From The Mouths of babes…

Here is my latest post for the Progressive Cattleman e-newsletter! Enjoy, leave some love on their page, and feel free to share!

~Richelle

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High Cotton

This was originally published 6/7/2015. 

“We were walkin’ in high cotton, old times there are not forgotten, those fertile fields are never far away
We were walkin’ in high cotton, old times there are not forgotten; Leavin’ home was the hardest thing we ever faced” Alabama, “High Cotton”

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Those few lines from an old song say a lot about the truth about growing up in the country. Growing up in a home full of love, being raised by parents that worked hard to provide for their family, definately builds strong roots. And honestly, looking back on things now, leaving home really was the scariest thing I ever faced as a ranch kid, besides crotchety bulls and the occasional run-in with wild animals.

The older I get, and the more things change, the more I yearn for time to slow down. Sometimes I just want to be a kid again; I realize now how much I took my childhood for granted. I see things differently now than I did even ten years ago, and it makes me realize why it is so important for my own children to be involved in our family ranch. I also know, too, that no matter how far displaced from ranch life I feel, you can take the girl out of the country; but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

A few days spent horseback behind a bunch of cows on rare weekends has replaced daily rides spent on my four-legged equine partner.  Even though they are few and far between, I love those days. As soon as my butt plops into my saddle, I can literally feel all the annoying stuff– the stress of my “city job”, the frustration that comes from raising two overly dramatic daughters, the anxiety of impending changes– melt off of me and I feel like I can breathe again. Laughter from good friends, the random whinny from a meat-head horse,  and the sounds of moving cattle replace the phones, idle chit-chat, and noise from the office. Meadow flowers and fresh air replace the stench of burnt coffee and too-sweet donuts. Sunshine replaces high-beam florescent lights and the knot between my shoulders begins to relax. It is in this stretch of time, spent mounted and away from the rest of the world, that my soul comes alive. In this way, I realize that my life is full and my heart is happy.

We all walk to the beat of our own drums. I hope that you all find something that brings you peace; something that helps make your soul come alive and your heart sing. Life is too short not to take long way home.

May all your fields be filled with healthy crops, healthy livestock, and pride in a life well lived.

~Richelle

Cows are Jerks, too…

Having to truck cattle to leased property is always an adventure… Even more so when pairs have to be cut from the herd before being loaded on the truck. It seems like  working cattle rarely goes as planned, but there are always lessons to be learned:

 1. Be in a hurry. The cows will sense this, and allow you to spend more time in the saddle. 

2. Find a nice, quiet pair and cut them from the herd. Watch the calf split from his mom, run 100 mph the other direction, and cuss at mom while she stands there pretending to be invisible. 

3. The gate the cow has gone through no less than 500 times will suddenly disappear like it never existed.

 4. There will always be extra calves in the way, and never the calf you need or want.

 5. Cursing explicit profanities does not make the cows cooperate, but it does help lower your blood pressure!

I might like cows, and I am grateful for the opportunity to raise them with my family, bit sometimes cows are real jerks.

See ya in the corrals! – Richelle

The Reset Button

Peace and quiet. That rare, fleeting moment that never lasts long enough.

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The silence this morning is only interrupted by the sound of chirping Meadowlarks and other songbirds; punctuated with the sound of a spooked rooster pheasant calling to his brood as he takes off for shelter from some unseen predator.

Life, moving to the cadence of the bullfrogs. This is what living is all about.

Upon opening the windows of our stuffy little farm house, I am greeted by a cool breath of air and the scent of fresh, unadulterated nature. It hits me like perfume; transporting me back to mornings better spent in the saddle. My heart jumps just a little at the thought of playing hooky. I hesitate for just a minute, and decide to step out on the front step and take it all in. Fresh, damp, and perfect. And just as quickly as time had seemingly froze, I hear the clock ticking, reminding me of all the responsibilities of the real world.

I sit here now, over my breakfast, reflecting on the past and say a simple prayer for this day. May I be able to carry some peaceful serenity with me today; may it give me somewhere to go when the fury and craziness of life gets to be too much. May it keep me calm and sane. I thank the good Lord for mornings like this, because they don’t happen nearly enough. Because I am blessed to be able to enjoy them. And because peace and quiet is much too fleeting, and I need all the serenity I can get.

I hope you are able to find somewhere today where you can enjoy nature and reset your soul.

Much love ~ Richelle

Greener Pastures

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Psalm 23, NIV, A psalm of David

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Dumbfounded.

Totally dumbfounded. That is how I feel when I see pictures of burnt cattle, charred wildlife, and read stories of people that have lost their lives to wildfires that raged across multiple states this last week.

I am heartbroken for the ranchers, farmers, and people dealing with the aftermath of destruction left behind from the wind and flames. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of finding livestock burning alive, or the feeling of total helplessness looking upon blackened land and blackened carcasses. I cannot fathom the stench of death, nor the pain of putting one single animal down; much less the thousands of head of animals whose agony ended with a bullet and a hell of a lot of human tears.

Ranchers are a resilient breed of people. It isn’t an easy life; between Mother Nature, world trade, and market trends, we have learned to keep a soft hand on the reins and our hearts towards the heavens. We rally around each other when things get tough, because it might be our turn next time.

National news sources may not care about ranchers losing their homes, their animals, and their livelihoods. The mass of the general public may not rush out to help build fence, haul hay, water, or bedding. And you know what? Life will go on. Ranchers and farmers will come together to seed new crops, to repopulate the land with cattle and other livestock, and to rebuild. They may not be able to see past the overwhelming pain, and emotional damage these fires have caused. They are probably immersing themselves into the work that has to be done right now, because working keeps them busy, and busy keeps them from quitting. Ranchers, farmers, Americans are not quitters. Life may hand us a terrible blow now and again, but we rally. We work together to carry on.

I pray that God provides strength to the residents of  Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. I pray that He watches over everyone that is donating feed, supplies, food, blood, medicines, labor, and anything else that is needed to help these families move forward.  I pray that if you have the ability and the desire to help these folks out, that you don’t think twice about it. Send a prayer, share those Facebook updates, keep them in your thoughts. Pray for rain for greener pastures. I know my family and I will be.

With Love,

Richelle

Ranch Wife Tryouts

This post was originally published in the Progressive Cattleman Extra- read it here!

I recently saw an ad on Facebook for “The Bachelor” of a bunch of very well- dressed young ladies feeding dairy calves and shoveling manure out of a cattle barn. It was kind like a train wreck- painful to watch, but I couldn’t look away! Mr. Bachelor looked mighty pleased with himself; surrounded by a bunch of girls that were literally turning green as their pretty clothes and fancy hair sucked up the “Odeur de Stockyards”. I thought, “Ain’t that romantic?”  I mean, is there no better way to gauge someone’s character than seeing how well they hold up in high heels while shoveling poop? It made me thankful for my barn boots and for growing up in agriculture, and not having to try-out to marry into it.

One frigid evening after work, I was feeding horses and checking the stock tank when it occurred to me that stopping at the house to change into more appropriate attire might not have been such a bad idea. As I started to crawl through the barbed wire fence, I remembered I was wearing a brand new coat that I had just gotten from my employer as an anniversary gift, and new slacks. The problem was, though, that I had already committed myself to the situation. I was trying to push the wires apart just a little farther than was really necessary, while gingerly attempting to crawl between them without catching my new coat on a barb. I realized, right there, that this is exactly why ranchers have to keep a separate wardrobe of “town clothes” and “work clothes”… and just how quickly a favorite piece of “town clothes” can be demoted to the “work clothes” part of the closet. Thankfully I managed to get through  the fence, check the tank, crawl back through a second time, and not fall into a snowdrift or tear anything.

I have learned, through many years of experience, to always have a second pair of extra shoes in  my car. Manure happens. It never fails that the more expensive the boot, the chances of it landing in crap increase exponentially the closer I get to the barn. I don’t know if anyone else has the same problem, but it could be twenty degrees below zero, and everything from the stock tank to the fireplace could be frozen- and the minute I step out the barn door in a pair of “good” boots, I would land in the only pile of unfrozen manure on the entire place.

Of course Mother Nature only makes living on a ranch even less fashionable. Sometimes I find myself looking around the parking lot where I work, jealously pining for a vehicle with paint that is still visible. Then I remember that clean cars and gravel road don’t exactly go together. Anytime we help friends ride or work cows, it isn’t unusual for everyone to be wearing ball caps rather than cowboy hats… thanks to the wind that never stops here, ball caps are easier to keep track of than a cowboy hat. Weather is always unpredictable. If the back seat of every pickup on our place is an indication, I could easily switch from a tank top in July to a parka, and back to a flannel sweatshirt at a moment’s notice. If you can find it, you can wear it.

If you have a real fondness for material things, don’t live with a cowdog. Cowdogs (particularly puppies) are probably the real reason ranch families can’t have anything nice. Most cowdogs don’t get to live in the house, and quite frankly, I am pretty sure they wouldn’t want to even if they could. (Let’s clarify, though, that our cowdog does indeed live in the house with us; in fact, he sleeps in our bedroom on his own dog pillow, because he is spoiled).  If you think a Lab puppy can destroy your shoes or home furnishings in a hurry, just leave your Heeler pup unattended for anything longer than a nanosecond. Chances are, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised. If they aren’t destroying something with their jaws, they probably stink from rolling in something unrecognizable; or have drug something dead into the yard and are waiting for your approval.

As for “The Bachelor”, while it was mildly entertaining, it showed the stark contrast between city life, and a life in agriculture. Life with livestock is dirty. Life with barbed wire and cow dogs is precarious, at best. Being at the mercy of greasy tractors, baling twine, loose hay, frozen water tanks, snotcicles, dirty trucks, and all the other things that come with a life in ranching doesn’t necessarily leave a lot of room for fancy clothes, manicures, or clean houses. Being a ranch wife may be messy, but at least I know there is never going to be a day when I have to clean the calving shed out in high heels and leggings!

Til next time,

Richelle

Signed, a strong woman that doesn’t take shit from anyone….

Let me preface this with a disclaimer: I rarely jump on the bandwagon of current events, mostly because I rarely know what the heck is going on in the news, unless it affects the cattle market or my day-to-day life.  I am a believer that we all have the right to our opinions, to share our feelings, and the right to stick up for our own beliefs and values….but I feel like I need to share my feelings about being an American woman. If you are tired of hearing about any of it, please feel free to stop reading right now. If you agree, feel free to share.

I make my own choices.

That’s right…. I am a woman, and I don’t let other people tell me what to do. Just ask my husband and my dad what happens when they try!

I have made choices, on my own, that have affected where and who I am today.

I chose to raise cattle in 4-H, and chose not to get involved in the political and people portion of 4-H. I chose to go to college out of state and study Equine sciences, rather than stay in my hometown and study business like the other girls in my class.

I chose to say yes when my boyfriend proposed, and chose to get married at the ripe old age of twenty. Because I wanted to. Not because I was knocked up. Not to spite my parents, and certainly not because I wanted a sugar daddy.

I chose to work two jobs at the same time and go back to college after we got married. Because I felt I needed to.

I have chosen to ride bucking colts, and have hit the ground more times than I can count.

I have worked in retail, worked in banking, worked in technology and communications. I have worked in veterinary clinics, shoveled shit, and been attacked by people’s “pets”. And in everyone of those jobs, my boss was a man. And some were shitty bosses. Some were real jerks, but I still went to work and did my job. I respected my bosses, no matter how much I disagreed with them at times. They made me tougher, not a victim.

I chose to buy a car on my own because my husband was unavailable to do it for me.

I choose to bake, because it makes people happy. I choose to cuss, because it releases my stress.

I choose to drink beer and eat food and eat cake because I can.

I choose to worship God, because I don’t believe we were put on this planet to work, pay bills, and die.

I read the Bible, I read historical westerns, and sometimes I even read smutty romance novels.

I watch Ice Road Truckers, and Disney movies, and spaghetti westerns.

I am a Republican, but admit that I voted for a Democratic governor.

I am a woman, and I voted for Trump.

I am a daughter, a wife, a mother. And I voted for Trump.

And you know what? That doesn’t make me any better or worse than anyone else.

I wear Victoria’s Secret, but you can bet it will remain hidden under a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

I am not going to stand beside women that think the only way they can gain the respect of a man is by showing her vagina in public, fabric or otherwise. I will not stand beside women that tear men down purely because they choose to play the victim card. I will not stand alongside any woman that won’t let a man open a door for her, yet complains that men won’t hold a door open for her.

Women were made by God to stand beside men. Not behind, not in front, but alongside them. Get a little dirt under your fingers. Get outside. Do something with your time besides complaining about your self-proclaimed oppression. If you don’t want to deal with dirty diapers, dirty faces, and dirty houses, keep your legs crossed and stay out of relationships with men. As for me and my husband, we will raise strong girls that stand up for themselves, their friends, and their values. With authenticity, grace, and kindness. Standing tall alongside their dad, male friends, and male bosses. Not behind as a victim, not in front as a “feminist”, but alongside them how God intended. That is our right and our choice.

Signed, a strong woman that doesn’t take shit from anyone,

Richelle

New Year, Same Me

It seems like 2016 was a year that most people couldn’t leave in the dust fast enough. I have to admit that for anyone in agriculture, it certainly wasn’t the year we all hoped for- crappy grain markets, calf prices that I am pretty sure we still haven’t seen the bottom of, and bizarre weather has plagued both the farming and ranching communities all around this great country.

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Another reason to be thankful for kids: They keep us laughing even when there isn’t much to laugh at.

Lots of sad things happened in America last year- people seemed to forget how to respect law and order; somehow the color of someones skin and what gender they chose to be became more important than the values average Americans have been raised with. People in the Mid-West were demonized for making their voices heard at the polls; the government tried to throw its weight around to appease environmentalists at the expense of people actually trying to make a living; and somehow, any woman that didn’t vote for Hillary was considered dang near barbaric.  Broadband internet became a necessity in the eyes of the Federal Government, and thanks to the “Affordable Health Care Act”, millions of people watched their insurance premiums jump through the roof. In a year where we lost some classic public figures- Merle Haggard, Nancy Reagan, Florence Henderson- and thousands of every day people that left our hearts with empty spaces that will never be filled, it is easy to dwell on all the shitty things that forced us to wish another year away.

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Life gets crazy, ugly, and messy. Remember to find the beauty in all that living you are still doing!

Here’s the but… But why? Why let the past keep you down? 2016 treated us pretty well, all things considered. My husband and I celebrated our honeymoon & 10-year wedding anniversary all at the same time in Hawaii, and it was freaking awesome.

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Other than the plane ride, Oahu was freaking awesome. 

We celebrated when our oldest daughter passed her food allergy tests in May, and when a road trip to Denver delivered us with a better way to treat her eczema in June.

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I would travel to the end of the world for that smile. 

Our trucking business is doing well, and as if I didn’t have enough else to do, I started my own cake business. It is slowly becoming my passion. We joined a new church, and are looking forward to watching our girls grow up knowing how important God really is. We sold our calves for more than we could have expected, and they weighed up well. Our cattle bred back well too. We survived a house full of people at Christmas, and managed to stay up to see the clock strike midnight on New Year’s Eve… so considering all the things that could have turned out worse, I’d say we weathered the storms of the year better than others we know.

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I love the man that drives this rig. Always have, always will.

  I don’t subscribe to all that “New Year, New Me” BS… mostly because I literally have {ZERO} self control, I am already my own worst critic, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to give up the last 30 years of experiences, mistakes, and opportunities I have had just to be someone that Pinterest makes me think I should be. But, I do think the New Year is always another chance to start fresh- a brand new day on steroids 😉  A new sunrise, the start of another 365 page chapter in your crazy book of life.

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My main goal in ’17: See more sunrises and sunsets. Get outside. Just learn to be still!

Instead of making ridiculous goals and resolutions (I say this as I jam out to music that is too loud,  drinking my favorite wine, and  wishing my dogs could do laundry), I have decided to just roll with it. I do have some goals I am excited for myself- little things, like weaning myself off of Dr. Pepper and journaling a little bit each day- and actually using my new planner to stay organized- I am not going to beat myself up when I miss a day. I already know there will be too many days when I spend too much time on Instagram, and too little time cleaning house. I plan to spend more time being with my kids, listening to my husband,  and trying to enjoy my “day job” instead of allowing it to continue to kill my soul. I hope to make lots of beautiful cakes, and share more of my journey down the winding  gravel roads of ranching and motherhood. I am looking forward to this new year with my heart wide open. And I can’t wait to see and meet you along the way!

Until next time~~ Richelle

 

Roll on…

As Alabama’s “Roll On” began playing through the car stereo the other night, I tried to really listen to the words of that song. I know it, word for word, because the song has been on the radio longer than I have been alive. But it seemed to really hit home while my oldest child was sleeping after a long week at school and a complete and utterly embarrassing meltdown at daycare, and her little sister sat quietly next to her in the back seat, peering out the window into the fading daylight.

As I took a quick peek in my rear-view mirror, silent tears started streaming down my face as I realized how this song has become my family’s anthem.

Their dad  was still on the road, heading home from hauling cattle to the sale a hundred miles away for some good friends of ours. He’s been on the road for what feels like forever; in reality it hasn’t been that much, and he has been home at night more than before he became a self-employed trucker.

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Loaded up and ready to roll.

That said, it doesn’t make life in our house any easier.

The girls miss their daddy, and I do too. Not only do they tell me on a pretty regular basis, but I see it in their eyes that they know things are different. It is a strange thing for me, because my dad was always around growing up. The good thing is that it isn’t always this way.

I miss our semi-normal routine when their dad is gone; and although I maintain a pretty tight ship whether my husband is home or not, it is tiring to do it all alone.

I secretly worry every time the wheels on our truck turn. I worry he hasn’t had enough sleep, I worry about other drivers, I worry about the weather; even though I know my husband is more than capable to handle anything the miles under his tires might throw at him. Worry does no good, but just like a child, I can’t help but worry a little about him. I guess that’s what happens when you love someone a hell of a lot.

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I am blessed to have a man in my love that loves his family very fiercely.

I pray for the scales to be closed, yet I know and appreciate the importance the DOT workers do to keep all of us safe- no matter the headache it causes my husband and the other drivers we know.

I both despise the sound of the phone ringing, yet can’t help but wish for the work to steadily pour in. Sometimes I struggle to not tell the guy on the other end how self-absorbed he is, calling my house at supper time, asking my husband to leave his wife and kids; while I can hear his family in the background of the call. But the truth is that we signed up for this when we went into business for ourselves.

I hate when he is gone, yet sometimes (secretly) wish for him to be gone for a couple days; you know, so I can have some time to myself…

When he is gone overnight, I never sleep very well.  The kids hate the fact they don’t get to see their daddy in the morning, and the drama seems more constant. I know there are a lot of kids and wives that see their dads and husbands a lot less, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful- I admire the hell out of Shane for busting his butt day after day to help us chase our dreams. If it takes him being on the road, I guess the kids and I will keep on singing these words:

“Roll on family, Roll on along; Roll on Daddy till you get back home; roll on family, roll on through; roll on mama like I ask you to do, roll on eighteen-wheeler, Roll On!”

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To all you wives and mommas out there, holding down the fort; and to all you guys making a living on the road: God bless you. Thank you for all the work you do behind the scenes to keep America rolling on!

~Much love,

Richelle

What do Cows and Cupcakes have in Common?

Had anyone told me, even a year ago, that I would own and operate a cake business, I probably would have told them they were crazy.

But the truth is, that is exactly what finally happened this year. Isn’t that just how dreams work? One day you wake up with a brilliant idea, and it lights a fire in your heart, and you know you just have to try it?

I am sure some of you wonder what the heck possessed me to start this little cake business. To be honest, I am not 100% sure what the exact reason was, besides the fact that I felt I needed a reason to bake cakes all the time. Lord knows my kids and husband were probably starting to get a little burned out on frosting and mini-cupcakes!

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Baking has long been a stress reliever for me- and especially once I had kids and couldn’t get out to the barn as much as I used to. I love to feed people, and love to make yummy treats for the people I love. Several You-Tube videos, a few botched recipes , and several tedious hours filing for a license later, I am proud to say that Prairie Crocus Cakery is picking up steam. It is so fun to try new designs, to try new techniques, and mostly, see people enjoy a sweet little treat!

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And by the way- what do cows and cupcakes have in common? I guess the answer is me: I love them both!!

Much love, Richelle