Life is always fast and furious here in our house, and is getting busier now that we are back to school! We decided to home school TR this year after his wreck. I just wasn't comfortable sending him to school when we weren't sure how his jaw was going to be, if we needed surgery, and keeping him restricted when there are 20 other 5 year olds running a muck! To be honest, I really didn't want him to start school yet anyway. He is ready, mom is not. Long story short, we are giving him an extra year to grow up and when he starts public school next year he will be more mature, a little bigger, and still with kids his own age.
I am back to school as well. I'm teaching an Animal Science class 2 nights a week at Great Basin College again this semester. I hated teaching high school and jr. high school, but love teaching on the college level. My students are much easier to relate to, and are there because they want to be, not because they have to. My friend Heidi talked me into taking a digital photography class with her this semester as well, so not only am I a teacher I am a student. Lets face it, Heidi really didn't have to twist my arm too hard either, she just provided the extra motivation I needed to do it!
The Elko County Fair is also going this week. (Who starts school before the fair anyway?!!), and my dear husband the Cow Boss decided yesterday would be a great day to preg 450 replacement heifers. This is my week in a nutshell. Class, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Pregging heifers Tuesday and feeding lunch to the pregging crew. Wednesday the Branding Eliminations at the fair, (I'm not roping, just watching). Thursday and Friday watching my brother show horses at the fair. Friday night roping in the Coed Branding contest at the Fair, and then back in Saturday and Sunday to watch the fair, in Monday to pick up my home arts exhibits. It's Wednesday and I'm already exhausted!
Pregging went good, we were done by 11:30. I'm a lousy housewife, and avoid my house like the plague, so I had all of the food ready the night before so I could spend the morning at the chute. I also love my crock pots (yes, I have 2!), and they get a lot of use. I had Drip Beef in the crock pot, a potato salad and marinated tomatoes in the fridge, store bought rolls, and sugar cookie bars ready to be cut.
Here are the recipes:
Drip Beef 1 beef roast
2 cans beef broth
1 jar pepperconinis
Salt and Pepper to taste
Put everything in the crock pot and cook on high 4-5 hours.
1/4 c. Mayonnaise
1/2 c. Plain Greek Yogurt
1 c. Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 c. Chopped Onions
8 slices Bacon Cooked and Crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean, chop and boil potatoes until tender. I leave the skins on, and I used Red Potatoes. While they are cooking, mix mayonnaise and yogurt together well. Add cheese, onions, and salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge. Drain potatoes and let cool. Mix with dressing and top with bacon. Can be served hot or cold. Since I made mine the night before, it was cold.
6 Tomatoes cut into wedges
1 T. Parsley
2 T. Red Vinegar
2 T. Olive Oil
1/2 c. Cold water
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Mix everything together and let rest at least 1 hour before serving.
For the sugar cookie bars I just used my old faithful sugar cookie recipe, and instead of baking cookies, I just baked as a bar and frosted with butter cream frosting. =)
I hope everyone has a great week and has a smooth transition into back to school!
My friend Sylvan is pretty amazing. She's a stay at home supermom to her little girl Reata, ties beautiful cinches, manages she and her husband's ranch in Montana, and is one smart girl to boot! She has been thinking of a way to explain grazing rights and fees to the public who think "The government subsidies those welfare ranchers with $1.35 grazing fees." I know we are preaching this to the choir here, but I feel that it is worth sharing!
Grazing Rights on Federal Lands by Sylvan Walden
I have come to realize that most of the people living in the U. S. don’t understand the ownership layers of the so called “public” lands (federal lands) and how that relates to grazing leases. So I will try to explain it in simple, non-legal terms.
Each parcel of land comes with several layers of ownership. These layers may be all owned by one person or owned by separate people. There is the person who actually owns the land surface (in this case, the federal government). Then there is the person or people who own the water rights (i.e. the right to use the water originating on that land), the mineral rights (i.e. the right to use the oil, gas, coal, etc. that originates underneath that land’s surface), and then there are the GRAZING RIGHTS (i.e. the right to use the herbaceous plant material growing on that land). The land and these various rights can be owned as one or bought and sold separately.
When federal lands have grazing permits, that means a private individual has paid fair market value for those grazing rights and they are PRIVATELY owned by that person even though they are on federal lands. The federal government does not own those grazing rights. The person who owns the grazing rights pays “grazing fees”, which are basically a property tax on the ownership of those grazing rights. This structure would be a lot like owning a house within the city limits compared to owning one outside the city limits. You pay city taxes and have to follow city zoning laws even though you own your own house and lot. If you lived outside the city (i.e. owned the land surface and the grazing rights) you wouldn’t have to pay those city taxes (grazing fees) or follow the city zoning laws (rules and regulations about how you use your permit).
Often you hear people claim that the “cheap” grazing fees are a government subsidy for the owners of grazing rights. You need to remember that they are more of a tax on a private property (similar to city taxes) and not actual fees for a grazing leases or rent of a pasture and grazing rights owned by someone else. To charge the going lease rate for grazing on a grazing right you own would be like having to pay the going rate for rent to live in a house you own.
You also need to remember that even though John Q. Public has the right to access and enjoy federal lands (as long as the federal government doesn’t object), that there is private ownership existing there also and that needs to be respected. This is a lot like how the rest of the city people utilize your front yard to walk down the street. You are fine with it and accept it as just part of living within the city limits, but if one of the people walking along your front yard insists on letting his dog water your prize hydrangea, you start to get a little crabby with that person. This explains why most grazing permit holders tend to get crabby when John Q. Public decides there should be horses, buffalo, etc. using the herbaceous material. The grazing permit holder actually owns the right to the use of that herbaceous material and has paid fair market value for it, paid taxes on it, and followed all the rules. How would you feel if the city police told you to get over your hydrangea bush, because the dog walker had every right to kill it, since you live in a city of people who like dogs?
I love onions, onions and garlic. I put them in almost everything I cook. Growing up, I would chop them up really small so my sister couldn't pick them out of her food (sorry C~)! One of the best things about living in Northeastern Nevada is being able to eat a BilToki steak sandwich. They are smothered in garlic and taste like heaven.
I say snide remarks out loud in my head but sometimes forget to keep my mouth closed.
I would love to have a salsa garden, but can't grow cilantro. No matter how hard I try, it always ends up shriveled up, brown, and dead in my window box or garden. It just dies. I've tried inside, outside, lots of water, little water, I have no luck. You can have all of the tomatoes and jalapenos in the world and it won't be salsa if you don't have cilantro.
I look mad when I am concentrating. Even when I'm happy, if I stop to really think hard about something my brow wrinkles, I frown, and just look angry. If I try to remember to smile so people don't think I am mad, I forget what I am concentrating on. On a side note, I can't glare when I want to, I just end up looking goofy.
When I hear a song I like, I play it over and over and over again until I hate it.
If I'm reading a really good book, I have to read the entire book from start to finish all at once. I can't stand to not know how it is going to end. This isn't a big problem if I'm reading a book to the boys. Huge problem if I am reading a grown up book and I need to be productive. I've stayed up all night just to finish a book before. This makes me apprehensive to start a new book. Unfortunately I need to read like I need oxygen.
I never pick a bowl big enough for what I am making. Then I end up with a huge mess because instead of getting a bigger bowl when I realize I need one, I just keep adding to the smaller one until I can't stir whatever it is I am making. Then I try and stir it anyway, spilling half of it all over my counter. If I would have just dirtied another bowl I wouldn't have to spend as much time cleaning up after myself.
TR riding the mechanical bull during the Silver State Stampede
This past Sunday, one of my biggest, scariest nightmares came true. I think it is many a ranch wife/mom's biggest fear as well, having one of your babies, husband, or family member getting hurt, and you not being able to do anything to make things better.
The Cow Boss and I have gotten kind of lax on our rules here on the ranch. We don't have any horses here we are worried about, and felt like as long as the boys weren't playing in the main road here at the house, they could have the run of the place. We have a huge back yard here on the the ranch complete with perfect climbing trees, dogs to play with, and a couple water troughs to play in. Now that the boys are bigger, we don't watch them every second. I've felt like I can always hear where they are, and when they are quiet you know you need to check on them. We have our own little "WoooWhoop!" that we call to each other when we are out of sight, and always answer each other back.
Sunday afternoon, a friend of mine came over with her little boys to pick some apples from one of our many apple trees. She was in no big hurry and I was finishing up a batch of Monkey Butter to can. The Cow Boss was waiting for a friend of ours to show up and get some hay so he was outside with 3 of the boys. I didn't know that he had come back in the house when I heard QT screaming. I met QT at the door and he had been stung by a wasp. I took him into the living room to sit until he felt better and found the Cow Boss there. I sat QT on the couch with him and I thought I better go check on the other 2 boys. Before I even got out the door Jess met me saying TR was hurt.
I found TR sitting in a lawn chair with blood gushing out of his mouth. His lip was split open, and when I asked him what happened, he told me he fell out of a tree. It didn't surprise me that he fell out of a tree, he climbs like a little monkey, and we fall out of a tree at least once a week. I have chalked it up to a being a boy thing. So I gathered up TR and the Cow Boss and I headed to the ER for stitches in his lip. On the drive to the ER, TR kept trying to fall asleep on us. We kept asking him questions, and his answers kept changing. He told us instead of falling out of a tree, he fell off a wagon. He also told us his horse, dog, and brother were all named Marty, and when I told him that was wrong, he started to get mad and refused to answer any questions. About the time we got to the ER my friend called to say QT and Jess were telling her that TR was hurt by the horse.
TR after waking up Monday morning.
Our stomachs dropped, hearts sank, and we were gripped with fear. TR had been kicked in the face by a horse. Everyone has heard horror stories about little kids being kicked in the head by a horse, and few of them have happy endings. Knowing he had been kicked, and his wrong answers, not to mention falling asleep in the 15 minutes it took to get to the ER, we were a wreck.
We spent 5 hours at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital, where they did several ct scans and x-rays, and we did a lot of waiting. We didn't have the care we would have liked, but that is another story. TR's accident happened around 3 in the afternoon, and finally about 5:30 (we still didn't know the results of any of his scans) they told us we would have to take him to Primary Children's in Salt Lake City. The doctor finally told us that TR's jaw was broken and that he would need surgery, but no word on his head. The Cow Boss and I began to make plans to drive to SLC, and the nurse came and informed us we would have to fly. With TR's jaw swelling they were concerned about his airway.
It is a 50 minute flight from Elko to SLC, and then about 25 minutes from the airport to Primary Children's. We arrived there at 9 local time. The ambulance drivers and Paramedics from Elko were wonderful. At the airport they wheeled Trent and I over to check out the air tanker stationed there before loading us on the plane. Once on board one of the paramedics told me "Don't worry mom, kids are usually asleep within 5 minutes. It will be an easy flight." Not my cowboy. He has wanted to fly on a plane for years and wasn't about to miss a second of it. His little nose was glued to the window from take off to landing. I tried to point out our house as we flew over, but it was getting dark and hard to see.
I can't tell you how wonderful the doctors at Primary Children's Hospital are. From the moment we walked in the door someone was with Trent or popping in to check on us. Several different doctors examined him, his scans, and bent over backwards to make him comfortable. Due to swelling and his age they hoped that his jaw would heal well enough on his own and we could avoid surgery. We were finally able to get his lip cleaned and stitched up. They put us in a room about 3 that morning. A full 12 hours since his accident.
I have so much awe and pride in my little man. I know he was hurting, but he never cried or complained once. Everytime I as about to break down, he would squeaze my hand and smile at me the best he could. He is so amazing, here I am I'm supposed to be consoling him and making him feel better and instead he is taking care of me.
TR sleeping in Wednesday morning.
The next morning they brought him a room service menu and spent the morning making him comfortable. By the time to doctor came in he had drank 2 glasses of chocolate milk, a smoothie, ate some yogurt and pudding. He told the doctor "I sure like this place, it's really nice!" But, he had every ones undivided attention, got to watch anything he wanted on TV, and cute nurses to fawn over him. The doctor discharged us that afternoon. In his wranglers and cowboy boots, my little cowboy walked himself out of the hospital.
Back at the ranch, the first thing TR did was go and let his dogs out of the kennel, and then go to check on "Dot," the horse that kicked him. He went to her corral and she met him at the fence. I asked if he wanted to pet her, and he nodded yes. I lifted him up so he could reach, and my heart melted when I watched him put his little hand on her face. He knows that it wasn't her fault he got hurt, and he wasn't afraid of her either.
We had a long talk that night about what had happened, and while I don't think we will ever know for sure what took place, we kind of have an idea about what happened. TR was in the corral with Dot, and he knew he wasn't supposed to be there. He was petting her when something spooked her. Whether it was QT getting stung and screaming or what, we will never know. As she ran past TR she cow kicked him, catching him on the jaw.
All I know for sure is that TR took a kick to the face and was able to walk away from it. Every time I look at him and his bruised, swollen jaw I smile and thank the powers that be that he is here with us today. We are so fortunate that he wasn't hurt more. I am so thankful to my friends and family, and complete strangers who have taken the time of offer up prayers on our behave and those who left us messages via facebook, texts, emails, and phone calls. You will never know how much we appreciate your thoughts and messages. You've all helped us get through a dark time in our lives and we appreciate each of you!
Is is the ranch house on the 101 Ranch just outside of Mountain City, Nevada. This was my great grandma Rosella's home. My dad spent many days here playing and working for his grandparents. When the ranch sold in the early 70's, one of my best friends as a little girl and her family lived here. I can't count the number of nights I spent here, or hours I played here with my friends. The ranch sold again when I first started teaching in Owyhee, and then again just a couple of years ago. Now the 101 Ranch is owned by the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. As you can see, the Brown's Gulch fire has burned completely around the house right up to the highway, which runs across the right side of the picture. The only structure lost was a small chicken coop that was to the upper left of the house.
My brilliant cousin Jessie is working on her PhD in Texas, but came home for a visit this past week, just in time for the big fire(s). I'm so glad she was home because she has been our lifeline these last couple of days, keeping us informed on facebook with posts and pictures so that we know where the fire is and what is going on.
Photo by Jessie Vipham
This is the sign entering Mountain City. Beyond this sign is a lot of black on both sides of the highway, going on for quite a ways. I am so happy fire fighters were able to save my home town, with no loss of structures, life, or any injuries!
I’m lying here in that stage between awake and asleep. I don’t want to wake up, but I know my alarm is going to go off any minute now. I want to stay right where I am, burrowed under my overstuffed down comforter in its reversible blue and green duvet that dad says should be in a boys room. I guess it should be pink or something frilly and lacy for a girl, but that wouldn’t be me. Asleep next to Moe, with his head on my pillow and his four little feet pushing against my back, pushing me out of my bed, as if it were his and I am the intruder, not the other way around.
Listening to Cara snore across the room, dreaming about chasing rabbits, counting sheep, or whatever it is that she so soundly dreams about at night when I throw pillows, slippers, or anything I can find at her to get her to roll on to her side so she will stop snoring. Then in the morning she wakes up cuddling my pink fluffy slipper that Moe chewed the eye off of as a puppy. The fur is all matted and the tail is missing from one too many tug of wars with Moe who insisted it was his and refused to give it back. She wonders how it got into bed with her. As I explain I threw it at her to get her to quit snoring, she swears I was the one snoring as she does not snore. On the other hand, the slipper explains the dream she was having about a snowball fight with our brother, except they were in Mexico and they weren’t really snow balls, but cotton balls that hurt when they hit her.
Click. Bee-beep. Bee-beep. Bee-beep. Snooze. Moe doesn’t even flinch as my alarm goes off for a second time. I turn it off and reset it for six. If I don’t do it now, I will forget by the time I come back in. Blindly I search through the dark for my jeans. First my right foot and leg, then my left foot and leg, standing up, my jeans are on and I need socks. I really want to turn on a light so I can tell if my socks match. I guess the cows won’t care, so I pull on a sweatshirt and head for the porch, where I put on my Schnee boots that cost me two weeks of tips at JR’s in December, and my feet still freeze when I wear them, my silk wild rag, bright red scotch cap which I hate, and my blue Carhartt coat. Never know who you might run into, so you must look your best.
Stepping outside, I’m met with a clarity and realization that can only be had at one o’clock on a January morning…its cold, and I am now fully awake! But the sky is so dark and clear, the moon so full and bright, the stars shine so brightly. I can see the big and little dippers and many other constellations that I recognize but cannot name. I start my trek to the calving barns to check cows for my dad.
Opening the green metal gate with the blue “Sure-Latch” by the granary I say aloud to myself, I should have made Moe come with me. It would be good for him, or maybe not. When we get back to the house, he would beat me back to my bed and run all over blankets with his wet snowy feet. I shine my light towards the horse corral and then back past the granary towards our old house. If it weren’t for the peeling paint, and broken screen door on the east end, it would appear still to be lived in most days since the curtains still hang in the windows waiting for someone to come home.
Rounder glares at me as if he’s saying “Get that light out of my eyes!” as the beam passes over him. The rest of the horses stomp their feet keeping thin blood circulating, and I can see their breath every time they exhale. Snip whines at me, nosing my hand, and then wagging his tail as I remember to scratch that spot behind his ears. I need to keep moving.
Through the next gate, I gently close the latch, dad’s reminder still ringing in my ears from chore time: “Don’t let it slam shut! That handle is about to break!” I hear the crunch-crunch, crunch-crunch of the frozen mud, muck, and dry snow beneath my feet with every step I take. How does Snip walk so quietly on 4 feet and I am so loud on only two?
Opening the door to the Tin Shed, I’m met with warmer air and the faint scent of dusty straw, cattle, ammonia, and manure. Both cows jump to their feet at my entrance and stare at me with their big, gentle, brown eyes and furry, black ears contentedly chewing their cud. Nothing is going on here and I feel guilty for stirring them.
It’s still cold outside when I enter the heavy cow lot. Cow #302 is standing off by herself. She is probably calving. I’ll have to watch her; she gets mean when she calves. Walking towards her, she shakes her head and blows snot at me. She is calving. I can see 2 feet as she walks away from me. The good news is everything is coming the right way, but the bad news is I will have to get her in a barn. It’s too cold for a baby to be born outside tonight. Nothing else is going on out here. I will have to see where I can find room for her. She’ll have to wait a few minutes until I can get the doors open and gates set in a barn.
Entering the Red Barn, I’m once again met with warmer air and the same scents as before. Cupcake is up and her twins Uno and Dos are up and sucking. That was Cara’s idea to name them that way. She’s been pretty proud of her B in Spanish class. They are quite the sight, wagging their little black tails all content, warm, with bellies full of milk. No room here for an extra cow. All for the better though, the Red Barn is kind of tight and narrow. Not much room for a cow to walk down the alley, or turn into a stall. The last time I put a cow in here by myself I managed to knock out a chunk of foundation from under the barn. I don’t want to do that again.
Flipping on the lights in the New Barn creates a false sense of warmth as six 100 watt bulbs send their glow into every dusty nook and crevice. Nothing to report here either, it’s almost a quiet night. Some quick rearranging, I move the cow in the camera stall across the alley to a different stall. I told dad she wasn’t going to calve tonight. Set the gates, grab a club and I’m off to get 302.
302 knows something is up and meets me just outside the barn door. She promptly trees me on a fence post and I wonder if anyone will hear me scream? I’m also impressed by how quickly I got to the top of the post. I could never have done that so quickly just playing. How long will I wait here before someone comes to check on me? But more importantly, if I can get her in the barn, how will I get the gate shut behind her?
I start to whistle like I do when I am nervous. Good Save the Queen is my favorite tune. One day I want to have a little Herford bull like Vindicator on the Rare Breed who comes when I whistle the tune. I don’t even realize I am whistling. There below me in the snow is Snip. How I love that dog! He starts to growl at 302 as she paws the ground and blows snot at both of us now. “Push her up!” Snip half pushes, half chums her through the gate, closer to the barn. I jump off the fence and get the gate shut just as she charges me. Take that! You think you are so tough on the other side of the fence! Snip distracts her again, giving me seconds to get in the pen with her. Once again I am treed. “Away to me!” Snip gets around her and gets her pushed into the barn and I down him in the gate. Quietly, slowly I edge down the alley, hugging the closed gates to individual stalls. Finally I get Snip out of the way and the gate shut. 302 turn's her back to me and ignores me. She can see the camera is on and if she is on her best behavior dad will never believe that she treed me twice. Good dog, I pat Snip on the head and we step out of the barn and start for the house.
It is still cold, feels colder now than when I first left the house 20 minutes earlier. My boots make that cool crunch-crunch, crunch-crunch noise that I find comforting as I catch my breath from our 302 excitement. I am ready to be back in bed.
Down towards the highway I hear it. Faint at first, but growing stronger and louder with each new breath, his mournful cry is soon joined by others and I am being serenaded by a heavy metal band of coyotes. The depressing, mournful, desolate feeling of their song makes all of the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention, and my feet can’t seem to carry me home quickly enough.
Glancing through the lot and the horse corral I see nothing happening. No cows calving here. Out the gate and I am in a dead run. Imaginary coyotes are fast at my heels nipping at me. I imagine one of them licking his chops, with an evil gleam in his eye. He thinks I will taste good for dinner. Running and running and running, arms pumping and reaching, suddenly I am in the floodlight. I stop and listen. It is quiet. The coyotes have stopped their song. Off in the distance I hear a “Yip!” The beginnings of an encore I think.
Not waiting to find out, I step inside and go about taking off all these winter clothes. Off comes my blue Carhartt, the bright red scotch cap I still hate, my newest wild rag, and my Schnee boots, yes, feet are cold. Tip-toeing through the house, avoiding all of the creaky floor boards like a thief, I steal into my room undetected by Moe and his super sonar. I remove my socks, jeans, sweatshirt, and carefully climb back into bed so I don’t disturb Moe and his slumber. Cara resumes her snoring, and I will soon be back to sleep.
There are days that just don't go right. The boys are up at 5 and want breakfast now. The colt your husband is riding for you dad pitches a fit, mashes a stirrup, and breaks the tree in his "good" saddle. To top it off you spill boiling water on your bare foot trying to clean your cast iron skillet. This all happens before 7 in the morning, and you think to yourself "I must have really been a jerk in a past life." What else could explain how bad your day is already?
Today TR, QT, and I helped the Cowboss move some yearlings around. Was it a good day? Not especially. Was it a bad day? No, not really. Did we rope and drag a yearling through the gate? Yes. On her side? No. It was hot and there was smoke in the air. QT talked from the minute I got in the saddle until I got off at the house.
The highlight of my day was watching TR ride his horse. Right off the bat, we had a yearling turn back on us. I went to get around her and TR said "I got this mom." Not quite sure I kept going. He yelled at me "I SAID I've got this mom. Don't you see me here?!!" Point taken! About 30 minutes later a different yearling turned back. This time I was across the creek and couldn't get there fast enough with QT riding in front of me. So I asked TR to bring her back. He spurred old "Cowboy" up and got after her. He had her too, until "Molly" and "Tip" (the Cowboss's cow dogs) saw what was going on and turned her back on him again. So he spurred "Cowboy" into a lope and took off after her a second time. Dad called him off though. We were both a little worried that "Cowboy" might turn out from under him chasing the yearling. He rode up to me with a look that read WTH, I had her! So I bragged him up quite a bit. He really did awesome!
Riding home from the saddle shop tonight (have to get a new tree put in the Cowboss's saddle) and reflecting on the days events I decided that I must have been a really good person in a past life. For what other reason could there be that I would be so blessed in this life? I have a great husband who knows me better than I know myself most days. Good horses that I can pack my baby on with me, turn my baby loose on, or rope and load a bull if I need to. Most importantly though, I have 2 little boys who "are fearfully and wonderfully made," that I love all the way to the moon....and back!