Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 - Reflecting on the many blessing bestowed on us.


Holiday Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch!  
As I sit hear tonight reflecting, the snow calmly falling on the buttes and barns, and my boys lying next to me in bed watching old Star Wars movies, I am absolutely in awe of the blessings that 2015 has brought to us.

Kyle - age 7.  Miss Brengman's WCES 1st grade class.

One Mr. Kyle Best pictured above this December on the eve of his WCES Christmas music program.  Our one and only intrigues me every day with his kindness, thoughtfulness, his curiosity of the world, and his enthusiasm for learning.  He truly is our greatest blessing!

Best Angus and Quarter Horses at Elkhorn Creek Ranch, where tender beef and blue collar horses are our business!

Outside of a dry spring which stunted our grass / alfalfa hay crop, the ranch had an exceptional year.  The fall of 2014 saw feeder calf prices at an all-time high, which provided for strong replacement female and bull markets in early 2015.  We have since come down off that high and settled into a bit of a rocky market this fall, but still a decent one.  We count those financial blessings of 2015 and continue to pray for favorable moisture, which means everything to future success in this typically dry part of county.

Pete sorting pairs the fall of 2015 on his 3 year old, Nick.

Supper on the trail, fall of 2015 with my 3 year old, Rusty.  My dad would have loved this little horse (which makes me that much more fond of him).

So, as I write tonight, our record weaning weights have been logged and reported to the AAA, the calves have been weaned and on feed for 70 + days now, the cows and horses are out on range grazing, and we continue to be able to conserve our hay stockpile.  Life is Good on the ranch!

We took a family trip of a lifetime the week of Thanksgiving.  We cruised the west Caribbean on the NCL ship, the Breakaway, which was built in 2014 for families with children.  All the photos below were from the ports of that trip.

Mayans of Cozumel with their North Dakota captives!
FRESH coconut water
Critters of the Grand Cayman's at Dolphin Cove
Jamaica Mon...

Other 'mentionables' of 2015:

In February we visited Aunt Marcia and Uncle Myron and friends Mike and Mary Zimmerman in AZ and swam.  And swam.  And swam. 

In August we had a Best family trip to Banff and Drumheller and were treated to a VIP / behind the screens tour of the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum by Uncle Andy and cousin Eric.

Pete took several Angus trips.

Brad and Kaley Hagen (Brad worked for the ranch for three summers and two years) moved back home (Minnesota) in April.  Kent and Laura Johnsrud helped us out quite a lot this summer and fall.  Justin Bartholomay, a graduate of NDSU, Animal Science started with us in September.  These folks have all been blessings which we are thankful for, as is our family and our local community. 

The last blessing to reflect on this beautiful evening (before the bustle resumes tomorrow morning), the reason for the season!

Merry CHRISTmas... 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blue Buttes Fun Day on Throwback Today- remembering the 'Why' of it all.

We attended the 86th North Dakota Stockmen's Association Annual Convention and Membership meeting in Bismarck this past weekend.  North Dakota Stockmen's Association

On Thursday (9/24/15) prior to the start of the NDSA Cattlemen's College there was a marketing workshop.  One of the questions posed by the presenter was "How many of you have a blog?".  I was honest (although I didn't really want to talk about my lack of commitment to telling our Ranch's story the last couple years) when she asked how many followers it had.  "I'm not sure, but I do know since starting it in 2011 there have been over 24,000 page visits with between 200 and 1,500 page views per post".  To be clear, this blog is no Pioneer Woman and neither the topics nor writing quality will draw folks out of the woodwork to loyally follow it.  That being said, I do think that it is important to tell the story of our little lives out here and the story of why we care for the animals and land the way we do.

Ya know, life happens and things get busy.  Priorities shift and in our effort to keep hope alive in an uncertain place in our history things get a little blurry and the signs hard to read (likely due to the number of them and the speed at which life clips along).  We sometimes find ourselves backtracking the navigated path looking for other routes and hoping for a simpler way to get to our destination... and then sometimes our destination disappears or become unrecognizable.

HOME has always been the destination for me.  Providing this 'way of life' for future generations has always been the mission (let's face it, this way of life builds pretty darn good folks).  Being good stewards of the livestock and land and leaving a legacy to be proud of have always been the goals.  So what if the destination disappears, the mission impossible, and the goals meaningless for lack of a 'why'?  And what if consumers don't believe us when we do try to bridge the existing gap with them?  I'm not saying that one little blog can change the future, but I am saying that I refuse to quit trying to bridge the gap and to frame the 'why', which builds understanding.  I want people to continue to be able to keep visiting our ranch and understanding why we do what we do without having to leave the comfort of their lives where ever that may be.

So I will keep posting and hoping for followers and sharers who help spread the word about ranching life and rural ag communities... 'cause like I said before, this way of life builds pretty darn good folks who want to bridge the gap with the folk who aren't out here at the end of the road with us.

In the meantime, let me share a little story about 'folk-building'.  When I was a twelve year old girl and my little sister was seven, the family loaded up a couple of our ranch horses on a crisp fall morning and headed down the road toward Keene County.  Our destination was the Blue Buttes Fun Day at the Willard Kieson arena.  BBFD has a long history and tradition in McKenzie County.  The games were fun.  The kids tough, friendly and competitive.  Shivers, my mom's horse that I got to ride that day was fast.  The H hanging L (my Dad's brand) Ranch brought home hardware that day.

1986 and 1987 All Around Cowgirl buckles which I proudly display in our Ranch House living room still to this day.

The 2015 Blue Buttes Fun Day (BBFD) at the Wesley and Tina Leppell arena.  Jaden hamming it up after the Boot Race.

The 2015 BBFD.  Kyle and Zoey taking a spin around the arena on Taxi.

The 2015 BBFD.  Kyle hanging with Hoss between games. 

2015 BBFD.  Look REALLY close... Morgan climbing through the barrel during the barrel race.  Notice the big boys in pink.  That's right.  They are tough enough to do so.  They were great mentors to the younger 'folk' that day and are always examples of good sportsmanship and 'try'.

2015 BBFD.  Jaden all smiles and Chance struggling to stay awake!
This was a needed day for me.  9/27/15 was a throwback to that crisp fall morning in 1986 headed to the Keison arena.  It was a reminder that HOME does still exist in more than just my mind and that 'good folks are still grown out here at the end of the road'.  AND this is challenge to all the folks out there to keep working to bridge the gap and tell the 'why' of our story.

To the Keison's and the Leppell's, thank you so much for this annual event that celebrates Good Folks, Great Fun, Good Sportsmanship, Tough Competition, Fast Horses, AND FAMILY!