Archive of ‘Big Sky’ category

Real Life

This past weekend has been one that covers all phases of life. I’ve been planning the trip to Florida for a few months. I have a group of girlfriends with whom I regularly go on little trips with. Usually we go to the far south of Texas to South Padre Island, but lately a lot of our trips have revolved around weddings and babies. We actually all became close friends after attending the many events prior to one of the girl’s wedding in 2008.

In the past three years there have been three weddings and five babies born in our little group! It has been a lovely time sharing these life milestones with such a great group of friends. This was our first destination wedding and it was in northwest Florida near Destin. The happy couple had gone on a long trip with his father and step-mother last year so when they got engaged a beach wedding seem perfect. The couple days before the wedding were soakers so the bride was understandably very stressed about the weather the day of the wedding. It POURED during the rehearsal dinner, too.

As luck would have it the weather the day of was absolutely perfect. Overcast all day with a breeze then the sun came out for a few hours just in time to shine on the wedding ceremony. My pics aren’t the very best, but you can see how lovely it was.

House party headed to the ceremony site.

House party headed to the ceremony site.

The lovely ladies of the House Party.

The lovely ladies of the House Party.

An absolutely breathtakingly beautiful ceremony.

An absolutely breathtakingly beautiful ceremony.

I enjoyed every minute of my short trip to Florida and I can finally understand why so many folks head there for beach vacations.

My travels after the wedding were quite a lot less joyful as Boot City and I drove 500 miles south of Fort Worth after I returned from Florida to attend the memorial service for his Dad. Boot City’s Dad passed away on Memorial Day last week. He had suffered from cancer for over a year so it wasn’t unexpected and was actually very peaceful. He had chosen to not treat the cancer so knew that his time was short and didn’t have the horrible pain and suffering that chemo and radiation inevitably cause.

The thing about funerals, especially those for people who were ill or elderly and it isn’t so sad and tragic, is that they are always a great time to see friends and family members that you wouldn’t otherwise see. I always appreciate that about funerals. In this case we saw many members of Boot City’s family who I have only met once or twice. Many folks had great stories to share about Raymond so it was fun to hear those tales. If I heard it once I heard it 100 times that Boot City is the spitting image of his Dad.

Boot City with his brother and cousins

Boot City with his brother and cousins

We spent about 18 hours in the car driving to and from the memorial so we talked a lot about Raymond and the memories Boot City has of his childhood with his Dad. Lots of crazy trips to Mexico, driving and flying around south Texas and Mexico and Raymond’s propensity to mumble, mostly in Spanish. Our summers will forever be bookmarked by the passing of our Dads. My Dad passed away Labor Day weekend of 2006 and now Boot City’s passed away on Memorial Day. I think it is a great way to begin and end the summer to remember our Dads and the many happy memories we have of them. I, for one, always feel lucky that I have/had such a great relationship with both my parents and that I have/had time time with them that I was blessed to have.

The big 2-1!

Little, baby Jaguar circa May 1993

Little, baby Jaguar circa May 1993

There are some things that happen in your life and for no apparent reason they are burned into your memory. I remember taking Daughty to Colorado with my Dad in the spring of 1992 almost like it was yesterday. I remember how the barn where Juniper lived smelled. I remember that it rained. I remember meeting the Wolfs, who owned the farm where Doc’s Juniper stood at the time. And, I remember when, eleven months later, Jaguar was born. I was 13 years old. Yah, I know, I just gave away my age.

We had had foals before, but from the moment Mom and Dad planned to breed Daughty to Juniper I knew this one would be mine. They wouldn’t let me have a 2 year old in 4-H until I was 15 and when this foal turned 2, I would be 15. I was beyond excited. As a foal Jaguar was mischievous. He would run up behind me and put his feet over my shoulders. I thought it was adorable until Dad reminded me how not adorable that would be when he weighed over 1,000 pounds so we put a stop to the silliness. He bit. He bullied. He acted like a normal foal and I absolutely loved him.

Showing as a yearling. We were Grand Champions at the county fair!

Showing as a yearling. We were Grand Champions at the county fair!

The 4-H colt program started when the horse was a yearling. You had to show them in hand to exhibit their training and cooperativeness. Much to my delight Jaguar was brilliant. He learned new things faster than I could teach him. We won nearly every class we showed in that year. He could do Showmanship with the very best. He never put a foot wrong and would square his feet in about 3 steps. It was so much fun to show such a smart horse. His smarts would also lead to many of his greatest difficulties. Our first such experience was taking him to the Montana State 4-H horse show in a one-horse trailer. He was fine getting in to head to Great Falls for the five hour drive. Coming home was a different story, and I can’t say I blamed him those trailers are terrifying! We nearly had to beat him to get him in that trailer. He learned a valuable lesson, though and he’s gotten into every trailer since without a moments hesitation.

Showing in bareback as a 2 year old.

Showing in bareback as a 2 year old.

His two year old year just continued to show his brilliance. He never ever took a step wrong when I broke him to ride. I was terrified of him bucking so I did all kinds of crazy things to him before I even acted like I was going to get on the saddle. I put tires on the saddle. I concocted crazy contraptions with whips and raincoats to simulate a person. I’m sure that by the time I actually rode him he was relieved to be done with the shenanigans! We worked very hard all year and he was a very broke 2 year old by the time we got to the fair. The judge, however, was horrible. She decided that there was no way I could have possibly trained him so well on my own so wouldn’t give us higher than a blue ribbon (Grand and Reserve Champion were the winners, everyone else got a blue, red or white ribbon depending on how they did) in any of our classes. I was furious and so frustrated. Jaguar was starting to show a lot of promise as a reining horse so my parents and I made the decision to quit 4-H and move on to only show in the American Quarter Horse Association and National Reining Horse Association shows. I learned young that people like to punish others for being better than them at something, even if it was legitimately earned. Nice lesson for a 15 year old kid, right?!

Sadly I don’t have any photos of Jaguar reining. They are all in Montana, still. He was a fabulous reining horse, but the same troubles would always bubble up. As soon as Jaguar figures something out, he makes it more interesting for himself. Like spooking at chairs by the arena that have been in the same spot for 3 days, but he just now noticed them. Or anticipating parts of reining patterns and doing them before he’s supposed to. After three or four years as a reiner he had to move onto a new career because he knew all of the patterns and there was no way you could trick him to wait for cues.

Trail riding selfie

Trail riding selfie

My Dad used him to rope on at brandings and to sort cattle. My Mom showed him in some local shows and basically won everything they could possibly win. They finally told me in 2006 that I needed to take him to Texas. I couldn’t really believe my Dad had actually given me the option to keep him. He always sold my horses and never gave me any input on the decision. It was bittersweet when they brought him down because about a month after they visited Texas my Dad died from a blood clot that was a result of an injury from an accident he was in while riding a horse he had. For that and a myriad of other reasons Jaguar is one of the strongest living reminders of my relationship with my Dad.

And how many 34 year olds have pets (if you can call a horse a pet) that they had when they were 13 years old? Jaguar has seen me through ALL of major life events. Think about it; prom, my first boyfriend, starting high school, graduating from high school, going off to college, graduating from college, moving away from home, my first job, my wedding. He’s been in my life for every single thing. I can remember getting mad at friends or parents in different times in my life and going out to the barn and spewing my frustrations to Jaguar and the other horses I had at the time.

Jaguar the fox hunter!

Jaguar the fox hunter!

Jaguar turned 21 last Saturday. I don’t know why this birthday seems like such a milestone, but it really does. I love that horse to pieces! My parents bought and sold so many of my horses while I was growing up that I learned quickly to never get attached to them. I still don’t really get attached to them (or at least I think I don’t, we’ll see when I actually need to sell one!) like I feel attached to Jaguar. He bucks on most every fox hunt and acts like an idiot for the first 45 minutes of every trail ride, but when push comes to shove he’ll always step up. I can put any inexperienced rider on him and he’ll be absolutely perfect. I was trail riding with hunt friends last weekend and we had an episode that caused Jaguar to spin around faster than I could stay on and I remember falling on the ground and him stepping over me so the other horse running by wouldn’t step on me.

So, cheers to Jaguar! Easily the best horse I will ever have the pleasure of riding! And he earns extra credit points for being the absolute best baby sitter of baby horses you could ever ask for. Just ask Coco.

Best buddies.

Best buddies.

Sew; a needle pulling thread

I sew. Not especially well, but not terribly either. My Mom is an amazing seamstress and if I’m ever 25% as good as she is then I will be happy. She made all my horse show clothes when I was a kid and all of my formal dresses for dances. I think she actually made all my clothes until about junior high. Teachers used to oooohhhh and aaaaaahhhhh over my outfits at school. I always thought they were really weird until I got older and realized what they were ooohhhhing and aaaahhhhing about. The clothes you buy at the store just aren’t that well made. Mom always scoffed at the formal dresses at stores and how uneven the hems were and most weren’t lined. No way was her daughter going to a formal dance in one of those ghastly things. I still have some of those dresses. My favorite is the black lambskin dress she made for my junior formal. It was suede so it didn’t scream HOOKER like a smooth leather dress of the same style might. It looked more like velvet.

I digress, as usual. I have my Mom’s first Bernina sewing machine. It is the best machine on the planet, hands down. It doesn’t do a bunch of fancy things, but it does what it does very well and has stood the test of time. The thing is as old if not older than me.

The best sew-chine ever

The best sew-chine ever

I did some sewing projects for 4-H when I was a kid. God bless my Mom for having the patience to teach me to sew. That had to be brutal because I’m confident I was not a good student. I never got very into it then, but in college I did make myself a few duvet covers and pillow cases. Now that I’m a grown-up I see the benefit in making my own clothes and some house wares. If I make my own gowns for events then I’m sure to not see anyone else in the same dress. How embarrassing when that happens! And now that I’m riding and starting to show horses again I’m making some of my riding clothes. Do you know that a custom hunt coat for showing runs at least $500 and most are closer to $1,000?! I have absolutely no intentions of making one for anyone else but I could save myself a LOT of $$ by making my own and no one else will have one like it.

Lately I’ve had an issue with a dog (Bunny) eating my pajama pants. I leave them nicely folded on my sweater chest and come home and half the leg is eaten off. I’m now down to just a couple pairs of pajama pants. I’m going on a couple trips in the near future and I don’t think anyone wants to see me wandering around in just a t-shirt so I pillaged through my fabric collection recently and cut out some new jammy pants. Today I finally made the durn things.

This is the pattern. No, I'm not Learning to Sew, but that means they are easy to make.

This is the pattern. No, I’m not Learning to Sew, but that means they are easy to make.

Cutting out the pattern pieces and the fabric generally takes almost as long as sewing the actual pieces together. I like to cut out the fabric and then sew them together on a different day. I have a tendency during projects like this to get to a point where I just want the thing done so I hurry and inevitably mess up something. Making these pants only took a couple hours. It was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

Putting the pieces together

Putting the pieces together

The next time I use this pattern I’ll add a little to the tushy and make the waist shorter. I don’t know where I got it, but I’ve got some junk in the trunk. I measure a full 2 sizes smaller on top than I do around my hips. I don’t have a tiny waist so it isn’t terribly hard to fit things since I’m so straight, but making my own clothes allows me to get stuff to fit better.

Sewing on the waistband

Sewing on the waistband

Voila, I have new jammy pants! I still need to add the drawstring, but I didn’t have anything at home so will need to buy some ribbon or something. I think this fabric is fun. I’ve learned my lesson and put my clothes in the closet now so these should last for a while. My next sewing project is a dress for a friend’s rehearsal dinner at the end of May. I was going to make my dress for the wedding, but needed a long dress and was running out of time picking a pattern and fabric. I’m hoping to make something like a Mexican muumuu, but appropriate for a dinner party. We shall see!

My new jammy pants

My new jammy pants

Let me show you my foxhound

Tis the season for hound shows and last weekend I helped put on the Southwest Hound Show here in Texas. I should start with a disclaimer that I am very much a novice when it comes to hound shows. I’ve only been to a handful of shows and they have all been in Texas. Every year I learn a little bit more about the hounds and what judges look for. Having grown up showing Quarter Horses I have a very basic understanding of conformation (hounds really aren’t THAT different from horses, right?!) and my experience actually watching the hounds hunt has added some understanding to my basics. But they remain very basic basics.

The SW Hound Show has two categories of hounds that are shown; Americans and Crossbreds. Generally the American hounds are a little stalkier than the Crossbreds. That is about the extent of my knowledge of their differences. Mind you there are many differences between hounds of the same breed dependent upon the territory they are bred to hunt and what quarry (fox vs coyote). The classes are also split between dogs (males) and bitches (females). The announcer had quite a good time announcing the bitches’ classes.

"Bring all your American Bitches to the ring"

“Bring all your American Bitches to the ring”

Different judges have different preferences and the judge for this show seemed to prefer the leaner hounds. As with any type of “judging” it is very difficult to stay consistent all the time and at times he wavered from his pattern of choosing the leaner hounds, but even my novice self caught on to this preference. I don’t recall if he gave a full explanation, but I would venture to guess it has something to do with what his hounds look like and what is their quarry. He is from a hunt in Virginia that exclusively hunts foxes. In Texas we generally hunt coyotes.

Showing American Hounds

Showing American Hounds

The judge looks over the hounds as they walk around the show ring, then each handler brings their hound to the center of the ring to show them to the judge. This involves both standing up the hound to judge the conformation as well as to have the hound run back and forth on the boards to judge their movement. Correct structure, straight movement, no major lumps and bumps are all important. The biggest difference between the hound shows and “other” dog shows I’ve been to is that the hounds are working dogs. They don’t get baths or have their nails clipped before the show. Many of them have scars and scratches from disagreements in the kennel or excitement on a hunt. This is probably my favorite thing about the hound shows. These hounds are for reals. One of the officers from the Masters of Foxhounds Association was at the show and he told us at dinner one night that 2 of the top 5 sled dog packs at last year’s Iditarod had fox hound blood in them. Fox hounds are badasses.

The judge evaluating a dog hound

The judge evaluating a dog hound

I would be remiss if I left out the Junior Showmanship class. Can you imagine anything cuter?!

All the Junior Showmen and girls were winners!

All the Junior Showmen and girls were winners!

Last, but certainly not least, was the pack class. This is where the huntsman gets to show off how well his or her hounds respond to commands. The hounds are taken into an open area and are judged entirely on following commands. It is absolutely delightful to watch the trust and admiration the hounds all have for their huntsman. The huntsman has the assistance of one whipper-in (basically one other person to help keep them contained). At this show they took the hounds down to a designated spot then returned to the judge. What a beautiful way to end a lovely day. I’m sad I won’t make it to the big hound show at Morven Park in Virginia this year, but hopefully next year it’ll fit into my vacation plans.

The pack at work

The pack at work

Medieval Times FINALLY!

For the past five or six years I’ve attempted to get a group of friends together to attend Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament for my birthday. After at least five failed attempts at making it happen, 2014 was THE year. My Mom is in town visiting for a few days and I thought what better way to entertain an out of town guest than head to Medieval Times! A couple friends were going to join us, but who knew tickets sold out to Medieval Times these days?! We are blaming spring break.

The Knights

The tickets plainly stated that the doors open 75 minutes before the show and seats are first come first served. Since we had at least an hour drive I scheduled for us to depart at 5:30p sharp for the 7:45p show. Turns out it was a good idea mostly because the majority of the drive was through a torrential downpour. (I was previously unaware of the trend to turn on your hazard lights and drive 45 mph in the fast lane of the freeway when it rains, but that is for another post). We arrived at 6:45p and RAN through the rain to get the best seats available to those arriving 60 minutes early. When the tickets said “first come first served” for seats I had it in my head that we would get to run into a dining area and snag the best table. Turns out the door attendants give you a card with your table number and you get herded into a room to wait for an hour and buy tiaras and swords or have your photo taken with a falconer and buy the photo or pay to tour the torture chamber or any of the other ingenious ways they have for you to spend your money. It really was quite the production. I’d go back just to get a seat in the middle of the room and watch the people!

We all have our priorities, and I was there to see the horses. As Boot City so eloquently said, “I’m glad we could drive an hour through a downpour so you could come here and look at horses. This isn’t something we can do at home.” Dinner was fine. The people watching exceptional. But the horses were clearly the best part. Horse people are always skeptical of things like these. Are the horses any good? Are the riders any good? Do they just do the basics and nothing really challenging? I was pleasantly surprised by both the horsemanship and the horses. I didn’t get any pics, but there were a number of Spanish horses in the show (I’m assuming Andalusians, but they never said) that did some dressage movements in hand and under saddle. This was when I was taking pictures with the lens cap on my camera. Oops.

I did, however, get some photos of the Blue Knight.

The Blue Knight

Our table was in the Blue section so we were instructed by our table server to cheer for the Blue Knight. Lucky for us, the Blue Knight was victorious. The part of the show with the Tournament was probably my least favorite, but it was amusing. And I had removed my lens cap so got some OK photos with my schancy new camera.

MT Jousters

All in all it was a fun time. Sadly we didn’t get any group photos (sorry Aunt Soni), but I hope you enjoy the Blue Knight. He sure did think he was hot stuff!

The Knights' Sages

Here goes!

Well, here goes! I’ve had it in my mind that I want to start a blog for some time. Definitely for a few months, maybe even years. I’ve written in a journal since I could first write and a blog struck me as a way to have a journal with photos I could share with others. Facebook has kind of scratched that itch, but not completely. From my life in Montana to my life in Texas I have 800+ Facebook friends and I’m sure many of them are not keen on my constant barrage of photos of goats and dogs and horses. My blog can be a space where you choose to come read about the goings on of the Ranchette.

And, while I think I have a plan for how this whole blogging thing will go, I’m perfectly OK with it going a direction other than where I plan. I hope that our experiences can be a resource for others to draw from. Whether it is kidding goats, pairing boots with dresses, ripping serged seams, our favorite eats and drinks in DFW or cleaning tack. If one of those statements lost you, I promise you’ll learn something new from reading this blog! If you have questions, please ask. If there is something you want to learn more about, suggest post topics. I’m really excited for the feedback I hope to get from my family and friends who read this blog. Please share, I’d love for you to spread the web love and tell your friends and family about this blog.

And, last but not least, what is Big Sky/Boot City?! I first met my husband a few months after moving to Texas from Montana. He had some friends who were keen on bestowing clever nicknames to their friends. Mine is probably pretty obvious since I hail from the Big Sky state. Boot City is my husband. His full name (which I promised him I wouldn’t spread all over the inter webs) rhymes with a western store by the name of Cavender’s Boot City. So, there you have it. We are Big Sky and Boot City!

Raspino Wedding

November means Opening Hunt!

November brings with it many reasons to be excited. Family gatherings to celebrate Thanksgiving, the launch of Christmas season, the leaves changing colors on the trees, and Opening Hunt! I was introduced to fox hunting in Texas in the fall of 2010 and fell in love with the sport instantaneously. The lovely horses, dapper hunt coats, flasks of good cheer, handsome hounds and the overall camaraderie of riders.

Opening Hunt this year was a bit later in November than is customary which may be why it was SO much colder than usual! When I arrived at the hunt I was greeted with messages that we were going to go ahead and bless the hounds, but skip actually riding out as it was cold and freezing rain. Many of us were disappointed at the prospect of not riding after getting up early (or staying up late) to braid horses and prepare formal hunt attire so were delighted when the decision was reversed to ride out. Some had already taken horses back to cozy stalls, but about 15 riders remained and made the best of the cold weather.

Our Masters and hunt staff led the hound blessing for the 2013-2014 hunt season and we were off. The weather started to turn when we were about half way out and so we turned for an earlier than normal arrival back to the host’s home for lunch, but it was well worth the ride out. One rider was unseated, but incurred no injury other than pride. Many of the hounds were young and hunting only for the second or third time. No quarry was followed, but we did see rabbits and deer.

I look forward to the remaining hunt season with my old partner, Jaguar.

Home for the Holidays

cow_sale

I don’t make it home nearly as often as I should. I’m sure most of us can say that about visiting family who live far away. I had originally made plans to go to Europe for Thanksgiving this year, but realized in the latter part of the summer that I was homesick for the holidays and made plans to head north. Plans changed a few times, as they do with a family as large as mine, but we settled on celebrating Thanksgiving with my Mom’s family in Dickinson, North Dakota then making our way to Miles City for a few days before I headed back to Texas.

It was a delight to meet my cousin’s two young sons and see some of my aunts, uncles and my grandparents. After a yummy Thanksgiving meal us girls went to the stockyards my uncle co-owns to decorate for Christmas. There was to be a large cow sale on Friday after Thanksgiving and my aunt was grateful to have a myriad of helpers get the tree up and hang lights to give the office a festive ambience. We made quick work of the light hanging, ribbon tying and ornament placement to have plenty of time for photo ops.

I have never in my life seen such EXPENSIVE cows! My family has been in the business for many years for multiple generations and in all those years I could never have imagined a $2,500 cow!

The next morning we met at an old church turned coffee house to have a warm cup of joe before heading to the cow sale. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for my family. We are blessed to have minimal family dramas and all get along quite well. I would count my cousins among my very best friends.

After coffee we headed to the cow sale. The sale had started early Friday morning at 7a and when we arrived a little after 11a they were just starting the bred cow sale. These were cows that will have calves sometime next spring, most seemed to be due around mid-March. I have never in my life seen such EXPENSIVE cows! My family has been in the business for many years for multiple generations and in all those years I could never have imagined a $2,500 cow! Granted you’re kind of getting a 2-in-1, but cow prices are high and there are no bones about that fact. I overheard many a rancher discussing how long these prices will last. No one knows, of course, but it makes me excited for those ranchers finally making a good living with their cattle.

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