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Life on a Ranch

When our kids were little and we were out and about, I would subconsciously do a quick headcount- just to make sure all three were present and accounted for. If we were with Luke and Callie, I would do a six headcount to include their three. I didn’t even realize I did it… until Addie left for college. I would count to 5 and then have a small internal panic until I remembered where she was. Now that our kids are bigger, the count is often in my mind rather than having an actual visual of each of them. Throughout any given day, I do a quick mental recall on where each kid is and what they’re doing and sometimes, when we’re all in the same place and I do have an actual visual of our three kids, I feel a delightful sense of peace and relief.

Last week, Cooper had his last basketball game against Union. We were watching him out on the court, and I looked over to see Lucy coaching and then I peeked over to see Katelyn who was sitting just down from me, cheering. As I saw all three of them, I relaxed- all three kids were present and accounted for. I didn’t stay too relaxed though, the game was too exciting for that! Cooper and his team won their game by 2 points,

in overtime. They were thrilled. We brought Cooper and his buddy, Trenten, home with us and I don’t think they stopped re-hashing the game until they fell asleep.

The next day was Katelyn’s 15th birthday. She is currently studying to take the written driving test to get her

driver’s permit. I even went so far as to include a driver’s manual in her birthday gifts! Also included in her gifts was an engraved bracelet from silversmith, Klair Venell, “Bright Spot Silver Co.” out of Harney County. She is an up-and-coming silversmith who does really beautiful work. We got Katelyn, our flower-loving girl, a cuff with engraved sunflowers. After she opened presents, we kicked the morning off by celebrating with “Dutch Baby” pancakes- our birthday tradition that requires four simple ingredients:

eggs, flour, milk and butter.

First, you beat 2 eggs, then add in ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of milk. That gets poured into 3 tablespoons of butter that have been heated up in the oven in a pie dish or a cast iron pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so until light brown and puffed up. We slice into pie shaped sections and top with maple syrup, jam, peanut butter, powder sugar & lemon, or any combination of those things.

After breakfast, the girls headed out to pick up a couple bags of feed from Frisch Farms because we now have pigs for the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. Buck and the kids ran over to Pendleton last weekend to meet up with breeder, Todd Barth. The pigs have settled right in and now, “taking care of the pigs” has been added back on to the chore list. All three pigs have very different looks and colors, which I’m thankful for because it helps me differentiate whose is whose! The girls brought the pig feed home then decided to enjoy the very warm, very spring-like day, and saddled up a couple of horses. I have been secretly worrying about Lucy being able to ride with the stage her knee recovery is at; she’s still working hard to build muscle back and I just didn’t know how it all would go. Apparently, she wasn’t worrying in secret or otherwise because she caught horses, saddled up and they took right off.

When I cheer at sporting events and I see something that goes really well, I usually yell, “Yesss!!”

On Friday, when I saw them jump on and take off, I shouted a big “Yesss!!” right inside my heart. This ACL, MCL, meniscus recovery has been arduous to say the least so we’ll take the wins when they come. After the ride, Katelyn got ready to have some friends over. The sun was still shining so Lucy took Cooper and Trenten over to the farm to check yearlings and go on an adventure.

As far as that adventure goes, there are some farm stories that aren’t always appropriate for written documentation… but if you run into Cooper, Trenten or Lucy feel free to ask them about a racoon they thought was dead, but as it turned out, was actually asleep, very sound asleep. I’ll let them take it from there.

After that, Buck and Cooper went to look at some new- used farm equipment while I took Katelyn and friends to town for dinner. We got back home and had ice cream cake be- cause ice cream is Katelyn’s most favorite thing. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur of activity and giggling teenagers. I have a new-found

appreciation for the parents who endured teenage sleepovers back when I was one. In the wee hours of the morning, when I was still hearing shrieking and giggling, I had a moment of reflection while I considered the moms who have courageously gone before me. I was also genuinely glad the girls were having fun. Then, I got up and told the girls they had two choices: be quiet or go to bed!

The next morning, Buck and Cooper took off early to check cows and feed. We’re calving and with the weather acting a lot more like April than February, we have no complaints. It’s amazing how much calving trouble comes from the weather. Without freezing temperatures or too much precipitation, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Then the girls, who had very little slumber, got ready and we headed into Cove for the FFA Community Breakfast in celebration

of National FFA week. At the ag-house, we were served pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs and coffee by a hard-working crew of FFA kids.

After I dropped off the birthday-party-friends, we made it back home where I worked on improving my bookkeeping for our agricultural life. I’m on a newly inspired mission because we recently finished our taxes and I’m bound and determined to improve my record keeping system for 2024. After thinking through and writing this column, I have a better understanding of why the bookkeeping system seems especially hard.

It’s hard because agriculture is a part of everything we do. It isn’t a separate part of our life or a job that Buck goes to, it’s just happening all the time, regardless of whatever else we’re doing. So… when I try to itemize expenses it’s not always clear on what’s for personal use and what’s for farm use because those two things are really intertwined. All that to say, I know I’m not the only person who has agricultural records

to keep track of. So every year I try to make my system a little smoother and I think the one I have in place for 2024 is going to be my best yet, right out here in Union County! ~Chelsea

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