Thursday, February 26, 2009

Searching for Buzzards

No, not me!
The weather!
There is something inherently wrong with 80 degrees in February!

I think that Groundhog should be fired. Didn't he report 6 more weeks of winter? Apparently his weather predictions do not apply to the southwestern region we inhabit. Maybe New Mexico is exempt?

If we're going to have such odd weather patterns, can I put in an order? How about a wet, wet, windless spring for our little patch of desert? Now that would be unorthodox!

This morning I was infused with energy and I began walking again. Something about the fresh morning air wafting across our bedroom just lured me outside and after a 4 month sabbatical, it was time.
Time to walk off the Christmas fudge.
Time to banish the Valentine chocolate.
Time to shake the dust off of my hiking boots.
I started out with 4 miles. 4 miles seemed a lot farther this morning than it did last fall, but it felt wonderful! I have missed my morning communion...its an incredible way to start the day.

As I traversed my neglected route, I began to search the skies. Surely I would spy a buzzard. See, buzzards are a sign of spring around here. Now a very pretty one, but a sign nonetheless. It's awful early - DH thinks we've still got another 3 to 4 weeks of buzzard-less skies, but the way the weather's been acting, I wouldn't put it past those scavengers to make an early appearance.

I even walked up to a mesquite and peered intently at its bare, prickly branches. Nope. No sign of spring there either.

Hmmm...all the other trees around here are budding out like crazy. Even the little fruit trees I planted at the wrong time of the year last fall are sporting fat little buds of promise. I'm pretty certain that we'll have another apricot-less summer though. Just about the time those beautiful blossoms are at their peak, we'll hit a freeze...or the wind will whisk them away. Sigh.

Well I might as well make the best of it. Time to fire up the grill and throw on some steaks!

Since the groundhog is now unemployed, I wonder if he might be interested in a temporary job...tilling my garden.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cutting Bull Calves

Last month we spent a couple of Saturday mornings cutting 200 Corriente bull calves. Those of you who are not versed in this way of life may want to skip this post. Just thought I should put a disclaimer in there for some of my scrapping buddies. However, if you enjoy a good steak, this is part of the reason that steak is juicy and tender. Bulls do not make good beef so after a couple of snips, they become steers. The beef marketing system favors steer carcasses and the steers are generally more docile and easier to handle. However, these pictures are of Corriente cattle and they aren't used for beef - these are roping cattle. We raise both beef and Corriente cattle. Many people seem to be interested in life here on the ranch and this is part of it. Just keepin it real, but wanted to warn those of you who may not wish for quite so much reality.

Seems we picked the coldest mornings to cut them this year. It was only 19 this morning. I thought twice about even heading out to take pictures, but then I thought of you - and how you have requested more about the daily happenings around here so I donned multiple layers and braved the frigid, morning air for you.

DH starts out preparing the buckets with a mixture of hot water and a medicated iodine in order to keep everything disinfected.

Then he gives out instructions to work the cattle easy. No sense getting everything stirred up. We try to keep the cattle from getting any more stressed than necessary. The Corriente cattle are a little more ornery than the beef cattle.

Everyone has their designated job. Here is DD handing Grandpa the emasculators. They go back into the silver bucket when he is through with them, and the nuts, aka calf fries, go into the blue bucket. The dogs make themselves sick on some of them and we divvy up the rest amongst the crew. We usually throw ours into the freezer and cook them up sometime during the summer.

At 6'3, DS is right handy as part of the ground crew.

Actually, everyone rotates. Everyone who wants to rope, gets to rope.

DH loves to rope

and he's good at it:

Gotta love a man on the back of a horse:
with a rope in his hand:

DS tried his hand at bull doggin on this ornery critter as we all cheered him on:

This was our entertainment for the morning:

We're easy to entertain:

5.6 seconds! Not bad!

The kids have never just been just spectators around here.

They have always been integral parts of the daily happenings on the ranch. They started opening gates when they were 2. It was so cute to watch them clamber onto the gate, wrestle with the chain, scramble back down and swing the gate open. This task was always tended to with a huge grin and a great sense of accomplishment. So this year DD was promoted to a new position. She became the official 'Cutter of Bull Calves':

Not sure where that may one day fit in on a college application, but hey, it's all part of a day's work around here! Even a girl makes a hand at the end of this dirt road.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rambling Thursday and Some Scrapping Pages

I'll tell you - the older I get, the longer it takes me to recuperate from wild, crazy weekends! Not that I had one of those, but the kids had company this past weekend and I was wiped out! 2 of their friends that we've known for over a dozen years made the pilgrimage across the state line for a weekend of fun and dancing. The annual 4-H Valentine's dance brought in a good crowd on Saturday night. DH and I always have a date night when the kids are kicking up their heels and although neither of us enjoy spending time in town, we have come to enjoy our date nights. We had a gift certificate for a trio of restaurants and as we had a hankerin for a sizzling plate of fajitas, we ended up at Tia Juana's. We always share a plate. Seems as if portions are way out of line these days and sharing a plate fills us up without making us miserable. After supper, we always make our way to the bookstore to share a coffee and peruse the shelves. Then we make our way to the dance for a little two-steppin and visitin. The kids stayed up until 3:30 am on Friday night (Saturday morning) and then visited until 4:30 the following night! Guess they had a lot of catching up to do! Sure was a good weekend though. I love these kids and it did my heart good to hear the laughter shared amongst good friends into the wee hours of the morning. I did my part by providing heaps of homecooked food and sent the bachelor of the bunch home with a batch of cookies and promises that they would make the trip back here more often.

Hmmm...what else? Well I've been working on Christmas gifts, but I can't show you those.

I've also been cleaning our tired, pitiful office which was in sad, sad shape. Poor room is really a multipurpose room and it struggles with too much to do. It's a home office, the computer room, it houses all the homeschool books and we've been homeschooling for 9 years, and it is also home too my scrapping and sewing and quilting supplies. I think it's feeling a bit over-extended. So this morning the piles practically shook with fear as I entered - a woman on a mission and the dust did fly - literally. When I finally emerged, the room had been tackled and I felt a great sense of accomplishment. The next person that sneaks in there and tries to hide something that they don't want in their room had better run - and they had better run fast! I wonder whether I can borrow someones front yard in town for a garage sale. Surely some of this junk will be someone else's treasure!

Our friend from the other ranch brought some cattle today and he stayed for dinner. I made a yummy apple crisp for dessert and had plans to share it with y'all, but alas, I forgot to take pictures and only an empty plate remains, so no recipe today. Sorry.

I've also been working on scrapbook pages a bit each day and although I hate the mess that is my scrapbook table when I leave stuff out, it seems to be the only way I can actually get pages completed. I can just wander by when I have a few minutes and add some paper or mat some photos or design a title. I'm such a slow scrapper, but I love the creative process and everything about this hobby so I have learned to deal with the mess. Actually, I like to think of it as organized chaos! I am getting extremely tired of working on Christmas pages, but we treasure the memories and it's just so much fun to flip back through the years and reminisce. Here are a few of the pages I recently completed. They're pretty simple but they fill my sense of order and quench my need for creativity and give me a reason to keep on snapping pictures!

This was the year Santa brought DD her puppy. I've got lots of journaling on the facing page. Nothing like getting a puppy for Christmas to make you feel the magic of Christmas! The kid was speechless and I don't think that's happened since! LOL!

This was a fun picture to take. We were on our way to the Christmas gathering in town and stopped to take this photo. The pretty yellow flowers were the most awful smelling things you ever smelled and we all had to take our boots off and toss them in the back of the truck while we made the drive to town.

Baking a cake for Jesus' birthday is one of our favorite traditions. I love that last shot where the kids are blowing out the candles.We took this picture in the middle of the creek. At times, we had so much rain that that huge boulder was rolling under water.

I think this is just about my favorite Christmas picture ever! I journaled about it on the facing page. The kids heard sleigh bells and spotted a red light outside Granny's living room window and they we're SO excited! Talk about having a hard time going to sleep on Christmas Eve!

I have an entire page of outtakes from this photo shoot! The goats were being goats and that means they were anything but cooperative! LOL!

So, not very exciting, but that's what I've been up to. We cut bulls recently and I'm working on pulling out some pictures to share so stay tuned for that riveting installment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In a Rut

What's for dinner? It's 10:00 and I haven't a clue. I was hoping y'all could give me some suggestions - or better yet, just pop on over here with a hot meal? Yea, I didn't think so. Sigh.
I am just plumb out of ideas. In a rut. I get into those on occassion. I love to cook, but gosh darn it - sometimes I sure do get tired of always feeding people!

I know DH would do it if I didn't. He's a good cook and mighty handy in the kitchen, but when he works 7 days a week and puts in 80 hours a week (more in the summer) I just can't bring myself to complain that I am too tired to cook - or I just don't want to. He deserves a good hot homecooked meal when he drags in.

Gosh, I feel guilty for griping. I've got a freezer full of beef and enough food in my pantry to feed us for a good long while. We've got a good roof over our heads and warm beds to sleep in at night. DH is employed and we're all healthy. The kids are safe and we've had rain. And DH and I are head over heels in love with each other after being together for almost 25 years.

Truth is, I am spoiled. I have been blessed to get to stay home and raise the kids and tend to the house. So on days like today, I need to remember that I don't need to complain and my cup runneth over with blessings.

I will say that I am not completely worthless - I did stumble out of bed and enjoy DH's company whilst I made biscuits and bacon and gravy for breakfast at 5:30 this morning.

So that is my whine for the day. It could be worse - the wind could be blowing.


Dirt Road Scrapper who is thankful that this post was the good swift kick in the pants she needed and is off to the kitchen to whip up a feast fit for a king! (Well - not really, but it'll taste good anyway)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blessed By This This Morning...

WOW! A friend shared a book with me at the baby shower on Saturday and I opened it up this morning. After the healing rain yesterday, the windows just begged to be opened. I've been folding laundry this morning too and the combination of smells just drew me to that sunny spot on my bed. This is how the book opens:

Lord, High and Holy, meek and lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,

where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;

hemmed in by the mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox

that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive,

that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,

and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,

thy life in my death,

thy joy in my sorrow,

thy grace in my sin,

thy riches in my poverty,

they glory in my valley.

-from "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

I have been so blessed by this and I wanted to share it with you. I imagine that many of you are familiar with the author -Nancy Leigh DeMoss, but this is the first time I have read any of her writings. May you be blessed as well.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hark! What is That Sound? What is that Smell? (edited with pictures)

Could it be? I don't rightly know.

Do I dare even say it?

Does my heart even remember what it is called?

Will it be frightened away if I call it by name?

Oh rain! Glorious rain! Accompanied by the comforting sound of rumbling thunder on the horizen! I can scarcely recall the last time this parched country was graced by your gentle touch.

Go ahead, roll your eyes at my sophomoric, inept attempt at poetic prose. You cannot soil my celebratory mood!

Yes - I may have taken leave of my senses, but my heart soars on this Sunday afternoon! DD and I are the only ones home and we both jumped up and threw open the doors and windows immediately to let the comforting sounds and wondrous smells waft through the house.

I know that so many of you across the county have had your fill of moisture and you may scoff at my exhiliration, but those of us raised in ranch country will never denounce the rain.

Oh goody! It's coming down harder!

The arrival of any kind of moisture is reason for celebration and praise in our neck of the woods!

Tiny little pellets of hail are dancing across the pasture.

Thank you God for this perfectly timed blessing! We are truly grateful for each and every drop.

Now the puddles are beginning to form and fill up quickly. This thirsty land will quickly rebound with moisture of any kind. I can almost hear it sigh with relief! This is a sight for sore eyes!

Ladies and gentlemen - we have mud - beautiful mud!

Happy feet!

Even the dusty, nondescriptive gravel that covers the lot here at headquarters has been transformed into pretty little river rocks:

The tiny hail pellets took refuge under the grass tufts:

and gathered in the feed troughs:

We will be pulling on long forgotten irrigation boots and dusty rain slickers that have been sitting neglected in a dark corner for too long and sloshing through the mud and the muck this evening when we dole out supper for the horses in the pens. They too will be frisky and thunder across the pasture in anticipation of their next meal, hooves pounding furiously, mud flying as they make their second pilgrimmage of the day to the pens.

No pictures for now - they won't go through so just picture me kicking up my heels in my irrigation boots as I fairly dance through the muddy pens this evening. It's probably better you don't see that anyway!

Friday, February 6, 2009

January Projects

Morning All! I'm still here. Just been kind of a crazy, busy week. I thought it was about time I share some of the fun projects I have been working on lately. I am happy to report that there is not a UFO in sight. All projects have been completed and are in the hands of their rightful owners - finally! I've been on a creative roll since the first of the year and thoroughly enjoying my new sewing machine!

Here's the baby quilt that is finally in Kansas! They decorated the baby's room in red and blues. This is my 2nd quilt and I've been working on it for a while. I know it's really simple, but I still like the way it came together. Thankfully the baby I made this for is only 6 weeks old now so I'm not too late. Her mama and daddy used to work here - we miss them terribly!

I've been utilizing my new machine's embroidery capabilities and making personalized kitchen towels. These are in my sweet neighbor's kitchen:

and these are in Germany with my Aunt. She called me yesterday because she was so excited to receive them. Yes, everyone will be receiving kitchen towels from me this year! Grin!

Then I chose this embroidered piece for a friend's, and fellow quilter's, birthday. If anyone knows of a good thread source, I would be grateful. I've got lots of projects planned and I'll be going through LOTS of thread!

And here's a card I made:

I also made a few things for Ranch Girl's baby shower we had earlier today.

Here's the decorative pillow I made for a gift. I used some of the same fabric Ranch Wife used in the curtains in the squares of the calico pony and for the border or the pillow:

Here's a picture of the centerpiece I came up with:

And here's the banner I made. I saw these banners on my scrapping group and I thought they were really cute. So when I needed to come up with baby shower decorations, I set out to make one. I love how it turned out and can see making these for all sorts of holidays and celebrations:

Yes, that does say Tadpole. No, that is not the baby's name. It's a that will probably stick!

Here's a closeup of one of the pennents.

Seems as if January just flew by. Guess I was hunkered down behind my sewing machine and at my scrapping table all month long. It's a wonder I had time to keep everyone fed and keep up with the dishes!

Now it's on to the February projects!
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