About Me

I'm a ranch wife of 27 years and loving every day. We have three grown sons and have one son home to continue our ranching heritage. My husbands family has owned this ground for over 62 years and my family has been in ranching for over 70 years. I love my heritage in ranching and the strong Christian values I have been raised with and have passed to our sons. ENJOY!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I was left home one weekend while my guys went snowmobiling.  Now I had commitments that I couldn't miss or I would have been along for the ride!!!  :)  Anyway, I got to thinking about how important water is to the ranchers way of life.  We not only need water for ourselves but nearly 800 animal units depend on us for their supply of water.  The only task given to me by the 'guys' was to keep the water open for all the cattle and horses.    I noticed the 'thepioneerwoman' has a post on breaking ice which was accurate for her location but mine is quite a bit different.  The Sand Hills of Nebraska actually lay on top of the largest underground water aquifer in the Northern Hemisphere, the Ogallala Aquifer.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer Our water is pumped out of the ground by windmills.  Now these are a bit different than the windmills we are seeing that are generating electricity.  Now ours aren't nearly as tall as an electricity windmill and the top part, the head, on our ranch is usually between 6 to 8 feet across. http://www.awwasc.com/
This was the first mill I checked that day and when I drove up I noticed that the ice was melted under the lead pipe.  (That's the pipe that the water runs into the tank by)  Water that comes out of the ground because it's insulated by the ground is warmer than the air temperature.  If we have a steady breeze or a full blown gale, our water in the tank has a portion of it that stays open.    Some ranches will even put a smaller tank inside the larger tank so they have a better chance of keeping the smaller tank open.  I've had another rancher comment that then the larger outside tank freezes up solid and is much harder to open back up.  It a preference thing.  When we break ice in a tank, we use an ice bar, not an ax.  Again, that's probably a preference thing.  It's a very heavy long metal stick with a wedge on the bottom of it.  We crack the ice with the bar and then pitch the ice out with a pitch fork.  It's also important to throw the ice far away from the tank so the cattle and horses don't have to step around it.  If you've noticed my verbiage of heavy and pitch, I hope you can gather that 'breaking ice' is a very physical thing we do.  When you multiply this by several mills, it's a pretty good workout.  This weekend I had really pretty good weather, nights weren't quite as cold and the wind blew most of the time and kept things open.
  Our water in the Sand Hills is vitally important to our business, just as it is to farmers who are irrigating and growing food for all of us in America.  Anytime we put in a post for a fence most anywhere on the ranch we hit the static water table.   I am acutely aware of caring for this precious resource.  We are extremely careful about what goes back into this resource,  After all, not only does it affect the animals we raise but it is also the water we drink.   Yes, there are a few in our industry who have abused this resource and its availability, but not in our neck of the woods (I guess I should say sand :)  ).  I took this last photo at our brood mare pasture - I really like it because of the broken mill in the background.  Not all mills on our place are in working condition.  This one sets in a bad spot that has a tendency to open up and blow, allowing the sand to sift.  We have since shut this mill off and not used it for about 15 years.  the pasture has started to heal but it will be a long process.  Just one of the many ways we work to maintain and protect the land we are blessed to steward.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Early Valentines Day Gift

Most girls think about Valentines Day and what might come it, the special somethings or someone who will brighten this holiday.  Mine came a little early this year.  :)  I had a pretty full day lined out, just normal household stuff which is pretty boring.  As Cash, my hubby , left the house he mentioned that this would be the last day I could try running the excavator!!!!!  YAYAYAYAYAAAAAA - man, all bets are off and I AM OUT OF THE HOUSE.  I mean it's a huge piece of equipment and has lots of gidgets, gadgets, and gizmos.  The fact that my wonderful man would even consider putting me behind the wheel--- well that's an amazing feat in and of itself.  (Wait there was no wheel of any kind!!!  Just levers and foot pedals!!)  As he traded places places with me in the cab, he starts telling what not push first.  :)  There are a few crazy things I could have done but maybe not on my first trip out.  As I sat trying to catch my breath and think, it was soooo much fun but what an awesome responsibility.  Don't hurt anything, anybody ect., watch for the dogs and your wonderful rancher taking pix!!  ;)  The pedals on the floor would run the track and move the entire machine.  Those I didn't start with because I was already to position.  However, each hand has a joystick - wow - it goes more than 4 ways each cuz there are in between spots.  So that's eight ways to think at the same time - did I happen to mention I'm blonde!!  :)  Well, after a few misses I kinda got the hang of it but went really slow.  I gave Cash a camera and he took a couple shots -

After I started and got the basics figured out, I was wishing I had a camera and a second set of hands and eyes because Cash started making hand signals at me as to what and how to dig -  "curl the bucket", "stretch the arm", "go deeper", "don't take the bank" - you can use your own imagination cuz it got pretty creative.
(Notice my faithful companions - Skip and Skotch.  Now needless to say they didn't sit here very long as that's exactly where the arm was swinging to dump the dirt.  Once I had to bang the bucket over them cuz they wouldn't move.  Eventually they moved farther down and did a better job at staying out of the way. )
     Back to the hand signals - if your a ranch wife you know these are a dreaded means of communication.  What you think he is saying by waving, squeezing, circling his hands and the gyrations of his arms may completely and totally not be what he is thinking with his mind!!!!  The one I can recognize the best is when he drops his arms in disgust and walks away - obviously I wasn't thinking the way he was waving  :)  Oh - the one I thought was funny was the hand signals meaning you are dropping the dirt too high from the bucket and splashing too much.  The dirt was full of water and would really splash mud all over the cab if the bucket was elevated when you rotated and dumped it.  Now I'm not the one who has the job of cleaning the cab - I did find the window washer and it was full of fluid so I could still see out.  :)
     Cash soon decided that I had things under control and left to work in a different area.  I spent about an hour and a half getting braver and more accurate with the bucket and arm.  I even mastered running the foot pedals and moving.  I had a dickens of a time remembering where the lever to lift the blade was - more hand signals!!  :)  However, it didn't take much more time than that and I was back to being the wife of a rancher.  As he walked up, he grinned and said he wanted some lunch and I was demoted back to my original job.  Man - I love that guy!!!!
  Never had any idea when I married him over 27 years ago that we'd have so much fun together.  Ya know the verse in the bible that says He'll "give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4) - never in a million years would I have known that running an excavator would be a desire but it was ....pretty cool that God maps all this stuff out before you're even thought of (Ps 139:16).  Till you hear from me again - next I think I'll introduce you to the horses  :)