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The Cow Chips Guide to Exercise: Winter Edition 2016

Ok, two weeks in and December did not disappoint! Remember in the last post how I basically threatened December to not screw up its weather? Well, today we woke up to howling winds which led way to blowing snow and freezing fog and snow drifts! Yay!

Andrea, you are crazy. Well, yes I am and thank you for noticing. I LOVE cold weather. Well, I love it as long as I don’t have to work in it. Which brings me to the title of this blog post. Ya see, I learned that the Cow Chips Winter Workout is just as ridiculous in the summer as the winter. So let’s get a good taste of what you get to do to burn off some holiday calories!

  1. Do you love the sound of ocean waves? Maybe you just adore the open water. You know what else likes water? Cows. Burn out your shoulders, biceps, and core with a session of Breaking Ice!
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Woman with pitchfork. And LipSense.
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Just broke this…it’s already slushy!

Let me clear: breaking ice is right now my most despised chore. You start with a pick ax around a 20 foot stock tank and “chop chop chop”; you hack out pieces of ice. Then not only do you have to break the ice, you get to rev up your cardio and biceps with a pitchfork and haul out the 3 inch blocks of solid ice and heave them onto the ground. Go fast, though, so you don’t drench your gloves and have icicles for fingers. Also, make sure to use the strength in your core so you don’t pull a muscle in your back! Just breathe deep, heave, haw, and build that amazing strength with every stupid load of ice! SUPER FUN.

You’re not done, don’t be fooled. As soon as you break all that ice and haul it out, no sooner than you turn around does it start to get slushy and ice over! More into intervals than one long ice breaking event? Maybe you’re built for speed rather than endurance: no worries! Ice breaking is a fun sport that must be completed before breakfast, at lunch, and again before dinner. Talk about interval training!

Andrea, this sounds silly. Why don’t you get a heater for that? Well, that’s my husband’s project next year. Install a damn outlet for a heater so we aren’t breaking ice in single digit temperatures.

2. Hey, Andrea, I remember one time when I was a kid that all the water froze up in the house. How do you deal with that? OH! Lemme tell ya what happens. You and your gorgeous manfolk get to hang out in 40 degree temps (that day was balmy compared to the next workout – keep reading) and work on a well pump.

Wait. What?

Ya see, a few days before the pump went kaput, there were some freezing temps at night but the days saw somewhere around mid-30’s. We figured since the well pump was covered, all would be fine. Well, as ranchers tend to obsess over the state of their cattle, we went to check on their water and make sure the stock tank hadn’t frozen over. It wasn’t too bad so I got in some light ice breaking time. But then we realized the pipe that brings water was frozen solid. And nothing was happening when we turned on the pump. Whoops! So, a day of insulating and we hoped it was enough. It wasn’t. The next day, we ripped off all the insulation and got to practice our static Olympic lifting. Hubby lifted the entire pipe (the one that goes in the ground) while I learned how to use grip vices. Only 200lbs of pulling up – gotta use those legs! Then we lifted the thing and cobbled something and put things back together and then put on more insulation and THEN we prayed a lot. It worked! The stress and worry of hoping we hadn’t blown out the pump motor is an exercise in itself. Your heart beats rapidly when something like that happens. Replacing things like that, especially with cattle depending on the water and a wife being cold, gets EXPENSIVE. It’s like needing to pee but you’re stuck in traffic and your house is a mile away but you’re not sure if you’ll make it to your exit but you breath deep and think of ANYTHING besides waterfalls. But you live next to Niagara Falls. Yep. That kind of heart pounding fun is just GREAT for burning a few calories!

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Fixing the Well Pump. Please work…
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Water!!! And ice. Of course.

3. What’s a Cow Chips girl going to do for fun? Well, exercise needs to be fun at some point otherwise you won’t do it. May I present stock tank ice skating? Yes, seriously. This is the stock tank on the other part of land we raise cattle on and it is solid ice at least 6″ thick. Now, I do love cold weather but I ain’t crazy. So I let my husband demonstrate how we ice skate in the desert.

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Ice Skating, Cow Chips Style

4. Walking is great for you! Walk the Cow Chips way and you’ll never want to go for a stroll in the city. Now, there are some varmints that, as long as you both respect each other’s boundaries, you can live in peace and harmony. It’s very nice! However, there are some varmints that just…it’s not even about me or them. They ruin the land, eating everything they can see and leave behind holes that are literally dangerous to animals and humans. Fall in one and you’re looking at a good sprain or maybe broken ankle. Not cool. So, we ranchers have to sometimes gain control of these things. I love seeing wide, open country, not dust and patches of missing grassland. So, yes, we baited for crowd control. Then we had to check our bait to make sure anything that ate the bait was destroyed properly. How does one do that? With a nice, long walk up and down the side of a hill checking every hole and making sure nothing goes unnoticed! THERE’S ONLY ABOUT 300 HOLES. Add that all up and you’ve just done at least 3-4 miles of walking. Just imagine it, no picture needed.

5. Still not enough burn for you? How about next time you’re here you help us stack some hay? It’s only 65 lbs a bale and we ONLY have 270 of them. C’mon, it’ll be fun! Don’t forget, you need wood to burn in the stove! Build a stack as tall as her (about 4 feet) and you’re sure to need tickets for the gun show! And if you need a full body shakedown, go outside and just stand there. Did you know shivering burns calories, too? If you’re lucky enough to be my daughter you don’t shiver much because your mom (me) dresses you up in every warm thing you’ve got so you basically sweat in the snow. You’re welcome, little one.

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Move it over…there. Sure.
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I hauled ALL of that. You’re welcome.
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Gotta Stay Warm!!!

Every great workout includes a good warm up (reading my blog – thank you!) and cool down (some quality time by the fire re-reading my blog because the brain needs exercise, too). Enjoy all the pictures below from our family to yours. Have a wonderful Christmas! Along with the great “workout” ideas above, we also decorated outside, put up the tree, made a ridiculous Gingerbread Farm House, made some Christmas spice to boil on the stove, and just enjoyed our time together. Oh, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made an early debut with wine. It’s all AMAZING and you can get it here via my amazing friend Becky. Plus, a portion of profits from every bottle goes to a great cause! My current fave is the Cabernet Sauvignon but I can’t wait to break into that Rosé! Seriously, I’m already planning my next order. Oh, and I finally made the most perfect soft pink color just for me with my LipSense collection. Even Red Lips needs a change of lip color. You can order your perfect, all day color (I wear it almost every day – the cows appreciate it and my daughter loves that it doesn’t smudge on her cheeks when I get my kisses!) by clicking on this link here. Not sure which color is right for you? Join my FB page and message me: I am happy to help everyone in the world have gorgeous all day lip color! Y’all have an amazing Christmas and a beautiful New Year!

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Baby, it’s (finally) cold outside!

Well, hello, December. You already have dropped temps about a zillion degrees and there was even snow on the ground this morning. Heck, our basketball team had to cancel due to icy roads. While I’m still waiting for these crazy things called “blizzards” that everyone warned me about, I am thankful that we are here and our cows look good and we have hay and cake for them to eat. Not like birthday cake, it’s just compressed feed. More detail in another post because this one is kinda long as it is. Sorry, back to December… Thanks for showing up even though October and November dropped the ball. Ya see, I love December. For starters, it means I can put up my Christmas decor. Then there’s the whole yuletide cheer. People are happy when they’re full and they start their seasonal weight gain on Thanksgiving. Full tummies = happy people. Except for that one old crotchety person we all know who seriously needs to be un-Scrooged. And the warm fires. I LOVE warm fires and it doesn’t make sense to have a warm fire in 83 degrees. But 44? No one bats an eye. Heck, they ask you to put another log on. And since we have literally tons of wood, I can only happily oblige. So, December, I humbly implore you with all the cow chips a girl can muster: don’t screw this up.

So what else have we been up to at the ranch? Well, there was Thanksgiving and what a Thanksgiving! We went the non-traditional route, as is our traditional custom – does that make it traditional? – and got a cabin in Red River. I’m absolutely going to tell you where and how to contact them – click here for the site. We loved it! Clean, in order, and cozy. Both of our moms, us, our daughter, and my mom’s dog all in a 3 bedroom cabin in the woods. Well, not really in the woods because it’s mostly State or National Forest. But, it was near the Red River ski area and that has woody areas. So it’s in the woods. And also a stone’s throw from the lifts and shopping because Red River is small and awesome and I love it.

We enjoyed some well prepped food (cooked it at home, put it in a cooler, drove it on up) and lots of well prepped drinks (boxed wine – Bota Box is a game changer), and tubing on the bunny slope and shopping in the stores. By the way, I put in a photo of my Thanksgiving lip color. I literally had it on about 10am and it didn’t come off until about 10pm. No budge, no mess, no wine glass stains. I just HAD to show you because it was a really pretty color. You need some so follow the link here and order it already. Funny thing is that Taos is really only 45 minutes away so my mom still got her Black Friday shopping in without a hitch. Now the big event for our daughter (well, me too) was seeing the Man in Red. Santa. He was there. I saw him. And Mrs. Claus. She was there, too. She’s awesome. Huge fan of their holiday cheer. And they’re a true power couple! I mean, really: all year long he’s prepping for “his moment” and she’s just cooking away, probably feeding the reindeer, breaking some ice, tending to elves and their labor disputes, paying the bills and putting receipts for feed in Quickbooks and CattleMax (oh wait, that’s me) then she gets all gussied up and hands out candy canes and – let’s be real – we all know she’s the one in charge of the schedule. But she lets him have his day and just smiles and smiles. I bet as soon as Mr. Claus rides off she pours herself a box of Bota and soaks in a tub and listens to ANYTHING but Christmas music.

And just in case you’re wondering, no I don’t ski. Tried it, but I just don’t have that desire to hurl myself down an icy slope on toothpicks on purpose. The one time I tried snowboarding I hit my head on ice trying to get off the chair lift and I was done. If you want me to go skiing, do me a favor and open a tab at the bar. Plop me down and have fun in the freezing temps getting wind burn and I’ll buy the house a round and we can sing Christmas carols on the balcony as you french fry/pizza pie your way down the black diamond. Because no.

Speaking of trees, we found the perfect Christmas Tree. Every year our other somewhat non-traditional tradition is to go into the National Forest and cut down a tree. For $5, they’re yours for the taking! Plus, it helps the National Forest Service with thinning overgrown areas and you get a hike in with the family to enjoy some gorgeous scenery. Or if you’re like me and my husband, you get to pretend you’re a mountain goat and find the perfect tree that happens to be on the steepest hill in the canyon. But, hey, I got in a workout so that counts for something. Plus, no more $60 tree at the big box store! You can save that money or spend it on a fancy lunch or a gift for someone or even Starbucks!

Update on my animals: Dogs are great, cats are spoiled, the pony and horses love each other. I think they all pretend like they’re a little horse family now. Any time we take the pony in just to work with her, the mare gets all upset and paces the fence line and the gelding watches like the husband holding his wife’s purse at the mall as she raids JCPenney. Alpacas still love the wide open space they now have. I have no idea where their poop pile is but I’m sure I’ll find it once spring comes around and there’s a patch of perfectly green grass somewhere. The Guineas now greet us on the front porch EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Tap tap tap on the window. Sounds cute but it’s really not. At 6:54am, it’s annoying. But they do keep bugs down and I have to remember that. Because right now….

And the chickens.

***Warning: I talk about eventual chicken death. Move on to the funny photos if that disturbs you.***

The chicks have moved in with the older hens. For the most part, they ignore each other. My problem is that one, Baby Lou, is a Cornish cross and he’s a big boy. Like huge. Compared to the other chicks, he’s just…gigantic. The other chicks weigh MAYBE 1.5lbs, while he’s a stout 8 or 9. And he’s so sweet! He actually comes up and wants to be petted, doesn’t flip out when I try to hold him, and pretty much is my favorite chicken ever! But here’s the Debbie Downer part. He’s a meat bird. Ya know the chicken you buy prepackaged at the store? That’s his breed. And I can’t keep him to breed babies because his type doesn’t do so well in the mating department. But I have a heart for my animals, even the ones that we grill in the summer. So I’m putting him on a weight management plan. It won’t stop the inevitable but it will at least slow it down.I kick all the fluffy butts out of the coop and I put the food a little bit away from the water to make him get some exercise. The pecking itself takes some energy, as does the walking back and forth. If it were summer or spring he could forage for bugs but it’s not so we make due. I think the exercise is working. He is much more active every day, he doesn’t tire as easily, meaning he can make about 20 steps before needing a break, and he’s getting sunshine and fresh air. All that is pretty much all I can do for him and as long as he’s not in pain, I’ll keep it up. Most people on my FB Chicken groups (yes, they do exist, don’t be jealous) say that it’s more humane to process/cull/eat him before he has a heart attack or becomes lame, while others say they had Cornish crosses for 2 years before they had to demote them to the stew pot. Now if that got your goose that I’d talk about eating my own chicken, well, I guess ranching isn’t for you. Fact is, it will happen and I have to put it in my head now that, yes, I am eating the meat I raised. However, I know that he was treated extremely well in his short lifetime and, as I took care of him he can now take care of my family by providing a nutritious meal in the future. Really, it’s the circle of life. And it moves us all. Through despair and hope and faith and love. Till we find our place on the path unwinding, it’s the circle, the circle of life.  It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? You’re welcome.

 

Now that we’re all back on the same paragraph, I leave you with our crazy, totally random pictures of the holidays. Y’all be nice out there! Or go eat something. Then go work out because I hate New Year Resolutions. Why resolve later when you can resolve now?  Anyway, Happy Holidays!