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Archive for the ‘Ranch Life’ Category

Gaining Perspective from Traveling

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Growing up in Grimes county, I remember being surprised that most of my schoolmates had not been out of the great state of Texas. True, it is a big state with a lot to offer. We were young, and I was hardly a world-traveler myself. But I was even more surprised by the fact that some of my acquaintances and friends had never been to Houston. It is literally one and half hours from us, and I mean downtown. Obviously, suburbia is much closer.

Even as a fourth-grader I understood that broadening your experiences gave one a better perspective in life. Travel is an easy way to gain perspective. For example, seeing what life is like in the fourth largest city in the United States allows you to see how others live. You can develop an appreciation for where you live and/or appreciate what another place can offer.

My husband and I want our children to see as much of the world as possible. We personally treasure our trips to Hawaii and Mexico. Therefore, we have driven our children across the southeast part of the country visiting places along the way. They have also been able to see parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and a couple have been to Illinois.

When our oldest was eight, we allowed him to visit family in Alaska. Our daughter has had the opportunity to travel to Honduras. Four of us were thrilled to get the opportunity to venture to Uganda this past summer. (Talk about a life-changing trip.) Now this up-coming week, our middle child gets to travel to Oregon.

As we pack his bags and prepare to send him off, I am so excited for him. Adventure awaits. As he sees different parts of the country from the high desert to the mountains, I know that he will grow by the broadening of his horizons. I cannot wait to hear all about Oregon.

We have been greatly blessed as a family to have these travel opportunities. Although the beaches of Hawaii are beyond beautiful and the green mountains of Arkansas are gorgeous and the city of Houston has many things to offer, there is still nothing like home.

Home is definitely where the heart is and that will never change. If anything, traveling will just make that truth more dear to your soul. As we are already anticipating his return, join us in wishing our son a safe and fun adventure away from the ranch.

Little Britches

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Right after I published the article for last week, we finally had a very nice cool front blow in from the north. A taste of autumn has been enjoyed to its fullest. My boys especially spend most of their free time out of doors in the cool sunshine.

Today they each had a lasso and were roping upside-down feed buckets in the driveway. I watched for a moment as each of them brought the ring of rope down around the bucket time and time again.

As the nights hopefully continue to grow cooler and cooler along with the daylight getting shorter and shorter, my little cowboys will snuggle up before bed to be read to and/or told stories.

They love me to tell them my versions of fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “The Three Little Pigs.” They enjoy to be read fictional books like My Father’s Dragon or Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which are full of imaginative plots and characters.

I grew up on the Little House on the Prairie book series, which still holds such a sweet place in my heart today. It of course is based on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. All of my boys have enjoyed her book, Farmer Boy, which follows the childhood of Laura’s future husband, Almanzo. However, they don’t share in my deep affection for the rest of the series.

233711So if you have aspiring cowboys at home, I have the best book recommendation for you this fall. It too is auto-biographical like Little House on the Prairie, but it is written by Ralph Moody. Little Britches:Father and I were Ranchers is the first and arguably the best in the series about growing up ranching in Colorado. The setting changes in later books as Ralph’s life and circumstances also change.

Your whole family will love to hear the adventures of the Moody family. It is filled with love, life lessons, and laughter. You don’t have to know anything about ranching, being a cowboy, or farming to enjoy the stories.

I hope that you will try this book recommendation whether you are old or young, male or female, but especially if you have little cowboys/cowgirls at home. I know that you will love the book and the series if you give yourself a chance to be transported to Ralph Moody’s world.

Fall Games 2014

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

The calendar does not lie. It really is October, but it does not feel like it at all. In fact, I don’t think we have had such heat and humidity in October in my lifetime. It is just as hot as the summer. The meteorologist from Houston marveled over the dew point last week stating that it was typical of June and July, not October.

Fall is supposed to mean sweaters in the early morning and evening. Soups and fresh bread. Campfires to sit around at night and tell tall tales. Pumpkins and autumnal foliage. In this part of Texas we have so many evergreens that we have very little leaf color, but even that is not visible.

Fall is also time for hunting. I see deer corn flying off the shelf and loaded down pick-up trucks with deer feeders and ATVs cruising down the roads. Camouflage is everywhere. Dove season has already begun. Regular deer season is fast approaching and bow season is already here. It sure does not feel like it though. Hunters like the cooler temperatures because it helps to get the game moving.

Another big game in the fall is football. Whether you prefer professional, collegiate, or high school level play, there are games being fought out everywhere. Again it is just too unseasonably warm to truly enjoy the game. You shouldn’t have to wear shorts and flip flops, slather yourself with sunscreen, and swat mosquitoes the whole time.

There is just something missing this fall, and it is the crisp air, the cooler temperatures, and colorful display of change in nature. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons for the reasons listed above so if it wasn’t for hunters and football fanatics I would not even realize we were in October.

I am definitely no expert, but I did a little research to see what this type of autumn forecasts for winter. Apparently we are not to be fooled into thinking we are living in a perpetual summer. Winter will come and it will come with power. In fact the winters are usually so much harder that this time period allows us to stock our food supply even higher.

Since most of us have grocery stores we can visit year-round, maybe we should make sure we have sufficient firewood or natural gas. For ranchers having plenty of hay will be the issue. In other words, get prepared. Fall might not be here, but winter will be. In addition to the fall games of football and deer, mother nature is playing a game with us.

New Video Released

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Here it is! Sibling Rivalry‘s brand-new music video! When you go to view it, please make sure to put it on full screen. I had a little trouble embedding the correct size video.

If you are confused about what I am talking about, please go back and read, “Sibling Rivalry.”

The entire video was not filmed here at Cross Creek Cattle Company, but a good portion of it was. It should be obvious for example that we do not have a race track on the ranch. The woods, the horses, the cows, the old, red bunkhouse, the tall grass, etc are all from here. For people that have visited here, you will see places you recognize.

We were honored to be a part of this promotional video for this music duo. Enjoy their story, their music, and the scenery. If you live relatively close, Sibling Rivalry will be performing October 4 at Bernhardt Winery in Plantersville. It will sure to be fun.

Mild Summer

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I cannot believe that it is already September. School is back in full swing and routine is setting back into our lifestyle.

The other day I was shocked when a meteorologist in Houston, Texas announced that on record there had not been one day this year that reached 100 degrees. That is so unusual! 1997 was the last time that this has happened.

The ranch is farther north and further from the Gulf of Mexico than Houston, and has I believe achieved temperatures to 100 degrees this summer. However, the point remains that this summer has been unusually mild.

I am in no way complaining. In fact, I am celebrating the fact. It is wonderful. It has been hot; don’t get me wrong. It has not been scorching hot.

This is better for our cattle and animals. Nothing does well when there is no relief from the heat. Without the scorching heat, our pasture grass does better, too. It is not getting burned back and turning brown. It is still green and growing.

So what does this mean for the rest of the year? Will we continue to experience below normal temperatures through the winter,too? NOAA predicts exactly this pattern. In fact, only Texas and New Mexico are facing below normal temperatures this winter. Click here to read up on it.

I’m no expert, but I hear freezing temperatures more often than normal, which means that we need to have good windbreaks for the cattle and plenty of hay. It would be much better to be overly prepared than not prepared at all.

Enjoy the last few weeks of our mild summer. You might consider using them to get prepared for less than normal winter temperatures.

Morning or Evening Baths

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Occasionally I find myself a casual observer in people’s lives. Like a fly on the wall, I watch as life unfolds around me, making observations, and meditating on the little details that separate my life from others. The other day I was in an acquaintance’s home relatively early in the morning; she just so happens to live in the city.

Their morning routine was well underway by the time I had arrived. A bread machine was kneading the dough by the tell-tale thumping noise rising from the kitchen. The coffee pot held the last cup warm in the carafe. Breakfast dishes sat unattended on the table. The small children were in the bathtub getting ready for the new day.

I was struck by the latter because it was a striking difference from our family’s life in the country. It’s not because we don’t have a bathtub. For clarification, We do not bathe “Little House on the Prairie”-style by dragging a tub into the kitchen on Saturday evening and filling it with warm water. And, we certainly do not share bath water.

It was not the way in which they bathed. The striking difference for me was the time. The only day that we bathe or shower in the morning is on Sunday. We go to church early in the morning and want to be clean and look our best.

If you cannot figure out why we would not do this the other six days of the week, I would guess that you don’t work outdoors. Out in the country, especially in the summer, there is so much work to be done outside. It is almost a guarantee that you are going to be dirty and sweaty before lunch. There simply is no point in bathing at the beginning of the day.

Even on days that are not filled with labor intensive work, we go swim in the lake. Contrary to some opinion, we do not feel that this activity qualifies as a bath. In fact, it almost requires one. Or, we ride horses and get covered with horse hair, dust, and sweat. Or on a day like today, my boys spent the afternoon riding their bikes through mud puddles down the worn path through the pasture. They came home covered in mud splattered from head to two, but concentrated in a strip down their back.

Again there is just no point in bathing in the morning on a typical day. I never thought much about it until I realized that not every family has the same routines. For us not bathing in the morning leads to tanned arms, necks, and faces. It leads to freckles on full, healthy cheeks. My daughter gets free highlights as the sunshine lightens her light brown hair with blonde streaks. It also leads to my kids being active and receiving all the vitamin D there bodies can absorb.

You might think I am drawing conclusions or placing too much emphasis on the baths themselves. On Sunday mornings once the kids are bathed/showered, I immediately hear myself repeating, “Don’t get dirty.” I think it would be true any day whether it be Wednesday or Tuesday. Once you are freshly clean, you want to stay that way.

Therefore, the key to having healthy, active, outdoor kids is to cut out bathing in the mornings and institute evening baths. It would be interesting to do a little, unofficial experiment and see if my hypothesis is correct. Regardless of whether you live in the city or country, you can see if when you bathe affects how active you are during the day. Let me know if you actually do it or even if you think theory is all rubbish. Until then, I’ll be outside getting dirty.

Cousins

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Cousins are special. You are built-in best friends. You are family with a shared heritage. You have shared holidays and family celebrations. You are usually relatively close in age, which makes you such good playmates by default.

My kids are blessed with many cousins from both sides of the family. Some live close. Some live far away. But, the heart strings are tied regardless of the amount of time spent with each one.

This week we have been blessed by the visit of two cousins from Oklahoma. They come down every summer to spend some time at the ranch. It is also a given that they will spend a lot of time with my boys.

It is an opportunity for them to spend quality time with their Texas family. It is also an opportunity for my boys to show them around the ranch. There are horses to ride, hikes to take, fish to be caught, and stars to be gazed at in the night sky.

We are excited that the cousins have arrived. We are looking forward to showing them around again and instilling in them a love for the ranch, which is part of our family culture.

My cousins are almost all grown up now. I’m the oldest and the youngest one is a sophomore in high school. We don’t get to spend much time together anymore. We live in many different states and places, but the one thing that is still true is that we will be there for each other in a minute.

“Blood is thicker than water” and the times that we spent making memories early in our childhood bonded us forever. I encourage my children to spend time and develop relationships with their cousins. Extended family is a great treasure.

How about you? Do you have fond memories of growing up with your cousins?

Sibling Rivalry

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Members of Sibling Rivalry, Mitchell and Olivia Butaud, standing with my dad, Kenton Holliday, and his horses.

Members of Sibling Rivalry, Mitchell and Olivia Butaud, standing with my dad, Kenton Holliday, and his horses.

Cross Creek Cattle Company had the privilege of being the setting of a music video last Saturday. Olivia and Mitchell Butaud form the musical group, Sibling Rivalry. They are from Magnolia, Texas, which is only about 20 minutes south of our ranch.

This brother and sister team makes quite the duo. They both play musical instruments and sing, but Olivia’s unique tone sets them apart.

The music video they were shooting Saturday was a promotional video in the hopes of catching the attention of those in the music business. After listening to several of their songs off of their website, I won’t be surprised when they make it big. They are extremely talented.

Olivia penned a song about bullying that has become the Anti-Bullying Campaign’s theme song for Safe School Helpline. It is called “No Medicine Can Heal.” Listen to it here. Not only is her voice soulful, the lyrics touch the heart.

Olivia and Mitchell Butaud bOn Saturday, they used various backdrops on our ranch for the scenes of their video. One is the old, red bunkhouse on the property. Olivia perches atop of an old deer feeder while Mitchell sits beside her on an old sawhorse playing the guitar. They also rode our horses, Dolly and Commander, across pastures of tall, green grass, including under a picturesque moss-covered oak tree.

I cannot wait to see how the final video turns out. We definitely wish the Butaud family and Sibling Rivalry a successful future. We would wish you luck, but I don’t think y’all will need any. Keep working hard, strive towards your goal, and pray big.

You never know what each day will bring on the ranch. Life is never dull, that’s for sure. Please check out Sibling Rivalry Duo to read up on them, see photographs, read their bios, and of course, listen to their recorded songs. You can purchase their singles from iTunes.

Beware of Snakes

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Summertime is when our family keeps our eyes peeled for snakes. We can see them slithering across dirt roads as we drive home. Occasionally we see one swimming across the surface of a pond. And, I already wrote about the mysterious snake skin in the spider web at the barn.

When we walk in tall grass or through the woods, we are on high alert. Picking berries or grapes are also occasions when you are use sticks to clear a place for your eye to search for the reptiles. Once I was picking berries on a fence line and as we approached the bush and leaned in, we all heard the very distinct warning of a rattlesnake. Needless to say, we left those berries alone.

Obviously not every snake warns you with sound. In fact the markings of snakes cause them to blend in with their surroundings almost too well.

My husband was working in his shop last Saturday. He opened a drawer of his tool box and about had a heart attack. As he reached in for a tool, a snake coiled up in the drawer struck at his hand. It was totally unexpected. Nobody was looking for a snake in there, which just goes to show that you should always keep an eye out for snakes this time of year.

Snake!!!

Snake!!!

I took a picture of the snake coiled up as my husband pondered the best way to remove it. He really needed his tool. It is admittedly not the best picture so I apologize for its quality; however, you can clearly see the snake in the midst of wrenches.

Luckily no human was hurt in the removal of the invader. It turns out it was non-venomous, but it was very aggressive. It struck at my husband twice and tried to wrap itself around his arm.

Keep your eyes open. We are on high alert. Our family dog has been bitten already once this year and so has another animal on our ranch. They are both doing fine, but I’d like to escape this year without any additional bites.

Boys to Men

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

I grew up listening to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, among other country legends, but I never did understand their song, “Mama’s Don’t let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Not because of the lyrics, but simply because of the title. I grew up around a bunch of ranchers and they were all good, hard-working, manly men.

As a proud mama of four boys, I want my boys to grow up to be good, hard-working, manly men, too. My husband and I encourage them to play outside, work with their hands, etc. as well as read great books. We place just as much emphasis on real life skills as academics.

So when cows need to be worked and calves need to be tagged for identification purposes, we don’t leave them home playing video games. They come out to the ranch truck with jeans, boots, and lariats. Our two youngest boys are now 7 and 6 years old. They asked my husband if they could ride horses with their older brother, Jake. He gave his permission.

What a beautiful sight! Watching my three youngest boys from 13 to 6 in age, push the entire herd up the alley and into the working pens on top of eager and alert horses. The cattle respect the horses and don’t try to charge past; however, the boys had to work them back and forth in order to keep the mass of cattle tight and traveling together.

I regretted the fact that I did not have a camera or even my phone on me to capture this moment in time. It would have been a cool photograph to share with you, but instead I tried to imprint the image in my mind.

My boys were not only commanding animals that outweigh them by hundreds of pounds or herding cattle exactly where they needed to go, but they were working together. As a team, they accomplished the job set before them.

There were two kinds of teams. The first was a team of brothers. Boys that spend a good portion of the day wrestling, arguing, and being rambunctious were being calm, helpful, and focused on the shared goal. Then there was the rider and horse teams. Isaac was riding Ladd, Andrew was riding Dolly, and Jake was riding his horse, Jack. Together they all worked as one team.

After the work was done hours later, I watched my two youngest trot their horses up a hill in belly-deep grass blowing gently in the breeze. They were taking care to see that their horses had an opportunity to drink from the water trough before trailering back to the home ranch. No one told them to; they knew what needed to be done to take care of their teammate, and they did it.

My husband and I are not perfect parents. We make mistakes all the time. Some of you reading this might think that this day was riddled with parental failures. You might think we are completely out of our minds to let our boys near cattle on horseback. Maybe its the country in us, but we don’t see it that way. It is not only a way of life. It is part of how we raise boys to men.



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