Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Winter Walk

This morning a little storm blew in.  It started snowing hard.  But the wind had kindly stopped blowing and the temperature stayed right around freezing.  Not any of that below zero stuff we often get at the end of January. 

I decided it was actually quite a nice day, in spite of the little blizzard going on.  So in effort to get a little exercise, I chose to walk around the farm to get my chores done.  Normally I have to drive something that can haul hay this time of year.  But there is a little extra stacked up in the barn so I didn't have to haul any today. Perfect day for a winter walk....

Today's snow is very heavy and wet.  It feels much like a Spring storm.  The girls almost seem to enjoy this weather.

Mudflap is not amused.... but he is never amused.

The calves were happy to see me put out their bales of lunch so they could stop rooting around in the snow covered grass.

The ponies are loafing in their shed....

The chores are done, the gate is closed and it's time for a cup of tea.....

Bye for now,

Today I joined the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Check it out for more fun!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Is There Anything Better?

Yesterday I fired up the old John Deere and went to spread some new straw out in the barn.  But the weather was so completely lovely and perfect I decided I could take the time to clean out the barn too!  Usually that's a job we don't get to do until spring.  But I couldn't help myself....

The calvies had to follow me up to the barn and see what trouble they could get into.
Is there anything that feels better than a clean barn, bedded with fresh, fluffy straw?  Let's see.... maybe looking into your newborn baby's eyes for the first time.  Or the moment you realize the object of your affection loves you too.  Or maybe getting on the scale and seeing that you've lost ten pounds. Those all feel pretty good too.  But ahhhh.... a clean barn.  It's even more divine to me than a clean house!

Barn, sweet barn....

"Zorro" and his hens also got nice fresh straw in their winter house.

The calves were so happy I gave them a nice, clean bed!  They couldn't wait to get in to start messing it up, right away!!  It's a bit like cleaning house with my twin toddlers running around behind me, making more chaos.... Lord willing, I'll get to do it all again soon.

Bye for now,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mystical Montana

This morning we woke up to fog so thick we couldn't see past the yard..... I had to wait quite a while to take these photos for you.

Fog is probably one of my favorite natural occurrences. I know I have written about it before. (Click here to check out that post.)  Fog doesn't happen all that often out here.  Usually it signals a weather change is on it's way.  I'm praying this fog means Spring! A girl can hope right?  I do know we have February to get through yet. But when March rolls around we can usually at least feel a hint of Spring in the air.  I'm probably getting ahead of myself....
But it's easy to start thinking ahead to brighter, warmer days when everything is looking so beautiful!
I can't even believe I get to wake up to this wonderland....
It's a long way from the Seattle traffic or Houston chaos that were once my life....

Mystical Montana at it's finest....
Well kids, I am off to go fire up the old John Deere and roll out some brand new, fresh straw in the barn. 
Bye for now,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Just Wanted To Say "Hay"

Hay there!  I brought along my camera while my big boy and I did chores this afternoon.  There wasn't anything "special" going on.  Just another absolutely perfect, mid-January day in Montana.  But I though you might like to come along with me and enjoy the farm for a minute....

Skeeter wanted to be sure you had a good chuckle today....

Miss Ivy says hello.... Doesn't she have the most beautiful gold eyes?

Good ol' Rhett was thankful it was his day off....

The not-so-innocent, but innocent looking lambs were posing nicely for me today....

The big boy got to play mountain goat on the stop of the hay stack....

There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not aware how blessed we are to live this life.  Simple pleasures and beautiful things everywhere we look, no matter what we're doing.  Take a look around you right now.  I'll bet there's blessings everywhere....

Bye for now,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Love Story

This is a love story.  It began in the spring of 1997, when a big eyed, red colt came into this world.  He was a blessing and a gift from the start.  After a horrible accident, I had given my favorite mare, "Sevens" to the veterinarian that saved her life.  After kicking herself out of a two horse trailer and hitting the asphalt at 65 miles per hour, she was always going to be a little crippled.  We were all thankful she would be sound enough to be comfortable and would make a great momma.  Some months after I signed her over to her new owners, they called me and asked if I would like to breed her and get one baby out of my beloved mare.  It was a gift I have never forgotten or taken for granted.  The other gift was from my dear friends who owned a stallion and gave me a breeding.  Such generosity and love is so rare and I was doubly blessed.  A year and a half after that fateful phone call, the world was given "Rhett".
A halter class in 2004
One of many Grand Champion ribbons.
From the start he was special.  He had a bit of a large, bony frame but a chiseled, handsome face and was built quite correctly.  He was smart and sensitive and full of himself!  I decided I would keep him a stallion, at least for a while.  He was to be my new show horse.  And show we did!  Rhett and I showed in almost every event at one time or another. He also got the chance to be a sire to seven beautiful foals.  All of them sorrel stud colts like their dad, except the last colt, who was jet black.
Riding Western Pleasure in 2005. I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with my oldest son in this photo.
When both of us were young I never imagined all we would go through together.  I was 20 when he was born.  Young, carefree, selfish and driven to see the world.  He was my only obligation or responsibility other than myself.  I never in my wildest dreams thought he would someday go from the fiery red stallion, to the quiet old gelding that slowly plods along dirt roads with my precious babies in the saddle.  
The four loves of my life....
I believe in great loves.  I believe the great loves are here to show us the truth and meaning of love.  Whether it's the great love of a spouse, a child or even our beloved creatures that God gives us....Through the ups and downs, plenty and lack, I have had a red horse that never let me down....
Rhett is the only horse I have ever seen my mom actually feel comfortable with.

Bye for now,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Quite Possible That I Am Strange

This morning was a gorgeous morning here in Geraldine!  The wind finally quit and left us with sunny, warm weather!  You would never believe it is mid-January.  This was the perfect morning to get my calvies vaccinated and the sick alpaca doctored up.

For those of you that aren't ranchers, I'll show you a little about how we do that....

First we tell them good morning and ask them to pretty please go over into the catch pen like good boys....

Then once they are in the catch pen, which is behind the chute, we open the chute and ask them if they would please all go in the chute all nice and orderly.... The alpacas watch and laugh at them!

Everyone was perfectly well behaved today as did just what we asked....

Then I walk along the foot rail, on the outside of the chute.  I lean over each one and give them a little shot under the skin of their necks with this thing....

After about two minutes, everyone had their shot and they were ready to be let out to go eat breakfast....

See... there ya go.  Piece of cake!

I know it's a little weird.  But for some reason there is almost nothing I like better than messing with cows.  I am far from being any kind of an expert at any of this.  I've been lucky enough to occasionally participate in brandings, gathering, vaccinating, calving and such throughout my life.  I know I have so much more to learn. But I love the accomplishment of the work involved.  I love being outside in the fresh air, even though it usually smells like manure.  I love the sound of the cattle bawling.... The only thing better than working cows, is being on a horse while working cows!
Now that is my idea of a great day.... I know, I know.... I'm probably a little strange.
Bye for now,

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Montana Hurricanes

So this morning I lazily rolled out of bed at the insistence of my rugrats, who scamper into my room before daylight each day.  I pulled on my pink velour jogging suit, (that I never jog in) and stumbled to the kitchen in anticipation of a lovely cup of coffee.  My trusty Keurig was doing it's thing so I happened to gaze out the kitchen window while I waited for my cup to fill.  And then the day got interesting....

All night last night the wind blew hard enough to literally shake the house.  It sounded as though something of substance was repeatedly beating on the house, not just gusts of air.  It was so loud I couldn't sleep very well at all and I was amazed the kids had slept okay.  But we've had wicked winds before so I wasn't exactly worried or anything.

My view out the kitchen window showed me the door to the sheep shed had blown open and let my little prairie maggots escape their corral. I had that door wired shut with two strands of baling wire around the door handle! So I called Prairie Granny to come over and watch the rugrats so I could go chase sheep.  I tore down to the corral in my pickup, jumped out and the wind caught my door so hard it now needs some repairs.  The force of the wind seemed to be sucking more air from my lungs than I could put back in!  Just to walk around, I was leaning into the wind like you'd see in an old cartoon. The sheep were running back and forth and around, in between the horses and such.  My big ol' dog wasn't much help either. She was having a little too much fun and not listening to me what-so-ever!  Thankfully, Miss Ivy the birthday goat saved the day.  She came running up to me like, "Mom! Save me!"  So I caught her up and tied her inside the sheep corral.  Sort of hoping they would "follow the leader".  Know what I mean?

I threw some hay in the feeder and went to investigate the broken shed door.  Sure enough those wires had snapped in the wind and the wood holding the latch had splintered and broken off.  I had to "Jerry rig" that door like MacGyver to keep it shut as the wind kept slamming me against the wall of the shed. Finally it looked like it would hold so I went after the sheep.  I'm so thankful they were hungry!  I tip-toed out around them and they tip-toed right into the corral. Thank the Lord!

As looked around the farm yard I found things blown all to kingdom come.  The metal round bale feeder blew over, buckets and tumbleweeds lined the fence lines, the portable net fencing for my chickens was no longer standing.  It had pulled right out of the soggy ground at the base of each post. Bales of hay had been blown off the top of the stack. I couldn't even make that one up! How did that happen?  I had to feed the calves inside the corral next to the barn so the hay wouldn't blow away before they could eat it! Then of course I came home wearing plenty of hay in my underwear....

I decided a Montana hurricane is when the wind is strong enough to blow down part of your hay stack. I looked up the meaning of "gale force winds" and gale force tops out at 64 miles per hour. That would just be a stiff breeze compared to what we had this morning.... I'm glad to report that for now the winds have calmed down to about 15 miles per hour.  I'm looking forward to picking up the pieces in the morning.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Six Man", A Film You Need To See

Last night I watched something that moved me to tears.  It was about football, of all things.  A wonderful film maker named Kurt Markus has come to our little off-the-map area of Montana and made a documentary film that has me and everyone else around feeling as puffed up and proud as a mother hen.

Taken during the 2013 State Championship game. That our boys won!

The film is called, "Six Man" and highlights our Geraldine/Highwood Rivals, as well as the Big Sandy Pioneers.  As I have previously confessed, I know pretty much nothing about football.  But there is one thing I do know.  Our little community lives and breathes to support our kids and the sports programs that give them some amazing opportunities. I'm so grateful and proud that Mr. Markus had such an affection for our area and our kids, that he spent two years of his life dedicated to making a film that will show the world the blessings and challenges of how we live.  He told us the film is a "love story" for our little towns and the adoration showed through in every way.  I thank Kurt Markus for putting on film the love that I have been writing about for these past two years. 

As a momma to three sons, I must say I feel a renewed sense of dedication to choosing this small town life.  I can only hope that when my sons are old enough, they will have the opportunity to play sports in Geraldine. It may be a long shot, but I hope Mr. Tweet is still coaching by then as well!  I'm so tickled that the class and integrity of our coaches and our team shined through throughout the film. Our boys did an outstanding job of articulating what's in their hearts and minds on and off the field.  Their dedication and devotion to their sport, their team and their towns was pure and evident. 

Mr. Markus showed us the film before it has even been picked up for distribution.  So for now I can't tell you to go pick up a copy.  But please know I will be following the film's progress and if at all possible, I will let you know when and where you can see the film.  It truly is something I think the world should see. I'll be watching for updates, you should too!

Bye For Now,

Monday, January 6, 2014

Round Two

Do remember Banner the alpaca?  (You can read about him here.) He was a very sick boy just a week or so after I brought him home last spring.  Sand colic seemed to be the culprit. I really thought I was going to lose him, but by some miracle he came through.

Banner after his last round with colic.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to do my chores and noticed Mr. Banner didn't look quite right.  He was laying on the ice near the feed trough and wasn't interested in getting up to eat the nice leafy hay I put in there for him and his buddies.  He was also shivering and had quite a bit of ice and snow covering him.  The night before last, we had a snowstorm and wind chill temperatures of around -35 below zero.  My first thought was that Banner must've drawn the short straw and had been kicked out of the shelter by the larger males.  I feared he was in bad shape due the extreme cold.  So I dragged him into the feed room of the barn while my big boy helped by shoving on his hind end for all he was worth. After making sure he couldn't get into anything, I gave him fresh hay and water and hoped that being inside, out of the snow and wind would do the trick.

A while later, a friend brought me out some beautiful chickens that had been looking for a new home. While we were up at the barn situating the chickens, we checked on Banner and discovered he was actually not a frozen alpaca, he was a very colicky, impacted alpaca. Again....

So we bedded him in some nice, fluffy straw, freshened his water, breathed a little prayer and hoped for the best.  Alpacas are really tricky about medications and such.  I would've preferred to give him something for pain and make him comfortable, but there wasn't anything available that wouldn't do more harm than good.

I was afraid of the condition he would be in by this morning.  I went out as early as I could, in sub-zero weather to check on our little buddy.  I found him with his cheerful, furry face looking out over the dutch door of the feed room.  He had been able to work through his belly ache and had even eaten some breakfast.  He could not wait to get out of there and I was so relieved and excited to see his improvement!  I turned him back out with his pals and he immediately asked for more grub.
We are both waiting for days like this one, last summer!

I'm thinking that good, ol' Banner must have a tummy kinda like mine.  It's pretty quick to turn on me and cause me grief.  This probably won't be the last time he gets a bellyache but at least after round two, it seems we're both tough enough to get through it....

Bye for now,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How Was Your New Year's?

Another year has passed.  Last night was the annual fundraiser and dance for the Geraldine swimming pool.  It is always such a fun time and last night was no exception.  Cowboys in costumes, good food, a silent auction that was at times quite a wrestling match, dancing and a good ol' gab fest.  The snow was falling in large, fluffy flakes that begged to land on eyelashes and the tip of your nose as we walked into the old auditorium. Perfection.

My companion and I decided to enjoy the dance until nearly midnight, then hit a long standing tradition of a house party out in the hills west of town.  We drove the road over the mountains as midnight rolled around and the snow swirled.  Friends and laughter were found in a lovely, warm farmhouse.  Stories were told and plans were hatched until yawns outnumbered the laughter.

We headed out the snow buried driveway and down the gravel road until we were just to the pavement. The truck didn't sound right.... an unidentifiable noise.  We went a bit further....  Then the "low tire pressure" light was flashing and it became obvious we were going to have to fix a flat in the middle of the night, in the middle of a snow storm, in the middle of nowhere.  We were then disappointed to discover that the necessary parts for changing said tire were not to be found.  Both cell phones were mocking us with their "no signal" status.  So there we were.  Not a house in sight, no phones, no changing the tire. We decided to lay back on the heated seats and take a snooze until morning.  At least we had plenty of fuel and wouldn't freeze.  In daylight maybe we could flag someone down for a ride to town.

Morning came finally and the snowstorm had moved on.  In the distance near some ancient grain elevators there stood a little old shack of a house and I saw a light come on!  "Hey! Does someone live down there?" I asked my partner in crime. Turns out yes, an old codger named Kenny lived there.  Surely we could use his phone to call for some best friend back up.  "Does he like you?" I asked.  "Think so...." was the answer.  We decided to creep the truck slowly towards the shack, hoping to not destroy the wheel.  My traveling partner disappeared to the house and came back with Kenny and the key to an old pickup truck.  I guess he did like us okay.  "Kenny, you are a scholar and a gentleman...." and off we went with the old man's truck.  Quite an eventful first day of 2014, I'd say. Now, I'm ready for a long night's sleep.... Happy New Year everyone.

Bye for now,