Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As you know lambing was a very busy time of year for us. It's a relief that we only have eight pregnant ewes left. Yippee!

During lambing the herders work from sun up to sun down and often past that. They sometimes take a lunch break, never take a nap, probably forget to drink water and I know they just dread cooking dinner for themselves after a long, hard day.

My mother-in-law and I try and help here and there. She sends over fresh bread and other foods and I've gotten really good at sending over some warm pasta for them to eat.

Our dearest friends Kennie and Angie had a great idea earlier this year. Kennie's family are original homesteaders in the area and they know all about tradition. His grandmother cooked for a fellow sheep rancher's crew during lambing season for many years. After hearing about how tired and how hard they worked during lambing season she wanted to do something that would lift their spirits. Each year their workers looked forward to her meal.

Kennie and Angie wanted to do this for us and start a new tradition here at our ranch. We, of course loved the idea.

They came and made the most delicious beef tacos, rice, fresh lemonade and pie. All six of our workers thoroughly enjoyed it and went back for seconds and thirds. We didn't partake in all of the goodness, we wanted the workers to enjoy every bit of it. J and I did manage share a taco after everyone was done. Yummy!

It's great to have the support from our community and friends and I know our workers were very grateful for the nice meal.

This is just one example of all the love this small town gives. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
We are so blessed and very lucky to have many people like them in our lives.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Trailing with the babies.

We moved some babies and mamas to the "Windmill" where they will stay for a few weeks.

J, Morgan and I worked on that water tank a few weeks back.

We patched it up and got it ready for the sheep!

This trailing adventure was physically demanding.
I vlogged a bit for you too.

When we were done my in-laws said that compared to past years, this move actually went smoothly. I do NOT want to be around when things go badly.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Someone thinks I'm lovely.

Life as Topher's Mama awarded me with the:

No. I did not pay her.
Gin, it was awesome to come back from my trip to my first Blogger Award! 
Thank you! 

I have been following Life as Topher's Mama for a few months now however, we've been in the same social circle for about 7 years and didn't even know it! Topher's Mama will be making an appearance on City Life to Ranching Wife soon! Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime hop on over there and read her blog for a good laugh, inspiration and fun daily reading.

By accepting this award you promise to do the following:
1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award
2. Share 7 random things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs.
4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.

7 Random things about me.

1. I can and have (many times) eaten a box of croutons as if they were chips. 
Not just any croutons, they must be Mrs. Cubbison's croutons.
*I admit - I stole this from Google images.

2. My fear of failure hinders me from attempting a lot of things.

3. I will spend my last dollar on a plane ticket to anywhere. 

4. The first thing I put on after a shower are a clean pair of socks. 

5. I open doorknobs with my shirt. 
Can you say germaphobe?!

6. I have an insane case of paranoia. If people whisper I always think they are talking about me. Always.

7. I laugh at all of my jokes. 
I might just be the only person in the world that thinks I'm funny. Oh well!

Here are 15 blog favs.

The Unlikely Mom will make your heart smile.

Read stories from The FarmWife Project at Vermillion Farms.

Casey and Chuck's devotion to each other is amazing. She talks about their struggle with infertility at align my heart, my body, my mind.

Collette's writing is very honest. Her blog is Little Lion's Life.

Andi's fashion sense rocks. Saltwater Dreams inspires me to look my best!

Love JaeBird Designs!

It's a Small Town Life! This is a lady I want to get to know better. I'm a new follower to her blog, but am thoroughly enjoying it! 

Just Dandy makes me laugh out loud. Her blog is just d and y

I wish I had just a smidge of Creative Kismet's creativity. 

You Are My Fave is a fun blog.

Aprons and A-Lines is most definitely lovely. I attribute my loveliness to her! She designed my header! 

The South Dakota Cowgirl's photography is breathtaking.

Crystal Cattle is doing a great job telling the ranching/farming story!

Marisa cracks me up at I failed math.

Want to learn more about the dreams and struggles of ranching? Read At The Fence.

Wordless Wednesdays - The Mountain

This definitely isn't sheep related, but I loved this video and wanted to share!
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mutton Mondays - Predators and Guardians

Sheep are pretty defenseless. Sad to say, but it's true.

Their only means of defense is staying together in a large herd and even then that's pretty pathetic. In a situation like that you are just hoping the predator goes for the sheep next to you. They probably don't make eye contact, try to suck it in to look unappetizing. You get the picture...

Coyotes, bear and mountain lion are our biggest problem. Many nights you hear the coyotes howling out in the field. A few seconds later you can hear the dogs barking and then their barks fade off into the distance. That is when I say a little prayer and ask God to watch over our hard working dogs.
Bear are a problem for us when we are up in the summer range. It would be nice if bear only stuck to nuts and berries, but they do not.

They eat our lamb and often several of them in one night. In the video that J made below at 3:33 our herder is stitching up a ewe that was attacked by a bear the night prior. I believe we lost one or two sheep that night. Doesn't sound like much, but that night we were lucky.

The dogs do the best they can with the bear and mountain lions but there are only so many fights our dogs will win.

Recently our state representative tried to pass a bill that would repeal the limits that a 1992 initiative placed and give the Wildlife Commission and Colorado Division of Wildlife the authority to change black bear hunting restrictions based on wildlife biology and game management practices, not legislative mandates. Unfortunately, this bill died. As a sheep rancher's wife we are hoping this bill has better luck the next time around.

I can't take any of the credit for keeping our sheep safe from predators. 
The credit belongs to our hard working herders and our fearless guard dogs; Tank, Scout, Joe, Wito, Embre and Gringo.

Just this past week we've lost four lambs to coyotes. Unfortunately, there is no real solution to our predator problems, the guard dogs are our best hope.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sheep in his Sleep.

I probably don't need to state the obvious, but I'm going to.

J is tired these days.
Very tired.

He comes in about 8:30, scarfs down dinner, sometimes takes a shower (gross, I know) and hits the hay. Since he's so tired he's picked up a new habit which Jigs and I don't appreciate. Snoring.

On top of the snoring he carries on full conversations with me in his sleep about....yup, you guessed it - SHEEP! Mama sheep to be exact.

Here are a few of our recent "conversations".

Me - "Goodnight, bubba."
J - "Get the nipple."
Me - "Huh?"
J - "The nipple. It's on top of the shelf. We need it for mama."

Me - "I put a new blanket on the bed, are you warm enough?"
J - "It's a mama out in the field."
Me - "J, you are taking in your sleep again?"
J - "No. The mama. She is out in the field. We just put her there."

Me - "Goodnight, bubba."
J - "Goodnight, mama."

Can't make this stuff up if I tried.

My people.

I'm back!
It's amazing how disconnected I feel from the blogosphere after only 6 days away. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things and have lots of stories to share with you, but for now I will tell you about my trip.

My visit with the fam was amazing and the sad reality is that it will never be easy leaving them. It's taken me a few days to try and pull myself out of this funk. This always happens. When I get home from seeing my family I get a little depressed and obsess about finding a weekend I can get back out there for another visit. This will all subside in a few days and I will be happy and content again.

After 5 and a half years of being away from them I still cry every single time I leave. My feelings remind me of what Kelle Hampton said a few weeks ago, "The unfortunate part of going home to visit is that once you are there, you begin to remember what you gave up to move away."

Although we flew out to TN, CA is home base for all of us. My mom, dad and little brother will move back to CA at the end of this year after fulfilling a 5 year job contract in TN.
When I use the word 'home' I am referring to wherever it is that my family is all together.
This was home this past week.
I am happy where I am in my life, but no matter how happy I am there will always be a bit of sadness because I can't see and be with my family as often as I would like.

My family is very important to me. We've been through a lot together and I will never have a bond with anyone like I do with them. It's special and one of a kind. Like my sis always says, they are, "My people."

On a lighter note the graduation was fantastic! I had shirts made and some pretty awesome signs too!

My little brother was so happy to have us all there and it was great to be there.

We spent quality time together, ate like pigs, played Scrabble, went to Chickamauge Battlefield.
Chickamauge Battlefield
I got to spend a whole day with my cousins, aunt, uncle and brother at  Dollywood, which I haven't done in years!
We celebrated my niece's and my birthday, my sister gave me a make-up lesson, we shopped a little and continued to eat like pigs.

I was sure to enjoy the beautiful (and very green) scenery.
Now that I am home I think about what I gave up to move away and although that was my choice it still makes me a little blue.

I do feel however, that being a few states away is healthy for me and my family. You see, we argued a lot when we were all near each other. A lot.

The time we spend together now are better cherished since they are far and few between.

It was a wonderful visit and I am grateful for the memories.

Now...back to ranching.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday and Hasta Luego.

Well friends, I turned 28 years old yesterday and it felt just like any other day. I'm happy, I'm healthy and I am loved.
Although, I am not as cute as I used to be.

My day started with a flood of messages from my wonderful friends and family and ended with a delicious dinner at my in-law's house. This morning I jumped on a plane and headed south and am now spending time with my lovely family.

Another reason to celebrate is my little brother is graduating!
Happy Dance!!
I couldn't think of a better birthday.  

This was my little brother as a baby:

This is my little (big) brother now...

Isn't he handsome?

I can't believe he's graduating! I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. ::sigh::
It wasn't a happy beginning, him and I were fighting for the "baby of the family" spot.
I did not hand over the title nicely.

So, a bunch of us will be staying at my mom and dad's beautiful home in the south.

I do wish J was here, but he hasn't earned enough PTO on the ranch. That was a big, fat JOKE.
Rancher's don't get days off. This, I am learning and I have a feeling this is the first of many trips I'll be taking solo.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and while you are at it -
Have a celebratory drink for me!

I apologize if this blog post has already shown up in your blog reader. Blogger ate my post yesterday. :/

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mutton Mondays - Reaction to Demand.

Lamb and wool are in high demand right now and this demand is expected to increase. This is good news for lamb and wool producers. Very good news. The question being asked is whether or not the United States can continue to meet this demand?

This year alone two US grocery stores, Super Wal-Mart and Kroger made a commitment to carry American Lamb in the near future. This is huge news considering most carry New Zealand lamb right now.

I'm happy to share with you that the U.S. military is the largest domestic consumer of wool. Pretty cool, eh?

I feel this is truly a step in the right direction. Wool and lamb producers want American lamb at the fingertips of consumers. What better place for this than at your local market? Availability is crucial for industry growth. This obviously goes for all products.

In reality, American anything filling up our grocery store shelves is a good thing, but I'm okay with baby steps. ;)

With the growing demand in both the lamb and wool industry the American Sheep Industry has asked all sheep producers to grow their flock.

They've launched a campaign called twoPLUS. I won’t go into all the strategies released to help producers do this, but there are three main goals in mind.

1. Increase the size of your operation by two ewes per operation or by two ewes per 100 by 2014.
2. Increase the average birthrate per ewe to two lambs per year.
3. Increase the harvested lamb crop by 2 percent - from 108 percent to 110 percent.

I think the twoPLUS campaign is a great industry effort. Thanks ASI!

With that being said, next time you are at the grocery store and want to make something different for dinner pick up some lamb and try this recipe! Then come back here and tell me how much you loved it!

Sources: American Sheep Industry and Grow Our Flock

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Mother's Day post for my sister.

"Your sister is your only friend."
Dad used to tell my sister, Jen and I this all the time when we were young.

As teenagers we scoffed when he'd say this and reply (with an eye-roll of course), "Okay Dad. Whatever."

He would go on to explain that you should never use the word 'friend' loosely because people you think are your friends may just hurt you.

It wasn't until high school and college that I accepted that, once again, our parents were right.

My sister, my best friend - Happy Mother’s Day to you.
You are a cook, chauffeur, a nurse and a teacher, but the list doesn't stop there.
You are a cheerleader, a referee, you are the glue that holds your family together. 

You always wear a smile.
You are patient, you are giving and you are kind. You are thoughtful, sincere and always consider other people's feelings.

I am so glad to have you by my side each and every day.
We were best friends as little girls and best friends now (we won’t talk about the years in between ;)) and for this, I am grateful. I strongly believe God made us sisters for a reason. We are so different, but I think that is a good thing - I can't imagine being exactly alike. That wouldn't be very fun.

I love the way you can make people laugh. I love how you bring the fun to every gathering. I love your quirky moments and corny jokes.

I love your laugh.
I enjoy each moment we spend together.

This is a day to celebrate your many accomplishments as a mother and a day for you to know you are loved by so many.
You are a blessing to all those that know you. We are the lucky ones.
I love you sis.
Happy Mother’s Day.

...and because I know you love the little lambies. I took this picture just.for.you.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers reading my blog! I hope your day is as wonderful as you wish it to be! How are you spending your day?

A Mother's Day post for Mom.

It took me a long time to realize this, but my mom is one amazing woman.

Not only has she successfully raised 6 children (including a stepdaughter), but she taught us so much. My mom instilled beliefs and morals in all of us that I think a lot of people lack and most importantly she taught us how to love.

She taught us that it's okay to be overly compassionate.
It's okay to show love.
It’s okay to speak your opinion as long as it's in a respectful way.
It’s okay to have a bad day (just don’t take it out on her).
Hug often.
Smile at strangers even if they won't smile back.
Give with all your heart.
Befriend often and always believe in the good in people.

This Mother’s Day my mother deserves an award. You see, she’s been raising children for 40 years and next week, her youngest, my little brother is graduating high school. Now that is a huge accomplishment, don't you think?

Mom, here is your award.  All your hard work has finally paid off!
Thank you for your support and encouragement all these years. Thank you for the love you give (and the care packages you send). Thank you for always listening to me, even when I get up on my soap box. Thank you for your honest advice each and every time I ask for it. Thank you for always being just a phone call away. Thank you for always believing in me.

I think I speak on behalf of all your children when I say, thank you for all you've done for us and continue to do for us. We love you and truly do appreciate you! 

Someday when I am a mother I hope to have the strength, courage and devotion for my kids as you have for yours. 

I love you so much. Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mutton Mondays - Lambing.

May is lambing time here at the ranch. This means a few things, one is that it's busy around here! As we speak J is out there working and it's decided to snow something crazy tonight! I hope those little lambies stay warm.

The last few weeks I've learned the babies we had a few months ago were just a drop in the bucket!

May is when the whole herd is due to have their babies. It began a few weeks ago on shearing day, but the past week has been the busiest by far.

Here is what lambing is all about.
First you have an open field of several hundred very pregnant ewes.
You have workers making their rounds all.day.long. They are looking for ewes that are showing signs of labor.
Don't you love Jigsy's new collar?
Here a few signs a ewe is getting ready to lamb:
1. She goes off by herself
2. Pawing at the ground
3. She passes her mucus plug
Once she starts puckering her lips like this - you know it's game time.
There are different phases in lambing. The first phase the ewe will dilate and lose her mucus plug.

Contractions will increase and the ewe's water bag will appear. This can go on anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. If a ewe is in the pushing stage for over an hour it's likely she is having trouble. This is when one of our workers will intervene.

Most ewes will not need help lambing, a good sign they are fine on their own is if their lamb's hooves and nose appear simultaneously. This is the position the lamb should be in.
Source: here.
If you can see the nose and 2 front hooves mama can take it from there. 

Once the lamb is born the ewe begins licking her baby clean. This is my favorite part. It's just amazing how instinct kicks in!

Once the babies are born and the ewes have a chance to bond with their baby, the lambs will picked up by one of the herders or J and the ewe will be lead to  pen or "jug" as we like to call them.
You carry the lamb low so the mom can see and smell it. This does not hurt the lamb.
This is where they will bond some more and feed.
I've watched a quite a few births these past few months and I'll admit my eyes well up with tears each time. These animals are so strong and it's astonishing to see their instincts kick right in. Within seconds of a lamb being born, mama is right there licking her baby. These mamas can give these lambs so much more than a human can ever provide for them.

My hat goes off to all the mamas out there. Whether it's an animal birth or a human birth I know they don't call it "labor" for nothing!
Lambing is an amazing time of year and it's become my favorite time of year. This is what I get to see and hear every day.

Here is J. He really is excited about lambing time, he's just exhausted these days.
For now, a thumbs up with have to do!
Keep up the hard work hubs! Lambing is almost done.