Posts Tagged ‘ranch wife’

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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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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The thermometer says 10 degrees below zero and the wind is howling like a pack of wolves as it drives the wind chill to minus 30.  According to the weather man, by morning it will be snowing as well but tonight I am warm, huddled in my chair, under a quilt and a rather large dog and digging through a box of tiny miracles the UPS man brought me.

 Yes, the garden seeds have arrived.

It might not look like planting time outside but believe me, it is nearly time to start my tomato plants. Now, if you remember a post I wrote last spring titled ‘It’s a Tomato Jungle’ you might also remember that I have a slight ‘problem’ when it comes to tomatoes.  In fact I will admit I have several problems when it comes to tomatoes.  But do not fear, for this year I have vowed to break my addiction to tomato seedlings in the dead of winter.

This year I will go cold turkey.

This year I will wait until February 15th before planting the first seed.

And this year, I promise, I will only plant as many tomatoes as I have room for in the garden.

I have also pledged that if, by chance, a few ‘extra’ seeds dare to sprout in my presence I will be heart-less, cold-blooded and cruel. I will rip their frail little roots from their cozy potting soil homes and, ignoring their screams of protest, I will cast them off, not even entertaining the thought of tucking them into another pot of their very own.  No, I will not do it!!!

I will be strong this year and I will show no mercy.  My potting bench will be a veritable House of Horrors for the weak, spindly plants which fail to thrive.  They will be tossed to the top of the compost heap without a second thought to make room for the large, beefy plants with stems like tree trunks and leaves the size of my hand.

This year I will garden like a professional – not the lily-livered plant lover that I have always been!

And because of this new attitude my garden will glow with health.  All who walk the grounds will move slowly,  heads bowed in silent reverence, their lips trembling as they fight back tears of pure rapture at the beauty laid out before them.  Tomato plants will stand tall, stretching for the heavens like Jack’s magical bean stalk.  Blossom end rot will not dare to rear its ugly head! Perfect straight rows of beans, peppers, beets, lettuce and corn will be heavy with a harvest beyond compare.  Squash, pumpkins and gourd vines will sprawl in their designated areas, content with the patch of ground I have staked out for them.  And they will produce thousands of orange, tan and white globes – each one perfectly round and roughly the size of  Volkswagens.   

And the people will come.  They will stop before my Farmers Market stand, riveted by the wonders before them.  Unable to stop themselves they will drop to their knees on the cold, hard pavement as if it were the shrine of the Holy Grail instead of a humble vegetable stand.

Yes, I can see it in my mind. The heaven’s will part and golden rays of sunshine will flow down upon the garden’s gentle slopes. Butterflies and bees will dance above the blossoms and all God’s creatures will gaze in awe from a distance, unwilling to enter this garden of Eden less they mar its beauty.  Abundant rain and humus rich loamy soil will nurture the vibrant green plants and all will be right in the world…

As I breath in the promise of a new garden packaged neatly in the plain brown cardboard box before me, a sigh escapes my lips. The dog snuggled at my feet, looks up.  His chocolate-brown eyes brimming with loving adoration for me – his master.  As our eyes lock, for a brief instant, the pathway is open – his gaze reaches to the very core of my soul and he knows the depths of my desire.  As countless dogs before him he sees my dreams laid bare and he knows the truth…

Then with one furry eyebrow cocked he snorts in disdain, as if to say,

 “Yeah, right! That ain’t gonna happen!”

He rolls his eyes.  His head drops to the quilt.  He stretches out, taking more than his share of the chair and quilt and with a final yawn his eyes close in sleep.

Damn dog! 

He knows me too well.


Hope he enjoys sleeping on the porch tonight!

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When I downloaded the photos for the last post I found the photos I had taken on Sale Day and thought you’d like to see them. 

Sale Day is the day we sell our calves, yearlings and sometimes cows or bulls.  It can come on any day of the year and sometimes we have several Sale Days.  When you are a rancher, Sale Day is also one of the best days of the year.  I took the day off of work – which is easy to do when you have a boss that does the exact same thing.  My boss and I even coordinate our schedules so we both get to see our calves sell.  After all, when you’re a ranch wife, Sale Day is the social event of the season!

Around here Sale Day always starts early – ‘O-dark-thirty’.

I told you it was dark.  We were up and going by 4:00 am.  Do you see all those little white dots?  Those are the eyes of the cows reflected in the headlights. 

It’s sad to see the girls like this.  They are all bunched up in the corner waiting for their calves to come back.  They are good mamas.  The cows usually hang out here for a day or so and then they seem to forget what they’re waiting for and get on with the business of being a cow. 

The first stop on Sale Day was the corrals where we had one more cow to load in the trailer.  Now don’t feel bad for that old girl.  She got a private ride to the sale barn because she was a wild thing, full of piss & vinegar and she had done everything she could not to get on the truck with the other cattle.  She has been a challenge since the day we brought her home to the ranch and my hubby decided it was time to send ‘Alice’  packing before she ended up hurting someone. 

We had left her in the corrals over night with another cow – one that was a lot calmer, who we will call ‘Bess’.  It seemed to work.  Bess doesn’t get stirred up about anything, not even when a pickup and trailer back up to the corral at ‘O-dark’thirty’.  Bess just stood there, chewing her cud and checking out the lights and sounds. I imagine life could be rather boring for a cow as Bess really seemed to enjoy the activity.   ‘Alice’, on the other hand, eyed everything with a healthy dose of suspicion but since her girlfriend, Bess wasn’t concerned Alice decided it must be OK.  We opened the door on the trailer and flipped the lights on inside and Hubby directed the two old girls to the gate.  Bess took one look around and stepped right into the trailer, followed closely by Alice who was starting to snort and blow snot.  But, since nothing scary happened (and there was nothing to eat inside) Bess turned around and calmly walked out, letting me shut the door in Alices’ face. 

Here’s the trailer all lit up with a rather pissed-off Alice inside.  Check out the Moooood lighting inside.  Ha!  Ranch humor.

Alice was locked and loaded – literally.  It was much easier than the day before when we had tried to do the same thing .  That day Alice went through the fence (twice), ripped off the gate, took off at top speed across the pasture and then, when Hubby (and the horse he was riding) politely asked her to return, she put down her head and charged them (several times).  Now you can see why Hubby was determined that Alice make it to her date at the sale barn.

And speaking of the sale barn – here we are:

Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange 

Belle Fourche is pronounced ‘Bell Fooch’ and it’s the name of a town, a river and just about everything else in that country.  It is a French name and means ‘Beautiful Fork’ because of the fork in the river there.  I guess if you have nice flatware you could have a whole set of belle fourches.  HA!  Give me a break – it’s early.

Anyway, here’s a few of our calves.  The guy in the green shirt is the auctioneer doing his job trying to get the buyers to bid.  When they bring in the first batch of calves the auctioneer always stops to say a few words – he names the ranch where the cattle are from, asks if the rancher is there and then asks a few questions or makes a comment or two on how nice the calves look.  Then he kicks it into high gear and starts asking for bids.

From this photo it doesn’t look like there were many buyers around – see all the empty seats, but they were there and prices were high and our calves were looking good.  That is a good combination for us.  The bigger ones almost always bring less money per pound but they also have more pounds.  Our prices ranged from $1.02 per pound to $1.58 a pound.  These prices were towards the high-end for that day although there were some calves that brought $1.87 per pound.  We had yearlings that weighed over 800 pounds and calves that weighted between 400 – 600 pounds each.  Last year we were lucky to get over a dollar a pound for anything but prices have improved lately and from everything we’ve heard people believe they will stay up.

It’s always nerve-racking sitting there waiting but this year things came together and it was a good day.

Here’s a few more calves.  Check out that rather large boot on the railing – that’s our baby, Morgan.  He got the day off too so he could go.  I told you Sale Day is a big event.

And more calves.  It goes on like this until all the calves and yearlings we brought had sold.  Suddenly, it’s done and we sit and watch the next ranchers calves come in.  Our calves ended up going to 5 different places, some went to other ranches as replacement heifers and some went to feed lots to be finished – fattened up before ending up in a butcher shop.  That’s the cattle business.

We picked up our pay check and then headed 20 miles out-of-town to visit our son Dalton and his wife Dani at the ranch where they work.  It was a great day but very long. 

On another subject, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you may remember a post I did last January titled Sun Spots.  I have always had a thing about sun spots or ‘orbs’ showing up in my photos and I watch for them.  When I tried to lighten up the photos for this post I was surprised to find this:

I know these aren’t sun spots because the sun wasn’t even close to coming up yet.  I supposed they could be snow crystals in the air but it wasn’t snowing and look at the ground – there wasn’t any snow to blow around.  I rmember it was a very still morning but if you look at the photo you can see that there is frost on the hood of the pickup.  So who knows?  The spot that really got me was the bright spot right beside one cows face.  It even showed up before I had lightened the shot.


This photo only shows a few spots even though it was taken right after the previous one and this photo only has one:

I’m not sure why we get these orbs in some photos but I will keep watching for them.  Well, I better get busy.  There’s still a lot to do before Christmas!

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I bet you’ve started to wonder if I nailed my foot down along with the new flooring.  Not possible – it’s a floating floor –  no nails required.  But just like everything else in this house it has taken  longer than I thought it would.  And of course, once the floor was finished I just had to get out the Christmas decorations and see how they looked in a nearly finished house. 

Prepare yourselves – I have photos…


Yikes!!!  What  a mess.  Those rolls of blue stuff in front of the door are actually the foam padding that goes down under the laminate flooring.  It helps seal things like water and dirt out and also helps with the sound issues of big guys with heavy boots walking on wooden floors.  If you look over the top of the chair on the right you will see the top of one of the piles of flooring boxes.  We bought a whole pallet of the stuff – 48 boxes.  You should have seen our poor old pickup loaded down on the way home.  Being the thrifty (cheap) ranch wife that I am, I had figured out just how many square feet of flooring I needed but the nice guy at the store convinced me to get a few extra boxes “Because you always waste some”.  Not me – I did the dining room. living room and master bedroom and still have enough left over that I can do the floor in the big walk-in closet.  Yipeee!!! 

And here’s the living room after:

Oh my goodness – is that beautiful or what?  This is called Driftwood Oak by Maple Leaf – Premium Laminate Flooring.  For looks and ease of installation I give it two thumbs up.

I just noticed the orb by the top of the tree – what do you think?  Is it a reflection from the Christmas lights or the windows?  Of course there are lots and lots of lights but only one orb – don’t you think that’s kind of interesting?  OK, back to the floor before I freak myself out.

Sub floor before:

Can you say “Slivers in my feet”?  I knew you could.

But just look at it now:

Wow!  It’s like we live in a real house now not a construction site.  We have lived with the sub-flooring for so long (about 4 or 5 years) that I’m not sure I remember how to take care of a real floor.  And the poor dog – I can’t tell you how funny it is when Levi comes whipping in through the door and slides across the floor.  I always run over and look for skid marks but he hasn’t left any yet.  This is pretty tough stuff.  We still haven’t given it the ‘spur’ test but I’ll let you know how that turns out when it finally happens. 

The best thing about it is that it was so easy to do.  The hardest part was moving all the furniture out but the rest was just like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together.  Just remember with this puzzle it’s OK to cut down the pieces to fit!  And the only tools you need are a good set of knee pads, a hammer and don’t forget to buy the pry-bar and bumper pad that they recommend for pounding the pieces in place.  A good compound miter saw on the front porch helps too.

And what do you do when you get new flooring?  Throw a party of course.  We had a house full of family and friends for Thanksgiving and then last Sunday some of the girlfriends came over from Custer to see the Christmas decorations.  It is the party season.

I love our new floor!


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Hi everyone!

The new floors are coming along nicely and so are the Christmas decorations but I’m not ready to post any photos just yet.  Be patient – it will be worth the wait I promise.  So, in honor of the upcoming election and all the politicians we are seeing (everywhere we look) I would like to offer not only a Worthy and Weird quote but one that is also Wonderful.  This one came direct from one of our past presidents – Mister LBJ himself.  I came across it the other day while surfing the web. 

From 1963 – 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson was our 36th president.  I don’t remember much about that time as I was pretty young and I’m afraid my concerns didn’t go far beyond the fact that my bike had a banana seat and Barbie and Ken were way cool!  Needless to say, I didn’t have a clue as to who was in the White House or what they had to say unless it interrupted my Saturday morning cartoons.  But apparently LBJ was my kind of president.  From what little I have read about the man he had a way with words and the ability to ‘cut to the chase’ when it came to other politicians. 

I am unable to find anything about why he said the following words but I get a smile on my face just picturing the expressions on the faces of some of the elected officials of today if someone spoke to them like this:

“Boys, I may not know much but I know chicken poop from chicken salad!”

I love this!!!

Are there any politicians running like that today?  I haven’t seen one yet but I’m still looking.

OK – I’ll get back to work.


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Wow – 3 posts in less than a week!  That’s got to be some kind of record for me but don’t get too excited, my life usually isn’t like this.  There is just so much going on right now that I want to share. 

Like today – we worked cattle. 

It’s that time of year when we sort off the calves, preg check the cows and decide how many are going to the sale barn.  I took two days off of work – one so I could help today and one more for tomorrow so I could go to the sale barn at Belle Fourche, SD. 

Here’s a few photos of todays adventure:

Selling calves is a pretty big deal in our family.  Our son, Morgan took off from work too.  When the boys were young we would even take them out of school to go to the sale.  When you’re born into the family ranch you’re part of the business from the very beginning. 

As you can see from this photo we prefer cattle that are easy to handle.  Of course they’re not all as curious as this one.

First we sorted the calves and yearlings off of the cows.  These are our girls.  Dr. Pete showed up at 9:00 am to preg check them and this year we came out really good – only 5 of the girls aren’t pregnant and they are probably the ones who had late calves.  Sometimes we sell the cows who are ‘open’ (not pregnant) rather than feed them all winter with no hope of a calf but since these are all really nice cows (good-looking and nice to handle) we will keep them.  There is also the chance that since we ended up with 7 late calves last spring these cows may be pregnant but just a month or two behind the others.  Having late calves can be a hassel but we usually end up keeping the little ones and then selling them in the spring as heavy calves or else the next fall as yearlings.

This is our hydraulic chute.  My brother-in-law, Scott built it and it works great. 

The yellow stick with the red ‘paddle’ on the end is a Rattle Paddle – a sorting stick that makes noise when you shake it.  They work well for sorting cattle and they’re kind of fun too.

Hubby and Paul run the cows into the chute, Morgan ran the chute,  Dr. Pete preg checked (a job – no one else wants to do) and I applied the pour-on pesticide.  And good news – since I’m kind of messy there’s a pretty good chance that I won’t have to worry about round worms, lung worms, grubs, horn flies, sucking and biting lice, and sarcopic mange mites for a while.  Wa Hoo!

The girls even seemed impressed with the new hay trailer Hubby built.

We have some of the best looking calves we’ve ever had this year.


Once we finished with the cows we sorted the calves out of the yearlings, did a couple of quick counts and then pulled a couple more small calves out of the bunch and turned them back with their mamas.

 All the cattle are looking good.

Here’s that batch of skinny yearlings we bought last spring.  They have put on a lot of weight this summer. 

Maggie got put to work too.  This is her ‘Come hither and unsaddle me’ look.

And this was our last helper – Steve.  Steve is Morgan’s new puppy.  He’s pretty young but he’s learning.  He doesn’t like the cold weather very much but he sure looks stylish in the cut off sleeve of my old sweat shirt.

By 2:30 the truck had arrived and our calves and yearlings were loaded.  A 2 hour drive to Belle and they should be settled into a couple of pens and ready for the sale in the morning. 

Sale day is always the best.  This is the day we work toward all year.  Prices have been up this year so we’ll hope for the best and see what happens.  But the best thing about sale day this year is that Morgan will be going with us and we’ll also get to see Dalton & Dani too.  I’ll be sure to take some pictures.

And of course Steve will be there too – he’s quite the social little creature even if he isn’t to fond of chasing cattle yet. 

“No.  I will not come out from under this snuggly blanket to chase cows!”



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I have reached a difficult age. 

Next month I will turn 50.

How the Hell did that happen?

My brain seems to think I stopped aging somewhere in my 20’s even if my knees and hips disagree.  But, if I remember correctly, at that point of my life everything revolved around dirty pants, snotty noses and projectile vomiting. 

Being a ranch wife, dealing with bodily secretions is an everyday affair but now that I think about it – it has been a couple of years since I had to change anyones dirty pants.  Maybe I have gotten older.

Sure, there’s a few gray hairs that I never noticed before.  I suppose I could dye my hair but since I’m pretty much lazy when it comes to that kind of stuff I know I would end up with one of those 2 tone hair do’s that make people cringe as they stare at the top of your head and their brains scream inside their head “CHECK OUT THOSE ROOTS!!!!!!”  So instead of taking care of it I just tell myself that I’m not going gray – I’m going platinum blonde like Marilyn Monroe. 

Hey, it could happen.

So I go along, quietly living in my own little world of make-believe when one day out of the blue something happens that slaps me up-side-the-head and dashes my misguided beliefs.

 Last week was one of those days.  

After work I made a quick stop at the local department store.  The latest ‘Pirate’ movie was out and I had to have my very own copy so I could drool over Captain Jack Sparrow and dream about being a mermaid – all in the privacy of my own home.  I was feeling good & looking fine as I sashayed my way through the store, picking up a few things before I headed for the 16-year-old kid at the cash register.  He flashed me a smile, rang up my purchases, called me ‘ma’am’ and announced the total of my order. 

A crease furrowed my delicate brow.  How could this be?  Not only did he call me ‘ma’am’ but my whole purchase had added up to less than the cost of the movie alone.  Being the kind and good-hearted woman that I am, I chalked up the whole” ‘ma’am’ thing” to good manners and a strict upbringing by his folks but obviously the misguided young man had made a mistake on his register.

Quietly, I pointed this out to the ‘infant’ behind the counter – not wanting to embarrass him in front of the people in line but sure that he would be forever grateful that I had been honest enough to point out his mistake – thereby saving him from a shortage in his till and being fired from his job.   But with a bright, innocent smile on his acne covered face he announced to all within earshot (roughly the whole store) that it was Senior Discount Day and he had deducted my discount.

I stood there, shocked and appalled.  Glaring at him, I pictured in my mind the expression of terror that would transform his face if I  jumped the counter and bitch-slapped the little bastard! 

I would have done it (if it hadn’t taken $7.53 off my purchase). 

You see – basically, I’m cheap – so instead of chasing the idiot young man around the store and beating him senseless with a bag of chocolates I ran home to my Hubby (who supposedly loves me) and told him how the nasty little boy at the store had insulted me.  Of course there was no sympathy there – Hubby and Paul, the neighbor nearly fell out of their chairs with laughter.

And then there’s the mail…

Did you realize when you turn 50 there are companies out there just waiting to pounce?  You would not believe the letters I’m getting.  American Association of Retired People, life and health insurance, pre-paid funeral planning, bladder control and reverse mortgages.  On one bright point it appears the Marines  have finally given up on getting me to join – and just when I’ve reached the point when I would actually be a real threat to any terrorist or dictator I happened to run into.   Think about it – what could possibly be more frightening than a platoon of angry old ladies air-dropped into a foreign country.  Take away our hormones, tweezers and alcohol and hand us loaded weapons instead.  Sure, we would look innocent enough – at least till our beards filled in – but BAMM as soon as the alcohol withdrawals started – look out!  No one would be safe.

 And how about our dear friends at AARP?  Just for the record I would like to give you a little piece of advice on salesmanship.  Do not start your letters with the sentence; 

“As we grow older…” 

That’s as far as I got before I shredded that letter, lit it on fire and buried the ashes in the back yard by the light of a full moon. Really, who writes this stuff?

Here’s the way I think you should start your letters:

Dear Young Lady,

Here at AARP we know there is absolutely no possible way in Hell that you could be old enough to buy liquor, let alone become a member of our fine organization but since a few years ago (when you were soooo young that your father and mother had to give permission for you to wed) you married a man at least 20+ years older than yourself.  Since the man of your dreams was obviously much-to-old-for-you at that time and since he is now a dusty old fossil you may qualify for some of the benefits we offer.   

We realize that a young and vibrant ‘fox’ – such as yourself may need help dealing with the problems associated with being married to a wrinkled, saggy and overweight old man.  But since he was smart enough to marry such a beautiful, strong and sexy woman, such as yourself, we have given him the benefit of the doubt and decided to offer him some help – through you –  because it’s so very sad that he has not aged as well as he could have and obviously can’t take care of his-own-self….

I could go on but since they’re not paying me I will let them figure out the rest. 

Yes, I had been feeling a little sorry for myself, but then, just when you think you will have to finally accept the facts and agree to age gracefully one bright shinning moment catches you by surprise.  That happened to me a couple of nights ago.  I was headed to garden club but needed to make a quick stop at the grocery store to get vinegar and rum. 

I know it’s a weird combination but the garden is winding down so I have been doing a lot of pickling lately and I really need the rum just to soften the blow of reading the mail these days.

Anyway, there I was with my vinegar and rum when the sweet little old lady at the register looked up through the thick lenses of her glasses, squinted at me under the fluorescent glow of grocery store lighting and asked that immortal question we all feared as youths.

“Are you old enough to buy this?”

God bless her sweet-little-near-sighted-cateract-blinded-heart…

She carded me.

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We have had a busy weekend – the kind of weekend I like.  A weekend with a house full of family and friends and a weekend where we got a lot of stuff done. 


The first project was the blue pickup.  Morgan, his buddy Caleb, Hubby and the neighbor Paul spent Saturday putting a rebuilt engine into the old Ford pickup that has been broken down, gutless and parked by our kitchen door for almost 4 1/2 months.  Believe me – it was time.

Here’s Morgan running the back hoe.  He’s primed and ready to lift the engine ever so gently.

And on the other end of the hoe is Caleb with lots of help from Casey the dog and Julio the cat.

You may have noticed the strange hair style going on at the base of Julio’s tail. 


Please do not contact PETA.  This was not some mean-spirited joke played on a poor unsuspecting feline.  We did not do this – the veterinarian did. 

Julio – a rough and rowdy tom cat from town went out ‘catting’ one night and came back with a bad bite on his tail.  Since he was a stray that occasionally hung out at the feed store no one really noticed it before it had gotten infected.  When Morgan finally saw it he was going to take Julio to the vet clinic after work but as luck would have it Pete the vet showed up at the store for something and ended up loading Julio into his pickup and hauling him back to the clinic himself.  It’s amazing the amount of care shown to a lonely old stray cat in our little community.  It really says a lot about the caliber of people who live around here – especially our beloved vet, Pete.  Anyway – long story short – Julio got his tail shaved and treated and now the wound is healed and the hair is slowly growing back.  And Julio (who has been banned from the feed store because he learned how to tear open bags of cat food and milk replacer) has now moved to our house where he lives on the front porch and enjoys snoozing in the nice warm greenhouse.

But back to the pickup…

The engine was installed and everything hooked up.  Fluids were added and it sounded great once she was fired up.

Morgan and Caleb made it to town and back on her first test run and then after supper she moved to Morgan’s house in town.  Yipee!  No more large blue, 3/4 ton, vintage 1974 lawn ornament in the driveway!!!  Life is good.  If it had stayed much longer I’d have dumped a load of dirt in the bed and planted petunias. 

But that wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend – it didn’t stop there.  Another thing we got done (or fixed) was something I have worried and stressed about for a month – Dalton fixed the bathroom floor in my camper – Nadine!!!

Double Yipeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!


 That’s right – Nadine is so cool she now has genuine diamond plate sheet metal on her floor. 

 It’s great to have kids who know metal.

 Dalton found a piece of rusty old metal in the scrap iron pile.

 He did some careful measurements, got out the torch – assisted by his wife, the lovely and vivacious Dani.

And cut out the perfect piece of diamond plate for Nadine. 

He also welded rebar supports to the bottom of it to stiffen it so it doesn’t ‘pop’ up and down when I step on and off it.

He then used the grinder to get the rust off of it and all the rough spots around the edge. 

 He loves me.

Meanwhile, I dug through the left-over paint supply in the basement and come up with a partial can of primer and a full can of black gloss spray paint.  Then, because it was a beautiful day, Dani and Dalton went to catch and ride a couple of horses.  Left unsupervised, I primed, painted and glued down my new bathroom floor.  That’s why there is a scrap piece of wood and 2 cement blocks adding weight to hold it down.   Dalton assures me that if you glue it and let it set for 4 or 5 days, undisturbed it will be stuck down forever.  That’s what I’m hoping for as sewage is not my thing.  Liquid Nails is a wonderful product. 

If you can’t screw it – glue it!  That’s my motto and it should be theirs. 

I know right now it looks like a very rustic two-hole outhouse in the back of my beloved camper but under those cement blocks is a floor of steel. 

I feel safer already.

And as for the pickup…  How many rednecks does it take to mount an engine?

I count 4 rednecks

 3 support vehicles with hood, trunks and tailgates open

2 complete sets of tools and

1 bemused ranch wife.

It’s just another day in paradise.

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Friday night I came home to a problem – no running water in the house.  This is bad.  Water is something we’ve gotten rather used to.  I guess, technically, we still have water.  It’s falling from the sky so we’re not quite as bad off as some and I guess I can always wash my face in the bird bath – I don’t think the birds would mind too much – as long as I fill the feeder while I’m out there.

But thank goodness I didn’t have to upset the birds.  Hubby discovered what the problem was – a leak in the pressure tank that had sprayed water all over the electrical stuff down in the well pit.  Since water and electricity are not very friendly to each other the breakers had tripped (like they are supposed to) and shut everything down. 

So early Saturday morning we made some calls and found a new pressure tank at the hardware store 16 miles away and I made a quick trip to town and brought home a shiny new red pressure tank.  Just like our last ‘date night’ (remember the ball joint on the Ford pickup) Hubby and I got to spend some quality time together fixing the plumbing. 

Pretty darn romantic isn’t it? 


Here’s my man in the pit – yes, it’s a hole in the ground and in the summer you might find salamanders down there sometimes but luckily no snakes so far.  

After a quick switch-er-oo life is good once again and we have water.

And the girls are just as pleased as we are – look at them. 


They came running as soon as we pulled up to the well pit – which just happens to be beside one of the stock tanks – where the girls hang around and visit. 


“Gertie – don’t be such an old ‘water buffalo’.  It’s my turn!”

Cattle are actually very curious creatures.  They were bunched up pretty close – checking out the pickups, the well pit, and especially the stock tank because the water was getting low there too.  You see, when we don’t have water in the house – they don’t have water in the tank. 

They don’t like it either.


“I need a drink – a tall, cold one.”

Everybody on the place starts to get a little antsy when that happens.


“Move aside Missy – I’m next.”

But even more amazing than running water – check out what I saw in the tank as I was checking for running water.


That’s a Koi (goldfish) in the stock tank.  If I remember right – 3 summers ago I had a small tank set up in the garden because I love goldfish and every garden should have some – right?  Well things went good all summer but when it started to turn cold in the fall I had to drain the tank or it would freeze solid and split out.  I have owned several aquariums over the years but that fall the only ones we had both had small leaks so I filled them with plants instead. 

So what where we going to do with the Koi fish?   That was the question.  Hubby came up with a great idea, he suggested we throw them into one of the stock tanks.  These tanks are not heated in the winter but they are built from huge old tires off of heavy equipment and if you build them right – the water rarely freezes.  First, you lay down the big tire, cut a hole (for the cattle and horses and wildlife to drink from) on the top edge of one side, fill the center hole on the bottom of the tire with bentonite (a mineral that is heavy and gets really slimy when wet and will pretty much seal off the water from escaping into the ground.  Then you set up a float system so the water shuts off automatically when the tank is full (like in the back of a toilet), cover the center hole on the top of the tire with lumber and bury as much of the tank with dirt as you can while leaving the spot open for the cattle to drink.  Pretty simple. 

I wasn’t sure if the fish would survive but at least they would have a chance so we set them free in their new stock tank and pretty much forgot about them.  The next spring I asked Hubby if he had ever seen the fish through the winter and he just shook his head and we figured they were gone.  If the cold hadn’t got them probably a snake or something else had.  So we pretty much wrote them off – at least until Saturday morning when this little guy swam right out and said hello.  He’s gotten a lot bigger then when we put him in and he’s kind of pretty thing.  I think we’ll name him Spot.  I’m not sure if the second one is still in there but we just might have to figure out a way to catch them.  Maybe it’s time for another tank in the garden. 

 I still love goldfish!!!

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