It’s a Choice…

This week I heard a most profound statement:  “You will feel much greater success when you see your circumstance as a choice rather than a sacrifice.”  Bam! Right in the forehead!  Yes!  Now, I typically do keep that attitude, but I know there have been times where I was certainly less than cheerful about the choice I had made and attempted to qualify myself as a hero for sacrificing SSSOOO much.  That statement was made in a room chock full of successful agriculture women, but it is completely suitable for all people – men, women, urban, rural, everybody.

So, here are a few of my choices, not sacrifices:

  1. I chose to marry a man who’s trade training was in welding; not someone who would likely provide me the opportunity to fly in his corporate jet or take luxurious vacations or live in a mansion. I chose a man who treats me like a queen, makes our home feel like the richest place on earth with his wit and charm, and can make any weekend hanging out together as fun as any possible vacation.  And yes – we have treated ourselves to a few really great vacations :)dsc_5038
  2. We choose to live an hour drive away from the nearest shopping.  We get to plan when to be in town and we learn to keep essential supplies on hand.  We could live where there is a Target just minutes away and going to the movies could be a spur of the moment thing to do. Instead, we choose to rent a movie on our satellite, see millions of stars at night, watch a lunar eclipse without going anywhere but our front deck, and grill burgers at home rather than driving through somewhere.IMG_1604
  3. I choose to have a career and be a farm wife and a mom. I have chosen to make time for the kids activities, while showing them that a woman can have a rewarding career in what has traditionally been known as a “man’s world.”  I have also chosen to be involved in organizations where I feel I am contributing to the betterment of the things I love (church, the beef community, all of agriculture, 4-H, FFA, and so on).IMG_7873

While some may say I sacrificed convenience, culture, time with family, or lavish lifestyle, I believe I CHOSE true love, happiness, cherished memories, and genuine appreciation of ALL things, great and small. (Though admittedly, I do NOT appreciate the snakes crawling through my flower beds!)  I guess wherever you are and whatever you do, everyday seems much better if you remember you chose to go the direction you did and you can choose to change it!

More than a few people have asked me lately, “Do you put your cows inside when it gets really cold out?” Oh, goodness…we don’t have the biggest herd in the world, but it would still take quite a structure to keep them all in!

There is no doubt, this winter has been an interesting one. We have had long stretches of temps below zero at night and only in the single digits during the day. And then, and NOT disappointing to my cold-intolerant body, we have had some grill outdoors, play-in-the-yard, wear-short-sleeves kind of days! As much as I love those warm days for me, they are actually too warm for the cows who have their “winter coats” on.

Mama and Baby

Mama and Baby

As you can tell from the picture, the cows don’t get to be indoors when it is cold out. We will bring in one who is ready to calve, let the baby get good and dry and nurse, and then turn them out.  God made animals, cattle in particular, very hardy! We certainly do our best to keep them comfortable by having shelter from wind, putting down bedding (straw), and always making sure they have hay to eat and fresh water.  They have a layer of fat, thik skin, and plenty of hair to keep them comfortable.  While I am layering on the amazingly sexy layers of long johns, sweatshirts, coveralls, and coats, those mama’s are doing just fine in their God-given body armor.

So, as we go through these last weeks (I so dearly hope…last…) of winter, enjoy some delicious stew or meatloaf, or whatever you consider comfort food. Before you know it, the grass will begin turning green and it will be time to grill for every meal!

Even when it’s cold, we get to enjoy views like this…


A Healthy Heart…

So, Valentine’s Day is coming soon…are you excited or dreading it? There are so many of us who secretly wish for flowers and a surprise romantic night out that our husband or boyfriend has been planning for weeks.  ~Sigh~  Those things don’t happen in real life. At least not for anyone I know. In real life, a cow needs help as she tries to calve or a pickup gets stuck, or cows are out, or the tractor won’t start. These things don’t happen every day; just on days that us girls of the world want to have a special date.  So, a kiss after the calf is born, a high-five after pulling out a stuck vehicle, a hug between chores – they keep the everyday romance alive :) On the bright side, my charming husband and I do go out on Valentine’s Day to our local Cattlemen’s Banquet and spend the evening with wonderful friends, tons of laughter, and enjoy a delicious beef meal.  The night helps my heart be healthy both figuratively and literally. Good times, laughter in particular, is good for the soul and for the heart!  Beef is also good for the heart! Win, win!!!!

My Valentine

My Valentine

Several years ago, a study was conducted to explore the effects of including beef in your diet on a daily basis.  The results were astounding!  You can read more about the BOLD study.  I guess I am just thankful to know that what I typically eat is NOT causing my heart to be less healthy! Happy Valentine’s Day to me!!!!  Seriously, if you are having any cholesterol challenges, please go to the link and consider what delicious options you have to help yourself be healthier!

Here is a fun recipe to make that is absolutely part of a healthy diet…


Beef & Vegetable Skillet --
  • Total Recipe Time: 30 minutes
  • Makes 4 servings


  1. 1-1/4 pounds Top Sirloin Steak boneless, cut 3/4 inch thick
  2. 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  5. 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
  6. 2 tablespoons water
  7. 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  8. 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  9. 3 tablespoons ketchup
  10. 2 cups hot cooked rice, prepared without butter or salt


  1. Cut beef steak lengthwise in half and then crosswise into 1/4 inch strips. Toss with sesame oil and garlic.
  2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef (1/2 at a time); stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside surface is no longer pink. Remove from skillet.
  3. In same skillet, add bell pepper, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and water; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until pepper is crisp-tender. Add spinach and green onions; cook until spinach is just wilted. Stir in ketchup, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and beef; heat through. Serve over rice.

I hope you have someone to enjoy this deliciousness with & you have a heart that is healthy in every way.  And now, just because Emmet is sitting with me as a write & he said so…Bacon; bacon; bacon; bacon; bacon…..and some more bacon!

(Maybe I should give him a pack of bacon as a Valentine’s present! )

Where did your footsteps take you today and what kind of footprints did you leave behind?

This past Sunday Matt and I got to attend a special church service. The little church (very near where we farm and ranch in Kansas) celebrated 125 years! His grandparents were pastors there at the time they were killed in a car accident in the 1960’s. The message of the sermon was about footprints. My mind immediately began racing about the steps we take and footprints we leave in our farming and ranching choices. The bulletin for the service was titled “Celebrating Northbranch Heritage”; every farmer’s heritage is determined by his choice of footsteps.

(I didn’t have a picture from when the kids were little of boots – but this one is darn cute!)

I can’t help but think of how BIG some guys feet are and how ADORABLE toddlers are when they try to stand in the boots of those big men! Those young people are shaping their hopes and dreams based on the footprints we leave. Are we constantly stumbling? Are we walking proudly? Are we taking scary paths? Are we taking time to let them follow closely?

Just to lighten this up a bit…I guarantee, several times a week, we step in a pile of poop. When you have cattle in pens, there is bound to be a footprint in a cow pie. There are various ways to then clean those boots or shoes – just make sure you do before heading in the house! And I know I have attempted to step over an electric fence, only to lose my balance and get a zap on my inner thigh – yep, go ahead, laugh along with me! It’s all one can do when that happens! I hope our kids see when, in life, we figuratively “step in the poop” and learn from our mistakes! I also hope they notice that younger kids are already looking to them as an example and they REALLY need to carefully select their path!

Matt and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing footsteps to follow & we have blazed our own path a few times & all we can hope is that our “heritage” is meaningful in some way decades from now. Regardless, those who know us, are not a bit surprised by the spot in our path where there are tons of prints all in one area…those are the times we are dancing!

dsc_5009 (1)

Make A Wish…

I have to think that one of the most universal traditions is making a wish when blowing out candles on a birthday cake! If it isn’t, we should all help spread the word! Last week Matt and I got to spend a day driving several hours west to deliver bulls to a friend/customer who had purchased them. Since all of us have spring birthdays and three of the four of us had just celebrated birthdays within the week, I decided it was most appropriate to take a birthday cake along!  It was an absolutely wonderful lunch with some great friends!

Can you see the candle in each serving of cake? Each of us got our very own wish!

Can you see the candle in each serving of cake? Each of us got our very own wish!

One can never share their wish at the time of blowing out the candles, because it might not come true! However – I can now share mine. :) I had one simple wish as I closed my eyes and blew out my candle. I wished (and prayed) for rain on our pastures and wheat fields. Well – what do ya know? It came true! Best Mother’s Day gift ever for this farm/ranch mama! We were blessed with 2.75″ of rain yesterday and it couldn’t have been more timely!  I hope the other 3 had their wishes come true, too!


These storm clouds were a welcome site!

Part of the cattle got turned out to pasture on Saturday even though the grass was still pretty short – this rain will give us some restful nights now, for at least a few weeks; knowing there will be grass for the cows to eat and water in the ponds for them to drink. Rain is so very crucial to farming and ranching – one only has to observe how much the number of cows in the U.S. has decreased the past few years due to drought. You can see it in the prices of beef in the grocery store and at restaurants. I can guarantee there are very few if any ranch families that wanted to sell their cow herds, but when there isn’t enough feed, you have to keep around only what can be properly cared for, and not permanently damage the land. It is tough emotionally and economically. When your annual source of income (or, your salary, if you will)  all gets sold at one shot – there has to be a tremendous amount of planning, pride-swallowing, and willingness to do something different for a while.  Some ranchers have received rains and are beginning to rebuild herds, but it will take years to get back to what they once had. Best wishes to everyone who has had to make the tough choices!

Hopefully this rain helps the grass to grow - a lot!

Hopefully this rain helps the grass to grow – a lot!

Before I forget – I definitely should share the recipe for the cake I took along to celebrate with! It was from one of the recent issues of Southern Living & it is SO Yummy!!!!!

Strawberries-and-Cream Sheet Cake   I just can’t say enough about how good it is! And – not always does my food turn out like the picture, but this cake did :)

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Picture compliments of Southern Living magazine.





Eye Candy…


Oh yeah – a little eye candy always makes any less than joyous job a bit more tolerable. Sometime, even enjoyable! And for you young and young-at-heart gals reading this post – keep an open mind as opposed to a gutter mind :) I spent this past weekend qualifying what was within visual range for me as eye candy or, for lack of a better qualification, not eye candy. Here are my findings…

Adorable kids helping work cattle - definitely eye candy!

Adorable kids helping work cattle – definitely eye candy! (And not in a weird way – this is a family friendly blog!)

A pen full of healthy and adorable baby calve - oh yeah! Eye candy!

A pen full of healthy and adorable baby calves – oh yeah! Eye candy!

Lot's of REALLY dirty and poopy clothes to launder (and yes, this example is minor) - NOT eye candy!

Lot’s of REALLY dirty and poopy clothes to launder (and yes, this example is minor) – NOT eye candy!

The flowering crab apple trees are heavy-laden with blooms. Gorgeous eye candy!

The flowering crab apple trees are heavy-laden with blooms. Gorgeous eye candy!

And to not disappoint what I am guessing were your original expectations after seeing the title...a little traditional definition eye candy!

And to not disappoint what I am guessing were your original expectations after seeing the title…a little traditional definition eye candy!

No matter who we are, every day has its low spots and most importantly, it’s highlights. Take a moment to appreciate the little things around you each and every day! It makes even the humblest of situations something you can appreciate and keeps your soul healthy :)

Hopefully on this 5th day into Beef Month you get to enjoy something amazing off of the grill! My recommendation for today (I just made them last week) is this amazingly easy recipe for beef short ribs. They are so tender and delicious! You must try them!


Being a Wife…

We are not all that different… you city gals and us country gals. Many of us love a great glass of wine while we cook supper/dinner, we like spring flowers, we secretly appreciate having doors held open for us and generally being treated like a lady. Some of us are great cooks, some are amazing gardeners, many have a knack for shopping, while others shine at athletics, music or business. We all love a good massage and loathe being disrespected.

My Mom, sis-in-law, and I at a Manheim Steamroller concert; enjoying some culture!

My Mom, sis-in-law, and I at a Manheim Steamroller concert; enjoying some culture!


I know many of us farm and ranch gals blog about our various duties in our day to day lives that are vastly different from women who may live in the suburbs of a city or a fun downtown loft. After all, how many one-bedroom flat owners get the pleasure of carrying buckets of grain as part of their daily workout or drain water hoses on cold nights after filling tanks, or even wash a couple of loads of laundry that contain manure-caked jeans after a day of working cattle?  I am guessing few to none! However, when it comes to being a wife – we are all so, very, very much alike. We want our husband to be there when supper/dinner gets done, we want them to want to go on a day trip with us, we want to look good for them, and we most certainly want them to be fun and cheerful and not be stressed out!

Matt using a measuring tape of the foot of a newborn calf to determine it's birth weight.

Matt using a measuring tape of the foot of a newborn calf to determine it’s birth weight. And yes – his jeans got very dirty on this day!

I believe every strong and healthy marriage is made up of two people who consciously and constantly strive to please one another and make one another proud – and kiss a lot! :) I also know that most husbands tend to appreciate a good meal; in our house, that meal will never, ever include tuna, cauliflower, or cold noodles and it will often contain beef, cheese, lettuce, and peanut butter (preferably in the form of peanut butter cookies or peanut butter pie). So – I enjoy spinach, cauliflower, and cold noodles when I visit other people or take something to a luncheon and we enjoy his menus at home. It works perfectly! And I believe most wives, early in their marriage, learn what and what not to fix for their life partner!

I also think many of us wives, regardless if city-dweller or country-dweller, tend to set our expectations too high – only to be disappointed. As much as I would love for my husband (and I am sure many of you would, too) to be that smokin’ hot perfect guy we envision as we read the smutty romance novels that you can get for a couple of bucks on Amazon, he is not. Nor is anyone in real life – if you have one of those guys, please don’t tell me and ruin this for me! Real men are concerned with providing for their family, teach their children to pray, pray for their wives and their marriage, take their wives on dates just often enough to remind them that there is still some spark there and as stated previously, kiss their wives a lot! :) Many of them have “their chair” in the living room, keep a lot of guy stuff around (guns, vehicles, tools, etc.) and hopefully will think to toss in a load of laundry now and then or empty the dishwasher (mine does – and yes, I consider myself very fortunate!).  Most husbands are not romance novel hotties, but they are very, very good men who are absolutely smokin’ hot and very charming in their own ways!

Not my husband, but someone else's & Kaydee took this great picture - I just had to share. :)

Not my husband, but a husband, none-the-less & Kaydee took this great picture – I just had to share. :)  His jeans ended up pretty dirty, too!

I would like to think that city-wives and country-wives all make supper for their families on the nights when you aren’t living on concession food at a ball game or dining out. I would have to guess that a major difference is meal time – it is very common for us to eat at 8:30 or later. If we have supper at 6:00, it is some kind of very special occasion – or more likely – someone else has made plans for us! But still – supper happens and our bodies get nourished. And yes – a glass of wine should still be consumed during preparation! :) And yes – I am sure many of us have had a new recipe turn out less than stellar. Call it “tuition.” Sometimes, you just know not to make something again – we’ve all been there!

Regardless of where you live, life happens. And hopefully, if you are married, you get to be married to your best friend and soul mate. Type of work definitely offers different opportunity for humor and challenges and always creates need for lots of kisses at the beginning of the day and the end of the day.  **If you are one of those extremely fortunate wives who gets to work with your husband, consider yourself blessed! My goodness – how fun to observe and enjoy the happenings of the day all throughout the day together. I once had a farmer ask me, since I work in town, how much my husband and I must miss each other throughout the day. His example was great! “What if you see a really neat different bird or something? Who do you show it to if your spouse isn’t there?”  That guy might have been right up there close to the romance novel super star type guy!

Regardless of where we live, being married takes work and commitment and lots and lots of prayer and kisses :) Enjoy every precious minute with your spouse – if you chose them, they should be a blessing to you.

Being married and being parents...blessed!

Being married and being parents…blessed!



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