Ahhhh, ranch life. So sweet and so…on-going. The work never ends, but it does change with the seasons. No day is ever the same, and no day passes without a surprise of some kind.
Every day, I’m up before the sun making breakfast for whoever is on hand to work that day. Flapjacks, sausage and eggs is our usual fare, and it’s enough to take a hungry ranch hand through til lunch time.
Mike and I go out and move water after breakfast, usually around 6:30 a.m. We don’t have automated watering systems, so it’s all done manually. In Gardnerville, we’re moving the boards to let water in and out throughout the pastures – it’s good to see them greening up as they get some moisture.
After we eat and move water, the animals eat. Hay we cut from our own pastures, both here in Gardnerville and at my Newcastle farm. Sometimes, we get beer mash from Alibi Ale Works to feed the beef – I’m sure looking forward to an ice-cold Alibi Pale Ale to go with my mash-fed burger soon!
The pigs get their chow, and now one of my mamas is getting ready to farrow, so we’ve been cleaning up her birth area to prepare. As soon as they’re ready, we’ll move the pigs down to the Storke Dairy, where we’ve been building fence in shady areas for them.
In Newcastle, they’re working on the water lines, so we’ve had to haul well water for the livestock. It’s heavy work, but the animals are grateful, and it gives us a chance to check on everyone in the outer pastures.
Then it’s on to weed-eating. Keeping the weeds down and clearing defensible space is our priority for the summer.
After lunch, it’s back to the piles and piles of paperwork that accumulate. We are taking inventory on our market goods and putting the orders together for delivery. We have multiple local vendors in both the Newcastle and Gardnerville areas that we work with to provide the very best in locally produced foods. I love seeing what people are buying for each season and love the mix of products we carry.
Turkey hunting season closes soon. I’m looking out my back window as I write this, and I see one ruffled up Tom turkey on the other side of the pond. Some of these turkeys can get up to 20 pounds and they are loaded with personality. They stay pretty much away from where my dogs run, and it’s fun to see them in their full-feathered glory.
I usually knock off work between 6 and 7 at night, cook dinner and hit the hay.
The pups are growing so fast, and they keep me entertained. As I write this, we’re in the full moon phase, and that’s usually when the wild critters get active on the ranch. Whenever the big white Great Pyrenees and Commodore-mix dogs who guard the sheep and goats bark outside as something comes through around midnight, these two tiny pups start yip-yip-yipping. It’s cute, but it’s also midnight and morning comes early!
I split my time between the two places and I’m so excited to bring more cattle, the pigs, lambs and chickens to Gardnerville in May! I’ll be putting in some work on the henhouse, and before you know it, it’ll be branding and vaccination time.
We’re putting together our summer barbecue and grilling recipe book, and I’ll add my grandmother’s ice cream recipe. I was always one of the first one of us kids to hand crack when I was little, and she would add the fresh strawberries on my turn. It was always a really fun thing, and I’m excited to share that recipe with you!
I’m looking forward to fair season too. The kids from FFA and 4-H are working hard to raise their market animals. It’s one of my favorite times of year, and I’m excited to have the local FFA kids visit the Dairy and see all the hard work we’ve put into the place since we closed escrow last June. The plan is working – we have free flowing water in the slough, we have animals in the pastures and we’re able to cut our own hay. We’ve got baby lambs, and piglets on the way as spring eases into summer.
This was a great day.