Happy Birthday Russell!

This post is “re-cycled” from last year, however everything in it is still valid so I believe it bears repeating. I have “tweaked” it so the dates are correct.

Rick’s dad, Russell is having a birthday today.  He and our daughter Megan blew out the candles of his birthday cake together a few years ago.

Here is Russell and his brother Rodger on our trip to Indiana and Kentucky two years ago.  They are standing in front of the military memorial in their little town.  They both served in the Air Force and if you look closely you can see Russell’s name listed.

And here is a shot of Russell holding our son Alex.  That has been a few years ago!

Russell is one of the kindest, most likable people I know.  He truly has a gift for making friends wherever he goes.  Let me illustrate:  Several years ago after Russell retired, he came to work for our company to do some bookkeeping.  He managed several time-consuming tasks and was a real help to us.  One day when he was off I took over his business errands route; to the post office, bank, supply house, etc.  Every place I went people were looking past me to see “Where’s Russell?”  When I got to the bank I was in a hurry and went to the drive-thru instead of going inside like Russell did.  The bank teller came over to the drive-thru window with the standard question of the day “Where’s Russell?”  She had a bouquet of Chocolate Tootsie Pops for him and was so disappointed to see me instead.  I mentioned that I too appreciated Chocolate Tootsie Pops and would be happy to deliver them.  She politely declined and said she would give them directly to Russell herself (she must know about my chocolate addiction).  My point here is what I viewed as a list of annoying tasks to be completed as soon as possible so I could rush off to my next thing to do, Russell viewed as an opportunity to make friends and visit with them.  And people love him;  the more people I meet in life the more I think that trait is a rare gift.  Seriously folks – when is the last time the bank teller had a single Tootsie Pop especially for you, much less a whole handful?

I have been a part of Russell’s family for 33 years, and I can honestly say that from the first moment I met him he has made me feel welcome.  I have appreciated that so much over the years.  He is a great role model for my children and the rest of our family.

So, Happy Birthday Russell!  Though I can’t be there with you in person, I am thinking of you and sending you best wishes.

Did I mention that Russell is 81 years old today?  An accomplishment in itself!

Construction Zone

I feel like I am living in a construction zone. Everywhere you look on the ranch right now something is in the process of being built. This is the slab the guys poured yesterday in front of the cattle squeeze.

In this cement pour they also did the base for another heated water trough stand. We are really trying to avoid hauling water to the animals this winter.

Those trough stands get lots of rebar reinforcements so they can hold up to the rough treatment the cattle will give them.  Bovines seem to think anything in their reach is a rubbing post – and an 1,100 pound critter can tear up something flimsy pretty quickly. So we really try to build things strong and sturdy. Our goal when we build something is that it lasts for 30 years – we figure after that it is someone else’s problem!

The roofers started putting a new roof on our little mobile home today. The old one was only 18 years old and had moss growing on it – but they said it was time for a new one anyway. Why is it roofers never wear shirts?? Do they not know about skin cancer?

There are stacks of building materials in every pasture just waiting for someone to get to them.

Some big stacks and some small, depending on the project they are intended for.

Here are the two support posts for the next covered cattle feeder. When it is raining and / or snowing this winter we want the cows to still have nice dry hay available.

And we are still working on putting water and electric lines in to the pastures too. Some of the ditches are done and covered, and now they have moved on to the new locations. We really are making progress though it sometimes doesn’t seem that way when all you can see are ditches and more ditches.

All of these projects have one thing in common – they need to be finished before winter. So far, the weather is cooperating and the days have been warm, sunny and beautiful.

But the vine maples are beginning to show their fall colors and when I walked down the gravel road out to the pasture yesterday I saw leaves already fallen.

It was 34 degrees last night, so we need to keep moving along, because winter will come whether we are ready or not. And we want to be ready!

A Long Dry Spell

It’s been 43 days – and counting – since we’ve had rain around here; the 3rd longest dry spell on record. Not what we are used to at all and it’s caused something we hardly ever see, dust. Look how dry it is with the dogs running and playing.

No, you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you – there are three dogs in the picture. Our two and our friend John has a heeler too. Waylon is really just an overgrown puppy and loves to play.

I don’t believe I really care for it being so dry – but compared to what the folks in other parts of the country are experiencing, we have it easy. This is what the grass we planted this spring in our upper pasture looks like now. Crispy.

Luckily we have plenty of pasture for our cattle that is lush and green.

Our leased summer pasture sits between the confluence of two rivers. Think of a “Y” and the field is in the middle. The underground aquifer is very high and keeps the grass green even in these dry conditions.

It’s dry here, but we are grateful we have grass for our herd. And I’m looking forward to rain.