Monday, December 12, 2011

Molly's Makeover

I decided to invest the money I received from selling Stormy, who has bad arthritis,  to getting some training for Molly;  the ex brood mare, toss Mark in the ditch horse.   It might be throwing money away, but I wanted to give her a decent shot at being a good horse. She is not very pretty, but I rode her quite a bit this summer and she has a delightful way of moving and an innate lightness.  A real joy to ride.  She does have a couple of hangups though.  One being herd bound.  For a while I had a very difficult time getting her to leave her friends, but she has improved a lot in this area and I know she can overcome this.  Her big hangup though is trailering.  I fed her in the trailer for a month this summer and she would enter and eat, but I never felt confident that I could load her and I was afraid of getting hurt, so I never attempted loading.  Molly had some bad experiences in the trailer before us and has a real phobia.  I am hoping the trainer can help her get over this.  We will see.  It took her (the trainer is an awesome young lady) an hour and half to load her today.  I was amazed at the trainer's calm and patience.  Poor Molly has met her match in stubbornness I think.    

Watching Molly fear today made me think  of my own hangups.  The things that I avoid because I get a cold sweat and my heart races.  Should I avoid them, or should I force my way through, like Molly had to do?  My hangups limit me, but sometimes I think it is OK to have acceptance and give myself  a little grace.  Or at least have a little tranquilizer to take.   I had to do that for a while for flying and going to the dentist.  Eventually I overcame both ridiculous fears.  Of course there are other fears that are realistic ones.  Fear is there to protect us from danger and  to dismiss it would be foolhardy.  It is just difficult sometimes sorting out between the two.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Squash Anyone?

 I missed harvest.  It made me cry a little, but I was happy to be able to go out and gather the winter squash and I even found a couple of eggplants and some peppers.  We have a lot more cleaning to ready the garden for winter, but we got a good start on it today. 
 I missed all of the pears as well, but there are a few apples left.  These little tiny apples taste wonderful, and thier size is just right for a quick bite or two. 

I mostly have been trying to spend my time with the horses, cleaning them up and riding.  Being away from them for almost 3 months has made me realize what a horse gal I am.  It is interesting how I am so much more decisive about what I like and don't like.  I am beginning to realize how fleeting life is and how important it is to enjoy today the best that you can.  Even if that means pausing a time or two for a big cry.

I need a few more big cries before we head south, as I realize that I have been repressing emotions for a while now.  As I am an emotional girl,  my vessel is plumb full needs to drain. The horses and the plants don't seem to mind.

Mama's Home

It warmed my heart seeing the horses run to me and, for the record, I didn't even have hay.  We are back on the ranch ranch for a few days of R&R. While it isn't physically hard caring for my parents, it is restricting and draining, and I was getting very emotional and neurotic. Our oldest son volunteered  took  to fill in for us and, by all accounts, is doing a great job. It relieves my mind knowing that we now have a back up caretaker.

The weather and beauty of these Humboldt hills are a blessing and I have been spending my time enjoying the view from my living room window and also from the back of a horse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks

Recently, some friends here in our old hometown had their house burn down.  To the ground.  So many things are just things and can be replaced or just done without.  But other family heirlooms passed down from one generation to the next flew into the heavens never to be seen again.  Gone.  It is hard to see such loss.

It is easy when one is young to think that this or that makes one a success or one's life worth living.  But as we age we find that our thinking changes.  Sometimes daily.  Life is worth living when we live it; with our eyes and hearts open. 

This Thanksgiving Day, transcend your limitations, your problems, your aches and pains, lay aside all of your wants and give thanks.  You are alive and you are known by a creator God who wants to commune with you.

  Longing for Humboldt, but enjoying the view here too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Week Away

It is easy to do the right thing when one feels noble and proud, it is harder when time goes by and you begin to feel the cold, wet, dirt of the trenches.  I am sure many men who enlisted felt the same way.  I feel a bit like that now.

My dad was drafted half way through his senior year of high school because he had enough credits to graduate.  He left behind his home, his baseball team and probably a sweet heart or two.  The army trained him to be small arms mechanic and when he arrived in Germany right after the war ended, there wasn't much need for gun repair, so they slapped some sergeant stripes on him and made him in charge of the motor pool.  He said it was a pretty easy gig.  He has lots of fun stories, but he said nothing can erase the smell from the concentration camps or the blank looks on peoples faces.

Here is a photo of him right before he left the States.  What youth.  Now he sits quietly at 84, unable to walk or talk much, even though his mind is still sharp.  A whole lifetime between that photo and now and he has no real regrets or apologies to make because he always lived very ethically and yet he still wonders where he will end up after he dies, or will he end up anywhere at all.

Unlike me, my dad is an agnostic. He was raised Baptist, but was blinded by all the hypocrisy.   Growing up he always said I could believe in whatever I wanted, so I went around town visiting all my friend's churches.  I prayed nightly.  For a time, in Jr. High,  I connected to my mom's heritage and went to the Catholic Church.  It was during this time, sitting all alone in a church full of people, that my faith started to grow.  I lit candles and prayed for a dying uncle, I believed.  God was close.  Later, as a young parent I went to a Lutheran church, and still later to a non denominational church.  Now, I don't attend church as regularly, but Jesus is still close.  His hand never lets me go.

I ask my dad how it feels to enter the shadow of death without faith in something Higher.  I know I couldn't do it.

This post was supposed to be about missing the ranch, which I do,  but it surprised me and went somewhere else. Instead of fixing it and changing it and re-titling it, I think I will just publish.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kate and the Calves

Johanna sent me a short video of my dog Kate with her little bottle fed calves.  It looks like they were having fun.  I miss my Kate, but know that she would not like it here and my parents have a little dog who would not definitely NOT like her enthusiasm.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dreamin' of Home

Small town America ain't bad, but it isn't home. Mark and I walk everyday, miles and miles in between helping my parents and we are enjoying the FLAT ground. Flat ground seems novel, new to us. Where did the incline go? We decided to go over an overpass yesterday, to add a little bit of a hill climb, but it really was a pitifully small hill. We didn't even feel a burn. We feel pretty powerful down here. With walking anyway.

I never thought I could do the things that I am doing in caring for my dying dad. Neither one of us thought we could do this, but the grace of God is sufficient. We have found that it really is true that you don't get what you need until you need it, so there really is no need to worry about the future, just deal with today. It says that somewhere in the Bible and I have read it many times, but I never lived it until now. Powerful stuff we are learning.

I found this quote attributed to Buddha and it says basically the same thing:
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

We are trying to do this daily, but I do dream of home. So I open up my computer and look at photos. I have a lot of photos and I find a whole set of them that I really should post about.

Right before I left I reconnected with my maid of honor from my wedding; my childhood sidekick, riding partner and best friend. We had lost contact for almost 30 years. She ran away from our hometown as fast as she could and I burrowed in to raise my family. Facebook brought us back together and we discovered we lived only a few hours apart. A weekend at the ranch was planned and we had a great time . She hadn't ridden horses in years and was worried she had forgotten how. Ha. Never.

Belle came right up to her when she arrived. Love at first sight. (photo by my friend)

We rode under a beautiful sky and her partner Bob joined us.

We rode and rode. And went on photography expeditions. Photography is her passion.She took a lot of beautiful sunset shots and scenery and, of course, of horses. She took this following photo of Stormy that brought about Stormy's sale on Craigslist.I have had Stormy on craiglist many times without too much interest. But now Stormy is living the good life down on the flats, by the beach. And with her arthritic knees it is the perfect place to be. She has a 3 acre pasture and a 3 horse stall. Stormy who usually is quite alpha with the other horses has a pony as her pasture friend and she has taken on the mothering role. Happy trails for Stormy and all brought about by my friend's great photos. Thanks T for being a friend then and now.

Until next time,

Enjoy today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Status Update

My dad is 84 and his body is wearing out. His systems just keep letting him down. Currently he is home and my mom and I are taking care of him, which is his wishes. Hospice is supposed to be contacting us soon. This is a difficult time, but so rewarding too. Mark has recently arrived to help and it is great having his brawn and my dad was able to sit up for about 30 minutes on his favorite couch. I don't have internet at the house and only get away for short times. Right now I am having a great cup of coffee at a Starbucks, but soon I need to return to my childhood home. To compound the situation, my mom has dementia. Till next time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Plague of Flies

Our house keeps filling up with flies. It is bizarre. And we had a six legged calf born. Look it up on google, apparently it isn't as odd as you would think and is just a weird genetic glitch. It is called conjoined or parasitic twins and happens because the twins don't separate properly. While many six legged calves live, ours had to be put down because she couldn't breathe when she stood up. (the extra legs were attached to her spine near her shoulders.) It was hard. She was a cute little thing, with a sweet temperment and innocence. We also had a cow lose a newborn in birth. All in the same day. Big Bummer. So we went this morning and got a couple little Holstein bull calves from a dairy to try to put on the mamas who lost their little ones. These are called drop calves, and the dairies don't have any use for them. This is our first attempt at this, and so far, it doesn't look like it will work. We tried all the tricks that all the 'cattle folk' gave us, (tieing on the dead calves tail, using vicks on the cows nose, etc) but the only nursing that has taken place has been when the mama cow is in the chute. But folks told us it could take awhile, so time will tell. Otherwise, Johanna is excited at the prospect of having a couple little ones to bottle feed, and she is now in charge of the cattle, because I have to leave again. While I was in Las Vegas, my dad was hospitalized. He has since been discharged, but today things took a turn for the worse, and I have to go down there and help them. I don't know how long I will be gone. So, it could be a while before we have another post. Until then, enjoy your days.

Monday, October 10, 2011

While I Was Away

Mark apparently enjoyed a lovely sunset. ( Photos found on his camera)

And fed some cows.
And wrote some poems. Here's one:

In the silence
There is no quiet
I hear your smile
I feel your laughter
The ache of your fears
The peace of our love.


and he cut and delivered many loads of firewood!

Now a steady rain falls outside and I hope to get caught up on a few things that didn't get done while I was away. Like bills. UGH.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Las Vegas Baby

I've been away visiting my grandson in Las Vegas and while the Mark of this blog was home on the ranch, he didn't have any time to update our blog. He is behind in firewood deliveries and we have already gotten our first 4 inches of rain, so he has some unhappy customers.

My grandson is wonderful and I loved Vegas this time. I never once visited a casino, but spent my days enjoying my 'baby', my daughter and taking evening walks with their adorable dog Bella. I also got to help organize and rearrange my daughter's new Kindergarten room. I once taught preschool, so I loved being back in a classroom and felt useful.

Now I am heading home. I turned on my computer for the first time (can you believe it) to do my flight check in and thought I should do a quick update.

Here is the view from my window here in Vegas. Snowy mountains in the background that house a ski resort. A ski resort in Vegas? Who knew.

Once I get home, I should be back on my normal every day online status. I look forward to visiting all the blogs I have missed while I was away.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

she's got spunk

This morning Flower spent a good 10 minutes trying to wear our young bull down with her insistent head butting. It was hilarious. He would look at her incredulously and then play along until he decides to just push her under the barn. But then Flower would run out and go at him again. He would try to ignore her, but she would look him in the eye and line her head up on his. I thought she wanted his grain, but she never did eat it, so I think she just finally found a
worthy opponent.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sheriff Likes Lamb

Everything on this plate is home grown. Couldn't have been better except if we could have shared it with our friend, the sheriff. He, like me, loves eating lamb. This leg of lamb was slow roasted at 275 degrees for about 3 hours and embedded with home grown garlic. So this photo is for you Mike. It is the best we could do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Storing Up

We purchased some lovely large grass bales and have them all stored away. We also purchased some grass alfalfa hay and stored it too. Prices were high this year for alfalfa/grass. We didn't get very much of it. I feel a bit insecure not having our barns full this year. Not having an overabundance, not having more than enough. We have enough, unless...., unless.... unless.

Isn't that how our lives go? We often have enough and yet we still want more. And more. And more. When Mark and I started out we had a house and a half a beef a year for free and we made 700. a month and it was enough. But we wanted more. And later we had more. Then later again, more. Now, we have even more. But still I have this tendency to want. Why? To feel secure I think. Greed perhaps.

We read the Bible every morning. We pray. We try to live by love and faith. But my want contradicts my faith I think.

I read this the other morning, sitting in the hot tub under a clear blue sky, (Seriously, could it get any better?) and I got goose bumps because it was not my voice I heard, but Jesus.

Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

And He told them a parable saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?'

Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."'

But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'

So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

I always remember this verse too:
For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.

What do you treasure? I have been pondering this all week. Perhaps it is time for me to do a little realignment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's This?

HORNET'S HOME. Luckily for me they seemed to all be out shopping. I don't need any more stings after last week's encounter with the ground bees.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Mark named the new yearling bull Johnson after the rancher we got him from. He is a Ray-Mar bull and Mr. Johnson brought a trailer load of bulls home from their recent sale and offered to sell/trade one to us. I picked from 3 bulls that he was willing to sell. One I didn't like at all. Too feminine. I almost picked a different beefier looking bull, but we didn't like his rounded butt, so Johnson was the lucky winner. I hope he will grow into a good bull, right now he seems a tad small. His EPD numbers look good though (Expected Progeny Difference). He is supposed to throw babies with good marbeling, small size at birth but with good growth. He scored in the top 25% for Angus in many categories, but he doesn't quite look that good yet to me. We will know more when he becomes a papa. For now he is hanging out in my steer pen eating hay and grain (we fatten a few on corn each year for buyers who want grain finished). Johanna has been seen hand feeding him and was talking of halter training. I am not quite sure if it was for him or Eric.

Fall Calving

has begun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Horse Hoarder Needs Intervention

We have a problem on the ranch. Horse Hoarding. My horse hoarding. I keep talking about wanting to get rid of horses, but instead I get more. Like this lovely lady. Eric and Jo picked up Belle to resell and who do you think they ended up selling her to. Yours truly. So now instead of having less horses, I have more. Six to be exact and Eric and Jo have four. This is too many horses, they are tearing up the ground.

I woke up this morning and decided I have got to try and find new homes. Only thing is I love them all and they all have pros and cons, which make deciding on who goes difficult. The one I cannot imagine losing is my mustang and Mark loves riding Sweet William and Charlie is 30. He is not going anywhere until he dies. So, that leaves the mares. I sort of tried to place them last year, but kept talking people out of it. LOL. I just couldn't let them go, but I am going to try again. Really I am. First thing I need to do is get some good photos, I just browsed my photos from this spring and summer and this is all I really found. Belle, papered paint age 10. Pros: Well trained, kind, gets along well with others. I love to ride her No vices. Cons: flat feet, paddles and can be a bit herd bound at times.
Molly, age 11. Pros: a fantastic brood mare and has had many paints. Fantastic feet, runs across the rocks barefoot with no problems. Sweet. Very handy on hills and a good mover. Gets along well with others. Cons: difficult to load, sometimes difficult to ride away from herd. Lacks confidence on her own and acts pissy when you saddle her.
Stormy, papered paint breeding stock, age 17. Pros: Completely bomb proof, a grab and go kind of ride, my go to horse with the cattle. Cons: beginning to get arthritis in front knees, hard to catch and is aggressive to others at feeding.

Ok, you horse people out there, give me suggestions for poses and how to word an add. Do I list cons or wait until a prospective buyer shows up? Where should I put the listing, do I make flyers for feed stores? I know horse prices are low, what might be reasonable, or should I just adopt them out? Should I do youtube videos of me riding them? Thanks for your intervention help.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bringing Home the Strays

Last Thursday we got a call that some black cows sporting yellow piercings were spotted trespassing. "They aren't causing any problems", the neighbor said, "Just cruisin the waist high deep prairies eating the grass."

Saturday was the first day that we didn't have something already scheduled, so we headed out early ( well, eight o'clock is early for us gentleman ranchers) on the quads. We had previously called and gotten permission to cut across neighbors property, but it is still a good hour ride to get where our cows were last spotted. It was hot. Steamy hot. Unusually hot. Hard to breathe hot. We should have left at 'real' rancher hours.

We passed a pond with a great blue heron,

and it flew away.

At this point we are looking for our cows across the canyon. I hollered my, "Come On, Ladies", hoping that the cows would answer and hurry across the creek. Unfortunately silence.

We headed cross country and passed by a place we would just as soon forget.

That pointy rock is the one that cracked Mark's head last year when he made a hasty dismount. Mark rode across the rocky dry creek confidently on the quad, but I started thinking that I might fall. I'm not too good on a quad.

But I made it and away we went.

Another creek crossing. Again, I hesitated, due to my poor quad riding and I got stalled in the middle and Mark had to come rescue me. Laughable when I look at this photo and how easy this crossing became by Monday.

Up and up we rode, past some houses and chickens and dogs. Said hi to neighbors who directed us in the direction of last seen suspects. That is our ranch in the far distance.

Zoomed in a bit in this shot. Our cows sure go a long way. It's the grass that calls them.

We were told that they were last seen by the runway. Yes folks, this is a airplane runway. But I wouldn't want to use it.
Here is the another view from which to stand and holler and call in the cows. But all we heard was nothing. Not even a gentle 'whish' from the wind. Remember it was hot. We rode on and on. Every little road, every little hollow. Nothing. Saw some old signs that the cows had been there, but nothing really fresh. Visiting with some more nice people and got really hot in the sun. Perhaps our cows had gone home? Wishful thinking. We were hungry and hot, so we rode home. The creek crossing was easier.

Saturday evening we got a call. The cows are back. Ugh. I was off at a roller derby bout, so Mark decided to not go over because the cows don't love him as much. Ha.

Sunday we got up and were in for a surprise. It was cold. Really cold. I should have worn a coat cold. This is so Humboldt. If you don't like the weather wait a moment because it will change.

We rode past where the buffalo roam. Took a little shortcut.

Another view from the far side of the canyon.

Note the clouds and fog. Still cold. I hollered. I hiked the prairies. Back and forth, back and forth down the hillside I went until I got to the creek. I called, I begged, I bribed. No answer. Apparently someone was hiding. Eventually we gave up and went home. Creek crossing was even faster. I began to understand barn sour horses.

Monday morning was just right. Not too hot and not too cold and we had just received a phone call from the neighbors that the cows were spotted and he would trail them on foot until we got there.

I was irritated at all the days these strays were wasting. I didn't take any scenic shots. We rode fast. Didn't even notice the creek crossing. No stopping to say hi to the neighbors. We were on a mission. When we got to the cows I called and they didn't answer, but they took one look at us and headed home. Immediately. They knew they were busted. So we followed on foot. And walked,
and walked,
and walked. This was when I missed a horse. But it takes so long to ride across the creek and riding in unknown terrain hasn't always worked for us.
So we walked.
Finally we are on our property. We can see our barn from here. One of us heads up the hill directly and the other follows the cows. They apparently have a scenic route. Crossing a dry gully they take off at a run bucking and kicking. Ground bees attack and the cows get away, but not without getting stung I am sure. I know a human got stung and had to streak up the hill at a run waving their clothes like a banner trying to get the bees out. Good times...not. Funny though.

Eventually though the cows came home all sweet and gentle and begged for a little hay in the manger. We gave it to them and then loaded them up and traded them for a young, papered Angus bull.

Because, everyone knows that bulls stay home...

I do miss my cows though. Bye Dora, Emma and Peaches. Enjoy your new ranch. May you live long and fruitful.