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… 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.