Friday, August 30, 2013

Ball Like a Baby

Baby calves.. cute little buggers aren't they?!
I mean, who doesn't like a fuzzy little baby animal, big ole eyes, wobbly little legs...
Sure, they are cute for the first few days... then they become more cow-like than baby-like and lose their cuteness... especially when their little faces are covered in their mothers breakfast (one of the downfalls of drinking from an udder i suppose...)
A calf weighing over 450 lbs isnt really cute anymore, and its a good thing too because thats when they get the boot!

Cute little Norman from City Slickers

Today we weaned the calves at the ranch we work on.
For a rancher, weaning is a pretty stressful time of year.
The calves are physically separated from the cows so that they can be sold or shipped to another pasture, which is pretty hard on the little guys (450lb little guys...)
No mooooving away party, no last sip of warm milk, no goodbye lick... just a run through the chute, a few vaccines, a quick visit to the scales, and a bumpy trailer trip to the corrals down the road.
The stress comes because these big babies are very valuable little things!
The cowboys have been working all year to keep these calves healthy. If the calves get run down because of the stress they go through at weaning, they could get sick (costing the rancher $$), they could lose weight (more $$) or they could die (a lotta $$)
Plus, no one wants a sick baby!

So, weaning needs to be done a certain way so that the babies remain happy and healthy
(ok, so maybe not happy... who would be happy to be taken away from an all you can eat buffet!!)

First off, the pairs need to be gathered as quietly as possible and taken to the corrals.  If you run the pairs too much, they'll get stressed and they'll also run the weight you worked so hard to put on them the last 4 months.

Gathering the pairs for weaning - I'm on the far left, Matt on the far right

Once the pairs are all in the corrals they will be sorted off one another.
The cows will be let back into the pasture near the corrals, and the calves will be sorted into holding pens.

The pairs are held in the arena on the back of the corrals until it is their turn to be sorted

Matt and Tic sorting a cow off the herd 
(he hates this picture because Tic is swinging his head... it happens...)

I usually alternate between riding rodear and sorting
Here I'm letting the cows pass in the alley to go to pasture and turning the calves back to be penned

Once the calves are sorted off the cows, they are "worked"
This entails running each calf through the chute, giving vaccinations, and sorting again.
Today, we gave the usual calf vaccinations, sorted our heifer calves from our steer calves, and then weighed the calves in groups to get an estimate of their weight. 

Calves are worked! 

After the calves are weighed, they are taken by trailer load to some corrals about 5 miles down the road to "ball".
The calves, even though they are huge, are still babies.  They've never been apart from their mothers, and they are not excited about it.  They will cry for about 3 or 4 days before accepting their eminent fate. So will the mommas.  

Here the calves are all worked and ready to be trailered to the corrals down the way
Many of the cows are waiting at the gate balling for their calves
(and others have decided eating grass is more worth their time... they'll all eventually figure that out)

Some ranchers choose to wean through a fence, called fence-line weaning
This is where the calves and the cows are in different fields/corrals separated by a fence.
Our cows will always find a way through the fence, so we choose not to wean this way.
Our mommas will even go looking for their calves even when they cannot see or hear them.
Last year when Matt's folks were visiting, we heard some pretty clear moo's coming from the cows.
Hearing some cries is expected, as i mentioned above they will cry for a few days...
However, these moos sounded like they were right outside the window of our house.. and thats because they were!  They were standing in our driveway!  They had torn down a 5 strand barbed wire fence looking for their babies.  We closed the gates around the ranch and Lisa, Matt and I gathered them in the morning.

Matt riding through the stubble field last year after bringing home the wandering cows

Other ranchers choose to use nose-flaps or spiked-nose-rings.
This is where the calves are run through a chute so that the rancher can install the rings.
The rings or flaps are put through the nostrils of the calf and make nursing very uncomfortable for the mother, so uncomfortable that the cow will kick the calf off of her and not let it nurse. 
Ive never actually seen this done, but i can imagine its a lot of work to put them in just to take them out 2 weeks later when the cows milk has dried up.  
We are lucky to have enough different locations to keep our calves and cows separate, so the rings are not necessary for us.  

Here is one such nose ring (calf is not ours)

After the 3 or 4 days of balling is over, the calves go onto greener pastures (literally, they go into a nice irrigated grassy field) and the mommas go back to packing on the pounds to get ready for their new baby who is already growing inside them.

And the part i love about weaning?
Being outside, on a hot little mare, riding in the hills and sorting in the alleyway.
Working in town part of the week, i don't get to be horseback as often as i like to, so im more than happy to help out when i can!
Even if im dog tired and now smell like a cow :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Magic Cake!

What's Magic Cake you ask??
Well... its MAGIC!!! And every good magician knows that you cannot reveal secrets behind epic tricks!
Lucky for you, i'm not a magician! (neither is Matt)
But he sure did make this AMAZING cake!

So whats so magical about it?
It only has 3 ingredients (and yes, it was edible, incredibly edible!) 
Its the most simple, most delightful cake you will ever make!
And it is so easy, i didn't even have time to take pictures of the process, just the end result!
But thats all that really matters anyway!

Magic Cake

1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 14oz or larger can pie filling (any coordinating flavor)
3 eggs

Mix all ingredients well (about 4-5 minutes) 
Pour everything into a greased and floured bundt pan
Bake @ 350 for 30 to 40 min.
Allow cake to rest for 10 minutes, then flip over onto serving plate.

Optional: Drizzle with a simple glaze
(1 cup powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make your desired glaze consistency, around 2 tbs for us)

Not only did Matt mix the cake, bake it, and glaze it, but he even did the dishes!
(ok, so i did the dishes... but he did everything else, including the eating!)

And the best part about this recipe is that it can make many different flavors!

We made Lemon Cake with Pineapple filling (just regular tid bits of pineapple)
Ummm..... YUMMM!!!!! SO moist, so yummy!

Think of the possibilities!!
Chocolate Cake with Cherries
White Cake with Raspberries
Spice Cake with Apples... 

I hope Matt is done moving cows because we are gonna need to make another cake! 

< And for those bakers out there that dont use boxed cake... What a great reason to start!! :) >

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Married Into...

Two years ago today I became Mrs. Ingram
I married Matt - Son, brother, cowboy, truck driver, dog trainer, work-a-holic, roper, eater, manly-man.
Today, my happy 2nd anniversary, I thought id reflect a little on what I married into.

And when I say horses, I don't mean a cute little pasture pony who whinnies and has other cute little horse antics... I mean, buck-you-off, run-off-with-you, spook-at-a-rock, "you-better-ride-me-daily" kind of horses.  And who would have ever thought that i would like it!?  And by like it, i mean LOVE it!
We now have 4 horses. 
 Our eldest is Matt's old ranch gelding Ace - a pretty bay guy, he is lovely to look at.  He is retired, although he is a great rope horse and i just happen to be light enough to ride him every now and then without making him crippled.  
Then we have Tic - he is a very pretty sorrel gelding.  Matt's had him for a while now, and has made him into quite a nice boy.  I remember when i first met Matt, him and tic would fight like an old married couple... an old married couple who would beat each other with their canes and bite each other with their dentures.  It was a lovely relationship as you can imagine.  After an evening ride, they would both be so hot and sweaty you'd think one of them would've given up! But my hubby and his horse are too much alike... very stubborn and very strong! In the end, they did work it out, and they are really the best of friends now.  They make a great team.

Matt and Tic at our last branding

Next in line for the boys is Yellow, aka "Streakin Hornet".  He came from Oregon, originally from New Mexico.  He is a beautiful light palomino color, very handsome.  We bought him so that i could have a horse to ride as we were kinda running out of horsepower here on the ranch.  He was so solid in the sale, even had his rider stand on top of him in the arena.  When we got him back to idaho, i rode him and loved him! He didnt have the best rein on him, but he was gentle. Then one day, he bucked me off... and do i mean BUCKED!  This horse not only showed me how high he can kick up those back legs, but showed me why his name is "Streaking Hornet".  He was a yellow blur all the way back to the barn! He has since bucked quite a bit, but Matt softens him up on the ground before we ride him now, and he is as sweet as pie... a sour lemon pie :)
And our prettiest little horse is Oakey, the lady of the bunch.  Although you would never know that she was a lady with the manners she has! (or doesn't have i should say!)  She is by far our best horse, knows it all, can do it all, has been everywhere - she is amazing.  However, she is quite a brat... she knows she is good, and is not about to be humble!  She is quick, snorty, and very opinionated.  Her and i did not get along at all at first... we've come to an arrangement now where we can work together - its not always pleasant, but by the end of the day we are two happy campers.  She bucked me off recently and as i was lying on the ground looking up at her, she just stared at me with that look of, "How'd that feel?" ... at least she didn't run off...

This is Oakey... in the house... IN the HOUSE... best part about the picture is matts face...
He is lovin it!

I LOVE camping... i love the campfires, the wilderness, the wildlife.  However, my idea of camping and my husbands idea of camping are quite different.  
Im not a prissy girl by any means... i was raised by my father, which led me to believe i was a boy until i experienced middle school - middle school girls are not very nice to girls who wear khaki knee length shorts and BigDog tees... and lets just say the boys aren't too nice either! 
But I digress...
I'm no sissy-la-la.  Thanks to my dad, i can change my own tire, start my own fire, you get the picture.  But we always camped in a tent or trailer when i was younger.  We would camp somewhere where we would ride bikes, fish, just enjoy being outside.  Sure, it was in a campground, but whats wrong with a little bit of pavement?? 
My husbands idea of camping is sleeping in his bedroll in the middle of nowhere.  No tent.  No pillow. No campground.  The more desolate, the better. Heck, his ideal camping spot is one without any road, any trail.  Just him, his pot of coffee, and his bedroll.  
Now i know that a tent isnt bear proof... but there is something about sleeping inside it that makes you feel a little safer.  Id rather be a free meal thats wrapped than a piece of meat lying on the ground.
Needless to say, we have both given in a bit.  Now our camping consists of loading a big tupperware bin full of camping supplies into the back of our dodge, driving into USFS or BLM land, continuing until the road ends (sometimes a bit further) and then setting up a very small tent.  We have a campfire, we roast hotdogs, we even wash our hands! :) And matts favorite part of integrating my camping style? S'mores...

Camping along the Virgin River on BLM - the camping trip when Matt popped the big question :)

Hunting is something i was never into before i met my husband.  I come from a family that does hunt, in fact Matt and my uncle even go hunting together.  But it was never something i was interested in.  Matt was a hunting guide for Bitterwater Outfitters when we first started dating... 

(little plug, if you need a guide, choose them!! you wont be disappointed!

... and he invited me along one day for an early morning pig hunt.  We got up around 3am, left the house around 3:30am so that we were at the headquarters ready to pig hunt by 4:30am.  I was cold, tired, and pretty sure these men were crazy... how would we ever even see pigs this early??  Just as daylight approached, so did the pigs, swarms of them! Let the adventure begin! It was wild, and i was hooked!  I began to go with him every chance i could get, and i became quite the pig spotter and pig skinner (!!!). We no longer hunt pigs as we live in idaho, but last year Matt got a cow elk, and this year we are planning a buck hunt.  I also got a doe antelope tag! (Wish me luck!) My husband has fully converted me into the camo-wearing, rifle wielding woman i am today.  

Chloe has even turned into a hunter! (see background) 
(if this offends anyone... i apologize... but remember, its a coyote, not your house pooch)

and finally...
a LARGE Family
I guess you can say that everyone has a large family, if you include enough generations.  The Ingram/Lombardi family isn't all that big when you think about it i suppose.  It has your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, etc.  But what is different about the Ingram/Lombardi clan is that they actually LIKE each other, and they are close!  They have weekly dinners, invite each other over, send birthday cards, the whole bit! 
My close "Clark" family includes me, my sister, my dad, and my Grandma.  I love them all, but unfortunately we don't see all that much of each other.  And i have a great extended family, but i'm lucky if i see them once a year. 
NOW, i get to add the following to my family! 2 grandmas, 1 grandpa, 5 uncles, 4 aunts, 10 cousins, 1 sister, 1 mom and 1 dad.  And whats really cool, is my MIL's and my FIL's sides mix!  They will come over for dinner together!! Isn't that so cool!  
But the best part is that they all love me like im their own!  They have all fully adopted me.  Im so so truly blessed to be part of the Ingram/Lombardi family.  

Our Wedding Day with the Lombardis/Ingrams 

So today, 730 days after marrying the man of my dreams, i look back at all i married into.  
I married into horses, into camping, into hunting.
I married into a large, loving family.

I married into Adventure
Into Fun
Into Silliness
Hard Work
I married into Love
And i couldnt ask for anything more.

Happy Anniversary Matt!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What a Rodeo

Today in church, we talked about a rodeo.
Well, not really... In fact, we didn't talk about anything remotely like a rodeo....
However... What we did talk about can be illustrated through one specific part of the wonderful world of rodeo.

Matt and I love to go to the rodeo. Matt likes to ride and rope in them, and for now I just like to watch. (Maybe someday soon I'll rope with him, but that's a different story)
So anywho, we like the rodeo.  Particularly fun to watch is the rough stock riding.  And my husbands favorite part of the rough stock riding is definitely not the bull riding.  Not the saddle bonc riding, not even the bare back riding.  It's watching the pickup men.  Some of you might be saying "who??"

Well, the pickup men are the hardest working, least known men of the rodeo. They ride throughout the entire rodeo doing a little bit of everything, wrangling wayward calves after the calf roping, roping and dragging one-ton bulls out of the arena, they are behind the scenes kinda guys.  They are in the arena from start to finish, but if there aren't any wrecks, the fans hardly ever even notice them.

A pickup man's main duty is to be a hero.  They are responsible for rescuing the cowboy after his 8 second ride.  They have to ride up right along the bucking horse in order to let the rider safely dismount, sometimes reaching speeds close to 30 mph! Cody Wright, world champion saddle bronc rider, even went as far as to say that a cowboys life depends on the pickup man, saying that you don't even want to ride unless you have a good pickup man.  People get hurt in rodeo all the time, and pickup men can be there to  quickly and safely put a cowboy back on his feet. It takes a special sort of cowboy to be a pickup man. They are great horsemen who can probably even rope better than most competitors.  But they are the only riders out there not riding for themselves, as they are willing to  risk their own safety in order to help others. After they have safely gotten the cowboy off the bucking beast, then they have to quickly get the gear off the horse and get it out of the arena. Only when the rider and the horse are safely out of harms way can the pickup man think about himself.  A pickup man is the real cowboy of the rodeo; humble, gentle, and patient, earning every ounce of respect that could be given to a cowboy.

Photo by Ronald Erdrich

So... How does this relate to what my pastor and sunday school teacher spoke about in church today?

Today we studied Ephesians chapter 4, Unity in the Body of Christ and 1John chapter 1, Walking in the Light..  As Christians, we have a calling to live up to.  It is a high privilege to have been chosen, to have been saved by grace.  Our salvation comes with responsibility. We need to know how  to live for The Lord, how to use the Spirit that's within us to stand against the devils schemes and to help our brothers in Christ. We need to walk in the light and have fellowship with one another (1John 1:7).  We need to care for one another, to talk to each other about our problems and struggles, and to seek The Lord together for His help and guidance.  We need to show others the light that we know and the light that we follow.  And we need to do so humbly and gently and patiently (Eph 4:2).

Now, as my pastor said, we think we fellowship with one another quite often.  We meet up for luncheons, or we call each other on the phone, we even meet for coffee before church. But that is not true fellowship.  True fellowship is asking our friends and our families how they are doing, what they are struggling with, and how we can pray for them.  And we need to share the love and the light with the friends around us that don't have Christ in their lives.  It is our responsibility to help others find Christ , to live our lives so that people may look at us and think, "I want what she has" or "He must know something I don't know".  We know how much God loves us, that it is in fact an immeasurable love. And we need to help save each other.  Now, I know that Christ's sacrifice is what saves you and I, that his death and resurrection allows for our sins to be forgiven. But we can help save one another by sharing his promises, by sharing his word and his love.  By fellowship. By humble, gentle and patient fellowship.

So, here's how pickup men are like Christians.
A pickup man has his calling to live up to.  He is entrusted with certain responsibilities, just as we as Christians have responsibilities.  He needs to be attentive to his riders, to his stock.  And we need to be attentive to our fellow Christians and our friends who may not have yet come to Christ.  We need to know how to use the Spirit to help us with these responsibilities, just as a pickup man uses his experience and training to help him with his.  And we need to do so humbly, gently and patiently.  The pickup man is so efficient, so gentle that the audience rarely even sees him.  He swoops in, protects the cowboy, protects the horse, and is hardly ever noticed.  The glory is given all to the cowboy.  The pickup man doesn't take off his hat and throw it into the air, he doesn't receive the cheering from the crowd. He sits patiently off to the side, ready for the next rider. Like the pickup man, we need to be so gentle to our friends.  We need to give our friends the tools they need in their walk with Christ, and we need to humbly give all the glory to God when our friend finds his way.  We need to watch our other friends, fellowship with them, and make sure that we share all our knowledge of how to live and stand as Christians.  And if our friends are not yet ready to receive our message, then we need to be patient.  Sometimes the pickup man doesn't get his rider off as planned.  Sometimes it seems as if the cowboy is right there, ready to be grabbed, when something changes the pattern of the horse, he stops bucking or changes directions.  The pickup man doesn't get discouraged - he knows he has a job to do and knows he has the tools to get it done. He tries until his rider is safe on the ground and the horse is out of the arena. The pickup man cares for his rider, then the rough stock, and then himself. And like a pickup man, we should fall last on our priority list. We need to fellowship with God, then with our friends and family. Our fellow man needs to come before us. Finally, a pickup man is not riding in the arena for his gain, for his glory. He is risking injury to himself in order to help others. Like a pickup man, we do not live this life for ourselves. We need to be living for God, for His work, and for His glory. And like pickup men, sometimes there will be hurt along the way. Pickup men get into wrecks, get rammed by stock, or get hurt just like other cowboys. But the injuries are worth it, because they helped save other cowboys. We might get laughed at or mocked when we try to fellowship with friends and share our knowledge of Christ with others, but if we help to bring Gods glory to even one other person, it will be worth it. We know we have responsibilities that come with our salvation, but we also know that through God and his Spirit, we have the tools needed to live up to our calling as Christians.  We need to be the humble and gentle pickup men in this arena that we ride in.

Photo by Alice Outwater

And as I write this, I know that I need to be better at sharing this light that I know and love, to be better at truly fellowshipping with others around me. My husband and I pray that we may be better at living this Christian life, and we know that it is only possible with His help.

The next time you're at a rodeo, watch the pickup men. I promise, you won't be disappointed. You'll be watching the best cowboys out there!

Friday, August 23, 2013

HEY! Is for horses...

So it's official. 
I've decided to become a blogger. 
Apparently there are 7 main reasons that one begins to blog. 

#1 To Teach: So if the saying is "those you can't do, teach!" is it safe to assume that those you can't teach, blog?? Well the state of California said I had the credentials to teach.... So maybe this blogging thing won't be so bad 

#2 To Direct Traffic to a Website: Well this one is easy... I don't have a website

#3 To Help Others:  This one kind of goes along with teaching... I don't feel like I'm intentionally helping or teaching someone, but if someone finds my recipe for last nights dinner helpful, GREAT!! At least someone other than myself enjoyed it.... (Ahem ... MATT!)

#4 To Change the World:  I'm lucky if I change my bed sheets in a reasonable amount of time, let alone trying to conquer el mundo 

#5 To Make Money:  I didn't even know that blogging was profitable... Maybe I should've started this a LOOOONG time ago 

So far, I'm not thinking numbers 1-5 are giving me a reason for blogging. 

#6 To Have Fun:  I'm not sure that this is it either... I have always been told of the importance of journaling, but did I ever consider it fun? About as fun as fixing fence... 

So it must be nĂºmero seven...

#7 To Stay Connected: Apparently the Internet was not "invented" by a single man (or woman). But I would like to thank whoever may have created it... As it does allow for friends and family who do not live near one another to stay connected not only through conversations, but through pictures!! Because apparently handwritten letters via the USPS enclosed with photos printed with the word "Kodak" on the back of them was not enough!  Seriously though, the Internet is pretty cool... And I do really enjoy seeing all the pictures of my beautiful friends and their beautiful families.  Not to mention I think I'd be lost without it now that I have a very (and i mean VERY) healthy addiction to pintrest... 

So I suppose I don't know EXACTLY why I feel the desire to blog... But I feel it might be therapeutic in some sense.... And it might help me find out a little bit more about myself along the way.... And you can come along with me if you like :)