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Posts Tagged ‘cowboys’

We branded last weekend and it was good.  Of course it took me almost a week to find my camera again so that’s what took me so long to add this post.  It was in the pocket of an old coat along with a dozen nasty old ear tags.  I imagine some women find nice things like pretty gloves, scarves and even cash in their coat pockets – not me.  I have grubby ear tags and used surgical gloves for handling fly tags.  Oh well, that’s a small price to pay to get to see these little guys every spring.

This little guy was born just in time to get branded.  Can you see how excited he is?  Just look at that face, he has got to be a bull calf.

Everyone showed up for the fun and games.  Here’s Hubby with Dani & Dalton’s new puppy – Cleo.  She’s a cutie.  Everyone loves to help with branding.  Dalton & Dani came from up by Belle Fourche, Morgan came with 2 of his friends – Matt and Derek, and our neighbors John and Ellen stopped by too.  It’s a lot of fun!!!

Of course, this side of the family wasn’t near as impressed as the rest of us. 

But it was a day for puppies.  Along with Cleo we also had Turbo who is Matt’s puppy.  Cleo is a full blood Blue Heeler and Turbo (bless his cute little puppy heart) is a Heeler/Corgi cross.  There’s just something about those short-legged dogs.  I love them! 

That’s it – I’m going to have to steal one of these puppies.

That’s Dani (our favorite daughter-in-law) on Hubby’s new horse Smokey and Morgan (my baby) running the gate.  We were sorting off the cows so we could push the new yearlings in first.

Every time we work cattle we seem to draw an audience.  The older dogs – Casey and Steve watched at the gate, ready to jump in and help if someone needed them.  It may not look like it but both those dogs can squirt under that gate in a flash if they have to.  Although Steve doesn’t have to duck quite as far as Casey.

After the yearlings we did break for lunch – Honey glazed ham, baked potatoes, Grandma’s famous baked bean recipe, deviled eggs, Ramen noodle salad, tossed salad (lettuce and spinach from my garden), fresh pineapple (not from my garden), home-made bread, pickles and lots of desserts – carmel rolls, cheesecake, chocolate pie, Ellen’s banana cake and chocolate chip cookies.  Yum – Yum!

Then it was back to work.  That’s Dalton looking like he doesn’t want to get too close to that cow along with our neighbor John who ran the squeeze chute.  We gave the cows a shot to help the calves that are nursing stay healthy, and a dose of stuff on their backs to help control flies and parasites and basically just said “Hi.  How are you?”

Then we worked the calves.

The boys have developed a routine over the years.  Dalton worked at the head giving implants and checking for horns, while Morgan did the cutting (castrating).  Matt had to leave early but Derek helped push in calves and hold them down.  Derek’s a big kid and a football player.  This training serves him well when it comes to working cattle.  Those calves didn’t stand a chance.  John kept the branding irons hot while Dani, Ellen and I took care of ear tags, shots and record keeping.

I love watching our boys brand.  I remember all those years when they were too little to help and were forced to watch it all from the bed of the pickup.  I bet they would tell you this is much more fun.

Once we’re done with the calves we turn them out to go find their Mama’s who usually are right there bawling for their babies.  Can’t you just imagine what he’s telling his mother?  “Mom, where are you?  I don’t ever want to go back there again.  Mom, are all humans weird?  You’ll never believe what they did to me.  Mom, why do I have earrings?”

The last thing we did was to brand the new horse.  This is something that we don’t do very often.  Most horses are branded when they are young (and easier to handle).  First  Derek and Hubby tied him to the corral.  Smokey should have known something was going on then.

And when they covered his head with the black coat he should have ‘run like the wind’.  But he’s a good horse and he took it like a man.  At least until the red-hot brand touched his hide.  Then he let us know he wasn’t pleased.  You can’t blame him – I would have been pretty ticked off too.

To show his displeasure with the whole thing he did his best to tear the corral apart and managed to break a couple of the old logs before it was over.   Thank goodness the iron was hot and Hubby only had to use it once.  I have to admit the new brand on his shoulder really shows up on that grey horse.

But a few soothing words, a couple pats on the back and a nice bucket of oats helped make it all better.  Although the next time you try to throw a black coat over his head I’m betting it won’t work quite so well.

Another successful branding day.

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At the tail end of my last post I mentioned Don King Days which takes place every year just outside of Sheridan, WY.  To tell the truth I had never heard of Don King Days until our youngest son mentioned it.  He had gone a few years ago and said it was pretty darn interesting so since we were headed through Sheridan over Labor Day weekend we decided to stop and check it out ourselves and we were certainly glad we did.

Of course any trip to Sheridan wouldn’t be complete without a stop at King Ropes and Saddlery.  This is one of my all-time favorite stores in the world!!!  They have everything a true-blue cowgirl could ever want.  This store was started by a fellow named Don King (no – it’s not the same guy who promotes boxing and has the wild, straight-up hair do).  This Don King was a cowboy, rancher, roper, leather crafter and from the sounds of it a really nice guy.  He has passed away but his store and museum continues on.

The place is easy to find – just follow main street and you’ll come right to it.  Not only will you want to stop there to shop but you will definitely need to stop there for directions to the polo field (yep – polo with horses) where they hold the festivities.  And when the lady tells you the route will be well-marked – don’t believe her.  We stumbled around lost for almost an hour, went 8 miles out-of-the-way and finally chanced upon it when we thought we took a wrong turn.  But it was worth the hassle of finding it because this was a ‘rodeo’ the likes of which I had never seen before.

The first thing you will notice when you pull up is that there aren’t any fences – this is – after all, a polo field.  Everyone brings their lawn chairs and finds a spot.  They also back their pickups in and set up their tail-gate parties.  Believe me – these guys and gals know how to tail-gate!  Check it out…

This bunch had long stem glasses and champagne on ice.  And this bunch…  need I say more?

“Par-Tay at the Polo Club!”

I am sorry to say we totally missed the polo match that morning.  That was something I had been looking forward to seeing but we did get there in time to see the steer tripping which is pretty amazing in itself. 

 They turn a steer loose, the roper ropes it by a legal catch over both horns than flips the rope over the steers hips and ‘trips’ the critter.  He then has to get off his horse and run to tie up three legs of the steer before it gets back on its feet.  It was impressive to see the skill of these cowboys!

It was hard to get a picture because everything happened so fast. 

Steer Tripping was good but not quite as exciting as the Saddle Bronc riding.  They do it almost the same way it was done a hundred years ago.  They did run the horse into a small chute at first to hold him while they put on the halter and rope then they would hand the rope over to a guy on horseback and turn the horse out of the chute.  The cowboy would lead the horse (who was always bucking and kicking) right out in front of everyone where he held him as other cowboys on horseback would slowly move up beside the bronc – calming him with the presence of the other horses.  They would slowly ease the saddle onto the bronc and then the cowboy would climb up behind another cowboy then ease on over to the back of the bronc.  Once he was in place and set for the ride he would nod his head and everyone would scatter.  There was always one guy to flip an old slicker in the broncos face to really get things going.

These boys could ride.  And the best part was when the horse decided to buck toward the crowd – people grabbed their children, lawn chairs and drinks & scattered like cockroaches in the daylight.  It was great! 

I heard several stories about horses and riders bucking through the crowd and into the vehicles parked nearby.  And I guess they have even landed on top of several cars over the years.  Just try to explain that to your insurance agent.  I’m betting that cute little gecko wouldn’t even believe you.

 

The pick-up guys were always handy when it came time to get off.  They had to be – that ground was hard packed.  I would bet it was almost like landing on concrete. 

I think a person should try new things as often as they can and Don King Days definitely fits the bill.  In fact, we may have to go back next year and see what all we missed this time!

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I promised you pictures of the County Fair and here are some of my favorites.

You can always tell you’re at a County Fair as soon as you pull into the parking lot…

pickups and horse trailers as far as the eye can see.

And of course where there are pickups and horse trailers you will also find cowboys.  This is our neighbor Clayton leading his team to victory at the Ranch Rodeo.

“Forward, HO!”

And if that’s not enough to convince you you’re at the fair all you have to do is look into the Poultry building where you will see stuff like this…

Yikes!!!  Great gobs of poultry poo kid, what happened to your chicken?

Actually this is a Turken, a cross between a turkey and a chicken.  (It almost makes you think some creatures shouldn’t be crossed, doesn’t it?) 

Believe me, if it’s weird and wacky you will find it at the fair.

I just love the creativity of ranch kids – check this out.

This was my all-time favorite entry – ever!!!  Artwork made from live ammunition.  I bet Martha Stewart never thought of that.

Yes, those are loaded .22 shells.  You have to admit it sure beats the hell out of a velvet Elvis painting doesn’t it?  Notice I even got a nice little glare on the glass for the eyeball from the overhead lights – Cool.

I just love 4-H kids!!!

Then I was off to the Horticulture building where I found this.

Can you believe there were only 3 entries in the ‘Dress a Zucchini’ category?   There would have been more but we have been hit by some really bad hail storms and most of the zucchini were mush.   The one above was awarded the blue ribbon followed closely by these two in 2nd and 3rd place.

Just incase you can’t tell from the photo, that’s a very rare and endangered Zucchini Panda on the left and a Space Alien Zucchini with his trusty one-eyed Space Dog.  I thought they all deserved blue ribbons. 

Along with this guy – another great 4-H kid.

This is an 11-year-old boy with his very own team of oxen. 

Now, how many kids do you know can say that?

There were also people with really big horses.  This year they had a competition with 9 teams of ‘gentle giants’ like this entered .  They had several different events like log pulling, an obsticale course and they even played basket ball.

She’s aiming for the barrel right behind the wagon and she almost made it.

I loved the horses and was amazed at all the things they could do.  Best of all I got a ride in this beautiful buggy with Alice and her mule Belle Star.

To prove I got a ride, here’s the view from the front seat.

Go ahead and say it…

 I know you’re all thinking it…

“Nice Ass!”

There – now don’t you feel better?

And Belle was such a sweetie.

Then there was David and his horse Killer.

You guessed it…

Not only did I get a ride in the wagon but I even got to drive Killer!

I’m told there are very few people who have had this honor – it’s a very elite group.

I think we should have T-shirts printed.

 Then there was my favorite flower arrangement.

“Things just haven’t been the same since that house fell on my sister.”

And last but not least – my favorite meal – Beers and Ears at the local VFW.

I had a blast!

 

 

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Saturday was the day.  The weather was beautiful, the neighbors, friends & family showed up and the signs were right with the universe – so we branded.  This was actually the 3rd branding of the season but this is the one I love – it’s when we brand the new babies and we get to see just how good they are doing. 

First we gathered the calves and cows.

We keep them in the small pasture near the house so we can keep a close eye on them as they are being born and it makes it easy to push them into the horse pasture and finally the corrals.

Here’s our boys bringing up the rear with the last cow and calf. 

Once we get them into the corral we sort the cows off of the calves and the bawling begins.  First we run the cows through the big chute where they got a couple of shots and some pour on insecticides to help control the bugs that annoy.  Then the moms are all right there and waiting when the babies get done.

And talk about babies here’s one really cute baby and her two big brothers.  A couple of the neighbors showed up to help.  This is Amy’s kids in their ‘ranch kid play pen’.  I tell you – we have nothing but the best for our kids – that’s probably a $40,000 Dodge play pen.   All the comforts of home and lots of good fresh air and sunshine.

Wade – Morgan’s truck-driving buddy showed up to help too.

“Where’s the clutch on this thing?”

John – the cowboy poet and all around nice guy showed up too and he brought his wife Ellen who is just the sweetest lady you ever want to meet.  She’s a tiny little thing but she don’t back down when it comes to calves that probably out weigh her by 50+ pounds.

I think she was even having fun.

And who’s this yahoo with the lime green gloves and the strange pair of pliers?

Yes, it’s me.  Looks like I’m ready to tackle a sink full of dirty dishes but actually I had the job of putting in the fly tags.  These are ear tags that will help keep the flies away from the calves.  The thing to remember with fly tags is you do not want to handle them without rubber gloves – it will make you sicker than a dog but on the bright side you would probably never need to worry about flies bothering you again.

Since I was trying to stay out-of-the-way most of the time this is the view I had of the calves on the calf table.

Nice…  hum, calf.

I did move out of my little corner by the table once in awhile and did get some better shots.

Dalton did the branding.

And Morgan did the cutting (castrating).  What can I say – some people just have the knack for it and Morgan is good.

And this little guy was watching our backs.  If any calf, cow or cowboy strayed close enough he was ready.  Just give him a couple more years and he’ll be right out there with the rest of them just like Dally who really, really wanted to help.

And here’s Dani on her favorite horse Taz.  What a great team.

When it comes to branding or just about any big job Grandma Winter’s advice rings true.

“Many hands make the work load light.”

What a great day!

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It has begun.

We’ve had our first calf of the year…

and we’ve lost our first calf of the year. 

Not a good start to the calving season but it happens.

Now we can only hope that the weather will warm up and the snow will stop falling before any more are born.  Such is life on a ranch. 

But enough of that.  Since I am sooooooo sick of snow and ice  and dirty, frozen pickups –

I’ve been dreaming of the beach.

So, I looked through some old photos and found several of my family at the beach. 

You can always spot a cowboy at the beach – see what I mean?

This is a shot of my boys at Center Lake July 4th, 2007.  They look like they’re really having fun don’t they?  Well, at least Morgan kicked off his shoes.  Usually the only time a cowboy will take off his boots is when a pretty lady wants to walk barefoot on the beach…

But even then they will usually keep their hat, belt buckle and blue jeans on.

Here’s another one. 

Yes, that’s Morgan – the Redneck Lifeguard on his homebuilt Redneck Floatation Device which he built for the 4th of July celebration of 2005.  I think he had as much fun building it as he did floating around the lake.

All you need is the intertube from a tractor tire, a salvaged piece of plywood, a lawn chair and a couple bungee cords and wha-lah – you too can cruise the lake in style and comfort.

Morgan and his cousin Russell look like future canidates for the Redneck Yacht Club.

And then there’s another cousin – Josh.

AKA –  the Center Lake Super-Soaker Sniper. 

 “Go ahead, make my day.”

It doesn’t matter what type of gun it is, rednecks and cowboys love them – just like boats. 

 

Here’s Dalton cruising Lake Superior.

And don’t think fun at the beach is just for kids.  Here’s one of my favorite photos of my folks.

Wheeeeee!!!!!!!

There’s just nothing like a fast boat on a hot day –  is there?

And here’s the boys, their cousins and Grandpa checking out the cedar strip canoe and speed boat they built in Grandpa’s shop.

Have you ever seen the beautiful, sleek race boat called Miss Budweiser?  Well, this ain’t it!  But this is their version – they named her Miss Butt-Wiper and she’s fast enough for Stockade Lake.

Cowboys and rednecks are fun at the beach but nobody does the beach and boating like the girlfriends!

 Maybe it’s time for another girlfriend getaway!!!   I’ll call Captain Frank!

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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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Most of our cows look like this:

Hello number 17.

And all of our bulls look like this:

“I’m a stud and I know it.”

So, needless to say, most of our calves look like this.

But every once in a while we end up with an odd colored calf. 

In 2009 we had Snowball.

As Ricky Ricardo always said,

“You got some ‘splaining to do, Lucy!”

Actually the big feed lot operation on the other side of the mountain from us runs Charolais bulls – big, white bulls.

Not even Earl, the horse knew what to think of this calf – even though he really did like the color.

Sorry, Snowball – just because you’re a little different that doesn’t mean we’re going to treat you different then the other calves.  After all, we wouldn’t want you to develop some debilitating complex where you feel singled out from the crowd and all alone.  And we really wouldn’t want you to think your special and get spoiled or anything like that.  I’m just saying – it could really ruin your life.  So it’s better if we treat you the same as everyone else.

In the chute you go. 

And look – we just happen to have a cowboy or two.

“Howdy, ma’am.  My name’s Morgan and I’ll be your Brander today.”

Snowball is laid out on our calf table.  The calf table is usually closed into a narrow alley way.  You run the calves into the little chute at the back of it and down the alley way to the three bars at the front.  With levers, you lower the bars around the side and neck of the calf, sucking the calf up to the wall.  Then you flip the wall and calf over onto its side – hence, the calf table.  It’s handy for branding, castrating, ear tagging and just general all-around working on calves.  And when your done you flip them back over onto their feet and release the bars on their side and they run out the front – back to mamma.  Sometimes we use the calf table instead of roping and dragging ’em.  It’s usually when we don’t have a lot of extra help running around. 

Snowball doesn’t look stressed at all – she’s thinking she’s going to spend the day at the spa.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

Sorry honey, this ain’t no spa.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

A brand.  A shot.  All done.

Just be thankful you’re a heifer calf, Snowball.  You don’t even want to think about what we do to the bull calves.

Here’s a good look at our brand – even if it is upside down in this shot.  It really shows up on that white hide.

Just another day at the ranch.

 

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A couple of years ago when our house looked like this:

We had a little problem with pack rats.

Actually the critters we have are called bushy-tailed wood rats.

Neotoma cinerea if you want to get all scientific.

They’re really kind of cute in a ‘ratish’ rodent type of way.  Full grown they are roughly the size of a small rabbit only with a long furry tail and cute little rat ears.

But do not be deceived by the adorable ears and fuzzy tails.  These are not the kind of creatures you would willingly invite into your home.  They chew on everything from food to furniture and they especially love wiring and plumbing.  They generally make a mess – not to mention the shock of coming face to face with one in your home!  I think I got about 147 grey hairs over a few weeks of construction – thank you very much.

As we started work on the house we were introduced to one particularly determined wood rat who eventually came to be known as Houdini.  We would see him as we worked on the old house.  He would show up at the most inopportune times and always when you didn’t have a weapon at hand to dispatch the furry little creature.  You’d move a piece of sheet rock or a box of nails and there he’d be.  You’d see him scurrying down the staircase or climb a ladder and he’d be there amongst the rafters to greet you.  He was everywhere!!! 

We tried to be humane – really we did.  We tried for several weeks to catch the little bugger in a catch-em-alive trap but Houdini had a way of springing the trap, eating the bait and disappearing all in a matter of seconds. 

He was good!

One day we saw him zip into the old hide-a-bed sofa that had been left in the house.  We quickly drug it out the door but once we opened it up Houdini was nowhere to be seen.  The same thing happened with an old cast iron wood stove.  It took four of us to haul it outside while holding boards over the openings just to find it was empty when we all collapsed outside.

Houdini was a master of escape but his days as master of our castle were numbered. 

After several alterations to the trap, my husband did finally catch him.  With his shiny little black eyes pleading to us through the fine mesh wire of the cage he faced his defeat. 

My husband didn’t want to shoot him, not because he had feelings for the rat – he didn’t want holes in his newly improved trap nor did he wish to risk Houdini’s escape by opening the cage to get a clear shot so after a fond farewell from me (OK – it wasn’t too fond) my husband hauled the trapped rodent down to the stock tank at Grandpa’s house where Houdini would meet his watery fate.

But don’t cry for Houdini yet!  The story didn’t end here.

As the cage sank into the slimy green depths of the stock tank the latch released allowing one of the doors to float up with the rising water.  Houdini, never one to pass up an opportunity, made quick work of this last-ditch shot at freedom.  He swam out the end of the cage and amid many shouted curses and a wildly swinging shovel that nearly ended it all, Houdini climbed to the lip of the tank and ran half-way around the edge, out of reach of the long-handled shovel. 

Hubby was no match for the soggy little rodent who was spurred on by a genuine fear for his life.  Houdini cleared the tank, shot between rows of tomatoes and onions in Grandpa’s garden and darted through a small hole in the back of the garage.

Hot on his trail, Hubby tore through the garage, throwing boxes and spare parts aside but the varmint had vanished once again.

Houdini had lived up to his namesake by making an amazing (and hair-raising) escape from the claws of deaths’ icy grip.

I hear you cheering out there. 

 I know – I wanted a happy ending too – and it could have been if Houdini had moved on.  

But he didn’t and unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the story…

To be continued…

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We had a wedding at the ranch last August.  Our oldest son, Dalton married a wonderful girl – she’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s funny and she reminds me a lot of myself – Ha!.  But Dani really is the daughter I always wanted. 

We were a little concerned when they said they wanted to have the wedding at the ranch but we jumped in with both feet and threw one hell of a party.  Even though the house isn’t finished and the gardens were full of grasshoppers – nobody cared.   It was great!!!

Here’ Dani and her bridesmaids – aren’t they beautiful? 

And Dalton and his groomsmen.  They clean up pretty good too.

Brothers and sisters – My baby the Best Man, Dalton, Dani and Dani’s sister the Maid of Honor.

The Stearns family has ranched here for over 100 years so we tried to honor that heritage by including some of the things that have special meaning for us.  The old wagon was used by Dalton’s great grandfather to deliver mail.

The quilt hanging on the end of my garden shed was started by Dalton’s great grandmother, Mae.  His grandmother, Evelyn finished the embroidery and gave it to me to quilt.  The box on the end of the table was full of hankies from my mother-in-laws stash – some had come from her mother, her mother-in-law and who knows who else.  When people signed the guest book, they were encouraged to pick out a hankie to keep and to ‘catch their tears of joy’.

I just loved having a house full of women the week before the wedding.  I have lived in a house filled with men for so long that I had forgotten how much fun girls are.  These gals worked their butts off too helping us get ready.  They strung thousands of white lights, hauled hay bales to build the benches and helped with everything else that needed to be done.  And check out those boots – I love the red ones.  OK, I want to adopt them all! 

We built a special garden for the ceremony.  Dalton and Dani and our favorite neighbor, Paul set posts for the trellis and then we hauled rock…  WE HAULED A LOT OF ROCK.  After work, from April till August we picked and hauled rock from all over the ranch and built raised flower beds all around the 40X80 foot garden.  Did I mention we have rock?  WE HAVE  A LOT OF ROCK!  Dalton welded the cross of horsehoes for above the alter. 

That’s my sister reading the scriptures and having a hard time not crying.  And those groomsmen – pretty serious bunch.  Lighten up dudes – it’s not your wedding. 

This is Pastor Chuck he did the ceremony.  He also married Hubby and I – 25 years ago.  He’s retired now but when he found out the wedding was at the ranch his response was “I’m in!”  He’s a great guy – he hunts at the ranch every chance he gets and especailly likes to help us thin out the prairie dog population from time to time.

We had a friend cook a chuck-wagon feast for everyone.  And it was a feast!  Steaks, potatoes, salads and Grandma Stearns’ secret family recipe for baked beans.  It’s not a family get together unless you have Grandma’s beans.  Clayton and Rhonda cook the best steaks I have ever eaten. 

And then we danced…

and danced some more. 

We danced till our feet hurt and stars filled the sky.  It was a perfect evening.  We’ve decided – one of the best things we ever did for our two boys was to teach them to dance.  Dance lessons for Boy Scouts – I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.

What a beautiful pair of stargazers.

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I’ll bet you’re wondering if I’ll ever get around to talking about ranching – aren’t you?

Well here goes.

This is winter – so there isn’t much that goes on around here except feeding cattle, horses and every other manner of animal that lives here (including us).  It can be exciting but how about some photos of working cattle from summertime instead?

These are cowboys.  Some are fast…  Some are slow… 

The fast ones usually last longer.  The slow ones end up bruised and hurting.

This is my honey.  He’s moving the branding irons around so they get nice and hot.  That’s my Dad running the gate and a neighbor checking the ear tags.  We use either a tag in the ear or one in the brisket (under their neck) to help identify our cattle.  There are also ear tags that are treated with pesticides to keep the flies away from the cattle.

Here’s some of our babies waiting for their turn.  I’ve often wondered what’s going through their minds.

“What are they doing?  Can I go first?  Do I really want to go first?  Where’s my Mom?  How do I get out of this chicken outfit?”

This is Butch – my husband’s cousin. 

“OK little guy – your turn.”

  “But I don’t want to go!”

Holy buckets of milk replacer, Batman!!!

Where did all these cowboys come from?

This way of working calves is called ‘Dragging ’em’.  You use a rope and a horse to drag them out of the pen (even though occasionally they will run you over on their way out) and to the waiting cowboys who flank them (you reach over the top of the calf, grab him by the flank right in front of their back leg and lift them off their feet and roll them over onto their sides).  Sounds easy – I usually don’t do this as most of the calves out weigh me. 

Here, Butch is waiting for Kyle (it’s good to have big friends) to untie his rope so he can go get another calf.  Slade ( the muscular kid on the left) is holding the back legs of the calf – can be a messy job take the other end if at all possible.  Richard (in the middle) is getting ready to castrate the little guy – another messy job.  DJ (our oldest son in the chaps) is holding down the head of the calf (this end usually makes lots of noise but little else).  John (another neighbor) is moving in to give a shot and here comes Hubby with a hot branding iron. 

It’s a well-oiled machine.

Here comes Grandpa Bud with the ear tags.  It only takes about 3-5 minutes per calf if everything goes right. 

Sometimes it doesn’t…

Here’s the little one that got away before he got his shot.

But we always get them – sooner or later and pretty soon everybody’s back with mama.  Then it’s time to put things away and head to the house for lunch.

It’s good to have lots of help.

Can you tell – we’ve started a little remodel job on the house?

Thank goodness the house doesn’t look like this anymore.  It’s amazing what a little sheet rock can do .

Branding day is a big event with lots of neigbors, friends and food.  And it’s a great time to check out all the sweet new babies running around the place.

 

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