Posts Tagged ‘family’

We have been getting rain – lots and lots of rain!!!  We would have given anything to have received this rain back in May and June and July.  I won’t be a whiner – I really am thankful for the moisture now, and I do realize it really is a blessing, but golly, it would be nice for the crops to get harvested.  And to have the cattle pens not be muddy.  And to have the gravel roads not be a muddy disaster.  Okay – sorry, I did whine there just a little bit.  Yes, this rain is a blessing, it doesn’t seem like that many years ago we had a very dry fall with strong winds and combines and fields were catching on fire all over the place.  We will gladly deal with a little mud.


Sometimes things do happen just at the right time.  Last summer we were literally 24 hours from having to drive an hour one way to pick up a water trailer, drive another 20 minutes to load the trailer with water, and then back to the pasture and home again – all for one of the pastures of cows to have water to drink.  Their pond was down to the tiniest muddy water hole you can imagine.  We also had a list of cows we were willing to sell because we just weren’t going to have enough grass to get them all through the summer.  Amazingly, we received enough rain to fill that pond the very next day.  And since then we have received enough rain to keep the grass going.  God is good!  That was a very timely blessing!


These little corn plants ended up getting just enough rain to make a nice crop.

How many times in life do we think, “if this had only happened then, not now?”  Or even more often, how often to we receive or encounter something that we wish would never happen at all?  There are always struggles, whether they are with health or finances, or for farmers, the weather; and sometimes they are with friends or family relationships.  Our pastor reminded us last Sunday (yes, it was raining then, too), it will be o.k.  It always ends up being o.k.  It may not be exactly as you planned and it may stretch your faith and make you get out your thinking cap, but it will be o.k.


This is the rain that came just in time last summer – it was a million dollar rain for the area.

I feel like I need to share some comfort food after all of this.  Since it’s been damp and chilly, we have already kicked off soup season at our house.  Here is a recipe link for a DELICIOUS potato soup we just had.  Matt and I both highly recommend it (especially with plenty of bacon)!


Potato Soup

P.S.  I know I have been VERY VERY bad about blogging the past couple (er, maybe 3) years.  I have committed to myself to get back to it.  If anyone reads these posts, push me – make me be better about blogging and I certainly welcome topic ideas!



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First of all, let me start by saying that I would typically NOT consider making chili soup in March – I should be thinking spring and light and colorful and dreaming of asparagus and strawberries. Old Man Weather is NOT leaving me with much feeling of spring…yet!

So, on this VERY cold and windy day, when I thought I was heading down to the hang out with Matt (my husband) and the cows, he let me know he was bringing hay here and he would be here for dinner. Woohoo!!! So – chili and cinnamon rolls it would be. He had been having electrical trouble there and that meant water trouble for the cows and the house down there and that is never a good thing. He would be ready for some good “home” time!

We have plenty of ground beef in the freezer, but when I was looking around in there, I also saw a bag of leftover brisket. Hhhmmm….wheels started turning! I am sure there are plenty of you out there who have already done this, but I decided the meat in my chili, on this day, would be brisket. What I had on hand was a heat & serve, pre-smoked, pre-sliced, insanely delicious brisket that I could not believe we hadn’t eaten already! Whatever is your favorite smoked brisket would work just fine in this recipe.


I diced up about 1/2 of an onion and put it in with the brisket as I heated it.



These are all of the things I thought I would add in with the brisket and onion. ( I had no chili beans on hand, I have never done the whole dry bean thing, and so, I winged it with some canned baked beans. Turned out to be a wise choice!)


This is what I ended up actually using. Left out the pinto’s, and added about 1T of the BBQ sauce. I probably used 2T of chili powder, 1/4 to 1/3 c brown sugar, and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper.



My mom taught me how to make a good pot of chili. This stuff, that I think I will call Smoky Ranch House Brisket Chili is an absolute sensation to the taste-buds! Next time, I would probably make cornbread to go with it rather than the cinnamon rolls – though the rolls, made with the bread recipe from this blog post, are so, very, yummy…


Though I wish we had much different weather (warmer to be more specific) right now while the cows are having new calves, I am reminded that we are blessed with plenty of straw for bedding, a warm house to sneak into now and then, a tractor with a warm cab for feeding time, and the personal satisfaction of doing our part to raise incredibly nutritious and delicious protein…some 450,000+ servings of beef. Yep – it’s a pretty cool gig I get to be part of! Plus, I can wear fleece jammies pants under bib coveralls while we chore and check cows and no one knows!!!!

Quick after-thought….if you have a Dickey’s BBQ close to you, the brisket from there would be perfect for this!!!! Or, smoke one yourself 🙂  Stay warm my friends!

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Grandpa George

Grandpa George

Gramps had a FULL life! He left us yesterday and I am sure will be very happy joining Grandma Ruby and Jesus for Christmas. (I believe that even with his excessive level of orneriness, he still maneuvered his way through those pearly gates!)

I wrote about Grandma a long time ago – you can read that post here. So, he was her choice of whom to look at across the breakfast table every day 🙂 They were quite a couple. Not terribly affectionate in front of other people, but Gramps was an ornery flirt to her. They kept a nice farm, raised 4 very independent-minded kids, who are all wonderful people, and from that, there are 9 grandkids and 13 great grandkids. Their legacy definitely lives on!

If you read my blog about Grandma, you know I shared a bit of her wisdom that she was kind enough to pass along. Gramps had his talks with me as well. I know he had some influence on each and every one of us grandkids, but those of us who grew up a few miles up the road got LOTS of experiences! 🙂

I will start with what is just a fond memory, and that is riding in the combine. He kept it too cold in the cab and he didn’t have a buddy seat, so I had to sit on an upside down coffee can. But, I could ride for hours if I didn’t have to trade off with one of my brothers or sister.  His combine always smelled of Camel cigarettes and wheat chaff. I loved it!

I clearly recall a time after a wind storm. Grandpa and Grandma’s place has a LOT of trees – elm trees to be specific. They do NOT handle wind well. So, I got to pick up limbs and sticks with Gramps. He was pretty good about sitting down to rest if necessary and have a glass of water. While sitting, he informed me that the wonderful things married couples get to do don’t stop as you get older, it just takes longer. I laugh about that to this day! I was only in high school at the time – I guess he wanted me to know he and Grandma were still frisky, LOL!

One of my favorite stories from him was a few years ago. We were having Christmas at his house and I was going through old pictures. He spent nearly an hour telling me about hauling cattle to the stock yards in Omaha and Kansas City. He remembered vividly the buyers who came by the pens, who was in the truck line with him, how many head he had taken on different trips, and most importantly, how much they got paid for different loads. It was so interesting, I could have listened much longer! He has certainly done and seen so many different things – he was an avid hunter, loved to fish, pointed out to Grandma where she had missed when dusting, hated green beans, and loved laughing with his friends and family.

We all will have many memories of Gramps and I wish him nothing more than a peaceful, Merry Christmas in heaven.

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I don’t feel old – at all! I really don’t! Help me out here – I am using that theory that if you tell yourself something enough, you will believe it! Yet, I look in the mirror and my stomach is not as hard and shapely as it used to be. And my husband, bless his heart, was watching some kind of he-woman competition last week and pointed out that my legs USED to look JUST LIKE one of the gals who was in the lead – I guess I was in pretty decent shape back in the day… At least he still “checks me out so he can compare. 🙂

And now, I am old enough to have one bird gone from the nest. Those of you who have already passed this stage know already, but I have found that it is just an odd feeling to describe. Oh, there are times she is missed at the supper table and I know Emmet misses trading off chore duties with her. But she has blessed us several weekends already with LOADS of love – I mean laundry! LOADS, I tell you! In fact – we are on our way to get a new washing machine this week. 20 years I got out of the old Maytag. Can’t complain there!

Emmet is always really excited to have Kaydee there for his games on Friday nights!


Kaydee is always glad to eat some good, home cookin’! And yes – Emmet LOVES that I cook more when she is home, too!

This weekend we made taco soup since it was cool and blustery outside. I know there are dozens of delicious ways to make taco soup, but here is what we concocted with what we had in the freezer and pantry:

Brown 2# of ground beef (Kaydee wanted a LOT of meat – she doesn’t think she gets nearly enough in the dining hall!)
Diced onion – as much as you like. We used about 2/3 of a sweet onion; add it to the beef just as the beef is getting done
Chili pepper – lots of it
Taco seasoning – about a pack (I keep a big can of it and just dump)
A can of baked beans (I didn’t have any chili beans or great northerns or black…we were really making do & it tasted great!)
A can of pork & beans
A can of stewed tomatoes chopped to small pieces and undrained
A can of Ro-Tel
1 1/2 pound Velveeta
What was left of a tub of sour cream (probably a cup or so)

Get this all heated through and the cheese all melted and enjoy with some Frito’s on top. YUM!!!! Our family really likes chili, but this is a nice change-up. We made a batch of sopapillas for dessert and it was a perfect meal on a Sunday night.

Kaydee is back at college this week and Emmet is back to having me help him fix a lunch every morning because the school lunches just don’t cut it for farm boys playing football.  And me, I just keep working and buying LOTS of groceries!

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As I start this post, I am watching the Ravens and Patriots battle it out for a spot in the Super Bowl. In years prior, I probably would have been cheering loudly (from our living room, of course) for the Patriots. However, I am quietly hoping the Ravens pull this one out. Truly, deep down, I won’t be disappointed whichever team wins – my disappointment happened throughout the season; most recently when the Broncos lost to the Ravens – hence…Ravens better win! (and since I am just now getting this posted – they did!) Honestly, I am struggling to really be a Bronco fan, but I do like Manning – so, since he is now a Bronco…  Regardless, the Colts have room for improvement next year & when next year comes around, I will hope they do better than they did this year. There must be some kind of luck in having “Luck” as your quarterback, right?

While we were in Denver for the National Western Stock Show, we get to spend time with some fellow Red Angus breeders from the Northeast. They are most certainly Baltimore fans! We were lucky enough to watch the Denver/Baltimore game in the Cowboy Bar right there in the cattle barn where all of our cattle were stalled. I have to say, I think the FEW Baltimore fans that were there were every bit as loud as the plethora of Denver fans!

Cowboy poet, Baxter Black was cheering on the Broncos at the Cowboy Bar in the cattle barn in Denver.

Cowboy poet, Baxter Black was cheering on the Broncos at the Cowboy Bar in the cattle barn in Denver.

Cattle shows are a bit like athletics. Everyone pretty much gets along – many become good friends, even – OUTSIDE the showring. Once in the ring, it’s no different from any sport. Each exhibitor wants the win! Also no different from sports – the most respected exhibitors are humble winners and gracious losers. One difference in a show as opposed to sports – ranches want their genetics to win. So, even if they don’t show the winning critter, as long as it is offspring from their genetics – that’s considered a win.

Friendly competitors in the showring.

Friendly competitors in the showring.

For all of my foodie friends and followers out there – this does apply to you. How, you ask? Well, the cattle that go to shows like this are competing to be the major genetic influence in many herds throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and beyond. Even though we were in Denver, there were exhibitors there from Canada, and some people from Mexico spent quite a large amount of money at the Red Angus auction! The world becomes a pretty small place when you consider that beef is raised fairly similarly throughout the hemisphere and fellow cattle breeders are no more than an e-mail or phone call away. Everyone in the beef community has the common goal of a great eating experience for everyone who takes the opportunity to include beef as part of a healthy diet.

Kaydee has a smile on!

Kaydee has a smile on!

Finally – an update on how the kids did in the show.  I have to say, not bad for their first time at a show that big! They placed 2nd and 4th in class in the National Red Angus Junior show and they each placed 7th in class in the much larger open show. They were each showing a heifer they had raised – not one purchased from a large, well-known ranch. In addition, we all had a great time getting to know other Red Angus breeders we had not yet met and spending time with long-time friends. They both tell me they want to go back next year, so I would say it was a success!

All kinds of stories get told in a gathering like this!

All kinds of stories get told in a gathering like this!

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Emmet told me the other day that I hadn’t written a new post for a while & it was time I did! Of course, he also implied that maybe it would be cool if it had something  to do with him, the shy teenage boy that he is…Not so much! Haha!

Well, here it goes:

15 years ago, about at the exact time I am writing this, Emmet came into the world like a champ. He let out some squalls, pinked right up, and took right to nursing. And, he is still hungry all of the time! Fortunately, he also likes to cook. I have to say that for the first 6 or 7 years, I thought he might not be a very big kid.

He was just so darn cute when he was little! Sigh…

Well, I have certainly changed my thinking on that one! He as grown almost 6 inches in the past year!

So, what was it like for Emmet to grow up on a farm? Well, our kids went along everywhere right from the get-go.  We have never had much problem with them being sick – I am pretty sure that is because they had such a great opportunity to build up immunity from being exposed to all kinds of people and animals and all that involves. When he was less than a month old, a HUGE blizzard hit. We got 24 inches of wet, heavy snow on October 24…and…we were at my parents’ house when it had snowed to the point that there was no way we could drive the 30 miles to our own house. My brother saw that as nothing but a true blessing. He had us there to help with all of the extra cattle chores a blizzard brings! We knew that if we had to be snowed in somewhere, all the better to be at Mom and Dad’s because we got to enjoy Mom’s cooking and help with the kids for however long it lasted, which ended up being several days!

As Emmet has grown, he has gone through every stage…the cowboy stage, the athletic shorts and t-shirt stage, the baseball stage, the girls are fun stage, the girls are stupid stage, and on and on. Even with the changes of what was most cool at the time, he has always loved to help outside and do things with the cattle. He knew how to help move cows through the alley toward the squeeze chute by the time he was three years old.

Emmet got his first show halter as a Christmas gift.

Oh, believe, me…he is not all about work all of the time. Yes, he does help make work fun with the comments he makes and stunts he pulls, but he also likes to play. And he has liked to be a bit of a daredevil ever since he was quite small!

I am amazed at the young man he is growing into and I am so very proud that he loves agriculture, cattle in particular, and he appreciates and shares with others where food really comes from. I guess we could have soured him on the farm by taking him along all of the time, but letting him help, even when he was little, developed a sense of pride in what we do. Thank goodness!…we need his young muscles to help get some things done sometimes!…I am not the super strong ball of muscles I used to be! (OK – maybe I was never THAT strong, but geez, I can’t lift like I used to, darn it!)

First day of school – Fall 2012

So, to close this blog post, Happy Birthday, Emmet. Love You!!!

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I saw a picture on a friend’s Facebook wall recently that says it all. Here it is:

Oh, there are plenty of loud disagreements and long days and sometimes longer nights when you have cattle, but all of it is worth it. Why? There are so many reasons. One, we get to eat delicious, healthy beef & offer that product to customers from all around the world. But there is something more, much more…

It really goes deeper than doing the daily chores and work it takes to be considered a rancher or farmer or seedstock producer or whatever term is most appropriate on a given day. We have just returned home from yet another cattle show. This time, the SUPER FUN Iowa State Fair, where yes, I was reminded again, by my tired body, of how young I am not! Regardless, I was really proud that more than one time other moms observed what close friends Kaydee and Emmet have become. I know that if they were both so involved in separate sports and other activities that they were never on the same team, this would not be the case. However, as it is, they are a team, with their cattle and in our family. And yes, they do team up on Matt & I, more often me than him, darn it! But I do try to keep a smile on…


Of course, the friends made at cattle shows are treasured & memories are priceless, but at an event like a State Fair, we have to remember that the cattle barn is also a giant classroom for all sorts of people who do not live on a farm. Many of them have never been to a farm & have certainly never touched beef cattle. So, yes, Kaydee’s heifer, Smalls, who got the privilege of being in the end stall right next to the big aisle where all of the people walk through made her way into literally dozens of pictures. I can’t guess how many times she got petted and thankfully, she was a good sport about it the entire time! On Saturday, Kaydee tried her entrepreneurial skills out, but to no avail! Really, she just wanted people to have to talk to her before they touched her cow. Haha!

Well, another show is done & the awards at this one were not numerous for Kaydee & Emmet, but we all had a really good time. I read recently that people who travel/vacation every now and then live longer because they have good memories to think about. Well, a cattle barn is not very tropical and it certainly doesn’t smell like the ocean, but the memories are abundant. So, yes, for our family, the tradition will continue – I am the sixth generation of my family to have cattle; Kaydee and Emmet are the seventh. We are always for trying out new ideas, but having cattle is one tradition that will stay in our family for a long, long time.

And the tired troops head home until next week – and then it’s off to another show…


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