Life Lessons, Motherhood, Photography, Ranch Life

She entered the snow globe and dared not return.

DSC_9292 copy“Mommy.” “Mommy!” “Mommy!!!” The word can be the most precious sound to hit my ear drums or the most mind grating trigger word in the dictionary.

It has been a weekend of errands, travel from Point A to B and back, then to Points C, D, and E. Our littlest family member has been a bear under his mop of blonde hair and sweet little eyes demanding “Eat”, “Water.” “Mommy hold me.”  In the continuance of our novel of first world problems, the wash machine had been broken for weeks  and now fixed but for the annoying chirping noise it screamed as it struggled to keep up with mountain of laundry thrown at it.

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The dishwasher took a lesson from the wash machine and has taken its own spring break. I think you fall into two camps of dishwasher users when the dishes don’t come clean… the first being the ones that take the dirty bowl realizing it is not clean and use the pioneer approach of soap, water, and their own hands to clean said dish OR the second, the one that realize the bowl is still full of scum and just throw it back into the dishwasher again…and maybe again… and again. I fall in the second camp so the dishes have emerged as their own life force from the sink as I admitted dishwasher defeat.

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All this added up to an exhausting weekend….so when the need to check the animals emerged I grabbed my camera, muck boots, and coat and headed out. Spring had offered a glimpse of its return but was kicked out of the picture today by big, wet snow flakes.

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It was magical…heavy, wet flakes fell upon my head only to melt and run to my eyes. The scene was quiet aside from the crunch of my boots and paws of my side kick, Brody. Occasionally, I would hear and feel the sloush of the soft mud and puddles below the accumulating snow as a remembrance of spring that had been present just hours before.

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It was if I had entered my own snow globe… a globe of calm without kid’s demands or visual reminders of my inadequacies as a housekeeper, or racing thoughts of my inability to heal my patients. I felt peace, a clearing of mind as the snow fell, hypnotizing all in its presence. I remember as a child, holding the heavy globe in my hand mesmerized by the perfect little scene made magical by a shake of my hand. I entered my own snow globe and dared not leave.

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In my world of phone dings and anxious thoughts, laundry and dishes I found a moment of peace. I hope in this week ahead you can find your own moments of peace.

“Peace. It doesn’t mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

 

 

Motherhood, Photography, Ranch Life

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This week we had a spring blizzard resulting in ice and snow. The kiddos and myself had a snow day so that meant the entire family worked to keep everyone fed and warm. The heifers also started calving this week so be prepared for an overshare of calf pictures coming your way.

Things have been busy to say the least…though I still have my camera by my side.

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Photography, Ranch Life

The promise of spring…lambing

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Lambing is in full swing… the winters are undeniably long but with each lamb brings a promise of warmer, spring days soon to come. This time of year is second only to Christmas… each little lamb is a personal happy pill for me.

After I was gifted some ewes a few years back, our numbers and sheepy accommodations have grown. My hubby was lukewarm to the idea but has found he doesn’t mind the sheep and I love that lambing is really a family affair. The ewes are gentle and tolerant allowing more hands on from myself and the boys. Most lambs are born about the weight of a newborn human baby (with some longer appendages) making them the perfect size for cuddling by a mother missing her kiddos’ baby moments.

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The hubby built a lambing room with jugs (smaller pens ewes and lambs will stay in for a few days after delivery) with an upstairs “apartment”. This has worked amazingly well for our marriage…instead of a sleepy and grumpy hubby trudging back and forth thru the biting winter air in the middle of the night this allows him to wake, look out the windows and do a quick assessment of the ewes to lamb.

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Scratching his ears

 

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The ewes are quite good at getting their jobs done but with the cold temperatures the lambs can become chilled quickly so do best in the warmer jugs with some monitoring to ensure they are nursing well after birth. I never loose that amazement in nature and the growing and bringing to life of another living creature. Admittedly, when delivering my own first borne human child when fear and uncertainty fought to take hold, it was images of cows and sheep quietly laying down and allowing nature to guide their knowing bodies that became the visualizations that comforted me.

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“Joy is finding the holy in the small and the sacred in the everyday.” Mary Davis

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Life as a Veterinarian, Photography, Ranch Life

Lambing has started.

We have been not so patiently waiting for lambing to start! The official start date was February 7 and I can assure you if we hadn’t been ready they would have started February 4. So we sat and waited and waited.

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I soon decided perhaps nature was smarter than us to wait until the subzero temperatures subsided and unseasonable warmth came. We have been checking often when the weather is cold like this to ensure mom and baby are moved to a jug (think warm, cozy straw filled maternity suite) and out of the cold. Every year the plan is to lamb before the heifers and cows start delivering later in the spring but in doing so we deal with cold.

The lambs are actually very cold tolerant as long as they stay dry and have full tummies. The wet and muddy spring weather can actually be harder on our lambs and calves than the cold of winter.

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Within a few hours of birth, it is critical for the lamb to nurse the literally life-saving colostrum from its mother. Colostrum not only provides much needed energy and calories but also contains very important antibodies. Without these antibodies delivered to the lamb’s waiting gastrointestinal tract in that first day of life, the lamb will be at much greater risk of developing serious and potentially fatal disease due to pathogens.

Nature and all of its inner workings and complexities amazes me. Nature has a plan in place to help ensure lamb survival in addition to a doting mother with colostrum waiting. Lambs are born with brown fat (adipose) tissue. Brown fat is nature’s little miracle to assist survival of these newborn ruminants. This specialized fat, when burned shortly after birth, not only provides energy but heat.

We have been rolling right along with lambing. Most are delivering mid-day attended with waves of a few moms delivering than a lull. My hubby and I are awaiting the big wave…which often occurs with a change in weather. So stay tuned for plenty of adorable baby lamb photos coming your way!

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Life Lessons, Photography, Ranch Life

“I do it”

We are moving out of the “No” phase and into the “I do it!” or “Me Too!” When you are two years old, there is nothing in the world to fear and everything to explore and discovery. Nothing is too heavy, too hard, too much… If I could bottle a toddler’s tenacity and will and take a swig at 3pm when the day is just getting too long I too may confidently say “I do it!”

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I love that I have photos of both of my boys side-by-side with their dad feeding, learning, observing. The biggest lessons and memories they remember are often from the smallest events whether graining sheep, feeding hay to the cows, or picking eggs from the coop.

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Where there is independence there is frustration when our little 2 year old just isn’t strong enough, big enough, fast enough, or coordinated enough. But he tries and that is a great lesson from his 2 year old self to this grown up.

“Practicing his ranching skills on the living room floor.”

The promise of spring is upon us and we are eagerly and anxiously awaiting the start of lambing next week. I mentioned to my Hubby that he seems more excited and anxious for the delivery of these babies than our own human babies. His response, “I didn’t have to build the hospital before their arrival.” There is much to do and prepare before lambs arrive…the barn is ready with fresh straw. The lambing jugs where the newborns will spend their first few days are warm and cozy. Medications and supplies are stocked. The ewes will get sheared in anticipation for a cleaner lambing experience.

It is all hands on deck for this family to ready for what I think is second only to Christmas as the “best time of the year”.

Photography, Ranch Life

Comfort and Cold on the Winter Plains

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The holidays have come and gone… a time of rich blessings and memories. My boys are at an age where they are understanding, excited, and believe in the magic of it all.  We enjoyed all our favorites, baking cookies, our visiting Elf on the Shelf, time with family and friends.

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While the holidays are ushered out, we have ushered in subzero frigid temperatures. The northern Plains are no stranger to cold, wind, and snow but days of subzero temperatures are sobering and tiring. My kiddos and pets are stir crazy, corraled in the house because just 10 minutes in -21 degree weather freezes paws and delicate cheeks. It is a time to enjoy the warmth of cuddles and heavy blankets, movies and books by dim lights, and warm comfort food in our bellies.

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When we couldn’t stand being indoors any longer we ventured out to help feed. The tractor cab is a little cozy for all of us to fit, but a good time for family bonding and guarantees warmth. Since my childhood, a loud engine, warm cab, and bumpy ride are equivalent to instant sleep for this gal so yesterday’s chores proved a great time for a nap.

We do tractor cab selfies!

Though the temperatures were frigid, the wind has been calm and the sun bright these last few days.  This latest cold is the type that makes your face hurt, like needles. The crisp dry air hits the lungs like a knife. Fogs of expired air surround all those brave enough to venture out. My hubby will be in full-on Jeremiah Johnson beard mode until the warmer days of spring. His red bear is usually sporting actual frost highlights this time of year. DSC_7566 copy

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When I think about our lives here on the Northern Plains, we are surrounded by a beauty. Not the beauty that awes you and smacks you in the face like a Rocky Mountain vista or ocean. There is a subtly to its beauty, a quietness in its presentation. It is easy to look out and see nothing but blades of dry grass amongst a canvas of white. Maybe the beauty is in the somber nothingness of the view, a sort of quiet reflection. There is beauty in the details…the glitter of the snow on the ground, the strong skeletons of trees and bushes, ready to support life in just a few more months.

 

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There are reminders of those that have come to these Prairies before us, an outhouse sits in our yard reminding us to be grateful for indoor working plumbing and running water. 

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Tomorrow is back to official reality. Welcome 2018. This weather is expected to warm, making life a whole lot easier for ranchers and the animals they care for. We have a winter of sledding, snow balls, and ice skating left to enjoy so shape up weather. 

Motherhood, Photography, Ranch Life

The Photo Shoot

Last month was school picture time. We can all remember school picture day… my sisters and I seemed to have a knack for picking the trendiest, least timeless outfit from our closets (think puffy paint sweatshirts, Hypercolor, Garth Brooks style western wear with lime green Roper jeans that served as a bra in addition to their function as jeans, and the list goes on).  The Little Cowboy didn’t really get all that excited about “Picture Day”…it was just another day where it just so happens your likeness will be preserved for all entirety only to re-appear in a high school graduation slide show. He picked his outfit and we tried to make sure his hair wasn’t sticking up.

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One of his little classmates brought pictures of herself to share with the class. He quickly declared that he wanted to share pictures too… great… we can cut up this little 1×2″ school pictures where he was positioned just so, with his shoulders off-center to the camera and his smile as awkward as can be. But no, those photos would not do.

In more of a senior photo shoot style, he had plans to share photographs that expressed who he was and what he loved. The instructions were laid out… he needed his pony for these photos. Every good cowboy needs to showcase their horse. He would borrow a toy gun with sound (even though it was a still photo and not videography) from his Grandpa. He had his rope, saddle, chaps, cowboy hat, and vest. He was a cowboy not of the Country Music Signer era with rhinestoned back pockets but of the Old West, where grit not glitter defined a cowboy.

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I learned this summer when we visited the Range Rider’s Museum in Montana (this kid’s Disney Land) and I had asked for a photo that “cowboy’s didn’t have smiles back in that day”. So the Little Cowboy with his infectious giggle and round, rosy cheeks will cross his arms, tilt his hat, and straighten his mouth like the weathered, worn cowboys that rode the range.

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I snuck a smile. 

While the Little Cowboy may be tough in spirit he is still my 5 year old baby boy, apparent when giant tears rolled down his face has he mounted his pony. He remembered his tumble off her when she had put her head down to eat and he was afraid.  His Dad is more patient and knows just what to say to calm his nerves… he asked him to sing one of his favorite songs…

“Sit tall in the saddle. Hold your head up high. Keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky and live like you ain’t afraid to die. And don’t be scared, just enjoy your ride.”

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His Dad seemed to know that this Little Cowboy needed a job to distract his fearful mind. So off he went to push heifers out the corral.  As it turned out the photo from this moment was his favorite….the “ONE” that would be shared with his entire classroom. “I need nine of this picture Mom!”

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The ‘ONE”

So don’t expect that traditional school picture. Instead you will be getting a photo that truly captures who he sees himself as…a working cowboy mounted on his trusty little pony tending to his stock. It is a picture that could have been taken one hundred years ago and told the same story.

 

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.  

– Aaron Siskind