Ranch Life During a Pandemic

August 2020 – Well, it’s been quite a year so far.  Social distancing, lack of gatherings with family and friends, no restaurants or movies…It’s nothing that most of you haven’t experienced.  When I am bored and tired of my own cooking, it’s hard not to moan and groan and feel sorry for myself.  Then I look outside and realize how amazingly lucky I am.  I look over this beautiful valley, hear the birds singing in the trees, the cows and sheep noisily asking for breakfast, and riding our horses in beautiful mountains and forests.  How dare I feel sorry for myself when so many people have been stuck in their homes, fighting with children over on-line learning, worried about their jobs,  and not being able to be refreshed by mother nature.  So, I will instead be grateful for what we have and wish with my whole heart that this pandemic will pass and people can get their lives back.  Maybe not back to normal, because I think normal is just what we became used to in our busy lives, but maybe with an appreciation for all that this world gives us.  And maybe we can try to do things in a little different but better way – a new normal.

On the ranch, this is the year of the barn.    The barn needs major work: new roof, doors, some siding replaced, etc.  We also needed to resurface the horse turnouts and stall floors, which we did along with installing a circle drive to make it easier to park and store the trailers.  The driveway and stalls are now completed, and Paul has taken off the metal roof over the horse barn.  A couple of the 26 foot beams needed to be replaced, so he and our son, Max, rigged up a pulley system.  Two pulleys and two men pulling a 500 pound beam into place fifteen feet into the air.  I hid in the house and tried to keep the grandkids out from underfoot!

This month we sent three of our steers to the butcher.  They have been totally grass fed, free range and this year for the first time, we are selling halves and wholes for $4.00 per pound hanging weight.  Hanging weight for these three steers was 625 pounds, 621 pounds, and 529 pounds. 

There is a cooler, crisper feel to the air in the morning.  The afternoons still get up to the mid 80’s, but the nights and mornings are giving us a taste for fall.  That means processing vegetables and fruits for the freezer and pantry.  The strawberries have done exceptionally well this year and we have a couple of gallons in the freezer because we just haven’t been able to eat them all.  Of course the zucchini is doing well, but we have also been able to freeze corn for the first time.  Blackberries are coming on and I made our first blackberry pie this morning.  It looks to be a bumper crop, so there will be many pies and frozen berries in the freezer.  One of the things I remember from our first year living on this ranch is all the things I can collect from the wild: blackberries, apples, greens, and even mushrooms.  It just fills my heart when I can get food for free with only a little work on my part.  

After late spring rains, the upper pasture is very dry and corn silk yellow.  It’s not quite crunchy yet, but if it doesn’t rain soon, it will be.  Luckily the lower pasture is still a bit green and we’re hoping for rain soon.

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