In earlier American rural life, communities raised barns because many hands were required. These events occured in a social framework with a good deal of interdependence. Members of rural communities often shared family bonds going back generations. They traded with each other, worshipped with each other and celebrated with each other. Barn raisings were an integral part of life and socializing.

In our modern American life, communities don't mean nearly as much as they did back then. It is our family's goal to bring a sense of community back to our lives and those lives that touch ours.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Today is the last day of February. And for that I am truly thankful. February and me haven't been friends for a long time. It is the longest month of the year. In the past 28 days we moved across our glorious state, I was immediately sick (which never happens), Hubby spent our first week here back in Ft. Collins for work, he came back and two days later we went back to Ft. Collins for him to finish work and for the littlest mans' eye surgery. We were home for three days and had to turn around again to head to Ft. Collins for a post-op appointment. Got home, Hubby went to work, all was supposed to be well, Hubbys' days off roll around and he is sick. Then I get sick. Seriously, how does a body get sick twice in the same month?! February did bless us with a beautiful day on it's way out, though. 
It is 1/2 of a mile from our front door to our mailbox. I like walking up there with the kids to check the mail. Exercise, fresh air, and maybe a chat with Meme since she is just a smidge further up the road. Today it took us one hour and 40 minutes to check our mail. It was that beautiful outside. I will let the pictures do the talking.

S enjoying the warm sunshine.
 He said he wanted to stay there all day and take a nap.


T checking out what brother is doing.

My daughter and light of my life.

T and M "glidering" down the lane.

Beauty. Our view from the lane. Cows, Fruit Growers Reservoir, and the Rockies.

Northern Flicker. One of these lives in our barn.

Some burro and horse love.
 As a final thought today, I have to say that the birthdays this month make up for all the rest. There are many but I am just going to name two. Hubbys' Grandpa turned 90 this month. What an accomplishment.

The next one I am not posting a picture of, but I want to say a very Happy Birthday to K. Two years ago today when he was born he was lovingly adopted by some dear friends. I have loved watching their family grow in so many ways. In lieu of a picture of him, I will post one of an adoption that occured right here on the ranch.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beer Bread

Today we will start a new topic called, "Sunday Creations". Just like our recurring Wednesday topic, this will recur every Sunday. Today's creation will be short and sweet since this cold is really kicking my fanny today. The only magazine I subscribe to is GRIT. Check it out. Maybe you will get hooked like me, maybe not. Today I pulled a recipe for herbed beer bread from the most recent issue to serve with our traditional Sunday meal with my folks. We were also able to have the hubby's Dad over for dinner.
 The meal was amazing and the bread should have been, too. Taste-wise it was delicious. Consistency-wise, not so much. Ah, the joys of learning a new oven. Here is the recipe if anyone would like to try their hand at it. I used a homebrew stout of the hubby's. I am sure different brews would yield different flavors. If you try it, let me know how it turned out for you. Even though todays' batch was not overly successful, it is a recipe I will try again.

Herbed Beer Bread

1 tablespoon shortening
3 tablespoons cornmeal
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs (or 1 teaspoon each of oregano, basil and thyme)
1 can (12 ounces) beer, room temperature
2 tablespoons soft butter

Heat oven to 325°F. Grease loaf pan with shortening and sprinkle bottom and sides with cornmeal; set aside.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cheese and herbs; mix well to combine. Stir in beer, mixing until stiff batter forms.
Turn batter into pan. Bake for 65 minutes. Brush baked loaf with softened butter and sprinkle with additional cornmeal, if desired. Turn out and cool on rack.

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 We have an amazing view of the ranch. Not of much else since the ranch sits in it's own beautiful little valley. There are multiple fields with their own herds of cattle, separated for reasons I have yet to comprehend. The field just North of us has had calves on the ground since earlier this month. The field that spreads before our front door has just started the calving process. There were three calves yesterday, one more born over night and this morning as I was getting the kids breakfast, we were able to see a birth in the works. I happened to look out our front window and saw a cow stumbling about like only a cow in labor can do. She was down, then back up, then down again.    
I was excited in a way that only happens when a birth is going to happen. It doesn't matter if it is human or animal. Birth is exciting. About now I see our landlady, headrancher, G, coming along to investigate. Sometimes Mommas just need a little help.

I got concerned when baby wasn't on it's feet and quite a bit of scurrying about was suddenly happening. Sometimes birth brings death. Heartsick like the Momma that I am but dealing with the facts, the kids and I had an impromptu lesson on life and death. But blessings happened this morning! In a conversation I had with G just a short time after, I discovered, much to my delight that baby was just fine. A little swollen in the nose and tongue, but thanks to the able hands of G, was revived and in the "hospital" with Momma. So what do you think we did? We went to give well wishes and oooohs and aaaaahs. All is well for another day in ranchland. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Garden Planning

I believe I am recatching the cold that I already gave my sweet hubby. Because of this fact I am feeling a bit discombobulated. Most of the day went well enough with some grocery shopping and baking popovers, oggling the newest calf, a quick trip into the next town for a bank visit and the dreaded trip to that big box store that I loathe, ending with rabbit cage cleaning and making pizzas from scratch with my folks. But after running about all day, I am ready for bed. So we will briefly talk about garden planning.
 We are able to have an extremely large plot for a garden this year. This is good for many reasons. I learned to can last year and other than making many batches of pear and peach jams, I was unable to really put my new found skill to use.

 I have also been put in charge of gardening for our landlords. This is a good thing, but now I need to plan for a higher yield. I need some recommendations. What is your favorite thing to grow? What works well for you for preserving purposes? For eating fresh? For cold storage?
Allright. Wish me luck that I am just tired and not actually on the verge of illness.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The baby one

Today, my friends, was way less exciting than I would like to admit. I had so many plans and like life often enjoys doing, all of them went downhill fast. This is due to two things. One, a very sick hubby.

And this is a man who claims he doesn't like cats...

And two, a baby boy who seems to duplicate into 4 toddlers. Our oldest son was such a good boy that I never understood when people complained about their boys. But now I do. This little man of ours is as sweet as can be but so curious that he just can't help but get in trouble. The kind of trouble that actually makes me laugh when he isn't looking. He is obsessed with sweeping. I kid you not. He walks around with his little mop or my broom saying, "I sweep, I sweep, I sweep." It really is adorable. But at the same time a tiny man with a broom twice as tall as he is causes more damage than his "sweeping" could ever cause to be helpful. Another thing he enjoys doing is thoroughly grossing me out by announcing, "I drink", after he has stuck his face into the cats' water dish for a drink. Seriously. Gross. He dumps out board games. He takes apart Lego creations. He opens the front door and waves goodbye to people long after they are gone. He has a knack for placing himself in exactly the spot you need to be in while cooking, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, etc. But, oh, his smile. His voice. His baby giggle. His super apologetic embraces when he knows he is in trouble. He steals my heart time after time. So did I get much done today? Not exactly. But did I get to squeeze my kiddos? More times than they would probably want. I guess today wasn't such a boring day after all.     

Better look at him while he is sleeping. He moves too fast otherwise!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Today will begin an idea that has come to me which we will call, "Wednesday Wonders". This will be a recurring subject that happens on, wait for it, Wednesdays.
This Wednesday we have two wonders.
Wonder number one: Craigslist is my online bff. I have purchased amazing things, sold useless things and been entertained for hours in the search for more. Craigslist in Ranchland is almost nonexistant. This should make me quite sad. And it would except for the free paper that appears magically in the mailbox every Wednesday. By magically what I mean is that our mailwoman drives like a bat out of you know where and how she doesn't lose all of our mail out her window is quite magical. She's like the mailman in "Funny Farm". I digress. So this paper has everything in it. EVERYTHING. Last week there were four whole pages of Valentines to and from local sweeties. How great is that?!
 This week we were able to find many things which brings us to Wonder number two: our search for animals. We already are blessed with two great dogs, one sweet cat and one terrible cat and a bunny that looks like a dust mop. This is alot of pets, right? Well not for us. We need barn cats. And a puppy for the kids. And goats. And chickens. Barn cats: check. There were around a dozen cats/kittens needing to be rehomed. Not that we are getting a dozen. That would make us crazy. Or crazier. But I do believe one or two cats will be joining our brood by the end of the week. Puppy: possible check. We were able to find a great rescue near Telluride that has a whole litter of pups needing homes. Will hopefully be adding one soon. Goats: Ummm... Let me quote for you the most entertaining ad I read today, "2 Goats, Both Female, Make Offer, You Catch." You catch? Way to make it sound tempting! Although, really, I was tempted. I like a good challenge. But since I want a calm, sweet milking goat, maybe not the best option for us. We will have to keep searching. Chickens: double check. We were able to order the heritage breed that I really want and able to find out that the other breed we wanted will be in the feed store next week. So be sure to watch for adorable postings of chicks. I am sure there will be multiples. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Directions. Hmmm. How do I give directions to our humble abode. I could give you an address, you could mapquest it and we would be set. But I enjoy the more scenic route and so that, my friends, is what I will lead you on. Let's presume you are heading West along that big interstate North of here. Wind through the mountains and canyons, follow the Colorado River for a little bit. You know that jingle, "Over the river and through the woods..."? Well substitute us for grandma. When your radio can only pick up country or Christian music, you know you're getting close. Head South. Turn East just this side of the first small town you come to. Turn North a couple miles down the road, cross the railroad tracks and the Gunnison River. Make sure you are watching for deer! Stop and enjoy the scenery. Look at those mountains.
 Aren't they awe-inspiring?!

 Get back in the car and take a right turn just before the antique store. You are now heading East on North Street. Confused yet? Just wait.
Drive past the field with all of the huge bulls, continue along overlooking the Fruit Growers Reservoir, but not too fast. Look for bald eagles.
Take a left on the dirt road. When you come to the high arch that leads down the tree lined lane, turn right.

 Follow it past the corrals, around the feed barn, through the gate and there we are. A barn rising majestically in the fields. Okay, maybe that's a stretch. But there you have it, our Home Sweet Home.

What this picture failed to capture was the three bald eagles soaring in circles just North of us.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Our bedroom from inside the barn

And so it begins. Our life in a barn. Or rather, the home above and inside the barn. A separate dwelling from the critters. But still, how many peoples' bedroom windows look directly into a barn?

 You might wonder how this came to be. Why would a family consciously decide to live this life? Let me introduce you to Mom, but as her seventeen year old self. Here she is, serious and silly all at once, sitting in her Ag/FFA class for the third year in a row. It has become the only class that peaks her interest. Class discussion one day brings us to dreaming what our lives will be like as adults. Can you remember your seventeen year old self? Well, Mom can. She, in fact, remembers this discussion quite clearly. And speaking out of the dream she has of living in the mountains with no one but her husband and children around. Self-sustaining and home educating aren't words she knows of then. Just a vague idea of the life she desires to live. This idea takes root, deeply, like an acorn. Enter Dad. He is eighteen and recently graduated from the same high school that Mom is still attending. Going to community college, minding his own business, dreaming of  life as a self sufficient adult. Then WHAM! one day fate throws Dad and Mom together in a story for another time. Much to Moms surprise, she has not fallen in love with a cowboy. She has fallen for Matt. I mean Dad. And he has fallen for her. They get married, move around quite a bit, have a small brood of beautiful children and try to settle down in lovely Fort Collins, CO. This lasts for half a decade. A wonderful half decade. Until it just doesn't anymore. And then it really doesn't. So when an opportunity comes up to move to the country and live in a barn (a barn!), the decision is made to seize the moment. And Mom's inner seventeen year old squeals with delight. And maybe her thirty year old self does a little, as well.