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Archive for the ‘My Puerto Rican Adventure’ Category

Would you look at that?

I got busy with ranch life and totally ignored my blog for a month but when I finally checked in the first thing I noticed was that it has topped over 10,000 views.  Is that exciting or what?  I guess I better get busy and write some more stuff!

We have been busier than heck back here at the ranch so I’m dragging butt.  We have gathered cattle, sorted cattle, worked cattle, doctored cattle, preg checked cows, weaned calves, shipped yearlings and calves ( 2 very full trucks of them) and finally sold cattle. 

Life has pretty much revolved around cattle for the last two months and I have literally been ‘candy coated’ with manure for a very large share of that time.  Hubby has had something scheduled for every weekend and evening for so long I wasn’t sure which way I was going.  But the yearlings and the calves have been sold now so it’s a relief to be down to just the bred cows and the bulls for the winter. 

Even though there wasn’t much rain and we barely saw a green blade of grass all summer the yearlings and calves did very well.  We were lucky that there was grass left over from last summer that they were able to graze.  And even luckier that we didn’t lose any of it to the many fires that were going all summer long.  We figured our yearlings gained an average of 1.9 lbs. every day.  They looked pretty fat and sassy when we gathered them up for the trip home. 

I have to admit most of the yearlings we get are the wildest and dumbest critters you could ever meet up with but this batch was great.  They may have spoiled us but I’m betting next years herd will bring us bouncing back to reality in short time.

With no new growth this summer the pastures are looking pretty bare.  Normally, we would graze till the snow piles up but this year we will probably have to start feeding before that happens.

Everybody I talk to is praying for snow.  After a long summer full of drought and fires it’s been nice to see the ground white a couple of times already and we’ve even had to scrape a little mud off your boots once or twice.  I like mud.

After gathering this fall we are still short one bull off of the Forest Service permit.  Hubby has spent quite a few days on the mountain looking for him and has had no luck so far even though some of the hunters we’ve talked to have seen one.  He’s either a very elusive little bugger and has moved in with another herd or els he has died somewhere back in the woods.  In that case we might never find him.

It has been another wild summer so I’m thankful for a little break.  I did manage to squeeze in a couple of community education classes in my free time.  All of them were in Rapid City this year so I ended up driving like hell after work to get there in time and then getting home around midnight.  It made for some long days but the classes were great and well worth it.  I usually try to sign up for a few every year just to try out something I’ve never done before and this year was no exception – beekeeping,  scuba diving and pistols.  I’ll have to tell you about that weird combination next time.

And one final thought for today – My prayers go out to the crew and families of the HMS Bounty which sank off the coast of North Caroline early Monday morning.  I got to tour this beautiful old ship last March when it was in port at Old San Juan Puerto Rico.  She was built in the 60’s for the movie ‘Mutiany on the Bounty’ starring Marlin Brando.  They followed the plans of the original Bounty when they built her but she was enlarged by 1/3 scale to accommodate the large movie cameras used at the time.  Originally, they planned to blow her up for the final scene of the movie but it seems Mr. Brando fell in love with the ship and threatened to walk off the set unless they changed their plans.  So they blew up a model instead and the ship was saved.  Over the years it has gone from used to neglected to restored to sold and then used for movies again and was currently up for sale for 4.6 million.  For the last few years she had traveled to various events and even was used as a summer camp for kids on occasion.  If I had got to go to summer camp like that I would never have come home!

 

After I saw her she was scheduled to leave port to work her way along the east coast and arrive in time for several events all along the coast before turning back mid summer so she would arrive back to Puerto Rico where she would remain through the winter.  It sounded like a wonderful way to spend the summer.  When I jokingly asked about any job openings they might have the young man giving me the tour was pretty quick to inform me that they were looking for a new cook as the last one had just gotten a job on another ship.  He appeared almost desperate enough to eat my cooking and even told me how to get an application.  I made sure to mention my new job opportunity to Hubby when I talked to him on the phone.  He wasn’t exactly thrilled by it but it was very tempting to me.  I have always been facinated by the tall ships.

The last report I’ve heard was that 14 of the 16 crew members were safely rescued shortly after she sank.  Unfortunately one crew member was found dead and they are still searching for the last member of the crew – the captain.  Since they were all well prepared for emergencies and the waters average 70 to 80 degrees there is still hope that he will be found alive.  I hope so.

She was a beautiful ship and I am glad I got a chance to see her.

 

 

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Here you go – more photos of my vacation and then I promise I will get back to the things I know best – cattle ranching, gardening and family – you know – the ‘insanely funny because they’re true’ things.

But first more Puerto Rico…  We went snorkeling!!!  Those hours of practice in the kiddy pool in Rapid City were worth it.  Even if I did traumatize a couple of kids.  (Sorry about that)

We saw all kinds of fish.

Our friend and tour-guide extraordinaire, Wanda signed us up for a day on a catamaran named the Salty Dog.  It was just us and 25 of our best, new friends we met that morning on the dock.    And believe me after a couple of the boats’ signature drinks known as ‘Pain Killers’ we were all friends even if we can’t remember anyone’s name!  But I do remember this guy.

He is our favorite bartender, Jay and he had the longest eye-lashes I have ever seen.  We kept him busy all day making Pain Killers and Rum Punch. 

I have discovered that Rum is a wonderful thing.  That is for sure and certain. 

But back to swimming with the fishes…

They were everywhere!  We swam for a while off the beach of a small uninhabited island and then moved into a little deeper water just off shore.  There was a family on board who had obviously done this trip before as they saved some of the bread from their lunch and used it to feed the fish.

What a hoot!  They were everybody’s friends.

I even saw a few mermaids.  This is Wanda.

And here’s some more I won’t identify because they would kick my butt!

I can’t help it – I love these photos of people without heads.  I was like a lurking ‘camera shark’ out there with my little underwater camera.   I even did a self-portrait.

 Prepare yourself. 

You may wish to move small children away from the computer.

Yikes!  It’s the dreaded Crazy Ranch Wife Sucker Fish!!!  She’s a rare one. 

Here’s another shot I love of my sister, Jenny and myself.

Yep – that’s a Pain Killer in my hand.  We were feeling the Love and very little else.

One interesting point – I think I was the only person on the whole island with a cowboy hat.  I stuck out like a sore thumb but at least the girlfriends didn’t have any problem finding me in a crowd.

I love snorkeling.  It really was my favorite thing.

But now it’s back to real life.  This weekend we will brand the new calves, and the yearlings we bought.  We will also work the cows and bulls before turning everyone out on summer pasture.  So it will be a busy weekend full of work, friends, family and for me lots of cooking.  From the looks of the weather, I’m betting we will also be knee-deep in mud. 

 Don’t you just love spring?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am home from vacation and it was wonderful!!!  I loved Puerto Rico and I am so thankful our friend Wanda wanted to share her little ‘home town’ with us.  It was quite a shock for some of us who come from a state where we have 11 people per square mile to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that has 1,661.  (Wyoming is even less with 5 people per square mile)

I spent a week with all these beautiful women and some of Wanda’s family.  We played on the beach, we ate authentic Puerto Rican food, met many wonderful people who lived there, sampled some of the rum and local ‘spirits’ and talked & laughed till we cried. 

If I had only one word to describe what I saw in Puerto Rico it would have to be – COLOR! 

Just look at the beautiful buildings of Old San Juan.

Believe me, they know color on this island! 

We passed this beautiful church as they were having a baptism service inside.  From the street you could hear the words and music so even without stepping a foot inside you felt like you were part of their joy.

I loved the color of the Governor’s Mansion at the end of the street.

And I absolutely LOVED the cobblestone streets – especially after the rain.  Can you believe that color?  I’ve read that the cobblestones are actually blocks of slag from the furnaces in England that was used as ballast in the ships.  As the cargo was taken on, the blocks were unloaded and eventually became the streets.

There was color and beauty everywhere you looked.  It made me want to come home and paint even though the only things I’ve ever painted are the walls of my house and a few canvases with numbers on them.  But who knows?  I have all my mother’s oil paints and supplies – maybe it’s time to give it a try?

Another favorite spot – the Fort of El Morro (Yes, you have to roll your rr’s on that one).   This is the gate to the fort.  Is that beautiful or what?

The Sentry towers of the fort are beautiful and have become a symbol of Puerto Rico.  I can’t even imagine how many photos have been taken of them.  I know I came home with  quite a few.

There were so many small ‘nooks and cranies’ everywhere including this triangular staircase.  Once again the colors just sucked me in.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures.   I was a woman possessed with a camera stuck to my face.

Everywhere I looked was an amazing photo opportunity.

I love yellow and I love blue…

What can you say about an ocean that color?

And sand the color of honey?

 I can’t believe all that we saw and did.  It was a great vacation and I haven’t even mentioned my very most favorite things – the rain forest and when we went snorkeling.  About halfway through the trip the girls started teasing me because every time we did something new it then became my ‘favorite thing’.  I guess you could say I had a great time and yes – I would go back again.   But for now I get to enjoy the photos we took. 

Hope you enjoy them too.

 

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Have you missed me?  I admit it – I have really missed my little blog for the last few weeks.  But tomorrow morning we will leave for the big city of Denver where fly off to the tropics early Tuesday morning.  I can’t wait.

I think I am finally ready to go.  The taxes are done, the bills are paid, the fridge is filled so Hubby won’t starve, my time in the tanning booth has started to show, and as of this morning the first batch of calves is branded, tagged, castrated and vaccinated.

Morgan, Dalton and Dani were all here to help.  It was a great day!  And I was sooooo happy to see everybody before I left – vacations are fun but family is everything!

For 2 months now I have been thinking and stockpiling everything I thought I would need to pack for the trip but then one day (mostly due to lack of sleep) I started thinking about all the things I wouldn’t need to take to the island and since that list was much more interesting I decided to share it here.

What I will not pack for the Island:

1.  I will not take the pickup.  There really shouldn’t be any need for a 4-wheel drive, 3/4 ton pickup with a set of tire chains under the back seat.  I really hope we will not need the ice scraper/snow sweeper, extra insulated gloves, socks, stocking caps, coveralls or scarves in the front seat or the tow ropes, jumper cables, diesel fuel additive, winter survival kit, extra food, water bottles, blankets, snow boots, scoop shovel or heat packs that ride around in the back seat all winter long.

2.  I will not take a parka, winter coat, fur coat (even if it is the ‘nice beaver’ as my sister says) or my Carhart coveralls.  I will sprint to the airport terminal in a raging blizzard if I have to, rather than carry a coat with me to the island.

3.  We shouldn’t need the heat gun to thaw out any water pipes or any heat tape to wrap around them to keep the water running.  I bet they rarely have that problem in Puerto Rico.
 
4.  I won’t pack the Nipco heater, heat lamps or electric dog dish – the calves, chicks and our dog and cats will probably need these here while I am gone.
 
5.  I don’t care how much she begs – Fat Alice will have to stay home!
 
 
 
She’s the big yellow one and is one of my favorite anniversary gifts (Dan is so damn romantic sometimes!!!).  Fat Alice will just have to stay home to feed the cattle and scoop the snow.  Sorry Alice.
 
6.  We shouldn’t need any hay bales either because I’m betting no one on the island of Puerto Rico has ever had to stack them around the foundation of their house to keep things from freezing.  For that matter, I bet no one has ever shrink-wrapped their windows with double-sided sticky tape, sheets of plastic and a hair dryer to stop the wind from blowing through and freezing the gold-fish in the bowl on the kitchen counter.  Don’t laugh – I know a guy in Custer who came home one evening to find that the furnace had died while he was at work.  He said it looked like the guppies in the aquarium were swimming in jello.
 
7.  I’m pretty sure I can leave our electric socks with their battery packs at home – the really nice ones that my sister gave all the girls working at the flower shop for Valentines’ Day one year?  We shouldn’t need these on the beach.  In fact I don’t believe the salt water would be good for them.
 
8.  I don’t think we’ll have to take any de-icer salt or kitty litter either.  If you don’t carry kitty litter in your car every winter and know how to use it you obviously haven’t lived in South Dakota long enough.
 
9.  We shouldn’t have to worry about wind chills, white-outs, snowflakes as big as horse turds or snow drifts for a few days.  And I would bet real money that there isn’t a single snow plow/sander truck on the entire island to watch out for.  I passed 5 snow plows, 3 road graders with v-plows, 2 Bobcat loaders and 27 pickups with blades just on the way home from work one night a couple of weeks ago.
 
10.  We shouldn’t need to take any electric blankets, down comforters, wool blankets, heated mattress pads or quilts – in fact, I wonder if there are even any quilters or quilt shops on the island.
 
11.  All those sexy (?) flannel nighties that reach from your chin to your toes with long sleeves and enough fabric to build a small circus tent can stay at home too along with the sheep-skin lined bedroom slippers, sweat pants and sweat shirts I often sleep in. 
 
 
12.  We shouldn’t need to take any snow packs, ice cleats, moon boots, rubbers, or 4 buckle overshoes unless of course you would like to wear them while snorkeling or wading in the tidal pools – the rubbers and overshoes might actually work pretty well for this but I’m still not going to pack them.
 
13.  And last but not least I absolutely, positively refuse to pack any wool socks, wool underwear, wool lined pants, wool vests, wool hats, wool gloves or even a wool sweater – I don’t care if it does have a sailboat knitted into the front of it!  The wool stays home!
 
 
 I’ll see you when I get home (if not before). 

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Even though it has been a while since I wrote on my blog, I want you to know I have been writing every day.  About what?  You ask…  About Puerto Rico of course. 

You see, I love to travel, but since I rarely get the chance I tend to go a little overboard.  For me, the days leading up to a trip are often just as exciting as the trip itself.   There is definitely something to be said for anticipation.  I look at the pre-trip days as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn everything I possibly can about the people and places I am going to see and the upcoming trip to Puerto Rico is no exception. 

 

 I guess you could say I am a tad bit excited…

Or maybe you could say I’m really looking forward to it…

Ok, you could say I’m thrilled right out of my Ariat boots!!!  My suitcase has been packed for 2 months and I now have a collection of swimsuits that I’m pretty sure will rival all others in a 5 state region! 

The main reason I’m soooo excited about this trip is because I finally have the chance to travel to a tropical island and snorkel in the Caribbean.  That has been right up there at the top of my bucket list since birth.  What can I say?  White sand beaches and large bodies of water have called to me my whole life.  I love the smell of the water, the power of the waves, the spray in my face and even the creatures that wash up on shore.  And strange as it may seem (since I live just about as far from an ocean as a person can get) sea shells have always found their way to me.  I find them everywhere – rummage sales, sandboxes in public parks, second-hand stores, in boxes at farm auctions, in antique stores and my all-time favorite –  fossilized shells I literally stumbled over in a road ditch while I my pickup was broke down beside a lonely Wyoming highway one night. 

I have inherited sea shells and found them while cleaning out my grandparents house.  You know, I never realized til right now just how many shells I have.  It’s amazing.

 

Not only have I filled a display case with these tiny treasures but they sit on shelves and window sills throughout the house.  They cover the soil in the houseplant pots.  I put them in terrariums and I send them away as gifts but I still have thousands more in boxes, tucked into cupboards and closets and under my bed.  Even my jewelery box is full of shell shaped baubles. 

And it’s not just shells.  I have brought home bottles of water from each of the oceans I have traveled to and there are bottles from each of the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls to back up the pictures of me barefooted and grinning like an idiot ankle-deep in the icy waters.  There are bottles of sand too – coarse sand, fine sand, white sand and one beautiful bottle of ‘singing’ sand, the color of brown sugar from a beach on Lake Superior.  My son, Dalton and his wife Dani brought that one home for me from a trip to her Grandparents home.  They also brought driftwood and fresh water shells – fragile little works of art worthy of any great art museum.  I love them all!  And I dream of someday building a huge glass fronted case that would cover one entire wall of the dining room to fill with these miracles of nature. 

Yes, I’m obsessed.  Maybe I am really a mermaid born by mistake in the midwest.  It makes perfect sense to me but then a lot of strange things do.

As if that’s not strange enough we also have a large collection of pirate/Caribbean/ocean themed movies.  My favorite picks – any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Cutthroat Island, Captain Ron and an oldie but a goodie Nate and Hayes starring Tommy Lee Jones.  When the winters get long in South Dakota my tropical movies have always gotten me through. 

 Yes, just 31 days and we will fly off to the Caribbean.  You can bet I’ll have empty water bottles on hand to fill with ocean water and sand.  I will probably have to mail home boxes of sea shells because I will pick up so many that my suitcase will be overweight by the time we head for home.  I am really looking forward to eating and drinking all the wonderful things I have been reading about and I know there will be several memory cards full of photos of everything from beautiful sunsets to the guy who waits on us at the bar.  We will dance to the beat of the local music and I will lay in the sand like a beached whale.  Best of all I will wear the bikinis a 50-year-old woman probably shouldn’t wear but damn – who’s gonna care anyway!  Life is much to short to worry about the little things like age.  50 is smack dab in the middle so I figure I am finally an adult and as such I have given myself permission to enjoy life more than ever. 

This should be fun.

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