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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

 

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New Year!

Yes, we did it! The sun set on 2016 and we have a whole ‘nother 365 days on this gorgeous planet. The cover picture is a typical New Mexico sunset, by the way. Dirty window, but gorgeous sunset.

I think we actually spent the ENTIRE month of December at home. That hasn’t happened since we moved! Today we’re expecting somewhere around 5-8 inches of snow and we are all impatiently waiting for it. The kid wants to build a snowman, the husband wants to feed the ladies some hay and break ice so he can put his jammies back on, I just got in a good workout and now I’m blogging by a fire so I’m good…it’s the anticipation that makes it all somewhat unbearable! I guess we could get up and clean the house. Maybe tomorrow.

Here are your random updates on the zoo/ranch.

Our Christmas was awesome; not only did we get to watch our little one make her town debut in the Christmas Musical at a local church, she also got a visit from Santa and a new mountain bike! The grandparents (and, of course, the parents) showered her with love and gifts and we just had good one. Apparently, I’m a crazy chicken lady given the gifts I received. And I’m ok with that!

And did I tell you about Christmas Eve dinner? One word: tapas.

Andrea, you’re speaking crazy words again. What’s a tapas? You shouldn’t say words like that in front of a child.

Tapas (pronounced Top-ahs) are, according to Google dictionary, small Spanish savory dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar. You better believe we had drinks: mostly from my friend’s One Hope collection I raved about in a previous post! Think of it as ordering a bunch of appetizers and sharing them with everyone. We spoiled ourselves with pear, fontina, and caramelized onion flatbread pizza, some kind of spinach mini quiche, pigs in a blanket (totally not a Spanish dish but it’s required at our table), and I made a lavender goat cheese with local honey served with bread. Yeah, I make cheese. Too bad we don’t have a milking cow! Then again, if we did I’d be outside in 6 degree F weather cursing myself for having to milk a cow in the snow.

Right after Christmas is my birthday and it was great! Then we got to celebrate our anniversary on New Year’s Eve. Yes, we are one of those couples that got married on New Year’s Eve, but the way we see it we ALWAYS have a party to attend. And we’ll never forget it! Win win. January 1 didn’t see us slowing down at all. We drove the cattle down from the other pasture to our home pasture. It’s all of *maybe* 3 miles away but I requested that we  take it slow and not make the ladies go faster than they needed to move. If you’ve ever been pregnant or ate too much and had a food baby belly, you understand the need to walk slowly and pace yourself. Anyways, the girls are here and hang out regularly with the horses. The alpacas? They kinda look at them like “What the hay are you?” Meanwhile the alpacas (who grew up in the middle of corn country) look at them like “What is that sound you keep making? Is that a tractor? What ARE those things?” Everyone’s a little confused.

In an effort to get out on a gorgeous day, we decided to make the roof a little prettier on the chicken coop. We went on an adventure to find some scrap sheet metal. In the meantime, we found elk poop (yay for elk!!!) and stopped by the old Model A Ford that was abandoned some time during the Dust Bowl. There’s some gorgeous spots in my “backyard”. The chickens were happy that their previous haphazard tarp was gone. Well, I assume they were because I got TWO EGGS yesterday!!! That’s the most I’ve gotten since this summer!!! (Edit: I’m back down to 1 a day but still, that’s a record for me!) The younger chicks (approximately 5 months now) are super cute and not cuddly at all but they like to peck the dogs and bully the cats. There are some days they deserve it, not gonna lie.

Seriously, that’s about it. I did just watch a herd of about 100 antelope pass by. Every other day, I’m yelling at them “Get off my grass!” and they just look at me. It doesn’t help that my two not-so vicious dogs just watch them pass by like it’s a parade. Sure, they’ll chase the alpacas; the antelope? Not a chance. These dogs have their priorities mixed up.

Here’s some pics from the past week or so. This GORGEOUS quilt was made by our amazing family friend, Joanie, whose daughter just spoke about farm stress on Red River Farm Network. It’s 3 parts and it gives quite the insight on how just about everyone needs to talk about stress factors in their daily lives! Find parts 1, 2, and 3 by clicking on the numbers. They’re quick and easy to listen to – or check out the site. There’s SO MUCH more to agriculture than you’d think! By the way, the cows on the road are my new rush hour traffic and that cow painting is now at my mother-in-law’s house. Black baldies (the type of cow featured) are her favorite.

 

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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!