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Posts Tagged ‘ranching’

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!

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

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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.

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(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!

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A question I heard many times from the kids when they were little – and still do sometimes!  ~Why?~

OK - I admit...Matt and I probably promoted more than a little of the asking, "Why?"!

OK – I admit…Matt and I probably promoted more than a little of the asking, “Why?”!

Why do we have to go home and chore? ~ Why is it raining when I have a baseball game? ~ Why is that word naughty? Why can’t I say that? ~ Why can’t we have french fries with pizza? ~ Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do those people have white cows? And on, and on, and on…

Well, now I have a “Why?” for you…

Why do you choose certain types of food when you shop? I ask this because I have heard more than a few times lately the following statement, “I like beef, but I don’t want to buy what is in the grocery store.”

People often ask me if we eat our own beef. Well, of course we do! We also eat beef at restaurants, from butcher shops, and yes, even from grocery stores. I have to admit – I did a quick Google search on purchasing beef in grocery stores and I found very little (practically nothing) helpful, truthful, or objective. So – I want to help you feel assured if you do your shopping in a grocery store and don’t have a separate meat market to buy your beef at.

First of all – the beef from grocery stores comes from the same packing facilities as that in restaurants, butcher shops, and so on. And prior to arriving at the packing facility, it comes from the farms/ranches and  feed yards of people like myself and those who feed our cattle for us.  (I will qualify now – local meat lockers are WONDERFUL and if you have one nearby to shop at, consider yourself blessed!)  One place I would send you for advice is the Interactive Butcher Counter. There is a lot of helpful information there on how to choose a cut for a particular meal and then how to cook it properly.

Even though I have a freezer full of beef, sometimes I am in a hurry and the kids are really hungry for my hot beef sundaes. If I don’t have stew chunks thawed out, I grab a pack at the supermarket and we have a great meal done soon after I get home.  When I choose beef at the store, I like to look for some marbling (flecks of fat in the muscle portion of the meat – this helps assure juiciness and flavor); not much fat around the outside of a piece of meat; good color (a little brownness does not bother me, as I know that meat was just exposed to the air for a bit longer than a bright red piece & it is still safe and tender); and, I look for a good value for what I am buying.

All of this meat looks GREAT!

All of this meat looks GREAT!

So now I leave you with this – WHY don’t you go to the store, purchase some beef, take it home and fix it? Oh wait – what if is doesn’t turn out, you ask? Re-purpose it! More than once I have had a wreck in the kitchen or from the grill! We are all human and that makes it ok for us to make mistakes, right? Golly I hope so!!!! So – if a steak gets too done, chop it in tiny pieces and make steak and egg hash. If your hamburgers crumble, make spaghetti sauce or chili. It will all be just fine and you will still have something delicious and you won’t have wasted any money 🙂  And if you haven’t cooked with beef much – practice! It is SO worth it in the long run!  If you would like some amazing recipe ideas, go to Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.

Now I get my “Why?” …  Why do us girls say we don’t want flowers for Valentine’s Day when we really do? ~ Why do I procrastinate on certain things and rush others? ~ Why do I get to be so blessed to live in the country and ranch? ~ Why do men get SO giddy over cool vehicles?… And yes, I could go on and on 🙂

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We all know squirrels gather nuts and store them so they have food throughout the winter. Well, this time of year, we are “gathering nuts rancher style.”

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Small square bales for Kaydee and Emmet’s show cattle or any special situations where we have to keep a pair in for a while.

Big round bales will be ground and blended with other hay to make the perfect ration for cows during calving season.

Big round bales will be ground and blended with other hay to make the perfect ration for cows during calving season.

Our little town of Edgar does their fireworks display the weekend before Independence Day, so I got this picture. Happy 4th of July Everyone!!!!

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Grass is a bit crunchy this morning!

Grass is a bit crunchy this morning!

A frozen fence line.

A frozen fence line.

 

I just really love this picture of Matt!

I just really love this picture of Matt!

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For the ladies out there reading this…(guys – don’t be afraid to read on, too!) Don’t you love those times when you get to watch your husband work really hard at something that matters, a lot?! If not, oh gosh, I can’t even imagine; I am just very sad for you! Seeing Matt work hard is absolutely one of the top reasons I love spending the day with him. Oh, he is also very clever and fun to be around, but I can’t say too many good things about him all in one blog post. What if he reads it?!

Matt sawing through the ice, looking for water.

Matt sawing through the ice, looking for water.

I don’t know that he loves running a chain saw, but he does look good doing it! 🙂 On the day this picture was taken, in early January, we were really struggling to find water for the cows. That is a pond he is standing on, but even in the winter, it is shrinking and we kept hitting mud rather than water. We are so thankful for any moisture that comes our way to hopefully help fill it for the summer!

These are the pregnant mamas patiently waiting for a fresh drinking hole.

These are the pregnant mamas patiently waiting for a fresh drinking hole.

Part of our daily winter chores include breaking ice. We do have electric waterers in part of the pens and keep a tank heater in other places. But alas, Matt’s great ice breaking/cutting/removing skills are a much needed asset on our farm. The group of cows pictured above have access to a large field of sorghum stalks as well as the pasture you can see. The pond is their source of fresh water.

I took this picture to try and show the depth of the ice he was cutting through.

I took this picture to try and show the depth of the ice he was cutting through.

I don’t have giant feet, but they are far from tiny! The ice was about 7 inches thick – at least. It did make for a good workout getting a drinking hole made!

And there it is - a watering hole.

And there it is – a watering hole.

Thankfully, we got a few warmer days since then and saw some melting. So, when we don’t have to cut ice, I try to enjoy other jobs with Matt. On any average day, we check cows, put out mineral, fill water tanks, and truly enjoy one another’s company. I am very blessed to be the wife of a cattleman and farmer.

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Yes - sometimes we have a little visit with some of the cows!

Yes – sometimes we have a little visit with some of the cows!

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First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mama’s out there! That goes for those of you who are wonderful influences on kids even if they are not your own, too! I love hearing my kids and their friends refer to different moms…Mama Shawna, Mama Caldwell, Mama Linda, and on and on. We all know, it takes a community to raise a child, right? That is especially true in farming and ranching communities. We all know and look out for one another.

A good mama cow nursing the embryo transfer calf she is raising.

Hopefully all mom’s out there get treated to either going out to eat or having their family cook for them. And hopefully, they appreciate the wonderful food grown by America’s farmers as they enjoy their special day. I know that my kids, my husband, and myself will spend a portion of Mother’s Day in some good, quality, cattle working, family time, which I LOVE! We will also take supper to my Mom’s to enjoy with my brothers and their families. My sis is a new mom for the third time, so she is going to enjoy her Mother’s Day at her own place with her 3 little ones…if she is really lucky, her husband will take the kids out for a few hours and she will get treated to a MUCH needed nap!

Me & my kids.

Kaydee recently worked with a gal at CommonGround to put together a Mother’s Day letter to me. I have nothing funny to say here. In fact, after she did this, she immediately called me and told me the things she said were sure to make me cry…darn her!  She was very kind to me and I am so thankful to have been raised by an amazing Mom who was the best example I could have ever asked for in how to be a strong and gracious woman & how to be a good mama. And, it appears, at least as of now, Kaydee thinks I am an o.k. mama, too…coming from a teenage girl, all I can say is, “WHEW!”

 

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