Friday, September 21, 2007

Kicking it into High Gear

Life at the end of the dirt road is quiet. And peaceful. And serene.

For the most part.

However, we do have times when things get crazy busy.

This is one of those times.

We are in the process of jumping into our Fall Works (Shipping). For any readers (not that I have any! =D) who are unaware of what that entails, let me give you a short description. Fall is one of the busiest times of the year on a ranch (and my favorite). The bunkhouse fills up with bedrolls and dufflebags; the lot between the house and the barn is crowded with various pickups and trailers, the pens accomodate strange horses, the tackroom houses an array of saddles, blankets and tack, the crew settles in for the duration of 1-2 weeks and the days begin at 3 or 4 a.m.. This is a time of year that is eagerly awaited on the ranch. Although we live in the desert, this year we have been blessed with amazing rain ~ last night we received another .9" here at the house. And yes, we measure every drop! So the cattle are fat and soggy, the pastures are thick with grass, the dirt tanks are full to overflowing and the men are happy. Add to that, the fact that beef prices are good and we can pretty much call it an awesome year.

In the fall, the crew gathers the pastures and sorts off the calves (weaning). We then sort off the steers and heifers. The steers are shipped off to buyers who will either put them in feedlots or out on wheat pasture. The heifers are sorted into keeper heifers and cull heifers. If we're working the Corrientes, the calves will also be branded. We run both Corriente and beef cattle here and next week we'll be working the Corrientes (we'll work the beef cattle in October).

My favorite thing to do when the crew is working is take pictures. I don't have the opportunity to do that very often as I am the designated cook and I seldom have time to clean up the kitchen after breakfast, drive to whichever set of pens they are working in that day, take pictures, drive back home, and make dinner. I hope to sneak out with my camera at least one day this year!

All of this doesn't begin to take place until Sunday, when the crew begins to arrive, but the previous week was kind of crazy as well.

This past week we had 10 hunters in for the weekend for the antelope hunt. 10 men. 1 bathroom. Huge amounts of barbeque. Beer. Old septic tank. Next to ancient trees with wandering roots. Need I go into detail? I think not. Sigh. Add to that the fact that we just had new floors installed in the bunkhouse last week. Sigh.

Enter my sweet husband who can fix anything. He was able to get things back in order, DK cleaned things up inside (dear man) and then we called to have it pumped out completely. The septic man showed up on Wednesday. Just after the man who arrived for an interview for the opening we have here at headquarters, but before the neat new couple we hired for a position we had at North Camp pulled in from Kansas that evening. They had 2 blowouts and ran into a rainstorm on their way here and yet they both had smiles on their faces when they arrived. We helped them unload their things, left them pizza and a few beers and gave them a few days to settle in. Never a dull moment around here I tell you.

So today I am planning my menu in order to feed a dozen ravenous men next week. The amount of food that will be consumed next week will be staggering. It's a lot of work, but I really do love it! A friend sent me a couple of new dessert recipes that I am eager to try ~ this bunch has an enormous sweet tooth ~ thanks Marquita! I am always looking for something new to add to my menu and any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

We are also planning to get in a full day of school. I hope to sneak in just a little bit this weekend too since we will be laying the schoolbooks aside for next week. It's a constant juggle to keep school balanced with ranch life, but the flexibility that homeschooling affords us is a huge blessing.

So, with that being said, I am off to direct my students in the general vicinity of their schoolbooks. One has recently been spotted hauling kitten chow and milk to the litter of kittens taking up residence in the chicken coop and the other can be heard playing his guitar from the dark recesses of his room.

Here's hoping that I will be successful in my crusade!

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