view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife: September 2012

Random Thought:

"The darkest nights produce the brightest stars"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Photography Workshop

This weekend, my friends and I took a photography workshop in Tuscarora.  It was a really fun trip and I learned a lot about how to use my camera.  It is amazing what you can do with a DSLR camera when you know how.  It was good for me because I could actually play with my camera and figure out things like ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed.  I still need to figure out my shutter speed settings, but am very comfortable with setting my ISO, and Aperture settings now.  I have been wanting to photography Tuscarora for a very long time.

We started out at the Tuscarora Cemetery.  There are so many falling down markers and fences.  A lot of the graves are from the turn of the century, but it is still used today, so there were more recent graves as well.  I had a lot of strong mixed emotions being there.  As excited as I was to be there it had a very sobering effect, reading the names and ages of some of the residents.  One girl was just 17 and married when she past away.  We saw several baby headstones that simple said BABY, no other name or date.  Made me very sad.  Just a difference of times I guess, but a lot of the women's graves simple said Wife of _______.  Didn't give any of her information.  I can't fathom being married, losing a baby, or even being known as anyone other than Jennifer.
I like the lilac in this picture.  It is so dry and brown in Tuscarora this time of year and the lilac bushes really stand out.  I imagine this is a beautiful place in the spring, looking out over the Independence Valley with the sweet smell of lilacs in the air, and an endless Nevada Blue as my friend Larry calls the sky here.

Here we have Nevada in a nutshell.  Sage Brush as far as the eye can see, mountains hazy in the far off distance, and the color dry.

This knot hole is in a headstone.  The weather has long ago worn off any recorded words on it as to who it belongs to, or when it was placed here.  I imagine it is a peaceful place to rest regardless.  As you can see it has a rather calming view of the mountains in the distance.

There is some beautiful iron work here in the cemetery.  The fences, and gates are amazing.  This is one of my favorite enclosures with the little lamb resting in the shade.  A lot of the graves are still maintained really well, and others not quite so much.

Here is another piece of iron work I liked.

After the cemetery we went to the town of Tuscarora.  While many people still live there, there are a lot of crumbling buildings and things that were left and long ago forgotten.  I really like the contrast of the yellow Rabbit Brush (which I am still sneezing from today) against the crumbling rock building.  It also makes me think of my friend Sylvan because just looking at this picture will probably make her sneeze too!

I love all of the old cars, tractors, and pickups that are abandoned here.  I can imagine some really fun family pictures with these relics as backdrops.

Here we have an old Chevy.  It smelled just like I remember my dads old Chevy pick up smelling.

I love brick buildings.  Especially when they have crumbling barn red paint!  This would be another great family picture backdrop.

This gate was just so cool.  I like the lines in the tin.  I will have to go back and photograph it in the summer when all of the Hollyhocks are in bloom.

These are just a handful of the pictures I took yesterday.  Not my normal subject material at all.  I'm feeling rather out of my comfort zone, and appreciate any thoughts you can share!  These are all straight out of the camera, a little cropping and that is it.

Last week, the Cow Boss and I were featured on the Faces of Agriculture blog.  You can find them here:  This is my story in a nutshell!  A special thank you to Heidi Stevens for her wonderful pictures!

It is said that “Behind every successful cowboy is a wife with a good job in town!” We are no exception. Like many ranch wives, I have a job in town. I tried teaching High School Agriculture for a couple of years, but learned that I was better suited to older students and now teach Animal Science at Great Basin College in Elko, Nevada. I have a bachelor’s of Science in Agriculture Education from Montana State University.

I work alongside the Cow Boss on the ranch. We take care of beef pairs but primarily run yearlings from May to October. Lamoille is arguably one of the prettiest places in Nevada and we are so blessed to live where we do. We have an apple orchard in our back yard and the gorgeous Ruby Mountains in our front yard. There is plenty of room for our boys to run and grow.

One of the best things about our job here is that it is a family ranch and we get to take our boys to work with us whenever we want to. This is very important to my husband and me. We both grew up on ranches working with our families. It is not uncommon to drive past one of our fields and see me leading one horse with one son and riding with a kid in front of me, see my boys helping us rebuild fence, or playing in a supplement trough while the Cow Boss and I doctor a yearling nearby. Most parents buy expensive playground equipment for their kids, we have trees to climb, antique farm equipment and miles of pasture for ours to play.

This is a cattle operation. We run cattle on range that isn’t adequate for any other type of crop, or suitable for living. It gives us a sense of pride to know that we are taking sunshine and grasses that are indigestible to humans and creating a healthy delicious food for people. We are committed to producing a safe and wholesome product for the world.

My parents ranch near Mountain City, Nevada. My great grandparents originally purchased the ranch in the 1930’s, and our family has lived on this ranch ever since. My great granddad brought the first Black Angus cows to Northeastern Nevada. They have run strictly Black Angus since then; my dad has worked really hard to make it one of the best herds in the state. I hope to one day go home to Mountain City to ranch, making my boys 5th generation ranchers in the area.

The Cow Boss and I come by ranching very naturally as you can tell. We have started our own herd of black cows and look forward to teaching our boys where their food comes from and the same lessons of hard work, determination, and perseverance our parents have taught us.

I love all aspects of raising cattle. I remember being 4 years old and my mom gathering up my little sister and me in the middle of the night to help my dad pull our first calf out of a Registered Angus cow our parents bought for us from Thomas Angus, making calving and winter one of my favorite times of the year. There is nothing cuter to me than watching a baby calf switching its tail as it nurses. I also love spring and branding. Then in the summer comes a lot of saddle time as we doctor yearlings and check on calves. Fall with the weather turning cooler comes shipping time- that bittersweet time of the year when we sell our calves and we can see what all our hard work was for.

We do this because we love this way of life and the livestock, and it gives us great satisfaction to know that maybe we made a difference somewhere. Maybe it was for the calf we saved from the creek, or the person who buys one of our steaks, but a difference none the less, and we enjoy our job! I always tell the Cow Boss a bad day cowboying beats a good day teaching!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why I am in Agriculture

My great grandpa and one of his Angus Bulls

I come from a long line of independent, strong willed, determined cattle women.  Both of my paternal great grandmothers were born and raise on cattle ranches, and owned and operated their own ranches which is pretty amazing considering the era they grew up in.

My great aunt Marge still runs cattle on her ranch, 30 miles of dirt road and an hour and 1/2 drive from town.  My cousin Margie and her daughter Sarah run their family ranch near Mountain City, and my great great aunt Stella still runs cows with the help of her son Ray on the ranch her parents started in the late 1800's.

My great aunts Marge and Ellen whom I am named after

My great grandma Mabel and granddad Hugh brought the first Black Angus cows to North Eastern Nevada and now they are the most prevalent bred in Mountain City, Nevada.  My dad has worked really hard to make them one of the best herds in Elko County.

My great grandma Mable

My earliest memories are of cows.  My first word was baby calf.  Our parents bought my sister and I our first cow when I was 4.  I named her "Sunshine."  I remember that cold dark January night my mom bundled up my sister and I and how the ice crunched under my feet when we went to the calving barn to help my dad pull her first calf.  We sat on a straw bale and watched.  As I type, I smell the dust, straw, ammonia, and birth of that calf, hear Sunshine talking to her baby, and see its wobbly legs as it stands for the first time.

From the time I could walk, I've rode horses to move and gather cows, and as soon as I could push in the clutch on the tractor and shift it into gear I've helped feed cows and put up hay.  Even fixing fence, irrigating, and spraying weeds brings me a sense of accomplishment.

I enjoy all aspects of raising cattle and ranch life.  There is so much satisfaction to be had from working with animals and the land.  You pour your heart and soul into the care and well being of the animals.  Sure there is a lot of worry and heartache, especially watching a calf die or having to put your favorite horse down because he is too old to live comfortably through the winter.  This is all part of treating animals with dignity and respect.

I'm not sure who this cowgirl is, but she is one of my relatives

There are many late or sleepless nights while calving.  Worry about markets and how you will get your calves sold or how you will buy hay to get them through the winter.  But watching young calves buck and play on a spring afternoon, seeing the dumb calf suck on his own finally after 2 days of helping him, or the sight of a graft calf wagging his tail as he nurses a heifer that lost her baby, and she's loving him as her own, that makes me happy and gives me a strong sense of accomplishment and that I am doing what is right for me and my family.

Other than college, I have never lived more than about 100 miles from the ranch I grew up on, and hope move back to the area someday.  I still get homesick when I go for a visit and then have to leave.  It is the place I am the happiest, feel the most at ease, and the most like myself.

Another picture of my great aunt Marge

My parents were insistent my brother, sister and I all have college educations.  I can see where they are coming from now.  I struggled for 5 years trying to figure out my place and what I wanted to be when I grew up, to find a career I could be happy and successful with.  All I have ever wanted was to make a good horse and raise quality cows.

Personally, I feel the best about myself and life in general after a long day caring for cattle.  Whether its branding, processing, shipping, or even calving, just knowing I've played a hand in helping produce a safe and wholesome food for my family and the world is pretty awesome.  Anything that can take grass and sunlight and turn it into something tasty is alright in my book!

Monday, September 3, 2012

2012 Fair Entries

Every year I feel like I need to enter pictures in the Elko County Fair.  I don't know why because I never seem to have what the judges are looking for!  It is really hard to get a feel for what they like because they just scatter the pictures over a small room, so you can't really tell the pictures in your category that one.  It is fun though to walk through the Home Arts building and see what everyone has entered!

These are my entries for this year.

TR and the Cow Boss last Thanksgiving when we were cutting down our Christmas Tree.  I looked up and saw them walking down the road to us and I knew that this was THE PICTURE.  If I didn't take any other pictures that day, I had to get this one, and it had to be perfect.  I really like how it turned out.  The judges did too, they gave me a blue ribbon.

This is my first attempt at newborn photography.  Baby Gabriel belongs to one of my best friends.  This was her dad's saddle.  He past away nearly 7 years ago.  I really like this picture because of the sentimental aspect of Gabriel resting in his grandpa's saddle, and I like how clearly you can read Bill on the cantle.  Judges weren't impressed.

Here we have TR and QT getting ready to ride their sheep this summer at the Silver State Stampede.  The Cow Boss pulled QT off after 2 jumps, but TR rode by himself and ended up 3rd.  Talk about a huge confidence boost for him!  The judges gave me a white ribbon. 

This is TR's 3rd place ride.  I just like the expression on his face.  =)  The judges gave this picture a white ribbon also.

I like how clearly you can see the shadow of the horse and you know it is a bucking horse.  The Cow Boss says it would be better if there was a guy on the horse.  Maybe the judges agree with him?  No ribbon.

This picture is only good to me I guess.

Judges didn't like this one either.

I also entered a cinch this year.  I have every year for 5 years now.  I also enter the only cinch in the fair.  This year they introduced a new category for me because previously they didn't have a cinch category.  Last year I got a red ribbon on my cinch.  Can you imagine my disappointment when I've been tying cinches for nearly 7 years and I'm the only cinch entered in the fair, and I get a red ribbon?  I almost didn't enter a cinch this year.  But then I thought maybe I could use the free advertisement.  So I entered this cinch:

It was a custom order that didn't turn out as expected, which means it is available to you to purchase!  It is 100% Mohair, 34" long.  =)  Oh yeah, I should probably mention that it won a special award for best of Mohair/Horsehair cinches at the Elko County Fair!  =)