Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I should really be mowing my lawn,

 or balancing the checkbook, or cleaning my kids' rooms.... It seems like there are lots of times I think about putting up a post, but then I get distracted, or decide I should do some real work instead of playing on the computer!! But I have a few minutes while Ben's at school and Alli's with her dad delivering seed to the field, so I thought I'd at least share a few photos of what we've been up to in the last 3 months or so. Here goes... in chronological order starting sometime in July:

Flowers in my back bed

 Scott in the corn.

Ben and Alli enjoying the Rosebud County Fair (the rides anyway)

Harvest in full swing (I think Haley is unloading with Scott assisting here...)

All four machines going round and round....

Ben making roads on his "farm". Actually he's keeping busy while I'm feeding the crew in the field.
A Star Wars shirt and a cowboy hat. What a kid.

Harvest dust + summer sunset = beautiful

Ben's 1st day of 1st grade

Alli's 1st day of Ben's 1st grade

The enigma of Montana weather: sunshine and blue skies just north
 of a ferocious thunderstorm and beautiful rainbow!

Alli packing her "wunch" to go with Dad

Adam really is pretty coordinated, he's putting his mouthguard in while running and.....

Makes a GREAT tackle!

Haley at the net...blocking it for a point.

Up and ready to block!

As usual, it's been pretty busy around here. We are in the throes of planting winter wheat and then get ready to ship calves on Sunday. One thing about our place: there's job security!

Friday, May 21, 2010

What We've been up to....

Haley's Track Meets

Star Wars and Light "Saver" battles
AI-ing Heifers

Watching the weather, snow on May 7th

Visiting Great-Grandma Sylvia (97) for Mother's Day

Grandma and Great Gram

Retirement Party for Dad in Helena, with all the siblings


Bucking Horse Parade with the Piper and two Dancers

A Play Day with friends Princess Maggie and Pirate Angus (incognito)

Is it any wonder we're all tuckered out?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Restless Reader

So here I am. I love to read. Mostly fiction, but I'll read almost anything, and have recently found I enjoy non-fiction more than I would have thought (strange but true for a former English teacher). But truly, my favorite is a good fiction story with strong characters, a strong plot, and a logical, but not predictable conclusion. I'm not asking for too much, am I?

I recently picked up a couple of books at the book store, and one had SUCH potential. But half way through, the language and R-rated scenes were a little much for me, that I had to put it down. I mean I've got a lot that I should be doing around here, and I have a hard enough time taking time out to read, but when it's garbage, I just can't do it, no matter how compelling the character.  And in my book, compelling characters lose that label when their clothes come off whenever the author can't think of any other way to develop a relationship between characters, be it familial or friendly, if you get my drift!

I think of all the books I read when I was a kid (from about 8 to about 16) and there were all kinds of books that fit that bill: Mrs. Mike, Tisha, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Black Stallion, and those are just the ones off the top of my head. Not to mention the classics: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, even The Bard could tell quite a story while the characters had their clothes on, if not their morality.... but at least he left it to suggestion. Whatever happened to the power of suggestion? Has it been over taken by obvious overtures?

I've tried all matter of "Christian" fiction... and I've found a couple of authors who can scratch the itch... Charles Martin and Lisa Samson are a couple that I've recently read that are authors who can develop good stories with great characters, while being stories about real people, not the "shiny, happy people" that I have found a little too sickly sweet for my taste.

My good friend The Farmer's Wife gave me a whole bagful of new books to try today, and she has pretty good taste in books for the most part (except that one C.S. Lewis books... what was that?????). So maybe I'll find somebody new that I like. My husband told me that maybe I needed to find another hobby. I hate to think that I'll have to give up one of my oldest and dearest interests.

If there's anyone out there who knows of some good, wholesome fiction, I'm all eyes!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Calving in the Snow

If you live anywhere within about 150 miles of Rock Springs, Montana, these images are probably pretty familiar to you. We have had quite the winter here in the middle of Eastern Montana. We've had days upon days of overcast skies and thick fog that makes the tree limbs look like sparkling arms and the branches look like fingers encrusted with diamonds.

I couldn't resist taking this picture of the wheel barrows, right near the garden. Looks like it will be a while before it's time to plant huh? At least there should be lots of good moisture to help the plants get sprouted when we actually get them in the ground. .

Here are some mule deer that are grazing near the stubble on a field across the creek. I was driving to Miles City the other day and I could see trails where the bucks had grouped together, and were plowing with their hooves and muzzles to get some sort of grass to eat under the cover of the 8-10 inches of snow. If I had to work like that to get something to eat, I'm guessing I wouldn't still have this spare 15 lbs

And so here we are. The middle of February and it's time to start calving. Our heifers are synchronized and AI-ed every Mother's Day weekend in May. That makes the due date somewhere around the 10th of February, and sometimes we have early arrivals around the 1st. This year was no exception. We had one calf arrive on January 30th. We get funny looks from people when we tell them we're busy calving, but when late March and early April hit, it's about time for us to get into the fields to start the spring planting. It usually works out pretty well. Many years we are running around in sweatshirts and jackets, slogging through mud to get to the corral in February. This year is a little different

I took these two pictures during the first week of calving, when it was in the teens and snowing. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'd enjoy getting ready to calve with a below zero wind chill and snow hitting me in the face.

After spending the first hour in the warmer, and the next 23-48 hours in the barn, the mommies and their newborns are shuffled outside to the small pen, where there's a shed for shelter, and lots of warm straw. We only put 5-6 at a time in this pen so the new moms can practice their matching skills. It's a little easier to keep track of their new calf when there are only 4-5 others to sort through. Then they get turned into what we call the "Triangle" pen. This pen is a little bigger with a calf-shelter and water tank and is next to the big pasture where they get turned out when they finally have the whole "mothering" thing figured out.

A calf checking out a salt block. It's a whole new world!

This mama wasn't really liking me wandering around snapping pictures of the fresh calves. She looks a little like one of the Hollywood moms coming after the paparazzi! Snorting, blowing snot, and pawing up the straw. Good thing there was a fence between us!

And here they are, out in the big, cold world.
On this particular day the sun was shining at it was about 17 degrees.

Today it's closer to 25, but it's overcast with snow that comes down for a while and then changes its mind. We are nearly done with the 1st cycle heifers, and then we will have about a week's break before the 2nd cyclers are due. We sold the heifers that were 3rd cyclers... getting up in the middle of the night for 2 solid months gets pretty old, and I only have to do it when Scott gets completely worn out. We have an extra hand this spring, so he takes the checks until midnight, and then Scott has the early morning shift. I'm the "on-call" checker, when everyone else is busy or elsewhere. We've been really fortunate and have only had a couple of tough pulls. Birth weights have been just about right, but it remains to be seen how they'll grow up by weaning time. We used a couple of new sires this year.

We were talking this morning about how we're going to handle the cows (3 year olds and up). Lots of times we bring the younger ones (3s and 4s) in and calve them through the corral when the weather gets bad. But we are not really set up to do the whole herd when we are getting 25 in a day. With the weather cold and snowy like this, the calves are in danger for respiratory damage due to the cold. And if it's really wet and miserable, even calves that are a couple of weeks old can get frozen down and die. I just checked the 8-14 day outlook and it says "Below normal temperatures and below normal precipitation". That means it' won't be 30-40 degrees, like we usually have this time of the year. Good thing our Iowan hired hand brought his snowmobile out... we might be using that to tag calves instead of the Ranger!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Club--February Installment

Ahh, yes. The long awaited evening of bookclub was tonight. Problem is, everyone is BUSY! We are in the middle of calving and colds, Scott with both and the kids and I with the latter. Rumor has it a couple of ladies were heading off to ski for the weekend, another was calving, and still another, home with a sick kiddo (which mostly came from my sick kiddo--sorry for that by the way!!).

So, it was a rather small-ish group tonight, gathered at Celestia's cozy home for a lovely chicken divan and book discussion.  Clara and Marisa journeyed South together with Everett, crackers and veggie dip, along with some tasty bread and the strawberry limeade which were the missing skiiers' contributions. I journeyed North, with a green salad, complete with green apples, bleu cheese, purple onion, craisins, sunflower seeds and spring greens with dressing of choice, and 3 bottles of wine: a chardonnay, white merlot, and moscato--because the calver hadn't been to town and didn't think she'd be going. Thelma went North and then came back South before going home, West, and brought a lovely raspberry-cream cheese pie for dessert. MMMMmmmm good! We actually discussed the book first, before diving into any food besides the appetizer.

Only two of the six gathered had actually had a chance to read the book, The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West, in its completion; the rest of us were between a quarter to half of the way done. I told you we were busy! But we all agreed that the characters were a lot of fun, and we all identified in one way or another with one of the children--most of us with Cordelia who really had no talent at anything, but at least she looked cute! We decided the mother was brave and resourceful, the dad kind of a putz, and the younger two sisters, kind of brats. No one knew quite what to make of the poltergeist, but the two who finished said it kind of worked itself out by the end of the story. Celestia described it as a "dense" book, meaning tough to get through because it was so full of rich description. It certainly wasn't a fast read! There was definitely a different pulse to our gathering this time. The crowd tonight was made up more of the quiet and wise ones, rather than the loud and animated ones (and we're smart too!). It was relaxing and enjoyable to be around a group of ladies who make a girl feel comfortable enough she can show up in sweats and no make-up, because it was one of those kind of days....

I had to leave a little early so I could get home and tend to the kiddos so the husband could get some rest, so it was kind of a short meeting for me. Next month is my pick for book club, and so I've been wrestling over my choice since September. Finding a book for book club is one of the most challenging processes I go through in a year. It has to be a good book. And by good, I mean not too deep, but not too light, not too sad, but not too happy, not too classic, but not too contemporary, not too secular, but not too spiritual.... you get my drift. It's a tough thing to do! On top of that, it goes without saying you have to find one that not everyone has already read... especially Mary!

 I did get a chance to unveil the new read for next month:

Last year, Mary lent me another book by this same author called The Passion of Mary Margaret. It was one of those books that left you thinking, "Hmmmmmm". But like I said, a person has to pick something that not everyone has read, and so I picked one this time, that not even I have read. I bought this up some months back with the intention to read it, in case it might be a good choice for book club. But not having time, and not having read anything else that really struck me that other people hadn't read, I decided to roll the dice. Hopefully, it will be worth our time and effort!

Now I'm excited to plan the menu! See you at my house next month, 2nd Thursday!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hook 'Em Horns!

    National Championship game is on tonight. Go Texas!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Plays, Programs and Pageants Galore!

When a person has kids, Christmas becomes a whole new season. And when they get old enough to go to school, another dimension is added, yet again....

Haley is our resident band and choir geek so she had a band and a choral concert before the Christmas break. She is a very talented musician, both vocally and instrumentally. She sings 2nd Soprano and is in the audition group Chanteurs which sang several times around town for the season. She also plays the flute and got to accompany the 7th grade choir at their vocal concert. Haley used her Glasscock charm to convince her very reluctant band instructor that their song "Carol of the Bells" was in pretty serious need of some actual bells to make it authentic. She found her way to the percussion section and composed a harmony part on the chimes, that added quite an effect at the Christmas band concert. She even got credit and accolades from her instructor... talk about a confidence builder! Haley's thinking she's ready to try her hand at a special number in church, so we need to see about that!

Adam too, got in the swing of things as he did his Christmas program for school and sang with the 5th grade chorus... he's not quite as excited about it as Haley is, but he too has a great ear and could be pretty talented if he'd give it a try. He did demonstrate his flair for the dramatic in his role as one of the 3 kings in the Sunday
School program at church. He looked very handsome in his jewel-toned red and blue costume and was quite the ham, especially when it came to the 3 wise guys sleeping out under the stars with their stuffed animals! It was a lot of fun to get to watch him perform. He really enjoyed it and told me he wished he'd have had more speaking parts (maybe because they kind of lip-synced to a sound-track)....

Benjamin was one of the Rascals in the play "Angels and Rascals" that the teacher at Cohagen and all of the students had a hand in writing. It was essentially about 2 rascals who tried to steal everything in sight from a grouchy woodsman (who smiled all the time), two neighborly young ladies who had cool horses, and 3 angels who saved Christmas just in the nick of time! It was a great story and the kids all did a great job and took their roles extremely seriously. Ben cracked me up, because he can be a bit of a clown, but for this play, he was ALL business, and was quite solemn and focused in order to get his entrances and lines down just so. The play was complete with the real Christmas story from the book of Luke and a visit from "Santa" and some old fashioned candy later in the evening. The whole community turned out for the play, or maybe all the finger foods following, I'm not sure which was the bigger draw.

Uno and Dos up to no good

Oh, No!

Angels here to save the day!

Contrite little fellows aren't they?

Check out that horse!

Cohagen Carolers!

Ben also participated in the church Sunday School program, as a sheep, but apparently he's getting to be a little old for ears and tails, as cute as they were! He did a great job with Away in a Manger, but wanted to get out of there, quick!!

Cute little critters aren't they?

And last, but not least was Miss Allison. She also got to participate in the Sunday School program. They let all the 2s and 3s get dressed up and bring the title of the play in, pose for oooohs, aaaahs, and pictures before they turn them loose into the audience. She, unlike her brother, relished the attention, surprise, surprise....

We were pretty proud parents as we watched our kids in their respective performances. I stayed home from the big kids' concerts because it was soo cold that week, and Benjamin had to be up early to get on the bus for school. That's one of the drawbacks about having the big kids in town and the small kids in the country... it's tough to get to everything. Scott is doing a great job, though and he got to take in all of it! It's been nice to have some down-time over Christmas break. Hard to believe kids go back to school on Monday!