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.
 
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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.  

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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.

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!

paleo heaven & my new job description.

This was dinner last night and it was seriously delicious. My Instagram photo just does not do it justice nor do the amazing flavors justice but you’ve gotta believe me. This recipe came from Everyday Paleo and we will make this again I am sure. You can find the recipe here. (I used ground turkey instead of the ground pork and no complaints there). I would also highly suggest making artichokes with it so you can enjoy the homemade garlic basil mayonnaise with them. Yum! We ate outside with a glass of wine and it was unusually quiet as everyone chowed down; love when that happens.

Somehow the conversation drifted towards my evaluation as a ranch/orchard employee and it was less than steller.( Although in my defense I am doing an amazing job on the kiddos if I do say so myself.) Apparantly I am not upholding my duties so I asked for a more specific job description which included:

1. Drive through the cows once a day to make sure they have water and that none are laying off by themselves. (And if they are I get the tag number of said cow.)

2. Drive through the orchard once a day and run off every last f**ing deer off that are causing so much havoc!

So, that’s it.  I don’t believe hubby thinks I will do this and believe he said it more out of joking than anything (we have a pretty darn good routine going in the evenings between dinner, kids, cows & orchard)– but he better watch out because it is on! I will now be doing this every day and will be sending him daily updates of my findings, including pictures which I am positive he will appreciate.

We also took a walk through the front orchard and he gave me a lesson on the terminal bud on the trees and why/how our front orchard is struggling so poorly. Between the deer eating the trees and the squirrels eating the irrigation piping we are more than frustrated with the wildlife and their love of our orchard.

By July 1st our trees were supposed to be as tall as the post next to them – most of the trees in front of our house aren’t even a third of the way there and quite a few will not get there and will have to be replanted next year (ouch). This is because the lovely deer have decided that they are a delicious snack and have repeatedly eaten them back and back and destroying the terminal bud that is crucial to the trees growth and development.

We walked by tree after tree and he showed me where the terminal bud had been eaten so the tree sent out another and that was eaten and it sent out a third. Sad. He told me not to post any pictures because he was so disgusted/frustrated/embarrassed that the front orchard looks like it does. On the flip side the orchard that is planted farther from our house is probably 90% better and is growing leaps and bounds so that is much more positive. I loved listening to him talk about the trees and tried remember as much as I could that he explained.  We helped him tie the ones that had gotten a little taller to the pole (did you know they are tied to the poles so all their energy can go towards growing up rather than blowing and fighting the wind?).

Plan for the orchard: continue spraying them with liquid fence (smells NASTY but is somewhat helping keep the deer away) and he is going to be putting up somewhat of a deer fence to combat the deer….hopefully that will help.