Saturday, December 26

Dec. 26

it's 7:19 as i start writing this, and the date is dec. 26, and i am sitting in my apartment in casper. cat link is on my lap, while cat lexus is lying at my feet on the other end of the couch. i've got 30 rock season 3 playing in another window on my laptop, my pretty christmas tree is lit and i've got a few candles going. i've also finished off the very last little bit of my fireball whiskey in my current mug of hot chocolate, which is sitting beside me on a footstool. there are 10 inches of fresh snow outside, and not a breath of wind.

yep, i haven't made it to the parents' in iowa yet. the trip won't begin tomorrow, either - perhaps monday. at the moment eastern wyoming and western nebraska roads are closed, so we couldn't try if we wanted to.

meanwhile, i am relaxing here at the place and researching costs of photo printers, one of which i've decided i want. after 143985743802 trips to try to get some photos printed for christmas gifts, to no avail.

i spent christmas day at the association with the martinez clan, and it was a quite good time. we ate dinner, sat around and visited with everyone, then played cards for about three or four hours. a game called phase 10.

yesterday i came into town to check the road situation, and i came across these pretty horses along the road. they're bucking stock, belonging to a local rodeo stock contractor. it was a perfect christmas moment, and the last photo is my favorite.

Thursday, December 24

christmas eve in casper

so yesterday the snow hit us here in casper, and we had about eight inches fall. today is bright and sunny, but this is what it looked like last night when i went to feed my horses after finishing up the papers at the roundup:

for once april wasn't shivering, but jazz was. remember that double water tub and the water heater? yep, workin great.

it was cold out there, and very snowy, but it looked very christmasy.

and when i got back to the apt the him was here so i pulled some frozen pizza dough out and cobbled together a pizza. i love pizzas - great way to use up leftover fresh ingredients.


baked, and delicious:

here are some more glitter bird shots, i couldn't resist posting more:

i took some of them and put them in my office:

and this is what my new office looks like:

the bird nest outside my window.

and the peach jam that jo keith dropped by the office:

Wednesday, December 23

photos, finally

so, i haven't uploaded many photos lately because i traded out laptops when assist editor heather started, and i hadn't installed my canon photo disk yet. lately i've had to upload my photos that way because my old card reader won't recognize my new 8 gig card...

so that's the new laptop, in the background. it's essentially like the old one, but i like the keyboard a lot better, and it's intel-based so i can use some programs i wasn't able to on the old one. that, and i can now play those instant movies and tv episodes from netflix :-)

the pistachios are from the him's brother j, who owns a truck and hauls a variety of freight. so far he's given me pistachios, walnuts, chocolate with walnuts and the best orange blossom honey from california. a major part of his contracts, it sounds like, consist of hauling bees from the alfalfa fields in wyoming to the orchards in california for the winter, and he hauls them the other direction in the spring.

it looks a lot like christmas around the place:

my squinty-eyed link is as crazy as ever. he gets to forego the christmas trip to iowa this year. i decided it would be too stressful for them to have to ride in the cab of my pickup with my sister's dogs, who are now cat-killers as well.

what do you do when you have a whole package of red christmas balls left over? disperse them amongst the plentiful glassware.

it was bitter cold here in wyoming for a while. i'm talking miserable, freeze your face and fingers off. there were four or five days we didn't get out of the single digits, and a couple of them we didn't break 0.

i've taken to getting to work at 7 a.m., so i'm usually headed over between 6:30 and 7. this is what early-morning chill in casper looks like:

it was so cold for so long i had to break down and get my tank heater out (which still worked from last winter, and i was kind of surprised. they're usually pretty finicky), and since i only have one and didn't want to pay to run two, i bought this sheep tub so both the horses can share a heater. whoever invented tank heaters is brilliant.

i've assembled quite the collection of pendleton whiskey bottles, and have also been saving the corks. i decided to cut them off flat and hot-glue heavy duty magnets on the back. i rather like my little craft project:

and this was another craft project, for the roundup staff christmas party, held here at the office. the idea came across on an email from martha stewart, so i went and bought little birds from hobby lobby, brushed glue on them and covered them in glitter.

the branches assist editor heather cut from branches around the office, and she sprayed them with the fake aerosol snow you'd use for window art. we had about nine branches, and they were all stuck in clear glass bottles from my collection. i bought the ribbon at hobby lobby, too, and paula tied it and put the fake snow in the bottles.

the blue ones were my favorite:

we met up to decorate the office sat morning, and at noon we all departed and i got to work on my appetizer contributions, both of which were bacon-wrapped delicacies. you can't go wrong with bacon-wrapped appetizers.

i bought 25 japs, thinking that 50 of them would be enough for 22 people. but no. they were gone almost instantly.

don't they look perfectly tempting? (they were. i ate my fair share when they finished baking. and they made the apt smell so good)

these are the 'chicken little' deals that i also put together. the chicken was marinaded in a soy sauce-ginger-garlic concoction.

and, in other news, the dog has left the country. ok maybe just the state, but he's gone home to new york for the foreseeable future. can't say as i'll miss him a whole lot, as he was getting really bored and chewing up the most random things. he'll be happier in ny with roommate a's dad and the big black german shepherd.

so that's about all that were worth putting up here.

it's snowing outside, and that's why i'm still here in the roundup office instead of in iowa, or on the way there. right now i'm waiting for the jan. 2 paper to be put on the share drive so i can proof it, and hopefully get out of here a little before 5.

no plans really for tonight, except i know friend casey will prob want me to travel over to the beacon to chill with him, which i might, depending on what the him's up to. i know he is planning to travel to the assoc to get his new black 2010 ford truck back from his brother bob, who took it buffalo hunting at jackson last weekend. in the meanwhile he's been driving bob's old blue dodge, which sounds like a tractor.

Sunday, December 20

roundup christmas

the roundup christmas party went over really well last night. co workers paula, jody and heather and i met up at 10 yesterday morning to set up tables and decorate a little, then i left for a second hobby lobby run, feeding the horses, and putting together my appetizers - bacon-wrapped jalapenos and 'chicken littles,' bacon-wrapped chicken. they were supposed to have water chesnuts wrapped in them too, but i'd forgotten they were in the recipe and didn't want to go back to the store.

the him showed up about 3:30 after doing some cow work at the association that day, he helped me load stuff and i straightened my hair and we got back to the office shortly after 4:30.

we had lots of appetizers, prime rib, salad, potatoes, rolls and an assortment of pudding pies that heather brought.

the glitter birds turned out perfectly. i have some photos i need to upload to my computer. heather cut branches, paula filled my assortment of whiskey and vinegar bottles with fake snow and tied red ribbons on them, then heather sprayed the branches with aeresol snow - which turned out really well - and we wired the glitter birds to the white frosted branches. i quite liked it.

the him fit right in with all the office people. i knew he would. i like how, at the roundup christmas, all of our men show up in starched jeans. trophy buckles and cowboy hats.

paula drew my name, and got me a western photo frame and votive holder and a package of candles. i gave curt a mouse trap cheese slicer and board. it was kinda cool i thought.

after dinner about eight or nine of us went over to the beacon to hang out for a while. friends jake, casey and stuart were there, and friend jamie came out. about 11 though i was so sleepy i went home. and the band was awful.

and this morning was my last day ever to work at church. MY LAST DAY TO WORK AT CHURCH. woooooooo. i'm quite excited about that. i'll miss the check, but it wasn't anything too generous, and having my tuesday evenings and weekends to myself will be quite novel after two and a half years being obligated to a second job.

so now both roommate a and the dog are gone. they left this afternoon for new york for christmas, and the dog will be left there. which will be great. i was losing patience with him. after i got back from cleaning horse pens i took some time to schlep some things of his out to the garage.

and tonight i'm getting ready to leave for iowa. that drive is scheduled for wednesday, but i just noticed today we have a chance of snow tuesday evening, so not too excited about that.

Thursday, December 17

wyo governor candidates

so far we've had four people step forward in the 2010 race for wyoming governor. two of them are ranchers, one's a legislator and the woman's somehow involved in state government. this is one of them, matt mead:

i like how to be considered for politics in wyoming, you first have to be down-to-earth and real. wyoming people are pretty good at not buying into pretty packages and smooth words. if you look like you just came in from a day working cows, they might just think you're alright.

this photo's on the cover of the paper this week. we run a feature on each candidate as they announce their bid for governor. we've already featured uinta county rancher ron micheli, who's also been the director of the wyoming dept of ag some years back.

Wednesday, December 16

i like it

my new job as managing editor here at the roundup may be hard. a challenge. the biggest, most long-term responsibility i've committed to in my life. and i may be scared to death at times. and panic at others.

but i like it.

and i know over the past six or so weeks i've worked hard, giving it my very best, and i've done a good job and my takeover of the paper has been successful.

and i like that.

i'm looking forward to 2010. it's going to be a great year. and i mean that.

do you ever feel like you've got so much going for you, that you have no idea why? i never cease to be thankful for where i'm at, the people i know, my job, my animals, my friends. i am especially thankful for my independence, and my resources that enable me to be independent. there's a lot to be said for knowing you not only pay your own way in the world, but that you also make a meaningful contribution.

i think what makes my job even better is that i feel useful. i feel like what i'm doing matters, and it's not just mindless tasks day after day. i have a purpose when i go to work, and it's to keep my wyoming friends in agriculture informed with what's going on in our state, and also what's happening at the federal level that might have an impact on their farming and ranching businesses.

i've said it before, and i'll say it again. i'm happy.

and now i have to get back to writing this piece about all the climate change promises that are coming out of the copenhagen talks that will impact how the u.s. tries to regulate its food production. we're all hoping they don't regulate us right out of business. that would be bad news for people who like to eat.

Tuesday, December 15

it is (almost) finished

look, here it is, the cover of winter cattlemen's. two months, two trips to goshen county, 14 interviews, a dozen deleted photos later, winter cattlemen's is about to be printed.

at this moment assistant editor h is giving our final changes to layout girl t. it goes to press tomorrow. all two sections and 28 pages of it.

i do think the cover is brilliant, though, considering what layout girl t had to work with. i love the blue and red colors, and the snowflake silhouettes.

now i just have to have three papers planned, written and organized by next tuesday. hooray. i don't love vacation. now i wish we'd just work the week after christmas because this seems impossible at the moment.

wish me luck in the next week. :-P

tonight = second-to-last day to work at church

telling the ag story

for those of you who don't see the roundup, this is my first opinion piece. generally boss dennis writes the column, but occasionally other staff contributes and this was my week because boss dennis is in reno, nev. at a public lands grazing conference.

the idea for the column occurred to me when i picked up this cookbook at the mall last night. i'll let you read it and see what you think:

Telling the Ag Story

“My name is Ree. I’m a desperate housewife, and I live in the country.”

That’s how Ree Drummond describes herself on her blog, After growing up in town, living in California and dreaming of Chicago, Drummond married a cattle rancher from Oklahoma’s grasslands.

In the last few years the concept of “telling agriculture’s story” has come up more frequently in response to increasing attacks on the industry. It’s inspired conference themes like “Lead out Loud: Voices of the Livestock Industry” and “The Faces of Agriculture,” to name a couple. People like the Hadricks of South Dakota, who gave a pair of presentations in Casper in early December, are traveling the country, encouraging ag people to candidly share their stories of family ranching and farming.

The main point of this push is to put reality out there for the American public. We all know the viewpoint of animal rights groups – the negative one that looks to stifle animal agriculture through rumors and articles in popular national magazines and videos on YouTube. They spread one side of information to people who don’t know a second side exists.

I don’t think it was Drummond’s goal when she started the blog, but the city-girl-turned-ranch-wife behind the Pioneer Woman is putting family ranch life and production agriculture into a very popular public spotlight, and she’s doing it through casual stories of everyday ranch life, brilliant photography and simple cooking.

Daily she shows the reality of life on a ranch, and that her family’s cattle graze in green open pastures, the cowboys start early and finish late but love their job and her four kids have a blast growing up with horses, cattle, dogs and hay bales.

For starters, she summarizes five basic things found on a working cattle ranch: prolapse – “If you’ve never seen one, consider yourself lucky;” cows and calves – “The cutest part of our ranching operation;” chopping ice – “We have to do it throughout the winter or the animals will have no water;” prairie fires – “Some are intentional, some aren’t;” and fighting bulls – “Always an effective study in male behavior.”

I didn’t realize how popular her blog was until I noticed that some of her giveaways draw thousands of entries, and every bookstore she visited on her recent cookbook tour had long lines waiting to meet her.

I think what’s even more important than the number is the demographic she attracts, which is mostly young married women with small children – those who are and will be making choices about what their family will eat for many years to come.

I had a chance to browse a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks this week, and it’s filled with colorful photos of her kids climbing fences, her husband and his crew sorting cattle and “plenty of cows,” as she says. And beef.

And, as of mid-December, it’s second on the New York Times Best-Seller List in the “Hardcover Advice” category. Imagine how many copies will distribute as Christmas gifts by the first of the New Year.

I don’t think the ag industry could ask for any more in positive publicity. It’s coming from an unlikely city girl, but one who’s passionate about life on a ranch and readily shares all that she loves about living where she does.

Also, many thanks to those of you who have offered kind congratulations to me as Jennifer moves on from the Roundup. I look forward to seeing you all around as Heather and I settle into our new jobs here at the paper.


Monday, December 14

it may not look like much, but

this is what i've spent my last couple of hours on. it takes a long time to put that together using InDesign and PhotoShop. or maybe i'm just inefficient.

it starts with a map of wyoming that i bought for sister m when she first left for wyoming in the spring 0f 2006. i bought it at that explore store that used to be in ames between hobby lobby and east hy-vee. i had assistant editor h scan it in for me friday, and didn't have time to put the points on until today.

the points i made in InDesign, then pdf'd them and opened them in PhotoShop, selecting each one and putting it in a new layer so i could drag them onto the image of the map.

here's the list of ranches and various ag operations we've featured in this edition:

Goshen County

Farming, ranching and feeding cattle dominate throughout Goshen County. Listed below and numbered on the map are the ag operations the Wyoming Livestock Roundup features in this Winter Cattlemen’s Edition.

1. Pugsley Ranch

2. Jay Em historic town site

3. Fort Laramie historic site

4. Hageman family

5. Flock Brothers

6. Mike and Gretchen Wollert

7. John Baker

8. Ivan Skinner

9. Teeters family ranch

10. Dinklage Feedyards, Inc.

11. EWC Rodeo Team

12. Torrington Livestock Markets

13. Goshen Veterinary Clinic

14. Western Mall

15. Ag Flyers, Inc.

16. P.D., Skyler and Paige Miller

17. Wyoming Haybusters, Ervin Gara III

18. Randy Steben

19. Greg and Peggy DesEnfants

20. Virgil and Peggy Jackson

21. Archie Johnson

22. Thaler Ranch

23. Doug and Peggy Scheer

the edition is scheduled to print this wednesday and insert in this saturday's paper. this morning i had to write two more articles to fill it, while jen ran down to the county to get photos because the one good one that could have been the cover i deleted in that whole snafu.

so now that's it's 2:30 and i haven't had breakfast or lunch - unless you count a handful of cranberries and almonds - and it's time to get moving on organizing this week's regular weekly. assistant editor h is in wheatland today at a meeting, which will probably make on of my cover articles. otherwise we're featuring a governor candidate, h and p as new staff and the roundup, and i forget what else.

figuring that out will compose the rest of my day. i don't know where the last 6.5 hours went, but they're flying by.

Saturday, December 12

a turn in the weather

our bitter cold has turned to intense wind. that's the way it works here in central wyoming. when it snows it's calm and cold, and when it's not snowing it blows and warms up. it's ok, it's what keeps the city people from migrating here.

this week was another intense push to get the paper out amidst the three-day stock growers/wool growers meeting, then another giant push to get winter cattlemen's pulled together. i gave all but three of my articles to tracy last night. i have two more interviews to write, and the intro article, and i have to make the map of all the points where the ranches are and label them. it really turns out pretty cool when i have the time to do it, so i'll be sure to post it on here when i'm done.

last night i had to get going from the office before 6 because the him and i were headed to glenrock, riding with the mutton marshal and wife dorothy, for the him's mother's 70th birthday party. a great crowd gathered over there, including the entire martinez family except friend G. i really like his family, and i get along with all of them just fine.

poor becky. brother bob was grumpy last night and i told her she could stay with me if she wanted. btw - i love becky's hair. it's curly, and she was a blond but it's going to gray now and it's the prettiest mix of the two.

so now it's this morning, and i have to work at the church most of the day. tonight i'm going to take my assistant editor heather for her first trip to the beacon. :-) we'll have fun. pretty sure friend jamie's going to go too, and whoever else i can talk into going out so heather can meet some people.

i realized yesterday christmas is two weeks away. how did it get so close so fast? i've had to be so short sighted with my deadlines lately that i haven't even looked up to see what's coming. :-P

here's this week's paper, with the him on the front page:

he finally made the paper, so hopefully he's happy now. :-)

perhaps today i will have more time to upload some photos, but for now i've got to get going.

Tuesday, December 8

**** fav photo of the week ******

i love this photo. i love the color and the action and that it has to do with hay and feeding cows and doing chores even though it's 0 degrees and even less than that wind chill. i love that i was out with the mutton marshall and the him.

this was sunday afternoon. the mutton marshall drove the truck, the him flaked the hay off for the cows, and i stood on the flatbed and took pictures. :-) it paid off, though, because either that photo or this one will run on the front page of the paper this week:

in other happenings, i went to goshen county for (hopefully) the last time friday for the last three winter cattlemen's articles. i just realized i did a bad thing. i switched computers, and i think i lost those photos.........

oh dear.


it's done now....


now i gotta think of a way to fix that.


:-P :-P

you see, yesterday i took photos at the 'make it with wool' fashion show at the stock growers/wool growers convention. and right before i did that i just went in and cleared my card off.

and i had those photos on my other laptop, but i've since cleaned it off.

oh dear.


seems things like this happen quite regularly to me.

oh well. onward.

how did i miss those when i was copying from my other laptop? they were all there on the desktop...maybe i do have them stuck in a file somewheres. hopefully i can find them. otherwise i'll be calling the people and bumming photos off them. that's better than deleting my whole interview from my recorder and having to call them up and ask them all basically the same questions a second time. that's not so cool. i've done it.

so anyway. :-) today's day 2 of the stockgrowers convention, and new assistant editor heather's first day.

oh, and it's bitter cold here. it has been for a week. we haven't got out of the single digits, and yesterday never above zero. tonight's supposed to be wind chill -20 to -40. hooray for that one. i put my tank heater in my horses' water, finally. there was no way around it, my tubs were starting to be solid blocks of ice by the next day. besides, i don't mind spending the extra money to run a heater because water with a warmer temperature than freezing encourages them to drink more, which reduces the risk for impaction colic, which happens when they eat too much hay and don't drink enough and don't have enough fluids to pass the forage through their system. so i feel good knowing they've got some warm water to drink.

ok, gotta go to the opening session of stockgrowers. today the governor's supposed to speak at lunch. i like him.

wish me luck on finding those photos.

Tuesday, December 1

christmas decorating!

how has it already been almost a week since my last post? things have been busy around here, as usual.

over the weekend i did get some time to decorate the apt for christmas.

that's a little bit of what the place looks like these days. i still have to pack the odds and ends back up and stow them back away in the closet.

i also baked a carrot cake on sunday for jody's birthday, which was yesterday and we had cake here at the office along with bbq from sidelines.

the him also traded in his old ('old' being relative. i think it was an '04) gray ford truck for a brand new shiny black one last night, so i was busy helping him switch stuff over, too. it only had 48 miles on it when he drove it off the lot.

also last friday the farm store murdoch's had 25 percent off the whole store, so i bought two pairs of jeans and a 10-cubic-foot wheelbarrow. on saturday i went out and took 40 cubic feet of manure out of april's pen and 20 out of jazz's. jazz's had more that could have been done, but 60 was enough for me for one day. i also saddled april and took them both out to exercise. it was a really nice day.

saturday and sunday i also worked at church, and saturday night i went out to the mutton marshall's for dinner with the him's brother jay, friend jamie and the him's sister-in-law becky. along with dinner we played a little poker and drank a little whiskey.

friday night i went out to the beacon with friend jamie and ended up staying out till closing time. friend rowdy was there, and i caught up a bit with him. he works for an energy company and isn't in town much.

the him was in jackson with brother bob and two others from meeteetse buffalo hunting all weekend. i'm glad i didn't go, cause it sounded pretty miserable. except they did drink the bar out of pendleton saturday night.

today is the first day of a three-day 'range beef cow symposium,' which is held every two years as a joint effort of wyoming, south dakota, nebraska and colordao university extensions. this is wyoming's turn, and it's here in casper, so that's convenient. i'll be attending that this week, pulling the paper together and spending friday in goshen county for (hopefully) the last of my winter cattlemen's interviews. our new girl heather starts next tuesday.