Corn Maze with Friends

Sometimes we do fun things.  One of my favorite things about this blog is going back through all the pictures and stories to see that we actually do have good experiences as a family.  It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else seems to be doing, according to their Facebook or Instagram accounts, and feel like we don’t lead very exciting or fulfilling lives.  Even though I know in my head that all of these extra things do not make or break a family, sometimes I have a hard time feeling that truth in my heart.  So I like the visual record of the many fun things we do do 🙂 as a family.

The weekend before Halloween we went with our new friends, the Bergquists to a corn maze and had the funnest time.  I should say new friends to me, Henley, and Becca, Ty and Michael went to high school together and I was so excited to realize that Ty actually likes Michael who just so happens to be married to Casandra with whom I get along quite well.  Another plus, Michael and Casandra have two daughters…who just so happen to be the exact same age as our two daughters…Now when does that happen!?

We’re rebels who picked ears of corn to shell as we walked through the maze…Luckily the owners didn’t kick us out for breaking the rules.

Henley and Lucy, her new friend, had a blast running through the child-sized straw bale maze.

They held hands throughout the whole thing and went through it five times.

Two other fun attractions at the corn maze were a cow-train pulled by a tractor and a zipline.  Henley absolutely lost her marbles over riding on the cow train.  She cried the entire time.  Lucy, on the other hand, loved it and couldn’t wait for another turn.  Henley rode the zipline over and over again, even though it was high and nearly gave me a heart attack to watch her sailing, all by herself, ten feet in the air.  Lucy was all set to go down the zipline but lost her nerve at the last second and had to climb down.  At least each girl found her own favorite activity.

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Who Likes a Challenge?

One of my older sisters–I have four older sisters–asked me awhile ago what I like about exercising.  You see, she and I have started our ow mini-accountability group where we cheer each other on regarding our fitness and healthy eating goals, and she actually likes to workout.  I don’t.  I don’t like “the burn.”  I don’t like how long it takes to get ready after jumping around and sweating for half an hour.  I don’t like wheezing for air when the cardio gets intense.  I don’t like waking up the next day with sore muscles.

As I explained all these reasons to my sister she was so utterly befuddled by my angst towards exercise.  “But don’t you feel so accomplished after you’ve completed a hard workout??”  Nope, I feel sweaty and gross.  “But don’t you like the feeling of getting stronger?”  Nope, I feel sore muscles.  “Well…I’m not sure what to say to help motivate you then!”  Sorry, I workout because I know it’s good for my body, not because I enjoy it.

Fast forward a few days and this same older sister and I are talking about the books we are reading.  I’m currently halfway through The Iliad and actually enjoying it.  My sister was again befuddled by me.  Yes, The Iliad is a very difficult book to read, and a bit confusing.  It’s taken me three weeks to read 150 pages.  Despite having to re-read many, many passages and my very slow progress in this book, I am loving the experience!  I feel so accomplished and like I’m really stretching my mental capabilities.

So there you have it.  I’m a certified nerd.  I get a sense of accomplishment and pride from reading classic literature not from working out and physical fitness.  But hey, at least I’m working out, right?

Outdoor Stove

My husband never stops surprising me with his ideas.  He watched a video recently of a family in Ireland that built an outdoor stove out of an old metal barrel and used it to cook pizzas.  While most people would watch a video like that and think “oh, cool” Ty thinks “I can do that, and I can do it better.”

Official photographers of this endeavor.  Please don’t look too close at my nose.  I’ve had a cold and now that it’s gone I have a cold sore.  Cold sores hurt but almost worse than that, they look awful.  You just looked at my nose, didn’t you?
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Here they are digging the hole for the stove.  The idea is to place the stove into a hillside, shore up the sides with rocks, and cover with dirt.  This insulates the stove and allows it to trap enough heat to bake something like a pizza.

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Here the are moving out the concrete slab which makes the base of the stove.

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Getting the stove into position before covering it with rocks and dirt.IMG_0565

Brief interruption for a picture of these cute girls!  Henley loved wearing a hat just like Aunt Lexcie who she loves.  Like absolutely adores.  Like she cries whenever she has to leave Lexcie.

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The final step of shoveling the dirt!  All we need now is to test it out!

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Trip to Hell’s Canyon

Mr. Rancher, the Little Miss, and I took a drive up to see Brownlee, Oxbow and Hell’s Canyon dams.  The three dams are place along about 40 miles of the Snake River.  We packed a lunch, my camera, Ty’s binoculars, and Henley’s baby and drove two-ish hours to Hell’s Canyon, which is the furthest from our house.  Henley did not cooperate with our plan to have her sleep the whole way to the dam and woke up just before Brownlee with another hour to go.  She was a grumpy bear the rest of the trip.  We never got my camera or Ty’s binoculars out as we were busy wrangling a tantrum-throwing, fearless toddler away from the river.  That child has no fear!

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Don’t be fooled by the cute pictures (taken with my phone rather than my nice camera I hauled up there.)  Her little arms aren’t around my neck in a hug, they are reaching for my ponytail to give it a nice yank.

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Ty is so fun.  He helped Henley touch the water over and over again to keep her happy.

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After an hour of exploring and eating lunch, well, Ty and I ate lunch, Henley just threw her food on the ground, we loaded back into the car and drove home.  Wouldn’t you know Henley slept the whole way home?IMG_0402

C-sections and Little Bulls

Just when I think I’ve mastered the art of being a rancher’s wife, some heifer needs a medical procedure of sorts and I have to help.

Last week, Ty noticed one of our first-calf heifers off her feed and decided to bring her in to her own pen where we could monitor her more closely.  The vet told Ty on the phone that her lack of appetite could be from any number of things including the discomfort of pregnancy.  We like our local vets, but this advice was less than helpful.  After a few days the heifer started eating again and seemed to be doing well.  Until yesterday.

Mr. Rancher and Tanner noticed she was laying down when they went to feed yesterday morning, and she didn’t get up to eat or drink.  They kept an eye on her all day but she still wouldn’t move even with the help of a cow-hip-lifter-thingy.  Ty called me to fill me in on her condition and asked for my opinion of what we should do.  I love that even though he is well aware of my pitiful knowledge of livestock, he still asks for advice concerning the ranch.  I told him to do whatever he thinks is best and that I was sorry she wasn’t doing better.  Another example of less than helpful advice.  Mr. Rancher called me back a little later to explain our two options.  Option one: we wait for her to die on her own and lose both the heifer and her calf.  Option two: we put her down ourselves, deliver the calf c-section, and possibly save the calf.  Both options were equally discouraging and frustrating.  Ty decided to give her a little more time before doing anything drastic.

When we made it out to feed today, she was still down and her eyes were starting to sink back into her head.  Ty told me we needed to put her out of her misery and try to get her calf out alive.  I had an appointment with a friend for a Mary Kay consultation (Yay!) but promised to help with the surgery when I got back.  We finished feeding, I went and played with make-up while Ty took Henley home for a snack and a nap, and we left the heifer with food and water nearby just in case, by some miracle, she picked back up.

A couple hours later, after dropping Henley off with Aunt Lexcie, we made it back to our troublesome heifer.  She still hadn’t touched her feed or water and was starting to cough faint, death-is-near coughs.  We made the tough and repulsive decision to shoot her and deliver her calf c-section.  Ty got the chains ready to pull the calf, pulled out his knife and checked to make sure it was sharp, and I walked away and covered my ears.

After the shot was fired, Ty went into super-speed to get the calf out as soon as possible.  I stood close by, ready to grab the knife or pull a leg or put the chains on.  Several eternal minutes later we had the slimy calf out of its dead mother and were shaking it, wildly and upside down trying to get it breathing.  We managed to get the chain around its hind legs hoisted onto the tractor forks which made our shaking efforts a bit easier.  Once we had the calf breathing we grabbed some towels and went to work drying it off.  The little bull calf was still struggling to really get breathing on his own so Mr. Rancher gave him mouth-to-mouth.  Watching my husband make the split-second decision to go mouth-to-mouth with a newborn calf without any amount of hesitation or disgust showed me just how committed and passionate he is about caring for our livestock.

Once little bull was dry, we loaded him in the pick-up and drove home.  We set up a cardboard box, lined with old carpet, in our mud room.  Little bull is sleeping there tonight.  He drank some colostrum Lexcie saved from her dairy cows last year and his breathing has steadied from this afternoon.  It’ll be a miracle if he survives but we are hopeful.

Mr. Bo is utterly offended and disgusted that a calf has taken over his room of the house.  Henley likes peeking over the edge of the box to look at the “moo.”  I’m tired and a little bit emotional about what I witnessed today.  Mr. Rancher is very practical about the whole thing and goes to the mud room every so often to rub little bull’s head and tell him how important it is that he lives.

Some of you reading may wonder why we didn’t just take the heifer in to the vet and have the calf surgically birthed with the mother still living.  Quite simply, she most likely would’ve died anyway.  Even with the expertise and qualifications of the wonderful vets in our area, the heifer had been sick and under stress for several days and going through such a major surgery was not likely to make her better. When you have over a hundred head of cattle, you learn to do things yourself and you learn to make tough decisions on the fly.  I can’t believe it but today I assisted in a bovine Cesarean-section!

Not on my bucket list, but definitely an experience to remember.

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Mouse in the House

There’s a mouse in my house!  Lot’s of mice actually.  So far, I’ve caught two of the little nasty buggers.  It has been tricky finding places for all the traps what with the little Miss crawling and toddling all over the place.  I’m desperate to catch the creatures as they’ve found their way into my kitchen, my pantry, my towels, and I’m sure many other places yet to be discovered.  Mr. Rancher washed out our cattle trailer while I scrubbed down the pantry shelves yesterday.  Who do you think had the nastier job?

Books and Pictures

Henley loves this book!  It could be the bright colors and easy-turn pages that draw her attention, but I think it’s the noise she likes the best.  Each page has a flap to turn and when said flap is turned an animal trumpets, roars, or otherwise makes noise.  She looooooooves it!  IMG_2892

And I love taking pictures of her reading.  I am so determined to have nerdy-book-loving children and I want photographic evidence of the journey.

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On an average day, we read our noisy animal book four times.  Maybe even five times.  Who’s counting?

Well, technically I am.  I love reading to my baby.  I don’t love squawking like a parrot four or five times a day.

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Evening Outside

Henley and I spent a fun evening outside, just the two of us, with the chickens and Bo.  Yes, we have chickens at our house.  Not our birds but Henley wishes they were!  She loves to watch them wander through our yard and tries to chase them as they peck their way around our blanket.IMG_2798

She’s still my camera-loving baby and is happy to pose anytime I get it out!IMG_2816

In the last week she’s started fake-laughing at basically anything.  I get a lot of fake-pity-laughs during the day.  Apparently she doesn’t really think I’m funny.IMG_2817

This is a picture of one of those fleeting moments when she sits still enough for a kiss…She is a mover and way too busy getting into EVERYTHING to be snuggled.  But we love her, and have learned how to keep her out of the most important things.
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A Word about Pinterest

I’m not much for online ranting, but I just have to tell you how I feel about Pinterest.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest as much as the next person.  So many of the projects, workout programs, and recipes look awesome and inspire me to try new things.  Right there with my love of Pinterest though is a certain degree of annoyance.  Just today I’ve seen projects saying “have some old drawers lying around, make this awesome book-shelf!”

Who has drawers just lying around???

Who has drawers just lying around that aren’t being used???

Who has drawers just lying around that are nice enough to be re-purposed into something presentable???

Seriously, who are these people?!  A few of the projects I’ve seen pinned would cost me more money to find the crappy, beat-up, old piece of furniture and the tools needed to re-make it than it would to buy a similar, rustic-looking piece online.  It makes me laugh when I see pins that promise to be “so easy” and “affordable.”  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

And this, my friends, is largely why my house is not decorated with all sorts of cutsey things.  I haven’t got the patience, darn it!

(Or a supply of junk that can be re-purposed.)

I still love ya, Pinterest, it’s just that sometimes you make me laugh.

Living with Intention

As I was driving out to help Ty feed the cows today, I heard something on the radio that really resonated with me and my life as of late.  The DJ spoke about the recent passing of her father-in-law and the impact his death has had on her mother-in-law.  This woman has become much more reflective and introspective about her life and what she has accomplished.  She says that while she has done many things and accomplished many goals in her life, she feels like she hasn’t really lived.  She’s completed an unknown number of to-do lists but she doesn’t feel that she’s fulfilled much of a purpose in her 80-plus years of living.  “There is a difference between swimming and just treading water.”  How very true that is.

This radio discussion got me thinking.  Am I just treading water?  Am I really living?  Is my only accomplishment finishing a to-do list?  Whew.  Pretty tough questions.  Especially for me, a habitual list-maker.

I can honestly say that during December and most of January I was just treading water.  The incredible changes that come with having a baby would probably have been enough to slow me down, but we had a bit more to deal with than just that.  Henley’s heart problem added an overwhelming amount of strain and pressure on me, Mr. Rancher, and our families.  Learning how to care for her and finding the balance between enough awareness and worry about her health has been a process, that I’m still not perfect at yet.  But things have slowed down.  Henley is doing very, very well.  We don’t see the doctor every week anymore.  I’m healed from my c-section.  Life is normal again.

So shouldn’t I be swimming again?  Metaphorically, of course!  As a compulsive planner, I like to have goals for myself.  I know I am much more effective when I have a plan and try live on purpose.  Rather than just waking up and seeing where my day takes me, I like to make my day work for me.  I like to live with intention.  I must admit though, I haven’t been doing a very good job of this lately.  I’ve been sitting back and letting my life happen to me rather than living it for myself.  And I wonder why I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with everything I have to do?!

It comes down to this, we all need to live intentionally.  Live on purpose.  Actively pursue our goals.  Life is not passive and it will pass you by if you let it.  I’m certainly not saying that we have to be going and doing every second of the day.  It’s just as important to take time for reflection, to spend time with our own thoughts, to watch the clouds, to notice the brilliant colors of nature.  However, introspection and meditation is vastly different from spending four hours watching television, Facebooking, pinning Pinterest pins, or playing video games.  Maybe I’m unique in this, but when I don’t set goals for myself, when I don’t live with intention, I usually wind up spending way too much time watching TV or on the computer.  Other things that are important to me get neglected and I get to the end of my day not knowing how I accomplished so little and still feel so tired!

Life should be about more than just making to-do lists.  At the same time, to-do lists can be very effective tools for accomplishing tasks.  I suppose the key is to know what you want out of life and determine whether your goals, daily activities, and to-do lists are helping you to get there.  For example, the very most important thing to me is my family.  More specifically, Henley.  If I say that raising Henley to be an intelligent, happy, honest, faithful, kind, productive human being, but let things like doing the dishes or folding laundry or watching TV over-take my time to spend with her, I am not accomplishing my goal.  A list of things to get done should never take precedence over a person to be loved.

Please don’t think I’m condemning housework, Facebook, TV, or even nap-time for adults.  I like all of these things!  What I am condemning is passive living.  Sit down and watch your favorite TV show, it’s an excellent way to decompress and relax.  Just be sure you get back up from the couch and continue on with your day!

There are definitely times in life when all we can do is tread water.  Times when it’s all we can do to get up out of bed and face the day ahead of us.  These days, weeks, months happen and it’s okay.

All the other time in our life should be spent in living to our fullest potential.  I’m recommitting myself to finding the joy, beauty, and fun in my life.  I don’t want to look back and say “well, I guess I made it through my life.”  I want to look back and see a legacy of hard-work, happiness, accomplishments, relationships, fun, and growth.

Have a wonderful weekend, readers!  Thanks for letting me be part of your day.