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Whatchamacallit? (A Cow Chips guide to cattle identification)

Earlier this week we moved our bulls, Bert and Ernie, to the pasture where the cows and calves are currently residing. It’s a fairly straightforward idea: let the bulls mooch on the land, eat all the grass they want, get bigger and bulkier and, when the time is right, invite them over to meet the ladies. Easy right?

Before I tell ya what happened, I should take a moment to let you in on a little secret.

Not all cows are cows. 

Andrea, you just confused the heck out of me. There’s different names for different life stages of cattle when you’re talking about age and gender. It’s why people in this area look funny at city folk when they point out “that really big cow” that’s actually a rodeo bull. I’ll do my best to explain as simply as possible. Let me warn you, this does not cover it all! There’s so much more I’m learning and I won’t present all the facts of ranching life. It’s a simple guide to help the city folk my dear friends who are unfamiliar with cattle identification.

First, we have the calf. A newborn baby. Super cute, playful, tends to like to find a way into our fenced 2 1/2 acres because the grass looks greener. I had one in my living room during the blizzard. They stay with their moms (cows) until they’re weaned and ready to be sold to a buyer and raised as heifers or beef cattle.

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Photo via cattlenetwork.com   

Next, we have bulls or steers on the male side. (I’m going to keep this as vague as possible because children might read this and I’d hate to steal away that awkward birds and bees talk from ya.) Basically, until this calf undergoes “surgery” it’s a bull. After surgery, it’s a steer. Just read between the lines if you can. Or Google it. The general difference is that a bull will be kept back with a few other bull buddies to become sires. They get to have girlfriends when the time is right. If they went through surgery, they are called a steer and don’t get to have girlfriends. They roam in herds and put on weight to be sold at a later date for beef. Steers also tend to like to find openings in fences and hang out on the county road. We do what we can to control their escape with cowboys and fencing but they’re some sneaky critters. More often than not, if you happen to find a herd of cattle out on the road (or a state highway like I did last weekend – eek!), they’re steers.

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This is the sire of our current bulls! PS – That’s NOT a belly button. Photo: PowerlineGenetics.com

 

On the female side we have the heifers and the cows. There’s more to it than this but if you’re city folk  just interested in the general terms, that’s all you need to know. Heifers are female cattle who are of age to become pregnant for the first time but have yet to have their first calf. A heifer is also what charged me after that blizzard. I still resent her for that, may she rest in cow peace. Once the heifer has its first calf, it’s automatically considered a cow. A cow can happily live for years on a ranch, producing calves that can be sold to either become beef or mothers on their own.

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A Manzano Angus Cow, very similar to our ladies! Photo: ManzanoAngus.com

HOWEVER….

You can’t just let the bulls and the heifers meet up all the time like a perpetual Saturday night at the club. The females need time with their calves and the bulls can interfere or injure calf and cow because they act like teenagers who just discovered the scrambled channels on cable TV. The rancher doesn’t want to have a 4 month calving period. We like it to be short and sweet, 60 days, where we can expect our calves to be born. That gives us time to plan on being home and prepare for any emergencies that might arise. So, we let the graze the land on a separate pasture while cows and calves grow and recuperate and basically moo to their heart’s delight in another pasture.

When we first got the cows in November, it was easy moving them from pasture to pasture. The hubby got in the feed truck, honked, and off we went! They were all still pregnant so we took it at a nice, steady fast walk to move them 2 miles. We were done in all of 30 minutes.

The bulls, though. Ugh.

No one told me how slow these guys are. If you’re wondering what I was doing (I know you are), well…I was on the 4-wheeler behind these slow pokes pushing them forward at a speedy 2mph whilst singing every operatic aria I knew as loudly as possible with a Country Twang. Seriously, it didn’t sound pretty, there was no technique involved besides yelling in tune in French, Italian, and English. I’m pretty sure the only reason the bulls kept moving forward is because they were trying to get away from the yelling opera singer behind them. Take a moment to let that picture sink in. Oh, and I was totally wearing my cowboy hat. Crazed lunatic.

They were just fine, ambling along, until they caught a whiff of our neighbor’s steers in the air about halfway to the home pasture. They were pawing at the ground, rubbing themselves on all the dirt and fence posts, trying to maintain their dominance by leaving their scent on everthing. I mean, really. What a ridiculous show! I am so glad I’m not single because, even in the human world, that was quite the show of hormones. I just rolled my eyes and sang louder. Anyway, an hour later we finally got them to the pasture with the cows. There was a moment of “Wait, who are you?” “Um, hi, my name is 1437” “Hey, good lookin'”.

The bulls wasted no time and have made some girlfriends now and all is right with the world. We are branding and “having surgery” this weekend. It’s the rancher’s job to feed all the helpers and I’m trying my best not to overdo the spread. Don’t be surprised if you see food pop up on my Facebook page. I’m in a cooking mood and finally have a giant group to test out some awesome recipes. More on that later!

(Cover photo from Living the Country Life. Great link here to learn about common cattle breeds.)

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Letter to the Editor (Mother Nature)

Dear Mother Nature,

Girlfriend. Sweetie. Honey.

What the hell are you thinking? Get it together.

 

Sincerely,

Red Lips ‘n Cow Chips

 

 

Lemme back up a minute and fill you in. The above eloquently worded letter is what I’d like to say to Mother Nature; the unedited version is full of many more bad words. If you look out any window in our house, you’ll get a taste of what happens when Mother Nature feels like playing a sick, twisted joke on us. This was from lunchtime. Notice the white stuff giving way to the muddy stuff. That’s about to freeze up.

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Snow! Not only did she start April with the best April Fool’s Day joke EVER with snow, but now Mother Nature is ending April with round 2 of her fury. Don’t get me wrong, ranchers and farmers are grateful for the moisture: we need it. But with high winds? And right after I *just* planted my rosebushes??? That’s just mean.

Meanwhile, we are eating our emotions, checking Wunderground for the millionth time, staring out the window to make sure there isn’t a stray cow, and look like this:

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(This is fictional character Soraya Montenegro. The character is crazy and kind of a big deal. Click here to learn more about her.)

The one thing I’ve learned about living out on the ranch is you don’t mess with Mother Nature. The prairie fire in the panhandle and disastrous weather like The Dust Bowl and the drought that only ended about 5 years ago prove that, as much as we love this land, we don’t take the good days for granted. I guess with that in mind I should be thankful that this moisture will definitely keep things green around here for the foreseeable future but I think my cows would disagree.

Did I mention how we are in the middle of calving??? Yeah, the ladies are having their calves! We’re doing pretty well on the calf count. I try not to jinx myself with an absolute number. This cold weather, though, makes things a little more difficult for the mothers and their calves. They need to clean and nurse their babies to ensure a successful delivery. But when the biting cold slows everyone down that gets a little more difficult. So, in our jobs as stewards and caretakers, we are obsessing over the ladies and their babies. We were out at about 5:30am checking and counting and leading them to the windbreak in the corner of the ranch. There were some hurdles but it seems like they’ll be OK. I guess we will find out tomorrow when the snow melts and we can count yet again.

One cool thing I did today, besides bake the biggest loaf of bread to ever grace my belly was to warm up a calf in the middle of the entryway. Little thing was shivering, born only yesterday, not able to walk but still alert. So, a 90lb calf was in the house while I dried it off with a beach towel and rubbed it with a blanket that the dogs sleep on. Meanwhile, Corona the (somewhat annoying) Heeler/Collie mix sat with the calf, making sure it was OK. Turns out, she’s a great cattle dog and we need to train her!

Naturally, I sent a text to my rancher friends and asked “Is this normal? Have I gone off the deep end?” Turns out, totally normal! One friend even had a Christmas delivery; they brought it in, dried it off, and named it Christmas. Now I know I should never name the calves but, gosh doggit, I saved this one’s life. It’s name is April. Not sure if it’s male or female but April is the name that will stick. Luckily, mom was able to be found and they are happily reunited. Here’s Corona, April the Calf, and Jackson in the background (not pictured but probably sniffing something in another room, Nacho).

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I mean, honestly. We literally had a GREAT Easter. Awesome food, Oma (German for Grandma) and our Princess Cowgirl went to a fantastic service, I even made my first run at the cake I want to present for the County Fair. And lots of good bubbly! I think the temperature that day was 78F. SEVENTY EIGHT DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. I had plants out. This is what it looked like:

 

Then today happened. And it’s still happening! I’m literally watching snow fall sideways right now. 40+mph sustained winds and 29.7 degrees and dropping. WHATEVER.

The only good thing about this storm is that I finally experienced this blizzard that everyone warned me about. I’ve been hearing about how bad the weather gets, now I’ve experienced it for myself. Great. Now if this could happen when I don’t have calves on the ground that would be great.

So, yeah, Mother Nature. Quit messin’ around and get your seasons in check.

Great

 

The hard part

Today, I’m focusing on a more serious topic. The above photo is from KXAN.com, documenting the Panhandle wildfire. That area is only 2-3hrs away from us. In short, it’s scary.

There are some tough things to remember when it comes to ranching: not every calf or cow will make it, there isn’t always enough grass or feed to go around and cattle needs to be sold (for example, the drought of 2012), not every season affords a life of ease.

Sadly, this past week, Mother Nature reminded us of her power to control our fate.

If you haven’t heard (we didn’t even know until late Wednesday) there was a massive fire in the Texas Panhandle and surrounding areas. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/us/wildfires-texas-deaths/

Ranchers literally lost everything: grass, buildings, and – most important – their cattle. When you only get one paycheck a year, the blow comes even harder. I saw some sad and disturbing pictures of cattle who tried to save themselves by sitting in their own stock tanks of water, hair burned away, udders singed meaning calves had no access to milk, others who looked as if they were trying to get away only to turn back and realize their calves were lost in the blaze. They went back in for their little ones and never came out.

Cowboys and cowgirls were out there, not trying to pack their own belongings and head to safety, but trying to gather their cattle and herd them away from danger. Not everyone made it back. Meanwhile, firefighters who also ranch lost their own herds while trying to save the land and cattle of others.

This is a dark, dark time for ranchers. It’s the one thing you never want to see or experience. So much land scorched. So many people taken away too early. So many hard decisions made time and again.

We do love our life out here on the ranch but it’s not just a fun hobby to pass the time. Ask any rancher worth the manure on their boots why she does it and you’ll realize that we consider ourselves stewards of the land. We obsess, we struggle, we grieve, we try to find ways to keep things going because we value what we’ve been given. And when decades of toil, an entire livelihood, is taken away…

The most redeeming part of this sad time is our community. I thought I knew how to be a good neighbor but now I realize that you’ll never see another group come together like ag people.

So many times the heart of a smaller town is bigger than the population. In Clayton, people donated barbed wire to help keep surviving cattle penned in safe areas. Hay and feed from surrounding feed mills, even the truck and flatbed to haul the hay were donated; cases and gallons of water, food, clothes of every size donated, medical supplies for veterinary care. All given without question and with open hearts. Why? Because we can. Because we should. Small town living seems to come with people whose hearts are bigger than the sky above them. I’m proud to see the outpouring of help and be counted amongst them.

If you can help out, here are a few articles I found listing donation sites. If you can’t donate in the form of tangible goods or cash, even a prayer for those still out there containing this fire and ongoing prayers for those who will rebuild (and they will rebuild) is appreciated.

Amarillo: http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2017-03-08/more-5000-cattle-displaced-fires-die-down

Kansas: https://www.kfb.org/Article/Kansas-wildfire-relief

Oklahoma: http://kfor.com/2017/03/09/northwestern-oklahoma-wildfires-donation-links/

Colorado: http://kdvr.com/2017/03/07/northeast-colorado-wildfire-at-50-percent-containment-with-more-wind-expected/

American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation

(ARC is also providing assistance to those affected in the Florida wildfire. Naples, FL isn’t too far from Sarasota Opera, where I was privileged to sing a few years ago.)

There aren’t any pretty or funny pictures this time. A quick Google search for Panhandle wildfire will give you enough to see. I’ll be back soon with another update on ranch life. For now, I’ll be praying for our neighbors.

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!

The Busy Season!

Wow, what a whirlwind of activity here on the ranch! I’m going to name October as our Busy Season for good reason.

First, it’s our daughter’s birthday and she turned the big 0-5. So of course we went to Balloon Fiesta. I wrote about how much fun that is here. Then we had Halloween which was a storm of candy and trick-or-treating and, in small town America, also visiting with people that haven’t seen my husband in years but are still happy to give hugs and warm welcomes. I love this town.

Then, I started a new class in town called BodyBurn. It’s basically a 6-week session of classes that allows me to use all the certifications and what not that I accumulated as a fitness instructor. I love it because by the time we get used to one workout, it’s time to change! And you know I love change.

We also visited my mom a time or two in Albuquerque. She just bought the cutest house EVER and, lucky for her, my husband is the ultimate fix-it guy. New doors, new lights, he even know how to program the garage door opener. I’m not saying, I’m just saying…he’s kind of amazing. I helped, of course, but when you need something done like, say, a door put in and then a doggie door installed in the new door, my man is THE MAN.

Oh, here’s the big news. WE GOT OUR CATTLE!!! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the K/F Ranch is really a ranch. We have Manzano Angus cattle, all pregnant, all sweet as can be, all happily eating grass and drinking water and just being happy in the sunshine. They look like smaller versions of a big Angus and are great for our arid Southwest ranches. From what I understand, it’s a little impolite to talk about how many cattle and how many acres you own but I’m happy to say that it’s just enough for us to start making a true living with and it’s big enough that we can responsibly maintain grassland without overgrazing.

***If you have a weak stomach, please pass the rest of this paragraph. We did have to do branding, vaccinations, and “preg-checking” (a cow’s version of an ultrasound – no jelly involved but lots of poop). I did feel a little unnerved with the branding because, hey, it’s a hot iron, but it didn’t last long and I am pretty sure I tried to console each cow as they made their way into the chute. I also made sure to console them again when they got onto their new pasture. Call me crazy but I know I hated being poked and prodded when I was pregnant. And hungry and emotional. I may have told them they’re beautiful and perfect and gave them a bag of cake feed, our equivalent of chocolate. Number 1402 (you never name your cows) is my favorite. She let me touch her and that’s huge!!! All in all, the cows are very friendly and this breed will apparently make great mothers to their calves. I’ll let you know how all that goes in our next busy season, March and April.***

Here’s an update on the rest of the zoo, I mean, ranch animals. Don’t lie, you’ve been wondering how they’re doing.

Penelope and her Pony Power. She’s doing great and loves being out on pasture. Now that she’s got open country to roam all day, she’s lost a little weight. I didn’t realize just how heavy she was until we tried to put a saddle on her. My mother-in-law got the saddle fixed up (yes, we fix things up) so now we can really ride her! Speaking of horses, I rode Kristoff. He’s the gelding horse that I adore because: 1. He gets me. and 2. He’s short – less distance to the ground. Elsa, the mare, has sort of decided that Penelope is her baby. When you see all 3 out on pasture, she really does look like a baby horse. It’s kinda cute, kinda weird because Penelope is 8 and Elsa isn’t much older. Maybe they’re more like BFF horses. Back to riding Kristoff. It’s not that I’m afraid of riding horses, it’s just that I didn’t grow up accustomed to it. However, I’ve got lots of people near and far that are happy to help me so that I can be a proper rancher with a proper horse. Apparently, the pony could technically help us gather cattle but I’ve been asked not to do it even if my soul says I should. So I’ll ride Kristoff. Or the Green Horse (the 4-wheeler; let’s be honest, I need to learn a lot before I start trying to gather cattle on a horse).

The chickens are doing great in their new coop. I need to finish painting it but it’s either too windy or we’re too busy doing other ranching chores that it hasn’t been all done yet! The chicks…oh, the chicks. So we have the cutest little chicks in what I call the nesting pen. It’s basically a giant rubber water tank that they live in until it’s time to move into the big girls coop. We bought all these chicks at the exact same time. One was a little bigger than the others but we figured it was maybe a week or two older than the rest, max. Turns out it’s probably a full month older AND it’s giant. Like ridiculously huge. And heavy! From what I can tell (which isn’t much), it’s a White Leghorn and possibly a rooster. Either that or it’s a meat bird, the kind of bird that’s meant more for the dinner table than egg production. But this is also the nicest chicken. I can pet, hold, move, feed out of my hand, and there’s no problem. The others scatter away and do their little chirp alarm. I’m calling him/her Baby Lou, in honor of the Leghorn that was taken by that dang predator we never caught – her name was Mama Lou. Rest Easy, Mama Lou.

The Guineas are doing, well, too. I’m still not sure if they are both female or one of each but they LOVE to eat yellow jackets. That alone is a good reason to have them around because they’re still out there. Speaking of those stingers, it’s currently 76 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now. This is a problem for me because it’s NOVEMBER. C’mon, Fall. Get it together and get cold already. I keep thinking “Oh boy, it’s time to bust out the Carhartt jacket and snow bib!” Then I go outside and get a sun tan. Ridiculous.

The alpacas are a whole ‘nother story. Without going into gory detail, we were finishing the nail trimming on White Corn (aka Dubya) and he kicked at the wrong time. My husband was the unfortunate recipient of scissors into the side of his cheek. One ER visit and tetanus shot later, we finished that damn nail. A few days after that incident, we decided that it was time for the boys to go out on pasture. We’ve been holding off because we didn’t want to send them out with bad nails and long teeth. After all, long teeth can inhibit their ability to eat and bad nails inhibit their ability to run if necessary. So, we used a metal grinder to cut those bad boys down. They weren’t happy about it but now they’re grazing and pooping outside of our fenced area just fine. I really think they prefer to be out there anyway. It should be fun trying to catch them when it’s shearing time. Poor guys have been carrying about 3 years worth of fiber growth on them. But that’s another story for another day.

Unless you haven’t been paying attention, there was also a Presidential election. Our county is decidedly Republican, our state is Democrat. I’m just happy to live in a world where both can exist. Things might not be perfect and half of my friends are extremely unhappy while the other half is watching to see just what change will happen in the next 4 years. Then there’s a tiny bit on both sides that is just living life to the fullest. Folks, no matter what the outcome did to your psyche, be kind, be honest, and love thy neighbor.

Since we’re on the path of neighborly love, let me tell you about our neighbors in Texline, Texas. It’s a small town with big heart. And great shopping! First, there’s the Top of Texas Country Store and I am in love!!! It’s owned by a lovely lady who is quite possibly one of the nicest women I’ve ever met. This is the kind of store you walk into and walk out with all kinds of goodies to eat, bake with, and go back because you can’t wait to see a smile. Then we headed across the street to Gracie Wonderful’s Café. The food is great, the prices are even better, and the décor is whimsical. You need to stop in and try the Panini. Then it was to the Texline Co-Op (a division of Dalhart Consumers Fuel Association). I won’t lie, I was seriously expecting the kind of co-op with organic fruits and veggies. UM…..no. This is more feed and farm supplies. Whoops! All that being said, again we found friendly folks happy to help.

We also got to partake in Clayton’s first Wine and Cheese night. I hope this becomes a seasonal or annual event because I had a blast!!! All kinds of good wines that I would never buy but want to try, Santa Fe beer varieties, the beautiful assortment of meats and cheeses, even dessert! The night was only better because we got to hang out with our friends and visit the local VFW post. Not too long ago, it was the local watering hold, the Country Tavern (CT for short) and all the local ranchers were invited to put their brand on the wall. We found our brand hiding behind a picture!!! It’s been about 20-some-odd years since it was put up there and I’m still excited to see that brand proudly displayed.

What’s the point in all this friendliness? I think it either has something to do with the Super Super Moon or maybe Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Or maybe people are just nice. Whatever it is, I think it’s fantastic.

Now I love my holidays so I’m going to challenge you, dear reader, on a Thanks-off. Every day until my birthday, December 27, make it a point to say Thank You to at least 3 people. Don’t have 3 people around? Fine, make it 1 person and 2 animals. No one around and all the animals ignore you like my alpacas? Fine. Say Thank You to the air, the sun, your Creator, yourself. Call Customer Service and talk with them and say Thank You when they transfer you. Thank your boots off!!! Need some accountability? Post your Daily Dose of Thanks on the FB page or if you’re on Instagram, tag me at #redlipsncowchips. Or just tell your neighbor what you’re doing and spread the joy.

 

 

 

 

What the Shetland?*

*Original cover photo (above) by Hivewire3d.com. Go check them out, it’s pretty cool.

 

Alright, I’m not taking the blame for this. In fact, this was never on my radar but a certain little girl got the birthday present so many of us dreamed of because her Oma (German nickname for Grandma) bought it.

My child has a Shetland pony. Let that sink in. I’ll wait.

Again, I do not take any fault for this horse. Not my fault at all. Remember that.

But she’s really cute and I kinda love her and we take care of her and she loves it when I brush her and scratch behind her ears just so. Gosh doggit, I really like her.

Well, she’s not my fault but I’ll keep her because I can ride her. She’s also closer to the ground and that’s comforting to someone like me who has a slight fear of heights and being bucked off a horse and onto a yucca.

To be clear, this pony looks like the ones you see at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and other places where you pay for them to ride gently in circles for 5 minutes. Here’s a very uplifting description of ponies. They’re sweet, funny, goofy, and pretty much the coolest short thing I’ve seen in a while. However, this pony has a mind of her own. She tried to stomp on the cats and thought it would be fun to bite one of the dogs. When she met the other two horses, she decided to be their new alpha after the pecking order biting and chasing was over. (That lasted that all of 10 minutes and everyone is fine, by the way.) I think the gelding is taking this kinda hard. He used to be the alpha then this little horse that can barely be seen over the winter grass decided to take over. He accepts her as part of the herd, as does the mare who, when you see them together looks like a mother/daughter combo, but he’s still stingy and mean when it comes to the feed. I can’t blame him – I mean, now he’s got two women who tell him what to do.

I have noticed both bigger horses get a little more jealous when I do scratch her. These two NEVER let us near them unless there’s food involved. Now, all of a sudden, the pony comes up for scratches and they’re trying to push each other out of the way for some cuddles. Ridiculous. But, since I’m trying to gain their trust so that I can actually ride one some day, I scratch and sweet talk and tell them all how much I love them. Meanwhile, they’re sniffing me for food.

Anyways, we have a pony. And a cute little pony saddle. Her name is Penelope, she’s 8 years old, and needs a bath. Oh and here’s some more awesome news: MY CHILD CAN COLOR IN THE LINES. Seriously, this is big news for parents. It’s on the same level as when they start to crawl or walk or poop and wipe by themselves. Huge news, my friends.

Now this has nothing to do with ranching but I figure you’ve been inundated with phone calls, flyers, and canvassers urging you to vote for their candidate. I’m sure you’ve been told to vote more times than you can remember and you probably are either voicing your opinion on the candidates or you’re hanging back to see if it will be Aunt Myra or Uncle Jasper who throws the turkey leg on Thanksgiving at your lovable-yet-dimwitted Cousin James for whatever he said about the other candidate. It’s ok to chuckle if it happened in 2012.

Whatever happens, please make sure not just to vote but to know WHAT you’re voting for! Even if you can’t or won’t vote for the next President of the United States, there are still a lot of local offices and bonds and such that need your input. Visit your local County Clerk’s office and be an informed voter. Remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. FOR FOUR YEARS. That’s an awful long time to hang onto regret. Just in case you’re wondering, we voted already. I’m not particularly fond of any politician on the ballot for “the big one” but I did vote for those people (and those bonds) that I think will serve our communities the best. Even then, I have a feeling our Thanksgiving will have LOTS of wine. And maybe a few extra turkey legs, just in case.

 

 

 

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Where did October go?

Dang, that was quick. I mean, I thought I’d only be gone for a week. I just looked back at my last blog post…it’s been almost a full month! Wow. Well, I guess I better get to updating y’all on what’s going on at the ranch.

We moved the cattle! I actually got to see this. The cows and calves get separated but they’re all going home. Before you get mad at me for telling you that moms and babies have to be separated, lemme tell ya why. They have to be for the safety of the calves…you don’t want one cow to get spooked and accidentally hurt a calf. Speaking of calves, we had a birth here on the ranch! Too bad we weren’t there to see it – we were at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF) having way too much fun! We had the pleasure of taking care of these cattle all summer, now we will wait a few weeks and get our own herd. In the spring, I hope to have lots of pictures of our calves – they should be arrive mid-March. Of course, we decided to jump in to ranching when cattle prices are so low some people are struggling to pay the bills. So what’s my point? Eat some damn beef. Go local if you can. Or contact me and let’s make a deal. Not sayin’, just sayin’. I love the life we’re building out here and that we’ve literally become stewards of the land and the animals who live here – now help me and families just like mine continue this amazing tradition.

*Gets off her soapbox and continues with the blog*

Speaking of the AIBF, it was our daughter’s birthday. It was a pirate birthday and she was our pirate princess. Our tradition for the past few years is to camp out there (well, the lot we stay at has all the super nice coaches – it’s more glamping on a paved parking lot). We get there, set up camp, have a birthday party, invite all of our Albuquerque area friends, and everyone gets to stay and watch the fireworks and glow. It’s amazing! Balloon Fiesta is something we look forward to every year because we know we’ll have a great time, it’s easy to plan, and there’s nothing like seeing balloons hanging in the air at 8:30am. They’re like jeweled decorations on a tree except the tree is the beautiful New Mexico sky and I’m holding a breakfast burrito in my hand instead of a gift. We also took a detour to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch. Folks, you need to get to your local pumpkin patch – that was fun! Piggy races, a castle with princess tea time, a maize maze, and of course the coveted pumpkin picking. Oh and punkin’ chunkin’. Here’s the site for the World Championship of Punkin’ Chunkin’. Yes.

A bittersweet moment was remembering my father-in-law. One year ago he passed; I still expect to see him coming through the door. So much has changed in the past year but I think he’d be proud of what we’ve accomplished in that time. Actually, I think he’d be extremely impressed. My husband and I are definitely go-getter kind of people, so getting into a business on a wish and a dream sounds exactly like something we would do if you asked our close friends. One of our cousins came up to the ranch and had the sweet idea of reprinting photos of the family and sending them off on biodegradable balloons. It was a beautiful gesture and one I’ll never forget.

The alpacas are mad at me. Well, they’re mad at my husband but weren’t too pleased that we had to cut their nails. You’d think they’d be down for a manicure. Unfortunately, they hate being roped and I’m not really sure when they were haltered last. The halters we bought, even though they were listed as XL, were still too small. Which got me to thinking…are these alpaca/llama hybrids? They’re definitely big guys. Is that even possible? No matter, they’re still goofy and the best lawnmowers. PS – I’ve got lots of alpaca poop (aka beans!) if you want some.

The Harvest Moon! That amazingly gorgeous red sphere just peeked over the horizon. Wow. But ya know what? I got a bone to pick with the weather. I thought it was supposed to be cool now. Mother Nature is messing with us big time. The highs this and next week are in the high 80’s to low 90’s. I mean, seriously. Get it together! I almost switched out my wardrobe for sweaters and forgot and I’m STILL fine in t-shirts. I need my sweaters and alpaca mittens and wood-burning stove right now. Not shorts and tank tops. I need to retire summer for a bit.

Which reminds me, I have to postpone my dreams of another half marathon. I did something weird to my ankle on the last run and it’s been funky running ever since. Not broken or sprained, just twisted enough that if I run it hurts. The last time I ignored pain I ended up with a stress fracture, so I’ll just stick with a smaller distance and give myself more time to train. Extra time can’t hurt: along with this crazy heat, it’s also been ridiculously windy! I hate running in wind. And heat. Don’t mind the cold, unless it’s raining. Ok, I just love to hate running. But at least I have my indoor cycling!

Oh, my cycle playlist! So I made this for a dear friend of mine who inspired me to teach my kind of crazy and came to a lot of my cycle classes in Las Cruces. I would joke with her not to throw her water bottle at me but half the time she was too exhausted to do it. Or she was thirsty and didn’t want to waste her bottle on me. Anyway, I made a playlist for her and thought I’d share it with the world. You can listen to my version of crazy via Spotify by clicking here. Be warned, it’s angry, there’s techno, and most people who ever rode with me can hear me yelling and dancing in the aisles. It’s just how I roll. (Get it? How I roll? Because it’s on a bicycle???)

The damn chickens. OK. I gotta vent here (I did it again! Vent? Get it??!) The chicken perp is now a Guinea perp. I lost 10 of my 12 Guinea keets in ONE NIGHT. The other 2 are extremely quiet now and I can’t blame them. They lost all their siblings a month ago and we locked them out of their old coop. I refuse to let them be easy prey until we figure out what happened and how to stop it. Instead of being super smart and hanging with the chickens *inside* the re-purposed horse trailer, they prefer to roost *on top* of the trailer. I guess that works as long as an owl doesn’t spot a giant white or polka dot bird. At least they might have a chance of escape. As it is, Guinea fowl are only barely domesticated and usually roost in the trees of Africa with hyenas and lions and such so I guess they’ll be OK in New Mexico – at least, I hope. Andrea, you ask, why don’t you find some place safer for them and train them to go there? Lemme tell ya, we tried. We did let them roost for a bit inside the shop but, well, they poop a lot. They like to poop on things you’ll need the next day, like your toolbox. Or your indoor cycle. Or the 4-wheeler. It’s fun cleaning up bird poop, as I’m sure you can imagine. Really, they just kinda quit going inside and decided instead that the open air was more their style. As for the chickens, they’re doing better. Laura got her voice back, Rosa’s neck feathers are growing back, and 2 are going through their molting period. They all kinda look ugly and emaciated but I promise they’re well fed and spoiled rotten. I did somehow convince the hubby to let me get some chicks. They’re cute and fluffy and skittish and live safely in the workshop. If all works out, I could be getting 5-7 eggs a day – in six months or so. Oh joy!!!

Phew. That was a lot. It doesn’t include our trip to the Clayton Arts Festival, that time I drove to Las Vegas, NM to pick up my mom’s dog for his staycation, or the few days we spent cleaning out rat’s nests in the hunting camper. Seriously, those things happened ad ended up on the floor of my editing room. What have you been up to? Talk with me, walk with me, let’s hang out sometime!

Ranch Updates!

*The photo above is the Arkansas River in Southern Colorado. The leaves are just starting to change and it s GORGEOUS!!!

Hey there!  The ranch is in change right now. It’s kind of a nice lull before the cows literally come home. We will have some 3-year old cows soon who will become part of the ranch. But until then, here’s a few updates.

  • The chicken perp is still on the run. Our guess is that it either moved on or is hiding out somewhere. We keep setting a live trap and all we catch are the cats. There’s 7 cats and I’m pretty sure we’ve caught all but 2 at some point. One of our calicos, a female, might be in heat; either that or she’s just *extremely* friendly. She loves to rub on me, the other cats, the dogs; she tried a chicken and the alpacas but that didn’t work out so well. They just weren’t into her. The chickens, meanwhile, have accepted their new digs in the old horse trailer. It’s much more enclosed and they can still free range during the day, so it’s a win-win. Plus, with winter on the way it will be easier to keep them cozy. I need to paint that trailer but can’t decide on a color. Turquoise to match the ranch or purple because why not? I thought about doing a mural but I can’t draw so maybe not. I’d end up with stick figures and a smiley face sun. I’ll do a before and after post once I can decide on a color or a theme. Heck, it might just be white again. Don’t hold your breath.
  • THE WEATHER: I love Fall!!! The temps don’t go above 85, the lows mean I can finally get heavy blankets out and (premature, I know) have the gas fireplace on, we cuddle more for reading time, and the mosquitoes are dying. If I didn’t welt up every time I was bitten by a mosquito, I wouldn’t detest those flying vampires. But I do swell up and I can’t stand it. From what I understand, though, the mosquitoes will leave but the Yellowjackets will appear soon. Not looking forward to that but that’s why we love the Guineas. They love bugs! Let’s hope they love those jackets. I also found a great recipe for Pumpkin Spice Lattes that includes real pumpkin. Make sure to cook the pumpkin and spices – that’s what really brings out the amazing flavor! The only downside is that we got the hailstorm of the century! Seriously, golf ball and larger sized hail at our house. It was so bad at my mother-in-law’s that she now needs a new roof! Meanwhile, in town they got pebbles and a sprinkle. Gotta love New Mexico weather! Seriously, if you wait 15 minutes, the weather WILL change.
  • The alpacas are eating out of my hand!!!! That’s a huge step in the awesomely right direction. We are still a long way off from them wanting to be petted like the ones you probably saw during Alpaca Farm Days, but at least they like me now. It’s kinda fun to look out the window and see this goofy looking camelid grazing out there. The biggest perk is that they are the best walking lawnmowers around. I found out that the manure they make is apparently amazing. No need to wait for it to decompose. We might make a garden next Spring, so I’ll try it out and let you know the results. Right now, the ‘Paca Poop (I think I’ll trademark that) is covering bare spots in the pasture.
  •  I’m running again. A great friend of mine once said that if anyone ever wants me to do something crazy the best time to convince me to do it is when I’m sick. Apparently my stubborn ways are softened and I’ll agree to craziness. I believe it: that’s how she got me to sign up for a sprint triathlon. So I assume that I’m getting sick because I’m now in training for a half marathon. Ya see, The Biggest Loser Race Series (BLRS) has come to Las Cruces 2 of the last  3 years. I’ve run both times plus another half that was actually 15 miles.  I’m more of a turtle’s pace kinda runner. I will take in the scenery, listen to an audiobook, and just enjoy the moment. In other words, I’m slow. Gimme some gum, my iPod, an inhaler, and I’m good to go. So I’m training to run my 3rd BLRS half marathon in January. I feel like I can’t break the streak at this point. At least now I don’t have much of an excuse. I’m teaching 2 classes in town and both are great for cross-training and stretching.
  • While I’m at it, I also decided that my P90X class needed to be more inclusive. So now, it’s at the local Armory building. Plus, Armory soldiers can take the class for free AND I’m making a donation of admission to the Family Readiness Group: it’s a fund set aside for families whose soldier gets deployed. This community has been so amazingly welcoming to our family that I figure it’s time to do something good for the community. It’s a small gesture but it means the world to someone out there. And besides, I’m sick of seeing all the bad news out there. I’ll be going the positive route. What positive things are you doing? 😀

 

Revenge: best served with eggs

Well, it happened. I didn’t want it to happen, I tried my best to avoid it, but it happened.

I lost a decent companion, one of those on the ranch that ensured I woke up every morning with purpose. I felt this coming but thought that I might have a moment or two before it happened. After all, doesn’t time move slower out in the country?

Today, my friends, I lost a friend. OK, not a friend at all, but still: I lost my rooster. To a predator. We aren’t sure what kind yet but I have a feeling it’s a raccoon. Ya see, predators have tell tale signs of attack. Without getting too detailed, and if you really wanna know here’s the link, the bite marks on the neck and chest and location of the crime scene fit the bill.

So what’s a girl to do to get rid of unwanted animals? Lemme be honest: I can’t love them all. I will definitely give preference to cuddly things that don’t attack my daughter, like to be loved, and offer some kind of mutual benefit. The cats, as lazy as they are, deter snakes and have tremendously helped our mouse problem. As do the Guinea hens. The dogs alert us to situations; Nacho barked last night and we thought he was just being crazy. He actually did his job and we didn’t listen. He also loves to remind us that my Amazon Prime order has come by UPS but I get excited, too. The chickens give eggs and eat bugs. The alpacas…well, those are still to be determined but they’re soft and pretty good at eating dandelion leaves and weeds.

Speaking of the alpacas, I am proud to report that after 12 days of hanging out with us, I was finally “allowed” to touch the alpha male. I still can’t get over their names, though. Anyway, the guys were laying down, or cushing, and relaxing from the late summer sunshine in the shade. I sat down next to him and slowly moved closer over a 5 minute period. The dogs weren’t much help, though. They saw a human at eye level and decided that meant I needed to pet them. They kinda ruined our bonding moment but hey, it was 5 minutes with my alpacas!!!

Back to the criminal. I cleaned up the remains of the body this morning as soon as I saw it then fumed and vented as we headed out of town to run other errands that needed to be done ASAP. Once back home, I cleaned out the coop, added some hardware cloth. It’s like a thick but flexible wire mesh – FYI chicken wire is NOT predator proof. It’s like putting string over a lion cage and saying it’s safe. It’s not.

Then I had that light bulb moment.

When I built the coop with the Guineas in mind I made a separate section just for the Guineas. I figured that IF they stuck around they would want a safe place to roost from the adult chickens, somewhere they could go to escape harassment while also acclimating to their new environment. They’re from Minnesota; we’re in New Mexico. Instead of just putting up more wire everywhere and not sleeping I decided to put them in the smaller Guinea coop. It’s seriously Fort Clucks in there. Metal grate for a door, metal roof and metal walls on two sides, hardware cloth and a shelf we turned on its side for nesting boxes. My girls hated it, but they’re safe tonight and that’s what matters to me.

We have a plan for the perp and I refuse to elaborate on it. If you’ve met a chicken lover before, they can probably tell you what will happen. If you haven’t…well, go find one and buy yourself a dozen of the freshest, most amazing eggs. Cook them up your favorite way. There is nothing like fresh eggs. When you’ve got something that wonderful at home, you tend to protect it. So now I’m down to 7 hens, no rooster, and 12 Guineas. And 7 cats. And 2 dogs. And 2 alpacas. Where the hell is my partridge in a pear tree? I don’t even like pears that much but I’d probably adopt it if I thought it would benefit me and I could save it from becoming pear tree paper.

If we catch this chicken thief, I’ll report it on my Facebook page. Did you know I have a Facebook page? I’m all techy and stuff. Follow the daily crazy here. Sorry, no pictures in this post. We already buried Hank. His name was Hank. Well, it was Hannah, but then he became a teenager and tried to have relations with the girls. So there’s that. Fly to the Cracked Corn, Hank.

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Ranch Life is Busy!

PS – The image above is Lacey. Girlfriend can ride, y’all!!!

Seriously, I’ve been busy. Ya see, when we go all out we go ALL. OUT.

So where do I start? Well, we’ve had the greenest August in a long time. That’s great for replenishing the pasture, the cattle have more than enough to graze, great for fire threats, terrible for mosquitoes and weeds. Our old mower needed replacement about 3 years ago but my father-in-law kept fixing it just enough to keep it going. However, it’s on its last leg for real this time…so we got a new one! It’s literally the first time in my life that I’ve owned a new vehicle. Corona (the new dog) is growing like a weed and Nacho is finally good with sleeping in the dog house. Taco is a gang leader and brings all the other cats to the house to play and catch moths at night. The chickens are still laying and the rooster is making a very nice mature crow. Granted it happens at 6am, 10am, 3pm, and a few evening squawks, I’m just proud of him for trying!

For the past month, really since August 20, we’ve packed up and gone camping on 3 separate occasions. We actually just got home Monday from our latest adventure. And every trip was amazing!!! Friends, food, laughs, mountain air, cool breezes, lots of s’mores…the good stuff that makes up a summer. I think we’re taking a break from camping at least until October, when we get to head to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta!  Not only do I LOVE the balloon fiesta, it’s also baby girl’s birthday party. All the more reason to celebrate!

Then there’s the family visits. Our extended family is a tad bit complicated but whose isn’t? We had an antelope hunter who got here and shot his antelope within 3 hours of driving up to the ranch. We had one of my favorite people here the next day who just happens to love pie – she got apple, pumpkin, and a berry cobbler because I love her. Then we had our family of 6 come out for the holiday weekend and the kids had a blast. I still miss the big city but there’s nothing like coming “out to the country” to reset your soul. I like to think of it as all the kids going home for Thanksgiving, but without the drama.

Oh, and did I mention the fitness classes are going well? So well, I’m moving to a new building in town to accommodate knee tuck jumps and burpees. Oh yes, the exercises people love to hate! More on that next week. It’s gonna be a good one.

Then there’s the new residents of the ranch. Ok…before I delve into this one, let me just say that it’s about a 2 week interval of adding animals to the ranch. Started with my dog Nacho and 3 chickens. Wait 2 weeks, add 5 more chickens. Wait 2 weeks, add Taco the cat. 2 weeks, add more cats. A few days and the keets came. I think we got in 3 weeks before the arrival of Corona. The ironic part is that we have yet to add our own cattle but that’s coming together, too. Alright, buckle down, grab a drink (alcohol or otherwise) and get ready for this newest addition. I’ll wait.

So, it all started months ago when I thought I should learn everything there was about ranching. Remember Ranchucation 101? Yeah, didn’t think I’d use half those books but I’ve used every single one. Just in case you’ve forgotten what books I mean, there’s a picture here.

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Ranchucation 101, anyone?

I figured the ones on the right would pretty much be put into use immediately. And they have been indispensable! The Guinea Hen guide that is on my Kindle helped me raise 12 Guinea hens and they’re still alive and thriving. I already had cats and dogs in Las Cruces, so that didn’t need much of an explanation. But The Camelid Companion and Alpaca Keeping? A few months ago, that was just a nice dream. How funny would it be to pull up to a cattle ranch and see these furry creatures hanging out? Ha. Ha. Ha. I had decided that, in the middle of doing something or other, I just HAD to check out a Facebook page I rarely visit. There they were…2 alpacas who needed a home because the owner was moving and animals weren’t allowed. Shut the front door. What I like most about alpacas is that they are tad bit nicer than llamas and not as tall. I’m short, I like to stay close to the ground. They’re short, too, so obviously we need each other.

I talked it over with my husband because (a) they’re alpacas, (b) I don’t know how to load the trailer yet, and (c) they’re alpacas. I seriously expected him to laugh and say no. But he didn’t. He said yes. I mean, really, he was kind of excited in his I’m-not-excited way to have alpacas. Two days later, we hitched up the trailer and, after about 45 minutes of trying to get them out of the pen, I got alpacas. I own alpacas. I have two freaking alpacas and my poor husband only shakes his head but he can’t help but smile because they’re kinda funny looking. He did take all the dirt roads to miss going through town or the highway, though. Heaven forbid someone see this nice trailer with alpacas in it….

I have alpacas. There, I said it. And they’re crazy soft. And actually kinda crazy. They don’t trust me yet, but it’s been about 11 days. At least they now let me go in the pens with them and ate hay out of my hands yesterday. It’s slow but it’s progress!!! They fit right in with this crazy lifestyle and I love them.

As with anything in life, the learning continues. In the process of understanding shearing, teeth, nails, behavior, training, and studying like I’ve got a final exam in Med School, I’ve met some of the most amazing people. Did you know there’s an Alpaca Breeders Association for almost every state? Did you know that there’s even a national registry that tracks DNA samples of alpacas and llamas? Did you know that you can spell llama with only one L? Mind. Blown. There’s even an Alpaca Farm Days where you can get your alpaca fix. You bet your wool I’ll be there.

Now you know where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to and why you haven’t seen mi vida loca for two weeks. I am learning about how to care for alpacas and train them to trust me so that I can care for them. They’re in rough shape and need a day at the spa. Luckily, I’m not alone in the alpaca world of New Mexico. There’s a few people with alpaca farms (seriously!) I’ve reached out to that are more than helpful. I never thought I’d have alpacas. Or chickens. Or cats. Or more than one dog. But here I am, going full force country. And I love it!!! Did I mention my mother-in-law wants to buy the horse?  I don’t have an Equine Keeping book yet, but there’s always time to learn!!!

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My first “new” new vehicle.
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Guineas and Grass!
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Too cute!
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Woman. I’m an Alpaca.