Snow Days

We have had quite a snowy couple of weeks.  Most of the time we have stayed right here at our little ranch taking care of our critters, enjoying our wood stove and watching the snow fall from inside our snug little house.

We got a call from a couple of our neighbors that they needed to have their driveways cleared, and Rick had promised to clear the church parking lot so we did have to venture out.  The snow was hanging low on the tree branches lining our driveway. We had to knock the snow off to get to the gate.

The roads were still a mess so we were glad we had the tractor. The main roads around here are plowed, but not the road we live on.

Before he started clearing snow, Rick filled up the tractor at our local gas station.

And while we were there, he got extra diesel for the tractor and more fuel for our generator too – just in case.  It is best to be prepared when you live in the sticks in a snowstorm.

I thought the sign on the side of the gas pump was quite accurate.

The buildings around town, including the post office, were covered in snow.

After Rick was done clearing snow from the driveways and parking lots, we came back home just in time to see the sun breaking through the clouds for a  few brief minutes.

I have decided the snow makes for some beautiful scenery and pictures, but I’m not going to be sad to see it go.

That’s Entertainment

The snow from last week’s storm  is still on the ground here.  We got about 24 inches total and still have 10 inches or so hanging on.  Now that it has rained and thawed a little it is pretty much a slushy mess.  It was truly beautiful though.

During our “snow event” (doesn’t that sound official? That’s what the local weatherman called it)  one of our calves um . . . shall we say “fouled” the water trough.  Why that calf had his or her hind end aimed at the trough I don’t know; they are supposed to be drinking at the trough with their backsides pointed away so that shouldn’t be a problem.  Apparently not. Anyway, the cattle would not drink the water in the trough (with good reason).  You remember the water trough that is filled by the rain off the shed roof?

The water trough holds approximately 425 gallons and it had to be drained, cleaned and refilled.  You may also remember we have no water line out to that pasture yet, so if the rain doesn’t fill the trough we have to haul water in a 55 gallon barrel on the tractor bucket.

Since it was snowing and not raining we had to haul all of the water to clean and refill the trough.  I’m sure some of you math whizzes will figure out exactly how many trips this took.  To tell you the truth, I kind of lost count – but it was a lot of trips and a long time.

While all this back and forth and cleaning and refilling was going on, a couple of the calves made a discovery.   Though it wasn’t raining, a bit of the  snow on the roof had melted and a little trickle of water was dripping down out of the rain spout.

And these two calves were determined to make the most of that little trickle of water.

At first the two of them enjoyed the water, but then one got bored and wandered off.  The second calf, #46, stayed and played for a long time.  He started by just holding his head up to the stream of water and letting it run all over his chin.

Then he progressed to catching it on his tongue.

And soon he was trying his best to get his whole tongue up the spout. Lucky for the rest of the herd he couldn’t quite reach it.

Calf #46 quite enjoyed his trickle of water; it was really pretty entertaining to watch him.  It takes a long time for all the water to drain out of the barrel, and standing in the cold with snow up to your knees is not really my favorite way to spend my time so I appreciated the distraction.  Obviously it doesn’t take much to entertain some people.

Let It Snow!

When our daughter was here at Christmas she kept hoping it would snow, but alas she got only sunshine.  NOW we have the snow she wished for – and lots of it.

Well, maybe not quite as much snow as the picture above would indicate.

Our TV and Internet connections are both satellite – we do live in the sticks you know – and they both stopped working Tuesday evening. When we went out to check the dishes we understood why.

So Rick got out the ladder and climbed up to clear them both off.

We spend a lot of our time taking care of the animals.  The cattle water troughs  freeze over and we have to break up the ice so they can drink.

The animals really don’t seem too concerned about the snowy weather. The younger calves are running around playing in the snow and the dogs have joined them.

Mildred decided the dead-standing tree would make a great scratching post.

Everyone needs a good scratch – even in a snow storm.

Grizzly is enjoying his romps through the snow too.

The roads and travel are terrible up and down the valley.  Schools and most businesses have been closed for the past few days. So, we are staying home, taking care of our animals and glad we have a warm, cozy little house with a good woodstove.

Snow Day

We had over six inches of fresh powder on the ground this morning.  As we were outside feeding the animals, enjoying the beautiful scenery and diligently taking pictures to share with you folks, this is what I see in my viewfinder.

The husband of my youth (and his) has just launched a snowball at me when I was defenseless behind my camera.  Unlike me, he can actually hit what he is aiming at so of course he was right on target.  I just wanted you all to know the things I have to deal with around here to bring you these pictures.  It’s a tough job!  I posted more snow pictures here on our beef sales website if you want to see.

Barrel in the Bucket

The Christmas Gift our ranch received this year is a shiny new tractor.

I may have mentioned 10 or 20 times before that our very generous favorite neighbors, Roger and Melanie, have allowed us to use their tractor for the past couple of years.

It has saved us (and our backs) countless hours of labor and we truly appreciate it.  We’ve used it for lots of things, including some which probably aren’t in the tractor manual.

Though it seemed to be quite to her liking.

You can’t take advantage of your neighbor’s generosity forever though, and the time has come to turn our rocky ground into lush, green pastures with straight, strong fences for our cattle.  To do that you need implements, lots of implements.  To use implements you need a tractor.

It is kind of funny to me that when we first bought this ranch five years ago Rick said “We will need lots of equipment.”  I said “What would be possibly need equipment for?”  What was I thinking?  You need lots of equipment.

So, we got a tractor and implements to do the jobs we need to turn our ground into pasture.  An added bonus is you can use the tractor for other things too.

Remember our watering system for the cattle?

It works great as long as it rains – which it does pretty often here.  We’ve had a few weeks of unseasonably dry weather though, so then we have to use our backup plan.

We load a 55 gallon barrel into the bucket and fill it with water.

Drive the tractor down the pasture, raise the bucket and open the valve to fill the cattle trough.

The gravity feed works pretty well.

It’s not the best system ever, we do plan to put in a water line this summer, but in the meantime it works.

A Year in Review – Part ll

In June the days were warm and sunny under the snow-capped peaks. Here Alex is taking a water break after working on fencing with our 1961 Scout. 

It was also time for outdoor cooking and dining.  We had some memorable meals cooked over the open fire grill under the Gazebo that included this one of our own grass fed beef hamburgers, potatoes in foil and Rick’s favorite (NOT) asparagus.

July brought our first crop of raspberries from our very own bushes. MMM good!

July also had some very cool cloud formations and sunsets.  We may have  had some great looking sunrises as well, but I wouldn’t know as I don’t do mornings.

August was one of the driest months we’ve had here.  For us dry weather means more fencing and I did my share. And yes, folks – the fences we build are level and straight!

Our first crop of apples from our own trees were ripening in the August sun. I made an apple pie from them and it was delicious!

September was time to make sure that we had plenty of dry firewood split and stacked for the coming winter.

Also in September it was time to start building a cattle shed so the bovines  would have protection from the wet winter weather.

October brought beautiful fall foliage to the ranch. The vine maple colors  are vibrant in the sun.

The fall sunshine was perfect for our cranky cat Patches to groom herself on the shelf overlooking the chicken yard.  She loves to lay up there and look down on the chickens.

Also in October there were some beautiful fall days with the mountains peaking out from the clouds.

November had another critter in the spotlight.  Our little calf Millie was expecting a treat – she loves alfalfa cubes – and all I did was take her picture.

Just before Thanksgiving the sunshine gave way to snow.  The snow didn’t keep Rick from taking the dogs on their daily walk.

December was filled with visitors and sunshine. The heifers wanted Megan to hand over the treats.

And finally, December brought the arrival of our much anticipated new tractor.

So there you have it folks – a photo journey through the year here at the ranch.

2011: A Year in Review – Part 1

As I put away my tattered 2011 calendar, I looked back over the entries from this past year. It was a busy one for us! Last year was a time of personal milestones and change for our family.  Our daughter graduated from college in May.

And also in May our son completed his enlistment in the Marine Reserves. Here he is with his mom in his dress blues just after he completed boot camp in 2007.

After his service was complete, he moved to Washington.  He stayed with us here on the ranch for a couple months before he got his own place.  It was nice to have him here and it gave him time to soak up some of the ranch ambiance and culture – like driving vehicles the same age as his parents.

Then in August our daughter married Brandon, her college sweetheart.

 It still is a little hard to believe our baby is old enough to be a married woman.

As I looked back over my journal entries I realized a lot of other things had gone on here at the ranch this past year as well.  So, I’ve decided to show you a year in pictures – two for each month which was really hard to narrow down.

January brought snow to our little town and this caboose that in the summer months is a BBQ restaurant.

After the snow melted in January a crew arrived to install some fencing.  I believe those could become my favorite words – a crew installed fencing – someone besides us building a fence!

In February we got two Tamworth pigs to round out our menagerie. Those pigs are in the freezer now and boy are they delicious!

Our cattle found a little grass for grazing under the snow-capped peaks in February though they were still mostly on hay.

March brought more snow to our neck of the woods.

And it was really nice to have our favorite neighbor’s (Roger and Melanie) tractor to deal with the snow.  Some of the critters looked like they had had enough of the snow and winter in general by this time, and most people around  here agreed; it was a long, cold, wet spring.

By April it seemed spring had finally arrived. After our long winter the daffodils were a welcome sight.

Weather dry enough to work in brought . . . you guessed it – more fencing! Where is that crew when we need them?

May was time for a new batch of chicks. The old girls were not laying as much anymore and we love our fresh eggs. These little gold chicks are now lively laying hens producing eight to ten eggs a day.

The warm May weather was perfect for Rick and Alex to get all the big rocks out of the orchard.  Then we smoothed it up and planted clover and it looks great.

And that is the first part of 2011.  To be continued.