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.

rain!

Finally in February it feels like winter has arrived.

The ground is wet.

There are puddles outside waiting to be jumped in.

The grey clouds are hovering overhead.

The fire place is crackling.

And all the lights are turned off in the house while I enjoy the dark light that only cloudy, rainy days can bring.

I love this weather. Sometimes I wonder if I could live in Seattle where most of their days are like this. And then summer arrives and I’m sipping Lime-A-Rita’s on the lake and I quickly forget that idea. What I need to say is I love living where we actually have seasons and I can appreciate the beauty in each season. Unfortunately Mother Nature has been a little mixed up with what season we are actually supposed to be in right now. I am very thankful that for this week she seems to have it figured out.

It’s like your can feel the dust, the dry ground, and all the ranchers and farmers heave a collective sigh and breathe in that beautiful fresh smell that comes with a cleansing rain. Granted, this is hardly making a dent with the current dire water situation we are in; but if anything it gives a bit of hope and sometimes that’s all you need.

The excitement last night in my husband’s voice when he went outside to get wood for the fireplace and realized it was raining was pure excitement: Christmas-morning-as-a-child-kind-of-excitement. We just stood on the back porch last night and listened to the rain gently falling and it was a beautiful thing. Maybe I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: I didn’t know how important rain was until I married a rancher and I realized what it means for our livelihood, our animals, and our life on the ranch.

So what do you do when it’s sprinkling and you have brand new rain boots, rain jackets, and umbrellas you’ve been waiting to use since Christmas? You use them!

puddles

photo2

The rest of the day is going to be spent enjoying this beautiful day from the coziness of our warm house while the crockpot does it’s job and is cooking away one of my FAVORITE crockpot recipes ever. Garlic Beef Stew served over mashed cauliflower — comfort food in a bowl. Plus you get the added benefit of the house smelling amazing while it is cooking.

We just might have to go jump in more puddles so I can appreciate that smell walking into the house . . .

weekend wrap-up.

This weekend I attended my first CWA (California Women for Agriculture) Convention and State-Wide Meeting. This was definitely stepping out my comfort zone and I’m really glad I did.   I joined our local chapter a little over a year ago after a few friends were in it and I was looking for a way to get involved and learn more about ag issues and embrace my country lifestyle. Sometimes I feel like such an impostor at the meetings: I didn’t grow up doing 4-H, working cows, or farming like so many of the people in the organization, I can’t talk ag policies, and don’t even get me started on my fear of the Adopt-a-Legislator program where were are supposed to go meet with urban legislators to voice our concerns/issues. But I’m doing it and I’m putting myself out there to learn more and get involved in this ag community that I am now a part of. It was a great weekend – I did learn a lot about the organization: it started in the 70’s in the Cochella Valley, now there are over 20 chapters and 2,000 members over the state. The mission of CWA is, “to promote and develop the interest of California women involved or interested in agriculture and to promote a strong agriculture industry in California. CWA’s efforts are guided by 5 principle objectives: to speak on behalf of agriculture in an intelligent, informative, direct and truthful manner; to keep CWA members informed on legislative activities pertaining to agriculture; to join forces when the need arises to deal with agricultural issues and challenges; to improve the public image of farmers and; to develop a rapport with consumers, educators, and governmental & business leaders in communities throughout the State.” I am excited for another year of learning with this chapter and meeting new people.
Funny story from the weekend: while we were there I heard a woman say her last name and it was the same as my Grandma’s maiden name; so after asking her about it I learned her husband was my Grandma’s first cousin! Small world! I was able to meet her husband that night at the dinner and we did some catching up. I met them once before at a family reunion probably 20+ years ago, so it had been awhile. Love when stuff like that happens and you are reminded how small the world really is.

I got back home yesterday afternoon to kiddos and a hubby that I had missed (good to go, great to come home) and we got ready to finally celebrate Christmas with my parents. I was sick on Christmas so our Christmas celebration had been postponed and we sure were ready! It was quite a bummer on Christmas when we had to cancel getting together.  I was all ready to host dinner here with my parents, younger brother, and my Mom’s cousin but a little stomach bug made us keep our distance in fear of sharing it. Funny story from last night: as we are cooking the potatoes and brussel sprouts my Dad went to open the oven and the oven door was locked; turning the oven on/off didn’t help, holding down the lock button didn’t help and somehow the broiler had turned on and the oven seemed to be getting hotter and hotter. I might have freaked out a little about the food catching on fire and another Christmas dinner being ruined but thankful my Dad and husband kept cool and turned the breaker off on the oven.  After googling “whirpool oven locked with F3 error code” I read an almost identical situation as to ours and learned that what most likely happened was that the heat sensor in the oven went out causing the oven to continue increasing in temperature and when it got too hot the oven locked itself for safety. After opening a few presents we flipped the breaker on again and the oven had cooled off enough to let us open it. Phew. The food was a little bit brown but not ruined! Hooray!! We were able to enjoy a delicious dinner, finish opening presents (cannot wait to cook something from The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook!) and have a great story from our Christmas celebration from this year.

On to another week of PRAYING continuously for rain.  I never understood the importance of  a wet winter until having cows and now an orchard (which at least we can irrigate if needed). To look and see how dry, brown, and dusty it is for January is depressing.  Right now, I should be able to look out our windows and see green most everywhere.  I should see the hay that my father in law has planted growing so there is feed for their cattle for next year, I should see pastures with green grass but I look out and see brown dirt just waiting for rain.  It is a scary time right now for farmers and ranchers every where.  We are having to feed hay almost every other day for our cattle herd and that isn’t cheap; we are having to make tough decisions about what to do because we cannot afford to do this all season and we are not the only ones facing these decisions right now.  Looking at the 10 day forecast and seeing a high of 74 two days this week is just crazy! While I love that kind of weather so we can get outside and play I don’t want 74 degree weather in January — I want cold, rainy, drizzly days with soup on the stove and the sound of pounding rain on the roof.  So, pray for rain and pray some more.

High /
Low (°)
Precip. %
Today
Jan 13
Sunny 70.0°/37.0° 0 %
Tue
Jan 14
Sunny 74.0°/38.0° 0 %
Wed
Jan 15
Sunny 74.0°/36.0° 0 %
Thu
Jan 16
Sunny 72.0°/34.0° 0 %
Fri
Jan 17
Partly Cloudy 70.0°/35.0° 0 %
Sat
Jan 18
Cloudy 68.0°/34.0° 10 %
Sun
Jan 19
Mostly Cloudy 68.0°/40.0° 20 %
Mon
Jan 20
Sunny 69.0°/40.0° 0 %
Tue
Jan 21
Mostly Sunny 70.0°/42.0° 0 %
Wed
Jan 22
Partly Cloudy 69.0°/42.0° 0 %
Last Updated Jan 13 08:24 a.m. PT

I’m baaack…

I’ve missed this and I want to be better at posting here in 2014. I had a dear friend share her new blog link  with me earlier this week and it made me want to get back on here. (Her mentioning she missed reading it also might have played some part in today’s post as well.)

So, I didn’t know what to post since I have’t posted in almost a year and, wow, how much has changed since then. We now have a 5 year old (some days going on about 13 1/2 and other days the sweetest little girl you’d ever meet) and 3 1/2 year old (still spunky, feisty and giving us a run for the money, but so much fun). But we are another year into being their parents and while some days I think we have it figured out there are other days that I wonder what the HELL I am doing and that I was CRAZY for leaving my job to stay home with these two little crazy people.  For the most part I really do love it. Today, was a day I was totally and completely overwhelmed with love as I watched these two little ones run down our driveway and close our gate and run back together – all by themselves. Doesn’t sound like a big deal to most, but to me it was a pretty big deal. They.didn’t.need.me.  They were beyond excited to do it by themselves and more importantly, together. They held hands for some of the walk down the driveway and chased each other for the rest and I just sat on our front porch and watched them.  I couldn’t help but project farther ahead in life: isn’t this what we want them to be able to do? Take on the world. Be brave. Try new things. And leave the safety of home with Mom on the porch and come running back proud of their accomplishments. Today it was a gate; tomorrow it’ll be something else.  Whoa.

Think that’s deep enough for today.

Anyways, I emailed them a little note about watching them shut the gate and what a sweet moment it was to watch (see my previous post about emailing the girls here)and then sent a note to my hubby thanking him for letting me be here to watch that moment and  he wrote back two sentences that put tears in my eyes: “Warmed my heart.  I know there is a reason why I am working.” Now, you need to understand everything about this — I have sent maybe two total notes to my husband like this over the last three years of being home. I’m embarrassed to admit that most days he gets home from work and I am still in workout clothes, probably haven’t showered, am tired, frustrated, and my patience is shot. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful and thankful that I get to be home with my babies but it’s definitely not always at the top of my priority list to thank him. Today, it just needed to be said and I am really glad I did.

Stick around —  I hope there will be more posts about our adventures with our orchard, our cows, and of course our kiddos.

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.