After the rain

We were blessed to receive over an inch of rain this past week. Today was sunny, 60 degrees, and the grass and plants were rejoicing to their GOD with thanksgiving. Tonight our red hills reflected a beautiful South Dakota Sunset and the extra-rich colors are the result of a few days moisture. Thanks, Lord.

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Branding Day 2014!

I am posting this a few days later than I had anticipated.. but after a full day of branding on Friday for which I cooked for approximately 40 people, and a full day following that of doing the dishes for all of that cooking; I am just now getting to it!

The general run-down of Branding Day is that a bunch of friends and neighbors come out (many/most with their horses), and we ride out at 8:00am to go gather the cattle in a nearby pasture.  Once in the pens, the guys sort the babies from their mamas (cows, that is)… and then it’s time for everybody’s favorite part:  Coffee break.

Grandma Ellen started the tradition of making caramel rolls for the whole branding crew.  Alana carried that tradition on.  When I joined the family, I took over the job with joy. :-)

I use Grandma Ellen’s original sweet roll recipe, but I use my own Cream Cheese Icing recipe and my own Caramel recipe for the caramel rolls.  I might share later.  Maybe. ;-)

Following a good half hour or so break of devouring sugary breakfast goodness, the real work begins.  Cowboys/Cowgirls ride into a pen of calves, rope them one by one and drag them out to the wrestlers who hold down the calves while they are branded, vaccinated, and checked over.  Then they are released back with their mamas.

Repeat this process approximately 300 times and you’re done!  Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?!

After all of the calves are done, or 2:00, whichever comes first, Lunch is Served!!  This year we did a Mexican Feast and it was well received by all!

Please enjoy this gallery of images from our branding day!

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Preparing for the biggest ranch holiday of the year… Branding Day!

Every spring we hold a Branding Day for our herd of cattle.  It is a day where friends, neighbors, and family come together to help us gather our cattle, vaccinate, wellness check, and brand all of the baby calves that were born that spring.  We also run the mama cows through the chute and check them over as well.

It is a hard, yet incredibly fun, day of physical work!  We use horses to rope and drag the calves – yes, just like in the movies – and then teams of two on the ground flip and hold the calves while they have their wellness checks, vaccinations, etc.   The whole process only takes a few minutes per calf, and then the calf is released and it trots off happy as you please to find its mama again!

We generally have about 50 or so people here.  A good number of this group are “helpers” – aka working the branding.  The rest are kids and wives (though some of the wives are known to rope or wrestle or vaccinate as well!)  We definitely love making Branding Day a family fun event.  The kids generally play in the “draw” (low spot in the pasture), building forts and pretending to be Cowboys and Indians… or whatever else their creative minds come up with!  As the kids get older, they take on Branding Day responsibilities.

My part?  Well, I love cooking. (Obviously.)  And since I feel rather inadequate at most things “ranching,” I gladly take over the role of the main cook for the Branding Day Feast following the hard day of work!  (My sister in law and mother in law also do some of the cooking, but I try to make it as easy as possible on them.  Alana likes to rope and ride and also takes care of the cattle records; Susan gets to be Grandma – plus her house has the only restroom facilities currently, so I figure she has enough on her hands.)

This year’s menu includes:

Branding Day Cinnamon and Caramel Rolls (For the coffee break after gathering.)

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Beef Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Mexican Rice

Crock Pot Black Beans

Iceberg Wedge Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Banana Cake

Lemon Bars (Alana)

Brownies (Alana)

Jello Salad (Alana)

Carrot Casserole (Susan)

I spent today (the day before branding) doing all of the prep work – I made the cinnamon roll dough (to bake in the morning), baked the banana cake, and made up all of the enchiladas so that all there is left to do is bake them.  The rice will be fast and easy to whip up tomorrow; and I had several big bags of Crockpot Black Beans frozen and I decided to take the easy way out and throw those in the crockpot to reheat tomorrow.  :-)

The salad will also be quick to make.  Plus I have a lovely teenager coming to help me first thing in the morning, which I am certain I will be grateful for with a 2 year old and a newborn “hanging on my apron strings.”

I will post recipes at a later date – along with pictures of this sure-to-be-fabulous Spring Day!

 

Family Time!

On the 19th of April my parents and little sister came for a weeklong visit.  Nana just couldn’t wait to get her hands on that new grandbaby, you know! ;-)  On Easter Sunday evening, we decided to have a campfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows.

Easter Candy!
Easter Candy!
Family time around the campfire.
Family time around the campfire.
She could be the poster child for Hebrew National hot dogs (all beef!).  She was so excited to eat one!
She could be the poster child for Hebrew National hot dogs (all beef!). She was so excited to eat one!
Not fancy, but for us it was the perfect Easter celebration meal.  Out in God's creation on a beautiful spring evening!
Not fancy, but for us it was the perfect Easter celebration meal. Out in God’s creation on a beautiful spring evening!
Please note the spectacular fire pit.  My friend Melissa and I with the help of her kiddos built it.  I don't build many things, so I thought it was photo-worthy.
Please note the spectacular fire pit. My friend Melissa and I with the help of her kiddos built it. I don’t build many things, so I thought it was photo-worthy.
 Kaiser. Such a loveable, goofy pup.
Kaiser. Such a loveable, goofy pup.
Even though we had him in a "down/stay" a safe, doggy-drool free distance away from our food, Millie kept him supplied with snacks.
Even though we had him in a “down/stay” a safe, doggy-drool free distance away from our food, Millie kept him supplied with snacks.
10 days old and Henry had his first campfire experience. :-)
10 days old and Henry had his first campfire experience. :-)

 

Resurrection Sunday (Happy Easter!)

I know it’s about 10 days late, but I wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter!

Hallelujah, He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He came to this Earth as a tiny baby, fully God and fully man.  Though he was tested and tried just as each one of us is, He lived his life out completely sin-free.  He was in constant communion with His Father, always walking in the Spirit.  Then, He accepted His Father’s will and gave himself as the only perfect sacrifice by dying a horrific death on a cross – – – all to save you and I from eternal damnation.

Three days later, Christ rose from the grave…. this is the climax of the ultimate love story.  The love story of God’s crazy-huge love for us.  Christ defeated death, and HE LIVES!

HE LIVES!

And because HE LIVES, so can we.  Would you accept His gift of LIFE to you this day?  Would you repent of the wrongs you have done, admit that HE IS LORD, acknowledge your need for a SAVIOR, and ask Him to be LORD over your life?

HE LIVES.  Hallelujah, HE LIVES!

I’m back! Introducing…

WOW!  Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written.  After my last post about the Stock Show and Rainbow Bible Ranch, things just got very busy with calving on the ranch, and just “life in general!”

March 21 I went into the hospital with a nasty stomach bug that caused me to be severely dehydrated.  The dehydration brought on labor contractions, so I sat in a hospital bed for a couple of days hooked up to IV fluids and painkillers.  Fun stuff, I tell ya.

I spent the next couple of weeks doing my last “getting ready” steps of preparing our household for the arrival of Baby Boy Paulton, due to arrive April 21.

4:00am on April 9, I woke up with back pain and went out to the couch to sleep it off… Long story short, they were not just back pains, but LABOR PAINS!  Three hours and three minutes later, at 7:03am (in case you didn’t do the math), our son was born!

(Side note:  Only 3 hours of labor, when you have an hour and half drive to the hospital, and when you spent half an hour on your hair and makeup… AND had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital… Well, let’s just say next time I won’t be so concerned about my hair looking perfect for a final “Look-at-me-at-the-hospital-I’m-going-to-have-this-baby” picture.  Which I didn’t get.)

From the time we walked into the Emergency Room, tossed my iPhone onto the counter to show the receptionist that YES I am ready to have this baby NOW, look-my-contractions-are-two-minutes-apart-on-this-contraction-counter-app, and I can barely walk…

…to the time that our sweet boy was born, was only 24 minutes. Talk about cutting it close.  But hey, that’s the way to do it.  As my Handsome Husband’s grandmother would put it, “Just like spitting out watermelon seeds.”  :-)

Everybody, meet Harrison John Tucker Paulton, or Henry for short.

Just a few minutes old.  Sweet mommy and son moments.
Just a few minutes old. Sweet mommy and son moments.
A full head of dark hair like his Daddy.  7 pounds, 18.5" long
A full head of dark hair like his Daddy. 7 pounds, 18.5″ long
Harrison and Great-Grandma Ellen.  Isn't she beautiful?
Harrison and Great-Grandma Ellen. Isn’t she beautiful?
Harrison and one proud Grandma (Travis's mom)
Harrison and one proud Grandma (Travis’s mom)
This picture makes me giggle.  Little sumo wrestler!
This picture makes me giggle. Little sumo wrestler!

Rebuilding Rainbow’s Remuda

Sharing with you about our time with family at the Stock Show last week reminded me to give a shout out to Rainbow Bible Ranch.

I first attended Rainbow Bible Ranch in 2002 as a horse-crazy teenager.  I went back in 2003 for their two-week long session called Legacy II and my life was never the same.  I was head over heels in love with western South Dakota, the ranching way of life, and the spectacular ministry of Rainbow Bible Ranch.

Rainbow Bible Ranch is a biblically based youth camp situated on a real working Hereford cattle and American Quarter Horse ranch in Meade County, South Dakota.  Every summer for the past 30 years, the Reinhold family has welcomed hundreds of youth between the ages of 6 and 18 to share in their lifestyle as they explore God’s creation, ride quality horses, and learn about ranching and — most importantly — Jesus Christ.

The weeks are filled with laughter, competitions, good food, friends, new experiences, learning, and growth.  I can easily say that my two years as a camper, followed by three summers of being on staff, were some of the best summers of my life.  I loved watching the excitement and wonder of a child seeing a baby deer for her first time; a shy camper opening up while horseback, giggling as we trot across the open prairie.   I could go on and on…

In October, ranchers all across our area were hit by the destructive winter storm Atlas.  Thousands upon thousands of head of cattle were lost, as were numerous horses.  Rainbow Bible Ranch was not unaffected by this storm.  They tragically lost 90 head of horses in this record breaking winter storm, including 30 of their best camp horses.

These horses weren’t just HORSES.  They were friends, comrades, ministry partners.  They were solid, beautiful, sound, genuine equines that faithfully took care of hundreds of campers Every. Single. Summer. without a single complaint.  I could put my shyest, most nervous 6 year old up on one of these gems, and know that young camper was going to be taken care of.  The next week, I could put a daring teen up on the same horse – and that camper could have a grand time cutting cattle out of a herd in winning time at the rodeo.

You can read more about Rainbow’s losses here

“So will you have camp next summer?” has been a common question presented to the Reinholds.  The answer is a resounding “YES!”

The Reinholds have been busy working to Rebuild Rainbow’s Remuda of fine camp horses.  Recently they purchased 10 or so quality saddle horses at the Stock Show.  They have had a few superb horses donated, as well.

Now there is an exciting venture in the works called the Dakota Horse Challenge, an equine training competition sponsored by Rainbow Bible Ranch and Lonetree Ranch in an effort to Rebuild Rainbow’s Remuda.  Click on the links above to learn more.

I ask for your prayers for Rainbow, Lonetree, and the Reinholds as they work fervently in the months ahead to be ready for hundreds of bright-eyed, eager campers.  A week at Rainbow is life changing and unforgettable.

Thank you, Reinhold family, for your dedication to God’s work.  Keep pressin’ on!

Black Hills Stock Show 2014

Last week was one of our favorite annual events:  The Black Hills Stock Show.

The Stock Show is a time for fellow ranchers, farmers, family, friends, and city folk to get together to view quality livestock, shop hundreds of vendor booths, catch up with old friends and meet new friends!

There is always a ranch horse competition, stock dog competition, several professional rodeos, a ranch rodeo, good food, and lots and LOTS of people.

Mr. Handsome was actually away on a trip for half of the Stock Show time, which left me home alone (*tear*).  But on Tuesday the 4th I had a doctor appointment for Little Man to Come, and Travis was flying in the next day.  So, Millie and I drove up on Tuesday and spent the night at a hotel, took in the Stock Show on Wednesday and picked Travis up (very late) that night.

Probably my most favorite part about the Stock Show in recent years is that Travis’s Uncle Larry and Aunt Robin Reinhold and their 6 kids, host a fellowship room right next door to the Civic Center (where the Stock Show is held) as a ministry of Rainbow Bible Ranch, the summer camp that they run every year.

When Millie and I tire of crowds, it is the perfect place to kick back and relax with some of my favorite people, much on a cookie and drink a cup of coffee.  Millie adores her cousins, and I’m pretty sure they think she’s pretty great, too.

We enjoyed going to the petting zoo, where Millie would exuberantly greet each animal.  “HIIIII PIG!!!!”  “Oh!  HIIII MOOO!”  We also went swimming with the youngest 4 Reinhold kids, which Millie thought was especially awesome.  Our Little Princess loved riding the glass elevator up and down eight floors over… and over… and over… again!  (Thanks Rachel and Molly!)  :-)

Here are some pictures from our mini-vacation!

"Hi, goat!"
“Hi, goat!”

 

"Oh! Hi Pig!"
“Oh! Hi Pig!”

 

Millie was fascinated by the llama.  She kept trying to feed it one piece of hay at a time.  :-)
Millie was fascinated by the llama. She kept trying to feed it one piece of hay at a time. :-)

 

At the 4-H Petting Zoo with two of her favorite cousins, Julia and Kiersten!  (No time for pictures, Mom! Must pet all the animals!)
At the 4-H Petting Zoo with two of her favorite cousins, Julia and Kiersten! (No time for pictures, Mom! Must pet all the animals!)

 

We didn't get any actual swimming pictures, but isn't she a doll in her pink swimsuit?!
We didn’t get any actual swimming pictures, but isn’t she a doll in her pink swimsuit?!
This Stock Show business is hard work!
This Stock Show business is hard work!