July on the Ponderosa

Lil’ Cute Cowboy coming nose-to-nose with his first bronc!

July has felt long and short all at once. Seems like just last week I was writing June’s Ponderosa post, but at the same time, there’s also been a lot of happenings this month.

One Cute Cowboy kicked off the month by completely replacing the floor in his stock trailer. This took a few days and evenings, and the finished product was well worth the time spent. It’s as good as new!

We celebrated the 4th of July with family and friends in the park of our small community. We had hamburgers and hotdogs and homecut French fries. Our local firefighters did all the cooking. It was delicious. We threw our big jean & fleece blanket on the ground and ate and listened to the live band. Bratcher wasn’t sure what to think of it all at first, but he warmed up to it. He even got to meet one of his future little classmates!

Guess what else One Cute Cowboy did this month. No guesses? Fixed and built more fence! Haha! As I’ve said before, it’s truly a never ending job. I guess it’s job security, because there’s always fence to be worked on somewhere. He finished up building the hot wire fence for the CRP cattle and got them all moved to their new pastures for the next couple months.

Along with CRP cattle, comes the job of hauling water. Most CRP pastures don’t have a water source, therefore the Cowboy’s have to haul the water to the cows every, single, day. The little rig above is new to the ranch, and has been pretty dang handy. The Cowboys haul water to 3 pastures everyday, and it takes around 2 hours from start to finish. I always like to go haul water, though I haven’t gotten to this year any. It’s always fun to see the cows come in for a fresh, cool drink of water.

It was unbearably hot here for about 2 weeks. It reached 106 for a high and we were over 100 for 6 days! Days like that make me so ready for fall to come around. It’s especially important on days like that to make sure every pasture has water and all windmills are working as they should. This month also consisted of a lot of water checking and more windmill oil checking.

The Cowboys rotated some of the cattle around to different “summer” pastures to give some of the land a break. As I talked about in June’s post, it’s just as important to take care of our land as much as the cattle. God made us to be good stewards of both, for they’re each a living thing and have been gifted to us.

As you may have gathered, One Cute Cowboy is a jack of many many trades! He is also a Superior Livestock representative. He spent part of the month contracting and selling cattle through Superior. July is a busy time because of the annual Superior sale that happens up in the Rockies. The first year we went it was up in Steamboat,CO. The last two years it’s been in Breckinridge, CO. We didn’t go this year but OCC and my dad watched a lot of the sale online on the Superior website. Each year OCC contracts calves for local producers that top the markets throughout the United States. We have some dang good cattle in this part of the country! Be sure and contact OCC if you have some cattle that need reppin’. 😉

OCC did quite a bit of maintenance work on machinery and trailers this month. As I’ve mentioned before, he likes to keep everything in tip-top shape!

He also cleaned out the pens here at the house a couple evenings. It’s important to keep your pens clean of old manure and hay. It helps the animal stay healthier and keeps their immune systems strong. As well as it cuts down on those pesky flies! It’s not just a healthier environment for them to live in, but a happier one!

Here on the homefront we had our first successful grocery shopping trip with Little Bear! Woohoo! This may not seem like a big feat for most, but it was for this little family! We also went to our first church service. He did completely awesome at both! He’s such a trooper!

Well, there are the happening for us in July here at the Ponderosa. Hope you had a good July, stay tuned this August for a special edition from the animals on the Ponderosa!

*ASpottedHeart

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June on the Ponderosa

Well, readers, I’m gonna be real honest with ya, One Cute Cowboy and I dropped the ball taking pictures around the Ponderosa this month. I have a camera roll full of ‘lil Cute Cowboy, but none of the ranch. OCC has been busy, and it totally slipped his mind to take pictures this month as well. So I’m gonna post some random ones from over the last few years while I talk about what all has been going on around the Ponderosa this month.

We started off June with our community’s annual Santa Fe Trail Daze celebration. This was Little Bear’s first parade to watch and he did okay until the sirens and the few semi-trucks that thought it was funny to blow their horns (insert annoyed face here). Poor guy didn’t like that at all, but the rest he was pretty interested in. I guess you could say this was his first “official”‘outing.

OCC finally finished up with all the branding crews, branding a little over 3,000 head in a short (or long, depending on who you’re asking!) 6 weeks.

One Cute Cowboy built a lot of fence in the month of June! He and our nephew spent several days building fence around CRP grass for our cattle to graze this summer. If you’re not familiar with CRP (Conservariin Reserve Program) I talked all about it in my October on the Ponderosa post, when we were taking cattle off CRP. In short, it’s the governments way to (1) “conserve soil, water quality, and provide wildlife habitats by establishing long-term cover on highly erodible land or land in need of conservation buffers that has previously been in row crop production.”

My husband is a bit obsessed with grass and grass quality, and taking proper care of the grass. He spends days figuring and refiguring numbers making sure he’s putting just enough cattle on a piece of land to get the best use out of grass for the cattle while still making sure the grass thrives and is in just as good of shape when the cattle leave the grass. Overgrazing absolutely kills him! He can’t stand to see land being misused and the poor cattle that are left with nothing else to do but overgraze. We must be good stewards of our land just as much as we are to our animals. He takes the ecosystem very seriously, and he’s sure to do his part to make sure this is a better place after we leave it. He’s a total land-lover.

But, back to the fence–they built close to 10 miles of fence…as I’ve said before, when people think of cowboys, I don’t think people take into consideration how much time isn’t spent on a horse. This was one of those months where being horseback was few and far between.

OCC spent a couple days up high on the windmills checking oil and doing maintenance where needed on each one. As one can imagine, this always makes me pretty nervous when I know he’s getting up on a windmill, luckily he has a safety harness he uses, which puts this gal’s mind at ease…somewhat.

The bulls were especially rambunctious this month. We’ve got a few ornery ones that kept getting out to visit the cows in the different pastures. So you know what that means? More fence was worked on! Haha! I’d say One Cute Cowboy wouldn’t consider it a laughing matter. But I say, the bulls get bored and just want to go visit their girlfriend(s) in the other pastures. He doesn’t think I’m funny.

The last week or so of the month One Cute Cowboy worked on different equipment around the ranch so everything stays up to par and runs smoothly when needed.

Somewhere in there, between the hustle and bustle, we took our first family vacation to Red River. I talked all about it in my last post.

That pretty much wraps up the month of June at the Ponderosa! Hope y’all enjoyed! Can’t believe the summer is already about halfway over.

*ASpottedHeart

(1): Conservation Reserve Program

May on the Ponderosa

Well, here we are starting into June. My oh my, how summer has rushed upon us! It’s been in the upper 80’s low 90’s the last couple weeks, which feels insane to be that warm already. But I will say, we’ve had some nice little thunderstorms! We’re always thankful for rain!!

This month has been full of more brandings for One Cute Cowboy. 2,900 calves in 21 days to be exact!

Started the month off with finishing up the branding at the ranch headquarters and has been gypsy jumping around from ranch to ranch “dayworking” (helping other ranches for a short time), all month!

This time of the year is tough on cowboys because not only are they working long hard days but they have to get their normal jobs completed and cows checked and problems dealt with on their own ranches after “dayworking” for the other ranches. Needless to say, they can turn into VERY long days! No one ever said being a Cowboy’s wife would be easy.

OCC had the yearly branding at my in-laws in New Mexico, just on the other side of Kenton, Oklahoma this month as well. Once again, Lil Cute Cowboy and I decided to stay home since it would be hot, windy, and dusty. This mama bear is still a little overly protective. ☺️

The brand on the calf pictured above is One Cute Cowboy’s great grandpa’s brand. It’s been in his family for 5 generations! Agriculture is all about tradition you know. It’s neat to know that the calves have received this same brand for all of these years.

The bulls of the ranch were finally happy to be placed out in their different pastures for the summer. It’s important to make sure and give the bulls and cows a break from one another. Some of the bulls will be gathered back up in July, and some will get to stay with the cows until October.

Speaking of bulls, we got all of our registered bulls delivered this month as well. It’s a good feeling to have them all placed at good ranches .

One Cute Cowboy and I have our own little herd that got vaccinated and branded this month too. Have I ever told you about Mama, the friendly cow? She’s an older cow that Riley and I got in our first herd right after we got married. She is such a sweetheart, she’ll come right up to eat cake out of your hand (she’s actually usually up in your business trying to see if you actually have any cake in your hands to snatch up!) She always throws us a good little bull calf each year, which we’re always happy to see! She’s talked one of the other mamas into coming up to us too. We call this ‘ol gal Sister.

One of the biggest changes this month on the Ponderosa is I went back to work at my 9 to 5. It’s been incredibly hard leaving Little Bear everyday, but we’re getting more of a routine down and learning and growing. I try to remind myself to just be in the moment and not to dwell on not being with him all day. It’s definitely hard on this mama!

This Lil Ranch Kid is growing like crazy and smiling and laughing and just so much dang fun! Our hearts are full here on the Ponderosa.

Happy June!

*ASpottedHeart

December on the Ponderosa

This month started out unusually warm for December. We kept hearing colder weather was coming, but it was hard to believe when you didn’t really need anything but a light jacket to go outside. But then, let me tell you, when the cold hit, it hit! The last few days haven’t gotten above 16-18 degrees, finally the sun is starting to poke out today. If you follow One Cute Cowboy’s instagram, I’ m sure you’ve seen how thrilled he’s been about the colder temperatures.

This month has been all about wheat pasture cattle. Every. Single. Day. OCC loads up a trusty horse, a fueled 4 wheeler, charged fence batteries, his medicine bag, and hot coffee, 7 Days a week to go check the cattle on wheat pasture and corn stalks. He makes his rounds through 6 pastures at one location, then 2 other separate fields, then checks the bull calves that are also on wheat. While he’s at these pastures he also has to break the inch thick ice in the tanks, and check the hot wire fences to make sure they’re keeping their charge. Cowboy roping a steer

This guy wasn’t sick, just in the wrong pasture and had to be moved.

He checks for anything that might be sick, or not looking healthy. Cowboys wear many hats, and one of those hats is unfortunately, Doctor. One has to know what medicine is good for what ailment, they have to keep track of which ones they’ve already doctored, and what medicine they gave them. Some medicines are so strong they can only be doctored once with that particular kind and it’s imperative for the Cowboy to remember what calf the medicine was distributed to.

During wheat pasture season, calves can get bloated on the wheat really easily and really fast. There are several things the cowboys do to help fight bloat. They put out a block called a “bloat” block and they also add soap to their water and keep hay out. The blocks and soap help the stomach continue to bubble and break down the foam which helps the gas escape. The hay offers dry matter which allows the rumen to operate correctly.

Besides checking wheat pasture cattle, the cowboys have also been feeding cake and hay to the ranch cattle. They definitely keep a full schedule in the winter months!

We also got to get away for an overnight trip to see some of OCC’s family for Christmas, and also had a nice Christmas with my whole family once we got back. Christmas was here and gone in the blink of an eye, which always makes me a little sad. But it’s exciting to think this time next year we’ll have a little pup around to unwrap gifts and start some new family traditions.

The cake my niece made all by herself, “Frosty.”

I hope you all have had a wonderful December, and are ready to jump into the New Year with lots of hope, love, and excitement!

Happy New Year! 🍾

*ASpottedHeart

October on the Ponderosa

Ranch land with cattle and pond

As promised, I wanted to share what’s been going on this month on the ranch. As I mentioned prior, “Fall works” is the moving/weaning/vaccinating that we do in the Fall. It takes a lot of time and a lot of preparation to make it all happen.

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At the beginning of this month One Cute Cowboy, my dad, and a few other cowboys started moving what cattle we had on CRP back to the ranch. CRP pastures (Conservation Reserve Program) are prior fields that were used for crops. The government has offered the farmer a program to put those fields back to natural grass; grass that either has to be mowed or grazed every three years. Ranchers and farmers will lease out their CRP pastures because if they don’t have someone graze it, by government rules, they would have to pay someone to come in and mow the grass. It’s a win/win situation for both parties. The grass is usually a good home for the cattle and it gives the grass at the ranch a “break” during the growing season to gain back growth so that we can rotate the cattle back on those pastures in the winter and spring; because we want to practice good land management. The cattle aren’t the only thing we have to think about as a rancher, you also have to think about the land and the wildlife and how to better our ecosystem.

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Once everything is back in it’s respective pastures, it’s time to start weaning the calves off of the mother cows. Usually when you hear cowboys talking about weaning day, it’s a day starting at day break and not ending until sun set (and sometimes even longer.) It’s not just separating the mamas from their babies, it’s “working” the calves as well. This usually means giving them vaccines, making sure they’re healthy and don’t need any special attention. After the crazy snow storm in May, and all the rain we received (Praise the Lord!) this Summer, we’ve had an uncommon amount of what’s called foot rot. Foot rot is an infectious disease that occurs in the hoof/foot of the cow/calf. It can cause lameness and pain in the foot if not treated properly. Sometimes this is brought on by dampness, hence all of our snow and rain. This was one of the main vaccines we gave this month. The foot rot vaccine helps to clear up those that have it, and to keep the ones who haven’t had it from getting it.

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The reason we wean the calves before marketing them is because buyers will pay more money for a calf that has been weaned for at least 45 day and received proper vaccinations before shipment to the buyers farms or ranches. We practice “fence-line” weaning. This is where the calf is kept on one side of the fence, and the mother on the other side. This allows for a lower amount of stress on the mother and calf, therefore lessening the opportunity for sickness. They’re still able to see each other, and “talk to” each other by touching noses and licking through the fence.

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Fall works doesn’t end there. Because the calves aren’t used to having to go to water on their own, each evening, the cowboys have to go out and push each pasture of calves to their watering hole, so they’ll start to learn where to go to water. They do this for two weeks along with feeding them a mixture of cake and hay until the calves are used to everything and know where to go. Usually after two weeks, they more than have it all figured out. The cowboys continue to feed though, until “shipping day”. Next Month!

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There are still other odds and ends that have to be done besides just the feedings. There are tanks to be moved, fence to be repaired, fence to be built for winter corn stalks & wheat pastures, and equipment to be kept up and baby doctor visits that have to be made. 😉

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These last two images were literally taken not but an hour ago. One Cute Cowboy working in the shop, well after dark, repairing the wire roller so he can build more fence tomorrow. A cowboy’s work is never done.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first edition of Life on the Ponderosa, monthly ranching series! Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have about life here in the Oklahoma Panhandle! The next ranching post will be at the end of November. I’ll tell you what all has been going on at the ranch for the month.

 

Happy Halloween!

*ASpottedHeart

Contact Me: aspottedheart@gmail.com or leave a message in the comments.

 

Fall works on the Ponderosa


In case you’re not used to cowboy slang, “Fall Works” is when it’s time to work/wean cattle in the Fall. One Cute Cowboy and the rest of the cowboys have spent the last couple months prepping for Fall works. Getting fence fixed, built, and making sure the mamas and calves are ready for weaning season. Docotoring anything that seems to need it, and making sure all is healthy enough to happen.

One Cute Cowboy roped a cow that needed doctoring.

One Cute Cowboy welding on some pens.


One Cute Cowboy had the idea a few weeks ago about a new monthly series I could try. I’m going to start a monthly ranching series where at the end of each month I’ll talk about what’s been going on on the ranch (or the Ponderosa as I like to call it.) I’ll still be doing my mood boards here and there, but starting at the end of this month, I’ll kick it off with October on the Ponderosa. So be looking for it towards the end of the month! I hope this is something y’all enjoy!

Happy Columbus Day!

*ASpottedHeart

Branding Season

I’m a few weeks late on this and I apologize. Hope you enjoy!


Let me be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of branding season. When I was a kid, being the youngest, I guess you’d say I had….ahem…certain privileges. Ha! I didn’t have to go out in the early morning when the rest of the crew went out, I was able to go stay with my Grandma Smith, and help her get lunch ready to take to the crew at noon. 

I loved to watch her pack her pretty picnic basket with homemade sweet pickles, homemade ground beef sandwiches, chips, and always some kind of yummy dessert, homemade of course. We’d go out and they’d gather around sitting on buckets, barrels, and tailgates ready for lunch. That was always fun to me, sitting in the shade, eating lunch with everyone.

After everyone was done eating, it was time to continue branding. Grandma always wanted to stay and “watch them brand a few.” Much to my dismay, we’d watch them brand for a little while. 

 As I got older I was enlisted to help. I did things like drive the feed pick up to help gather, fill the shots with medicine, and every now and then try to give the shots. 

As most of you are aware, I’m an animal lover, and it’s more than just an “oh I love how cute and fun animals are,” I almost feel like it’s a sort of calling. My depth of compassion for four legged creatures is deep. So you can probably imagine that branding isn’t always the easiest road for me.  There’s a lot of calves bawling, sometimes blood, and a pretty terrible smell to top it off! But branding  involves a lot more than that. There’s of course branding and tagging the cattle but also making sure they have their vaccinations and it also gives the chance to look over each animal to make sure their over-all being is doing well. The vaccinations we give helps fight disease and bacteria in each calf. It helps boost their immune systems and helps them stay healthy. In all reality, it’s one of the best things we could do for our cattle; making sure they’re at their best and none of them need any special attention. 


These days I usually end up giving part of the shots and helping make sure the syringes stay full of medicine. On occasions I get to stay at the Ponderosa making lunch and taking it out just like Grandma used to. 


Something occurred to me this year at our branding– I end up physically touching every single one of our calves during this yearly occurrence, why not try to say a quick prayer of well-being over each calf as I quickly lay my hands upon them? These animals are a vital part of our daily lives, so why not?

As I’ve grown older I’ve realized branding isn’t just something we go through the motions of each year. There’s a reason why One Cute Cowboy gets so excited when branding season rolls around, it’s because it’s a time of gathering together and all pitching in to help. It’s a time for family and friends and working hard and laughing and making traditions while practicing the old ones. It’s living out our heritages. For centuries cowboys have gathered together to do this very same thing. So it is amazing to think we’re just doing what our great-great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers did before us. It’s pretty cool to think about being a part of something big like that. 

Maybe I’ve found some silver lining in branding season after all. 
*ASpottedHeart

Worth It

I’m not the best at horseback riding, I’m not always the best help during branding season, or the toughest, but one thing I do know how to do is love and care for animals. Living on a ranch can be hard, and frustrating, and truly heart-breaking at times… but this right here, this is what makes this way of life worth it! This baby calf finally drinking from a bottle this morning! Let me tell you this little guy’s story.

This baby’s mama is crazy with a capital C! Her bag (utters) had swollen up and were too big for the baby to nurse when he was born, so Riley and Dad decided they needed to try to milk her. That was a fiasco within itself, because she not only didn’t want them near her or her baby, but she charged them both! Like I said, CRAZY. They were able to milk her, and used the milk to drench the calf so it would get it’s nourishment. For those of you who aren’t familiar with drenching, it’s a way to administer liquids to a calf through the mouth using a drench bottle. A drench bottle has a long tube on it and you have to guide the tube into the calf’s mouth, through the esophagus into the stomach. It takes skill and patience. It doesn’t hurt the calf in any way, but it’s much harder than just simply giving it a bottle.  After two days of driving out to the ranch and feeding the baby, hoping he’d nurse his mama, we realized it was time to bring him up to the house, so we could feed him more easily and more often since he didn’t seem to be nursing.

Now, let me tell you, when we went out to feed him, we were in one of Riley’s work pickups, a single cab, 90-something Chevy flatbed. We also had taken both girls with us, Ponga one of our Mini-Aussies, and Charlie our blue-heeler (they love running around at the ranch.) One can probably imagine my surprise when Riley said, “We’re going to take him back to the house with us…tonight.” “Tonight?” I said, trying to figure out if he was joking. “Tonight,” he said. Mind you, we do not have a trailer,and it’s a flatbed pickup, this could only mean one thing, that calf was riding shotgun!

We decided I should drive, so Riley could hold the calf, and the girls would just have to pile in and we’d hope for the best. Riley got the calf in, holding it across his lap, luckily at this point, the calf didn’t have real high energy, and was pretty docile, so he gladly laid there. Now here’s where it got tricky, though Ponga & Charlie have fun playfully chasing and barking at the cattle, they were in no hurry to get up-close and personal with this little fella in the tight corners of our single cab. We finally got Ponga in the seat and Riley gets her to sit down beside him, while holding her collar, then I got Charlie to jump in the floorboard and I got in as fast as I could behind her so she couldn’t jump back out as she had several attempts before that. About that time, the calf decides it’s time to…how do I put this…relieve himself a bit, and let me tell you, he had all four of us, rushing our noses to the open widows! Charlie was about in my lap trying to get her nose out the window, and Ponga was climbing behind my back, all while I was trying to drive to get this calf to it’s new pen at the house. Had it not been such a crazy situation, I would have tried to snap a picture of all the chaos. Definitely a moment I won’t forget! From that moment on we knew this calf’s name would be Pepé Le Pew.

We already have one bottle calf, Pete, so Pepé already had a friend to room with here at the Ponderosa. Pete was bigger when his mama died, and he was already drinking water out of a trough, so we just mix the milk and pour it in a trough for him and he’s good to go.

The next morning Pepé was still weak enough that he didn’t have the energy or know-how to take a bottle, so once again Riley had to drench the poor guy. This morning when I woke up, I was determined to help Pepé drink out of a bottle, I knew it’d be easier and more enjoyable for him to take his milk this way. I mixed 2 bottles and headed out to the calves. I was happy to see Pepé up when I got there, glad to see he was gaining energy. It took several tries, but I finally got the bottle in his mouth and pushed his little nose and chin together like he was sucking and in seconds he understood and drained the whole bottle! I was so happy I could’ve cried. The picture above is of success and pure happiness! Pete slurped at his trough, and Pepé finally learned to take a bottle. It made it all worth it.

A Rancher’s Wife

I’ve  been around horses my entire life. I’ve loved and brushed, and fed cake out of my hands to the beloved horses of our family for years. Some may read this as I’ve ridden horses my entire life…well, not quite. As I have, for many years ridden, I’ve always been more of a lover of the animal, then the rider. *insert my whole family nodding at this statement.* haha


As a kid, I was a bit, ahem, strong headed. I did a lot of things in my own time and in my own way. With this said, after being drug to what seemed like every rodeo in the country during the summertime for my two older sisters to compete, the last thing I wanted to do was start rodeoing  myself. So naturally I didn’t become as skilled a rider as my sisters. There was one horse, and I do only mean one horse that I would confidently ride by the name of Billy Anna. She was a sweet, gentle little roping horse that pretty much did whatever I wanted. Except for the one time I tried to run barrels on her, that she would not do! But she was a great horse, that I got along with and felt comfortable to ride. Once Billy Anna passed, it was hard for me to feel real confident on any other horse. I didn’t feel like I was in control like I did on her, so as the years have gone by, I’ve ridden less and less.

Then out of nowhere comes this irresistable cowboy that is the real deal. He ropes and rides, lives in boots and a hat, and can wear a pair of leather chaps like this girl didn’t know was possible. So as you might imagine, I’ve ridden a bit more in these past few years.

This is a picture I took the very first day Riley and I met.


Yesterday was one of those rare times I got to go with him and just simply ride through the cattle, and check to see if there are any to be doctored.                                                                           It was a cool, overcast day, ideal horseback riding in my books! We had 3 pastures of mamas and babies to check.

Boone and I looking at the cattle.


Riley loaded me up on his Red Roan, Boone, and he rode his little Sorrel mare, Mazie. This was my first time on Boone. He’s fairly gentle and likes to go slow, and so do I, so we were a good pair. 

We started to ride through the cattle, looking to see if all the calves looked healthy. We look for scours, calves with their heads looking “droopy” and just all in all making sure their mobility and all look okay. When one needs to be doctored, Riley has to rope the calf, and gives it a shot of medicine. A lot of times the mamas don’t really like for someone to be getting so close

to their babies, but it only lasts a matter of seconds and their

off again. 

You hear people talking about the “Great Wide Open” well, I live right smack in the middle of it. 

Riley doctoring a calf while its’s mother stands by.


It turned out to be a really good day. A day that I was thankful to get to go horseback for awhile and thankful to be a ranchers wife.

Home,Home on the Range

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I come from a long lineage of cattle ranchers. Cowboys and cowgirls on both sides, fill up my family history and  family stories, so naturally, I married One Cute Cowboy and decided to carry on the tradition.

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Last weekend, after spending the winter on corn stalks, our 70 head of black Angus cows  finally headed back to the homestead. A ranch that has been in my family for 4 generations.

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My husband and dad are cattle partners. Luckily they make a pretty good team.

For me, it’s always nice to see the cattle back at the ranch, enjoying “Home.” Of course, I know it’s good to give the land a break, and we’re very thankful for the farmers that let us lease their fields for the winters, but it’s just nice to see them in the House Pasture once again where soon we will have little babies running around of which we will enjoy and the generations of cattle on the Smith Ranch will carry on!

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