Monday, March 31, 2008

4-H Invasion

Glorious Sunday.
Hear that?
Me neither. It's quiet and I love it.
It was a busy weekend and although it was lots of fun, I am wiped out.

This weekend we hosted the 4-H Shooting Sports team. I really shouldn't call it an invasion. We had 9 extras that began to filter in on Thursday evening. We are blessed to have a coolest program here and the most incredible coach. He and his wife are simply amazing. Coach H. has written and put together a book on shooting which incorporates both the physical and mental aspects that help make a great shooter. This weekend is kind of like a boot camp training and it's a great way for the team to bond. See:

The kids are preparing for their State competition and they're working on bringing some of the lessons learned this weekend into their gameplan.

They all brought sleeping bags and we put them up in the bunkhouse. The only glitch we ran into was the fact that the plumbing had gone on strike and the kids had to either use our 1 tiny bathroom, use the bathroom in another house here at headquarters, or rough it. It all worked out although they did manage to down 64 big bottles of water in 2 days!

These are really good kids and the weekend was wonderful. I put together easy meals. Before they arrived, I cooked up 4-8lb roasts and shredded it for barbeque sandwiches. We had Lasagna for one meal, breakfast burritos, a picnic lunch out where they shot, and hotdogs before they went home. They ate lots of fruit and granola bars and popcorn and I don't think anyone went hungry, but it's staggering to see how much food 8 teenagers can consume in a couple of days.

They spent most of Friday working indoors on the mental tools and perfecting their positions and balance.

The weather cooperated beautifully and they shot for 3 hours on Friday and 8 hours on Saturday. They worked hard:
Way to shoot!

and played hard:

Back to work:
Scoring targets:
Proof to parents that we fed their kids:

Working at Air Rifle:

The kids shoot 3 different disciplines:

Shotgun: Trap and Skeet

.22 Rifle: Prone, Kneeling, and Standing - Silhouette and Targets

Air Gun: Rifle and Pistol - Silhouette and Targets (Prone and Standing)

They're planning on coming out a few more times in April and in the meantime, they left everything up so DS and DD can practice in the afternoons after they finish their schoolwork.

This afternoon DH and DS went and shot Trap and Skeet at the range. I just didn't have the energy and begged off.

I'm so thankful for Coach H and Mrs. H ~ they and this program have been an incredible blessing. They put their heart and soul and so much time into these kids. 4-H programs like this just aren't possible without people like them.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trimming Toenails

No, wait! Don't run off! Things don't ever get so slow around here that I'll have to post about trimming our toenails. This post is horse-related and it comes complete with photos. Haven't you always wanted to see a horse receiving a pedicure?

This morning was just too glorious to stay cooped up inside. I set the kids to work on their schoolwork, grabbed my camera and wandered outside to see what I could see. Yes, I was slacking off in terms of my educational duties, but in my defense, I was also tending to my mental health. Yesterday I had to spend the day in town stocking up on groceries and getting ready for a weekend invasion. The 4-H Shooting Sports team will be here for a Head Games Camp and although we're looking forward to it, I wanted to escape into the crisp morning and revel in the quiet that surrounds me.

I wandered out into the pens where the squeak of the rusty gate announced my arrival and DH was beginning the task of trimming the yearlings' feet. I began to relax as the comforting sounds of the camera's shutter became mingled with the heavenly smell of horses.

Waiting their turn:

Ok, call me strange, but there is something very attractive about DH when he is working with horses. Yes, even when he is trimming their feet. It's imperative that a horses feet are well cared for and DH is very particular about it. His nighttime reading often consists of a huge book titled "The Principles of Horseshoeing" and we are regular subscribers to "The Farrier's Journal". He has read and studied and put into practice all things farrier related:

The tool he is working with here are called nippers:

Yes, you're next sweetheart:

Here he is using a rasp:

DH designed and made this very cool shoeing box about 5 years ago. He's a perfectionist when it comes to anything and it is so much fun to watch him make things. This box is perfectly balanced when he carries it around. Now my FIL makes them and sells them.

Here's a good angle that shows the bottom of this colt's hoof. The triangular portion in the middle is known as the frog.

Here's an after shot. Each horse has different upkeep requirements. Some horses hooves tend to flare out and some tend to grow longer in various areas. A healthy hoof is of the utmost importance. I'm only a little familiar with a couple of hoof problems:

Laminitis (founder) can be caused when a horse receives an excess of carbohydrates (grain overload).

Navicular Disease is a chronic degenerative condition of the navicular bone. It affects the navicular bone and it's blood supply.

And Thrush which is a degeneration of the frog, but it often occurs from horses that have been permitted to stand in wet conditions for prolonged periods of time. Not much chance of that here!

DH is 6' tall and trimming 7 colts does a number on your back. I think he deserves a backrub tonight!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Isn't Easter Supposed to Be in Spring?

We have been having these incredibly warm days that make me itch to get my hands into the dirt and plant things. The trees are just beginning to leaf out and I see tiny blades of grass peeking out of the ground. The mesquite is still enjoying its winter slumber though and I have yet to see a buzzard. That usually signifies the official beginning of spring around here.

Yesterday we were temporarily thrown back into winter. The temperature never passed 40 degrees and it was awfully chilly hunting eggs in the 32 degree, misty morning! DH is an expert egg hider and DD still likes to hunt for eggs so DH makes it challenging. 18 eggs were hidden in a couple acres of pasture. It's a family affair and there is no age limit. Colorful eggs in brown grass. Easy?
Not. But this year we had help. Help of the 4-legged variety:

DD's dog is a hound. A beagle, to be exact, and on Sunday he made himself useful ~ kind of. Tucker and our cow dog, Sam, found the majority of the eggs. Tucker ended up eating a few of them ~ shell and all.

Not much phases this canine. We should have named him Hoover since he sucks up anything in his path. Slobbery egg anyone?

And this is what happens when you've eaten one too many:

A few managed to make it to an actual basket:

I tried to snap one photo with DH, DS and DD. Not an easy task, I assure you, and DH is the one causing all the trouble!

Sometimes he gets that little rascal gleam in his eyes and you know you're in for it!

I love that he still has a bit of a little kid hidden beneath that hard working exterior.

Notice the gloves in this shot:

Roping gloves to be exact. It was pretty cold and it took us an hour and a half to find 18 eggs. I have to laugh when I look at these pictures. They are not your typical Easter pictures. No white shoes and frills around these parts. In fact I didn't even notice the huge stains on DS's jacket until I uploaded the pictures. When I asked him what they were, he said, "Oil". Sigh. This is my life folks and I love it. These pictures make me happy and very thankful...

Thankful for this family.

Thankful for an empty tomb.

Thankful for the gift of His resurrection.

Thankful for the true meaning of Easter.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Has Arrived!

I love it when the seasons change! I don't have a favorite season because I love something about every one of them and I love the transitions.

Winter brings the warm, cozy evenings wrapped up in the flannel quilt while the snowflakes drift peacefully past the window.

Summer brings the refreshing taste of a cold watermelon and homegrown tomatoes plucked from the vine.

Fall brings the invigorating, crisp mornings and that golden glow to the grasses that wave in the late afternoon sun.

Spring brings that first warm afternoon when nothing compares to the smell of freshly
turned dirt in the garden beds and this:

I could spend all day out here with these little fellows! They are so much fun to watch!

Yes, I know that spring also brings the wind, but this is a post about the things I love about spring so wind is excluded. Here's a few of the new little bovines:

All the heifers have calved and we have 7 colts on the ground, with 4 more left. Now the only thing left to make spring complete is a good spring rain!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Whatever Suits You Just Tickles Me Plumb To Death

Ok, Ok...I know I haven't written in a while, but thoughts have been percolating and I just haven't found the words yet.

Those of you that lead a similar lifestyle as I do will probably recognize the title of this post. For those of you who haven't a clue as to it's origin, let me give you a quick background.

This is a line from a 1965 movie that it a classic in cowboy circles: The Rounders. It stars Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford as a couple of not so bright, down on their luck cowboys and it is a hoot. It's on our favorite movie list and if you haven't seen it, you're missing out.

Throughout the course of the movie, Howdy and Ben make various decisions and as they discuss their choices, one of them will always say, "Whatever suits you just tickles me plumb to death". It's my favorite line in the movie and I have been known to use it quite often.

Now be patient and set this line of thought aside for a bit. I promise it will all come together in the end.

Last Saturday I picked up L and we met M in town for a Ladies Retreat hosted by a local church. I had never been to a retreat so I had no ideas or preconceived notions of what to expect. I only knew that Jean Prescott was going to perform the music and that Andrea Waitly was the speaker. I know both of them through the Cowboy Poetry Gatherings that we have attended through the years and I jumped at the chance to spend a little time with these two amazing ladies. Thanks M for letting me know about it!

Wow! That about sums it up. I was completely blown away with the entire program and that's why I haven't posted. I simply cannot find the words to aptly share this experience. The program was titled, Grace to Be Me, and Andrea talked about the accepting the Lord's grace for your life. She discussed what she calls "Grace Blockers" and how we often will not accept the grace He has for us. Bam! That hit me HARD!

When we made the move from Texas three years ago, I was so angry. We did not want to leave the place that was home to us and I could not fathom WHY we had to move. I often used the overused phrase, "Bloom where you are planted" and I was blooming just fine in those West Texas mountains. I saw no reason to be uprooted. Alas, He is the gardener and He saw the need and took me out of that pot.

Since then, we have been abundantly blessed in so many ways and I now see that I was blocking the grace that He wanted to give us. I refused to accept it because I was so busy looking at what had been taken away.

Here's the cool part. He gave it to us anyway. It just took me a while to recognize it. Hardheaded? Obstinate? Stubborn? Yep. Guilty.

But there is hope and He knows it and He refuses to give up. So very cool! So I am determined to do my part. To keep reaching and learning and drawing closer to Him.

I could go on forever about the things that I heard last Saturday, but God has given Andrea the gift for sharing His word in such a way that I would only make a complete mess of it and you really need to hear His words through her. Here's the link to her ministry:

There is one point I want to touch upon. Andrea talked about setting your faith on glory. Ask yourself this: Does your faith bring honor and glory to His name? Do you make Jesus look good when people look at you?

I'm still a work in progress, but, yes, Andrea, your name brings honor and glory to Him.

I picked up three teaching CD's that were available. The first one I listened to was called "Agreement" and it talked about being in agreement with God's plan for you. She discussed "The Rounders" and I laughed at the memory of Howdy saying "Whatever suits you just tickles me plumb to death". Andrea said THAT is exactly what she tells Jesus when He brings something to her. Now comes the hard part. It's so simple to say that when things are going your way. Not so easy when they are not. She lost her dear husband, Larry McWhorter, to cancer 5 years ago and her testimony is amazing.

I've got a long way to go, but I've taken another step and I'm going to keep walking and one of these days I'll be able to say:

Whatever suits You just tickles me plumb to death.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cookie Jar Gingersnaps

I've been making these for 14 years and I can't even begin to imagine how many more times I will make these. These are DH's favorite cookie. He is seriously addicted to these. In fact, this is only half of what I baked on Thursday morning and I took this picture at 1 P.M. on the same day. I ALWAYS double the batch and have been known to quadruple it. These have been proven to put a twinkle in DH's eye ~ it's one of many ways of telling him that he is loved.

Cookie Jar Gingersnaps

3/4 C shortening

1 C sugar

1 egg

1/4 C molasses

2 C flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

additional sugar

*Cream the shortening and sugar.

*Add the egg and molasses.

*Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt

*Gradually add flour mixture and mix well

*Roll into small balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet

*Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes

Hope y'all like these as much as DH does!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Day on the Slopes

Whew! It's been a crazy week and computer time has been negligible. We've been on the go a lot and usually I gripe about that sort of busy-ness. However, Wednesday was the exception.

After trying (for 2 years) to get away and take the kids skiing we finally got it done! DH and I had been skiing twice, but the last time was 19 years ago and since I spent most of my skiing time on my backside, you could actually say I haven't really ever skied.

Since moving here 3 years ago, we have wanted to take the kids skiing. The mountains are only a hop, skip and a jump away and although we could only get away for a day, we got up early, packed up and headed towards the snow on Wednesday before the sun even thought about making it's entrance over the horizen. It was worth the wait! We could not have asked for a more incredible day! The weather was amazing and although the diehard skiers bemoaned the fact that they hadn't had enough snow, it didn't hamper our fun one bit. As soon as we were fitted with boots, skis and bibs; we started the long, long, long climb towards the top.

Our first stop was ski school. Since DH was the ski champion in our group, he left us on the bunny slope and headed for the high country. I was apprehensive about making a fool of myself, but I surprised myself and actually spent 99% of the day on my skis. We had a fun instructor and taking the class with DS and DD was a hoot. It was only a 90 minute class and after that, we were turned loose and left to our own devices. Scary thought since we weren't taught how to avoid running into other skiers. Last time I skied, I just fell down everytime a skier even came into view. This time was much better although I don't think the Olympic Ski Team needs to hold their breath on the chance that I might join up. Now that's a funny thought!

Our instructor warned us to only ski 2 different runs and not bite off more than we could chew. Apparently he didn't catch on that DS and DD are overachievers.

DH soon slid to a stop in front of us and asked DS if he wanted to ski with him. With a huge grin, DS nodded and they headed off for parts unknown. DD and I stayed on the easy rider slope and that was just my speed. DD spent a good part of her morning mastering graceful (and not so graceful) falls and then pulling herself back up and trying again.

Later that afternoon, DH came by and took her under his wing and they skied off in search of something more challenging. Before long, DD came back with a huge grin on her face. Her perserverence had paid off. Everything had clicked and DH had given her some pointers that had her racing off and jumping on various lifts.

DS took to his newfound experience like a duck to water although his whole line of thinking revolved around speed. Faster = Better. He's a 17 year old boy ~ what can I say? I think we created a monster. I'm glad he was with DH and I wasn't there to watch. I was quite content snapping pictures and gliding along Easy Street. We rode up to the top of the mountain on the gondola and DS scarfed down a hotdog before he and DH skied down. DD and I left the 2 speed demons, prayed they would return unscathed, and rode back down to our comfort zone.

Since we went in the middle of the week, they hadn't received a ton of snow, and the Spring Break crowd hadn't hit, there weren't many people. We never once had to wait in line for the lift and we got all the skiing in we could. We all ended up shucking our coats and by 4, the snow was staring to get slushy. Never thought I'd be hot on a snowy mountain.

The lifts closed at 4 and we skied up until the very last minute. Actually, I quit about 3:15. I really wanted to get some time behind the camera. Good thing too, because my knees were about shot and those boots aren't the most comfortable footwear.

We all hobbled into K-Bob's Steakhouse after we had made our way back off the mountain. Everyone was famished and then once the food arrived, we were almost too tired to eat it. That's tired! And the next morning...can we say sore?! DH asked DS where he was sore and I told DH that between the 4 of us, we had all body parts covered. Ouch! Wednesday night I was very thankful for our Tempur-pedic mattress!

Sore muscles and all, it was an awesome day! We spend a lot of time as a family out here, but we rarely get away, so when we do; it's a huge treat. We all came home with the proverbial skiers sunburn, a few sore muscles, wonderful memories of our new adventure together and plans to go back as soon as the snow flies again!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Homeschooling High School

Welcome back to Algebra and Chemistry class! If you can't stand the thought of re-living that, then I am here to post a warning...don't read on. In reality, I don't know where this post will meander. I am known for going off on tangents so proceed with caution...

Today we received a delivery from the UPS man. The Chemistry lab equipment I ordered for DS arrived and yes we are excited! DS took a very keen interest in the burner (maybe I should be worried) that came with the kit. He promptly unwrapped every item and examined it. I don't think he was very excited about Chemistry initially, but I think things are looking up! He'll really enjoy these experiments. For a kid like DS, the experiments are what make Chemistry click.

Hey, this is the kid that used to sleep with the Periodic Table when he was 5. I'm probably going to have to remind him of that when he balks about learning some of the elements. I WILL NOT ,however, make him learn the Atomic number for all of them. If he ever needs to know that the Atomic number for Yttrium is 39, I'm sure he'll know where to look. What the heck is Yttrium anyway?!

His weakness lies in writing. Oye! Getting this boy to write, is like pulling multiple teeth. We are working through Writing Strands and it is a daunting task that is adding to my collection of gray hair all too quickly. Then there is DD who writes pages and pages of amazing paragraphs, but ask her where Indonesia is and watch her blink. DS will be amazed that she is clueless when it comes to Geography and then she will spout off some large word that will cause him to furrow his brow. I'll tell you, there is never a dull moment around here.

I am in the process of getting DS's high school transcript in order and since DD is a freshman this year, I am working on hers as well. So I am floundering in a sea of transcript forms. We are also wading in a river of SAT and ACT books in preparation for that thrilling experience.

I have always read those homeschooling books that described the homeschooling environment in various families. All I can say is... they look nothing like that in my house! I always feel as if we are behind. Ask my kids. They are sick of hearing it. I always question myself. Are we doing enough grammar? Should I buy the Biology dissection kit? Did we cover the History of the Roman Empire enough? Which foreign language curriculum should we use? It was all so much easier when the kids were younger. We had so much fun with the hands on experiments for simple machines. The day we captured every stage of a tadpole in the creek and then came home to make a poster of it was awesome! The clay model of the ear was too cool. We still laugh when we recall the barley cakes we made during our extensive unit study on Egypt ~ they were disgusting! The hours upon hours curled up on the bed reading chapter after chapter of Summer of the Monkeys and countless other books are treasured still today.

Some days I feel as if I am doing this all wrong. Then I stop and listen to the conversations that take place around our dinner table. Grandpa asks questions such as, "Why do cars 10 miles away from the ocean rust if salt doesn't evaporate?" and we listen to DD give a very scientific explanation that includes density and evaporation and wind and erosion. I listen to DS explain the premise behind George Orwell's Animal Farm and I wonder how he learned so much about Soviet Russia. Then I breathe easy and realize that maybe we're doing an okay job and through the good, the bad, and the ugly (DO NOT EVEN bring up that movie! It is never ending and I don't like it although DH has the theme song for his ringtone and it makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it.) this is an amazing journey!

Please note that I am not campaigning against the school system and I know teachers that are absolutely amazing, but for us, this is the right choice. Our children actually attended school for a few years before we made this choice. I won't go into our reasons for homeschooling because the reasons are many and I, and you, would be here for a very long time. Actually, you would probably just hit that little red x at the top of the page.

In my experience, the most common misconception about homeschooling lies in the aspect of socialization. My parents were the first to voice their opposition to the choice we made. I can not speak for other children. All I can say is that the socialization argument completely ceases to exist when it comes to our children. Spend 20 minutes around either of them and I dare you to find them lacking in socialization skills. DS is quiet, but he's also the kid that just phoned the Senator's office last week and spoke with the Senator's aide for 45 minutes without my knowledge. When I asked him who he was speaking to and he told me, I was shocked and proud. DD has no problem discussing anything with anyone. She writes her own cowboy poetry and recites in front of large crowds without a care. A few years ago, both kids stood up in front of a roomful of my parents' friends (strangers to our kids) and spoke about my Dad. They visited one on one with these adults for 4 hours. My parents received over 40 cards commending them on how amazing their granchildren are. I thought that was so cool! See, Mom and Daddy, we are not raising heathens. Both have friends and are officers in 4-H and although DS would rather play his guitar than write a paper on anything and DD would rather be out riding her horse than working through yet another Algebra lesson, I'm fairly certain they are well socialized.

I will have to remind myself to re-read this post on those days when I feel like pulling out my hair.

Okay, sorry. Stepping down from my soapbox now and heading off to determine how to find the empirical formula for K2Cr2O7. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Winter...Spring...Winter...Spring...Take Your Pick

Crazy New Mexico weather! It's snowing again! I'm not complaining because we'll take all and any moisture we can get, but yesterday it was in the 70s and this morning I'm sitting here, watching it snow ~ again! Guess winter is not willing to relinquish it's hold on us just yet.

Another weather post you ask? Yes, it seems that I talk about the weather alot. However, weather does play a big part in our day to day lives. As ranchers, we rely on it heavily. We live in the desert, yet complain about how dry it is. For the most part, we pray for moisture and celebrate when it rains or snows.

Five years ago we were experiencing a drought and we were on year 12. It rained and rained and rained that year and I remember standing in the barn and looking out at the rain and crying because we were so relieved. I remember lying in bed with tears streaming down my face because the sounds of rain on the tin roof was the sweetest sound in the world. We slept with the windows open so that we could hear the water rushing down from the mountains. The country seemed to transform overnight and we were excited to be repairing water gaps and thrilled by the fact that the creek was roaring and we couldn't cross it.

In my world, "Gosh, I wish it would quit raining" (or snowing)is one sentence that is NEVER, EVER uttered.

We get to stay home today, I'm going to put a pot of stew on for dinner and bake DH's favorite cookies, I can hear the flannel quilt calling my name and I hope to curl up under it with a big mug of hot tea and a good book a bit later. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was 70 degrees again this afternoon! Oh heck ~ Let it snow!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Of Barbeque and Snow

Yesterday I awoke to a clear blue sky that promised a day filled with warmth and sunshine. DH and Clint started the morning in the arena where they worked with their horses and talked eagerly about bringing cattle up soon so that they could begin roping in the evenings. Tiffany and I visited while I snapped a few photos and we made plans to head over to their house for supper that night. Clint was going to grill some Fillet Mignon, Tiffany was making potatoes and a salad and I offered to bring bread and another salad. The previous few days had brought us into warm weather mode. Time to break out the grill. We were banishing the winter and prepared to jump into spring. Our jumping, apparently, was a bit premature. See that clear, blue sky?
Well it didn't stay around for long. By the time we went out to chore around 5, this is what it looked like. It blew in in a matter of minutes:
The wind whipped in and we tended to chores amidst the swirling, angry dirt. March was definitely blowing in like a lion.

We left for Clint and Tiffany's and by the time we drove the 6 miles to their house, the wet drops of rain had begun to splatter on the windshield. Clint had hauled the grill into the shop/barn and he ran back and forth between it and the house until the meat was ready. was so worth it! We dined like Kings last night and as always, enjoyed the company of friends.

As we left their house, the snow began to fly. I didn't have my camera with me (I should know better) so DD and I turned back around after we got home and drove down the road a piece with camera in hand. I know, only crazy people drive around in a spring blizzard trying to get pictures in the middle of the night.

This morning, we awoke to a world of white. I immediately donned a coat and irrigation boots over my pajamas and grabbed my camera. Alas, the wind was blowing so hard that it wasn't easy capturing decent pictures although I tend to forget the cold while I am shooting. Reminder: get a bigger card for my camera. I ran out of room before I really got started.
We have about 3-4" of snow on the ground and if the wind stops blowing, I'll venture back out. This morning, I was in such a hurry to head out that I didn't even pull on socks so the irrigation boots rubbed my ankles raw. Yes, I am generally brighter than that. I just jumped out of bed so fast and I must have still been half asleep when I ran out the door.

I love the snow! Alas, there is one downside to snow in March. Once again, our beautiful apricot tree will be fruitless this summer. On Saturday I noticed the first white blooms peeping through to greet the spring. This morning they are covered under this:
Sigh! However, we are glad to see a bit of moisture. We would welcome more.
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