Senior Whirlwind (Part 1)

The first half of May has been a blur. It began with a trip to Oklahoma City on May 1st to judge land at the National FFA conference. When she got home she had to prepare a speech as the FFA chapter’s outgoing President. Monday the 8th was the FFA Banquet and the speech, Tuesday was the National Honor Society banquet, and Wednesday we had the Bacclaurette. (I was about to run out of nice clothes to wear) Thursday we scrambled to get everything loaded and then headed to Farmington, NM for her last regular season High School Rodeo. We had a great time in Farmington even finding time to watch the horse races! The alarm sounded at 3 a.m. today and Dalli and I groggily headed to Albuquerque so she could catch a plane to begin her senior trip. (a cruise to Cozumel). David, Macklee, and I will rest up this week while she is living her best life, knowing when she returns the rest of the month will be a whirlwind!

It is so bittersweet to see all of these seniors that are about to make their way out into the big wide world. The emotions are real and can catch you off guard many times without warning. Dalli has always been such an independent soul with a love of learning so it is difficult to be too sad as she prepares for her next chapter. It reminds me of the first day of kindergarten when all the other kids were clinging to their moms and she was rushing into the building ready for whatever adventure awaited. Don’t miss understand the tears are still coming (at stupid random times) but her excitement helps a little.

I think the hardest part is reflecting on how you did as a parent. What did I forget to teach her? Did we have her in too many things? I do believe the answer to this is yes, we for sure forgot some lessons, and yes too many activities! Although, I still do not know what we would have cut out. Dalli always kept busy going to or practicing something associated with FFA, 4-H, Shotgun, Rifle, Showing goats, her fiddle, Barrels, poles, or breakaway. (what did I forget?)

Many will sit in judgment on how we have raised our girls, but if they know our children, I don’t believe that we screwed them up too badly with all their activities. Dalli’s passion for all of her activities was contagious and often exhausting! I think the only activity that she ever relinquished was goat tying! David and I marvel at the number of people that she knows across this state and all the amazing experiences that these activities have afforded her. Stay tuned, the Senior Whirlwind Part 2, also known as the second half of May will be happening soon. I will keep reminding myself to be in the moment and try not to stress over the little stuff.

“All you need in life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” Mark Twain

County Fair Reflections

Last Friday night, The Torrance County Fair wrapped up with the Livestock Sale.  Our girls had a rodeo in Santa Fe, so after the sale, with the help of friends, we packed up our scattered fair paraphernalia and headed North.  The entire way to Santa Fe, I was trying to figure out, as a family, how we got so busy and what we could give up.  I never showed animals growing up.  (and I turned out ok!)  David said he showed a sheep once, it got turned out in the pasture and it became a walking sticker patch!  When it comes to giving things up, showing animals would be the first thing we would eliminate.  However, as I reflect on our fair, I cannot help but marvel at all the life lessons that it continues to provide us.

You win some, and you lose some.  No guarantees.  Even if you work hard, it doesn’t mean you will win. Losing is not bad, and if it weren’t for losers there would be no winners.  Everyone should know how to lose with grace. It builds character and teaches us where we need to improve. There is nothing better than watching these kids continue to improve year after year.

If you are willing to learn, there is always someone smarter than you that is willing to teach you.  The secret is being willing to learn. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The things that do not kill us make us stronger. Sometimes the hardest thing ever is getting out of our own comfort zone, pushing ourselves to do something we have never done before.  The earlier kids understand this the better off they will be.    

We shine when we are helping others.  Sometimes, it really does take a village to help a kid succeed.

It is awesome to watch someone who is passionate work, no matter what the work might be.

Agriculture is hard work, and knowing how to work hard will get you far in life.  

Sometimes, things just come easier to some kids.

Friends make life amazing. 

You do not always know what someone else is struggling with.  Be kind, we all have struggles.

I guess we won’t give up showing. Yes, showing animals teaches kids responsibility, however, if you are willing to look, there are so many other lessons that come with the fair. It is truly one of the most favorite weeks of the year for our kids. So I will continue to work on being a better “show mom” and embracing all the chaos that comes with this current Season of our lives. Thank you Julie Carter (for the good photos) and Torrance County Fair Board for all the lessons!

Youth in Asia

I have wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 12 years old.   Which may make this story even funnier!  The summer after my freshman year in college, I decided  to attend  summer school at  Panhandle State  University  in  Goodwill,  Oklahoma!  If one could overlook the heat it  was a  good summer.  I  enrolled  in history, botany and speech.  

The speech class was taught  by large,  stern,  individual named  Dr. Underwood.  I was not much of a  public speaker back then.  It took starting a family for me to realize the power that  public speaking  holds  for  me.   (The ability  to have a captive  audience  who wants to listen to what I have to  say!)  Anyway,  I was  assigned my first speech, it was on Martin Luther King  Jr.  and I survived it.  At that  point in my life, I  still didn’t love  public  speaking.   However, I  knew I  had done a great job on it.  So, with that  speech, my public speaking confidence soared.

For the next speech,  I was assigned the  topic  of “Youth in Asia”.  Well, let me tell you, this was right up my alley.   Several  years before,  I  had  spent  a month in Japan.  I attended  a Japanese  high school.  I  knew tons about “Youth in Asia”.  I  skipped to the library, and started  digging through some reference materials.   Footnotes  and index cards were generated to  support everything I wanted to talk about.  Then, on the  day of the  speech, there I was, confidently telling Dr Underwood, and  a  college  class of my peers all about  “Youth in Asia”.  It  was a hit.  I was amazing.

I was surprised, when I  was asked to stay after class for  a minute.  This was unusual, as Dr. Underwood usually  provided  our  feedback to us  on paper.  I waited patiently for the other students to file out.  When the classroom cleared,  he gently told me, that the assigned  topic had actually been,  . . . . “Euthanasia”!   Thank  goodness I  hadn’t circulated pictures of  me  in my kimono!  

Labor Day

A little late to type this one up, but better late than never! The girls have been competing in several rodeos throughout the summer and now, as we move into fall, they are competing in NM high school and junior high rodeos. This really translates into us NEVER being home. It is nice to rodeo, we have many friends that we adore and get to see many places of the Land of Enchantment that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. On rodeo weekends, we are usually hot and tired, but we are also all together as a family, this is different than when we are home, we tend to veer in different directions.

Anyway, the down side to not being home, is the definite neglect of our casa and a “to-do” list that is over three yellow legal pad pages long! If you know me at all, you know how I love my lists! I drive David crazy by putting things like shower on the list. I enjoy accomplishing tasks, even little ones. Then of course, if your list gets a bunch of things crossed off and is looking messy you have to rewrite it!

So we arrived at the three day weekend, and the laboring began! Of course we rode our horses everyday, and worked with Katy and Vegas (the youngsters)! Dalli and I loaded wood racks while Macklee cleaned the chicken coop. This maybe the first time in 20 years that we got wood ready for the winter prior to an actual blizzard. I advised David not to move mine too quickly, apparently stacking wood isn’t one of my strengths! We also cleaned out the horse trailer. We picked up the yard and packed for the next rodeo. I attempted to find my desk (that is the horizontal surface in our house where EVERYTHING gets placed!)

Sunday the laboring continued, as I balanced the ranch checkbooks and filed papers, still trying to find the wood on the top of my desk. Then I helped David with his CSP grazing plan. He is the one with the Ag degree, but I believe that my input and typing skills were quit valuable. Then of course all of the regular stuff, like laundry, toilets, and the microwave. Oh I almost forgot, changed the sheets and washed the rugs! I thought about adding dusting to the list, but what really is the point of dusting?

Once the work was close to done, the girls and I sat down to play one of our favorite card games, Canadian Salad! We had played a few hands, when David called needing some help. He was on the back side of the ranch and needed some drivers to move heavy equipment. So off we went to High Point storage to assist him! (Which is a separate blog see Bulldozing Mama)

Just a little glimpse into my dream life. (I know ya’ll thought it was all puppies, kittens and rainbows 24/7) I do realize that the list will never end. Life’s ‘to-do’s” are endless. We try hard to embrace every moment, whether on the road or home doing the tasks on life’s list. However, sometimes there is no substitute for the feeling of crossing stuff off your list! (I need to take a picture of my next laboring list!)

The Hero Effect

Macklee and Katy by Julie Carter

Several years ago, I was blessed to listen to Kevin Brown give a speech about his book the Hero Effect.  He is an amazing speaker with a great message.  He believes that Heros are NOT ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  Instead, he considers a Hero an extraordinary person doing ordinary things with no strings attached.   This past week a hero came into our lives to help Macklee with her filly.

 I think all girls like horses, but Macklee loves them.  She has wanted to be a horse trainer (and a veterinarian) for as long as I can remember.   Recently, we began watching the show Heartland, which only served to  intensify her desire to train a horse.  When you asked her what she wanted for her birthday, her response was unwavering, “a horse to train”.  Right before Macklee’s birthday, her Aunt inquired as to what she wanted for her birthday. Her Aunt said she had a filly that she would give her.  (if we could get David to approve!)   So, in September,  a wild red roan filly that had never been touched arrived.  Macklee named her birthday present “Katy”, after John Wayne’s wife Kathyrn in the movie McClintok!

Our hero is a person that I have known my entire life.  Last week I saw her as an extraordinary person.  She had never met Macklee, but had heard through a mutual friend about the filly.  She drove 4 hours and helped Macklee for 4 days in the freezing cold (42 degrees).  She taught Macklee more in 4 days, than all the videos we had previously watched.  She was an amazingly patient teacher.  Macklee soaked it all up like a clean kitchen sponge.  Macklee was able to get into the pen with Katy and begin working with her. The transformation was amazing to watch.

Marcia and Macklee by Julie Carter

Marcia Vanbuskirk is an extraordinary person who gave of herself with no strings attached, and for this she truly is our hero.  I am not sure she will ever know how much the gift of her knowledge and time meant to Macklee and us.  Macklee thinks she hung the moon. She told me “Clinton Anderson is ok, but there is no way he knows as much as Marcia”! Each night she would tell us (at length) all the technical stuff that she learned. When I came home and asked how her day was she replied, “mom my day was magical”! There is no better feeling in the world than to know your child had a “magical day”.

I believe everything happens for a reason (even if you have no idea what the reason is). There were a lot of things that lined up to make this happen.  My new favorite quote from Einstein sums this up perfectly, “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”!

Thank you Marcia, we are better because you brought your best and showed up. You have to move people in order to move mountains.

Feedback Friday!

Sign on front of my office door!

By the time Friday rolls around, my whole family feels run over by several slow moving freight trains. It was especially hard today, as the snow and the freezing fog, made our commute much longer. Even though we left our house way before the sun got up, we were lucky to get to Belen by 7:15 a.m. (Even though we had left at 5:43 a.m!)

Anyway, as we pulled into Belen High School there was a security guard, standing outside in the freezing fog, smiling and waving at literally every vehicle. He would turn to the left and greet the parents that were leaving the school, and then flip around and wave and smile at the parents and students that were entering. He was amazing. I don’t know his name, I just wanted to say thank you for making my day.

He also created a teachable moment for my children. He let my children see what it looks like to do a great job, no matter what your job is. Always do your best, and people will notice. If you are miserable in your job, guess what? You are not stuck. It is not your boss, your spouse, your co-workers, or anyone else’s problem that you are not happy.

Bring passion to all you do, from folding laundry to balancing your check book. They are always telling us, life is too short. So remember to smile and that smile will ripple far and wide. I know your smile brightened so many lives today. Great job!

Ranch Heritage

Trust everyone, but always brand your cattle!


Determined Flanker!

It seems the only thing I know how to blog about anymore is branding.  Maybe it is because that is when I get a couple of days off and get “caught up”!  Well, another branding is in the books, and it was relatively uneventful compared to last year.  There was a minor hiccup, when Macklee threw her friend Brody off the golf cart and he banged his head, but other than that a real pleasant day.


A Hand For Sure!

When you click through old branding pictures, the only thing that truly changes is the kids.  Time is precious, and in this drought it seems to be evaporating quickly.  Dalli now is old enough at 12 to do everything!  She saddles the horses, peels the chili, flanks, and cooks dinner and desert for the cowboys.  We are so proud of our girls and hope we are instilling in them the love of their ranching heritage.   After all, they are the 5th generation ranchers.  In a couple of years, we may not need too many neighbors to help.  (Think of all the money we’ll save in beer!)


It is work to feed America.  However,  we are so thankful to raise our kids on the ranch, where they learn to work hard, and to appreciate God’s blessings everyday.

Proud 1.5 Percenter!


What a whirl wind week!  It started out with a presentation I had been asked to give to the Chuckwagon Cowbelles, then there was my day job, night schooling some FFA kids in veterinary science, homeschool duties, and lastly a ranch sleepover for Dalli’s classmates!

I hope I’m not too tired to continue typing!  Creating the Cowbelle presentation was difficult.  Usually when I create a presentation, I just put up impressive ranch views, tell about my hour commute (with no traffic), throw in a little veterinary medicine, of course a pinch of humor, and the crowd goes wild.  However, with many of these women living on ranches with similar views, I had to dig deep!

So, I focused on some of the problems plaguing (not plaquing for those of you who know my spelling is bad) our beautiful state, but more over our Nation.  The one that bothers me the most is that only 1.5 percent of us help feed this nation.  This is a profound fact.  Depending on what source you use, estimates will go as high as 2 percent of Americans are directly involved in food production for the rest of the country!  I knew we were a minority, but we are down right endangered.

I tell the girls all the time that their dad has the VERY important job of feeding America. She (America) may starve without us!   Ironically, 1.5% of us don’t mind the burden that we are faced with, we are quite passionate about it!  It is easy to become reactive and emotional when we are consistently being attacked by something my friend Rodney calls the “ethics of the affluent”.  If more Americans were involved in agriculture and had to worry about where their next meal came from it wouldn’t matter if it was grass fed or not.   In other countries, like Nigeria up to 88% of their populations are involved in producing the food that feeds their nation.

There are many romantic notions around what we do everyday (Holidays too!) but the reality is, it is hard work to feed America.   As people become more removed from agriculture (and hard work) it shows up in many different ways.  In my practice, I often see adults who have extreme difficulty coping with life and death.  Life and death is part of ranching.   Responsibility and consequences for your actions are mandatory components that seem to be lacking in our big cities.  We probably do not have to worry about Bernie Sanders redistributing the 1.5 “percenters” more evenly because the rest of the nation doesn’t want to work as hard as we do.

Appreciate the American Farmer and Rancher (the 1.5 percenters) we are working hard to feed you, doing the work that you don’t want to do.  Off to make eggs for a group of giggly girls, beef for lunch, popcorn later, and milkshakes last night!  We are doing our part to “Eat American” How about you?
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Girl Power

The most eventful part of the day (read “Branding 911” below) over shadowed our new, up and coming branding crew.  Eric Encinias and our neighbor Marcelo were excellent teachers for the next generation (which just happens to be all girls!)

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The girls did an amazing job and were fearless.  So much so that when both flanking crews were busy, and a third calf came, Macklee went to grab the rope alone! This is a picture of her mad after I would let her take that calf by herself.  (Mean mom!)IMG_7701

The next branding we went to they were able to practice some more.
If these girls continue to be such a great flanking crew, think of all the money we will save on beer!

Branding 911

So our branding started out resembling all the previous years, but quickly became memorable.  I finished preparing breakfast, while David went to saddle horses.  The Cowboys arrived and ate breakfast, then we hopped on our horses and set out to gather one of the pastures closest to our house.  We had the pasture gathered and were pushing the mommas and their babies toward the house corrals.  A couple of Cowboys kicked their horses into a lope to get ahead of the cows and hold them at water. This is where it all fell apart.  When Duane kicked Paint, it was a full fledged bronc ride.  Paint apparently hadn’t had enough coffee or was it too much green grass on a brisk morning?  Regardless, he bucked like a saddle bronc at the NFR, head between his knees the whole time. Duane rode him well, until he ended up on tilt.  He hit the ground in a tuck and roll fashion.  We knew there was a problem when he tried to stand, twirled around and collapsed back to ground. 

Magic and I kept him company while the Cowboys went to get the Artic cat to transport him.  He knew his pelvis was broken as he could feel some grinding and it hurt to move his left leg.  If he would have been whiny, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay with him.  But he was normal Duane, his sense of humor was definitely still intact!  On a side note, I did do an excellent job of keeping Magic from trampling him further while we waited.   We got a text to go through to his wife Shelly, but since I spelled his name Dewayne instead of Duane she wasn’t sure who I was talking about.

When the Artic cat came we knew he couldn’t sit and sent them back for a flat bed pick up. Wayne and Randy finally arrived and we removed his pistol and chaps.  He said he was missing a pen he had just acquired.  With Wayne’s EMT expertise we were able to roll him onto a vest and zip it up to stabilize him as we lifted him.  Wayne tripped and almost landed on him, and Randy had a hard time getting off he ground, other than that it went smoothly and  we finally got him loaded.  “Even if I scream keep going,” Duane coached.

I galloped to the house and dialed “911”.  

I directed dispatch to “just turn at the yellow entrance.”  

“Where is he now? Don’t move him.”  She quipped.   Too late, I thought.

 “He is in the pasture, but we’ll have him out by the time the ambulance arrives.”  

He had a posse keeping him company while we waited for the ambulance.   I told him I was glad he had eaten breakfast because they weren’t going to feed him in the hospital.  He told me that he knew I had served quiche this morning and Cowboys don’t eat quiche.  If I would have been quick enough on my feet I would have told him it wasn’t quiche it was egg pie!

The ambulance carried him off all before we branded a single calf.  The rest of the day went well, however a somber haze hung over us as everyone worried about Duane.  He had pelvic surgery and is doing well, but will be wheel chair bound for the next 8 weeks.