adventures

Well my adventures to life on the ranch continue and after close to nine years of living here I think I’ve finally embraced and accepted what life here means and how I needed to step up and hold my own. Over the last month we’ve added a few more animals to our family (two baby dwarf goats and a kitten — but that’s another post) and I have accepted a seasonal job from my brother-in-law irrigating his 45 acre walnut orchard.
 
photo (1)

Needless to say there has been a definite learning curve.

 Have you ever tried changing a sprinkler pipe while there is water shooting out of it? Or tried to cut off a portion of pipe that had been chewed by squirrels to splice together while the water is running? I hadn’t either.

And for how easy my husband and brother-in-law make it look, it’s not.  

I usually come home from his orchard soaking wet, muddy, and looking pretty ridiculous.  But I do always return with the coolest sense of confidence and accomplishment for fixing sprinklers by myself or cutting pipe and managing to splice it back together. Yes, there have been moments where I’ve screamed (more like cursed) in frustration, have even yelled out, “All right, God, I’m humbled here. A little help, please” and have even had mini victory dance parties when I’ve done something right. 

When the weather gets hotter this is going to be a dream job – driving under the shady canopy of the walnut trees, feeling the cool spray from the sprinklers as we zip down the rows looking for dry spots, broken sprinklers, or fountains of water spraying up that need to be fixed. What I love is that this is something I can do with my daughters – they love going for rides in the Ranger already, then add water and mud and they are in heaven. Plus, they are going to learn early on how to fix sprinklers and irrigate sprinklers for us — gotta start training the next generation young, right?

Last week was on the cooler side though and checking sprinklers with the lovely North wind our area is known for was not my idea of a fun Saturday night. I had decided to wear black workout capris, flip-flops, and a tee-shirt.

That was the last time I will dress like that.

I learned an important lesson about footwear that night: flip-flops tend to get stuck in the mud and break when you have to walk through a ton of mud to reach the sprinkler that has been already running for 12+ hours. My ever patient husband looked at me and said, “Now, do you know why I dress like I do when I go to the orchard?” He then proceeded to throw a pair of his wranglers at me — mind you he is 6’4 to my 5’9 and weighs probably 65 pounds more than I do.  We made the pants work with one of his belts, threw on his sweatshirt, a camo hat and my boots that I hadn’t been wanting to wear because I didn’t want them to get dirty (they are now so dirty they have to sit on the front porch so the mud can dry) and headed back out so he could give me a little tutorial.  

photo

And as much as I hate admitting I was wrong; I totally was.  It was so much easier in boots and I wasn’t as cold in real pants. I think a stop at Tractor Supply is on my to-do list so I can invest in some real work pants. Not nearly as exciting as a trip to Macy’s for a new pair of jeans, but the work pants will help pay for my new jeans in the fall — think that’s a pretty good way to look at it.

I have always loved our family time on the Ranger checking cows, going fishing at the creek, or driving through the orchards. I think I probably always will and will be sad when there’s a day that the girls don’t want to go with us anymore. I think my hubby paid me one of the biggest compliments he ever has when he looked at me in the orchard, dressed in his wranglers, mud everywhere, and said, “I am so proud of you for doing this.  You are showing our girls they can do anything.”

I can admit that this girl definitely shed a tear and squeezed his hand a little bit tighter that evening.

twins.

Don’t worry, I’m not having twins! But one of our heifers had twins yesterday morning and we took the girls down to see the twins and all the other little babies that have been born recently.

A smokey sky was our backdrop on our ride down to the field. Praying and hoping these fires are soon contained and we can go back to our normal blue skies. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for those living where the fires are burning. 

The sad thing about cows and twins is that sometimes the mama will ignore one of the twins and leave it to fend for itself while raising only one. I don’t really know why and I’m not sure I asked hubby last night.  I’ve seen it happen multiple times in my few years of being around calving season; we’ve tried to bottle feed a few, have sold a few, or been lucky to pass one off to another mama who’d lost her calf. Every time it makes me sad for the little baby calf and trying to understand how a mama could leave her baby all alone.

And that’s what we saw last night:  Mama and one of her twins much farther away from the other little baby who was laying all alone in the field.

So, we knew we had to make some decisions on what to do with the twin. Hubby doubted she’d eaten all day and we knew we either had to bottle feed her, find someone else that would, or nature would determine her fate. So we loaded her into the Ranger at the girls’ feet and headed for home. I wasn’t super thrilled about bottle feeding again, I’ll be honest. The smell of the milk replacement makes me want to gag and I don’t do so well with cow poo…but I was trying to be the country girl my husband needed me to be.

Fate intervened on our short drive back down the road home as our neighbor was out playing with her dogs.  When she saw the little calf,  already had all the supplies and had bottled fed one of our calves last year, little Mini Moo Too (as she was later named) found a new home before she could even ask her husband.  After the calf was safely moved to their horse trailer we waved good bye as her husband was walking out to see what all the commotion was about.

Very glad little Mini Moo Too found a good home and secretly very glad I don’t have to do all the bottles.

operation deer fence.

While some people might sleep in on Saturday mornings those days are rare in our house. For one reason it’s because my hubby gets up early while it’s cool enough to work outside and get caught up and for the other reason it’s because our kids hardly sleep past 7am. Today was no exception. I woke up and Luke was already gone and off getting ready for our deer fence that he was starting.  Girls and I packed up snacks, water, and sunscreen and headed down to meet my father in law who hooked the trailer to the Ranger for us and we met him at the orchard.

My job this morning was loading the massive fence posts (not your average fence posts these are 10 ft. tall!) in the trailer than driving ahead of him and laying them every 3 (there was a brief argument discussion about it being 3 or 4  posts but thankfully figured it out) fence posts. He was behind us with his truck and the rented pneumatic (air driven, in case you were curious) post pounder putting in the posts that we had laid out. After my job in the Ranger was done the girls and I moved to his pickup where we drove next to him to each post while he put it in.

I like seeing these! Grow, babies, grow!

As it got heavier and heavier (I still don’t know how he managed to lift that thing up so many times) we were grateful that my father in law came down to help for the last 20 posts. As they were putting the posts in I heard my father in law tell Luke, “You’ve got a calf down there in the Peck Place.” (that’s the name of the field our heifers are in).  Life of a farmer/rancher never ends as we now are entering calving season and our first calf was born. Geeze.

They finished up, both equally happy to be done I’m sure, and hubby headed into town to return the post pounder and take our Callie to the vet as we thought something was going on with her and couldn’t figure out what.  The girls and I on the Ranger (with the trailer mind you, it’s important for the story) headed home with promises of swimming, lunch, and ice cold water. We took the back way to avoid any closed gates through the property and I was feeling pretty good driving the Ranger with the trailer. There might have been an incident with the trailer and  two trees and a fence post on the way home that has now done slight damage to the fenders on either side. Ugh. I am not cut out for this country Ranger driving life sometimes. But this is why I love my husband: as he walked in the door (after finally returning from the vet where Callie will be staying a few days because she got into some poison somewhere and was very sick. 😦 ) and I burst into tears he calmly just said, ” Stuff happens. It’s ok. You don’t think I’ve ever wrecked anything?” I am still feeling very stupid, mad at myself, and terrified to tell my in-laws but his calm reaction made me feel a little better. It is just stuff and stuff can be fixed. Plus, I was trying and I’m thankful he gave me credit for that. **Update: as I was typing this I could hear Luke call his Dad and seriously could hear his Dad laugh and ask “How’d she get both sides?” So, while it’s still embarrassing at least it’s now a funny story. **

On a good note, the girls came home and enjoyed swimming in their kiddie pool and playing with frozen water balloons. Before I knotted the balloon I dropped in a small plastic toy (most were from our Polly Pocket collection) so when I cut the balloons off there was a toy frozen in the ice that they used spoons and the heat to get them out. Fun. They sat quite entertained by these for awhile and when the toy got out they added the ice to their pool.

Swimming for kiddos, iced coffee and Kindle for me (Beneath a Marble Sky if you’re interested).

So here’s to a quick recovery to our Callie, a quick recovery to that stupid trailer, and getting that deer fence finished to keep the deer out!

pickin’ apricots.

I love where we live and at times I hate where we live. I love that we don’t have neighbors peering in our windows and can keep our curtains open to see the beautiful huge trees in our backyard and see our new baby walnut trees growing in the front yard. I love that there are deer, squirrels, birds, owls, and even peacocks (not the biggest fan of the peacocks though) where we live and for the girls to see. I love that they don’t mind getting dirty and that a normal evening routine is packing up on the Ranger with Dad (complete with carseats) to check the cows and check the orchard while I start dinner. I love taking the girls to throw rocks in the creek or fishing dates with my hubby.  I hate that we are a good 45 minutes away from good shopping; Target, Trader Joes, & Costco being my favorites. I hate the dirt that accumulates EVERYWHERE because of living in the country. I hate that my hubby has to commute a good 45 minutes one way to get to work every day but I love that on the weekends he can be happy working with his hands in the orchard or outside where he’s happy.

Today was a day I love living where we live and raising our country loving girls. Today we went to my in-laws fruit orchard and picked apricots. What a gift to be able to raise our girls where they can see and appreciate how fruit is grown and enjoy a fresh picked apricot right off the tree; there’s nothing quite like it.

 

 

 

 

We picked 4 baskets and the trees are loaded with more so I hope to go back and get even more next week as they continue to ripen.  I started hunting on Pinterest for some apricot recipes and specifically Paleo friendly apricot recipes. I sort of want to try my hand at canning since there is an abundance of fruit and it’d be sad to see it go to waste, but have no experience in that department.

Here’s a few that I found that look delicious:

Canning Apricots

Apricot Jalapeno Jelly

Apricot/Strawberry Yogurt Pops – I might leave out the yogurt to make these a Paleo version or use Coconut Milk…Yum! Might be onto something with that idea. 🙂

Paleo Apricot Cobbler – This will definitely be happening. Yum.

Paleo Toasted Coconut Apricot Bites  – Looks amazing!

Paleo Jam (she made blackberry but I think I could adapt it for apricots).