Monday, April 28, 2008

Let the Ropin' Begin

The cowboy is the only person I know who does the same thing for relaxation and entertainment that he does for a living.

Doctors golf.

Accountants...well I haven't a clue as to what accountants do. I honestly believe that if they work for the IRS, they spend all of their time contemplating new and deceptive ways of making us part with our hard-earned money. Don't get me started.

Lawyers play tennis.

Cowboys rope.
It's in their blood. Their eyes sparkle when the subject is brought up. I saw this very thing take place just the other day. Clint was over and my DH posed this question, "Wanna rope tomorrow?"

There. The sparkling eyes. They're behind the glasses. Take my word for it.

That really is a rhetorical question. It ALWAYS elicites a positive response. And now that the days are longer, you can bet that more often than not, we will be spending many of the coming days, weeks and months in the arena.

I am not complaining. Not by a long shot. I love spending time out there as much as they do. No, I don't rope. That would only serve as comedic relief. Actually it wouldn't be very funny. It would be sad. Really sad.
Good thing I know my place. I run the chute, help with the horn wraps, and take the pictures. I have mastered the art of multi-tasking. Here's Tiffany putting on one of the horn wraps:

For years, we would drive to a friend's place a few days a week and rope in the summer. Our kids grew up in and around the arena. They learned to work the chute. They learned how to work the gates. They learned to move the cattle back up the alley. They learned how to rope chickens, cats and each other.

When we moved here, for the first time, we had an arena at our house! It's not fancy by any stretch of the imagination and it needs lots of work, but we are thrilled. It only took DH a year and a half to find time to get in there. He was completely snowed under when we got here and then there was the problem of the ground. It was concrete hard and we didn't have the equipment to work it. Enter the oil field. We have a few wells on the place and they asked whether they could park their tractor and equipment at headquarters for a while. No problem. They kept asking whether there was any work that they could do for us in return and DH finally mentioned the arena. In no time at all that D-40 ripped up the arena ground and opened up the possibility of us actually using the arena.
DH and DS spent evenings in the shop designing and building a drag to pull behind our little tractor. Then the kids were drafted into breaking up the huge boulders of dirt that still lingered with sledgehammers. Finally! We had a soft foundation, DH had a few minutes to catch his breath, and the roping could commence.

Someone's feeling a little frisky this afternoon:


We raise both beef cattle and Corriente (roping cattle) so we always have cattle on hand and after the boys put in a long day of work, there's no better way to kick back than throwing a few loops.
These two make a good team. They think alike. They're both perfectionists and lifetime learners. Tiffany videos their runs and they study them. Not so they can enter ropings and win. Just because they are the type of men that study anything they are interested in. They are forever pushing themselves to improve their skills. It's one of the things I love about DH.

In between runs, there's always time for a good story and, if I keep my eyes open, quiet moments like this:


This is the time of day that photographers adore. The boys were visiting between runs and I told them that the light (that golden light - DD teases me about this) was just perfect for some great shots.

Plan on more roping posts in the future. Since I write about my daily life and roping is a big part of it this time of the year, roping is what you get.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shotgun Sundays

This is how we spend many Sunday afternoons and evenings. This is what we do for fun and entertainment. We don't take vacations. We don't go out to eat. We don't go to the movies. We shoot shotguns.

It's a fun way to relax and enjoy eachother's company.



Redneck?

So I've been told, but I don't have a problem with that. We have spent many a hour together as a family out at the range. Most of the time we shoot here on the ranch, but lately, the boys have begun to shoot a bit more seriously. We have started making some trips into the Skeet and Trap Club and just this last weekend, DS shot in his first registered shoot. He was the only kid and he hit 45 out of 50 birds ~ very cool!
The trap club had a fun night shoot with all kinds of shooting games during the day. DS won the buddy shoot with Joel. Everyone brought food and we had a cookout before starting the night shoot. When it gets pitch dark, they shoot white florescent clay birds (just to clear things up, that's what they call the round, clay target).

The people that run the ranges and are diehard shooters are amazing. We are blessed to be involved with such a neat bunch. Safety is always the priority and everyone is so welcoming and encouraging. They have just taken the kids right under their wings. Don't know why more youngsters aren't involved in the sport. This is something the kids will be able to enjoy all of their lives. We've got members in wheelchairs and a 91 year old doctor that gives everyone a run for their money (no money involved here, just an expression). Well, when I say no money involved that's really not true. Guns are not cheap and ammunition costs are rising as quickly as fuel costs. The boys do some of their own reloading and will probably be reloading much more in the future.

We feel blessed to be able to spend so much time together as a family. The kids are growing so quickly and these years are fleeting. These memories will last a lifetime.
Now the boys are in studying mode. Just today we received a Todd Bender (world renowned shotgun instructor) video~ guess what we'll be watching intensely tonight.

Just today I had to order a 2nd shooting catalog so that both DH and DS can each have their own copy. I kept hearing, "Do you have the shooting catalog?" Repeatedly. We may soon have one in every room.

It is a rare instance that I find myself in town and my list does NOT include some sort of ammunition.

Yes, my boys love guns. DS loves to shoot as well. It's what we do for fun and if I had not had a problem with my depth perception, I would be right up there with them. As it is, I still get to participate from behind the camera and cheer them on.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Feeding Mares

The mares are on a every-other-day feeding schedule and we love to jump in with DH whenever we can ~ especially around this time of year because we enjoy their colts so much. This week the last mare had the last colt ~ a horse colt. This year's tally stands at 4 fillies and 6 horse colts. Initially I thought we were expecting 11, but I was wrong.

It happens...


occasionally...

Ok...a lot!

We'll have our work cut out for us this winter when we halter break the little rascals.

Makes me want to break out in song when the weather's this womderful...

and we're going to feed...

and I'm bouncing down the ranch roads with DH by my side...

and I get to take pictures.

It's happened before.
Good thing DH thinks I have a good voice.

Good thing he's tone deaf.

First off, DH loaded some of this:



Appetizing, isn't it?
Someone thinks so ~Yum! Photo compliments of DD.

Then we stopped at the overhead storage and filled up with cake before heading east:

Get ready for equine overload! I could not stop taking pictures of these darling creatures!

We spend a good while walking amongst the mamas and their babies. They get used to us early on and often let DH scratch their rumps:


Some are more reserved than others and don't venture far from their mamas:

The afternoon is the perfect time for basking in the warmth of the sun and catching a nap.

All of our mares are good mamas:


Snack time:


This little fellow cracked me up. Okay, that's enough with the attitude fellow!



Look closer. This little horse colt's sneaking a cube. He doesn't know what to do with it though and drops it soon after. Those long, gangly legs are just so cute.



But even at this age, they show good definition of muscle:




Can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


Friday, April 18, 2008

April Showers...or Not

Okay - it's April 18th and I have one question. Where are the April showers?! Apparently, the individual who coined that phrase did not live in our neck of the woods. I know that God's timing is perfect, but I tend to get a little impatient.

Yesterday afternoon we were elated to see this:


And this:




Wish I could bottle the smell of rain:


Yes, I was so excited that I went out and took a picture of raindrops on the sidewalk. That's what happens when you are desperate for moisture. Rain becomes photo-worthy. In our industry, rain is a necessity and when it rains, it is a gift and we are thankful for every drop. We would have to have a lot of rain before you would hear anyone grumbling about it. It's been a long time since we've experienced a good rain.


You might be asking, "Wait a minute. Don't they live in the desert?"


Yes, we do, but at times the desert sees it's fair share of rain. Last year we were blessed with an abundance of rain and it didn't take us long to become accustomed to it.


Even though we experienced extended periods of drought in the mountains of West Texas, we also had our share of wet weather:

The creek would rise and we might be cut off from town for 4 or 5 days. When that happened, we celebrated.




Fixing water gaps was something to get excited about. And when the water receded, we drove the tractor down to the creek and spent the day moving the tons of rock that had washed into the crossing. There are good neighbors, even though they live an hour away, at the end of dirt roads:



As well as people who sometimes take leave of their senses:

When DS was 6 and had just started kindergarten, we had one of those rains. I panicked then because we were not all on the same side of that creek, turned river. DH saddled up a couple of horses, loaded them in the trailer, and drove to the water's edge. I was not invited because according to DH, he did not need a hysterical female added to the mix. Humph.


Friends brought DS to the other side and waited for DH to swim the horses across and pick up DS who thought it was all very cool.


Suffice it to say, everyone made it back home safely and it is now one of those "remember when" stories that is often repeated.

Yesterday I almost ran out and started spreading grass seed in the yard. Good thing I didn't get too carried away.

I made a comment to DH about the power of prayer and about 4 minutes later the rain stopped. As he went out he stated, "Looks like you might need to get back on your knees". Humph.

Actually, he's right. We should always be on our knees for that is when we are closest to God. I tend to wander away from that at times, but I'm getting better. He knows what our needs are much better than we do. I am learning to lean on Him for all my needs and let Him be my rock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I've Been Fired

Humph! Yesterday while DD and I were in the midst of a marathon Algebra grading session, we also found ourselves taken hostage by a fit of laughter. It's really not unusual because for some peculiar reason, we get really tickled when we go over math. Maybe it's God's way of keeping us from breaking out into tears, but whatever it is, it is getting out of hand. I mean, there is nothing funny about Algebra unless you are the mother of my DD.

This kid is a hoot. She is smart as whip, has a wicked sense of humor, is very witty and makes the every-day fun. She is also a perfectionist. She learns easily, but has a hard time being taught. However, she has been known to be dramatic and has a terrible problem asking for help. She thinks she she should alreay know it all. Her answer to that is to simply skip the problem...or the next 12 problems because she just forgot to get back to them. Sigh.

In her defense, I am horrible about keeping up with grading math papers. It is my downfall and when I do go to grade them, there are unfinished lessons and I make her work through them. One day she will thank me.

When I was in school and had wrong answers, they were counted incorrect, but I never knew WHAT I had done wrong. Thus, I never really mastered the concept and it made it difficult to move on to the next one. I tested out of college algebra (don't know HOW, but I did), but now, the math they are doing in High School seems to go beyond that and although it has been many moons since I was in school, it was not exactly the dark ages.

The thing is, she is good at math.

I don't think I can adequately put this experience into words and if someone just happened to be within earshot they would certainly think we had taken leave of our senses ~ they just might be correct in their assumptions.

Example. The answer to question 14 is 257. Her answer is 156. She tells me, "Well, I got it partially right."

Please explain.

"I got a 5 and 6+1 =7 so all I missed was the 2.

Did I also mention that this kid has a sarcastic wit? I try not to laugh and a snort escapes instead which prompts another round of impossible to stop laughter. Sigh.

We are utterly exhausted when we finish and DD informs me that I can no longer be her teacher. I am fired.

Humph.

In the past, I have mentioned the possibility of enrolling the kids in the Texas Tech Correspondence School. They offer a certified High School Diploma which may make it easier for them when they apply to college. Yesterday she took me up on that offer. We are looking into a few classes.

When we began this homeschooling journey 8 years ago I asked the Lord to guide us and let me know when changes needed to be made. This may be His answer. We'll continue to be in prayer about it this summer.

I vow to keep up with the grading of math papers (I have no problem with the other subjects). Writing it down here, makes me more accountable.

Think I'll grade the rest of those papers by myself this morning because my stomach still aches from yesterday's laughter.

Fired. Humph!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

12 on 12 April

First order of business: Give DD a round of applause for my new blog makeover! She completely revamped the whole thing after suggesting it might be time to try something new. I am a creature of habit, but I let her take the reins and I think she did a great job! She is much more computer savvy than her old mom. Thanks sweetie, I love it!

OK, I'm jumping in here with my 12 on 12 post before the month gets away from me again.

Since the 4-H kids were coming out for the day, the first order of the day was to bake cookies. No chocolate since they shoot better when they don't eat it. These Ranger Cookies are a pretty good substitute and although cookies aren't generally considered healthy, these do have oatmeal in them so that makes them healthy in our book:

Much of the day was filled with 4-H shooting practice so once again you get to see kids shooting since this is my 12 on 12 challenge for my scrapping buddies:


The weather was incredible. For days the wind has been whipping itself into a frenzy and yesterday it finally disappeared. These photos wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable to take had we been standing in 50 mph gusts. The wind is exhausting and it was a welcome relief to spend the day in the calm of the still, warm air.

The State Competition in just around the corner so they are running lots of shells through their guns:

After spending the morning working on rifle, they moved to the shop and practiced with air guns:



DD took off before dawn with her Daddy for the horse sale in town and since I have yet to figure out how to be in 2 places at one time, she is absent from these photos as are photos from the horse sale

When they came home in the afternoon, I jumped in and went to feed with DH. It's one of my favorite things to do. Here he is hauling some hay to the cattle in the pens.


And removing the strings from the hay: A quick stop at the barn for some small bales:

Then it was off to check on the bulls that we bought in Kansas that were delivered on Wednesday: The ranch is covered with antelope and I am anxiously awaiting the first sighting of the new babies. It's still a bit early but soon they will be everywhere!
Suppertime for the horses. Frosty look peculiar with his ear pinned back like that. He's such a sweetheart. Just don't get between him and his supper! He's letting everyone know that he's first in line and everyone else had better back off:

And here's the layout. It's really simple because I have lost my creative inspiration this afternoon and I can't decide on what kind of decorative embellishments to add. Maybe I'll come up with something later:
No more procrastination for me.

At least not today.
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