Thursday, December 23, 2010

If you need a good laugh this Christmas...

Go on over to the Prairie Mother.  She has a post that will make you wet your pants its so funny.  And in the middle of cooking, frantically cleaning and getting ready for the onslaught of hunters arriving the day after Christmas, I needed a good laugh:


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Frontier Christmas

The kids had the privilege to attend the Ft. Davis National Historic Site's Frontier Christmas last week with the local home school association.  We are so lucky to live in an area where we have an amazing historical treasure like Fort Davis and their living history presentations are a true gift to our children.  It was completely authentic, interesting and interactive.  Their volunteers and experts were engaging and friendly and the reconstruction of the fort and the day to day operations of the fort and the culture of the frontier is awe inspiring.  It's hard to put in to words how wonderful it really was so I'll let the kids tell you.

We met our friends at the Fort

We learned old fashioned games like pushing a hoop and the ring toss. 

It wasn't as easy as it looked.

Then we went in to the barracks and the soldiers showed us the uniforms they have to wear.  They are mostly made out of wool.

I like wearing the soldiers hat.  Later on, they showed us how to stand at attention and hold our weapons.

The ladies of the fort showed the girls what kind of clothes women had to wear in the 1880's.  There were bloomers and slips and bustles, corsets, capes and bonnets.

Some of the girls got to try on clothes that little girls would've worn back then.

There were many nice people who told us about what it was like to live here back then.

 There was only a few stops between San Antonio and El Paso and the road was very dangerous.  It was hard to get supplies

All of their supplies had to be transported by wagons from very long distances away.

All of the supplies were kept in the commissary, which was like the grocery store at the fort.


We then went to a house where soldiers wives showed us the wood burning stove and let us make cookies using an old recipe.
The wood burning stove was very hot.
Because the wood burning stove is really hot, the cookies had to be very small.

I really like the cookies

We made old fashioned Christmas cards to send to our soldiers

Our friend, Mary, gave us a tour of the Officer's house

It was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Mary also showed us the beautiful hand made ornaments on the Christmas tree

We hiked up a trail to see some old photos posted along the trail.

We had a great view of the entire fort

As an added bonus, we got to meet Santa Claus for the first time.
 I guess he stopped to deliver goods to the commisary.

We had a great time at Fort Davis.  I hope we get to come back next year.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Decorating in a land without Hobby Lobby

For those of you who are geographically challenged as I am, it's sometimes hard to find decorations that are sophisticated and affordable.  Our nearest source of any home decor items is the local Dollar store or the hardware store, neither of which are very inspirational.  Now don't get me wrong, I like folksy, americana style made in china versions of snowmen and santas as much as the next girl, but I am always on the hunt for something more authentic.  So I started looking in the pasture.....

A friend of mine, who I have to say I've never met but we've become great friends through the miracle of the Internet, has proven to be a big decorating inspiration to me.  She lives on a ranch in southwest Texas, in a lovely rock home that has been her family for many generations.  She is wonderfully talented for using indigenous materials to decorate her home.  The photos I'm posting due her no justice, but I've had a downloading malfunction so bare with me.

I tried to copy her idea this year by taking a large, shallow, wooden bowl and placing antlers, leftover pine sprigs and pine cones in it with a ribbon garnish.   She used fresh apples and pine cones, which I think is a better idea. 

My version of my friend, Shawn's, centerpiece - I like hers better
One thing you will never have a shortage of when you live on a ranch is antlers or horns of some kind.  You find them lying all about the pasture.  I have used antlers for many things.  In fact, in my house you find a lot of wood, antlers, leather and rock. 

I used an old Hereford Association trophy to make a floral display and added ribbon for the holidays

I gathered rosemary from my backyard and made something to hang over the door so my husband can complain about it every time he walks in the door. falalalala
I am sparing you anything made with bandannas or barbed wire.

And I would love to hear ideas you have as well!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lonely and Forlorn

The prevailing question I get from most people when they find out where I live is, "who's your nearest neighbor?"  I think they're going to pass out when I tell them that I don't have a nearest neighbor.  The only neighbor I have is about 20 miles away, and they're nearest neighbor is about 15 miles away in the opposite direction, which is town. 

For a beautiful fleeting moment we did have neighbors and they were great.  They were a young, newly married couple and they were new to the area.  He was about 6'8 and the only person I think my husband has ever looked up too, literally.  She was 5'3, bright and cheery with a great sense of humor.  And could do anything. Anything.  She rode horses, worked cattle, made her own comforter for their bed, she probably made the darn bed, she could weld, fix the tractor, haul cattle, bake a cake, raise chickens, make jewelry.  Last summer the ranch they lived on caught on fire during a thunderstorm and by the time the fire department showed up she had made a fire path with a maintainer and put out most of the fire with tow sacks.

I was so excited to find out the extent of her skill sets that I tore my honey-do list up for the husband and set out to make her my new best friend.  And she Loved my children!  And they would do anything for her.  We had so much fun together.  We didn't have a whole lot in common as far as interests, but who needs to talk about art and literature when you're new best friend can build you a dining room table!

And it was so wonderful to have someone to depend on way out here in the middle of nowhere.  If either of us went out town, we could depend on each other to watch the ranch and feed the animals.  Hayes and Andrew could help each other work cattle, work on water problems and feed.  Kylia and I had plans of gardening, raising chickens and sharing milk cow duties.  But now it's all gone, gone I tell you!

kylia and andrew
We had so much fun having them over for football, game night, dinner and holidays.  My husband and I were looking forward to their having children so our kids could play with them.  We had it all worked out and then they destroyed the dream by leaving and moving back to where they came from.  We still drive by their house on the way to town and wish they were here.  And no matter who moves in there it will never be the same.  Now it's back to being just us and whoever the border patrol is chasing across the mountains.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Season of Plenty

I live for this time of year!  Some people love summer, but I love autumn and the holiday season.  It goes by way to fast for me.  In fact, I begin to get in a manic state about September and then go through a major let down in January when I have to face the long, crazy windy months of February and March.  This time of year is a time for me to go into super Martha Stewart mode and plan a craft bonanza.  My craftiness is always derailed by the constraints of potty training, homeschooling and housework, but I still dream of a house accented with natural substance arrangements, fall foliage garlands around the fireplace and every  turkey handprint craft imaginable. 

Speaking of crafts...does anyone know what these things are?  They came off a huge tree I found on a remote dirt road and they resemble some sort of weird fruit.  Please tell me they're not poisonous.

This next photo is of the Indian Corn we miraculously grew by accident about three years ago.  I had bought some decorative corn at the store and thrown it out for the javelinas after Thanksgiving.  Well lo and behold a year later it popped up in the midst of some cactus and algerita bushes!  It was absolutely beautiful and I immediately had fantasies of starting an indian corn empire (because I paid about $2.00 a cob at the store - hello.) We call it our miracle corn and we bring it out every year for decoration.  Unfortunately, that was the only year we grew corn successfully, decorative or otherwise.

We survived Halloween without any peanut allergy related incident, thank the Lord.  We came home with tons of nasty candy that I'm sure was made in China so I immediately threw out anything that would pull out a tooth if chewed and hid the rest in a cabinet.  Every year I make a declaration not to celebrate Halloween and every year I buckle under pressure and buy cheesy, badly made polyester costumes and drive an hour in to town so my kids can run around collecting candy they can't eat.  The next day we suffered the mother of all post Halloween apocalyptic meltdowns due to too much sugar and not enough sleep.
This is Pidgeon's fourth year as a princess, go figure, and Punkin was a fairy and Rooster was a Knight's Templar (a fact that was lost on everyone).  Note to self - next year don't buy costumes at Gymboree because everyone and their dog will have the same one.

We've been very busy with home school.  I've had a wonderful time sharing my obsession with colonial America with my children and as kindergartners and first graders I'm sure they know way more about the Wampanoags, Puritans, Jamestown and the destruction of the first peoples than they ever wanted to know or could even absorb at this age.  November is Native American Heritage month and so we've had fun comparing the natives of Virginia and Massachusetts to the native people that lived on this ranch at one time.  We all agree the people here got the short end of the stick because there's nothing to eat here and it would be hard to grow corn.  (believe me - we've tried)

If my son went to school in town he wouldn't get to wear this ensemble to school, would he? (notice the duct tape around his boot as a finishing touch)

And finally, my baby is going to be two this week.  On Thanksgiving no less.  She may not talk but she is great at getting her point across.  Here she is wearing the new hat her grandmother made her.  She seldom takes it off.  And she has developed an obsession for those tacky Disney princess shoes, which I would have never seen coming.  I would have pinned her for more of a cowboy boots kind of girl.  I guess she's following in her big sister's foot prints. 
Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trip down the river road

For Columbus day, my husband decided to take a day off and go on a road trip. Huge! So we piled in the Ford flatbed and overloaded on sugary drinks and processed food and away we went down to Presidio for lunch and then followed the river road (that river being the Rio Grande) down to Lajitas and Terilingua and then back up through Alpine.

Presidio was the same as it's been for hundreds of years - hot. We had a great lunch at a Mexican restaurant - not unusual for the Mexican border. The ride from Presidio to Terlingua takes along time, but it's even longer when you have three small children, three car seats, diaper bag, camera bag and snacks crammed into a truck with a not so great air conditioner.

We enjoyed the scenery from Presidio to Lajitas. It's a great time of year down here, not too hot or cold. The mountains are beautiful along the river and I wish now I'd taken more pictures. Here are some...

Friday, October 1, 2010

In the pens with a camera

Recently, we worked cattle and shipped calves.  Let me clarify this by saying I did not work cattle - I cooked.  Contrary to popular belief, most ranches don't use chuckwagons anymore.  Most ranches don't have cattle drives, stay out for days on end, or have their cowboys sleep under the stars and sing to each other.  Some larger ranches do, but for the most part, small family owned ranches like my husband's family's ranch just hire guys for a day or two during the fall or spring. 

I have a lot of girlfriends that that make great hands and are better help than alot of men, but I am not one of them.  It's very hard work and I would get in the way or get somebody hurt.  I am not a very good cowgirl.  I am just fine with my role as the event caterer and my husband loves to have real food for the men to eat and not just burritos served on the tailgate of the truck

The guys are used to me hanging around with my camera.  I'm no Bob Moorehouse, but I enjoy trying to capture our life in a sincere, moving way. 

My son is old enough now to start helping his Dad on horseback.  He's so excited!  It's wonderful to see him follow in his father's footsteps, and his grandfather's, and great and great great grandfather's.  That doesn't mean he's off the hook for med school, but I hope he is proud of the ranching tradition.  My mother in law's family has been on this land almost 130 years.

Next year, it will be my oldest daughter's turn to help.  I'm not sure how much help she will be unless we buy her a pink horse and let her wear her tiara, but at least she can try.  One of the many things I love about my husband is how involved he is with his children.  He spends every free moment with one of his children and he takes the girls with him as much as he does his son.  But that day the girls were purely spectators.