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Friday, July 31, 2015

Family Farm Friday #96: Roadtrip to Iowa

My dad has been asking about when I'd blog about our adventure for months.  Here's hoping I don't let him down.

We needed a new Dorset ram.  Our current go-to is a great fella named White Lightning, who we've had for about 6 or 7 years.  He came from Iowa, the result of a road trip my dad and little brother took together.  And he did exactly what we bought him for--raised champions.  But, alsas, White Lightning is starting to show his age, and it was about time to find his successor.  So, when The Boy from Texas, my dad, and I had the chance to load up in the pick up for a 14 hour road trip (one way) in search of the successor, you better believe I was all in.

The Boy from Texas drove the entire way there and back.  At first, I think he was just trying to be nice.  Later on, I think he wanted the badge of honor to use in future arguments about who should clean the floors or take out the trash.  "I mean, I could do that, but I did drive 28 hours to Iowa."

For the record, he was not texting and driving, we were just pulling out of the drive.

 One thing I'll say about The Boy from Texas, is that he's up for anything.  I guarantee you had you told him before he met me that he'd go on a 28 hour trip to look at sheep, he would have told you he was crazy.  But for this one, he studied up pictures on websites before we left and got right in the middle of things when we arrived.  He's all in, that husband of mine.

We went by two different sheep farms while we were there and, as always, we enjoyed the chance to look at the livestock, meet the people, and see how farming is done differently in another part of hte country.

We ended up back at the same farm where White Lightning came from those years ago.  The owners are a middle aged man and his 94 year old father, Roger.  I'd heard stories for years from my dad and brother about Roger, so I was excited to meet this guy.  He didn't disappoint.  He was sharp as a tack, funny, really interested in "life out west" and reported that this year--when his son had a bum knee--he sheared the flock himself.  At 94.  They don't make 'em like Rog anymore.

After lots of analyzing, looking, thinking, figuring, we selected the ram that we would bring home. And we promptly loaded him up in the cage.  At least we thought it was him.  While my dad was writing the check and The Boy from Texas was organizing things in the truck, I caught a glimpse of the eartag and realized the owner had loaded the wrong ram.  That could have been a major mistake had we not caught it until we made it back to New Mexico some 14 hours later!

The correct ram ready to roll.

When we got home and I thought about what I had learned on the trip, there was one thing that kept coming to my mind.  The entire drive, my dad continually commented on the beauty of the area we were driving through.  Fields of canola in Oklahoma, rolling hills and rock fences in Kansas, black cows, freshly planted corn fields in Iowa, pouring rain.....he enjoyed seeing it all.  He wasn't focused on how much farther we had to go.  He wasn't preoccupied with a cell phone or the radio.  He was content to just look out the window and see the beauty passing by.  I've traveled the world, he's never left the US...but I'm not sure I see, really see, anything as well as my father.  He's got a gift.

Let's hope his ability to see translates to picking rams too.  We're breeding the new guy for the first time this year, his lambs should be on the ground starting in December or January.

Oh yea, the new ram's name?


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Maternity Photos

Poor, sweet, Super Mom didn't have a clue what she was in for when she agreed to take our wedding pictures.  That day officially made her our family photographer for life.  So, when maternity pictures rolled around, I called and she kindly agreed to take care of us yet again.  I generally give her no direction and just trust her.  Which is not hard to do since she, as my dad likes to say, "is great at everything she does."

When she led us to a mosquito infested drainage ditch in the middle of town a couple of weeks ago, I'm not going to lie, I was a little concerned.  I should have known better than to doubt her.

Because she ended up snapping photos that look like this.  And the shoot took all of 30 minutes.  Plus gave me time to visit with one of my best friends.  Win, win, win.

I'm debating which one to hang on the wall.....tell me your favorite!

I cannot tell you what a joy it is to be friends with this talented lady.  Not only is she an amazing photographer, she's an even better friend and example and we are so, so grateful to have her friendship in our lives and her pictures on our walls!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weekend Recap

We stayed home this past weekend, something that is not super common for us.  But, as is our lives, we pretty much went non-stop the entire time.  We are (not) patiently waiting for our addition/renovation to be done to the house and had a ton of cleaning, moving, and little projects that needed done.  Here's a bit of a recap of what we got accomplished 'round these parts.

The little town we now live in has a huge rodeo each year in July.  We're talking rodeo, parade, free bbq, contests, trade show in the's a big deal for such a tiny place!  We decided that we should probably participate in the events.  

On Friday night we headed over for a lovely dinner of bbq brisket and beans, followed by watching a bit of the rodeo.  The mutton bustin' was by far my favorite event.  It is open only to children under 7.  They put the little guys (and girls!) on the back of a wooly ewe, tell them to hold on for dear life, turn the ewes loose, and let the fun begin.  I am kicking myself for leaving my phone in the car or I'd have photos for you.  The night we were there, the winner was a little blonde boy with missing teeth and big chaps.  He got a belt buckle for his efforts.  Of course, this got the wheels turning in my head for the future and The Baby from Texas.  He does have a grandpa with a barn full of sheep to practice on, after all...

We ended up leaving after about an hour of rodeo fun because the poor pregnant lady had to pee.  I was not about to hit up a porta potty at a rodeo full of drunk cowboys in the middle of July.  No sir. So we called it a night and headed home.

Instead of going right to bed, we decided to continue working on a minor home improvement project:  painting the front porch and door.  Our front door was painted sort of a dull, old lady blue color that we both hated.  We wanted to spice it up a bit and decided it might be fun to paint it turquoise to give some pop to the white house.  In addition, we had to re-paint the porch trim, which was the same old lady blue.  So, you can picture me, 8.5 months pregnant crouched down painting the porch.  I'm sure it was a sight to see.

Here are before, during and after shots for your enjoyment.

I'll admit, the turquoise is a bit brighter than I had envisioned.  But, this was our second can of paint (the first was far worse!) so we just went with it.  I actually like it. The Boy from Texas is a bit on the fence still....

On Saturday we continued on in the community spirit and hit up the parade.  We took Angus with us and, as usual, he was a hit.  Everyone wanted to pet him and wave to him and the cheerleaders even threw him a Popsicle, which turned his little tongue blue.  All in all, he liked the parade fine, he was particularly fond of the horses, not so much of the fire trucks with their loud sirens.

On Sunday morning we went to church and then came home and got back to work on more home improvement projects.  I cleaned out and wiped down all our kitchen cabinets and pantry (thank you, mouse, for making this necessary), while The Boy from Texas re-did a closet in our hallway.  I am so, SO mad at myself for not doing a before and after because, y'all.  That husband of mine did work.  This cabinet was dirty, had holes in the wall, we're pretty sure is how the mouse came in, had no shelves, and the nastiest linoleum floor you've ever seen.

About three hours later, take a gander at what we have now!  White walls, wood floors, and a shelf!  The plan is for this to be the cleaning supply closet--the vacuum, swiffer, and shark mop all fit right under the shelf.

And so, there you have it.  A pretty mundane weekend at home in our world.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Family Farm Friday # 95: The Value of the Land

"Once you have lived on the land, been a partner with its moods, secrets, and seasons, you cannot leave. This living land remembers, touching you in unguarded moments, saying, "I am here. You are part of me." ~The Land Remembers

I've had some interesting conversations of late about the value of farm and ranch land.  You know, appraisals and stocking rates and profit margins.  All of that grown up, men in suits, business stuff.

And at the end of the day, it makes me just shake my head.  Don't get me wrong, ability to pay your bills is quite important.  But for those of us who have been fortunate enough to grow up on family farms and ranches, the value of that land we call home is so much more.

If someone were to look at our family's farm and try to put an appraised value on it, they would have no idea.

They wouldn't understand that the value of that land includes blood, sweat, and tears poured into that dirt for decades by three generations...The Baby from Texas will make four.  The banker wouldn't know that every tree, every fence, and every ditch has a story.  He never saw my grandpa planting a windbreak with his two young sons.  He doesn't know about the time my 7 year old cousin assured my dad she could drive the pick up home and crashed it into the middle section gate.  He's never heard kids screech with joy while swimming up and down an irrigation ditch while their parents set tubes. He doesn't know that my mom's bum knee occurred when a horse reared up and over on her in the lot in front of the barn or that my crooked finger came about helping my Gran move milk crates, or that my brother's discolored tooth occurred because of an unfortunate bike mechanic incident.  Other people don't have memories of feeding ducks in the pond or taking wedding pictures in a wheat field or spending the afternoon riding horses for hours.

From the outside, land looks like most any other.  You don't know the lessons it's taught.  The importance of family.  Horsemanship.  How to balance a checkbook.  Independence.  How to drive a tractor.  Work ethic.  How to pull twin lambs that are coming backwards and upside down.  The true meaning of the word sacrifice.

I wonder, sometimes, what my grandparents would think about the place now.  Was this what they envisioned when they started out almost 60 years ago?  I'd like to think so.  I'd like to think that it wasn't the profit potential, but the idea of their kids and grandkids and soon to be first great grandkid understanding the value of the land might have been what they were after all along.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sh*t No One Tells You About Being Pregnant (Part II)

We are back to continue on our series of sh*t no one tells you about being pregnant.  If you missed Part 1, click here.  Now, onward.

6.  Reactions to baby names will make you angry.

People really have no filter, for some reason, when it comes to pregnancy.  No matter what name you are considering--something common like Lane or something wacky like Apple--someone is going to respond by scrunching up their nose and saying, "Oh, I don't really like that."  I even had one friend who kept the baby's name a secret until after he was born, it was already on the birth certificate, and people still said they didn't like the name.  I mean, at that point, why wouldn't you lie and say "That's great" or "how cute" or something?  Bottom line here:  Unless you were involved in creating said baby, keep your mean opinions to yourself.

7.  Your insurance may cover the complete cost of a breast pump.

Had you told me a year ago that I'd be using the words "breast pump" on this blog, I'd have called you crazy.  What has happened??  Anyway, before you run out and start buying one, call your insurance company.  Most (if not may require all now) insurance companies cover these.  Mine, in fact, covered two of the brand everyone recommended and shipped them right to my house.  What brand would that be?  Medela.  Not to be confused with the beer Modelo, which is what Loud Oklahoma Girl swears she will be drinking as soon as she delivers her baby.  Ha! 

8.  Pregnancy is really just a major lesson in waiting.

I'm not a real patient person.  I'm sure this shocks no one.  But I'm here to tell you, for me, being pregnant has pretty  much been 8 months of holding my breath waiting for the next thing.  When you pee on the stick, you then have to wait like two months for an appointment.  After that appointment, you wait another two months to have the anatomy ultrasound.  You wait to show. If you do the genetic screening (see next point), you have to wait for the results and, if they look bad, you have to wait two more weeks for more accurate results.  There's waiting for registry completion discounts.  Waiting to feel him move.  Waiting for house additions to be done (that's just us).  Waiting to be far enough along that the baby can survive outside the womb.  Seriously, you just wait and grow.  That sums it up.

9.  Genetic screening tests are bullshit.  Yep, deserves another curse word here.

You read about our nerve wracking experience with this on this prior blog.  Here are some of my thoughts based on my experience.  First off, be sure you really understand exactly what you are agreeing to.  College Roomie's experience was much different than mine in that before they were offered the tests, they met with a counselor that explained the tests, how they worked, the chances of false positives, how follow up tests would be handled, etc. I think that would have made everything completely different for us.  Our pre-test conversation consisted of the lab tech asking if we wanted it, me asking if insurance covered it, her saying yes, me saying yes.  That was that.  So getting a call that said we "screened positive for Downs" was completely out of left field and terrifying.  Then, the fact that we had to do another test (an accurate one versus the crappy one we just did) and wait to weeks to get the results was terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  Additionally, we knew that no matter what those tests said, we would not be "terminating the pregnancy" (I hate that term), and because of that I wonder why I didn't think to say no.

Since hearing our story I've had several people tell me they opted out of the test.  Truthfully, I don't think I'd have it done with any future babies that may come our way.  For sure I would have the anatomy ultrasound looked at first and if it was normal, I probably would decline the tests.  At the very least, I'd be sure to be much, much more educated than I was.

10.  Feeling and then seeing that baby move in your belly is the creepiest and most awesome thing in the world.

There's really not much I can say to explain this further.  I don't know if all babies are as active as this one, but when people sitting across the room suddenly go, "Oh my gosh, what just happened to your stomach?!?" you know that you've got some solid movement going on.  He's all over the place all the time.

And now, some more of our weekly photos.

Week 21

Week 22

Week 23

Week 24

Week 25

Week 26
Week 27

Week 28

Week 29

Week 30

Week 31

Week 32

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


No, this is not a post on personal hygiene.  You are welcome.

The Baby from Texas has had three baby showers.  To say this little guy will be loved is a major understatement.  We have been shown so much love and support and excitement from everyone around us that we are just overwhelmed by it all!  Here are a few shots from the festivities.

To all of you who have showered us with events and gifts and sweets and prayers, we cannot thank you enough.  We are truly blessed.