Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hooves on the asphalt. {the final trail.}

The last trail started with a 5am wake-up call (that probably should have been 4:30am, but I needed as much sleep as I could get), shoveling yogurt in my mouth and braiding my hair with my eyes closed. Oh, and how can I forget? The morning also included a 23 degree reading of the outside temperature gauge. These things started my mental list of things I won't miss however, just weeks from this trail that has become the Things I Already Miss List. 

I fussed about which hat to wear, and asked Jesse if I'd be warm enough in just a few layers. Also, of course the last trail is the FIRST trail that I remember to put some extra toilet paper squares in my jean pockets and remembered the bag balm for my lips!

Our wonderfulfantasticsupportiveawesome friends, Lorelyn and Trav came through our front door with smiles of support and excitement right on time and ready to go! Yes, we know how blessed we are to have friends that sacrifice their weekend and wake up at 4:30am to chase sheep 12 miles on foot! I'm telling you...these people are awesome.

We met our sheepherders at camp. They are ready to go and sadly didn't get much sleep with such cold temperatures on the eve of an emotional trail. It took us about 45 minutes to load their sleeping gear, the dogs and other items in the truck and the first sheep hit the road at 7:07am. We were off!

The first few miles Lorelyn and I front flagged together. As usual, I waited for the call on the radio that I was needed in the back. I dread that call, but I also love this call. It reminds me that I am needed and play (or played, rather) an important part in it all. This is when I have to get into marathon/professional sheep trailer mode and channel my inner mountain goat because I will be climbing up and down the sides of mountains chasing sheep and pushing them along.

I flank to the back of the large herd and the sheep just keep coming. There were so many more this year because a local sheep herder's sheep mixed with our herd while they were on the mountain so we were trailing a lot more than usual. As my wooly little friends walk past me, I take a few minutes to just appreciate it all. I took special notice of the sun glistening on their backs, the unique bleating of each and every one of these four-legged animals, I listened to their breathing and my heart smiled at each of the little lambs who managed to stick right next to their moms this far in to the trail.

I took special notice of their hooves on the asphalt and how it sounds like a rainstorm on a metal roof. This will be the last time I ever do this. Ever. After I take it in, I start sheep talking and walking and try to forget the tears welling up in my eyes.
Just before the picture above was taken a sheeptrailing angel (also known as one of our really neatsupercool friends) came to our rescue and offered up some coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. I asked her a few days before this day if she would be interested in taking some pictures of us trailing since it's close to impossible for me to catch any decent ones while running along the trail. She happily agreed and later gave us hundreds of photos to sift through and look back at. We will cherish these photos forever. The coffee, tea, hot chocolate and the use of her bike to help move traffic through the sheep were just added bonuses. Nice to know that we had been doing it all wrong all these years! Shoulda invested in a bike with a bell. Worked like a charm. ;)
We have some darn awesome friends, I tell you. Awesome.

When I was going through all the photos we got of this trail I stopped at this one and decided it was my favorite of all. I am so proud of this man and am so glad he'll get to take it a little easier on his body now - ranching is no joke, folks. I'm especially excited for him to be able to sleep in every now and again.

We finally made it to the major intersection of the trail. This is when the rest of the family met up to help. I see my mother in law with the grand-kids, my sister in law at the West side of the light stopping cars and my father in law on the East stopping cars. I stop and hug my mother-in-law (the sweetest, most genuine woman alive) and get a little teary eyed. She enthusiastically reminded me, "It's a good day!" and while I tried really hard to fight the tears a part of me wished this sheep herding thing would have worked out a little differently for our family. I had to remind myself of all the things that lead us to the decision we made and move forward.

I hurry over to my niece and nephew, give them kisses and snap a picture...if they don't remember this day, I'll show them this picture. You were there on the last day of a beautiful family tradition.

Just a few moments later the sheep are crossing through the intersection that we all are anxious to get through safely.
Now, it's the homestretch....
We keep the doggies in the trailer and off the road for their safety. If they don't look happy in this picture, it's because they aren't..they want to be with their sheep.
It wasn't long before we were heading down our county road which is all of our favorite part of the trail. Have I mentioned that we live in such a beautiful area? ;)

Just a mile from the house I picked up my nephew and he helped me trail the sheep to the ranch. The 4 hour and 45 minute trail went by pretty fast although, my knees weren't saying that the next day.
It was a bittersweet moment for all, but it is so exciting to close this wonderful chapter and begin a new one. 

It's been just over a month since this final trail and while there is no doubt in our minds we did the right thing, we are sure missing our furry friends that have enriched our lives over the past years. We will never forget them and I personally owe them so much for teaching me patience, love, loyalty and most of all to enjoy all of the beautiful things this world has to offer, especially God's creatures. 

This story isn't over folks, I feel like it's just the beginning.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tribute to a fallen farmer.

"It seems to me that farming communities all over the country may still hold the key to what makes this country a shining beacon in a world of trouble."

Read about a beautiful tribute to a fellow farmer and friend here.

Photographs by Matt Rubel

Friday, October 4, 2013

a bittersweet Sunday. {saying goodbye}

Making the Move.
Mat Kearney is playing on my Pandora station right now. His cd was on repeat the entire drive to our new home in the country. Every time I hear his music I reminisce about that day. My Jeep was packed to the brim and I couldn't wait to start a new life with my husband, at our new home; a single-wide, actually.
The past three years at the ranch have been the best, most challenging (and busy) years Jesse and I have experienced in our lives. We had only been married a year when we got the call that Jesse was needed at the ranch. It was a very emotional decision that we don't regret because afterall, it has led us to our forever home
The Decision.
We all make sacrifices in our lives, so my story isn't different from yours. We all know how it feels to make the tough, but right decisions.

As sheep ranchers we've learned a LOT of patience and more importantly we've learned to trust our gut. We've learned that as long as we have each other, we can get through it all. We've learned that challenges and struggles can strengthen a marriage, but it can also destroy one; it's a fine line you have to walk. We've grown so much as a couple the past three years; I trust Jesse's decisions and count on his reassurances. We make a great team and I am so grateful to call him my husband.
Jesse and I decided months ago (after years of pushing through the doubt) that this fall we will gracefully bow out of running the family sheep ranch. This Sunday will be our final trail home. Obviously I won't go into (personal) details, but there are several factors (some outside of our control) that have led us to this decision.We have to rely on our instincts...we tried to ignore it for too long.
Saying goodbye to the sheep, the dogs, the beauty of it all and the herders is hard to think about and it's a very sad time for the entire family. I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to experience such a wonderful thing. Fortunately, the "operation" will go to a local sheep rancher so we will see the sheep every now and again making their trails to and from the summer and winter range, and I'm sure as often as we would like. We are also sure the dogs will walk their way back to the only home they've ever known so, we'll look forward to their visits. It also looks like we'll inherit a few of the older/retired dogs, which I don't mind one bit. :)

The Future.
If you know anything about the agricultural community you know that the small farmer and rancher get the short end of the stick in everything. It's been an uphill battle for us since the day we've arrived, and because of this Jesse and I plan to remain very active in the agricultural industry; the industry needs more voices.

We see the struggles and have experienced many of them first hand and so, my husband the entrepreneur has created something amazing for the industry, Harvest Funders, LLC. It's going be a great and wonderful resource for the ag community. I can't wait to share the final product with you.  
(My fellow Ag-bloggers if you are interested in hearing more, please email me.)

{{Harvest Funders, LLC is launching November 2013}}

So, we are saying goodbye to the job of running sheep year round, but aren't saying goodbye to the industry in the slightest. I will continue to be a proud ranching wife and I am so proud of the hard work my husband has given and the sacrifices he has made every single day for the past three years.
We will have a small herd of sheep of our own (that I already have names for), Jesse will convert the grazing pasture to hay fields and I'm currently trying to talk Jesse in to getting a pig. I'm not sure the direction this blog will go, but I am so glad I started this blog and documented our sheep ranch adventures!

My friends, it is with a sad heart, but positive and hopeful thoughts that I press the "Publish" button on this post. We are trusting our guts and trusting each other in this decision and looking forward to what the future has in store for our little family. It's never easy ending a chapter of your life that you enjoyed to the fullest.
Thank you for following along the past three years and I'll be back soon. Thank you to our friends and family for all the support you've given us since day one.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't Forget Rural Colorado! {Flood Disaster Relief}

I'm sure you are well aware that the great state of Colorado is under water right now. The Southwest corner (where Jesse and I are located) is faring pretty well although, that is not to say we are exempt. Just last night some areas nearby experienced flooding that caused road closures, building damage and rock slides.

The recent flooding occurred earlier this week in very rural communities spreading from Fort Collins near the Wyoming border over to the east impacting Greeley and Sterling, Colorado and surrounding areas. The floodwaters continue to flow south through Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs. I want to do my part by sharing information with you about how you can help! The devastation to Colorado ranches and farms is tremendous; the people that feed us need our help! I don't know if many realize, but the devastation in Colorado will impact you and your family in one way or another. Many crops are lost, an estimated 60,000 dairy cows stranded, packaging plants forced to close...the list goes on and on. If you think this won't affect you, you are mistaken.

Local photographer, Mitch Bowers took the photo below; it sends such a real message. The agricultural community took a huge hit when these floodwaters started flowing. You may not know a farmer or rancher on a personal level, but the devastation is real and these people need your help. Let us not forget rural Colorado.
You can view more aerial photos by Mitch Bowers on his Facebook page

This video and article of a stranded horse named, Socks broke my heart. Socks is now safe and uninjured, but the sight and story of this stranded horse is undoubtedly heartbreaking and only one of many.

The Colorado Farm Bureau is just one organization that you might consider donating to and they have set up a Disaster Relief Fund in which 100% of the proceeds will be given to members of the ranching and farming community. Please click here if you would like to help members of the farming and ranching community.

Jesse and I are very active with the Colorado Farm Bureau and we strongly support their mission of being the voice for agriculture and thank them for putting this Disaster Relief Fund together.

If the Colorado Farm Bureau's Disaster Relief Fund is not your organization of choice, please see below...there are several other ways you can help!
Thank you to my Boulder area friend, Aubrey for putting the information below together.

 · The Longmont Humane Society is accepting animals of flood evacuees daily and has sheltered over 140 animals so far. A monetary donation is their biggest need, but they are also looking for large metal dog crates and poop bags. Visit the following link to learn more and donate:
· Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten suffered a lot of damage in the flood. Visit the following site to see the list of items that they need donated:
 · Jeffco Fairgrounds big animal evacuation center is desperately needing helping hands for any amount of time. Many of their animals are local, and with so many local families affected by the flooding, they are at high capacity of animals checked in, but very limited with volunteers. (Volunteers must be over 18 and familiar/comfortable working with horses and possibly other large animals). Please contact the Patchwork School if you are interested in volunteering.
· If you own a business, you could look into Yellowscene Magazine’s initiative to support those who are open for business in helping individuals affected by the flood. Their flood campaign initiative will help the community by encouraging people to frequent local businesses that are helping contribute to the rebuilding efforts. Contact Lancaster Thelen for more information.
Organizations to turn to for more opportunities…
· Boulder Flood Relief is a local, boots on the ground, all-volunteer group facilitating and organizing relief for displaced and in need individuals. On their website,, you can sign up to receive emails about various opportunities to support Boulder Community Members.
· Salvation Army: Help those affected during the days of storm ahead and during long-term recovery. The Salvation Army uses 100 percent of your disaster donations in support of local disaster relief operations. To give, visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate "Colorado Floods." You may also text GIVEHOPEIM to 80888 to donate $10 to The Salvation Army.* Donations by mail may be designated "Colorado Floods" and sent to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 60006, Prescott, Arizona 86304.
· Red Cross: To help people affected by disasters like these floods, people can donate by, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be made by
· Help Colorado is a partnership between the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD). This initiative brings together government agencies and nonprofit organizations so they may better assist communities affected by disasters.
· Foothills United Way: Foothills United Way has established the 'Foothills Flood Relief Fund' to be able to respond to the effects of these storms. Organizers expect to use this fund for immediate relief as well as longer-term recovery in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. The Fund is accessible online
· All Hands Volunteers:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Girly Guide to the Country Life.

I've decided that if I were to write a book (don't get nervous, this is only pretend) I would title it:

The Girly Guide to the Country Life

It would include ranch fashion tips, quick dinner recipes for your rancher, de-stress tactics and overall lifestyle tips.

Chapter 1: Ranch Fashion Yes, there is such a thing.
1. Do not wear long, flowy dresses while outside especially when near barbed wire fences.

2. Do wear nail polish as often as possible so people know you are a girl and

3. Let your hair grow long so when you are 'working' and have a cap on, people will not say, "Excuse me, young man." as they drive up behind you.

4. Wear shiny earrings all.the.time again, so people know you are a girl and make sure they have backs on them otherwise you will find your earring months later scratched, bent and unwearable.

5. NEVER throw a good pair of jeans on when you think it will be a quick and easy chore. Nothing is ever quick or easy on the ranch. You WILL rip them.

6. Don't pay attention when Judgy McJudgerson asks you if you put on make up to do chores. Nothing is better than feeling pretty and badass at the same time. Layer on that mascara, girl!

Chapter 2: Evenings with your Rancher
1. Leftovers are quick and easy for dinner, who cares if you eat the same thing two nights in a row! He's hungry and tired and happy to have something ready for him. Give yourself a break every now and then and take advantage of this.

2. Leave the dishes in the sink every now and then and catch a movie on Netflix with the hubs.

Chapter 3: De-Stress Exercises
1. Get outside. We can all waste hours staring off into the interwebz, but fresh air is truly the best medicine. Go for a walk or sit outside and read a book.

2. Talk to the animals. They are great listeners and hardly ever judge.

3. When all else fails ask your rancher if any demo needs to be done around the ranch.

 Chapter 4: Lifestyle
1. Never start a shower when your husband recently told you he thinks there is a crack in a pipe somewhere. Ask for permission or else your shower will be unexpectedly cut short and it will most likely happen in the middle of soaping your hair.

2. Spiders are everywhere and not every one is a brown recluse. Say that with me one more time...Spiders are everywhere and not every one is a brown recluse.

The moment you accept this is the moment your life will improve and your anxiety will lessen. Know that because you are the one in the household with a small case of arachnophobia, you will be the one to find every spider. You will be the one with the spiders on your side of the bed. You will be the one with the spider in your shoe which leads me to my next two tips...

3. Always check your shoes before you put your feet in them.

4. Remember to check under the sheets before you crawl into bed along with your pet's bedding.
y'all remember Jigs' spider bite, don't you?? In case you missed that one, click here.

5. Shake out your clothes before you put them on. Did I ever share the story about the (very large) spider that crawled down my face because I didn't shake out my shirt? I'll spare you, but just know it wasn't pretty.

6. Shake out your towel before you use it. I don't think I ever told you about the spider I dried my face with once. Yeah, that wasn't pretty either.

Okay, enough about spiders. Let's move on to water.

7. Do not freak out when you go to use the restroom and the person before you didn't flush. It's a country thing and you won't understand until you've experienced your well running dry. Oh, and my fellow Californians - puhlease stop rinsing down your concrete driveway. That water you are wasting was a gift from the Colorado mountains, water that we really could use right about now.

8. When you have animals do not make solid plans with your friends. The second you do there will be a sheepergency and you'll have to cancel, then you just look like an ass. I have a standard sheep disclaimer that I include every time I RSVP.

9. Y'all already know not to pick up stray "dogs" at night. If you haven't heard that story, click here.
10. Do not. I repeat DO NOT lift up anything old and rusty looking at the ranch. If it looks like it's been there for a while chances are there is something dead and decomposing underneath. True story.

11. When you hear heavy breathing outside your window, always assume it's the neighbors cows not a bear or a peeping Tom.

12. God gave us two hands for a reason. One hand is to hold a glass of wine and the other to open and close the ranch gates.

Country girls, what have you learned the hard way?
Share your tips and stories in the comment section below!