Monday, July 30, 2018

Goodbye to The Alvord

We’ve spent the past 11 years living and working for an enormous working cattle ranch, which covers 250,000 acres of deeded and permitted land. It’s a 4 hour trip to the closest town of any size and 2 hours to the small town of Burns Oregon, which has a Safeway and one other supermarket, a ranch store and a Dairy Queen. There’s not much else, so we tend most often to take the 4 hour drive to Idaho. Because of the time involved and cost of fuel, we manage to make these trips only 4x a year. We coordinate groceries, Dr appt’s, errands and animal feed into one trip every 3 months. We often use the large livestock trailer to fit everything in. 

Cashiers at Costco used to raise their eyebrows at the amount of food we would buy but have since grown accustomed to us. Since there is sadly no pizza delivery, all 3 meals have to be made at home. Hardly any prepared or processed foods are purchased as it takes up too much valuable space. We have 3 upright freezers, 2 refrigerators and a large pantry. We buy flour in 50 lb sacks (for those days I want to save time and not have to mill flour to make bread), as well as sugar, brown sugar, rice and wheat berries (to be made into flour). I had dairy goats, a couple of Jersey cows, chickens, ducks, sheep, rabbits and a garden, much of our food was raised at home. I did a lot of canning which saved a lot of freezer space as well as for those nights I was too tired from riding and needed a quick meal at hand. I can soups, chili, shredded Mexican beef, beef and pulled pork for sandwiches, chicken and rabbit for casseroles, beef and chicken stock, vegetables, pie filling etc. It’s amazing the difference in flavor and texture between home canned foods and the stuff you buy in the store. The first 50 years of my life, I didn’t mind cooking when I had to, but it wasn’t something I looked forward to. Having all fresh ingredients actually made it fun and I surfed the internet always looking for great new recipes. And boy did I find some!

garden bounty

nothing beats homemade bread and apple pie

Jack Cheese
homemade butter pats
home raised chicken

I made all of our dairy products. Cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, ricotta, butter, ghee, etc. My Jersey cow gave amazingly rich creamy milk, and I actually had to use a spoon to scoop the heavy cream off of the top, as it was that thick.

I spent my days riding with the cowboys (up here they are buckaroos) and cowgirls (who are every bit as capable and rugged as the men). The ranch owner has 5 kids who were all homeschooled and have worked since they could stretch their toddler legs across the back of a pony saddle. It warmed my heart to see this small microcosm of what used to be typical America, where the family works, eats and plays together. The kids learn to rely on one another and instead of competition, there is camaraderie. They learned the convictions of their parents without the outside interference of peer pressure and societal corruption. They appreciate their family, friends, the value of hard work, the blessings of God and their place in the world. They are strong and capable, prepared to handle whatever life deals to them because they have support, encouragement, and the knowledge that their contribution makes a difference.

We gathered cattle out of pastures that were thousands of acres, sorted and separated pairs, gathered them into corrals for doctoring, branding or whatever else needed to be done. Some days were long, 11 hours or more in the saddle. It was beautiful out on the range, with deer, antelope, pheasant, coyotes, even a cougar, the occasional badger and other wildlife. From the reverence felt watching a bald eagle soar on the wind currents, to the delight of the song of meadowlarks, I never wished to be anywhere else.

When I’d get back I’d call in my sweet Jersey cow, and rest my head in her flank, relaxing to the sound of her chewing her grain and hay, the pleasant grassy, cowy smell of her and startling from the occasional swat of her tail. I’d strain the milk into jars and chill it, and fix dinner and do whatever other chores I had around the house before bedtime.

I had opportunity to do things I would not otherwise have been able to do. Helping to gather, brand, separate cattle day after day in a spectacularly beautiful setting. Enjoying my little flock of sheep and their Livestock Guardian Dogs, my chickens, Jersey cows, bottle raising up to 30 orphan calves a season, growing huge gardens, making soap, putting the rest of the world on hold.

break in!

Identity crisis?

The polar bears counting calves

 It was truly an idyllic life, but like all things, it must come to an end and the seasons are changing. God is calling me to something new. I will treasure this time and these memories as I step into the next chapter.


  1. I hope you will share the next part of your journey with us.

  2. Truly have enjoyed your ranch life blog and hope to hear about the next chapter! Best of luck - from a fellow Oregonian.

  3. Please don't leave us in suspense too long!

  4. I have been so blessed that you included us on this life chapter. I learned about a way of living that is unknown to me. Through you I saw wisdom and what it means to be resilient, content, grateful, faithful, and humble. You have allowed us a small peek into your heart when it has been at its fullest and when it has been broken and filled with sorrow and anguish. I am a stronger person because of you. May God richly bless you for your obedience and faithfulness and love for Him. I hope you will still drop in our hearts from time to time as we still have much to learn from you. May your heart be filled to overflowing with joy and peace.---Julie

    1. Oh! The beautiful pictures of where you live has been such a blessing...and the humor you have brought us through the lens of your camera and your stories have given me lots of smiles and chuckles. You are such a gifted writer.

  5. Reading about the end of this part of your life is sad even for me, Petey. I can't imagine what you must feel, but I will keep you in prayer for the next part and pray that it will be just as good and rich in its own way as this has been. Love and hugs!

  6. I am so glad you had this wonderful time on the Ranch. Hard but rewarding work. God is good. Time for a new Adventure. Prayers and hugs as you step out in Faith.

  7. Thank you, all of you, for your encouragement through the years and for walking alongside me on this journey. A few months from now, Heath and I will be settled in a new life in a new place and we are looking forward to it! TheMan will remain awhile, until he’s ready to join us, whenever that may be ❤️

  8. and we will share our new experiences as best we can. God bless you all

  9. I'm glad that you can divert your grieving by preparing yummy foods. By the way, I loss Argo, my pet dog for 7 years and during his pet cremation in hampton roads I remember our last vacation together. I miss you and Thank you.

  10. I just found your blog, and I'm so sorry I'm coming in on the end of this journey. But lots of enjoyment in reading your past entries. And I wish you and your every happiness in your new journey.