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Life on a Ranch

Since my last column, winter came and (for now) went… with a vengeance! We had below zero temperatures, snow, wind and icy roads. The kids ended up with two full days off of school and one late- start day. All of that followed immediately after the Monday Martin Luther King Day holiday. Three full days off for the kids meant we had extra help for extra chores! I tried to plan some fun, too, but it turns out when the roads are closed for school, they’re also not great for going on fun outings. Then, in a bizarre turn of events, after about a week of intense winter, the temperatures rose and the rain moved in. Now thanks to the rapid transition into spring-like weather, my psyche has been tricked and thinks it’s actually spring! And so, I’ve been on a real spring-gardening planning kick even though it’s still January! Included in my planting plan, Katelyn and I really want to try to grow Ranunculus this year. I’ve always liked them and last spring I ordered a spring bouquet from a lady in Cove who grows a whole bunch of Ranunculus. I’m not sure what sparked the memory of that bouquet, but about a week ago I remembered it and started doing some “research” about growing them. I use the term “research” very loosely, by research I mostly mean I asked a few people I know if they’ve ever grown them. There’s a local woman who is in her 80s and she knows a lot about growing plants and flowers. In fact, she knows so much about plants that I’m sure her knowledge far exceeds what mine will ever be. Well, I happened to see her at the end of the week and after the normal pleasantries, I said, “Hey! I’ve been wanting to ask you something, have you ever grown Ranunculus?” She stopped and stared into my eyes with a suspicious look on her face and very seriously, almost accusatory, she asked back, “What did you just say to me?!” I cautiously repeated my question. She shook her head and said, “In my entire long life I’ve never been asked that. But now you’re the second person in 24 hours to ask if I’ve ever grown Ranunculus!” I laughed…. I guess I’m not the only person daydreaming about spring planting! Turns out, she’s never grown any, but it also turns out she knows all about how to do it. She suggested I get Ranunculus corms and said it would be best if I start them in the house or preferably, greenhouse, rather than direct sow. Callie said she directly sowed some last year and was successful. I think Katelyn and I will try both. I don’t have a greenhouse, but maybe I can talk Buck into a winter project! Aside from spring gardening plans, I’ve been working on our year end books and getting ready for taxes, one of the joys of the beginning of a new year. The only physical ranch work we’re doing right now is feeding cows. We did have a calf this weekend- a little tiny thing who is doing really well. The cows are content with their daily feedings, but the yearlings seem to really be enjoying the mild weather and have been out grazing quite a bit. We had such a great fall green up, they’re still working on eating it down. It’s fun to see them out grazing rather than just staying at the feed bunks. Not only has that been fun, but we’ve also had fun seeing some branch antler bulls hanging out near the cows. They’re quite majestic and fun to watch while we flake hay. I haven’t gotten close enough to take any decent pictures, but they’re fun to see, even from a distance. And we’re hopeful they’ll drop some sheds here pretty soon, too! Besides feeding, we have about two weeks left of regular season high school basketball. Our boys varsity will go on to district and hopefully state. The girls varsity is struggling in league play- this past week the team was down to four freshman (including Katelyn), one sophomore and one junior. It’s really strange to see Katelyn having to play against girls Lucy usually has to battle against, but she obviously can’t this year. The unfortunate part is that with so few girls, they only play half a JV game with each girl playing one quarter of JV so they can play four quarters of varsity, maxing out their five-quarter limit. The girls do really well in the JV games that are much more their level, but OSAA requires a varsity game. I’m really proud of our girls as they continue to work hard and never give up. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about how other coaches choose to play their teams against ours, but we don’t bring those coaches or those players home, only one player comes home with us and all we can do is encourage her. This weekend after two very big losses, we all felt a little exhausted and a little bit defeated. So on Saturday, when the rain was pouring and the chores were done, we decided it was a good day to get out of town. We got a wild(ish) hair and we headed over the hill all the way to…. Pendleton! Pendleton might not seem like a destination to most, but it has always been a fun place for us to go. Ironically, it’s never been for the Round-Up, but rather, it started when we lived in Troy and we’d spend all winter looking forward to going to the Cattle Baron’s horse sale in May. Anyway, on Saturday, we decided to go have some fun. We went out to dinner, stayed at a hotel and with the pool all to ourselves, we swam and played and laughed super hard about ridiculous things. We picked out a big dessert to share in our room and we watched a movie. I think there are valuable life lessons about learning to be an overcomer and handling obstacles. I also think there’s so much good to learn about working hard through challenges and being a dedicated player. But I’ve also been doing some thinking since we attended the funeral service of our dear ol’ friend, Randy Warner, a couple weeks ago. A large group of folks filled up the Cloverleaf Hall in Enterprise so we could remember Randy together. His nephew, Clayton Lowe, gave the eulogy and did such a great job of sharing Randy’s life that I was sad when he stopped talking; I could have listened all afternoon. But a couple things really stood out to me. First, Randy loved to have fun with the kids in his life. For example, grand-son-in-law BJ Warnock shared and laughed about Randy showing up to brandings with a trailer full of horses and also a cooler full of water and squirt guns for water fights. Second, he was beyond generous with his time, never hesitating to jump in to help family and friends. Lucky for us, over the years, we were often included in that help. The thing is, sports are great and we’ll cheer Katelyn through the end of this grueling season and we’ll continue to encourage Lucy through her painfully long knee recovery. But if we learned anything from Randy- it is every bit as important to just have some fun and laugh together! And so, we’re going to keep looking for opportunities to do just that over here in Union County! ~Chelsea

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