Monday, September 30, 2013

Cousins and Other Kinfolk

It had been kind of cold and cloudy all week. I got up Thursday morning and it was beautiful out. Needing to keep myself busy I canned a gallon of stock and cut up a 16 lb turkey and canned that as well, checking my laptop frequently for emails, with eager expectation.

Pacing the floor and double checking that I had everything ready that I could get ready for the weekend, I waited. I had considered having Thomas the turkey as guest of honor at a Saturday night dinner. He misunderstood the invitation and I had to kick him out the back door.

 Taking my eyes off the ranch driveway for just a moment, I turned back to the sound of soft knocking. I scurried to the door and there stood 3 beautiful girls, Shyanne, Kaylee and Hannah, accompanied by my daughter-in-law Laura and oldest son, Matt. An absolute sight for sore eyes, and just what I had been waiting for!

After a quick tour of the barn and cabins, they took the 4 wheelers and went to investigate the processing corrals 3 miles down the ranch road.

 We threw together dinner with some homemade steak fries and BBQ burgers on homemade buns.

I had started some cinnamon roll dough in the morning so after some quick instructions, the girls rolled it out, buttered it and put on the cinnamon/sugar mix, I helped roll it up and they cut and placed the rolls in the pans to rise overnight. A batch of dough for our early Thanksgiving dinner rolls the following evening was also put together.

We had fun and after the kids went to bed, their folks kept me company, laughing and sharing memories until midnite. Sleeping didn’t come easily, as my other son  Cody, and Krystal, Abby and Kinley his family, were on the way up as well. I fitfully tossed and turned and wondered where on their 12 hour journey they might be, hyped up and excited to see them and before I knew it, Randyman shook me awake saying “They just pulled up”. 

We spent a most excellent weekend. The little ones played a rousing game of hide and seek and asked my friend if they could hide in her bedroom. She agreed and they took cover while Shyanne counted down. Their mom happened by and asked the little ones

 “Did you ask before you went to hide in Chery's room?” to which we all answered “yes” and I told her “You aren’t very good at this game are you?” amid laughter.

After a cinnamon roll,  sausage and fresh ranch eggs breakfast cooked by the Randyman, we headed out for some pokin' around. I double checked my list...I had already made 2 Butterbrickle Carmel Pecan Cheesecakes, had candied yams in the fridge ready to be baked,  bread and cornbread had been baked and cubed and seasoned to use for the cranberry cornbread stuffing in the 21 lb turkey, (NOT THOMAS) it was assessed that all I had to do was get the bird in the oven about 2 pm, and make the potatoes, gravy, creamed corn and bake the butterhorn rolls. That gave me 3 or more hours to play and there were plenty of hands to help out making dinner.

The old barn is the PERFECT place to stop and enjoy a sippy cup!
Abby and Kinley have fun playing with cousin Hannah.

Kids scampered up to the top story of the barn, way up, dizzyingly high in the air for pictures, happily gathered around the old wagon and various places for pictures, in between treks out to visit the critters.

Don't be fooled by this one's girly looks. She wanted to catch a live snake and go shooting!

(pictures courtesy of Krystal Plank)

One a trip out to the pasture to visit horses and cows, Laura vaulted to the other side of me at light speed, unable to exclaim anything other than...


The little guy slithered a ways off, only as far as his terribly startled and rapidly beating heart would allow, as the kids all clamored to see.
Mister enjoyed lots of skritching and petting, as did EmmaLouMoo. Even Wimpy stood long enough to allow Hannah to walk up to him and rub his forehead, something he never lets ANYone do when he’s out in the open! Mister was pretty attached to Kaylee and was content to just lay his head on her shoulder.

Somehow the conversation came up “Where did last nite’s hamburger come from?” And the information was passed along that it was from one of our former steers. I jokingly asked where they thought chicken strips came from and they guessed rightly, then when someone asked where did ham come from, Kaylee shot back “HAMsters, of course!” We all found that pretty funny.

On the way back, I invited the kids to see “EmmaLouMoo’s Secret Clubhouse”. It is a path thru the huge willows by the creek where the cows and horses like to hang out in the shade by day or sleep at night. I told them “you have to know the secret password to gain entrance though...”

One of them asked me “What is the password?”

And I bent down carefully and whispered in her ear so as not to compromise security,   
“It's 'moooooooo'.”

They had a great time exploring in the willows and dashing across the rocky creek and doing whatever they did while they were out of OUR sight, but still under the watchful eyes of the Polar Bears. On the way back, they picked apples off the trees and munched on them.

The turkey was stuffed and placed in his cooking bag, the yams pulled out to come to room temperature, the rolls shaped and set out to rise. I took the kids out to dig potatoes and we got a pretty hefty basketful. 

Dinner turned out great. Everyone had a full plate in front of them. Seeing as how it has been just Randyman and I for the past several  years, we are short on serving ware. My nephew, the former cowboss, donated the last 4 dishes we required, but I didn’t have enough glassware, so I grabbed some handy Mason jars. Setting them in front of the teenagers, Kaylee piped up with 
“Oh sure! She gives US the ones that say “WIDE mouth!”

 I’m not sure, but I am suspicious that there might be a class clown in the group....

We had a vote on the elements BEFORE the cheesecake, as I knew that would skew the polls. 

Kitchen chaos=sign of a successful family dinner!

It all turned out better than I had hoped and after another night of chatting until our eyes would no longer stay open we retired.

After we all cleaned up I wandered through my darkened bedroom towards the bathroom. Hannah stepped in and asked if I knew where Abby was. I told her 
"I really don't know, she's not in here..."
Hannah thanked me, turned and continued her search. 

Suddenly a little voice from out of a dark corner startled me as it said 
"Good job Gramma!"

Apparently, I AM good at this game.

At about 6 am I awoke to 2 little bundles being carried into the living room as I had happily agreed to watch the wee ones while they went hunting with the boss’ oldest son. I found I was unable to utter a word or even whisper to them due to a very swollen and painful throat. It continued all day and into the night. Little Kinley wept for her Mommy and Daddy while Abby slept through several showings of Nemo. Hannah showed up and Kinley immediately brightened up and felt better. They are all truly something special. I've never seen kids get along so well as the 5 of them...especially not GIRLS.

Sadly, half of our little group had to leave for home,but not before Cody and Krystal came back with a nice 4x4 buck in the back of their pickup. Abby entertained everyone with a ‘puppet show’.

After a final quad ride, half the family packed up, along with some raspberry starts, jam, recipes and sourdough starter and began the long trek back to California, until the next visit. The other half will stay a bit longer and hopefully bag one more buck.

It was a great weekend. I couldn't ask for anything better. There's nothing that can compare to family.


  1. Thanks for taking time to share your family with us. Everything sounded delightful! Enjoy your time with the rest that stayed longer. And that is a very nice looking buck!

    1. Thank you! We are hoping they can get one more just like it

  2. It sounds like the perfect weekend. (And looks like everyone had lots of fun.) Sometimes it is hard to get everyone at the same table here even though we only live 30 miles apart. I am so happy for you that they all got there at the same time. I hope your throat is feeling better already. big hugs...

    1. 2 days and it was over. It was weird, it was not a typical sore throat, it was a horribly swollen gland that made it painful to swallow. It went away, thank Goodness!

  3. What beautiful children! I am sure it did your heart good to have your little house so full of your loved ones. It looks and sounds as if they loved being there with you.

    1. They had a lot of fun! It was the first trip to the ranch for the big kids :)

  4. This brought back memories of spending endless days at my Gramma's. Sadly, my Gramma passed away this August, but my memories bring me comfort. What a lovely family you have. Your grandchildren will cherish these memories, maybe not now but definitely later. Thank you for providing that for them.

    I've always wondered if you become attached to your animals that you know will eventually end up on your dinner table? It must be hard to know that Tom the turkey, while he provides you company and a few laughs now, will eventually become dinner. On the other hand, I like knowing how my food was raised and treated and you know just that by raising your own.

    BTW: My golden, Tucker, is doing awesome with his therapy work. Once a week this summer we went to our local library where he had kids who needed to build their confidence with reading aloud or reading in general would read to him. He loved it. I loved it. The kids loved it. :)

    1. I do have a hard time with the processing. I have already made it pretty clear, I cannot take part when we do Thomas, which is on the schedule for today. I can cook him later, he lived a good life, and he was going to die soon on his own because his heart can't handle the rapid growth and weight of his body, but I can't be the architect of his demise. The other's that are going on the table I just take care of but don't play with and get to know them personally. That is awesome that Tucker is already working and making a difference!!

  5. What an amazing family time! So glad that you were able to enjoy them all and they you. Precious memories for sure. That is a very nice looking buck. Don't see many like that in these parts. Glad you are feeling better. Be blessed, Staci

    1. It was great. The buck wasn't quite what he was hoping for, but it was a very nice buck. They harvested 2 deer and are going to let us have one of them for our freezer, as they do have an elk in theirs at home so are short on space. Thankfully, they are able to hunt for a lot of their meat to help with the high cost of living. I am grateful for that!

  6. Hi, petey, I found your blog two years ago and I loved it, and I still do. I, as a former city girl, want to thank you for writing about your ranch life. It is so neat to someone who has never lived on a farm or a ranch.

    1. Thank YOU for taking the time to stop by and say hello!

    2. I so enjoy your adventures/life on the ranch! And I'm so glad you have some help to make life a bit easier. Enjoy every minute with those darling kids.
      Judith in CO

    3. Thanks Judith! The last ones left last nite and arrived safely home at 6:30 this morning. It was so good to see them and it will be an eternity until we see them least it always seems that way!

  7. What a wonderful weekend Petey, your family is just beautiful :)

  8. They are cuties and have personalities to boot!

  9. All I can say is I want to be little again and have you for a grammie! What a wonderful treasure of memories your kids and grandkids will have to look back on. God bless you and yours Petey.