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Archive for February, 2011

My computer is still ‘Dead in the water – or in our case – snow’ but my sister has graciously allowed me to post a blog from hers this morning.

Once again we are up to our eyeballs in snow. Thursday we received 10″ of the lightest, fluffiest snow you ever saw and this time there wasn’t any wind to blow it all over so it just stacked up on everything. I waded out in knee-deep fluff to my pickup while being bombarded with “snowflakes as big as horse turds” (that’s one of my hubby’s favorite sayings). The pickup was very ‘tall’ with the addition of snow. The sides of the pickup box and even the grill guard had snow stacked straight up on them. I brushed off as much as I could then started the truck and let it run while I waded back to the house for my camera.

Have you ever woke up to a black and white world? That’s the way I felt Thursday morning. Everything was white except for the things, like fence posts, that were tall enough to poke out of the snow. Even the red pickups seemed darker than usuall.

The snow was such a stark, brilliant white that when I started down the driveway I couldn’t tell where exactly the driveway was. Occasionally, I would get a glimpse of the snow piled up from previous storms but other than that I just eased from side to side till I found the ditches. Nerve-wracking but it worked.

Even in 4-wheel drive I didn’t dare slow down to take pictures of the snow blowing up over the hood and the sides of the truck. It flew halfway up the side windows – it was so beautiful!!!

At times you can’t even tell where the horizon ends and the sky starts. It give me a little sense of vertigo just trying to figure it out.

And best of all, when I came home from work some of the girls were at the gate waiting to welcome me home. Aren’t they sweet? I just love black cows with snow on their backs. It looks cold but actually it’s a good sign that they have enough fat built up and thick fur on them to insulate them from the cold.

Can you see how worried they were about me? What can I say – they love me. Sometimes I wonder what they’re thinking…

“Have you got anything to eat in that truck?”

In less than a month we’ll have green grass and baby calves everywhere we look – at least that’s what we’re hoping for. It is always amazing to me that cattle and horses can not only survive weather like this but that given enough feed and minerals they will thrive and produce some of the healthiest calves you’ve ever seen.

Just wait till next month!

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Hello from Purgatory

Hello, I’m coming to you today from a blackberry. Not by choice but out of necessity. A few nights ago we had terrible winds. At times I was sure the roof would be ripped off and I’d wake up as road kill on the yellow brick road complete with pigtails, ruby slippers and a short dog named Toto. But I didn’t. Instead I woke up to a computer without internet access – much more frightening than a flock of flying monkeys!

I called customer support and talked to a very nice lady who I would guess (from her accent) lived in India. She said her name was Nancy.

Let me stop right here – have you seen the credit card commercials with the big guy named Peggy? He doesn’t speak a word of English but he’s the one you have to go through to get your rewards. Yep – I was thinking the same thing, but Nancy was good. I don’t know where she was but somehow she could see that the statilite dish on top of our house was out of alignment. I couldn’t see it standing in my own front yard but from India – she could. I took her word for it.

Long story – short – I am now waiting for our friendly repair man to come and fix it. He’s supposed to be here the 28th to save me from the purgatory of typing my posts on this rediculously small keyboard. Who dreams this stuff up? And why do they hate us so much? Good questions to ponder while killing time. That’s what we get for living out in the middle of nowhere.

I’ll be back as soon as possible but in the meantime sing a chours of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” and think of me.

See you soon!

(I orginally wrote this on my blackberry – it took me 45 minutes of painstaking typing and then another half hour of trying to publish it before I gave up. Thankfully, Dad has a computer – about 40 miles from my house and I was headed that way this weekend. I’ll write when I can. Thanks for checking in.)

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I’ve started my gardening for the year!!!

I’ve planted seeds for tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, okra and a mixture of flowers.  They are sitting on our heated floor in the living room. 

Playing in the potting soil made me think about the many things I have learned from my garden.  Here’s a short list of the top 10.

1.  Rain is a reason to celebrate – dance in it every chance you get.

2.  Remain flexible through-out your life.  Being stiff and rigid can cause you to break in a storm.

3.  No matter how hard the season has been – do your best to look good.

4.  Accept help.  Sometimes it is better to ‘Round up’ your problems then to continue fighting a losing battle.

5.  Have deep roots.  You can always come back from your roots – I learned this one from creeping jenny.

6.  It doesn’t matter how many thorns you have – if you put on a good show people will still love you.

7.  Some of the things that bug you the most may just turn out to be your best friends.

8.  Storms and tough times make you stronger.

9.  Even a day filled with crap can be a blessing.

And finally,

10.  I don’t care how old you are – spraying someone with the garden hose is always funny and good for your soul.

Gardening can teach you many things.  It will thrill you one day and drive you to drink the next but through it all it will make you a better person and reward you with riches beyond belief (mostly in the form of zucchini).  Share these blessings and pass on the joy to the next generation.

Go forth and Garden.

Spring is just around the corner!!!

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I’m Back!!!  And just check this out.

 

Here’s the main cooler at the flower shop and this is what I’ve been doing with all my free time – working like a dog & up to my eyeballs in flowers.

 It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

My sister owns Jenny’s Floral which happens to be the only flower shop in Custer, SD.  When you own a flower shop, Valentines Day is really more like a whole week.

Here’s my sister – sorry, I caught her in mid sentence. 

This almost looks like it could be the set for a television show.  All she needs is a string of pearls and a plucked chicken and she could be the next Julia Childs.

“Next you take this red carnation and stuff it up the chickens’…”

Sorry, things get a little weird by the end of the day.  I guess the whole flower/cooking show thing probably wouldn’t work out too well after all. 

We do have a lot of fun and we do a lot of talking, laughing, and giggling like school girls mainly because all the girlfriends come and help. 

Grandma said it best –

“Many hands make the work load light.”

She would be so proud.

Of course, we discuss important things like politics, the new tax laws, quantum physics and how to save the environment.  We have also solved the world’s problems and devised a plan for world peace.

OK – I’m full of compost – we really talk about the men in our lives, our kids, the things we’ve been doing and the things we want to do.  We also bring lots of food and wine and beer for after hours.  That’s when all the really good discussions start.  But I can’t put any of that down in black and white.  I’m sure you understand.  Just imagine it’s like Sex in the City without the city and the fancy shoes.

Here’s Amy.  She worked for my sister back when she was in high school and she’s still willing to come and help, amazing, isn’t it?

Amy has a blog called the Ranch Wife’s Slant.  She also writes articles for several papers and magazines about her life on the ranch.  I think she comes just to gather warped and weird ideals for her upcoming articles.  The flower shop is pretty fertile ground for ‘warped and weird’.

Here’s some more friends.  Denise is slaving over a hot cash register and Kelly (in the green) was working on a balloon masterpiece – a column of white and clear balloons topped off with a very large heart-shaped balloon.  It turned out pretty darn cool.  This was Kelly’s first time at the flower shop.  She made the mistake of walking into the shop before Valentines Day, introducing herself and even stated that she had always dreamed of working in a flower shop.  She’s lucky she got out alive.  I’m not sure we’ll ever see her again but you never know – she fit in really well with our strange little flock of flower groupies.

There’s usually around a dozen of us who descend on the flower shop for the big holidays like Valentines Day and Mothers Day.  Most of us have been doing this for years because it’s a blast and if you don’t show up to work, you know we’ll all talk about you.  Besides, where else can you spend a few days with the girlfriends and play with flowers in the dead of winter.  In South Dakota your options are pretty limited.

Life is just a bed of roses – at the flower shop.

 

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I’m going to be away from my computer for a couple of days.

It’s Valentines Day.

And when your sister owns a flower shop…

And it’s Valentines Day…

You pretty much get drafted into service…

For the duration.

So that’s where I’ll be – up to my eyeballs in flowers and loving every minute.

With my girlfriends,

Taking time from my real job to stop and smell the flowers.

Happy Valentines Day!!! 

See you next week.

 

If I had a single flower for everytime I think of you,

I could walk forever in my garden.

Claudia Ghandi

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This Worthy and Wierd Quote is a little nasty but  it was so funny that I had to include it here.

I would guess that our boys were about 13 and 16 years old at the time it happened.  We were still living near Custer but were spending that particular day helping Grandpa S. get some things done around the ranch. 

Grandpa was known to everyone as ‘Bud’.  He had been born a cowboy and had lived his whole life at the ranch.  Bud was mostly a quiet man but he could get fired up on occasion when stuff broke down, the price of cigarettes went up or the football games he loved to watch didn’t turn out as he had hoped.  Basically, he was a tough old rancher with skin like tanned leather and a vocabulary that sometimes bordered on the – shall we say – spicy side of life?

This particular day had been a long, hot one filled with broken down equipment, skinned up knuckles and busy grandkids.  We had finally had all the ‘fun’ we could stand so had stopped for a cold drink at the kitchen table.  Grandpa was in the middle of telling a story – about what or who I can’t remember but our youngest son had obviously come in at the middle of the story because he didn’t know what or who it was about either.  Unfortunately, he was trying to figure out what Grandpa was talking about just as Grandpa was trying to finish his story.  My baby (actually a teenager) kept asking,

“Who?  Who are you talking about?  Who? Who?”

Grandpa had reached his last nerve and answered back,

“You don’t shit through feathers!”

It was one of those rare moments in time when the world and everything on it stopped mid-step and you pause with creased brow trying to process the words you think you just heard before asking, “What did you say?”

Grandpa was frazzled and our son was speechless (but secretly thrilled to quickly file these words of wisdom – complete with a 4-letter ‘sentence enhancer’ away for future use). 

The rest of us were practically worthless as we laughed till tears streamed from our eyes.  Everybody laughed about that one – even Grandpa and our boy.

I can’t blame HBO for teaching my children to cuss like sailors.  They were born ranch kids and since most ranchers have a colorful language you’re bound to pick up a few choice words that always seem to pop out at the most inopportune times.

(I’m still really, really sorry about that one time, Pastor Dave)

When our boys were little and throughly fascinated with those 4-letter words I finally had to make a deal with them – they could cuss but only when we were working cattle.  I figured this was OK since it seems to be the only language cattle understand. 

Now, you might think I’m a terrible mother but I must admit this arrangement worked out pretty well.  The boys actually watched their language at school and public places but on horseback, in a corral full of wild-eyed cattle they could blister the paint off the side of the barn. 

I always had to laugh when the neighbors would come to help work cattle – seeing the shocked looks on their faces, the boys were always quick to explain…

 “But Mom says that’s the only language cattle understand.”

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We had a great weekend!!!

I went curling with my sister and this time my Hubby, my Dad and my nephew went with us. 

I know what your thinking – isn’t it sweet that those guys all wanted to come and watch us curl because we’ve obviously gotten so good at curling that the men in our lives are sooooo proud of us and they just know that someday we will be chosen to represent the United States of America on the Olympic Curling team and they wanted and even begged to go with us just so they could show us the love and support we need to help us in our quest for Olympic gold. 

Yeah, right…

That would have been cool but really they just wanted to ride with us so we could drop them off at the Black Hills Stock Show.

Thanks a lot guys for crushing our gold metal curling dreams.

 

Oh well, I really can’t blame them because I wanted to go to the Stock Show too.

If you’ve never been to a Stock Show what are you waiting for?  Make plans now to go to the next one you can. 

Stock shows are full of all kinds of interesting stuff like lots and lots of cute cowboys in tight Wrangler jeans and bunches of beautiful cowgirls all dolled up in fantastic western wear that is ‘all about the bling’ right now.  I’m sorry to say I’m not one of them.  I’m one of the tough old ranchers wives who bought a new pair of jeans (Wrangler cowboy cut) for the occasion and threw on the stretched-out turtle neck shirt (because it’s damn cold outside) and the wool vest (half price last spring at the feed store) and forgot to put on any makeup (Makeup?  Do I actually own any makeup?) or even earrings.  I did tie on a silk scarf to spiff up the outfit a bit but frankly I’m lucky most days if I get my hair combed.  I’ve always been about 15 years behind when it comes to fashion but it’s still fun to check out all the clothes at the venders booths.   And, Boy-Howdy, did they have venders!

Even if you don’t buy a single thing there is so much to see.

For one thing, there’s really big Tonka toys inside the building.

Here’s my sister, our Dad and a brand new loader.  There wasn’t even a tray under it to catch leaking oil – I was so impressed!  And did you know that if you ask really nice and say ‘Please’ the guys in charge of the booth will let you climb up into the cab and pretend you are really serious about buying it?  Ha!  That thing cost more than our house.   But then, as soon as they realize you don’t have any money and they give up and go talk to someone else you can bounce in the seat and make engine noises with your mouth and spit all over the inside of the windshield.  Not that I would do such a thing.  I’m much too dignified and refined to do such a thing.  I’ve really grown up a lot since last year – haven’t I?  The truth is my knees were still killing me from curling last weekend.  I didn’t think I could even climb up in there.

After we checked out the big equipment we went to see the cattle – every Stock Show has them – or else it wouldn’t really be a ‘Stock’ Show, would it?

There were lots of cattle

Just look how pretty and well-behaved they are.  Not a cow pie or speck of manure anywhere.  It takes many hours of work and dedication to train your cattle to do this stuff and look this way.

Our cows don’t look like this. 

Our cows leave cow pies everywhere they go and usually they have lots and lots of manure smeared all over them.  I’m pretty sure that if you tied one of our cows to that pretty little fence and tried to comb and blow dry her she would freak out!  You would probably get stomped into the ground or at the very least she would blow snot all over you before ripping out the fence and dragging it and all the other cows tied to it on a wild-west tour of the entire stock show.  We just don’t have diva cows – ours all blow snot. 

It’s a cow thing. 

Besides, if we brought one of our cows I’m afraid they wouldn’t place very well in the BBP (Bovine Beauty Pagent).

Yikes!!!

She’s a nice mellow momma cow but Damn Girlfriend! – that’s a face only a rancher could love.

Don’t worry honey, we love ya!

But talk about divas – check out these boots.

Boots like this will make you want to sing.  My sister did.

“The stars at night are big and bright… X  X  X  X  X,  deep in the heart of Texas!!!”

Go ahead, you can sing along.  No body will hear you.

Yes, people were looking at us strangely and keeping their children far, far away from us and the guys were pretending they didn’t know who we were but we did have fun.  I can’t wait for next year!

 

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Have you ever wondered what goes on in a cows’ mind?

I have.  I actually think about this a lot. 

I guess I need a life.

Maybe you only think about these things when you live among cattle for a while.  Frankly, when you see some of the things they do it’s kind of scary.  For instance, before we started work on remodeling our house my husband came up with the great idea of putting up a Christmas star on the end of the old house.  It was pretty cool because he made it go from the very peak of the house (about 20 feet off the ground) to the ground and from the front of  the house to the back.  This was a big and impressive star.  He put it on a timer and lit it up for the Christmas season.  It was beautiful!  You could see it from the highway roughly 4 miles away.  Our family was in awe, the neighbors were speechless and our friends were truly impressed… 

as were the cows. 

The cows were fascinated with it.  They hung out around the house gazing in wonder at the tiny white lights that lit up the star-studded night.  And in a warped kind of way seeing them standing there in such reverence reminded me of the wise men who had followed a star so many, many years ago.  It was enough to bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat.

All was right in the universe and the world was at peace until the day we realized some of the lights weren’t working any more.  Suddenly our big and beautiful symbol of the Christmas story didn’t have a leg to stand on, so to speak.  On closer inspection we found that the cattle had been eating the strings of Christmas lights right off the house, sucking them down like electrified strings of spaghetti.

This created a slew of questions in my mind.

Why would a cow do this? 

What kind of twisted mind would even think to try this?

Couldn’t you get electrified munching on Christmas lights? 

What form of nutritional value do you suppose there is in Christmas lights? 

And the most worrisome question of all – at least for me was if you eat glass light bulbs what happens when they come out the other end?

I worried about this one a lot.  I even had bad dreams about this but it didn’t seem to worry the girls at all. 

For the next couple of years Hubby would replace the mangled strings of lights and the star would shine brightly once again – at least for a while.  The cows would be drawn to it like women to chocolate and that would be the end of the display for another year.  Hubby even tried putting up metal panels to temporarily fence off the lights but the girls would eventually get in and the lower lights would be gone.

Hubby has since given up on the star not because the cows have won the battle and he has given up in defeat but because we have built on to that end of the house and I won’t let him drill holes in the new siding.  But he still has a thing about MEGA BIG Christmas decorations.  Here’s a photo of the Christmas tree he built from scrap metal and cable. 

The tree is about 40 feet tall.  Look at the bottom right hand corner of the photo and you can compare it to the backhoe parked off to the side. 

No – it’s not trick photography – that’s really how big it is.

There are over 2000 feet of rope lights on this tree and when he plugs it in the electric company’s meter on the side of the house spins faster than a Bell helicopters’ blades but I’ve got to admit it’s even more impressive than the star was.

The cows think so too.  Did you notice the bottom strings of lights?

Yes  it’s true – rope lights are just as tasty as the little twinkle lights.

Cows… what are you gonna do with ’em? 

You can’t read their minds and they aren’t talking so I guess the whole Christmas light thing will be one of the great mysteries of the world.

But there is something fascinating about a mysterious woman…

no matter what species she is.

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What exactly is a snubbin’ post?

I heard you – inquiring minds want to know.  So to ease your mind and not leave you hanging,

this is a picture of a genuine snubbin’ post.

No – it’s not the cows or the cowboys or even the big stick my Hubby is dragging behind him – it’s the wooden post sticking out of the ground all by itself in the middle of the corral.  The one that looks like someone forgot to build the fence on to it.

And what do we use a snubbin’ post for?

Why snubbin’ – of course.

Let us demonstrate.

Here’s our son Morgan and his rope.  Morgan likes to rope and he’s good at it.  Please notice that at the end of his rope he has a calf and two cowboys trying to subdue said calf.

Now, notice how Morgan has one loop wrapped around the post already and is ‘throwing’ a second loop.  It is always a good idea to have at least 2 loops around the post no matter what size the animal is on the end of your rope.  Three is even better.  The friction from the rope around the post gives you much more control over the ticked off animal – at least it gives you the illusion of control.  You soon learn there is very little about the world of ranching that you have any control over.  This setup also allows you to take up slack when the ticked off animal charges at you and hopefully you get enough slack to get you clear of the business end of the charging animal.  Warning – don’t ever let your loops cross over each other as they will bind up and refuse to slide at the exact moment you really, really need them too. 

 Take my word for this. 

By applying a little pressure you are able to hold a very large and very angry animal in place no matter how many times it chases you around the post (as long as you stay ahead of it and don’t get run over).  And absolutely never ever let them get the rope wrapped around any part of your body – this is an extremely bad thing.  People have lost body parts and their lives by getting tangled in ropes.  A rope can cut like a knife under the wrong conditions and cows never stop just because you ask them to.

Oops, Morgan – you’ve lost a loop. 

Snubbin’ posts are very heavy posts, usually the butt end of old power poles that are set deep into the ground.  This is a new one we put in a couple of years ago when the original one rotted off and broke while we were working cattle.  Hubby’s uncle and his father had set the original post when they built the corrals sometime in the 20’s or 30’s and it showed all those years of wear and tear in the deep groves dug by hundreds of ropes.  

My favorite part of the old corrals are the gates.  There’s nothing like the sound of an old wooden gate when you swing it open.  It’s music to my ears.  Our gates  are hung from the original gate posts that were set back then too and it amazes me that they are still in such good shape as cattle are pretty rough on things.  Remember the ‘bull in the china shop’ thing?  It’s true. 

Snubbin’ posts are handy for other things too.  You can wire metal panels (sections of portable fence) to them when you need to create an alley way or loading chute.  They will also save your butt when the usually mild-mannered bovine changes before your eyes to a raging leather bag full of vinegar and oneryness and decides, for some unknown reason, that you are the spawn of the devil himself and their sole purpose in this life is to the stomp you into the ground and save the world from scum like you.  It happens – I’ve seen it happen.  It’s scarry when it happens!  The trick is to keep the post between you and the cow long enough for you to jump the fence.  And believe me, with the right motivation (such as a ticked off cow blowing snot all over your backside) you can clear that 6 foot corral in a single bound – just like Super Man.

You can take my word for that too.

Here’s a good picture of the post and our oldest son Dalton on Rough.  I know it’s a weird name for a horse but it suits him – he’s always been a little rough around the edges.

Horses know the benefits of snubbin’ posts too.  Rough has worked most of his life in this corral and he’s ducked behind that post and run cattle around it and has even been tied to it a time or two himself – yes, that’s partly how he got his name.

Snubbin’ posts take a lot of abuse but every corral should have one. 

Don’t you think?

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Sorry it’s been a few dayssince I last wrote.  It has been really cold and snowy and my satellite dish had collected a nice little snow drift up there on top of the house. 

Since it was -20 degrees (yes that’s MINUS 20 degrees) with lots of wind and mainly because I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather I wasn’t very excited about climbing up there and sweeping the snow away.  So I just waited for the snow to drift somewhere else which it did today.  So in honor of having my internet back we will not be showing any snow photos today – I promise.  How about some nice warm pictures of a trip I took with the girlfriends to sunny Texas instead?

It was April 2008.  It was beautiful and warm.  And it was snowing like crazy – at home.  Hee Hee Hee!

But we were 9 Moms on Spring Break on South Padre Island and we didn’t care about the howling winds and the 3 feet of snow in South Dakota.

No siree!

There were no children, no husbands, and no hungry cows and horses to feed. 

I don’t think they even allow those things on Padre Island.

At least that’s what I told my family when I left.  Can you believe they actually bought it?

But Padre Island did have a few things we didn’t have back home…

Ah… the fragile beauty,

and the exotic wildlife,

and the steamy sunsets,

and the crazy tourists, 

(Yep, that’s me)

And my big blue feet and my ‘glow in the dark’ shockingly white  midwest legs.

Scary – isn’t it?

Did you know your feet turn that color from the cold winter weather in South Dakota? 

And your legs never do tan because 11 months out of the year it’s too cold to wear shorts. 

It’s sad, but true.

Maybe I should go back to Texas.  You know – for the health of my blue feet and ‘glow in the dark’ legs.  I really think I should.

It makes sense to me but do you think Hubby will buy it?

Maybe – if I don’t show him this picture.

 Who was that cute kid and why is he laid out on the table like a slab of beefcake in front of a sign that says “I got my crabs at Daddys”?

I forget.

Wait… 

What was I talking about?

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