. The Lord was in that cornfield with us and it moved me greatly. M, I am so touched by your wise words and your heart for the Lord.

This friendship is filled with laughter and honesty and prayer and growth and tears and I am so thankful. I can only imagine what God must have been thinking when he put the 3 of us together.

I just want to tip my hat to these two. Thank you for your amazing friendship ~ you make my life richer, even if you do make me wet my pants.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Wanna Play Hooky!

Eight years ago we chose to homeschool the kids and it has been the ultimate adventure. Alas, today finds me restless and cranky. It is 70 degrees outside. Not a cloud in the sky. No wind! I want to run and play and dig in the dirt. Instead I am cooped up and dealing with this:

Flexibility has been one of the most wonderful aspects of homeschooling. It has also been one of the biggest hurdles we have had to overcome.

DS is a Junior and looking to apply to the Air Force Academy. DD is a Freshman and has her sites set on attending Vet School. I'm excited for all that the future holds for both of them, yet their chosen paths mean that I have to set boundaries and keep them focused on school. On days like today, that's not an easy task.

They whine.
They sigh.
They droop.
They may even shed a tear or two.

Oh wait, that's mine.

I think I mentioned before that I write my lesson plans in pencil...and I erase a lot.

I erase for impromptu fishing expeditions.
I erase for time to splash in the creek.
I erase to jump in the truck with DH and make a feed run.
I erase so that our children can experience all that childhood has to offer.
I erase to drive to the other side of the ranch and help DH fix that water gap.
I erase to cuddle the new litter of kittens DH discovered in the barn this morning.
I erase to catch that horse and let the kids fly across the pasture bareback.
I erase because we are branding and my students are part of the crew.
I erase because no matter how hard I try, I can not feed a dozen men, three meals a day and still do school.

So, there comes a point where I must dig deep and not erase. There comes a point where we MUST tend to school. There are certain classes that just have to make it on to that High School Transcript. I do not relish the idea of going through Calculus or Chemistry again, but that is the job I have signed up for. I remind myself that I will not be doing them any favors by skipping Composition or bypassing Biology. When they get to college, their professors will expect much more of them than I do. So I must stay the course and, sigh...continue to gaze longingly out my window when what I really want to do is shove the stack of books aside and sneak out the door.

I just might do that anyway.

Don't worry, I'll be right back, I'm only taking out the trash.

Monday, February 25, 2008

State Fair Yeast Biscuits Rolls

There is something completely therapeutic and cathartic and comforting about making homemade bread. I don't know when I discovered this because I had never baked anything, much less knew how to cook, when DH and I married. I'm not sure what it is, but people don't seem to make bread these days and I'm not sure why. I have a good friend who makes bread for her family once or twice a week and biscuits all the time. They do not eat store bought bread. Her family knows not how lucky they are. She has promised to post a piece on sourdough (Ahem! Feel the guilt! You know who you are!) and has been teasing her blog readers with this for some time.

Around here, DH is the sourdough aficionado. He's an early riser. Much earlier than his bride of 20 years. So when he gets in one of his sourdough moods, we are greeted with the amazing smell of fresh sourdough biscuits baking in the dutch oven when we first awake on those early wintry mornings. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Alas, all I have for you today is the recipe for these. Now, don't look down your nose at these!These biscuits rolls are oh so good! They have become a family favorite and the crew inhales these by the dozen.

I am generally not a bread person. Homemade bread is a different story all together. Yes, I know everyone is busy. Yes, I know that no-one has time. But people, you are missing out on one of the best things in life! There is nothing that rivals the smell of fresh homemade bread wafting through the house. How can the simple ingredients of yeast and water and flour combine to produce such a heavenly product? Honestly, bread is not really all that time consuming. Once it's mixed up, you just walk away, let it do its thing, pop it in the oven, and wait for the accolades and praise and cheers. Your family will adore you - right up until they devour the last morsel. Then they will anxiously give you pleading looks until you whip up another batch.

Last week in Bible Study we were working in Exodus and we discussed the Passover. We talked about how leaven signifies evil throughout the Bible. My heart sank. I love baking bread and all manner of baked goods. How could I continue to enjoy making dough for bread and biscuits and rolls and doughnuts and cinnamon rolls? I pouted.

Then I found this verse: Matthew 13:33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." Aha! Here the kingdom of heaven is compared to the dynamic character of yeast. Whew!

Bake some homemade bread. Enjoy the process and the result and don't listen to all those people who tell you that bread isn't good for you. Homemade bread soothes the soul, how can that NOT be good for you?

Now don't start asking, "Where are the pictures?" I am posting this on Monday afternoon and all the biscuits rolls have disappeared. I will make another batch on Wednesday and post pictures. Be patient.

State Fair Biscuits Rolls

2 C warm water
2 Tbsp yeast (or 2 packages)
4 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c powdered milk
1/2 c butter, room temperature or mostly melted in the microwave
Additional melted butter to brush on your rolls

*Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside to proof.

*In a bowl (have I mentioned that I LOVE my Bosch mixer?!), whisk together 1 c flour, dry milk, salt and baking powder. Cut butter into flour mixture (I usually almost completely melt my butter) and let the Bosch mix it in.

*Add yeast and mix thoroughly.

*Add remaining flour and mix until dough becomes a sticky ball.

*Flour hands and turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 times until dough becomes elastic. Don't knead much or you will produce hockey pucks.

*Roll out and cut into biscuits rolls.

*Brush tops with melted butter and let rise about 40 minutes or more

*Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Warning: Do not founder on these rolls!

There is one exception to my love of baking bread. When I have cooked for a crew for 2 weeks and I have baked 22 batches of bread, I DO NOT even want to THINK about baking bread! However, it doesn't take long before I'm elbow deep in another batch!

Edit: My sincere apologies to dear friend mentioned previously. I see that she has now written her promised sourdough biscuit post. Well worth the wait! Her life is so much more interesting than mine.

Edit #2: Thanks for showing me how to add a line through a word Lori!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feeding 101

This weekend was wonderfully relaxing. It didn't start out that way though. First thing Saturday morning, DH came in and I could sense he was agitated. One of our colts, Jackson, seemed to be under the weather and DH could tell he was uncomfortable. He was off of his feed and Colic is always a scary possibility. Alas, it was Saturday and veterinarians don't work on Saturday. Did you know that? I've never heard of such a thing, but apparently they don't ~ at least not around here. DD informed me that she would work on Saturday when she began practicing. Good girl. Only one problem ~ she's 14. It'll be a few more years until she graduates from vet school and Jackson needs help now.

DH finally received a call from our regular vet and he told us he would meet us at the clinic. So DH and DD loaded Jackson and headed out. DH NEVER makes a trip to the vet without DD ~ she LOVES going to the vet almost as much as she loves riding.
They returned without Jackson who was staying at the clinic under observation. When the vet palpated him, he commented, "Hmmm...feels like a big loaf of bread." LOL! Poor Jackson was constipated. So he received a tube down his throat and was pumped full of mineral oil in hopes that he would...well...get rid of that loaf of bread which is not really a loaf of bread.

DH and DD will swing by and pick him up on Monday after they drop off cattle at the Sale Barn.

The wind was once again whipping itself into a frenzy and I don't know what possessed me to venture outside, but I jumped in with DH as he made an afternoon feed run. Yes, I braved gale force winds in order to bring you this post. As I sit here and write, I am still grinding dirt in my teeth. However, there is an upside: My face was sandblasted by the grit as I ventured out into the weather in order to bring these photos to you and I now have incredibly smooth skin. Who needs abrasive facial cleanser when one has New Mexico winds? The things I go through for y'all!
The bulls get the first ration and we sit patiently as they come lumbering through the mesquite. We wait. They are in no hurry and meander our way as if they expect us to sit there all day. Their deep grunts can be heard before they even come into view. Here come a few. We wait some more. Once they have all made their pilgrimage, we take a head count. Today I count 28 in this pasture and DH informs me that's all of them so we head to the next pasture.

We still have a few of these Hereford bulls around although they don't fit our program. They were here when we moved here so we're just keeping them until they retire. We've been rebuilding the ranch program and in a few years we'll be using all Brangus Bulls on the beef cows.

The horses come running to greet us as we venture across their territory.

Not really.

They're only thrilled to see us because they know we're bringing them their next meal. They're a lot like teenagers.

In complete contrast to the bulls, the steers & heifers & cows are thrilled to see the dust as we head their way. No need to sound the siren as they come crashing across the pasture. You can almost hear them hollering, "Cake...cake...cake..CAKE!" Bet you didn't know that 'cake' was a verb. Around here it is. Example, "Would you mind caking the heifers while you're over in that pasture?" No, we don't actually feed them cake (except on their birthday) ;) , but that's what we call the cow cubes. We buy them in bulk and store them in these overhead tanks. Then DH just drives up under them and fills the feeder.

In order to dispense the cake from the feeder, we flip a switch in the truck and count the clicks that tell us how much feed is leaving the feeder. We have it set so that 5# hit the ground with every click. Then we count cattle. Yes, we do know how many head we have, but we count to make sure everyone is present and accounted for. It's simply a cattle roll call of sorts. If someone doesn't make it to the dinner table, we can go in search of them and make sure all is well. Sometimes the missing critter may be giving birth or may have just given birth and is unwilling to leave her precious baby. Perhaps she or he is just being obstinate and refuses to join the crowd or is sick and needs some doctoring. Could be that they somehow decided that the grass is greener on the other side and they found a hole in the fence and ducked under to chat with the neighboring bovines. In any case, we keep an eye on all of our critters. I don't suppose y'all think about cows much, but since it's what we do, I thought I would let you know that they are facinating. They are just like people. Some of them are smart, some of them..well, not so much. Some are pretty and some are just funny looking. Some are sweet and some are ornery. All the babies are precious. Some have issues too. DH knows the history of every animal on the place. It has always and still does amaze me how he remembers that the mottled faced cow with the spot on her tail head had twins 6 years ago. Or that this little black calf (we have lots of black calves) has the same momma as the 4 yr old cow that we had to doctor (yes, around the ranch, 'doctor' is a verb too) last week.

DH is generally very quiet, but I love listening to him when we make the feed runs. I am privy to all sorts of information and I have learned to be quiet (not an easy feat for me) and let him talk just so I can drink in his thoughts on everything from pasture conditions to politics to horsemanship to the latest joke he heard. DH is wicked-smart and I love watching the wheels turn in his mind when he is thinking something through. After almost 21 years of marriage, this man still amazes me. These 4-legged rascals are in good hands.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sharing Scrapbook Pages

I've had some requests for scrapbook pages lately so I thought I'd post some here every so often. These are older pages that still make me smile and bring back fond memories. The weather today promises to be warm and filled with sunshine and I plan to spend as much of it as I can outside so I'll just post some that I already have on the computer. When the days warm up, I don't get much scrapping done. It's much too nice to be cooped up indoors!

Spelling Lists ~ Cowboy Style

This first page is from our 1st year of homeschooling in 2000:

Journaling reads: One cool weekday morning we headed out before dawn, freshly baked breakfast pockets in hand , to meet a cattle truck at the kingston. Well we waited and waited and waited and still no truck. The kids and Gary started playing around with the ropes and we began jumping rope to their spelling words. It's not easy to make it through "Philadelphia" ! The truck finally arrived at 10:00 and we loaded all the cattle, shipping them off. Jumping rope to spelling words is certainly an unorthodox way to learn new words, but we are learing that there are many ways to add fun to school.

Side By Side

Here the boys are moving the mares:

Journaling reads: The blessings of life at the end of the dirt road are endless and capturing these memories on film is quickly becoming a passion of mine. On this glorious morning, Gary and Tyler saddled up to move the mares and their colts to the Kingston. Caitlin and I followed in the pickup and enjoyed eachother's company while watching the colts frolic along the way. It's become a given that my camera goes where I go so I snapped these pictures along the way from the seat of the pickup. I never imagined they would turn out so well. The one where Gary is adjusting the cinch on his saddle is my favorite. The composition of that shot and the feelings it evokes are simply overwhelming to me. Watching father and son working together, side by side, the majesty of the mountains looming just ahead, combined with the natural beauty of the horses, puts a lump in my throat and a smile in my heart.

Shoeing Silver

Journaling: Gary spends a lot of time tending to the feet of our horses. One summer afternoon he began to share his knowledge with Tyler. Tyler was 12 and old enough to begin taking more responsibility for Silver's care. Gary has perfected his farrier skills through many hours of experience and study. I hope that Tyler realizes he is learning from the best. I love this series of pictures that documents the passing of this skill from one generation to another. The relationship between father and son and horse is evident. This was another one of our many afternoons spent out behind the barn where life skills and lessons seem to naturally blend in with the daily chores on the ranch.

Saddle Savvy

Here are the kids soaping their saddles. Another 'out at the barn' layout. I think I could do an entire album about the time we spend out at that old barn.

Journaling: Some of my favorite memories take place out at the barn. We spend a lot of time in and around the barn ~ working and playing. There is just something very soothing about out old tin barn. On this particular afternoon you both gathered for "Lessons in Leather". Dad had you take your saddled apart and oil them. The dry climate here certainly does a number on the tack. One of the many wonderful conversations that seem to often build in the shade of the barn took place that afternoon. Dad began with the steps involved in oiling a saddle and moved seemlessly into life lessons involving a job well done. May you always take pride in everything you attempt and look back on it knowing that you gave it your all and did your best. I love capturing these 'everyday' moments on film. To Cailtin's chagrin, you took your role as big brother seriously at one point and her skeptical expression on the previous page is priceless.

A Man and His Horse

Here's a layout about DH's relationship with horses. I could do an entire album about this too!

Journaling: Modest. That describes Gary to a T. He doesn't like it when I brag on his horsemanship skills, but I truly believe that he has a gift for working with horses and nothing can convince me otherwise. When I decided to snap a few pictures one afternoon while he was working with 2 of the colts, I had no idea what I was about to discover through the camera lens. Magic ~ pure and simple. I wondered whether the relationship I was watching develop between Gary and Elmer and Primo would translate on film. Oh my! I could not stop taking pictures. I think I took 80 shots and them I only stopped because my card was full. These 2 pages showcase my favorites, but the others complete the story of that afternoon and they are stunning to me aswell. It was tough to select which ones to place here. I cannot aptly convey the feelings of that afternoon. I can only be thankful that a picture is worth a thousand words and hope that some of these pictures have captured that magic.

Branding Day

We leased some of the neighbor's country for a season and this is a page about branding our calves at their pens:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Buckaroo Bundles and a Box Supper

The kids are preparing for the 4-H Valentine's Dance today. Along with the dance, they are having a Box Supper. Not sure how many of you remember box suppers (I don't), but I have read enough historical fiction, heard stories from grandparents and seen Little House on the Prairie enough to know what they are.

According to the 4-H leader, the kids aren't supposed to do anything fancy. She said that a pizza would be fine, but something in me just thinks that is wrong. I know that she is trying to make it easy, people are awfully busy these days. Yes, everyone will probably want to bid on the pizza ~ who doesn't love pizza, but I guess I'm just old fashioned enough to think that there should be some element of 'homemade' to this box supper. Fried chicken with all the fixins seems to be the obvious choice, but since we're cattle ranchers and I have a freezer filled with beef, fried chicken will have to find its way into someone else's box.

The kids are making Buckaroo Bundles and Cowboy Cookies. I thought it would be fun to have a western theme for their box. Since nobody knows how wonderful these Buckaroo Bundles are, we should be able to buy our own box back. Don't know if that's against the rules or not, but hey, it's a 4-H fundraiser and we've got to eat anyway!

So I thought I'd share my recipe for these yummy meals in a pocket:

Buckaroo Bundles
3 loaves of frozen bread dough
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 chopped onion
pepper, garlic and seasoning salt to taste
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I cut these pretty small)
green chile (if you can get your hands on fresh green chile, I highly recommend it! It really does make all the difference)

*Thaw out the bread dough (don't let it rise, just thaw it out enough so that it can be rolled out)

*Brown the ground beef and onion and season to taste.

*In the meantime, cook the potatoes (I fix mine in the Wok and they look like this)

*When the potatoes are done, add them to the cooked ground beef

*Toss in green chile (amounts will depend on whether you like it with a bit of heat to it or not) Here's what it looks like when the potatoes and the green chile are added to the ground beef:

*Roll out a loaf of dough and cut into 8 squares like this:

*Roll out each square. Place a couple tablespoons of meat mixture in the middle and seal the dough around the meat. It will look like a baseball.

*Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

These are so good! They are equally tasty when they are cooled and they freeze well. Makes 24 Buckaroo Bundles.

I used to make these for DH to pack into his saddle bags when he would take off to check cattle on horseback and not be back for dinner. They were a great alternative to a smooshed sandwich! This past fall I had to fix them for the crew because one of the guys said that I was famous for my cooking. Hmmm... that could be good or bad. Turns out he was talking about these Buckaroo Bundles. I fixed them for the crew once when I had to haul a handheld dinner to them on another part of the ranch about 7 years ago. Apparently one of the guys who had never helped us before, walked up to the tailgate and saw the bread. He thought, "Man! All we get is rolls?!" He grabbed one and bit into it and he told everyone after that that it was the best meal he had ever eaten. Seems that story has made the rounds. And just to set things straight, I did not only have rolls. They had a couple different bags of chips and sticks of cheese and stuffed jalapenos and baby carrots and 2 kinds of homemade cookies for dessert. They did not go hungry.

I have made these hundreds of times in the past 20 years. They are great for picnics, potlucks, ropings, ranch rodeos, road trips and stock shows. Enjoy!
Here's what their box looks like. Still need to add some ketchup and a couple of drinks. Yes, they filled the box with hay from the barn and wrapped it in western paper. I think it looks neat! Wonder how much I'll have to shell out buy it back.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

12 on 12 ~ February

Happy Valentine's Day y'all! Hope your day is filled with hugs and kisses and all things sweet~ which of course includes much chocolate!

I frequent a scrapbooking site that is filled with amazingly creative people and and they have presented a fun project that I am going to try. If photography's involved, you've pretty much got my attention. Its simple ~ take 12 photos on the 12th of each month and scrap them in one layout. I missed January and I may have to recreate it ~ ok, cheat, but I enjoyed viewing the day through the lens of my camera. Since the 12th fell on Tuesday this month, it meant a trip into town for us, so many shots originated there.

I have to admit that this project even made a day in town fun for this dirt road girl. Photos of town don't generally make their way into my scrapbooks. In fact, I don't even have a scrapbook for me. I scrap our lifestyle and the kids have lots of scrapbooks, but I haven't yet made a book of me yet. I have a few ideas floating around, but they have yet to make it onto a page. Maybe this will get me started.

So here is a peek into my life on Tuesday:

1. It started out early! DH was heading to the northern part of the state to pick up 4 bulls. I really wanted to jump in with him, but DD had her piano lesson so he made the trip solo. See, even the camera has blurry eyes this early in the morning!

2. Getting an early start to the morning means I've got some extra time to work on my Bible study lesson. Truth be told, I often let most of the week get away from me before I sit down to work on this. Don't know why because I am learning so much and thoroughly enjoying the Monday night fellowship with this amazing group of ladies:

3. DH left before the horses came up so we went out to serve them their breakfast. What a glorious morning! I certainly didn't relish the thought of spending it in town!

4. I really needed to complete my lesson plans for the week before the week disappeared so I spent some time getting that on paper. I make my lesson plans in pencil because more often than not, I will be erasing them and making changes.

5. Aahhh! The bookstore! One of our favorite places to spend time. I picked up "The Grapes of Wrath" for my next book. I've always wanted to read this. Not sure why, it's not exactly a 'fun' read, but I have been slowly working my way through some of the classics. I checked this out at the library last summer, but I never got around to it and the library wouldn't let me have it for the entire summer. Hmph! Now that we have it, I think we'll all read it.

6. Next stop ~ piano lessons ~ DD has the most amazing teacher and they started out working on their present duet, "Give Me That Old Time Religion".

7. I treated myself to a quick trip to Hobby Lobby while DD was practicing. Hard to resist their 50% off sales. I picked up a couple pieces of paper, a stamp and some brads ~ all half-price or on clearance.

8. After picking up DD, it was off to peruse the aisles of Valentine goodies at the store! 9. ...and pick up a few groceries ~ ick! Yes, those are BOXED blueberry muffin mixes! I want to make heart-shaped blueberry muffins for Valentine's Day and the fresh blueberries are WAY too expensive. This mix actually has 2 cans of blueberries in it and it's less expensive ~ go figure. Oh, and I have a coupon too! Hmmm...I see that DD managed to sneak in a few boxes of granola bars as well. She said that she needs to stash them because DS, who is 17 and always hungry, can devour 3 of these bars in a matter of minutes.

10. Ever since the kids were little, we would stop for a treat at Dairy Queen when we made our monthy trips to town in the summer. Somewhere along the way, we all developed a taste for their strawberry shakes. Yes, I know it's not summer, but it was a beautiful spring-like day and that shake was calling my name. Hey, it's a tradition!

11. On our way home, we made a quick detour and stopped in at the neighboring ranch. My friend L. had hauled in some really good dirt from her Dad's farm and she told us to come and get what we wanted for our flower beds. So we threw a couple of molasses tubs into the truck that morning and filled them up on our way home. Ok ~ go ahead and laugh, but I was really excited about this dirt! I can't wait for spring! One of my favorite things to do is dig in the dirt ~ I suppose I just never really grew up. Added bonus: we got a workout lifting those tubs back into the pickup! Heave Ho!

12. And last, but not least, here are the newest additions to our ranching family:

And here's the subsequent scrapbook page. I am giving myself lots of brownie points for actually getting this scrapped just 2 days after the 12th! That's a huge accomplishment for me! I even used the paper I bought on Tuesday and a couple of the brads.

That was fun! Can't wait for next month! Whew that was a long post ~ sorry!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blame it on the Kidneys

No, I have not deserted you. And I have not come here to pile on the excuses either. I've simply been the victim of a kidney infection for the past week. Between running to the bathroom every 15 minutes, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and scowling at the wind, the week just disappeared.

I spent the entire week drowning in a river of cranberry juice until a dear friend clued me in on the fact that cranberry tablets are available. Who knew? Between the cranberry tablets, cranberry juice, Cystex, Activia, lots of water and prayers from the great gals at Bible Study, I am no longer dependent on having access to a bathroom at all times.

Last night ~ or rather this morning ~ at the not-so-convenient hour of 3:00 ~ I found myself wide awake with voices running through my head, "You haven't blogged lately...", "Shouldn't you be writing something...", "You do know that blogging comes with responsibility...", "tsk...tsk..".

Grrr...thanks a lot! So here I sit.

The bright spot in my week was when I was hired for a photography shoot!

Well, kind of...

No money changed hands, but I did get a kiss!

DH asked me to take some photos of the Corriente steers so that we could send them out to prospective buyers. I jumped at the chance to leave the schoolbooks and dishes behind and grab my camera. He knew that my kidneys were having issues so he offered to reschedule, but I told him it would be fine. Ha! Let's just say that I don't recommend climbing over fences, sitting on tops of gates and standing on the top rail of a fence with one arm wrapped around a pole for support or dodging cattle when you are plagued with a kidney ailment. Just thought I'd share that piece of information for future reference.

By the time I saw the boys heading towards the pens that morning, the thermometer had risen to 42. With no wind and the sun beaming, it was absolutely beautiful. I was really excited to test out my zoom lens and I'm tickled with it's capabilities. I was pretty far from here:

And even further here, but I had to laugh when I saw this photo. Our dog, Sam, is a 12-yr old, retired cow dog. I wasn't even sure whether he would make it through the winter and here he is, acting like a puppy doing what he loves to do and what he does so well:

And here's what I was supposed to take pictues of:

No, Clint, please don't say anything funny because the bathroom is W...A...A...AAAAY over there and I'm not sure I can scramble off the top of this fence and run through all these pens fast enough to get there:

I should have used a higher aperture on these because the automatic mode yielded a shallow depth of field, but in the end, I kind of like how the guys aren't in focus:

Alas, the only thing they really want pictures of is the horns anyway, but I had fun although I forgot just how far it was from the top of the fence to the bathroom.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Typical Day

The wind has finally stopped blowing, but just in case you haven't had enough, I thought I would share the following:

Below you will find the story that accompanies this photo that I shared with y'all the other day:

This particular day took place in March of 2004.

It's been an interesting day. I guess I should begin by saying that I plan to incorporate today’s happenings into the book that my mom suggested I write. Its title will be, “If My Mother Could See Me Now” and the chapter will be entitled, “The Typical Day”. The title of the chapter came to me as I was standing in my attic today amidst 50 mph winds (they had died down considerably) gazing at the brilliant, blue sky. Suddenly I broke out into laughter and received a very perplexed, albeit amused, stare from DH. Let me start from the beginning.

This morning I received a request via e-mail from a few wonderful people on a scrapbooking group I am a part of. They had asked me what a typical day would entail for me. I thought, "That sounds like fun! Why not pick today?"
After what we experienced today, it suddenly seemed quite comical to think of this as a typical day. A typical day?! Do people really have those?!

This morning I had planned to get a full day of school in. Ha! I should know better than to plan something like that! It all began in a very orderly, quiet manner, even going so far as to have everyone on task and working on math by 7:30 (that should have been my first clue). All was quiet, with the exception of the wind whistling itself into an uproar outside. Homemade cookies were baking in the oven and my 2 students were working diligently. DH came in at 9:00(2nd clue), smuggled a couple of cookies and asked for my assistance on a windmill. I took one look outside and asked him why this seemed to be so urgent and could it not wait for things to calm down a bit. His reply was, “No. We need the water at Big Mill and the wind is blowing now”.
Let me add here that this well has been down for about 10 days and a couple of guys came down from the Frying Pan Ranch to help pull it on Tuesday. All that was left to do was connect the rods. Yesterday, DH and DS cleaned out the storage tank so all systems were go.
DH packed up the truck with all the essential tools, we all clammored in and we made our way to the designated area. I was really apprehensive when DH began to climb the tower. He just looked at me and asked, “Do you want to climb it”? No thank you very much, I will choose to keep my feet planted very firmly on solid ground. So DH proceeded to give me directions (which I might add is very rare, very rare indeed as he seems to think that I possess the uncanny ability to read his mind. At times I am quite capable of this. Then there are times, as when we are working on a windmill, when the gift seems to escape me entirely and I require a bit of instruction).

So DH ascends the tower and I begin to pray. I might also include here that I spent the rest of the day doing so. The wind was really out of hand and it was only the grace of God that kept my husband attached to that tower. Needless to say, I was supposed to communicate to him when the sucker rod was connected as he turned the fan blades. I thought I did that, however, the wind kept my message from reaching the man that was clinging to the side of the windmill. Now, I can be really loud when I need to be, but the wind had the upper hand and try as I might, I could not be heard and my hand signals were apparently not sent in He-man language. So DH made his way to the ground where I proceeded to tell him that he still needed to move the wheel a bit more so that I could fit the rods together. He is not happy at that point and tells me that I should have told him that before he came down. (Um, I TRIED!) He then says that the wind is only blowing about 10 times harder up on top of the tower and he can’t hear me.
So up he goes once more and we are successful in our attempt to connect the sucker rods. Hey, I didn't even drop the rod back into the well casing! For those of you that don't know, that means the well must be pulled again. Don't ask me how I know this. I didn’t even get grouchy when DH sprayed the pipe that connects the windmill to the storage tank pipe and the lubricant ended up lubricating my face more than it did the pipe. Nasty stuff. Not recommended as a facial moisturizer. Reminder, keep mouth closed.

Our children, who were 9 and 12, wisely chose to find refuge in the truck after DS decided he had run after his hat one too many times. He collected his sister who was very nearly on the verge of being blown away and safely deposited her in the cab. Their eyes were wide as saucers and they were most surely thinking that their parents had taken a leave of their senses.

I released the brake and the windmill creaked and turned to catch the raging winds. The sucker rod brought that cold, clear mountain water to the surface in record time and we breathed a sigh of relief as it began to splash into the empty storage tank. Glancing up at the windmill housing and watching the blades whip themselves into a frenzied blur, I remember thinking that there is no place on earth I would rather be and I gave a quick prayer of thanks to God.

Thank You for letting me live this amazing life.
Thank You for protecting my husband while he was plastered against the windmill.
Thank You for not letting the wind carry my children away.
Thank You for the wind which brings this precious water to the surface.
You can turn it down a notch or two whenever You're ready.
As soon as the tank is filled would be good.
Just a suggestion.
Thank You.

DH followed us back to the house in the tractor. The kids and I drove up to the house about 10 minutes before he did and settled back into our schoolwork. Not 5 minutes after we got back, we heard this horrendous, ripping sound that sent chills up my back. The house shook and rattled! After holding our breath for a minute (and sending up another prayer), I cautiously ventured outside and saw that the roof of our home was perched at an unusual angle. DH drove up as I stood in front of the house in disbelief. He parked the tractor and we walked around the house. The west side of the house was now sporting a very large, gaping sunroof. The tin had folded over on itself and was gathered at the north side of the house, with an unusually large overhang outside our bedroom. The sky was quickly filling with angry pieces of pink insulation that were whipping around the new opening and we noticed numerous loose rafter pieces that were hanging askew, threatening to join the others that littered the ground.

DH climbed up into the attic and I followed after checking on the kids. DD was scared and DS was simply stunned. I comforted them before climbing up after hubby where we began to pile what insulation we could into a protected corner. (This is when I began to laugh) It was either laugh or cry and I couldn't help but think about the request I had received this morning. DH then chained part of the roof down and we called it good.
The North wall in DD's room had shifted away from the house so she is calmly sleeping in our bedroom tonight. The pipe that vents our water heater has disappeared and the light fixture in the laundry room is askew as well. There are little pinholes of light peeking through the dining room and kitchen ceiling and some sheet rock damage, but we are safe.

Tomorrow a carpenter is coming out to assess the damage and at the moment, all is well and the wind is behaving itself. It’s been quite a day! Sigh ~ I hope that your day was much less exciting, but thank you for letting me share my ‘typical’ day. Let's hope we don't have too many more of these! There is never a dull moment around here, but this kind of excitement, I can do without!
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